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As we welcome the New Year most of us would have made resolutions more or less revolving around health and humanitarianism. To solidify this annual promise to ourselves we raise our glasses in a toast and drink up and continue the night without any lingering inhibitions. Hopefully we won’t forget to take an extra sip in honor of our DD’s; designated drivers.

With all the increased awareness, various options for alternative modes of transportation (Uber, Lyft, buses, your feet, your mom), instances of drunk driving and fatalities due to drunk drivers/driving should be at all time low. According to the NHTSA, in 2013, alcohol inspired crashes were 2.5% lower than that in the year prior. That is an average of 52 deaths a minute on US highways. It may be lower but the numbers are definitely still shocking and disappointing.

Insurance coverage for drunk drivers depends on the type and policy. The truth is accidents and fatalities due to a DUI or DWI automatically void any coverage the offender may have had.

Don’t Drink & Drive

- Loss of license.
- Retrieval of license and continuation of policy with a filed SR-22, which some companies don’t offer.
- Liability insurance, which only applies to damages caused to the other party.
- Full coverage with collision and comprehensive, may or may not cover a driver in the event of a DUI or DWI.
- Some policies may have a “drunken clause.”
- Insurance rate increase and loss of any and all discounts.
- A DDC (drunk driving conviction) will affect your insurance status for up to three years.
- Policy will not be terminated in mid coverage period with an SR-22 but may not be renewed.
- Considered a high-risk driver.
- Look for non-standard insurance providers.

In all 50 states the level of blood alcohol concentration to be considered legally intoxicated is at .08% and most state penalties for convictions are increased for levels higher.

The Insurance Information Institute recently published a whitepaper that outlined the perils of data breaches and how stand-alone insurance can help businesses suffer from financial loss. The number of data breaches increased significantly from 2011 to 2013; in 2011, there were 419 as opposed to 614 in 2013. Today, we have already seen 311 breaches that have cause over $8.5 million in damage.

The most recent high-scale victims include eBay, Target, Neiman Marcus, and JPMorgan Chase. This proves that no matter the scale of the business, hackers have the ability to perpetrate their ill-doings and steal millions from businesses. The average cost of these data breaches fall at around $201 per record, and about $3.3 million worth of lost business per breach. Those companies who have placed security against breaches can reduce costs by at least $14 per record; however there is nothing that can safeguard a business completely.

At the moment, traditional commercial package insurance policies do not have data breaches covered entirely. Business Owner Policies do have electronic data loss covered, but only if the cause of the loss is covered. For example, computer viruses or harmful codes are covered, but any loss due to an employee’s actions is not.

Because of this, specialized cyber insurance risk coverage is now available as a stand-alone policy. Risks include:

- Loss/corruption of data
- Business interruption
- Liability (includes: breach of privacy, transmission of virus, failure of security, and   allegations of copyright infringement, libel, slander and defamation)
- D&O/management liability
- Cyber extortion
- Crisis management
- Criminal rewards
- Data breaches
- Identity theft
- Social media/networking
- Cloud computing

Insurance agents should consult with their current carriers to determine if any of them offer this type of insurance. From there, insurance agents can offer this new policy to their commercial insurance policyholders, or even use this new product as a means of reaching new clients. Data breaches are becoming more frequent, and the best way to truly protect a business from data breaches is to purchase this new policy.

In all of the hustle and bustle of holiday sales, the common shopper can easily get distracted and forget safety precautions when it comes to auto theft. A mall parking lot during Christmastime is like a buffet of treats for burglars. Not only are vehicles apt for theft during this time, but so are the items left inside.

Let’s call it shopper’s negligence: accidentally leaving the car unlocked with valuable personal items and gifts in plain sight. Many people come back to their cars while shopping to drop off bags, and then go back into the mall for more. Thieves anticipate this occurrence and wait for it to happen all day.

Many people assume their comprehensive coverage will cover their vehicle and everything in it, but you should always double check with your carrier just to make sure. Comprehensive does not necessarily cover the things inside of your car that aren’t related to your car. No matter if your vehicle is parked at the mall, in the driveway, or in the garage, if gifts are being stored in your vehicle make sure they stay out of sight. If a thief can see items of value in your vehicle, they are more likely to break in.

Being careful with your car during this time of year is essential to keeping your holiday, as well as your wallet full of cheer. The Los Angeles Police Department gives some tips to auto theft prevention:

- Avoid driving alone or at night.
- Keep all car doors locked and windows closed while in or out of your car. Set your alarm or use an anti-theft device.
- If you must shop at night, park in a well-lighted area.
- Avoid parking next to vans, trucks with camper shells, or cars with tinted windows.
- Park as close as you can to your destination and take notice of where you parked.
- Never leave your car unoccupied with the motor running or with children inside.
- Do not leave packages or valuables on the seat of your car. This creates a temptation for thieves. If you must leave something in the car, lock it in the trunk or put it out of sight.
- Be sure to locate your keys prior to going to your car.
- Keep a secure hold on your purse, handbag and parcels. Do not put them down or on top of the car in order to open the door.
- When approaching or leaving your vehicle, be aware of your surroundings.
- Do not approach your car alone if there are suspicious people in the area.
- Ask mall or store security for an escort before leaving your shopping location.

The only person that can prevent theft of your property is you. So stay smart and safe this holiday, and be sure to take necessary precautions whenever possible.

The worst thing people assume about driving is that an accident will never happen to them. But the roads are filled with so many terrible, distracted, and aggressive drivers that the roadways are more perilous than you may think.

When it does happen to you, the best way of dealing with it is to be prepared and know exactly what you need to handle the situation properly. Remember that the more organized you are about documenting the accident, the easier the claims process will be. Keep your calm, and follow these steps.

Before you leave the car
Assess the situation. Ideally you’re supposed to leave the cars on the scene of the accident so that the police officer can judge what happened and who is at fault. But if you’re on a busy road or expressway, then you need to pull over to the nearest safest place, which is most likely a shoulder or a parking lot.

Call the police
If necessary, tell them you need an ambulance so they will notify the nearest medical unit. Take note of any injuries, minimal or serious. If the police cannot come to survey the scene, you should drive to the nearest police department and file an incident report after taking the steps below. Having an official report will be extremely helpful if there is more damage than you initially thought to the involved vehicles, and if the other driver decides to sue for damage or injuries.

Assess the damage
Take photo evidence for insurance claims purposes. Even if the accident is your fault, taking photos will help you later for repair purposes. Make sure that the weather is notable in the photos, and also take note of the date, time, and location.

Gather contact information
Get the names and contact information of everyone involved in the crash, including any witnesses. For all drivers involved ask to see their licenses, their car registration, and their insurance cards. Remember: when talking to the others involved, steer the conversation away from placing blame or discussing their type of insurance. This could lead to unnecessary and unwelcome confrontation. As long as you have their insurance policy number, know who their provider is, and have their contact information, you’re set.

Start the claims process
As soon as you can, contact your insurance provider to give all fresh information because you will most likely forget certain details the longer you wait to call. The photos and notes you take will help your case. Depending on who your insurance carrier is, you may be able to start the claims process in a phone application to upload your photo evidence, reserve a rental car, and request reimbursements for towing and glass claims, along with finding other information. When speaking to your insurance provider you will often end up being transferred to multiple people, so be sure to keep record of your correspondence, and get every person’s name that you speak with along with their title and contact information.

By keeping all of the evidence you gathered organized, and following the steps provided here as well as by the police and your insurance provider, you will have a smoother claims process.

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