Aggressive Dogs and Insurance Coverage

Dogs are just like people. Some are aggressive. Some are not. According to the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 4.5 million bites from dogs happen in the United States annually. The victims are mostly young children. However, bites are not the only cause of serious injuries. Dogs, especially the big ones, have the ability to knock down cyclists and pedestrians. This can result in severe medical problems too.  

You might not realize this but these types of injuries have a sizable impact on your homeowners insurance. In 2016, claims that were dog-related accounted for insurance payments of over $600 million, according to The Insurance Information Institute.


Since this is a huge number, you won’t need to wonder why insurance companies want to be aware of the presence of a dog in your home. Some companies are not willing to provide an insurance to households who have an aggressive dog breed. Whether you dog has bitten someone or hasn’t isn’t important. As long as you have a dog whose breed has a reputation for having aggressive behavior, your insurance will be denied.


Although this happens sometimes, you should never omit the information that you have a dog in your household. If you hide the fact from your insurance company and your dog causes a specific injury, your insurance coverage could automatically be invalidated. Your are then left with thousands of dollars to pay.


What If A Bite Happens?

Now, you have taken our advice and told the insurance company about your dog. But what if your dog injures someone? Do you have to tell your insurance company about it?


It actually depends. If the incident is minor, you might want to pay the bills out of pocket. This is to avoid the process of filing a claim with your insurance company and preventing a probable increase in your premium. Sometimes, insurance companies won’t allow you to renew your policy after a dog biting claim, or your dog may be excluded from future coverage on your policy.


However, not reporting an incident might result in a policy violation. If your dog has bitten someone previously (an incident you didn’t report), and it bites another person, the insurance company may have the right to deny you coverage for the latest incident. The best advice is to check with your independent insurance agent any time you have an incident.


Sometimes injuries are not immediately apparent. Complications can arise later, resulting in a lawsuit from the victim.  If you wait too long to report the incident, it might be too late to receive the full protection benefits of your policy, which include medical bills, legal fees, and more.


A Mistake Worth Tens Of Thousands Of Dollars?

How would a surprising $33,000 expense impact your life? That is the average claim payment for dog-related injuries. And that is with an insurance company working on your behalf. Without insurance, you could end up shelling out more than that.


So what’s the best thing to do? Go to an independent agent and discuss your particular circumstances. If you decide not to file a claim, which is your right, you will still get professional’s guidance to help you assess your risks.


After Wildfires, Insurers Could Exit California



Northern California experienced a lot of wildfires in 2017. As a result, the California Department of Insurance stated that insurers might be discouraged from issuing new policies to the affected areas.


The total amount of insured losses equated to about $3.3 billion. This is a huge number that includes claims for insured losses on businesses, residences, and vehicles.


Dave Jones, the state insurance commissioner, told reporters that those behind the $3.3 billion worth of insurance losses claims are just ordinary people. According to him, tens of thousands of people lost a lot due to the deadliest and most costly wildfires in the state.


He also said that because of the huge amount of devastation, insurers could reconsider providing insurance to areas once considered at low risk of wildfires.  Jones explained that insurers could change their models of risk when it comes to these costly wildfires. It may mean that insurers may sometimes write less insurance in places usually viewed as locations that have lower risk.


Jones stated that Sonoma County’s insured losses for residential properties topped more than $2.6 billion. He also hinted that this number would probably increase after adjusters processed an increasing number of claims.


In Napa Country, losses of residential properties exceeded $266 million. Commercial losses, on the other hand, were more than $3.2 million. Mendocino County experienced residential losses of over $115 million. Yuba and Lake Counties experienced more than $48.5 million in residential losses each.


The numbers stated in these claims are based on actual filed claims with various insurance companies. These are not estimates, but rather actual numbers claimed in insured losses. Reports on CNBC claimed that the wildfires spread to at least eight counties in Northern California.


There was a total of $3.1 billion in residential insured losses causes by the wildfires. There were approximately $137 million in commercial losses. Agriculture or farm losses were over $4.5 million, while automotive losses exceed $28 million. Most farm or agricultural losses were found in Napa and Sonoma County.


The fires devastated 728 businesses, 14,700 residences, and 3,600 vehicles. The vehicles included commercial vehicles, watercraft, farm equipment, and private cars. At least 43 people were found dead due to the wildfire. According to CNBC, these deaths included a firefighter




How to Prepare Your Boat for Spring



For boat owners, there will always be a time in the year where the boat needs to be taken out of storage and sent back onto the water. This is usually during spring. However, there is the matter of proper maintenance. If you just store your boat and send it back to the waters without any preparation, you’re likely to reduce its lifespan and you’ll have a rickety, dangerous boat instead of a safe voyage.


If you want to avoid the hassle (and potential life-threatening situation), here are some tips on how to prepare your boat for spring.


Get Ready for the Upcoming Season


It’s not just the boat that needs preparation for spring. You might also want to see if you are ready for the season ahead. For starters, you might want to sign up for a boat safety course. This is the perfect time to obtain a boating certificate if you don’t have one yet.


Next, you should take the time to sit down and brush up on your familiarity with the boat, especially if you haven’t used it for a long time. The best way to start is by bringing out the boat’s owner’s manual and consulting it for the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance procedures. Furthermore, you should check the boat itself and refamiliarize yourself with its components and any features it may have.


Get a Technician or Mechanic to Perform a Maintenance or Tune-Up


It is always a smart idea to leave things to the professionals. In the case of preparing your boat for spring, you can opt to hire a technician or mechanic to take a look at your boat, just to see if there are tune-ups or repairs needed. Make sure you hire one who is certified by the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) or a similar accreditation board. There are a number of things that need to be considered before you leave the dock:


  • Inspection of all the safety equipment on board, which includes flares, personal flotation devices, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, etc.


  • Checking if all the important parts of the boat are functioning, such as the lights and the motor.


  • Checking for any issues with the electricals, and whether the battery is functioning, charged, and properly secured.


  • Ensuring that there’s no excess water in the bilge.


  • Checking of the fuel levels, and inspection of the fuel tank for any leaks or dents.


Practice Getting In and Out of the Water Safely

It may sound simple and unnecessary, but many lives could have been saved if the boat owner only spent their time practicing getting in and out of the water safely. This includes the proper observation of launching, checking the engine temperature and mentally preparing on what to do in case it is overheating, and training oneself and the boat passengers on safe boating practices. Make sure you go over these before the boat even touches the water.


Always Remember That Every Boat is Unique


To get your boat water-ready in time for spring, you also need to remember that each boat is unique and each one will have different needs and requirements, whether due to its size, manufacturer, model, etc. Make sure you have access to all pertinent information and keep it memorized in case the information becomes necessary during the trip. Once you have everything prepared, it may finally be time to enjoy a fun and safe boating season.



Insurance for Your Motorcycle



Motorcycle owners know how important it is to practice defensive driving and observe safety while out on the road. But this does not completely remove the possibility of an accident from happening, so motorcycle owners still need to consider their options in case an accident does occur. Motorcycle insurance coverage is thus a must, and there are no exceptions. This is particularly true for people who live in states that require bikers to have liability motorcycle insurance. Some states go one step further and even require personal injury protection.


Minimizing the Cost of Motorcycle Insurance


The price of motorcycle insurance is sometimes higher than other types of insurance, because mototcycles are considered higher risk compared to other vehicles. The principle is simple enough: drivers of a car are protected by a steel cage, a seat belt, and an airbag so they are more likely to survive a head on collision compared to a motorcycle driver. The extent of injuries tend to be worse in a motorcycle accident.


This is backed by statistics – the National Highway Safety Administration reveals that motorcyclists have a higher fatality rate compared to passengers of a car, and that the number of motorcyclists being injured has been rising since 2007.


So if you want to lower the cost of your motorcycle insurance, you should consider the following tips:


Take Advantage of Seasonal Policies


There are motorcycle owners who don’t use their bikes all year-round. If you fall in this category, you can save a huge amount by only insuring your motorcycle during the times of the year when it is in use. Check with your insurer if they offer seasonal policies.


Take a Motorcycle Safety Course


This is not meant to insult your driving ability. Even if you already know your bike and can ride it even with your eyes closed, it is still a good idea to take a motorcycle safety course. This is because some insurance companies appreciate it when the bike owners make an effort to ensure their own safety, and as such are willing to give discounts or lower rates to motorcycle owners who are regularly brushing up on their driving and safety skills.


Increase Your Deductibles

Deductibles are the amount that you have to pay before the coverage kicks in. Insurance companies will provide lower premiums if you have higher deductibles. Since you are not planning on getting into an accident, the deductibles are usually safe to increase. Make sure that you can actually absorb the amount of deductible you choose, in case you get into the worst-case scenario.


Get Multiple Vehicle Discounts


If you have more than one bike or you live with someone who owns a motorcycle as well, you should talk to your insurance agent and see if they offer a multiple vehicle discount. You can then split the premium with your housemate. You can also do the alternative, which is to get your motorcycle and home insurance from the same company. They will be more than willing to give you a discount for the added business.


Maintain a Good Driving Record


Finally, you should make an effort to be careful with your driving. Insurance companies will check your driving history and use it when determining your premium. And they are not just looking at the motorcycle driving history, they will also check your car driving history as well since it is a good representation of how you treat your bike. This will end up a win-win situation for you as well. If you maintain good driving habits, chances are you will never end up collecting on your insurance, which means you stay safe and healthy. 


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Your Yearly Disaster Preparation Check-Up



2016 was a very unfortunate year for the United States. In the span of that single year, the country went through 19 different flooding events, which is the most in recorded history. This misfortune continued all the way to 2017, when a series of wildfires besieged many residents and their homes in the West. The Atlantic and Gulf coasts struggling with category 4 and 5 hurricanes further exacerbated the problems.


This is why now, more than ever, people should be thinking long and hard about their disaster-preparedness. Not having a plan could lead to dire consequences if you find yourself in the middle of a disaster. It is a good idea to conduct yearly disaster preparedness check-ups. To help you get started, here are a few things that you should keep in mind:


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Looking to Improve the Return on Your Home?



Home renovation can make your home a nicer place to live, and it also can be a very wise investment.  When you consider renovating your home, we recommend the following list of  renovation projects that can give you the best return on your investment.


When people look for a house to buy, the areas that they place a lot of importance on tend to be the kitchen and the bath. These two areas are frequently the most expensive when it comes to home improvement projects. However, this need not be the case – if you play your cards right and know what you are doing, you can affordably make your home more attractive to potential buyers and a more enjoyable place to live in. Interior home renovation projects that address the kitchen and the bath tend to be the ones that will have the biggest positive effect on your home’s resale value. So if you are looking for a new interior home renovation project, you may want to focus on any of the following:


Click here to read more


4 Things to Know About Insurance Before Renting a Car

When traveling to a new city, it's almost second nature to rent a car. Before you decide to rent your next one, consider these 4 things:


1. Loss Damage Waivers - This is an additional cost that will omit you from being liable for theft or damage to your rental car.


2. Stand-Alone Rental Car Coverage - Some major credit cards offer rental insurance benefits. These policies vary by company so be sure to look into the details. Click here to learn more.


3. Collision and Comprehensive Coverage - Collision insurance pays for damage to the rental car, regardless of fault.


4. Liability Coverage - Liability from your current auto insurance policy usually extends to rental vehicles. You should contact your agent to be sure and to learn the details of your policy.


Click here to read more.


5 Quick Tips to Save Money on Auto Insurance

Auto Insurance


No car owner in his right mind would ever say that auto insurance is not a strain on a person’s budget. Auto insurance does cost money that you could otherwise spend on groceries and utility bills, or just add to your savings. But regardless of its costs, it is one of the things that you cannot neglect. Not having auto insurance opens you up to the risk of shouldering repairs on your own. These repairs are so costly that they will make whatever amount you pay for auto insurance look like peanuts by comparison. So you need to suck it up and just pay your auto insurance religiously, just so you won’t have anything else to worry about with regard to your car.


However, that does not mean you have to blindly pay your premiums without even looking if there are ways to save money from time to time. If you are in the same situation and just want to save a little bit of money here and there, here are 5 quick tips that will help you save money on Auto Insurance:

Bundle Your Policies

Sometimes in an effort to get only the lowest insurance policy premiums, people end up getting their different types of insurance from different providers – they have their auto insurance from company A, while their homeowners insurance is from company B, and their renters insurance is from Company C, and so on.


While they do end up saving a few bucks here and there, it is possible that they are actually missing out on an even bigger savings on their insurance premium, by having insurance coverage that is all over the place. The truth is that you can sometimes get lower rates on your policies by having them bundled under one provider.


If you talk to a representative of an insurance agency, you may be able to convince them to give you much lower rates or discounts in exchange for getting all of your insurance from their company. You would be surprised at how many insurance companies are willing to give you lower rates just to get all of your business.


There is also the added benefit of making it easier to organize and manage all of your policies, since you only need to deal with one insurance company.

Get the Annual Payment Plan

Most auto insurance premiums are paid in either monthly installments, six month terms, or annually. Most people choose to pay monthly installments since they find the monthly rates more manageable than the huge chunk of one time payment a yearly premium demands. However, you could actually pay less when you choose the annual installment, because companies want to encourage people to take the annual installment plans, and as such are willing to give discounted rates. Ask your insurance company representative if there is a discount if you go for an annual installment plan, and chances are he will give you one.


Settling debts yearly also allows you to better manage your finances – you don’t have to worry about the insurance every month. You’ll have a more flexible budget if you just save the premium every month, until the premium is due.. This is much less stressful than trying to come up with the money every month.


Auto Insurance

Increase Your Deductibles

Your insurance premium will be reduced, probably drastically, if you increase your deductible, which is the amount that you have to pay out-of-pocket when it comes to damages to your vehicle before you are entitled to a claim. Think of it this way, you are not likely going to get in an accident very often and you can easily pay for minor damages and repairs. You only really need the insurance for really large repairs, so why not shoulder the small ones in exchange for a reduced premium?

Limit Your Mileage

Try to avoid using the car when unnecessary. For really short trips or commutes, you can easily walk, carpool, or take public transportation. This will drastically reduce your car’s mileage. If you report your lower mileage to your insurance agent, you may be able to get your insurance premium reduced. Additionally, driving less also means you consume less gas and therefore save money on that end as well.

Factor in Teenage Drivers

If you have a young son or daughter who is going to start taking his or her driving lessons soon, you might want to shop around and look at different insurance companies’ premiums when a teenage driver is involved. This is because insurance companies consider teens to be more likely to get into a collision than adults, and will therefore ask for a higher premium if your car is going to be used by a teenager. This is a very important factor to consider because the difference in premiums when a teenage driver is considered could be somewhere between a hundred dollars to a thousand or more.


If you do have a teenage driver, make sure you take the time to teach them how to drive properly or to at least check if they have learned enough from driving class. It’s not just about saving money, you could even help steer them away from accidents.


Overall, do not be content with just paying whatever premium the insurance company throws at you. Make sure follow the tips above, and coordinate closely with your insurance agent, as he or she can tell you of more ways to save on your auto insurance.



Dangers of Distracted Driving

Distracted Driving


Distracted driving is not a new phenomenon.  Things that are capable of diverting a driver’s attention away from the road have been around even before there were actual cars on the road. However, these past few years saw the problem become even bigger due to the invention and subsequent mass adoption of mobile devices.  This goes along with the popularity of the “on-the-go” lifestyle, where people try to cram as many activities as they can in their schedules - to the point of doing other activities, such as drinking or eating while driving.


In fact, most people tend to have a very limited understanding of what constitutes distracted driving these days.  There are many activities that people don’t realize pose a very real risk to their safety just because it is not commonly known as a distraction while driving.


Some of the examples of things that can distract a driver include:


Using a smartphone – whether you are texting, calling, browsing the web, or just looking at pictures, it is still dangerous as long as you are holding and using a phone as opposed to holding the steering wheels and focusing on the road.


Fiddling with a GPS navigation system – most people tend to give this one a pass, because it is an activity meant to help one who is driving. But sometimes people tend to focus too much on the GPS device (especially ones that are handheld as opposed to mounted on the dashboard) that they lose track of the road itself.


Eating or drinking – popping a candy in your mouth from time to time is fine, but taking one or both of your hands away from the steering wheel for long periods of time just to fiddle with a burger or a coffee cup is dangerous.


Talking to Passengers – even if the driver is talking to the passenger without taking his eyes off the road, the mere act of talking and thinking about what they are talking about is distraction enough, and may negatively affect the driver’s reaction times.


Fiddling with the Radio – long drives to and from work can get lonely and boring, so listening to music is understandable but fiddling too much with the radio while driving can be dangerous.


Grooming – as mentioned above, the “on-the-go” lifestyle has resulted in many individuals doing their grooming, such as combing, putting on make up, adjusting clothes, etc., while driving. This is very disruptive and greatly lessens a driver’s ability to react to things on the road.


Distracted Driving


There are a number of reasons why distracted driving can (and usually will) result in accidents. Among these are:

Cognitive Distraction

A human’s brain can multitask, but it is only capable of processing a certain amount of information at any given time. Driving a vehicle, despite looking simple, is a complex task involving multiple actions that take up most of the brain’s processing capability. If you introduce any other tasks to the equation, you could end up reducing the brain’s efficiency at driving, while also affecting a person’s split-decision making ability.

Visual Distraction

It is pretty much subject to common sense, and sounds so simple in writing, but it is surprising how so many drivers fail to even follow the simple rule that says you have to “look where you are going.” Many drivers’ eyes wander away far too frequently from where they should be looking, which is on the road or on the number of mirrors that help their spatial awareness while inside a car (such as the side mirrors.)


It does not matter even if your eyes are opened. If you are looking at something else instead of paying attention to where you are going, then you might as well drive with your eyes closed because it has the same risks involved.


According to studies, texting takes a driver’s attention away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, which is enough time for a fatal accident to occur. It is said that texting while driving at 55mph is equivalent to driving through an entire football field while the eyes are closed.


Driving by itself already requires a person’s visual, cognitive, and motor skills working closely at the same time so it is no surprise that simply adding a distraction to one of them is enough to ruin the whole system.

Setting a Good Example

Distractions while driving should be avoided no matter how confident you are in your driving skill or how harmless it may seem. Keep your eyes trained on the road at all times. Aside from ensuring your safety, avoiding distractions while you are driving is also important if you are riding with other people (especially teenagers) because you can set a good example. If they adopt your driving habits, you may actually end up saving their life.



5 Reasons Why You Should Have Homeowners Insurance

Home ownership is one of the largest investments you will make, so protecting this investment with quality homeowners insurance is a crucial part of being a responsible homeowner. However, while many Americans understand the importance of homeowners insurance, some don’t understand the specifics of what it covers if a burglary, natural disaster or other property damage occurs.


Click here to read the five things your homeowners insurance policy should cover if an unexpected or unforeseen loss were to happen.



5 Tips to Prepare Your Boat for the Open Water

As a boat owner, it is your responsibility to keep yourself and your passengers safe. Take a look at these 5 tips to prepare your boat for the open water:

  • If you’ve had your boat in storage, the first thing you need to do is give it a thorough cleaning. That way you will have more visibility to check for damage to the exterior.
  • It is very important that you check your oil. You'll want to completely drain it and refuel versus just topping it off. This will make sure your recreational vehicle runs as smoothly as possible. You also need to check your brake fluid and antifreeze coolant.
  • Having corroded connections can be very dangerous. Inspect all your electrical connections and make sure they are clean, tight, and free of corrosion.
  • Check your life jackets to ensure they are in good condition. You also need to make sure there are enough jackets for every passenger on board.
  • It's the perfect time to check up on your boat insurance coverage. At General Insurance Services, we can make sure you have the proper coverage to protect yourself, and your passengers. Call us at 949-438-5207 or contact us to learn more about how we can keep you secure. 

Want to learn more about protecting your boat? Click here to see our boat insurance coverage options.



Why You Need a Renters Insurance Policy

Renting a house, condominium, or apartment continues to be a popular lifestyle option, but the importance of renters insurance hasn’t been embraced by many renters. Some landlords require that their renters carry a renters insurance policy.  Whether required or not, renters should realize how much they can benefit from having an insurance policy that can help protect their valuables in a life-changing event like a fire or theft.


Please do not make the mistake of assuming that damage to your property in your rental home or apartment will be covered by your landlord's insurance policy. Usually, the owners of rental properties purchase only enough insurance to repair or replace their structures. It is up to you to insure your personal property.


Your landlord probably will bear no responsibility for replacing your property in the event of loss from fire or theft.  However, Renters Insurance offers the same general personal property coverage as homeowners insurance and protects against losses from theft, fire, lightning, vandalism, windstorms and water damage from broken water pipes.


The “Loss of Use” coverage typically will help address some of the costs for you to temporarily live elsewhere, if your rental house becomes inhabitable. This benefit also usually includes the cost of meals, over and above your normal expenses.


Please don’t assume that you don't own enough valuables to make buying insurance coverage worthwhile. The cost of replacing clothing, furniture, computers, TVs and books can easily add up to thousands of dollars.

Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value

An important consideration when buying a renters policy is whether to buy an actual cash value renters policy or a policy that covers the full cost of replacement.


With actual cash value coverage, insurers depreciate lost or damaged items based on their age. For example, if you owned a 10-year-old couch that was stolen, the actual cash value would be the cost of buying a used couch of comparable age and condition.


If your policy includes replacement cost coverage, your insurer would pay based on the cost of a new couch of the same quality without applying depreciation.

Renters Liability Coverage

One of the most important coverages included with a renters insurance policy is personal liability coverage. Just like homeowners insurance, renters policies cover your liability for injuries or property damage that you, your family members or your pets may cause to others.


For example, if somebody were at your house and slipped and was hurt, you could be held financially liable for their injuries. However, the liability section of a renters policy would pay for your legal damages, up to your policy limits if you are found to be negligent and caused the injury. The policy would also pay for your legal defense.


Be sure to choose a renters policy with liability limits that are high enough to protect your personal worth.

How Much Will Your Renters Policy Cost?

Renters insurance policies are relatively inexpensive, considering the broad protection they offer.  The cost is low because renters don't need to buy insurance to protect their homes, only the contents.  At General Insurance Services we can write your renters policy with great companies like Mercury or Travelers for a premium as low as $125 a year. In addition, most companies give a multi-policy discount on your auto insurance if you also have your renters insurance through them.