Press Releases

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  • August 16, 2016 9:57 AM | Rebekah Langford (Administrator)

    ALEXANDRIA, Virginia, Aug. 16, 2016—As disaster season peaks, a new national consumer survey commissioned by Trusted Choice® and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”), reveals that many homeowners lack adequate insurance coverage, do not fully understand their homeowners policies and do not have enough savings to support their households in the event of a disaster.

    The August 2016 homeowner survey found:

    • At least 73% of respondents don’t have a flood insurance policy that is separate from their homeowners coverage;
    • More than 40% of those surveyed don’t have or don’t know if they have coverage that will fully replace their belongings and home in the event of a disaster;
    • At least 28% of homeowners polled do not have enough savings to support their households for even one month after a disaster if they had to leave their home. Only one-third said they could support their household for more than three months in this circumstance.
    • Less than one-third of respondents have an up-to-date and complete home inventory stored away from their premises.


    “Most people think that a basic homeowners policy will cover them in the event of a disaster, however these new findings highlight that a startling number of homeowners have not taken some of the most basic steps to adequately prepare for a disaster such as a hurricane, flood or fire,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Trusted Choice® president and Big “I” president & CEO. “This is disturbing as hurricane and wildfire seasons are about to peak, affecting many parts of the country.

    With almost three-quarters of respondents lacking proper flood insurance coverage, they are completely vulnerable and have no protection from damage caused by rising water or flooding including common problems such as seepage of underground water into a home, leaky roofs and toppled trees from saturated soil. According to FEMA, floods are the leading disaster in the United States, and people outside high-risk flood areas file more than one-fifth of all National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood insurance claims.

    “It is very troubling—with flooding being so pervasive and hurricane season in full swing—that this large majority of homeowners is risking everything,” says Madelyn Flannagan, Big “I” vice president of agent development, research and education. “A little planning and knowledge can go a long way. Homeowners should consult with their Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent to find out more about flood coverage and other gaps in their insurance.”

    The survey also showed a lack of basic understanding regarding standard homeowners insurance coverage. More than one-fifth of survey respondents didn’t know whether they have replacement cost coverage for their belongings and home (which allows them to replace lost possessions with new items) or if they have actual cash value coverage (which takes depreciation of the structure and personal items into consideration). In most standard homeowners policies actual cash value is the default coverage.

    “The risk of financial ruin in the event of a major disaster is significantly higher for those homeowners who have only actual cash value coverage because they cannot fully recoup their losses,” continues Flannagan. “Sadly, this survey shows that only 58% have replacement cost coverage. Trusted Choice® recommends homeowners purchase replacement cost coverage and take a hard look at their finances to ensure they are prepared.”

    Unfortunately, this new research shows that more than half of those surveyed (56%) have just enough savings to support their households for three months or less if they had to temporarily move away as a result of a disaster to their property. Notably, 28% said they couldn’t sustain for even a month. Most alarming, 14% of those surveyed reported that their savings would be drained in less than a week. For off-premises living expenses in these cases, a standard homeowners policy provides only limited protection (usually 10% of the coverage on your home) and a flood policy provides NO COVERAGE.

    The survey was conducted for Trusted Choice® and the Big “I” by MFour Mobile Research, Inc. using MFour’s Surveys on the Go® Smartphone Application Panel which includes Apple and Android mobile device users. MFour is an independent research company headquartered in Irvine, California. Interviews of a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. homeowners were conducted in August 2016 and weighted by age and gender to represent the general U.S. population over age 18. More information about MFour can be obtained at www.mfour.com.

    To request a copy of the complete survey results or an interview with a national spokesperson or a Trusted Choice® insurance agent in your area, please contact Sue Nester (broadcast), (703) 706-5448, susan.nester@iiaba.net or Margarita Tapia (print and online) at (703) 706-5374, margarita.tapia@iiaba.net.

  • December 17, 2014 9:46 AM | Rebekah Langford (Administrator)

    Legislation would have extended TRIA program for six years and included agent licensing reform.

     

    WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 17, 2014 - The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) today released the following statement by Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO, regarding the U.S. Senate’s failure to pass S. 2244, the “Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2014” and the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB II) legislation.

     

    “With more than a week before Christmas, we are profoundly disappointed in the Senate’s premature decision to leave town late last night without extending the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act which provides vital protection for the U.S. economy.  The TRIA legislation had overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress along with strong support from the White House. This inaction is particularly galling in light of the 417–7 vote in the House last week on this exact same legislation. As if this weren’t bad enough, thousands of small business owners and their customers are waking up this morning with coal in their stockings after somehow NARAB II, agent licensing reform that has already passed both chambers in different bills, was also   left on the cutting room floor. We urge Congress to pass both common-sense, bipartisan pieces of legislation as soon as they convene for the 114th Congress early next year.”

  • July 17, 2014 2:00 PM | Rebekah Langford (Administrator)


    WASHINGTON, D.C., July 17, 2014 undefined The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) today praised the U.S. Senate for passing S. 2244, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2014 by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.), in a 93-4 vote. An amendment that added the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers legislation (NARAB II) was also included in the final version of the bill.

     

    “The Big ’I’ is grateful to the U.S. Senate, and especially Sens. Schumer and Heller, for today’s bipartisan action on TRIA and NARAB II,” says Bob Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO. “Agents and brokers must have the ability to provide terrorism protection to their customers in the event of another unthinkable attack on American soil. The current TRIA program has worked well to ensure the availability of this coverage and it is imperative that a lapse be avoided. We thank the Senate for their work to promptly move S. 2244 through the legislative process.”

     

    S. 2244 would extend the authorization for the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) program for seven additional years. Along with extending the program, the bill also makes some changes to its mandatory recoupment amount ($27.5 billion to $37.5 billion) and increases the co-pay for private industry's insured losses from 15% to 20%. 

     

    The Big ‘I’ is also grateful to the Senate for overwhelmingly passing an amendment to S. 2244 to include the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers legislation (NARAB II),” says Charles Symington, Big “I” senior vice president of external and government affairs. “We especially want to thank Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) for offering the NARAB II amendment. While the amendment contains a ‘sunset’ provision that the Big ‘I’ would like to see changed before the measure is enacted into law, it was critically important to move the bill forward in the legislative process. We look forward to working with the Senate and House on final passage of NARAB to send this common-sense legislation to President Obama’s desk as soon as possible.”

     

    NARAB II would achieve much needed reciprocity in producer licensing and help policyholders by permitting greater competition among agents and brokers. This legislation would build upon regulatory experience at the state level, promote greater consistency in agent and agency licensing, and ease the burden that many agents face in doing business across state lines.

  • July 09, 2014 3:02 PM | Rebekah Langford (Administrator)

    2014 FIL World Lacrosse Championships, presented by Trusted Choice®, to include record 38 nations.

     

    ALEXANDRIA, Va., July 9, 2014 – Trusted Choice®, the consumer branding program for independent insurance agents and brokers, is the presenting sponsor of the 2014 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Lacrosse Championships to be held July 10-19 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. 

     

    Like the soccer World Cup, the World Lacrosse Championships are held just once every four years. Fans can cheer for the top-ranked American team (or the 37 others) and watch the games on ESPN U and online starting tomorrow, July 10. The first game of the series will feature the United States v. Canada and will air on ESPN2 starting at 9:00 p.m. EDT.

     

    “Trusted Choice® is proud to sponsor the 2014 FIL World Lacrosse Championship and welcome 38 nations to the largest lacrosse event in the history of the sport,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Trusted Choice® president and Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) president & CEO. “From hundreds of Little League baseball teams to the annual Trusted Choice® Big ‘I’ National Championship junior golf tournament, to a PGA tour sponsor, Trusted Choice® and the Big ‘I’ have a long history of supporting sports at all levels and this is a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase this tradition on an international stage.”

     

    Lacrosse is the fastest growing team sport in the United States–even faster than soccer–and has spread to every corner of the country. The World Championships provide a unique and powerful marketing opportunity for the largest brand of independent insurance agents and brokers in the United States. The demographics of the lacrosse community tend to parallel the Trusted Choice® target audience in most markets. The ESPN family of networks will broadcast 43 games during the 10-day event on ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3. The broadcasts will also be distributed internationally to those ESPN affiliates that want the programming. In addition, nearly 450,000 US Lacrosse members will receive Trusted Choice® messages via email and more than 150,000 people are expected to attend the games in Colorado.

     

    Since the start of this international competition format in 1967, this is only the third time the United States has hosted the games and the first time it has been West of Baltimore. The United States is the reigning World Champion (2010 in Manchester, England) and has been historically dominant having won the gold medal in all but two championships since 1967. The championship takes place every four years and is being hosted and managed by US Lacrosse, the sport’s National Governing Body.

     

    “We are pleased and fortunate to have Trusted Choice® as the presenting sponsor of the 2014 FIL World Lacrosse Championships,” said Bill Schoonmaker, US Lacrosse vice president of strategy & business development. “Their commitment to quality and independence is a fantastic fit for our event and we look forward to working with them and their national network of independent agents.”

     

    The list of countries and the game schedule and much more information is available on the World Championship website, which is http://www.worldlacrosse2014.com.

     

    Trusted Choice®was launched by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) and several independent agency companies to highlight the benefits independent agencies and brokerage firms offer consumersundefinedchoice of companies, customization of policies and advocacy support. It is the premier consumer brand for independent insurance agents and provides national advertising and other strategic tools to reach consumers. Trusted Choice® is the consumer marketing identity for more than 25,000 independent insurance agencies and brokerage firms and 70 leading insurance and financial services companies. For more information, go to www.TrustedChoice.com.

     

                US Lacrosse, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, is the national governing body of men’s and women’s lacrosse and the home of the nation’s fastest-growing team sport. US Lacrosse has more than 425,000 members in 67 regional chapters across the country. Through responsive and effective leadership, US Lacrosse provides programs and services to inspire participation while protecting the integrity of the sport. Bookmark, like and follow US Lacrosse at uslacrosse.org, fb.com/uslacrosse and @uslacrosse, respectively.

     

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  • March 05, 2014 8:28 AM | Rebekah Langford (Administrator)

    Bill includes needed changes to Biggert-Waters.

     

    WASHINGTON, D.C., March 4, 2014 undefined The Big “I” applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for passing H.R. 3370, the “Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2013,” by  Reps. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) this evening under “suspension of the rules” requiring a two-thirds vote in favor.

     

    The Grimm-Waters bipartisan bill would make changes to the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 (Biggert-Waters) in order to help with the “sticker shock” some consumers are facing as a result of two provisions that create drastic premium increases in many parts of the country. The Senate passed its version of the legislation, S. 1926, on Jan. 30 in a 67-32 vote.

     

    “The Big ‘I’ is pleased that the House has also passed this sound piece of legislation that addresses a major legislative priory for the association: mitigating the rate shock unintentionally caused by Biggert-Waters,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO. “This bill aims to reduce some of the harmful effects of Biggert-Waters without undoing the numerous positive provisions within the law.” 

     

    The bill would repeal the entirety of Section 207 of Biggert-Waters and would therefore reinstate the “grandfathering” of policies located in communities with a new or redrawn map. H.R. 3370 would also stop the elimination of subsidies for pre-FIRM properties that are bought and sold, which is an extremely problematic provision in Section 205 of Biggert-Waters.

     

    “This represents a major win for independent insurance agents, as Section 207 and the bought/sold provision of Section 205 were the two specific items that the Big ‘I’ has been working on with Congress to find a solution,” says Charles Symington, Big “I” senior vice president for external and government affairs. “The Big ‘I’ hopes that the Senate and House will quickly resolve the differences between their two version of flood insurance reform in order to provide meaningful relief to consumers harmed by the drastic price increases associated with Biggert-Waters.”

  • February 20, 2014 3:28 PM | Rebekah Langford (Administrator)

    New Jersey based carrier is latest brand movement company partner.

     

    ALEXANDRIA, Va.,– The Cumberland Insurance Group is the newest member of the Trusted Choice® consumer branding program for independent insurance agents and brokers. Cumberland, headquartered in Bridgeton, N.J., has joined 69 leading companies nationwide as a Trusted Choice® company partner.

     

    “Trusted Choice® is pleased to welcome the Cumberland Insurance Group as the newest company partner,” said Dave Evans, Trusted Choice® executive director. “The team at Cumberland exemplifies the Trusted Choice® Pledge of Performance and we look forward to working with them to serve the needs of Trusted Choice® agents and their clients.”

     

    Cumberland provides a variety of commercial lines and personal lines products in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware.

     

    “The Cumberland team is proud to have built a company with the integrity and vision to provide individuals, families and businesses with the security necessary to protect their assets and grow their enterprises,” says Paul J. Ritter III, Cumberland Insurance Group president & CEO. “The Trusted Choice® Pledge of Performance goes hand-in-hand with our mission and we are excited to be part of this network of like-minded companies committed to service.”

     

    Founded in 1844, Cumberland has a rich history as the oldest Mutual Property and Casualty Insurer domiciled in New Jersey. The company has grown along with the Garden State and currently boasts more than 160 employees, 120,000 policyholders, 375 agents, $315,000,000 in total admitted assets and $136,000,000 in total surplus at the end of 2013. Cumberland's directors, officers and employees are committed to providing the necessary wisdom and integrity to sustain Cumberland's tremendous growth and provide exceptional service to its customers. For more information, go to www.cumberlandgroup.com.

     

    “The Trusted Choice® Pledge of Performance best represents the agents with whom we have the privilege to work with at Cumberland,” says Glenn W. Watkins, Cumberland Insurance Group vice president of marketing. “Cumberland proudly supports the independent agency system and especially the agents committed to Trusted Choice®.”


  • February 05, 2014 10:12 AM | Rebekah Langford (Administrator)

    Bill that recognizes strength of crop insurance as central risk management tool heads to president’s desk.

     

    WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 4, 2014 undefined The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) applauds today’s passage of the Conference Report to S.954, “The Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013,” in the U.S. Senate in a 68-32 vote. The House passed the legislation in a 251-166 vote on Jan. 29.

     

    The Farm Bill is now headed to President Barack Obama’s desk and he is expected to sign it into law in the near future.

     

    “The Big ‘I’ is pleased that both chambers of Congress have passed this important legislation that will strengthen the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP) and recognizes it as the central risk management tool for farmers and ranchers across the country,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO. “Independent insurance agents and brokers play an integral role in the efficient and effective sales and servicing of this program.”

     

    After almost two years of deliberation, the Senate and House were finally able to come to a consensus on a five-year bill. The long-term agreement saves taxpayers $23 billion over 10 years by ending the Direct Payment Program for commodities and by finding savings within the food stamp (SNAP) program. Additionally, the FCIP will not have payment limits, but it will be tied to conservation compliance. 

     

    “Opposing payment limits for the FCIP was a central goal for the Big ‘I’ as the Farm Bill went through the legislative process,” says Charles Symington, Big “I” senior vice president for external and government affairs. “We strongly believe that farmers should have the ability to purchase adequate coverage for their farmland and we are pleased that the Senate and House have finally reached consensus on a long-term bill. Congress has rightfully recognized the FCIP as a valuable insurance program for farmers and ranchers that also protects taxpayers.”

  • January 07, 2014 10:00 AM | Rebekah Langford (Administrator)

    InsurPac closes 2013 books as largest property-casualty agent PAC. 

     

                WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 7, 2014 - The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) today announced that its political action committee (PAC), InsurPac, raised a total of $1,007,668 during the 2013 calendar year.

     

    “Surpassing the one million dollar mark in one year is an important accomplishment for InsurPac,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president and CEO. “The Big ‘I’ membership prides itself on political engagement and involvement, and the continued growth of InsurPac is further evidence of this commitment.”

     

    In the 2012 election cycle, InsurPac distributed more than $1.8 million to senators, representatives and other candidates for federal office. Also in 2012, 84% of InsurPac-supported candidates won with 237 victories of the 282 races it supported.

     

    “Largely due to the power of InsurPac, the Big ‘I’ continues to be one of the most well-respected business associations in Washington, D.C.” says Charles Symington, Big “I” senior vice president of external and government affairs. “InsurPac complements our advocacy efforts and is an excellent example of our members’ political and grassroots influence.”

     

    In disbursing contributions, InsurPac does not look at party affiliation but supports representatives, senators, and candidates for federal office that have been advocates and supportive of the independent agency system. 

  • December 19, 2013 3:09 PM | Rebekah Langford (Administrator)

    Trusted Choice® highlights common insurance mistakes and encourages insurance makeovers for the new year.


    ALEXANDRIA, Va., Dec. 19, 2013undefinedA new national survey reveals consumers have an alarming lack of knowledge about their own insurance coverage. As the new year approaches, Trusted Choice® and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) say consumers should resolve to get their insurance coverage in order.

     

    The independent survey conducted for Trusted Choice® and the Big “I” found that more than one-third, an alarming 38% of respondents, said they have never conducted their own research prior to purchasing an insurance policy. Almost 40% of respondents said they were not confident or only somewhat confident that they have adequate and appropriate insurance coverage for their needs.

     

    “It’s critical that consumers understand the basics of protecting their family, home and property,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president and CEO. “This survey shows that many Americans may not even realize they are vulnerable to serious losses. A lot can happen in a year. The start of a new year is a perfect time to dust off your insurance policies and review them thoroughly.” 

     

    Since there are so many types of insurance available today, consumers should sit down with a reputable insurance professional to help sort through the confusion. The new survey also found that more than one-third of policyholders have not met with or even talked to their insurance agent within the last year.

     

    “Keeping your agent updated on changes in your family or to your property is crucial to your financial security,” says Madelyn Flannagan, Big “I” vice president of agent development, research and education. “A new baby, marriage, divorce, death, home renovation or a major purchase could significantly impact your insurance needs and costs.” 

     

    This broad lack of understanding can lead to serious and expensive insurance coverage mistakes. Trusted Choice® independent insurance agents identify the following as some of the most common errors they see.

     

    Mistake 1: Not Knowing Your Limits.

     

    Trusted Choice® agents report that too many customers don’t know the limits of their insurance coverage and don’t understand how inexpensive it can be to increase them. This is especially true regarding liability coverage.

     

    “The limits of your policy dictate how much coverage you actually have,” explains Rusbuldt. “For example, an independent agent can increase the liability limits on a typical homeowners policy from $100,000 to $300,000 a year for as little as about $25 annually.” Not enough consumers have separate umbrella liability policies which can provide $1,000,000 of protection a year for as little as $130.

     

    In fact, the new survey says only 29% of respondents considered coverage limits, or the amount of coverage, the most important criteria when selecting an insurance policy. Your coverage limits deserve a closer look.

     

    Mistake 2: Disregarding Discounts.

     

    A previous study by Trusted Choice® and the Big “I” showed that many consumers don’t take advantage of all the discounts that may be available to them.

     

    “Many consumers foolishly throw money away because they fail to ask about insurance discounts for which they may qualify,” continued Flannagan. “Companies often offer some unique, regional, very specific and, at times, quirky discounts. When every dollar counts, some may be able to nickel and dime their way to big savings.”

     

    Companies often have discounts on homeowners insurance for installing a security system, living in a gated community, updating the roof and/or wiring in a house, and remaining claim-free. Some of the more unusual discounts on auto insurance include discounts for teen drivers with good grades, graduating from certain colleges or universities, or carpooling. In addition, many companies are offering significant new discounts within the last five years that consumers may be unaware of. Check with your agent to see if any apply to you. These discounts can make a substantial difference in premium costs.

     

    Mistake 3: You Can’t Take It With You: Consider Insurance in Estate Planning.

     

    While your family gathers together for the holidays, it may be a good time to discuss your estate and final wishes.

     

    Many people put their homes in trusts as part of their estate planning but fail to tell the agent that the trust owns the home. In those cases, the home is no longer insured since the owner is not on the policy. This can create major problems at the time of a claim.

     

    Also, in order to avoid a larger estate tax bite, people sometimes don’t list valuables or collectibles as part of their estate. But these items require special coverage beyond a standard homeowners policy, or they won’t be insured.  If there is a loss on these items, your heirs won’t be compensated and will be deprived of part of the gift you intend to make to them. Making certain that everything is properly documented--and insured--is crucial to guaranteeing that your final wishes are executed after your death.

     

    Mistake 4: Not Assessing Your Biggest Asset.

     

    Too often, people do not properly protect their biggest assetundefinedtheir home! That leaves them vulnerable to devastating losses. This is particularly true with regard to a change of occupancy. Selling, renting or leaving your home for an extended period directly changes the terms and conditions of your coverage. When there is a loss, your insurance company can deny the claim because you are no longer in control of what happens to your home. That could cost you everything. Homeowners should check with an agent to learn the time limit on vacancy or change of occupancy before it alters or cancels the terms of the policy. 

     

    In addition, not having certain specialty coverage could cost homeowners dearly. Failure to purchase sewer and drain back up insurance, flood insurance, earthquake insurance, ordinance or law coverage, or to adjust coverage as property improvements are made could have detrimental consequences in the event of a disaster. Keep your agent apprised of any and all changes regarding your home, no matter how minor they seem.

     

    Mistake 5: Taking the Cheapest Route.

     

    The survey found that 25% of respondents thought price was the most important criteria when selecting an insurance policy. While price should be a factor in insurance decisions, choosing coverage based on price alone could ultimately be a costly mistake.  Insurance policies differ widely, with varying deductibles, coverage limits and exclusions. Alarmingly, about 61% of survey respondents said they were only somewhat familiar or not familiar with the details of their insurance policies.

     

    A Trusted Choice® agent can help you choose the coverage that best suits you and can help you evaluate your insurance needs. 

               

    The survey was conducted for Trusted Choice® via telephone by International Communications Research (ICR); an independent research company in Media, Pa. Interviews of a nationally representative sample of 930 U.S. households were conducted in November 2013. More information about ICR can be obtained at http://www.icrsurvey.com.

     

    For more information on the survey results, costly insurance mistakes or to request an interview with a national spokesperson or local insurance agent in your area, please contact Sue Nester (broadcast), (703) 706-5448, susan.nester@iiaba.net or Margarita Tapia (print) at (703) 706-5374, margarita.tapia@iiaba.net.

  • November 21, 2013 9:32 AM | Rebekah Langford (Administrator)
    Who is liable if a guest gets food poisoning or drives home drunk?

    ALEXANDRIA, Va., Nov. 21, 2013

    As millions of Americans host and attend Thanksgiving dinners across the street or across the country, many may be unaware of the risks. According to Trusted Choice® and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) party hosts need to understand their responsibilities when inviting others into their homes and serving food and drinks.
               
    “All hosts should be aware that if someone drives drunk or becomes sick after consuming food at a holiday party, the host could actually be liable,” says Robert A. Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO. “In fact, a casserole could bring just as many risks as a cocktail. Before hosting a party this holiday season, you may want to consult with a Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent and ask questions.”
     
    A 2012 survey by Trusted Choice® and IIABA found that almost three-fourths of homeowners had served food in their home that was prepared by someone other than themselves. That means more than 111 million homeowners in the United States have put themselves at risk for a lawsuit by just feeding their guests.
     
    The Big “I” and Trusted Choice® provide the following tips for holiday hosts and guests.
     
    Watch What You Eat and Feed Others: Even if food was prepared outside your home by a caterer, another guest, a local deli or the neighborhood pizza joint, YOU could be held liable if someone becomes ill from consuming it on your property. Make sure that you check food and don’t put anything out that you suspect may be undercooked, spoiled or contaminated. Use only reputable food purveyors. Follow proper food-handling, heating/cooling and storage recommendations. When in doubt, throw it out.
     
    Mix up the Activities, not just the Cocktails: If the party centers on drinking, guests will likely drink more. Schedule entertainment or activities that do not involve alcohol. Provide safe filling food for guests and alternative non-alcoholic beverages. Know who the designated drivers are ahead of time.
     
    Party Elsewhere: Host your party at a restaurant or bar that has a liquor license, rather in a home or office to decrease your liability.
     
    Call a Cab, Get a Room or Have a Slumber Party: Arrange transportation or overnight accommodations for those who cannot or should not drive home.
     
    Just Say No: Do not serve guests who are visibly intoxicated. Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party is scheduled to end. Stay alert and always remember your responsibilities as a host. You might also consider hiring an off-duty police officer or professional bouncer to discreetly monitor guests’ sobriety or handle any alcohol-related problems as guests leave.
     
    Do Your Homework: When hosting a holiday party, individuals should look to the liability portion of their homeowners or renters insurance policy to protect them if they are sued and found liable for an accident involving a guest who drank or got sick after consuming food at their home. Consumers should regularly review their liability coverage limits to ensure they are adequately covered should an accident or illness occur.
     
    Know Your State Laws and Statutes: In many states, party hosts can be held liable if a guest is involved in an alcohol-related accident. Many courts have found hosts liable for damages their party guests cause as a result of consuming alcohol and then driving motor vehicles. Many states have also enacted statutes that can be interpreted as mandating non-commercial social host liability. So, if a guest or third party is injured in an accident that is related to alcohol consumption and the drinking can be linked to you, you could be held responsible for the payment of medical bills, vehicle repair costs, lost time from work and undefined in the worst case undefined claims for wrongful death resulting in huge monetary settlements.
     
    Consider an Umbrella Policy: While holiday partygoers and hosts alike should act responsibly and know their limits, consumers need to acknowledge that most risks cannot be entirely eliminated. But planning ahead and learning about what’s involved in hosting a reception is the best defense. Purchasing a personal “umbrella” liability policy undefined providing $1 million or more in additional coverage over the limit of a standard homeowners or renters policy undefined may be a prudent move for the frequent party host. 
     
    “Thanksgiving dinner or even a neighborhood holiday potluck could have disastrous results for the host if someone is stricken with food-poisoning,” says Madelyn Flannagan, Big “I” vice president for education and research. “Whether the food served came from your kitchen, a five-star caterer or a pizza delivery truck, if you serve it, you could be liable if anyone gets sick.”
     
    The survey was conducted for Trusted Choice® via telephone by International Communications Research (ICR), an independent research company in Media, Pa. Interviews of a nationally representative sample of 760 homeowners were conducted in November and December 2012. More information about ICR can be obtained at http://www.icrsurvey.com.
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