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California Wildfires are back!

Written by Timothy Shannon on . Posted in Uncategorized

Every year it seems we kick off Wildfire season with a horrific event and this year is no different. After the Fire of last week and scenes of burned out vehicles on the 15, now strong winds and heavy rain have caused damage to properties in Ramona, Perris, Moreno Valley and surrounding areas. The current drought conditions seem to be in contrast with the heavy rain we have experienced but be assured that even with last weekends storms and the prediction of El Nino conditions this winter, we need to be extra cautious about protecting our property.  Here is a list of items you can perform on your property to help prevent a loss.

 

  • Contact your nearest local fire department and ask about the local fire danger levels in your area.
  • Create a defensible space around your home. Defensible space is the 100 foot radius zone around your property. Trim back all trees or branches that hang over or touch your roof. Keep plants and trees trimmed and remove all dry branches, bushes, shrubs and vegetation. Did you know that some plants are more fire resistant than others? (Learn more about that here.)
  • Keep all flammable materials at least 50 feet away from your home. These items include firewood, paint cans, propane tanks and debris.
  • If your home has a wood roof, consider replacing it with ignition resistant roofing materials.
  • If the exterior of your home is made of wood siding or other combustible home siding, consider replacing it with fire-resistant materials such as stucco, brick, fiber-cement or wood products factory-treated with fire retardant.
  • Inspect your home (including decks) for any signs of dry rot and repair these areas. Decaying wood is very flammable.
  • Review your home insurance policy. Do you have enough coverage? Every year, the cost to rebuild a home can change. Maybe you’ve made some upgrades that your current home policy doesn’t cover? The cost of labor and materials may have increased since your last policy review.

Of course, always feel free to call us for further tips, information or analysis of your property at any time.

 

 

Insurance commissioner approves new insurance product to fill gap for UberX, Lyft and Sidecar ride-hailing drivers. Farmers Insurance steps up to meet insurance need driven by new technology.

Written by Timothy Shannon on . Posted in Uncategorized

The following is the content of a press release issued by the California Department of Insurance this morning.

SACRAMENTO, Calif.- As demand for ridesharing or ride-hailing services continues to increase for business and personal travel, closing insurance gaps to protect consumers is a priority. Insurance Commissioner Jones announced today that he has approved a new insurance product submitted by Farmers Insurance that closes the gap in insurance coverage for drivers driving for ride-hailing companies, such as UberX, Lyft and Sidecar. Jones was joined by Farmers Group, Inc. CEO Jeff Dailey who also announced the new insurance product is available to consumers starting May 28 through its thousands of Farmers agents across the state.
“Closing the insurance gaps in ride-hailing coverage is essential to making sure passengers, other drivers and pedestrians are protected when ride-hailing vehicles are on the road,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “I’m pleased to see Farmers, one of California’s major insurers, offer a product that closes the coverage gap.”

The popularity of ride-hailing services is evidenced by the exponential growth from 2014, when Lyft reported averaging 2.2 million rides per month and Uber nearly 12 million. So far, in 2015, Lyft reports averaging 2.5 million and Uber 30 million rides monthly. Even the business community is embracing the services, noting a 20 percent increase in ride-hailing use from first quarter in 2014 to the same quarter in 2015.

The new product covers period one, which begins once a driver turns on the ride-hailing application and is awaiting a match. Periods two and three-the match and transport period-are covered by the ride-hailing company’s insurance. The new policy enables drivers to select coverages that fit their needs, including comprehensive and collision coverages, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages and medical payments coverage. Including Farmers ride-hailing coverage to a driver’s policy will add 8 percent to a customer’s premium.

“We want to thank Commissioner Dave Jones and his team for their leadership in helping to make this important, new coverage available to California drivers. As a California-based company, Farmers is proud to be the first major insurer to offer rideshare coverage to consumers in the state,” said Dailey. “We recognize the sharing economy will continue to have a long lasting effect on our state and we are committed to continue to work with the commissioner and the entire department on innovative solutions for the benefit of California’s consumers.”

Cyber Liablity

Written by Timothy Shannon on . Posted in Uncategorized

An online tech report for USA Today on December 9, 2014 had a lot to say on the impact of damage from a cyber breach. The report highlights that small business owners can protect themselves from cyberbreaches with cyber liability insurance. “In some ways, just the process of getting the insurance is protective. It makes companies look closely at their risk. That includes things like who has access to what data, where data is stored and whether any third-party vendors pose a risk.”

An August 2013 survey done by the Ponemon Institute, an independent data security organization, found that 76% of business owners who’ve experienced a cyberbreach say it is at least as disruptive as natural disasters and fires. In addition, the average cost to remediate is now $201 per record.

According to a 2014 survey conducted by Marsh & McLennan Agency only 33% of small- to mid-sized companies have a cyber liability policy, an increase over 2013, which came in at 16%.

While large cases like Target and Sony Pictures grab the headlines, Main Street business are not immune to cyber breach risk. These businesses process credit card transactions, keep employee records, and in many cases have a website that collects information from visitors and customers.

Cyber Liability and Data Breach Expense coverage is an essential safety net for any small business. The premium is comparatively small for the great value received and it complements the coverage a business owner carries in their business owner policy. If you have any questions regarding this important coverage please feel free to call my office!

Holiday Packages and Automobile Glass don’t mix!

Written by Timothy Shannon on . Posted in Uncategorized

I was speaking to one of the vendors that Farmers Insurance uses for glass replacement and he told me that it is amazing at this time of year how many automobile windows they replace due to smash and grab thieves.  Holiday packages in plain view in your automobile are prime targets for this type of activity and it occurs regularly.

So while you are out Holiday shopping for your loved ones please take the extra step to put packages in your trunk; if driving an SUV or Truck, make sure that you take the necessary precaution to hide any packages from plain sight.

While the Holiday shopping season brings this to light, it is also a very good practice to follow throughout the year to keep any valuables out of sight in your vehicle.

California becomes first in the nation to increase consumer protections in pet insurance

Written by Timothy Shannon on . Posted in Uncategorized

The following is text from a News Release from the California Department of Insurance

 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Today AB 2056 (Dababneh), which adds essential consumer protections to pet insurance, was signed into law by Governor Brown making it the first law of its kind in the nation. The new law will require pet insurers to disclose important information regarding their policies, standardize definitions, and provide consumers with a 30-day “free look” period; AB 2056 was sponsored by Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and will go into effect July 1, 2015.

 

Under the new law, pet insurers will be required to disclose baseline information regarding their policies such as reimbursement benefits, pre-existing condition limitations, and a clear explanation of limitations of coverage including coinsurance, waiting periods, deductibles, and annual or lifetime policy limits. Consumers will also gain a 30-day “free look” period in which a pet insurance policy can be returned for a full refund.

 

“California consumers will now have greater protection when they purchase pet insurance,” said Commissioner Jones. “In the state with the largest number of insured pets, once again California is leading the way by becoming the first state in the nation to enact a law that adds consumer protections to this rapidly growing line of insurance. I would like to thank Governor Brown for signing our bill and giving Californians piece of mind when it comes to protecting their pets.”

 

Directly addressing the majority of the Department’s complaints regarding pet insurance, consumers purchasing pet insurance will now have a better understanding of what they’re getting for their money, including the vital parameters of what constitutes of pre-existing condition. Actors and Others for Animals, who has continuously supported the bill, has also seen an increase in applications from pet owners with pet insurance who need help paying for their sick or injured pets because they have come to find that the policy’s exclusions exceed the benefits. AB 2056 will help consumers better understand policy terms and allow them to select a product that fits their needs.

 

If California consumer Gary Lucks had known that he would only be reimbursed about one third of the cost of his dog Brodie’s cancer diagnosis and treatment he would have considered other options. Lucks previously obtained marketing materials that advertised a 90 percent reimbursement rate, but in reality the company only covered 90 percent of the plan’s benefit schedule allowance. This bill will allow consumers like Lucks to make more informed decisions regarding pet insurance policies.

 

Commissioner Jones first authored this pet insurance consumer protection bill in 2008 when he served in the State Assembly. He was successful in getting the bill to the Governor’s desk, only to have it vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He vowed to try again with a new Governor and the result is the first in the nation per insurance consumer protection law.

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Timothy G. Shannon, CLF, AIM, LUTCF

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