This time each year, it seems the media is full of back-to-school protection tips advising parents and college students on how to protect their “stuff”. While the guidance is helpful, these tired articles commonly ignore the host of emerging risks that can expose a family’s assets and jeopardize the welfare of their child.
Every parent of a college student understands the degree to which their child seems tethered to their smart phone and other connected technology. The common condition of being too connected has been termed “virtual addiction”, a condition so common there is a website that offers on-line questionnaires to help the public examine the degree to which addiction describes their relationship with technology: http://virtual-addiction.com/smartphone-abuse-test/ (these tests are eye-opening…) Whether the student’s use of technology qualifies as an addiction or not, very few college students today are not at least heavy users of modern technology.
As a result, today’s college students face risks that are far more grave that a stolen laptop! Consider the following risks that can arise from the improper and unmonitored use of the modern technology at every student’s disposal:
- loss of privacy
- computer malware or virus
- stolen identity and personal information
- mis-use of social media that can cause harm to another
- texting, e mailing, snapchatting, taking selfies or just plain talking on a cell phone while driving
- sending, receiving and or forwarding illegal content
The insurance industry can help parents and students to better prepare for the above issues. Consider reviewing this helpful series of recommendations from ACE Private Risk Services. For those with college students and younger children, this helpful guide from Chubb offers a number of protection insights.
In addition to having a complete discussion with your child about the risks that can arise from their mis-use of technology, following are two specific protection recommendation I can also offer:
- Make sure the homeowner policy that provides primary liability protection for family members includes coverage for “personal injury” related risks: libel, slander, defamation, and other verbal torts. MANY homeowner policies do not! Be sure to supplement this primary liability protection with adequate excess liability insurance.
- If your college student is at school with the use of a car, install a device that restricts the use of their cell phone while operating that car! There are a growing number of providers for this important safety service, but this device from cell control has been well reviewed. (why not also take this step for those children driving cars while at home?) Preventing distracted driving is achievable, and a cause I am passionate about.
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A common provision in many contracts stipulates in the event of litigation between parties to the contract, the prevailing party in the litigation is entitled to recover their attorneys’ fees from the losing party. Coverage for this risk is almost always excluded by all forms of insurance policies, leaving unsuccessful litigants exposed to what can become a very significant financial loss. Contract Litigation Insurance (CLI) provides a degree of protection from the uncertain nature of litigation. This new form of insurance coverage can insure a plaintiff or defendant in a contractual lawsuit against the risk of paying their adversary’s attorneys’ fees if unsuccessful in prosecuting or defending their contract claim.
This coverage is even available to businesses or individuals during the early stages of a contractual dispute. What types of contract disputes are most common? The risk of paying an adversary’s attorneys’ fees are especially common in contract actions arising out of employment contracts, real estate contracts, loan agreements, purchase agreements, partnership agreements and leases.
- Coverage may be purchased by individuals or businesses currently involved in contractual litigation;
- CLI is available upon the filing of a contract action for a period of 1 year from the filing/service date;
- The coverage period matches the duration of the covered litigation; and
- Coverage is triggered when the opposing party prevails after a contested trial or summary judgment.
Coverage is underwritten by Zurich, an A+ rated carrier, and is available through Sonoma Risk Insurance in Los Angeles, CA. To learn more: http://www.sonomarisk.com/
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I recently read yet another article by a main stream journalist that promised readers “weird new steps” to lower the cost of auto insurance for those with teenage drivers. If you have a teenage driver, this topic can sure stimulate interest!
As a parent and insurance insider who has experienced the financial pain associated with 3 teenage drivers, it is my strong view that articles advocating how to lower insurance premiums miss the two FAR far more important objectives that parents of teenage drivers should be encouraged to make their first priorities:
1. Accident Prevention: Nationally among all age groups, statistics reveal cell phone distractions are a factor in 25% of all accidents. Imagine what this risk is for younger drivers! While cellular technology adds new risks, other technology exists to help parents manage this risk. Cellcontrol is one service provider offering a solution that prevents unauthorized in-motion use of mobile phones. Their solution puts parents in control of what a family member can or cannot do with their cell phone while driving. (the same solution is available for those responsible for corporate fleets) To learn more: http://www.cellcontrol.com/stop-texting-while-driving-for-your-family/
2. Protect Your Assets: ASK ANY parent of a teenager who has been involved in a serious accident: after the accident: NO parent is concerned with the cost of their insurance, but ALL were concerned with the insurance protection that was available to protect them at the time of the accident. After an accident is the wrong time to recall the dangers of being “penny wise, but pound foolish”.
Please: address these two more important objectives first, and THEN work with an insurance professional to examine strategies to intelligently manage the cost of proper insurance coverage.
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Posted in Caveat Emptor, Liability Risks and Solutions, tagged automobile insurance, car insurance, DIY insurance, geico, geico business model, insurance carriers, large insurance carriers, liability coverage, motorists coverage, personal risk management, risk, save 15% in 15 minutes, state laws, uninsured drivers, uninsured motorists on October 26, 2010|
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In an attempt to speak with a local attorney about the importance of un / underinsured motorists coverage, I clumsily asked how he felt about the topic. My awkward phrasing provided the perfect fodder for this attorney to display his oh-so-sharp wit, and he mockingly replied to my question “Why, I’m 100% against uninsured motorists!”
Once he was done laughing at his own joke (it took awhile), I explained that what I intended to ask was whether he ever felt it worth his while to recommend to his clients the importance of structuring their automobile insurance to better protect themselves from the costs of injuries caused by a driver with either no insurance, or very low limits of liability coverage. As I recall, he wasn’t so against uninsured drivers that he felt it important enough to makes his clients aware of the need to protect themselves and their families. According to this news report, neither is Geico.
A large part of Geico’s ability to help consumers “save 15% in 15 minutes” stems from the fact they feature a “select your own coverage” business model. One of the outcomes of DIY insurance: according to this report (check the link above), Geico is not complying with state laws designed to help consumers make informed coverage decisions. Why not? They are not complying because it is more profitable for Geico to allow consumers to select less protection from un and underinsured motorists.
Call me @ 631-329-7246 if you want to understand WHY Geico and several LARGE insurance carriers encourage consumers to “save money” by skimping on important un/underinsured motorists coverage, and to learn what you can do to actually protect your family and your clients from the many drivers who have little or no liability coverage.
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