Falling asteroids and meteors and satellites. OH MY!

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I don’t know about you – but up until last week when I’d think of a meteor the thought that would come to my mind would be of trying to catch a beautiful display of “shooting stars” streaking through the night sky.  While I’ve watched enough sci-fi movies to be aware of a perceived danger from world ending asteroids, I’ve admittedly never really contemplated the real life danger from such a phenomenon.

Granted, I was familiar with the story of Ann Hodges who was taking an afternoon nap on her couch before being rudely, “rocked” awake by a meteorite that crashed through her ceiling, hit her radio console and smashed into her hip, but I figured she was just unlucky. Now after seeing all of the photos and videos of meteor that hit Russia, it leaves me wondering what the chances are of something like this happening close to home. (Not to mention my sudden curiosity as to why so many Russian drivers have dash cams installed in their cars?!?)

While I can’t address the probability of us being struck by a meteor, I can help address who would pay for the damages should your house suddenly be rocked by a meteor – or a more likely case of “blue ice” for that matter.

Standard homeowners insurance polices provide coverage for falling objects – including satellites, asteroids, meteors and space debris when the falling object causes to the structure of the home, as well as to property or belongings damaged within the building.

If a satellite, meteor or asteroid falls on your car, coverage is provided under the optional comprehensive portion of a car insurance policy. And if falling debris causes an auto accident, the liability portion of the policy would come into play.

In the tragic event that space debris were to strike a person, his or her injuries would be covered under health insurance and, in the event of a death, existing life insurance policies would kick in.

So, even when the sky seems to be falling, insurance can provide peace of mind.


Contact me if you would like to be discuss your home insurance so we can be sure you have the proper coverage in place for life’s next phenomenon. 

Cyberbullying: What Your Kids Are Doing Online May Cost You

The rapid evolution of technology has affected the ways in which people and business communicate with each other in a very dramatic way –sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse. The internet has become a forum that supports bullying and intimidation, fueling a worldwide growth of cyber liability. Right now the hot-button issue for parents is the risk of cyberbullying –both for parents of potential victims, as well as for parents of an accused cyberbully.

Stay Safe Online, Stop BullyingWhat in the world is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is the same as the more familiar form of bullying, only that it that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites. Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles. Because cyberbullying can happen in the 24/7 world of social media, victims often feel that they have nowhere to hide –even in the safety of their own home. Nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online –25% of them have had it happen more than once. 1 The end result of a Cyberbullying case can result in the loss of your lifetime savings, your house or other prized possessions. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that most cyberbullying cases don’t make it to a criminal level –some bullying victims are tired of hiding in the depths of darkness and despair, which can lead to a tragic results such as suicide –or Bullycide. The mere fact that this is such a phenomenon that a portmanteau word has been created to define this tragedy is absolutely appalling.

What can you do to protect your family?

Every homeowners policy is going to offer liability coverage at some level for “bodily injury or property damage” –but that definition does not include intangible damages for things like emotional distress, anxiety and mental injury –which are often the result of cyberbullying. This is not to mention the other violations your teen may encounter online –which my friend Alan McNaron covers beautifully in Personal Injury Protection from Social Media. In order to have any sort of coverage from a claim resulting from one of these kinds of situations a homeowners policy must have an endorsement that adds “personal injury” liability protection, which picks up the acts of libel, slander and defamation. But you still need to be careful –just because you have the coverage doesn’t mean you’re 100% protected! The only problem with this coverage will be with the exclusions, and there are likely to be more than one of them. It is not unusual to see an exclusion for “personal injury” if the insured (which also includes your kids) knew what they were doing was wrong or inaccurate. When you deal with a child’s access to the internet, compiled with the given errors in judgment, the risk for personal injury is certainly much greater –which also increases parents chances of being held liable.

The best defense against any type of exposure to this risk is to avoid it completely –always know what your children are doing online!

As a parent, you’ll likely want to allow your children to use technology for communications, learning and more –however you’re also going to want to be sure that they do so safely and securely. It is essential to establish household rules about technology use, as well as to monitor your child’s actions online.

Tips for establishing rules about proper use of technology:
  • Establish rules about appropriate use of computers, cell phones, and other technology. For example, be clear about what sites they can visit and what they are permitted to do when they’re online. Show them how to be safe online.
  • Help them be smart about what they post or say. Tell them not to share anything that could hurt or embarrass themselves or others. Once something is posted, it is out of their control whether someone else will forward it.
  • Encourage kids to think about who they want to see the information and pictures they post online. Should complete strangers see it? Real friends only? Friends of friends? Think about how people who aren’t friends could use it.
  • Educate their children about the potential dangers and lasting nature of a digital message
  • Tell kids to keep their passwords safe and not share them with friends. Sharing passwords can compromise their control over their online identities and activities
  • Encourage your kids to tell you immediately if they, or someone they know, is being cyberbullied. Explain that you will not take away their computers or cell phones if they confide in you about a problem they are having
Tips for monitoring online activity:

Always know what your kids are doing online

  • Know the sites your kids visit and their online activities.
  • Tell your kids that as a responsible parent you may review their online communications if you think there is reason for concern. Installing parental control filtering software or monitoring programs are one option for monitoring your child’s online behavior, but do not rely solely on these tools.
  • Have a sense of what they do online and in texts. Learn about the sites they like. Try out the devices they use.
  • Ask to “friend” or “follow” your kids on social media sites or ask another trusted adult to do so. (92% of parents are Facebook friends with their children) 2
  • Ask for their passwords, but tell them you’ll only use them in case of emergency. (72% of parents have their child’s Facebook password) 2
All too often parents only learn about the actions of their children after the fact…once the legal proceedings begin.

If you live in Indiana and would like to discuss your insurance with me Click Here.

Sources:
1. 11 Facts about Cyberbullying
2. Most Parents Monitor Kids on Facebook and Have their Password
Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A coverage checklist for home insurance

As a homeowner, it is imperative that you understand what is covered, or more imporantly — what’s NOT covered.

Not all policies are created equal

There are many different options with home insurance, so it is important to first know what is included in a standard home insurance policy. Simply because you have a policy does not mean you have obtained proper protection, and sadly most people only come to realize this when it is most important — when you need to file a claim.

For example: One common exclusion in standard home insurance policies is damage caused by water back-up of sewers and drains. However most insurers provide the option to add the coverage back for a nominal cost. I include this coverage on every single proposal I deliver. If the client opts to decline and sign off on this coverage it is because they have made the decision to remove the coverage — not because I made the decision for them in an effort to be the cheapest.

I never want to find myself on the phone with an angry client standing in two inches of their own crap, wondering why in the hell I wouldn’t have told them about this inexpensive coverage in the first place. That would be, well…crappy.

Do you’re homework and find out how well you are (or aren’t) protected:


Change Your Clocks, Change Your Batteries, Save a Life!

Spring is on the way, which means that Daylight saving time is beginning. When it’s time to “spring forward” and change the clocks on Sunday, March 11, make sure to change the batteries in all of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Even if batteries were recently changed, it’s still very important to conduct your monthly test of your alarms. It could save a life!

Reminder: Smoke & CO detectors do not last forever. The maximum life span is 8-10 years. After that time, the entire unit should be replaced. If the unit does not respond properly when tested, it should be replaced immediately.