News & Events

When Things go BOOM in the Night – Fireworks Safety

For most of us, the Fourth of July is a time to enjoy the company of family and friends, having fun and creating memories – whether at home or away.

But for some families, the holiday is a nightmare. Homes each year in Ohio are damaged by wayward fireworks. Thousands of people are injured in accidents.

At Beck Insurance Agency, we want your holiday to be happy, but also safe. So here are some tips to help you protect yourself and your property on the Fourth.

Protecting yourself (and others)
• To minimize the risk of injury, don’t use consumer fireworks. Attend a public display conducted by professionals.
• If using consumer fireworks, always follow instructions. Do not attempt to re-light “duds” or create homemade fireworks.
• Never let children handle or light fireworks. Even sparklers, which burn at more than 1,000 degrees, can cause third-degree burns. Kids under the age of 15 account for approximately 40% of fireworks injuries, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
• A responsible adult should always be present when children – even teenagers – are around fireworks. More than half of fireworks injuries happen to those younger than 20 years old.

Protecting your home
• According to the National Fire Protection Association, the best way to protect your home is to not use fireworks at home.
• Remember, fireworks can cause grass fires and other types of blazes as well. Make sure you light fireworks in a safe area, away from homes and buildings, as well as other combustible material. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergency.
• Look out for tree limbs or bushes that could catch fire. Trimming vegetation to keep it away from your home is a good idea anyway, but it could save you from a catastrophic fire on the Fourth of July.
• If your gutters have accumulated leaves, pine needles or other flammable material, clean them before using fireworks near your home.
• Finally, if you won’t be home on the holiday, ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your house if others in your neighborhood will be using fireworks.

With some common sense and planning, the Fourth of July can be both safe and enjoyable for everyone. Whether you’re staying at home or heading elsewhere, we hope you have a wonderful time celebrating our independence!

Am I covered while renting a car?

A common question presented to our staff is….”does my auto policy cover me while renting a car?” The answer to that is yes, and no.

The coverage that you carry on your own auto policy usually does extend to a rental car. The same liability limits apply, and if you carry full coverage on at least one vehicle, that coverage and your deductibles will apply to the rental as well. If you do not have a vehicle with full coverage, you would not have that protection on the rental vehicle.

Here is where things can get sticky.

Many rental car company contracts have language in them that holds you to more responsibility than what a personal auto policy will actually cover. Here are a few:

“Replacement cost requirements” Auto insurance policies cover your vehicle for actual cash value which is basically “book value”. So naturally if your vehicle is several years old, with 40,000 miles on it the actual cash value is much less than what the original cost new. There have been some rental car contracts that made you responsible for not only the cost new, but the cost new of the newest model available. This is an obvious gap in coverage.

“Loss of Use” If you damage a rental car it may be out of service for a period while undergoing repairs. The rental company could lose income while that vehicle is unavailable. Most insurers will pay for loss of use as long as the rental company has no other vehicles available for rent. If they have other vehicles sitting there idle, they are not actually losing any income therefore insurance would not respond. It is advisable to ask under what circumstances you would owe for loss of use.

“Diminution of value” This is the perceived loss of value of a vehicle after an accident even after being fully repaired. Most rental car companies will estimate the amount of these losses and charge you for them. Some auto insurance companies will pay these losses, some will not. For this situation, consult your agent or insurance company.

So I should buy the rental car company’s insurance, right? While you certainly can please note that this “insurance” that they offer is not insurance at all. It is not regulated by any department insurance, and is merely a revised (friendlier) contract….with many, many triggers that void the insurance or exclude coverage. Triggers could be driving on an unpaved road, taking an antihistamine, and many others.

I am not suggesting that this is how as all rental car companies do business….most do not. Just be aware that many do.

So what to do? The best thing is to check with your car insurance carrier to see how they handle each of these issues, then when booking your rental reservation ask them how their contract responds to these as well. If you don’t like what they tell you, or they don’t know, ask for a copy…or move on to the next one. As long as you are armed with this information you should be able to find one you are comfortable with, so you can have a worry free vacation.

Joe Beck, CIC / VP
Beck Insurance Agency, Inc.

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New Website!

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Beck Insurance Agency, Inc. is happy to officially announce our new, updated website.

We hope that this website will make the information on our insurance lines as accessible and informative as possible to our current and future clients.

The quote/contact form allows you to contact us with questions or get quotes for new and additional insurance.  The change request form will allow you to submit your information at any time of day or night.

We have also included a direct link to online bill pay for the carriers that offer to be paid directly.

We appreciate your input so let us know what you think.

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