Farmers Cares, by Paul Quinn


Insurance for Leaking Sewer Pipes?

Hi Paul, Would I have coverage if the sewer pipes under my house leak? Would coverage be available to repair floors, drives, sidewalks if the repair were to damage them?

Generally, an all-risk base homeowner policy provides coverage for sudden and accidental releases of water from a plumbing system, where the leak is both sudden and accidental; and the cause of loss must not be an excluded cause of loss. Note that some policies exclude resulting damage to concrete foundations, slabs, and floors. But some policies cover the cost to tear out and replace the portion of a covered structure necessary to repair the plumbing system. All claims are different. Coverage will depend upon the specific facts of loss or damage and the language in your policy. Thanks for your question!

Preparing Your Family For A Wildfire Evacuation

As thousands are told to evacuate in the foothills of central California due to wildfires, this brings to light how important it is to have an emergency response plan; because you never know when your area will be threatened by a wildfire. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection provides valuable wildfire emergency tips, but perhaps the most important is how to prepare your family for an evacuation.

First, listen to your Fire and Police Departments. If you have been ordered to evacuate, follow their instructions. Next, it is important to organize your family. Know where all your family members are (whether it is the neighbor’s or the movies) and make sure you can communicate with each of them in case you have to arrange a time and place to meet.

Pack your car with enough personal items for a few days. Be sure to include items of sentimental value that you know you can never replace. This will be a great comfort to you when you leave. Back your car in the driveway and roll up the windows to keep embers and smoke from coming in.

Gather all your pets into one room with leashes, food, bowls and toys. If you need to leave quickly, you do not want to take up valuable time trying to look for them.

Take a video of your home both inside and out. The inside video will help inventory your possessions and the outside video will give you an account of your home and landscaping. When it is time to leave, turn off your air conditioner, gas and any LP tanks but leave power and water on as well as your interior and exterior lights.

Also, remember to leave your contact information with a friend or relative so you can let them know you are safe. Hopefully you will never have to evacuate for a wildfire but it is always best to have your family prepared.

Photo credit: AP Photo/The Fresno Bee, Eric Paul Zamora


Insurance Rate Adjustments from Hit and Run?

Hi Paul, someone hit and run my vehicle while it was parked yesterday and I didn’t notice it until this morning. When I go to make my claim will this cause my insurance rate to go up?

Many things determine auto rates. The price of parts, complexity of cars, labor rates, and the overall experience in your state are among the many that determine your rate. As for this accident, if you were not at fault that will normally not impact your rates. Hopefully, you have a police report to help confirm you were not at fault. But again, many things go into the mix so near renewal I suggest you contact your agent so that you can have a discussion not only about your rates, but the current coverages on all your policies. I hope this helps.

Insurance Discounts for Student Drivers

Did you know that if you are under 25 years of age and a full-time student in high school or college with good grades, you may qualify for a discount on your car insurance with Farmers?  The Farmers Insurance web site has an Insurance Discounts page to look up discounts by state.

As most students are getting ready for the Fall semester, good grades are everyone’s goal but knowing that it could help with your insurance rate is motivation as well.

Here’s wishing all the students a safe and fun school year!

Hail By the Numbers

After embarking on a journey across the Central Plains and Southwest regions, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety’s (IBHS) hail field study team is close to finishing its research for the year. The IBHS team is studying hailstorms in the Central Plains region to better understand the characteristics of damaging hail, which depends on size, shape, density and hardness of hailstones. The data collected during the study also contributes to IBHS and Penn State University’s collaborative research on hail detection, forecasting, and modeling capabilities.

This type of research is crucial, especially as severe storms continue to sweep across the country.

Some interesting facts from the hail study are below:

1,636 – Number of hailstones measured in 2014

921 – Number of hailstones collected in 2012-2013 combined

2,557 – Total number of hailstones cataloged by IBHS

2.66 in. – Largest hailstone measured in 2014

0.14 in. – Smallest hailstone measured in 2014

0.84 in. – Average size hailstone measured in 2014

You can visit the IBHS Hail Field Study website for more information and you may also read my past post on how to prevent hail damage.


Insurance Check Cashing?

Hi Paul, If I cash the insurance check that was given me, without the work beginning, will that make any difference with work done?

I need to make a lot of assumptions here so I will give it my best shot. Feel free to write back with more information. I am going to assume you are talking about direct repairs to your home. Sometimes contractors want to have half up front so if you cash the check without the work beginning, and spend it, you may not have the funds to get the work done. As long as you do not spend the money, and you just deposit the funds there should be no issues. In essence it is your money (and perhaps your lender) so it is yours to do with as you wish. My advice is cautionary. Put it in a special account so that it is there when you do the repairs.


Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD) Coverage for Hit and Run?

Paul, If a car was parked in a parking lot and was hit by a hit and run driver. Would my insurance be covered under UIMPD for hit and run?

Great question and one I hear frequently. For UMPD (Uninsured Motorist Property Damage) coverage to apply the other driver/vehicle must be identified. In the case of hit and run, I assume the driver cannot be identified. Therefore collision would apply.

Hurricane Arthur: Last Minute Prep Checklist

The National Hurricane Center announced this morning that Tropical Storm Arthur has become the Atlantic season’s first hurricane and areas of North Carolina have already been ordered to evacuate.

In addition to the captioned Farmers Insurance video above, The Institute for Business and Home Safety also provides the following checklist to help property owners prepare for the high winds, rain and flooding that usually accompany tropical weather systems. Stay safe and please follow any evacuation orders given by local authorities.

Outside Surroundings

  • Secure any parts of a fence that appear weakened or loose.
  •  Trim trees and shrubbery away from structures and remove any weakened sections of trees that might easily break off and fall onto structures.
  • Move lawn furniture, toys, potted plants, garden tools and other yard objects inside; anchor heavier yard objects deep into the ground.

Windows and Doors

  • If you have shutters, closely monitor local weather conditions and make sure you have enough time to deploy them before the storm is expected to hit your area.
  • Check doors, windows, and walls for openings where water can get in; use silicone caulk to seal any cracks, gaps, or holes – especially around openings where cables and pipes enter the house.

Water Damage Reduction

  • Place all appliances that are on the ground floor, including stoves, washers and dryers on masonry blocks or concrete.
  • Move furniture and electronic devices off the floor, particularly in basements and first floor levels.
  • Roll up area rugs, and get them off the floor to reduce the chances they will become wet and grow mold or mildew. This is particularly important if the property will be left unattended for an extended period of time and if long-term power outages are a possibility.
  • Put fresh batteries in sump pumps.
  • Shut off electrical service at the main breaker if the electrical system and outlets could possibly be under water.



Time Limit for Filing Hail Damage Claim

Hi Paul, what is the time limit for filing a claim for hail damage?

Thanks for the question. It is usually one year from the storm. However each state may have different reporting requirements depending on the storm. Always check with your agent, but you can file your claim and let the insurance company know of your damage. They will meet with you to review.

Flash Flood Safety

As parts of the United States experience thunderstorms that are producing flash flooding this week and weekend, I am reposting these flood safety tips:

Flash Flood Safety

  • Be aware that flash flooding is very dangerous and can move quickly. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
  • Be aware of stream, drainage channels, canyons and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without typical warnings such as rain clouds or heavy rain.
  • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be swept away quickly. In fact, two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-ups.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams, rivers or creeks, particularly during threatening conditions.

Flash Flood Watches and Warnings

Flash Flood Watch

If flash flooding is possible, be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.

Flash Flood Warning

If a flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

Please be sure to take all instructions by your local authorities seriously, and if they have ask you to evacuate, please do so. It could save your life and the life of your loved ones.