Mercury Includes Free Roadside Assistance

Let it Tow by derrickcollins on FlickrFrom the Free-is-Good Department

Mercury Insurance now includes automatic Roadside Assistance Coverage to all policy holders at no charge.

Roadside Assistance Coverage is provided up to a limit of $75 for each occurrence for vehicles with Collision coverage and includes the following services: Towing, Locksmith Services, Jump-Start, Flat Tire, Fuel and Fluid delivery. They do limit the coverage to 5 occurrences per policy period.

For more information, just call us.

Young Adults Making Gains in Health Coverage in 2011 group, the “young invincibles”, have for a very long time been one group that was most averse to health coverage. That apparently has changed, as the attached article point out. Perhaps as a result of awareness from the administration’s reform efforts? One of the big problems with making health coverage has always been the healthy people. It takes healthy people paying into the system “just in case” to spread the cost of health coverage out.

Young Adults Make Gains in Health Insurance Coverage

6 Steps for Parents to Deter Teen Distracted Driving

Distracted Driving by OregonDOT on FlickrDistracted driving is a major cause of injury and death in motor vehicle accidents. The following information from theUSDOT Distracted Driving Website details steps that parents can take to help reduce this problem.

Step 1: Set a good example

Kids learn from their parents. Put down your phone while driving and only use it when you’ve safely pulled off the road. According to the Pew Research Center, 40 percent of teens 12 to 17 say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put themselves or others in danger.

Step 2: Talk to your teen

Discuss the risks and responsibilities of driving, and the danger of dividing their attention between a cell phone and the road. Show them the statistics related to distracted driving. And urge them to talk to others; friends take care of friends.

Step 3: Establish ground rules

Set up family rules about not texting or talking on a handheld cell phone while behind the wheel. Enforce the limits set by your state’s graduated licensing program, if one exists, or create your own family policies.

Step 4: Sign a pledge

Have your teen take action by agreeing to a family contract about wearing safety belts and not speeding, driving after drinking, or using a cell phone behind the wheel. Agree on penalties for violating the pledge, including paying for tickets or loss of driving privileges.

Step 5: Educate yourself

Find out more about this tragic problem. View the information and resources available at and The more you know, the more you will understand the seriousness of the issue.

Step 6: Spread the word

Get involved in educating and promoting safe driving in your community and through online social-media websites. Talk to friends, family, and coworkers. And support advocacy organizations such as the National Organizations for Youth Safety and FocusDriven.

Why do I need Auto Insurance?

It’s the law

You are required by law to show financial responsibility, which is usually done by purchasing insurance. This is to protect the other people who share the road with you.

Protecting yourself financially is smart

You as a driver of a motor vehicle are responsible for the accidents you cause. Having no insurance or inadequate insurance isnotsmart. People often look at the money they paid for their unused insurance as “wasted”. I think that’s the wrong way to look at it. I like to view insurance as this guy with a bag of money who promises to use it if needed. You’re paying to keep that guy interested in keeping his promise.


Liability is usually divided into two categories: Bodily Injury and Property Damage. Bodily Injury covers injuries to others (not you or your passengers) while Property Damage covers damages to things such as other people’s cars, their garage door, their tree and so on. Usually it is written down like this: 15/30/10, which means $15,000 in Bodily Injury coverage per person, $30,000 per accident, and $10,000 in Property Damage per accident. This happens to be the current minimum liability limits that California law requires. It’s also too low. $10,000 is all that would be paid out if you totalled a car. Now, how many new cars can be had for $10,000? The owner of the car will expect you to make up the difference. We always try to get customers to at least increase their coverage to 25/50/25, which is a good increase in coverage for a small amount of money.

Frequently, we are asked what an appropriate amount of insurance would be. Unfortunately, there is really no correct answer. One could always imagine an accident that would exceed a particular amount of insurance. The idea is to set a limit that is comfortable from the standpoint of protection versus cost.

Uninsured Motorist (UM)

Some of our clients try to skimp on this coverage however we discourage it. After all, it is the only coverage to protectyouand yourpassengers. In California, as many as 1 in 6 drivers may be uninsured. In addition, there is also Underinsured Motorist coverage which for California is combined with UM. This provides protection for injuries to your or your passengers when the other driver doesn’t haveenoughinsurance.


Comprehensive coverage is sometimes called “other than collision” and covers damage to the vehicle for causes such as fire, theft, windstorm, flood, and vandalism, but not loss by collision or upset.


Collision coverage is for damage to a vehicle due to colliding with another vehicle/object or overturning. One way of remembering what is covered by Collision versus Comprehensive is this: If you drive into a tree, that is collision. If the tree falls on your car, then Comprehensive would be the coverage involved.

Medical Payments

This is an optional (and very inexpensive) coverage for the insured and passengers. It usually has a lower limit but is paid out regardless of fault.

They Dropped Their Flood Insurance, Then the ‘Mouse’ Roared

Many people are tempted to drop their flood insurance when it is no longer required by the bank. However the risk is still there, just reduced. When your home is moved on the map to a lower-risk zone the pricing for flood insurance is much lower too.

Are You Ready? Disaster Preparedness Seminar 2011

Come join the city of Huntington Beach for National Disaster Preparedness Month and find out if you are ready.When a major disaster occurs, impacts may include food and water shortages, shelter needs, lack of public utility services, separated family members, and medical needs.Emergency responders can be quickly overwhelmed and you have the responsibility to be self sufficient for at least 72 hours by providing your own food, water, first aid, and shelter.At this seminar, the city will provide you with the vital information that you will need to care for yourself and your family in a disaster.

Learn about what hazards we face in Huntington Beach, what the city and county does to prepare, and how you can help build a disaster resilient community.Speakers will include, Fire Chief Patrick McIntosh, Orange County Asst. Emergency Manager Vicky Osborn, and more.Please register at and choose Class Registration.

This Week is Flood Awareness Week 2011

nfip_video_taylorsIt’s important to be prepared for flooding no matter where you live, but particularly if you are in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. Even a very small stream or dry creek bed can overflow and create flooding. There are three steps that every individual can take now, to better prepare themselves and their families:

  1. get a kit
  2. make a plan
  3. be informed about your flood risk

Why do I Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

The Importance of Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Frequently we see customers who select minimum limits on their Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage. However, this could very well be a case of being penny-wise and pound-foolish. Uninsured Motorist is inexpensive but important coverage for you and your passengers.

Coverage for YOU

First of all, UM is coverage for you & your passengers. It was recently estimated that one out of every five drivers in California is uninsured. The next time you are on the road, look at the drivers around you. The odds are one of the four cars you see is uninsured.

Secondly, UM (in California) is coverage for both uninsured and underinsured (UIM) motorists. A motorist with minimum limits only has $15,000 available per person for the medical bills for you or your passengers and $30,000 for the entire accident, no matter how many people are involved.

UM is a very inexpensive coverage to buy. As an example, one personal auto policy I looked at that had $100,000 per person / $300,000 per accident limits for UM portion & was only $32!

Many people think that UM isn’t important because their collision and medical insurance will cover these expenses. However, even in the best of circumstances the medical insurance deductibles will not be covered. In addition, some medical insurance policies could exclude injuries caused by another. And, what about your passengers? Your medical insurance certainly wouldn’t cover them.

As a guideline, you may want to consider setting the limits for UM to be the same as your regular automobile liability limits. So, for example, if you have 100,000/300,000 liability limits, you would also want to have 100,000/300,000 limits.

I Don’t Need Earthquake Insurance

Paso Robles Earthquake by Hey Paul on FlickrI hear this a lot, so I thought I’d spend this rainy morning to write about why this might not be true and how it can actually be a pretty good deal.

Not a matter of if, but when

I hope that, if nothing else, we’re all on the same page here. The reality is that an earthquake will occur. What we don’t know is when and how strong. The San Andreas fault has been locked for some time. The last major earthquake occurred in 1857 when the Carrizo Plain section moved as much as 27 feet! Historical data points to earthquakes occurring on the San Andreas fault an average of every 150 years. Since it has been 157 years since the last “big one”, seismologists refer to the San Andreas fault as being “at least 10 months pregnant.” The United States Geological Survey and the California Geological Survey say there is a 99.7% chance of a 6.7 magnitude earthquake or larger striking California in the next 30 years.

Don’t look to the government to rebuild your home

Some people have the opinion that, since other areas have been declared disaster areas in the past that they will just rely on those funds from the government. Unless you can rebuild your home for around $30,000 you will come up short because that is all that FEMA will grant if the President declares a disaster and you have to qualify for the grant.

The deductible shouldn’t be an excuse

Other arguments I’ve heard is that the deductible is too high. True, the deductible is high, often around 15%. It is a valid point, however would you prefer to pay 15% or 100% if there was a total loss? If you assume that only 30% of your home was damaged you would still save half of the cost to repair or rebuild.

Let’s take my small home as an example. The earthquake coverage through CEA is $554/yr for $273,000 in coverage. The deductible is $40,950. By paying $554 I would save $41,000 even if my home was only damaged 30%. I would have to pay that amount for 74 years to break even. If an earthquake occurs earlier than that then I’m money ahead. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

If the “big one” hits, the insurance company won’t have enough money anyway

No, there are no guarantees in life. For all we know, an asteroid may one day hit the earth and kill us all off. One can, however, look at the likelyhood that something will or will not happen. Let’s take a look at the CEA, which holds about 2/3 of the earthquake policies in California.

From the CEA Claims-Paying Capacity page:

  • The CEA has about 800,000 policyholders located throughout the state. Earthquakes are generally regional events, and any given seismic event is unlikely to affect all CEA policyholders.
  • CEA assets are available only to pay claims to homeowners and renters who have protected their homes by purchasing a CEA earthquake policy. The CEA is not responsible for damage to commercial properties or to uninsured residential properties.
  • By law, the State of California is not liable for the CEA’s liabilities, and the CEA does not pay any state liabilities. Therefore, CEA assets are not used to repair infrastructure items such as bridges and freeways.
  • If an earthquake causes insured damage greater than the CEA’s claims-paying capacity, policyholders who are victims of that quake may be paid a prorated portion of their covered losses. Or, the CEA Governing Board may approve installment payments. The CEA is not permitted to file bankruptcy.
  • Ever since hurricane Katrina insurers in the so-call “catastrophic” insurance market have been required to do much more work in their risk modeling, which is a way to measure worst-case scenarios. They do this by taking into account where the fault lines are and where the insured homes are. By measuring the spread of policies throughout the many areas of California they can be reasonably sure that when there is an earthquake it will only affect a small portion of their policies. The current modeling for the CEA is set base on their having enough funds available to pay claims for a 1 in 500 year event.

Understand the risk, do the math, and make a decision

“You’re just trying to sell more insurance!” True, that’s my job. I’ve witnessed situations where customers have had “bad things” happen and had inadequate or no coverage. Look, nobody enjoys paying for insurance. Under the best circumstances (i.e. no claims), your policy is a worthless piece of paper. When “bad things” happen, though, that piece of paper can be golden.

Selling insurance isn’t really my goal here. My goal is for you to understand your risks and decide how you will deal with a loss should it happen. Although it is usually the least expensive way to deal with risk, insurance isn’t the answer for everyone. A contractor might decide that he’ll just pitch a tent and start rebuilding himself. That’s fine. What I want to try to avoid is folks that just ignore the risk. Those people are called “victims”.

For more information:

California Earthquake Authority
USGS San Andreas Fault Information
USGS Earthquake History: 1857 Fort Tejon Earthquake
Los Angeles Times: Past offers lessons on future Big One,0,138145.story