How to Organize a 'Trunk-or-Treat' Event

There’s a new way to trick-or-treat that’s been gaining momentum in communities over the past few years. It’s called Trunk-or-Treat. Specific organizations or businesses partner with one another to offer a less-spooky alternative to the typical nighttime trick-or-treating Halloween event. It’s great for younger children and offers a shorter, friendlier Halloween experience.

All you need is a large parking lot, participating vehicles decorated for Halloween, and attendees to enjoy the fun. Here are some tips to help you plan a trunk or treat event:

 

  1. Location: The parking lot should be a decent size (a school parking lot or business parking lot is great). The location will also determine how many participants you can invite to the event. For example, if it’s at a school, will it be just for the school or can other community members and children attend? You’ll want to have enough room.
  2. Date: While it’s an alternative to Halloween trick-or-treating, it’s recommended that you stay away from the actual Halloween holiday. Typically the weekend before Halloween is a good idea or a different day leading up to the holiday will work. Check to see when your community plans to hold trick-or-treating and try to schedule your event a different day.
  3. Cost: Will you charge participants a fee to enjoy the Trunk-or-Treat? Or will the event serve as a fundraiser with donations going to a specific organization or cause?
  4. Find your trunks: If you’re hosting the event at a school, see if the PTO or teachers want to participate. Or, recruit local businesses to participate. Just make sure you allow trunk participants enough time to come up with an idea, decorate their trunk and purchase candy or treats to pass out.
  5. Safety First: On the day of the event, make sure trunk participants arrive at least an hour prior to the event start time. Have them set up, decorate their trunk and get ready for the children. If possible, it’s also a good idea to make sure families can park in a separate area away from the kids walking through the event space.
     

Think you’re ready to take on a trunk-or-treat event? Hopefully this list of tips will help you get started. And for other ways to make sure your Halloween is as safe as it is happy, check out these tips from Eriesense blog:

 

Halloween Safety Checklist
4 Lesser-Known Halloween Safety Tips
How to Prepare Your House for Trick or Treaters

by Jennifer Sonntag on October 6, 2017

https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/trunk-or-treat-event

Fall Home Maintenance Tips

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While spring is a common time for many homeowners to spend some extra attention on upkeep and maintenance, autumn is just as critical a season for preparing your home to withstand the potentially harsh winter weather and temperature conditions that may await you. By making maintenance part of your annual fall routine you can identify potential problems before they arise, and help prepare your home and property for what Mother Nature has to offer.

Following are some home maintenance tips from our Risk Control professionals to help you prepare for the coming winter:

  • Have your heating system cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified technician.
  • Replace your furnace filter in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Insulate water pipes in areas exposed to freezing temperatures.
  • Check gutters for damage and confirm they’re securely attached to the house.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts to keep debris from accumulating. This is especially important during the fall season when leaves may collect in gutters.
  • Check and repair caulking around doors and windows that show signs of deterioration.
  • Have your chimney cleaned and maintained by a professional.
  • Clean the clothes dryer exhaust duct and space under and behind the dryer. Remove lint and dust that may have accumulated inside the dryer in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • Check electrical outlets for loose-fitting plugs or receptacles. Be sure not to overload electrical outlets.
  • Keep a multi-purpose fire extinguisher accessible. Confirm that it is fully charged and ready for operation.
  • Inspect your smoke detectors. Make sure you have a smoke detector in each bedroom or sleeping area and also, a smoke detector in the hallway outside each sleeping area. You should also make sure you have at least one smoke detector on each floor of your home, including your basement. Test them monthly, and change the battery annually or as needed.

The steps you take during the fall can help protect your home and property from more potentially expensive damage and emergency repairs in the colder months to come.

Life is Short

As we hit life’s milestones, we often reflect upon our past years and what we want to do in the future. Did you have goals? Did you accomplish them? Are you making the most of the life that you live? It is important to keep track of your time because we all know far too well how quickly it passes. Here are some of the most time-consuming ways people spend their lives. How are you going to spend yours?

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Hagerty's Most Unusual Insurance Claims

by Hagerty // September 19, 2010

by Hagerty // September 19, 2010

At Hagerty, we know unique vehicles present their owners with unique challenges. We deal with a wide variety of uncommon vehicles and odd claims. In fact, once in a while, a claim is made on a collector vehicle that’s more than unusual – it’s legendary.

“Given the unique nature of collector vehicles, we know we’re going to see some off-the-wall claims,” said CEO McKeel Hagerty. “We only deal with classics, so we just never know what we’re going to hear on the other end of that telephone call. But we’re ready for anything.”

Our in-house claims department searched their files to uncover some of the most unusual collector car insurance claims we’ve ever seen:

• In case of fire, pop top – A client was enjoying a drive in his 1971 MGB Roadster and noticed smoke coming out from underneath the vehicle’s dash. A British car with an electrical system issue - unbelievable! Luckily, he had a fire-prevention device handy. Before the smoking dash became a full-fledged conflagration, he pulled over and put the fire out with a six-pack of beer.

• Doors? ... Where we're going, we don't need doors – The owner of a DeLorean, the infamous model featured in the Back to the Future movies, was pulling out of the garage. Everything was going smoothly except one thing – the Gullwing style doors were up. Whoops…

• Dog vs. Raccoon vs. Jaguar – One day, a dog discovered a raccoon in his owner’s garage. The dog scared the raccoon and caused him to climb to the safest place nearby: the roof of the dog-owner’s Jaguar E-Type. An epic struggle ensued. While the raccoon and dog both suffered some damage, the biggest casualty was the Jaguar. The entire body of the car was covered in claw and scratch marks, requiring a complete body makeover for one of the sexiest cars of all time.

• Don’t feed the bears – There’s nothing like a nature cruise in your 1967 Chrysler convertible, unless your car becomes too attractive to the wildlife. One owner parked in a wilderness area and walked away from his classic, and soon a curious black bear smelled something good. The bear scrambled onto the convertible top looking for food and decided to leave the owner a nice little gift – about five pounds of dung. The vehicle was scratched up, the convertible top was punctured and the owner had a very long ride home.

• Friends don’t let friends tailgate their Chevy – Three Chevy enthusiasts and good friends were headed to a car show driving their classics – a Nova, a Caprice and a Chevelle. They must have been following each other a little too closely, because when the first friend came to a sudden stop, the second friend crashed into him. The third friend then crashed his vehicle into the second. It was a rare Bowtie Trifecta.

• Redefining “horsepower” – A Porsche 911 and 914 and a 1976 Corvette were parked in a slightly opened garage when the neighbor’s horse got loose. The horse entered the garage and, in a fit of jealous rage, trampled all three cars to pieces. Fortunately, Hagerty’s Parts Specialist was able to find all of the replacement parts.

• Trophy car, meet trophy buck – One day, the owner of a 1961 Cadillac Deville was working in the garage when his 12-point mounted buck fell off the wall and directly onto his precious car. Of course, with a nearly 19-foot-long Deville in the garage, where else was the deer going to fall?

For more unusual claims, visit our "Losses and Lessons" section.

https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2010/09/19/hagertys-most-unusual-insurance-claims

#InsuranceGames: A Day in the Life of an Agent

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7:30 AM: It’s Friday. We deserve a treat. Time for bagels and coffee at Panera. #ButFirstCoffee

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8:00 AM: It’s Friday. We deserve some tunes. #BlastTheTunes.

8:05 AM: We read through emails, and start responding with answers so beautiful and professional they leave you like, WOW!  #WOW

9:30 AM: Bring on the phone calls… someone needs a quote. TIME TO SAVE YOU MONEY. #SaveAllTheMoney

9:40 AM: As an independent insurance agency, we have contracts with multiple insurance carriers so we can #SaveAllTheMoney by working up different quotes and selecting the company that is most competitive and can offer you the best rate.  #Capitalism

9:45 AM: Here are some of the companies that we throw into the gauntlet and make them compete for you: #HungerGames, I mean, #InsuranceGames

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10:00 AM: Another call. OH NO IT’S A CLAIM. It’s okay… we got you. #InThisTogether

10:38 AM: Someone called in because you referred them our way. You’re #TheBest. That means a gift card for coffee and donuts is coming your way! #ReferralProgram #DONUTS

12:30 PM: It’s lunch time. But we’re insurance super heroes. We don’t need lunch. #KEEPWORKING

12:45 PM: Just kidding. We’re eating lunch. #Donuts

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2:15 PM: Still working through quotes, emails, billing questions, mortgagee faxes, certificates and paperwork like a #BOSS.

3:30 PM: Did you know we do commercial insurance? Of course you did, that’s why you called us to insure your donut shop. We’ll take very good care of you. #Donuts

4:15 PM: Received your new policy in the mail from one of our carriers. Time to send you your temporary Auto ID cards, with a business card of our beautiful faces.

5:00 PM: It’s 5:00 PM. Time to go home. Just kidding… #KEEPWORKING

6:00 PM: Okay, maybe we’ll go home…

 

How Life Insurance Works: 10 Questions to Ask Before Buying

Life insurance might not make headlines or trend on Twitter, but it is important to talk about. Forty-three percent of Americans say they would feel a financial burdenwithin six months if the chief wage earner in the family died. Yet, just 44% of Americans have life insurance.

To help consumers understand various policy options, here are 10 questions you should know the answer to before buying life insurance:

Question #1: How does life insurance work?

At its core, a life insurance policy provides your family with an amount of money, called a death benefit, should you as the insured die.

Question #2: My employer offers life insurance. Why should I buy an additional policy?

Your employer’s plan may be affordable and easy to enroll in, but the policy may not provide enough of a monetary benefit to your family if you die. In addition, you may not be able to continue the policy if you change jobs. That’s why it’s always recommended to have an additional life insurance policy.

Question #3: From whom should I buy life insurance?

Look for a reputable company with name recognition and a history of serving consumers.

Question #4: How much life insurance do I need?

There are two major factors to consider here: your debt, and your spouse and children’s needs.

You want enough life insurance to pay off all of your debts – such as your mortgage and car loans. In addition, you want to leave behind enough money for your family to continue their current lifestyle. An insurance agent can crunch these numbers for you.

Question #5: Do I have to get a medical exam to get a policy?

Some policies may be available without a medical exam, but those might be more expensive.

Question #6: What’s the difference between term and permanent policies?

Term life insurance provides a death benefit for a certain period of time, usually 10, 20 or 30 years, and is typically less expensive than permanent life insurance.

Permanent life insurance provides both death benefits, and sometimes may build up cash value. It’s more expensive than term insurance but never expires, provided you pay your premium.

Question #7: Why are there so many permanent life insurance options?

There are a handful of permanent life insurance options – but the most common are: Whole Life, Universal Life and Variable Life.  Permanent life insurance typically requires more premium, but it is designed to last for an entire lifetime. It’s something you’ll want to discuss with your insurance agent.

Question #8: Will my premiums increase?

It’s important to know what your premiums will look like in the future. Some policies are designed to have guaranteed premiums that will never increase, and others are designed to be flexible.

Question #9: What is involved in purchasing life insurance?

Life insurance companies will want to get an understanding of the health of the individual who is applying for the insurance coverage. This underwriting process will typically involve meeting with a medical professional to gather personal information such as height, weight, blood work, and medical and personal questions.

Question #10: When is the best time to buy life insurance?

The sooner you buy life insurance, the more money you’ll save. Young, healthy policyholders get great rates, but older consumers need protection, too. Bottom line – if you don’t have life insurance, talk with an agent today.

If you still have questions about life insurance, check out these helpful resourceswhich can help you find out more about different types of life insurance and how much insurance you’ll need.

Published by Nationwide Family & Life Blog, August 18 2017

America's Top 10 Most Stolen Vehicles

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by Erie Insurance on August 4, 2017

We think about safety, comfort and reliability when we’re in the process of purchasing a new vehicle. But what about if it’s an easy target for car thieves? The report in this source article examines vehicle theft data submitted by law enforcement to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) and determines the vehicle make, model and model year most reported stolen in 2016.

Take a look at the latest article on car theft and see if your current (or new) ride falls on this list. You can even click on an interactive map to see the top 10 vehicle thefts by state.

Check out the vehicles on this year's list from the NICB.

Help protect your vehicle by making sure you always lock your car and by having the right auto insurance. As insurance professionals, we can help you find the right coverage at the right price!

Coverage for my College Student?

Article obtained from https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/back-to-college

Article obtained from https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/back-to-college

Is your child among the million students heading back to college any day now? If so, you’re probably busy helping them gather all the things they need for life away from home. 

One of the things that you’ll want to discuss with them before they go back to college is how to keep their car and their belongings safe and protected. Here are some answers to a few of the most common questions that parents of college students often ask us.

Are my child’s belongings covered by my homeowners policy when she goes back to college?

That’s a great question. Students also often take expensive items to school like laptops, bikes and TVs, which can be pricey to replace if damaged or stolen items. The good news is that most insurers’ homeowners policies are designed to cover your child if something is stolen or destroyed. 

At Erie Insurance, full-time students under the age of 24 are automatically covered under their parents’ policy. Part-time students and/or students who are 24 and older may need to take out a renters insurance policy to protect themselves and their belongings. 

Does insurance coverage differ if my child is living in a dorm versus an apartment?

Your children’s personal property is generally covered under your homeowners policy if they’re away from home. However, when students choose to live in an apartment, they should consider purchasing a separate renters insurance policy, which can provide for additional living expenses if an apartment becomes uninhabitable because of something like a fire. 

What steps can my child take to safeguard her belongings?

It’s a good idea to talk with your child about this since more than 13,500 burglaries were reported on U.S. campuses in 2014. In addition to taking personal safety precautions, your child will also want to keep these tips in mind:

  • Always lock the doors. Sounds obvious, but most dorm thefts occur during the day.
  • Fireproof things. Don’t leave candles, cigarettes and grills—the most common causes of fires—unattended. To be extra safe, consider flameless candles, indoor grills and simply kicking the habit.
  • Create a home inventoryIt is much easier to submit a claim if you save all receipts from major purchases, make a detailed list of everything of value in your home, and photograph or videotape your possessions.
  • Safeguard pricier items—or just leave them at home. Bikes, jewelry, watches and laptops are some of the biggest targets of theft. So be sure to lock them up or leave them at a trusted residence that doesn’t have a high level of foot traffic.

Another thing to keep in mind is that most insurers limit how much they will pay for theft of any one item (at Erie Insurance, the limit is $3,000). If a prized possession is worth more, you may want to add coverage.

You may also want to add identity theft coverage to your policy. At Erie Insurance, it’s automatically included in many policies and it helps a victim recover after identity theft or fraud. Talk with your agent to learn more about identity recovery coverage.

Do I need to make any adjustments to my child’s auto coverage if she’s away at school?

Because you’ll have one less driver living at home when your son or daughter goes off to college, your household might get a discount if the child doesn’t take the car to college.* If your child does take a car to school, review your coverage with an insurance agent to make sure he or she is properly insured. 

Are college kids eligible for any discounts?

This is an important question to ask your insurance agent. Erie Insurance has a college student auto discount that applies to young, unmarried, full-time college students who spend most of the year away from home without the use of a vehicle. If you’re renting and buy your car insurance and your renters insurance together from ERIE, you may be eligible for a multi-policy discount.* Ask your agent if you’re eligible for this type of discount.

*Discounts subject to eligibility and applicable rates and rules. Not available in all states

5 Questions to Ask Before You Buy That Fixer Upper

PHOTO: HGTV’S FIXER UPPER

PHOTO: HGTV’S FIXER UPPER

So, you found your dream home … but it needs some work to make that dream a reality. With a little bit of planning, work and patience, you think you can turn that fixer upper into something special. Here are five questions to ask before jumping in.

1. Where is it?
As with all real estate, location is paramount. As you consider the upgrades your dream house will need, think about whether those changes might actually overprice the house for the neighborhood. In addition to being in a nice, livable home, you’ll want to recoup your money when you eventually sell.

2. How much work is involved?
Fixer uppers can be a lot of work, so know what you’re getting into first. Scout out the house with a real estate agent and an experienced inspector, who can help identify the home’s issues. Are they cosmetic concerns––ugly shag carpeting, ghastly old wallpaper, outdated appliances—that can be quickly and easily replaced? Or are the issues structural? Be concerned if a home’s foundation, structure and electrical wiring require work, and ask yourself: How much is too much fixing up? Also, consider whether you’ll be able to live in the house during renovation; finding alternative housing could mean added expense.

3. Who will do the work?
Before investing in a fixer upper, decide how much you can do yourself. If the repairs aren’t extensive and you have the skills to make them, you can save money with a little sweat equity. But if you’re considering a major renovation, you’ll likely need to hire a contractor. In that case, do your research before deciding to buy. Once you’ve found someone reliable, with solid references, have them help you estimate the scope of the work—and make sure they’ll be available when you’re ready to start construction.

4. How much should I pay?
When it’s time to crunch numbers, enlist your realtor’s help. Start by comparing prices for homes in good condition in that neighborhood to determine a fair purchase price. Then, estimate the cost of the renovation and deduct that from the fair purchase price to arrive at an offer to buy. And remember, even the best-laid plans can go awry. When estimating the price of renovation, factor in the possibility for cost overruns or timeline delays.

5. How will I pay for it?
Major makeovers will likely need separate financing. A Federal Housing Administration (FHA) 203(k) rehabilitation loan can help. It allows you to buy the home and have a reserve fund in escrow for renovations. A home equity loan (also known as a second mortgage) or home equity line of credit (HELOC) taken at the same time as your primary mortgage may also be an option. Both let you borrow against the equity you already have in your home—for new homeowners, that’s usually the amount of the down payment. A mortgage specialist can help you sort through the options.

Article as published by AAA

https://athome.chicago.aaa.com/affording/5-questions-ask-buy-fixer-upper/

Backyard BBQ Party Ideas

Be sure to take advantage of BBQ season while it lasts! A good backyard BBQ is so much more than just eating. It’s a perfect opportunity to organize awesome entertainment and activities. Try out some of these fun BBQ ideas that are sure to make your next cookout a hit.

Don’t forget to stay safe while grilling. Before you fire up the coals, check out these essential grilling safety tips.

(From Nationwide Blog)

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Do You Practice Safe Selfies? Start Now.

Erie Insurance: http://bit.ly/2ouEB2A by Leah Knapp

Erie Insurance: http://bit.ly/2ouEB2A

by Leah Knapp

The selfie: That simple act of holding up your phone and snapping a photo of yourself. (Please note: Having someone take a photo of you by yourself is not, by definition, a selfie.)

What once seemed reserved for teens obsessed with documenting every aspect of their lives and celebrity red carpet events now seems to pervade all corners of our lives. Even politicians have mastered the art of the selfie.

The practice seemed to hit its peak in 2013 when Oxford Dictionary declared “selfie” its word of the year. Yet, its ubiquity shows no sign of slowing.

And while selfies can be an easy way to capture a moment, they can be dangerous.

There are some statistics around selfie fatalities. But there is far less data about injuries resulting from selfies, likely because there is no reporting mechanism for such things.

…And let’s face it, who wants to admit to spraining an ankle taking a photo of themselves?

At last count, there were 13 landmarks around the globe that have actually banned selfies in some form or fashion.

And consider this: A 2015 survey by Erie Insurance found that 4 percent of drivers admit to taking selfies while they’re driving, while another 23 percent have seen others do it. With more than 420,000 people injured in car accidents involving distracted driving each year, it’s time to get serious about keeping your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

With that in mind, we’ve created these simple reminders for you to share and encourage others to #PracticeSafeSelfies. Download them below and help us spread the word. To download, right click and select "Save As."

Just don’t post them #whiledriving.

Great Shot

 

 

 

Keeping Kids Safe in the Backyard

by Erie Insurance on August 2, 2017

 

Many of us love the idea of turning our backyards into an inviting oasis where the kids can let loose while the adults unwind. Who wouldn’t want to kick back and listen to the happy squeals of their kids as they splash in the pool, bounce on the trampoline or swing higher on the swings?

Play it Safe

It’s important to take an inventory of your backyard and identify potential risks. Your insurance agent can help you determine what liabilities you have and what coverage limits are best for your specific situation. It’s about the peace of mind knowing you, your family (and the neighborhood kids) are protected if something happened.

It’s important to understand that swimming pools and trampolines are known as an “attractive nuisance.” In other words, you may have something that's kept outside that could tempt a child to sneak into your yard and use it. If that kid ends up getting hurt or worse, you could be held liable, even if they were trespassing.

Bottom line, there are many situations where if someone gets hurt at your home, you’re financially responsible for his or her  injuries. To protect yourself, talk to your agent. Understand what is covered under your homeowners policy and what isn’t, and consider an umbrella policy for more liability coverage for your backyard enhancements.

In addition, take a few extra steps to protect your family and your visitors. We’ll walk through some of the most common causes of backyard accidents and what homeowners can do to protect their families, their guests and their finances — without sacrificing the fun factor.

Up first, trampoline safety.

Young, Fabulous - and Insured: Protect your (Temporary) Home

by Tara Maciulewicz on July 20, 2017

 

Insurance probably isn’t top of mind for young adults heading off to college or renting their first apartment. But with freedom comes responsibility—and in this case, the responsibility is to make sure that they and their belongings are protected by getting the proper renters and auto coverages.

The good news is that many young adults may not need to take out additional policies and, for those who do, some policies cost mere cents a day. ERIE can help with policies that fit whatever life stage you’re currently in.

Protect your place

Dorm dwellers and apartment renters alike should definitely get schooled in insurance.

“When kids are away at school, they’re considered residents of their parents’ household and are covered to the full limit of the parents’ homeowners or renters policy until they’re 24,” says Jennifer Koebe, ERIE’s vice president and regional underwriting officer. This holds true as long as the young adult is a full-time student and maintains residency in their parents’ home—which they must have lived in directly prior to moving out—when not on campus or in an apartment during the school year.

Things are a little stickier with non-full-time students and renters who are 24 years of age or older. To protect this group’s personal property against damage from fire, smoke, theft, vandalism, lightning and other common disasters, they’ll need to take out a standard renters insurance policy, such as an ErieSecure Tenant® policy.

This policy offers personal property coverage, loss of use (coverage that kicks in to take care of living expenses associated with a temporary relocation), personal liability protection, and medical payments for damages or injury that occur in your rental unit or as a result of personal activities away from home. And, similar to how an ERIE homeowners policy works, the customer gets worldwide coverage that protects his or her possessions even if they are damaged, lost or stolen when away from home, whether the location in question is an exotic locale or a friend’s place across town.

The ErieSecure Tenant® protection (including liability protection), which starts at $100,000 in coverage and goes up to $1 million, typically costs less than $120 a year and far less when paired with an ERIE auto policy. It's recommended that renters consider a personal liability limit of at least $300,000 and that they opt for guaranteed replacement cost over actual cash value.

What’s the difference?

“In an actual cash value settlement, if something happened to that TV you’ve had for 15 years, you’d receive the money it was worth with the depreciation factored in,” Koebe says. “With a guaranteed replacement cost settlement, you’ll be able to buy a brand new TV. There’s a small difference in premiums between the two, but the value that replacement cost provides Customers dealing with an unfortunate situation is significant.”

Tips to keep your stuff safe

Even with an insurance policy in place, it still pays to practice some tips to protect your property and keep claims in check. Here are a few:

 

  • Safeguard pricier items—or just leave them at home. According to the Campus Safety and Security Data Analysis Cutting Tool,* over 22,000 dorm burglaries occurred in the years 2013, 2014 and 2015 combined. Expensive bikes, jewelry, watches and laptops are some of the most frequent targets, so take care to lock them up or leave them at a trusted residence that doesn’t have a high level of foot traffic. Renters should also be aware that ERIE has a $3,000 coverage limit per item for the theft of things such as jewelry and watches. If a prized possession is worth more than that limit, make sure to talk to your agent about getting additional coverage for that item.
     

  • Lock your doors all the time. It sounds obvious, but most dorm thefts occur during the day.
     

  • Fireproof your home. Don’t leave candles, grills and cigarettes—the most common causes of fires—unattended. To be extra safe, consider flameless candles, indoor grills and kicking the habit. 
     

  • Engrave electronics. Engravings make it easier for police to identify stolen computers, televisions and tablet.
     

  • Create a home inventory. By saving all receipts from major purchases, making a detailed list of everything of value in your home or apartment, and photographing or videotaping your possessions, submitting a claim will be easier. You’re also more likely to receive reimbursement for what’s stolen or damaged.
     

  • Consider adding Identity Recovery coverage to your policy. College students are increasingly targets of identity fraud. The Federal Trade Commission reports college students (ages 20–29) represent the highest percentage of all identity theft complaints. College students have pristine credit records and they’re exposed to situations that can leave them vulnerable to identity theft. Fortunately, it’s affordable to add an ErieSecure® Advantage Bundle endorsement, which will help cover the cost of identity theft by reimbursing you up to $25,000 of fraudulent credit card fees. The Advantage Bundle also includes increased sublimit coverage for theft-related losses.

 

Like a favorite roommate, ERIE is there for you. Talk to an Erie Insurance agent today to get the right coverage for you.

 

Insurance 101

There’s no doubt about it—insurance can be as much of a head-scratcher as a trick question on a final exam.

While we can't make insurance any less complicated, we can help it make more sense. To understand how ERIE’s policies can safeguard you and give you peace of mind, check out these ERIE resources:

 

  • ERIE’s website–You'll find lots of helpful information and insurance glossaries along with a free online auto quote tool, a life insurance calculator and plenty of FAQs in the Support Center.
     

  • Eriesense blog–Here, you have access to hundreds of stories to help you live better and safer. For example, you can search on a variety of topics and find everything from the latest trends in cars and tech to interactive quizzes and videos.
     

  • Your ERIE agent–Your knowledgeable agent is there to help you, so don’t hesitate to throw any questions his or her way. If you don’t have an ERIE agent, you can find an agent at erieinsurance.com.
     

  • Your policy–For the final word, consult your individual policy. And if you still have questions, talk to your agent.
     

  • Another great resource for insurance info is the Insurance Information Institute’s website.

 

Read about protecting your wheels next.

 

*This analysis cutting tool was designed to provide rapid customized reports for public inquiries relating to campus crime and fire data. The data are drawn from the OPE Campus Safety and Security Statistics website database to which crime statistics and fire statistics are submitted annually, via a web-based data collection, by all postsecondary institutions that receive Title IV funding (i.e., those that participate in federal student aid programs). This data collection is required by the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act and the Higher Education Opportunity Act.

Insurance products are subject to terms, conditions and exclusions not described in this article. For additional coverage questions, please refer to our disclaimer and talk to an ERIE agent for policy details. Coverage is not available in all states.

Protect Your Pets from Hot Cars

by Jennifer Sonntag on July 7, 2017

 

To a dog, there’s nothing more exciting than going for a ride, having the window rolled down and feeling the wind in your ears. However, when the car stops and owners run a “quick” errand, what can happen to your pet is dangerous. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), hundreds of pets die in hot cars each year. Time passes faster than owners realize and car temperatures can climb to well over 115 degrees, putting your pet’s life in danger.

How fast does a car’s temperature rise? Here are some examples:

When it’s 70 degrees outside, your car’s temperature inside is 89 degrees after just 10 minutes and up to 104 degrees after a half hour. If you’re traveling with your pet on an 85 degree day, your car’s temperature is 104 degrees after 10 minutes and nearly 120 degrees after a half hour. Pets cool themselves by panting and through their skin and have a harder time cooling down in hot weather. In a hot car, heat stroke can happen in just a few minutes.

What to do if you see a pet in a hot car

Take caution when you see a pet in a hot car. If you identify a pet is in distress in a hot vehicle, the best thing to do is contact local law enforcement. Some states have laws against leaving a pet in a hot car, however, it varies. Obtain guidance from law enforcement before taking action and breaking a car window on your own. Once you call law enforcement, stay by the vehicle and keep an eye on the pet until help arrives.

How to treat a pet with heat stroke
First, it’s important to know the signs of a heat stroke:

Warning signs: panting, drooling and lethargy
Advanced stage: grey or blue gums, limp body posture with heavy breathing and the pet may be in shock

Cooling the Pet Down

 

  • Get your pet to an air-conditioned environment
  • Work to cool the pet down by wetting the ears and pads of the feet with cool water (do not use frigid water, use cool water).
  • Place cool, wet towels over the shoulder/neck, under the front legs and in the groin area
  • Refresh the water frequently
  • If the pet will drink, provide cool water or small ice chips


What to do if the pet is unresponsive

  • Call an emergency veterinarian immediately and tell them you’re on your way.
  • If the gums are gray/blue, they are in need of immediate treatment and should be rushed to the nearest emergency treatment center.
  • They will help cool the dog and administer subcutaneous fluids.


Additional Tips for Pet Owners in the Summer

  • Short-nosed, long-haired and young dogs are more at risk and prone to heat stroke.
  • On hot days, limit exercising your pet to early morning or evening hours.
  • Asphalt gets very hot and could burn your pet’s paws.
  • Pets with light-colored noses or light-colored fur on their ears are vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancer. It’s safe to use sunscreen on their noses and ear tips.


If you’re going out during the summer, it’s best to keep your pet at home, in a cool, air conditioned environment. 

Road Travel Maintains Increasing Trend in 2017

by Erie Insurance on July 8, 2017

 

U.S. road travel is already up 1.5 percent over last year.  So far, motorists have traveled 1.01 trillion miles on U.S. roads and highways in 2017. This matches similar travel trends seen in 2016.

This is positive news for oil refiners, as the driving season (typically the summer months) is just about halfway over. Increases in motor travel will likely have an effect on gasoline consumption, which was still down 2.7 percent at the end of the first quarter this year.

Read the full story from Thomson Reuters online news site, Reuters

ERIE Ranked Highest in J.D. Power Insurance Shopping Studay

Thousands of people recently shared their experiences about shopping for auto insurance in a new national study and Erie Insurance was awarded “Highest Satisfaction with the Auto Insurers Shopping Experience.”

The J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Insurance Shopping StudySM, now in its 11th year, provides an in-depth look at the entire auto insurance policy selection process. It explores why customers shop, their attitudes toward and perceptions of auto insurance brands and how they make their final purchase decision. Satisfaction is measured on three factors (in order of importance):

  • Price—How customers rate their new auto insurance provider on the price of the policy given the level of coverage.

  • Distribution channel—How customers rate their experience interacting with their new auto provider’s agent, call center rep and website.

  • Policy offerings—How customers rate the variety of coverage options, the degree to which their needs are met and the ease of obtaining a new policy.

For the fifth consecutive year, Erie Insurance ranked the highest in the study, with a score of 879 out of 1,000.

The study methodology and other findings

The study is based on responses from more than 16,400 shoppers who requested an auto insurance quote from at least one of the top 25 insurers that have the largest market share in the United States. Customers were surveyed from April 2016 to January 2017.

The study also revealed that shoppers are increasingly reliant on agent recommendations when considering and quoting insurers, compared to 2015 (with 9- and 10-percentage point increases, respectively). Another critical driver of satisfaction is communication. Companies like ERIE that ranked the highest in the study help:

  • Ensure the customer completely understands the coverage.

  • Provide guidance and/or tools for selecting the right coverage.

  • Make certain customers understand their premium calculations.

Are you shopping for insurance?

When you’re shopping for insurance, J.D. Power offers the following tips:

  • Look for an agent with a reputation for integrity and trustworthiness, who can give you thorough advice on the pluses and minuses of various insurers and their products.

  • Compare the terms of various policies and assess how those policies might be affected by factors such as current events, driver performance and acquisition of new vehicles.

  • Be sure you’re well covered in areas where you most need coveragesuch as personal liability (when you hurt other people or their property).

Who Is Erie Insurance?

ERIE has been protecting families and businesses for more than 90 years. The company’s employees and agents follow the Golden Rule—treat others as you would want to be treated. 

“As you can see from this study, our prices, products and service often outshine the competition,” says Doug Smith, executive vice president, sales and products, at Erie Insurance. “When you work with an experienced ERIE agent from your neighborhood, you’ll get coverage that exactly fits your life and never pay more than you should. When something bad happens, we’ll make sure you’re back on your way, right away. We’ve built our reputation for being Above all in Service®.”

In the past year, ERIE has made improvements to the auto insurance quote tool on its website. Shortly after the J.D. Power survey closed in January, ERIE launched a refreshed website. For more information, get in touch with a local ERIE agent.

 

Erie Insurance received the highest numerical score in the J.D. Power 2013–2017 U.S. Insurance Shopping Studies (tied in 2016). The 2017 study is based on 16,424 total responses evaluating 21 providers and measures the experiences and perceptions of customers surveyed between April 2016 and January 2017. Your experiences may vary. Visit jdpower.com for more information.

Have a Safe and Happy July 4th Holiday

by Erie Insurance on June 29, 2017

 

Gearing up for the July 4th holiday likely means family picnics, being outside and enjoying a fireworks display. We’ve rounded up our best Independence Day tips and information in preparation for the upcoming holiday weekend. Check out ways to keep you and your family safe while enjoying America’s birthday celebration:

If you're planning your own fireworks display, read these fireworks safety tips and check out the tips on sparkler safety, too.

Before your BBQ, read these grilling safety tips.

Planning on spending time on the water? Read boating best practicesbefore you head out.

Motorcycle Tips if the July 4th holiday will take you out on the open road.

How to Get Your Car Ready for Summer

by Jennifer Sonntag on June 23, 2017

Summer is finally here! Longer days, warmer weather and spending more time outside. We take precautions from the sun and heat when we’re outside, but what about our cars? Did you know that the sun and heat can cause serious damage to your vehicle, too? Here are some tips to help you care for your ride this summer:

Prep work

 

  • Make sure your car’s cooling system is completely flushed and refilled every 24 months, and the levels, condition and concentration of the coolant are checked periodically.
  • Oil and oil filters should also be changed based on your car’s owner’s manual. (Changing the oil and filters every 3,000 miles is a good rule of thumb).
  • Keep your windshield clean and replace worn wiper blades. Be sure to check for plenty of wiper fluid in the reservoir, too.
  • Look at your tires and make sure to check the pressure at least once a month. When you do check, make sure the tires are cooled down and always rotate your tires every 5,000 miles to ensure even wear.
  • Check for changes in the way your brake pedals feel and take your car for repairs immediately if you hear scraping or grinding noises.
  • Remove dirt and insects from your lights and make sure all bulbs are working. Tip:  to prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.
  • Have a professional technician look at your car’s air conditioning system.  A marginally operating system can fail in hot weather. Newer car models have cabin air filters that clean the air entering the heating and air conditioning system.

 

On the road and in the sun

 

  • Keep an eye on your car’s temperature. If you see that it’s getting overheated, you can turn on your car’s heater to pull the air away from the engine to the passenger compartment of the vehicle.
  • During long trips, try to target your driving times for the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening.
  • When you park your car, try to find a shady spot and crack your window slightly. Leaving your windows cracked an inch will create enough space to vent the hot summer air.
  • Be sure to never leave children or pets in the car, even for a quick errand. A car’s interior temperature can heat up from 78 to 100 degrees in less than three minutes.
  • Update your car’s emergency kit.  While you might need that parka and snow brush for the winter, they won’t do any good for the summer heat. Here’s a sample list of items to include in your summer car emergency kit, in addition to your normal car emergency kit:
     
  • Water:  one gallon, plus one bottle per person
  • Sunscreen, bug spray and hat -- you might have to be outside of your car
  • Blanket: keep this in your car to use for shade
  • First-aid kit
  • Flashlight

 

Another thing you’ll want for your car is auto insurance you can count on. Talk to an Erie Insurance agent in your community to learn more and get a free quote.

Who Will Win the Self-Driving Car Race?

by Erie Insurance on June 16, 2017

 

Who Will Win the Self-Driving Car Race?

Every Memorial Day weekend, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts the Indy 500, the most prestigious event of the IndyCar racing calendar. Thirty-three racecars took to the track this year, but only one driver came out on top:  Takuma Sato. Sato knows the race is grueling and a long-distance test for every driver. He also knows the rewards are more than worth the effort.

In many cases the race to build the first saleable, fully autonomous vehicle for U.S. roads is the same, grueling test. (Except for having a driver, of course) According to a recent report by the data-research company CB Insights, the self-driving car competition currently has more than 33 entries of its own, from the top-selling automakers as well as unconventional ones.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released its first Federal Automated Vehicles Policy in September, saying that self-driving cars could lead to an “unprecedented advance in safety on U.S. roads and highways.” According to the DOT, “human error” was responsible for 94 percent of the last year’s auto crashes, during which an estimated 35,200 people lost their lives. So, you could say that whichever company wins the self-driving car race, the real winners will be the passengers.

Tesla blazing the trail

The auto company that’s furthest along—and the one that some say already has won the race—is the unconventional brand, Tesla.

The “Autopilot” technology in the Tesla Model S can operate the car in a wide variety of driving conditions, keeping the vehicle in its lane and on pace with traffic by digitally taking over the brakes, engine and steering wheel. So in a way, there are self-driving cars currently on the road.

To keep heading in the right direction, Tesla released its Autopilot Version 8 software update in September. Key advances include a “more detailed point cloud” that allows the system to access six times as many radar objects as before, as well as the ability to use those objects as part of 3D radar “snapshots” of driving conditions.

The updated Autopilot also allows a crowd-sourced solution to conditions that still challenge the system, such as when an overhead traffic sign seems like it’s in the roadway, due to changes in road elevation. Autopilot will “learn” what the Tesla fleet does in specific scenarios, and will then be able to compare that to what a given driver is doing in the future. When behaviors don’t match up, Autopilot will “know” how to react.

Other competitors in the race

Some of the industry’s mainstream titans are hot on Tesla’s wheels. General Motors, for instance, received a Popular Mechanics “Breakthrough Award” for its Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving technologies in 2013, and the technology is being fine-tuned in the Cadillac CT6 luxury sedan for a production launch later this year. That’s a little later than originally planned, but GM is taking extra time to address the specific concerns shown with Tesla’s Autopilot. A key will be technology similar to that used in drowsiness-alert systems, which can analyze driving behavior and use facial recognition to tell if a driver may be getting sleepy. For Super Cruise, the technology will ensure owners remain engaged in the driving experience.

Separately, GM also spent $1 billion to buy Cruise Automation, an outside company that specializes in autonomous-driving technology. GM also invested half that amount in the Lyft transportation company, a major competitor for Uber. GM expects its investment to pay off in a fleet of self-driving Lyft taxis that’s scheduled to begin testing sometime next year.

Among the automakers setting the pace with GM and Tesla are Audi and Volvo. Audi’s autonomous RS 7 has successfully lapped racetracks in Spain and California with journalists on board, even breaking the track record at the Parcmotor circuit in Barcelona. Further, Audi claims that when its next-gen A8 luxury sedan goes on sale next year, it will offer Level 3 autonomy. That means the driver can “cede full control” to the vehicle in certain scenarios, and “rely heavily” on the automatic driving functions.

At Volvo, the brand is building on its present line of driver-assistance measures with self-driving versions of its XC90 SUV. They’re part of the Drive Me project in Gothenburg, Sweden, where the vehicles will be given to “normal, everyday families” for testing on public roads. From there, the automaker expects to have autonomous driving technology ready for commercial use by 2021.

Volvo also serves up a fair amount of self-driving technology for its 2016-2017 roster. The new Volvo S90 is a prime example, thanks to a Pilot Assist function that can automatically steer the car even when it’s not following traffic.

Tech companies revving their engines

Conspicuously missing from the discussion so far are the self-driving cars from the technology companies. With all the buzz about those cute little Google-mobiles and continuing rumors about an Apple car, neither is likely to end up in customer driveways anytime soon. The barriers to entry in the auto industry are sky-high, from the costs needed to produce them, to who gets to sell them.

Remember, in many states, it’s illegal for Tesla to sell its vehicles directly to the public. Tesla got its start by repurposing cars built by another company—Lotus—and still only sells about 5,100 vehicles a month. Ford sells that number of F-150 pickups in fewer than 2.5 days. A future based on self-driving cars will require production capabilities closer to the former than the latter.

That helps explain why Google, for one, has partnered with Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles for a new phase in autonomous-driving research. This time, the initiative is backed by a fleet of 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans and a focus on ways to add autonomous-driving technology to the assembly line.

Other prominent tech collaborations include that between Microsoft and Toyota, as well as between Intel and BMW. Also, mirroring GM and Lyft, Uber has turned to Ford to explore self-driving cars. Meanwhile, The New York Times notes that Apple has “shuttered parts of its self-driving car project and laid off dozens of employees.”

As each carmaker makes its final lap toward the finish line, consumers await this cutting-edge technology that will also be a big win for passenger safety.

Make sure you and your car are adequately protected. Talk to an Erie Insurance agent about auto insurance coverage or get a quote online.

From a young age, Charles Krome felt destined to work in the automotive industry, growing up in Motor City with a last name like Krome. As an automotive writer for CARFAX, a leading used-car shopping website, Charles shares consumer advice on how to keep up with emerging technology when it comes to car buying.

The Hidden Cost of Car Ownership

by Nancy Daniel on June 6, 2017

 

When you think about the costs of owning a car, what do you think of - the gas, maintenance or maybe insurance?  Actually, depreciation is often one of the larger expenses of car ownership.

According to U.S. News & World Report, new vehicles lose value at an average decline of 15-25 percent each year during the first five years. And whether new or used, all vehicles lose value over time.  Since the rate of depreciation varies by vehicle model, it’s a good idea to take resale value into consideration when shopping for your new ride.  

According to the experts at Kelley Blue Book, picking a vehicle with excellent resale value is very likely the most important thing you can do when it comes to keeping costs down.  Paying a fair price for the car and securing a good loan rate can be undone by poor resale value, because eventually you’re going to sell it or trade it in.

Cars that retain a higher value

If you’re car shopping this year, it appears that bigger vehicles are depreciating better. Trucks and SUVs appear in nine of the top 10 spots on the Kelly Blue Book 2017 Best Resale Value Awards. Per Kelley, while the average new vehicle will be worth about 33 percent of its original sticker price after 60 months, the top 10 vehicles on their list will return an average of 50 percent to their owners at resale time.

The Kelley authorities say that choosing a car with good resale value can often save you more money in the long run than going for big rebates and other incentives.

New cars that may lose value the quickest

To highlight the other end of the spectrum, Forbes magazine shared the results of a study conducted by the used-vehicle website Carlypso.com.  Among the top 10 vehicles expected to have resale issues were the Nissan Leaf, Dodge Charger, Volkswagen Beetle, Mitsubishi Lancer and Kia Optima.

A little research goes a long way

When you’re ready to shop for your next vehicle, it will pay to do some research on resale value before making an investment. Whichever new (or used) car you choose, Erie Insurance can ensure that investment is protected with a great auto policy at a great price. And we can help you take care of the depreciation issue, too, with a coverage endorsement that provides true replacement value.

It’s called New Auto Security, and you can ask your agent to add it to your ERIE auto policy. If you’ve had your new car less than two years and it gets totaled, ERIE will reimburse you the cost to replace it with the newest model year. And if your new car is in an accident but it’s not a total loss, ERIE will pay to repair the vehicle without a deduction for depreciation.

If your vehicle is past its second birthday, ERIE will pay the cost to replace it with another vehicle of the same model that is two years newer. That means the coverage is good to have no matter what the age of your vehicle.

Reaching out to a local Erie Insurance agent  is a good way to start your research. He or she can explain the coverage details and get you a quote.

A vehicle is considered new when it is less than two years old and is owned by the original purchaser. Eligible vehicles must carry both comprehensive and collision coverage, and the policy deductible will be applied at the time of a claim. Insurance products are subject to terms, conditions and exclusions not described in this post. The endorsement is sold on a per-vehicle basis, not per policy, and contains the specific details of the coverages, terms, conditions and exclusions. Coverage is not available in all states. Please refer to our disclaimer and talk to an ERIE agent for policy details.