When it comes to insurance in the North Florida area, look no further than Baker-Harris Insurance. We offer auto, health, home, life, business, workers comp and so much more!

Call us at 850-386-1420 or check out our web page for more information.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Emergency Links

As we head into the 3rd month of the hurricane season it looks like we may get some storm related weather from Isaac. Isaac isn't predicted to hit our area until late Sunday or early Monday with the storm tracker giving us variables on which way he may go. With a predicted Sunday approach, now would be the best time to get your emergency box and plan into place.

The National Weather Service states that history teaches that a lack of hurricane awareness and preparation are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. By knowing your vulnerability and what actions you should take, you can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster.

Hurricane risks come in many forms, including storm surge, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, high winds, tornadoes, and rip currents.

The National Weather Service provides forecast maps, links for storm readiness as well as other emergency information. Visit their website at: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov.

http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/hurricane/resources/TropicalCyclones11.pdf  Is the direct link to get valuable information on what to stock in your emergency box, what to take to a shelter, how to prepare your home for storm impact and so much more. Print a copy and keep in a safe place.

http://www.floridaclaimnumbers.com/  is a website with Insurers who set up toll-free numbers to assist policyholders with their hurricane claims. Print a copy or at least make note of your insurance providers claim number to keep with you along with your policy dec page as power may be lost leaving you with no access to websites. Calling your insurer directly is best. If your insurance company has an "app for that" download it on your phone for easier access.

The American Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/ also has valuable tips and information on where emergency shelters are located. Try to make arrangements for your pets as shelters aren't typically in the position to allow pets.

http://www.floridadisaster.org/index.asp provides more emergency and shelter information including shelters set up for special needs cases with a county to county breakdown.

For those of you who own horses this website offers information on how to prepare your barn, your property and your horses for a hurricane as well as where you can take them if you need to evacuate. http://www.floridahorse.com/hurricane/hurricane.html

In any emergency situation, the first and most important thing anyone should do is to use common sense and...

Stay safe!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Errors & Omissions Insurance

When evaluating the need for E & O coverage, a business should consider its relationship to their clients. If you are in the business of providing a service to your clients for a fee or remuneration, you potentially have E & O exposure.
Consider what would happen if the service you provide is not performed correctly, late or not as promised. What would the resulting problem cost your client in terms of money or their reputation?

No one is perfect, and even the best employees or subcontractors acting on your behalf can make mistakes.

If a mistake is made causing harm or damage to your client, E & O coverage can help protect you from defense costs and/or financial damages awarded against you.
These types of losses are not usually covered by your general liability policy; and by not purchasing  separate E & O coverage, you may be taking a financial risk.

Even if not found at fault, litigation is both time consuming and expensive.

There is no standardized insurance industry policy language for E & O coverage.  What might meet one business's professional exposures may not meet yours. Carefully review the coverage being offered being certain that it fits your needs and exposures. Your insurance agent can be of great assistance in making sure you make a sound decision.

A properly purchased E & O policy can protect you from your mistakes and the mistakes of employees and independent contractors you hire.

As reported by John Bures, National Underwriter P & C

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Egads! My teen has a drivers license! Now what?

It's an exciting time, and a rite of passage, when your teen begins to drive. But as a parent it's also a time of worry as you send them off, trusting that they've developed the right driving skills.

To help with the process, we've provided some important information and facts that you can share with your teen as you guide them in becoming a safe driver.
What are six principal reasons that contribute to teenage driving problems?
Drinking and driving: In 2008, 31 percent of the teen drivers who were killed in motor vehicle crashes had been drinking; 25 percent had a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher.*

SpeedingTeenagers':crashes and violations are more likely to involve speeding than those of older drivers. In 2008, 37 percent of 15- to 20-year-old male drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding.**

Driving at night: 50 percent of all teen deaths from motor vehicle crashes occurred between 3 p.m. and midnight.***

Seat belts:Teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use for all drivers; this rate becomes worse when there are other teens in the car.*

Weekend accidents: 56 percent of teenagers' fatalities in motor vehicle related crashes occurred on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.*** 
            Texting/Cell phone use and Driving: Based on a 2009 study,  while teenagers are texting
            they spend about 10 percent of the time outside the driving lane they’re supposed to be in.

Studies on texting and driving have also concluded:

  • Talking on a cell phone while driving can make a young driver’s reaction time as slow as that of a 70-year-old.
  • Answering a text takes away your attention for about five seconds. That is enough time to travel the length of a football field.
  • Each year, 21% of fatal car crashes involving teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 were the result of cell phone usage. This result has been expected to grow as much as 4% every year.
  • Almost 50% of all drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 are texting and driving.
  • Over one-third of all young drivers, ages 24 and under, are texting on the road.
  • Teens say that texting is their number one driver distraction.

  • What can you do as a parent?
    There are several steps you can take to increase your teen's safety:
    • Choose vehicles for safety, not image. Ensure that the car has airbags and antilock brakes.
    • Provide new drivers with plenty of supervised driving practice, even after they have obtained a license.
    • Mandate safety belt usage.
    • Even if your state's graduated licensing law doesn't already mandate it, restrict the number of passengers allowed to ride with your teen driver. Crash rates increase sharply when a teen driver has passengers, particularly other teenagers.
    • Enforce "no drinking and driving" rules.
    • Emphasize that safe driving requires your teen's full attention.
    • Enforce no texting or calling while behind the wheel.
    • Place restrictions on nighttime driving and enforce the curfews set by the local towns.
    • Enroll new drivers in a driving school to educate them about cars, driving conditions and driving techniques. This will prepare teenagers for the road, and it could reduce accidents.
    • Discuss and reinforce responsible driving behavior with teenagers. Because teenagers are new drivers, they simply don't have the behind-the-wheel experience necessary to understand the dynamics associated with driving a motor vehicle. There's a vast difference between riding in the passenger seat and being the one behind the wheel.

    By teaching teenagers responsible driving behavior, you can help prevent accidents. We encourage you to discuss safe driving with your teenager—it could be one of the most important conversations you have.
    *2008 Young Drivers Traffic Safety Fact Sheet. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Center for Statistics and Analysis
    **2008 Speeding Traffic Safety Fact Sheet. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Center for Statistics and Analysis
    ***Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance - United States. 2007 [online] 2009. National Center for Chronic Disease and Health Promotion (producer)

    Friday, June 29, 2012

    Don't Drown Your Car

    If you live anywhere in the North or Central Florida regions, you have most likely felt the affects of Tropical Storm Debby.

    A slow moving storm she was delivering up to 30 inches of rain within 24 hours. Flooded streets were common with some completely washed away.

    With this event it seems only timely to recap this reminder from AAA:

    1. As little as one foot of water can "float" most vehicles
    2. Two feet of rushing water can sweep away most vehicles-including SUV's and PU's
    3. Repair costs for damage caused by driving through standing water can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars

    Beware of risng waters. When you encounter standing water on a roadway, your safest course of action is to turn around.

    No matter how familiar you are with the road, never drive through standing water-at any depth-as it could cause serious damage. Never try to restart your car if it stalls in standing water. Call for a tow.

    The potential damage to a vehicle driven through standing water can be severe including the risk of flooding the engine, warping brake rotors, disabling power steering and causing an electrical short.

    If you don't know how deep the water is, don't drive through it.

    AAA's advice to motorist during tropical storms or any severe weather event is basic common sense: If you don't NEED to be on the road, stay put and wait the storm out. Your safety and the damage that could be caused to your vehicle isn't worth the risk.

    To learn more about driving safer-no matter the weather-visit AAA.com/trafficsafety.

    Tuesday, June 5, 2012

    Flood Insurance...Buy Now!

    Get FloodSmart: Protect Now With Flood Insurance

    2012 Hurricane Season Begins May 2
    Release Date: May 1, 2012
    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Every year, thirty days from the start of hurricane season, FEMA officials urge U.S. residents to prepare their homes and businesses for the heightened flood risks associated with hurricanes and tropical storms. This year, FEMA is placing more urgency in this message due to the expiration of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) on May 31, 2012, the day before the 2012 hurricane season begins on June 1st.
    The authorization for the National Flood Insurance Program is scheduled to expire on May 31 unless Congress acts in advance to reauthorize it. The NFIP makes federally backed flood insurance available to homeowners, renters and business owners. The NFIP identifies areas of flood risk; it encourages communities to implement measures to mitigate against the risk of flood loss; and it provides financial assistance to help individuals recover rapidly from flooding disasters.
    "Flood insurance is essential to help protect against the devastating effects of flooding, and the time to act is now," said David Miller, Associate Administrator for FEMA's Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration. "As we approach a potentially active hurricane season, FEMA is urging Congress to reauthorize the NFIP and send a clear signal to citizens, communities, and private sector partners that the federal government will continue to support our nation's efforts to manage flood risk."
    Flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster to affect every state across the country. Severe weather has already brought significant flood events to many states in the U.S. As we continue to monitor conditions and respond to these events, we must also look forward to summer and hurricane-related weather patterns that will heighten flood risks for many.
    FEMA also stresses that flood risks associated with hurricane season extend beyond the Gulf and Southeastern coasts. The largest amounts of rainfall from hurricanes are often produced by slow moving storms that stall out miles from a shoreline as did Tropical Storm Lee in 2011. In addition, last year Hurricane Irene caused major flooding over much of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast when it moved inland, with high winds and torrential rains.
    FEMA is urging residents to purchase flood insurance now. Flood insurance is available through more than 85 insurance companies in nearly 22,000 participating communities nationwide. Most everyone can purchase flood insurance – including renters, business owners, and homeowners. Flood insurance is also affordable. The average flood insurance policy is around $625 a year. And in moderate- to low- risk areas, homeowners can protect their properties with low-cost Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs) that start at just $129 a year. Individuals can learn more about their flood risk by visiting www.FloodSmart.gov or calling 1-800-427-2419.
    FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

    Contact our agency today about adding flood insurance to your insurance portfolio.

    Would you Remember? Take a Picture!

    As a homeowner, have you ever noticed how much stuff you and your family have collected over the years?

    Opening a closet door in any part of your home reveals clothes, sports equipment, holiday decorations and other various items.

    As you became more successful you have added to your art collection or own better quality items.

    As your family grew, so did your accumulation of "stuff".

    Maybe you own lots of "stuff" simply because you can't part from what you have.

    With that being said, if there was a fire that took all of that away, would you remember what all you had?

    I doubt it.

    Would you want your insurance policy to respond in replacing it?


    If you cannot remember what you had, how can it be replaced?

    Modern technology and the various gadgets people are using now can save many hours of undue stress and frustration when trying to deal with a total loss.

    To assist policy holders, many insurance companies offer inventory checklists on their websites. There are also many available on the web and a quick search on any of the search engines such as Google or Bing! will bring up a variety to select from.

    With your digital camera or your smart phone in hand, enter each room of your home and start taking pictures of EVERYTHING. Open closet doors and take a photo. Take pictures of your art, your furniture, your dishes and decorations. If you own it and it is in your home, snap a picture!

    Complete an inventory list including the pictures then provide copies via disc or flash card to your agent as well as keeping copies somewhere safe such as a safe deposit box.

    If all you find time to do is to take the pictures, do it! Kids are a great asset in this type of project. Most have become tech savvy by age 6 and operating a camera or smart phone for them is quite simple. Plus they take part in learning the importance of documenting what they own. A learning lesson disguised as fun. A win-win for everyone!

    Now, if you do suffer a catastrophic loss, you'll have the ability to access the documents that will trigger your memory on what "stuff" you owned PLUS you can provide that documentation to your insurance carrier.

    Photo documenting is the easiest and most efficient way to keep an inventory of what you own.

    Monday, May 7, 2012

    Life Insurance...Do I need it?

    Everyone needs life insurance, if only to pay for final expenses. People with children or family members who are financially dependent on them may need more life insurance than others.

    Perhaps the best way to answer the question "Do I need life insurance?" is to ask yourself "Would my family be able to continue on in their current living arrangements without financial burden if I were no longer around?"

    If you answered no or even maybe, then you need life insurance.

    Life insurance comes in various forms. It is a promise made by an insurance company to pay a death benefit to a beneficiary on the death of the insured, in exchange for premium payments from the policy holder.

    Two of the most popular life insurance policy types are term life and whole life.

    Term life insurance typically has the lowest out-of-pocket expense. It does not provide permanent coverage but instead provides a death benefit for a specified period of time (the "term").

    Whole life insurance is designed for permanent coverage on the life of the insured. With a whole life insurance policy , the premium is guaranteed not to increase and the death benefit is guaranteed for life. It also has a cash value that can be accessed for various needs. Whole life insurance may pay dividends to policyholders. The dividends can be used to purchase additional coverage, reduce the premium, pay back loans or may be received in cash.

    Most people ask "What type of life insurance policy would be right for them?"

    Answering that question will depend on your financial situation, your needs, goals and your expectations for the future.

    Having this discussion with a licensed insurance professional will help determine what type of policy will best fit your needs.