Auto-Owners Insurance from your AZ Independent Agent

Auto-Owners Insurance in Arizona is only available for purchase from an independent agent that is appointed with the A++ rated carrier. Based in Lansing, Michigan this preferred auto, home, umbrella, commercial and life insurer consistently receives top scores from customers for claims satisfaction. Founded 103 years ago in Michigan the company is known as the “No Problem” claims service provider.

No matter if you are a long time customer or new to Auto-Owners Insurance you will want to reach out to an independent agent like Foxworthy and Associates.  John Foxworthy and his team at Tucson Insurance have been serving customers in Arizona since 1990. No matter if you are moving to AZ and need a new Auto-Owners agent or if you are insured with the company in Michigan or throughout the 26 states they currently operate in we are honored to help with new policies.

You can get secure online Auto-Owners Insurance proposals here or if you prefer just call our Arizona Auto-Owners agency at 520-797-9900. We can research new policies for you or help transfer in existing policies to Arizona. If you are buying a new home you may prefer Auto-Owners too because you have new protection options that may include:

  1. Service Line Protection – underground utilities like water lines from the home to street. 
  2. Equipment Breakdown – includes major systems like HVAC and appliances.
  3. Guaranteed Replacement Cost to Dwelling
  4. Cyber Protection

We are proud to represent Auto-Owners at Foxworthy and Associates, Inc. and would be happy to introduce you to them and review your auto, home, umbrella and life options. They also offer generous multi-policy discounts and easy online access to your policy info. It just may be time for you to connect with our independent agency in Arizona and see if Auto-Owners Insurance is a better fit for you. You can also see our 5-Star Reviews for TucsonInsurance.com here! We look forward to helping you soon.

The Best Defense Against Mold Is a Good Offense

Recent natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina have once again put mold in the spotlight.  And since flooding can occur in the winter due to the abundance of melting snow and heavy rains, homeowners need to familiarize themselves with the steps to eliminate mold from their homes.

First, it is important to understand the reasons to keep your home mold free.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, exposure to mold poses a potential health risk.  People with mold sensitivity can find themselves with a stuffy nose, irritated eyes, wheezing, or skin irritation.  Those with mold allergies can have difficulty breathing and experience shortness of breath.  If someone with a weakened immune system or chronic lung disease is exposed to mold, they can develop mold infections in their lungs.  The point is to eliminate the problem before it becomes a health issue.

As we know, mold develops because of excessive moisture, so the key to prevention is to identify and eliminate moisture from developing in the first place.  The Insurance Information Institute recommends that homeowners take the following precautions:

Reduce humidity in your home

 

  • Keep the humidity level in your home between 30 and 60 percent by using air conditioners or dehumidifiers.
  • Use exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Never install carpets in damp areas, such as basements or bathrooms.
  • Never let water accumulate under houseplants.

 

Use mold-reducing products

 

  • Clean bathrooms with bleach or other mold-eliminating products.
  • Add mold inhibitors to paint before application.

 

Keep your home and belongings dry

 

  • Fix leaky pipes, faucets and hoses.
  • Keep gutters free of leaves and other debris.
  • Maintain your roof to prevent water from seeping into your home.

 

Be careful after a flood or other water damage

 

  • ·Properly dry or remove soaked carpets, padding and upholstery within 24 to 48 hours after a flood to prevent mold growth.  Anything that cannot be properly dried should be discarded.
  • Remove standing water as quickly as possible.  Standing water is a breeding ground for microorganisms, which can become airborne and inhaled.
  • Wash and disinfect with bleach, or other mold-eliminating products, all areas that have been flooded.  This includes walls, floors, closets and shelves, as well as heating and air-conditioning systems.

 

If you find that despite your best efforts you have mold problems, there are two options to remediate the situation.  The first is to clean it yourself.  If you choose this option, you should limit your own exposure to the mold and its spores.  The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you wear certain protective gear during cleanup, most importantly an N-95 respirator, which can be purchased at most hardware stores.  Some N-95 respirators look like a paper dust mask with a nozzle on the front, while another popular style is made of plastic or rubber and has a removable cartridge that traps the mold spores.  No matter what style you use, in order to be effective, the respirator must fit properly.

The second item the EPA recommends is a pair of long gloves that extend to the middle of your forearm.  If you are using a mild detergent, ordinary household rubber gloves are fine.  If you are using a disinfectant, chlorine bleach, or other strong cleaning solution, you should use gloves made from natural rubber, neoprene, nitrile, polyurethane, or PVC.  The third protective piece of equipment you should wear are goggles without ventilation holes. 

If there are still signs of mold after cleaning or if the mold returns, you should choose the second option and have the area cleaned by professionals who specialize in mold removal.

Are You at the Insurer’s Mercy If You Total Your Car?

You treat your car like you would a child. You take care of it inside and out and no one could ever tell it recently celebrated its tenth birthday. Over those ten years, you and your auto have had some great times together, but now the unthinkable has happened and your car has been “totaled.” Does that mean that the two of you have to say good-bye?

Totaling your car means that you have wrecked it badly, so much so that it is up to your insurer to decide if it is worth fixing. The insurer’s decision is based on the car’s worth. Minor damage to a very old auto could result in your carrier deciding to total it, while major damage to a brand new one might not. Auto insurance claims adjusters typically determine a car’s cash value through their company’s proprietary database of prices.

The decision to total a car varies with insurers. Some companies will total a vehicle if after the accident it is only worth 51 percent of its cash value. Others will decide to total the car at 80 percent. The insurance company pays you the car’s actual cash value less any deductible and your car is sent to a salvage yard to be auctioned off. The end result is usually an auction bidder buying the car for parts. The insurance company keeps the auction money, which offsets any costs over the amount they have collected in premiums.

If you feel your car has been unjustly condemned to salvage, do you have any way to protest the decision? You do have some rights, but they are limited. You enter into a contract with your insurance company when you buy car insurance. That contract states that you can’t coerce your insurer to pay out more than your car is actually worth. However, your carrier is obliged to ensure that you are “made whole.” That means the company is required to put you in the same condition you were in before the accident happened.

If your car has been wrecked but you want to have it repaired, you should be able to do so. Tell your claims adjuster right away that you want to keep the car. Keep in mind that you will have to pay for the repairs yourself, but your insurer still has to pay you the car’s actual cash value, less the deductible and less whatever the car would have brought at auction.

Before you decide what to do with the car, think it through. If you give up your car but later change your mind, it will be difficult to buy it back when auctioned. In most cases you cannot attend the auction without an auto salvage or auto dealer’s license. Newer model cars bring higher prices at auctions because their parts are highly desirable. That amount is probably more that what the company paid for your claim, so don’t be surprised if your carrier decides to send it to salvage in spite of your objections.

Remember, if you keep the car and it is seriously damaged, you will only have a small part of the money needed to repair it. If it isn’t repairable, you will be left with having to dispose of the vehicle.

If you go ahead with repairs, be sure the car is completely repaired. When the insurer deemed your car to be totaled, your state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV) was notified. That’s because your policy expired with the loss of the vehicle. Insurers can refuse to completely underwrite a car that’s been totaled and repaired if the vehicle doesn’t pass a DMV inspection. As long as it passes, however, you should have no problem buying liability insurance, although buying comprehensive and collision insurance may be more difficult. Keep in mind, some insurers won’t provide this type of coverage for a previously totaled car.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Auto Theft

If you’re like most people, you believe you’re pretty well versed when it comes to protecting your car from thieves.  If that were the case, the FBI’s National Crime Information Center wouldn’t be reporting these chilling statistics:

 

  • Every 27 seconds, a motor vehicle is stolen in the United States.
  • The odds of a vehicle being stolen were 1 in 196 in 2000.
  • The odds are highest in urban areas.
  • Only 14.1 percent of thefts resulted in arrests during 2000.
  • The FBI’s 2002 Uniform Crime Report, released October 27, 2003, indicates there were more than 1.2 million motor vehicle thefts in the United States in 2002 with an estimated value of approximately $8.4 billion dollars.
  • Only 65 percent of stolen vehicles were recovered in 2002.

 

These statistics paint a serious picture that reminds us not to take our vehicles for granted.    Many times we forget basic prevention techniques that can put our cars in jeopardy.

For example, when you leave your car, never leave the motor running – even if you think you will only be gone a couple of minutes.  Those few minutes are all it takes for a would-be car thief to easily drive away in a new vehicle.

When you park your car, be sure to roll up the windows and lock the doors.  There are no exceptions to this rule, even if you park in your own driveway.  It’s not uncommon for thieves to try a door handle of a car in driveway because they assume that it was probably left unlocked.  If you have a garage, park your car in it and lock the garage door, even if you intend to use the car later on.  It may seem like a lot of trouble if you are planning to leave the house again soon, but it’s better than going to the garage only to find your car missing.

When you park at your destination, turn your wheels sharply toward the curb.  This makes it very difficult for thieves to tow the vehicle.  Always put on your emergency brake and leave the transmission either in park or in gear.  If a valet parks your car, only leave the ignition key with the attendant.  It goes with out saying that if you park at night, park in busy, well-lit areas.

Think about equipping your car with various anti-theft devices.  Ask about car insurance discounts for anti-theft devices such as alarms, window etchings, and anti-hot-wiring devices.

Finally, when you buy car stereo equipment, be sure to choose items that can be removed
and locked in the trunk.  Nothing is more tempting to a car thief than to see if he can make that expensive audio equipment his own.

Do You Know How Your Deductible Affects Your Homeowner’s Insurance Premium?

As elementary school children, we were first introduced to the concept of ratios, or how one number relates to another number.  Back then we tended to think that like almost everything else we were learning, ratios were just one more forgettable piece of information we would never use.  Of course, we were wrong.  Ratios are something we constantly come in to contact with, even when it comes to our homeowner’s insurance.

The ratio between the policy’s deductible and the premium is very real.  When the deductible increases, the premium decreases.  With a higher deductible the carrier is transferring more of the risk to you.  Yet, four out of ten Americans carrying homeowner’s insurance do not understand that simple ratio and its consequences.

The Insurance Research Council (IRC) recently conducted a study that indicated only 37 percent of homeowners and 48 percent of renters, who have homeowner’s insurance, knew their policy had a deductible.  These same respondents also answered incorrectly when asked how a deductible increase affects a premium.  They responded that the premium either increased, stayed the same, or they did not know.

The data for the IRC’s report, Public Attitude Monitor 2005, Issue 2, came from a survey conducted by TNS NFO, a market research company.  The survey was designed as a self-administered checklist mailed on January 1, 2005, to selected households in the U.S.  There were more than 55,000 respondents ages 18 or older who answered six questions about homeowner’s insurance.

Many Americans may overlook the easiest way to reduce insurance costs simply because they do not understand the relationship between their policy’s deductible and the premium.  The Insurance Information Institute, in their publication entitled, 12 Ways To Lower Your Homeowner’s Insurance Costs, has this to say about the relationship between the two:

“Deductibles are the amount of money you have to pay toward a loss before your insurance company starts to pay a claim, according to the terms of your policy.  The higher your deductible, the more money you can save on your premiums.  Nowadays, most insurance companies recommend a deductible of at least $500.  If you can afford to raise your deductible to $1,000, you may save as much as 25 percent.  Remember, if you live in a disaster-prone area, your insurance policy may have a separate deductible for certain kinds of damage.  If you live near the coast in the East, you may have a separate windstorm deductible; if you live in a state vulnerable to hail storms, you may have a separate deductible for hail; and if you live in an earthquake-prone area, your earthquake policy has a deductible.”

The next time you review your homeowner’s coverage, be sure to talk with your agent about how increasing your deductible will impact your premium.  It may surprise you just how much you can save.

Where’s the Insurance? Beware of Uninsured Drivers

About twenty years ago, a famous hamburger chain ran a series of commercials featuring a cute octogenarian named Clara Peller.  This feisty little old lady claimed her fifteen minutes of fame asking that now famous question, “Where’s the beef?”  While it may have been funny to watch her put fast food restaurant owners on the spot, it is not at all funny if you’re in a car accident and you ask the other driver for their insurance card only to find out they have none.

Unfortunately that’s a scenario that happens all too frequently.  As the cost of living rises and paychecks don’t meet needs, people start making decisions about where to cut expenses.  One of those decisions may be to eliminate or greatly reduce the amount of their car insurance.  They need the car and take the calculated risk that they won’t get into an accident, but invariably, they are wrong.  In fact, the possibility of an uninsured motorist hitting you is greater than you may realize.  There are some states in which almost 32 percent of all drivers do not carry automobile insurance.  The national average is 14 percent.

You can protect yourself from an uninsured driver, or even an underinsured driver, whose negligence causes you to be involved in an accident. The first way is with uninsured motorists (UM) coverage.  It provides insurance protection for bodily injury, and in some states, property damage, caused by an uninsured driver.  This type of policy permits you to collect from your own insurance carrier just as if it provided liability coverage for the uninsured driver.

Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage pays for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages when you or your passengers are injured in an accident caused by a driver without car insurance.  Uninsured motorist coverage also pays for injuries that result from a hit-and-run accident.  Policy owners choose the coverage limit when they buy their policy.

Uninsured motorist property damage coverage protects you if your vehicle is damaged in an accident caused by a driver without car insurance.  Other protection provided by this type of policy varies from state to state.  If available, the deductible for uninsured motorist property damage is usually $250.  This is often substantially less than the collision coverage deductible found in your auto insurance policy.

The other policy alternative is underinsured motorists (UIM) coverage.  This provides insurance protection for bodily injury, and in some states, property damage, caused by a negligent motorist who is not sufficiently insured and whose negligence results in an accident.  The bodily injury portion of this kind of coverage pays for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages when you or your passengers are injured.  It usually pays the difference between the coverage limit you select and the other driver’s bodily injury coverage limit.

Underinsured motorist property damage coverage protects you if your car is damaged in an accident caused by a driver with insufficient auto insurance coverage.  Other specific protection provided by this type of coverage varies by state.  As with bodily injury, property damage coverage pays the difference between your policy’s coverage limit and the other driver’s property damage coverage limit.

When you are deciding whether or not to buy either of these coverages, keep two very important points in mind.  Both UM and UIM coverage are broad in scope because they provide benefits for you and your family members’ injuries that occur in your own covered car, in cars you don’t own, and as pedestrians.  Despite all of this protection, the cost for this coverage is reasonable compared to liability coverage and physical damage coverage for your own car.

Teenage Drivers Are a Threat to Everyone

Teenagers and fast cars are a Hollywood legacy that dates back to James Dean. The “Rebel Without A Cause” and his Porsche 550 Spyder were the ultimate symbols of teenage rebellion during the 50s. Despite all the Hollywood hype surrounding a teen’s need for speed, the problem with teenage reckless driving has serious consequences that reverberate beyond the drivers themselves.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s report Fatality Facts: Teenagers 2003, the risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16- to 19-year-olds than any other age group. In fact, per mile driven, teenage drivers are four times more likely than older drivers to crash.

As if those statistics weren’t bad enough, the Automobile Club of America (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety published a study that shows the majority of people killed in teenage driver crashes are people other than the teens themselves. The Foundation study analyzed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) from 1995 through 2004.

The research data indicates that young drivers represent a little more than one-third of all fatalities caused by crashes in which they were involved. However, almost two-thirds of those killed in crashes are other vehicle occupants and pedestrians.  Between 1995-2004, crashes involving 15-, 16- and 17-year-old drivers took the lives of 567 people in Minnesota, of which 212 or 37.4 percent were the teen drivers themselves. The remaining 355 or 62.6 percent included 171 passengers in the cars driven by 15- to 17-year-old drivers, 155 occupants of other vehicles, and 29 non-motorists. The AAA of Minnesota is using this data in their lobbying efforts to beef up state driving laws.

As a result of their findings, the AAA is suggesting a two-pronged approach to solving the problem. The first is a graduated licensing law (GDL). Graduated licensing requires that a new driver be given driving privileges in three stages: a learner’s permit, a probationary license and finally full driving privileges.

The AAA made it their goal in 1997 to pass GDL laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This goal was finally achieved when Wyoming and Montana enacted laws in 2005. The legislation requires teens to obtain more supervised behind-the-wheel driving experience as well as phased-in driving privileges. However, not every state’s GDL laws are as comprehensive as they should be.

The second part of their approach involves educating parents. Parents are encouraged to prevent their teenagers from riding with other teen drivers, or transporting other teens during the first year of driving.  To help parents overcome any awkwardness about enforcing these rules, especially if other parents may not be following the same track, the AAA has designed a new parent discussion guide. It encourages parents to work as a team to ensure their teens gain driving experience in the safest driving environment possible during that first year. For more information, log on to http://www.aaapublicaffairs.com/Main/Default.asp?CategoryID=14.

Black Boxes Are No Longer Just for Planes

A black box, also known as the Cockpit Recorder or Flight Data Recorder, documents all of the data transmissions on an airplane, such as altitude, air speed, and voice and sound transmissions.  Typically, black boxes aren’t black at all.  They are brightly colored, which makes them easier to find in the wreckage following an accident.

Everyone knows that airplanes have black boxes.  What you may not know, however, is that your car may have one too.  This box, which is approximately the size of a carpenter’s tape measure, is installed in about 70 percent of all new car models.  It is usually fitted under your dashboard or seat, and it kicks into high gear when your car’s airbags are deployed.

These event data recorders (EDR) as they are known, can record information only in the 5 to 10 seconds before and after it senses an airbag is about to be deployed.  EDRs record the following data:

 

  • Vehicle speed
  • Engine speed 
  • Brake status
  • Throttle position
  • If the driver’s seat belt is on or off
  • If the passenger’s airbag is on or off
  • If the IR Warning Lamp is on or off
  • Time from vehicle impact to airbag deployment
  • Ignition cycle count at time of the crash
  • Ignition cycle count at investigation 
  • Maximum velocity before deployment
  • Velocity vs. time for frontal airbag deployment
  • Time from vehicle impact to time of maximum velocity
  • Time between the air bags about to deploy and deployment if it is within five seconds

 

Insurance carriers and police officers use the information gathered by the box to reconstruct the events leading up to a crash.  General Motors has been installing black boxes in their cars since 1999, and several other car manufacturers have been installing them since 1996.  Crash investigators, insurers, police and government researchers say such information is the cornerstone to learning how to build safer cars.  Privacy advocates say EDRs are a way to obtain data that can be used to incriminate drivers.

The controversial practice of installing black boxes in cars will become even more hotly contested when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issues a new rule in 2006, requiring carmakers to standardize black box technology.  The standardization will necessitate that all data is recorded and stored in the same way, which will make it is easier for researchers to recover the information.  However, only a few states have addressed the privacy concerns associated with black boxes and have enacted laws that ensure the car owner’s ownership rights to the data.

Are Men and Women Equal When It Comes to Bad Weather Driving?

The Battle of the Sexes has raged from the time Eve showed Adam she was not about to play second fiddle when she tempted him to bite that notorious apple. Since then, women have proved that they are not just a product of male spare parts. One of the most cherished arenas in the male-female competition is the ability to handle a car. Men have always felt that automobiles are in the masculine domain, pretty much like arc welding and plumbing. Women, of course, have taken a somewhat different view. Now the Chrysler Group has come along to confirm that men and women do not see eye to eye when it comes to rating each other’s driving skills.

According to its Bad Weather Driving Survey, men believe that they are better drivers than their mates. Out of 1,000 adults surveyed, sixty-eight percent of the men expressed this opinion.  Forty-nine percent of women polled think they are just as adept at driving as their male significant others. Twenty-six percent, more than one in four women, responded that they are better drivers than men.

Men and women may have rated their driving abilities differently, but the genders agreed about driving in bad weather conditions. Eighty-four percent of the men and eighty-six percent of the women chose icy roads and pouring rain as the two most difficult weather conditions to drive in. Only seven percent of the drivers surveyed chose heavy snow as the most difficult weather condition for driving. Four percent of those polled chose sleet as the most difficult condition, while three percent chose strong winds.

Oddly enough, the same situations that make male drivers uncomfortable also make female drivers nervous. Seventy percent of both men and women said the possibility of losing control of your car or having to swerve because of something unexpected in the road were the two most frightening driving situations.

Whether you are male or female, knowing how to adapt to changing road conditions can save your life. Consider the following tips:

 

  • Slow down and leave wider space cushions between you and other drivers when you encounter bad weather, glare, narrow/twisting roads, and low light conditions.
  • Remember that, even with headlights, it is extremely difficult to detect pedestrians, bicyclists, and others. Use your headlights between the hours of sunset and sunrise. For the best visibility, use your high beams when you are over 500 feet from oncoming vehicles or 300 feet behind the vehicles ahead.
  • When driving under foggy/smoky conditions, turn on your low-beam headlights and fog lights (if your vehicle is equipped with them). Be prepared to stop suddenly. If the fog or smoke becomes so thick that you cannot see well enough to keep driving, pull completely off the pavement and stop. Turn on your emergency flashers.
  • Remember that roads are extra slippery at the start of a rain shower because oil, which has risen to the road surface, has not had a chance to wash away. Heavy rains will cause more problems because your tires can begin to hydroplane, like water skis. In this case, the key to keeping your tires in contact with the road is to simply slow down. Also, keep your headlights on when it is raining at any time of day.
  • An important skill to learn in snow and ice is the controlled slide. If your vehicle begins to slide, take your foot off the gas pedal. If you have anti-lock brakes, apply them firmly. Otherwise, avoid using brakes, pumping them gently only if you are about to hit something. Steer the car into the direction of the skid to straighten out the vehicle. Then steer in the direction you wish to go.

 

Head Restraints Found Inadequate in SUVs

With rear end collisions, there is always the possibility of the victims suffering from whiplash. That’s why head restraints are so important to your safety provided they function properly.

Although the primary purpose of a head restraint is to prevent injury to your neck during a rear end crash, there are significant differences in the way head restraints are made. Some are adjustable, while others remain in a fixed position. Some adjustable restraints can be locked into position, but others are not manufactured to lock. There are also variations in height as well as the distance from the back of a person’s head.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently conducted a study of the seat/head restraint combinations in 44 current model SUVs. Only six of the models tested received a passing rating for protection against whiplash injuries in rear end crashes.

According to the study, if a seat/head restraint is well designed, it should keep the head and torso moving together during a rear end collision. When a car is struck in the rear, the seats push the occupants’ torsos forward. If the occupants’ heads are not supported properly, they will remain behind as the torso moves forward. This difference in motion between the two body parts results in the neck being snapped back. The faster the torso moves, the more sudden the movement, and the greater the forces exerted on the neck, which makes the possibility of whiplash more likely.

A head restraint needs to extend at least as high as the center of gravity of the tallest occupant’s head. A restraint should be located close to the back of an occupant’s head so it can provide support at the point of impact.

The Institute evaluated the seat/head restraints with a two-part test. First, the restraint geometry was measured to determine its height and distance from the head of an average-size man. Seats/head restraint combinations that flunked the geometry test were immediately given a poor rating because they cannot provide protection for enough different body types in rear-end crashes.  If the seat/head restraint combination was rated either good or acceptable for its geometry, it was then tested to see how it performed while in motion. The testers used a movable platform and a dummy to measure forces on the neck. This test, known as a sled test, simulates a collision in which a non-moving vehicle is struck in the rear end by a vehicle of the same weight traveling at 20 mph.

In general, the researchers found that four out of five SUV seat/head restraint combinations tested were marginal or poor in terms of whiplash protection. This was the first time the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety had tested SUV seats using a dummy to measure forces exerted on the neck during a rear-end crash.

The SUVs whose seat/head restraint combinations received an overall good rating were the Ford Freestyle, Honda Pilot, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Land Rover LR3, Subaru Forester, and Volvo XC90.  SUVs with poor ratings included such popular models as the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, Ford Explorer, and Toyota 4Runner.