Electronics Insurance – Are Your Electronics and Computers Covered by Your Insurance?

There is a lot of misinformation today about consumer electronics and how it is treated by insurance companies. Most people I talk to think that if they have homeowners or renters insurance, their consumer electronics are covered.But they usually find out that their assumptions aren’t true…at claims time.Sure, some of the property is covered. But there are a bunch of limits and exclusions that will surprise you if you have a loss and file a claim.Don’t wait until claim time to learn about this important coverage. Read this article carefully and make good decisions about your coverage.Twenty years ago, consumer computer usage and ownership was not all that common. If you owned a cell phone, you carried it in a bag the size of a small purse. There were few home fax machines. Answering machines were pretty common, but voicemail was still on the horizon. Scanners were non-existent. Printers and copiers were huge and expensive, and you didn’t see them in most homes. If you were the rare person who had satellite TV, the dish was about eight feet across and sat out in the back yard. And Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and MP3 players had not been invented yet.But today….In our home we have:
o two desktop computers with monitors
o four laptop computers
o four printers
o one stand-alone fax machine
o one combination fax, scanner, copier
o three TVs
o two VCRs
o one digital video camera with tripod for our home recording studio
o one audio mixing board, one microphone, one amplifier, two external soundcards, and a 500GB hard drive, all for our home recording studio
o two DVD players
o two cell phones, one smartphone, each with voicemail
o one satellite TV system with a 24″ dish on the roof
o two IpodsYour home may not have that amount of electronics, but then again, you might have more. The way that consumer electronics prices have tumbled over the years makes ownership much easier for more and more people.But…is it covered? Does your homeowners or renters insurance cover your electronics?We run three separate businesses out of our home. Most of our electronics are used in our businesses.Do you have a home business? There are millions of home businesses…everything from home daycare to a service business to multilevel marketing businesses. Many times, those entrepreneurs own office electronics for their home business. Do you use your computers and other electronics for any kind of home business? Even if you’re answering office email on your home computer, it could be considered “business use.”Are they covered by YOUR homeowners policy?Are they covered if they are business-related?What happens if your desktop or laptop computer is stolen, either from home or away from home? Is the theft covered by your homeowners insurance policy?If you’re carrying your laptop through an airport anywhere in America, your laptop is at huge risk for theft. (See more below) What if your laptop is stolen while you’re in the airport?Here is the answer to those questions…MAYBE!!In the Homeowners or Renters Policy, Coverage C, Contents, there are special limits of $2,500 for “property, on the residence premises, used primarily for business purposes.” The policy says there is a $500 limit for “property away from the residence premises used primarily for business purposes.” Of course, you will have a deductible to pay first, so if your deductible is $500 or more, you won’t get ANY money from the insurance company for this loss.Are your personal electronics covered? Yes, but only for the following perils:o Fire or lightning
o Windstorm or Hail
o Explosion
o Riot or Civil Commotion
o Aircraft (not in aircraft, but if aircraft fall on your stuff.)
o Vehicles (not in vehicles, but if vehicles crash into your stuff.)
o Smoke
o Vandalism or Malicious Mischief
o Theft
o Falling Objects (stuff falling onto your stuff)
o Weight of Ice, Snow or Sleet
o Accidental Discharge or Overflow of Water or Steam
o Sudden and Accidental Tearing Apart or Bursting (of a steam or hot water system).
o Freezing
o Sudden and Accidental Damage from an Artificially Generated Electrical Current
o Volcanic EruptionAs I said above, the policy limit for business electronics at the residence is $2,500.If your laptop or other portable electronics are stolen from your car, there is no coverage under your Auto insurance for the theft.Also remember, that under Coverage C, Contents, payment is made on an Actual Cash Value basis, not Replacement Cost Value. The only way to get RCV is to add the Contents Replacement Cost endorsement to your policy. It’s not automatic, you have to request it.How about other kinds of damage that your computer might sustain?o Accidental damage, such as dropped equipment, falls, liquid spills and auto collisions.
o Water damageThose kinds of damages are not covered under your homeowners or renters policy.And what about the software and sensitive data in your computer? Is that covered, too?Not likely. In the Homeowners and Renters policies, under the “Property Not Covered” section, “business data, including data stored in computers and related equipment” is not covered.So, to be fully covered, you’ll need to buy some additional coverage.COMPUTER AND PERSONAL ELECTRONICS INSURANCEThe leading company in the world for computer and portable electronics insurance is Safeware Insurance. They have programs for students, individuals, small and large businesses and schools at very competitive rates.Let me take a few minutes and tell you about their outstanding insurance product.If you own:o Desktop or Laptop Computers
o Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs)
o Smartphones
o Digital cameras
o MP3 players
o Scanners/Faxes/Copiers
o Printers
o DVD players
o Flash drives
o Servers
o External hard drives
o Digital camcorders
o Peripherals that connect to your computers through an USB port, Firewire, PCMCIA or another inputAll of these electronic products need special insurance coverage not provided in Homeowners or Renters policies.Did you know these facts about computers?o Accidental damage is the number one cause of loss
o Theft is number two cause of loss
o Power surge is number three
o Manufacturer warranties do not protect your computer from accidental damage or theft
o Even though some manufacturers do offer special “damage only” coverage, they do not offer coverage for theft, power surges, natural disasters or vandalism.You already know how easy it is to have electronics with replacement value in excess of $2,500. There are loaded desktops and laptops that easily exceed $2,500 EACH.So, you have some choices:1. Call your agent and buy a Personal Property Endorsement to add coverage to your homeowners or renters policy. Downsides to this choice are (a) many endorsements only pay the Actual Cash Value of the damaged property, not replacement cost, and (b) perils like Accidental Damage, Drops, Falls, Cracked Screens, Liquid Spills and Auto Collisions are not covered.2. Buy a custom policy that just adds special coverage for your computers and other electronics, like:o Desktops
o Laptops and notebooks
o Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs)
o Smartphones
o Digital cameras
o MP3 players
o Scanners/Faxes/Copiers
o Printers
o DVD players
o Flash drives
o Servers
o External hard drives
o Digital camcorders
o Peripherals that connect to your computers through an USB port, Firewire, PCMCIA or another inputSafeware’s policies cover Accidental Damage, Drops, Falls, Cracked Screens, Liquid Spills and Auto Collisions.Business ElectronicsIn May 2006, burglars stole a laptop from the home of a data analyst at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The laptop contained the sensitive personal information of over 26 million veterans and military personnel. The FBI said that the laptop was recovered after an informant “snitched,” motivated by a $50,000 reward.But it’s not just organizations that deal with consumer data that are concerned about thefts. Companies whose employees have laptops are naturally concerned with the value of the computer when it is the company that owns the laptop.The Ponemon Institute, a privacy risk management think tank, released an extensive study in June 2008 entitled “Airport Insecurity : The Case of Missing and Lost Laptops.” They studied laptop security at 106 American airports and found that there is an average of 12,000 laptops lost, missing or stolen at American airports PER WEEK! The airport with the worst record is Los Angeles International, with about 1,200 per week. The nation’s busiest airport, Atlanta’s Hartsfield, was in eighth place with 450 per week.Further, the study found that only 33% of the laptops within the airport’s Lost and Found Departments are ever reclaimed! That means that the remaining 67% of unclaimed laptops are either sold or disposed of by airport authorities. Can you imagine the amount of sensitive personal and business data contained in those laptops? No one knows what happens to that data, but it is ALL at risk. The Identity Theft risks are astronomical.Safeware’s policy covers business electronics for the hazards the homeowners, renters or business insurance policy does not cover.Education CoverageStudents face a higher risk of damage or theft than a normal adult user. Students can experience accidents when they’re putting their stuff into their locker, or accidentally get bumped in a busy hallway, or when they’re running to the bus. A soft drink could be spilled on the keyboard, or they could sit their laptop bag down somewhere and later find it missing.This policy protects students’ computers against Accidental Damage, Theft, Vandalism, Power Surge, and Natural Disasters at any location within the USA, Canada and while in transit.Small Business Coverage is for any sized business with electronics property values up to $49,999, covering Accidental Damage, Theft, Fire, Vandalism, Power Surge and Natural Disasters.Commercial Coverage is a group plan for organizations that have electronics property values in excess of $50,000. Coverage can be one of the following: Comprehensive (Accidental Damage, Theft, Fire, Vandalism, Power Surge, and Natural Disasters); Theft ONLY, or Accidental Damage ONLY.The Commercial policy can benefit organizations such as:o Schools and colleges that want to make their student’s notebook computers more safe and less at risk.
o Corporations issuing notebooks and laptops to their workers, and wishing to minimize their risk of capital loss.In these organizations, the equipment is owned by the corporation or school and used by the employee or student. Experience has shown that if an individual does not own the computer, he or she is likely to take less care of the item than if they owned it themselves. Schools and businesses need to insure their equipment against the perils that could turn their expensive equipment into unusable junk.Safeware Insurance policies do not depreciate for age and condition of your electronics. If you have a claim that requires replacement of your equipment, they pay for like kind and quality of the equipment you had. That’s a HUGE difference from the Homeowners and Renters policies, and could mean thousands more dollars to you in a claim.Worldwide Coverage is an endorsement that adds global coverage to your policy for a very low price. Standard coverage is for the USA, Canada and Puerto Rico.Mobile Advantage insures PDAs and smartphones. You likely purchased your unit at a big discount when you signed up for a service plan. If your device is damaged or stolen, you’ll have to pay full retail for another unit. However, with Mobile Advantage, you’re only responsible for the $50 deductible per incident to get a brand new device.For more information about Personal Electronics Insurance for your student, yourself, your business or your school, contact Safeware Insurance at: safeware.comLAPTOP RECOVERY COVERAGECan you get your stolen laptop back?There is a way that you can protect your laptop, and then retrieve your laptop after it’s been stolen.Three burglary suspects were arrested on February 1, 2008 by Albuquerque police, thanks to a stolen computer loaded with tracking software. The software is called LoJack for Laptops(TM), developed by Absolute Software. The tracking software told the police exactly where to find the suspects. The police were also able to recover thousands of dollars in other stolen property at the location.Absolute Software is the leader in Computer Theft Recovery, Data Protection and Secure Asset Tracking(TM) solutions. It works this way: You install the LoJack for Laptops(TM) software and register it at the LoJack website. If the laptop is stolen, you notify your local police and notify the LoJack Recovery Team. The next time your computer is connected to the Internet, the laptop secretly notifies the Monitoring Center of its whereabouts. The Recovery Team can track its location, and provide police with the information they will need to get a search warrant and recover your laptop.Pricing for LoJack for Laptops(TM) starts at only $39.99 per year.My friend here in Atlanta, Cole Harrison, had his laptop stolen from his car recently. He had the Lojack system on the laptop, and notified them immediately when he discovered the theft. Lojack located the laptop the next day…in Thailand.If you want protect your laptop so you can get it back after it’s been stolen, contact Lojack for Laptops at: www.lojackforlaptops.com Lojack boasts a 90% recovery rate for stolen laptops.CONCLUSIONFor only a small price, you can have the proper coverage you need to protect all your personal and business electronics. Be the smartest person on your block with the right protection. Be the hero to your business with the best coverage. YOU CAN DO IT!!

Victims of Accidents Should Be Taken Care Of and Not Harassed

The young boy who suffered from a serious brain damage because of a car accident was the reason why his mother received so many mailed solicitations from different lawyers asking the price that she wanted to get out of this case. Would parents who are distressed be offended by this inquiry for they were asked in a pushy manner? Definitely, no questions asked. Do methods like these bring discredit on the legal profession as a whole?Very much, yes. At the urging of the state’s bar association, the Florida Supreme Court decided to try to do something positive about the situation by taking a relatively modest and welcome initiative, in response to this situation. It announced that 30 days would be the waiting period for personal injury lawyers before they can actually solicit business by mail intended for victims of accidents or their relatives.The constitutionality of the rule however was challenged by a referral service whose main business is to look for clients to be referred to these personal injury lawyers by soliciting accident victims and their families. The Florida rule was overturned by the US District Court in Tampa, Florida and declared it a violation on lawyer’s rights to freedom of speech, under the First Amendment as applied to the States through the 14th Amendment. On the basis of the interpretation of the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta of US Supreme Court precedents over the past two decades, those who have granted lawyers the right to advertise their services.Fortunately, the Florida rule has been upheld on a 5 to 4 vote by the US Supreme Court. Two convincing justifications covered the implementation of the Florida rule according to a female justice, while the case is being written. To protect personal injury victims against invasive, unsolicited contact by personal injury lawyers or their authorized agents is the first one.The second one on the other aims to prevent the state licensed legal profession from getting angry because the practice of direct solicitation took place only days after accidents. As what the lady justice said, a form of commercial speech is advertising which is subjected to reasonable government regulations. She added that the Florida rule somehow imposes a mild restriction that doesn’t touch a lot of alternative channels for communicating the needed information about attorneys.With this, she said that Florida allows lawyers to advertise on radio and on prime time television as well as in newspapers and other media. However, lawyers may be able to rent space on billboards as well as to other forms of outdoor advertisements. Also, letters may be sent to the general population or to some discrete segments of society.Their contact details are available in the listing under lawyers in the telephone directory.

The Secrets To Valuing Your Car Accident Claim

Figuring out how much your case is worth is a critical aspect of any accident case, both for you and your attorney. It drives many decisions, including when to settle versus go to trial and how much money your attorney should spend on preparing your case. This article will teach you all the different issues your attorney is taking into consideration when coming up with your case’s value.What Money (i.e. Damages) You Are Entitled ToThere are three (3) different types of damages that are available to you in a personal injury case. They are: Special Damages, General Damages, and Punitive Damages. Special damages are those capable of being proven to an exact amount, usually with the help of bills and/or receipts. Special damages typically consist of medical bills, medications, and over-the-counter medical equipment like heating pads, bandages, etc. Special damages also include lost wages, lost vacation, lost sick leave, and travel expenses – traveling to/from your medical appointments. You are normally entitled to lost wages for the time missed from work or undergoing treatments even if your employer paid you sick leave at the time.General damages are incapable of exact proof and are normally the “pain and suffering” you endured from the accident. This includes emotional damages such as stress, anxiety, and depression. It also includes lost social and family events, such as having to missed a loved one’s birthday or a high school graduation for example. Finally, general damages also include any permanent physical disability or disfigurement. There is no formula for determining these types of damages. Many attorneys and insurance companies will use a multiple of your special damages to come up with this number.The third category of damages are punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish the wrongdoer and are not available in every type of case. Punitive damages are extra damages that a jury awards on top of the other two types of damages. There are tremendous strategic advantages to pursuing these types of damages in your case. For example, attorneys are not normally allowed to show the jury a defendant’s other prior, bad acts. But if your attorney seeks punitive damages, your attorney should be able to get this evidence in. Your attorney should look for every possible reason to obtain punitive damages because it puts huge pressure on the defendant in both discovery and at trial.Factors That Increase/Decrease Your Case’s ValueThere are many, many factors that affect the value of your case and each case is different. You should always have a candid conversation with your attorney regarding what is affecting your case’s value both before you attempt pre-suit settlement negotiations and before going to trial. The following issues will affect the value of your case, but is not intended to be an all inclusive list:Your Age. The younger or older you are, the better your case is. Children aged 1-12 generally have outstanding settlement results. So do people in their late 60’s and older because of the sympathy the elderly create from the jury. That leaves people ages 13-59. These individuals do not receive the same sympathy of both the very young and the elderly.
Type of Injury. Obviously the more severe your injuries, the more your case is going to be worth. Severe injuries also affect the general damages because the more severe injuries are usually assumed to have more severe general damages associated with them. Compare this with Minor Impact Soft Tissue cases.
Objective Signs of Injury. When a doctor examines you, there are subjective and objective findings. Subjective findings are those things that can’t be measured or reproduced on paper. Usually, they are the things you tell your doctor you are experiencing. Objective findings, on the other hand, are measurable. This includes such things as MRI’s, measuring range of motion, and lab reports. The more objective findings your case has that supports your case, the more valuable your case becomes because your injuries are not just you saying what they are, but are supportable by tests and measurements.
Your Attorney. This is probably the biggest factor in changing the value of your case THAT YOU CAN CONTROL. Think about it. All the other items in this list are set in stone. The facts are what they are. But your attorney is different. Insurance companies track which attorneys file lawsuits and which go for quick settlements. This changes the value of your case. Also, an aggressive plaintiff’s attorney will be constantly pushing the other side. This can add tremendous value to a case because you are putting pressure on the defense attorneys as well as their clients.
What Kind of Witness You Are. This is always a big factor in the defense valuing your case. In fact, one of the primary reasons for taking your deposition is to see what kind of witness you are going to make in front of a jury. That is why your deposition preparation is so critical. It will affect the value of your case.
What Kind of Witness Is The Other Driver. Juries tend to focus on emotional decisions and bad behavior. If the other driver or other defendants show bad behavior or bad decisions, the jury will respond. For example, was the other driver DUI, unremorseful, calling his girlfriend instead of calling for medical help? Did the trucking company rush investigators to the scene instead of calling for help, did they attempt to destroy evidence, did the apologize?
Other witnesses. The more unbiased witnesses you have in your favor, the stronger your case is. Your attorney wants, whenever possible, for your case to be more than your word against the other driver’s. Your attorney should also be looking for witnesses that can testify about your pain and suffering, but who are not family members who are biased in your favor.
Venue. This simply means the court/county where your case would be filed. As a general rule, metro counties are more favorable to plaintiffs than rural counties, which are more conservative. But, and as an example of how subtle all this is, if you make a very genuine, sympathetic witness for yourself, rural, conservative juries have been known to relate and award more money.
Percentage of Fault. In some cases a jury will divide up fault among you and the defendants. They can also apportion fault among multiple defendants.
Prior Injuries Also known as pre-existing conditions, these are injuries you sustained to the same body parts you are saying were hurt in your current accident. Defense attorneys will comb through your medical records looking for any injury to argue you were not hurt in this accident, but another one. The rub is that you are entitled to damages even if you suffer from previous injuries to the same area. What this factor does do is cause a jury to discount your injuries by a certain amount.
Property Damage. Your car should look like it supports what happens to you. In other words, almost no jury is going to award huge damages for a scratched bumper. But, if the car looks totaled, then there is visual evidence the jury can use to support its decision.
Doctors Comments. Your medical records will have notes the doctor made commenting on your condition and the statements you made to him/her. Juries listen to doctors. If you have a doctor writing in your medical chart that you are faking your injuries, then you have a problem. You can bet the other side will bring that doctor to court.
Time. The more patient and prepared you and your attorney are, the more you case will increase over time. Typically, you case will bump up in value at two different points. First, you will reach one value in pre-suit negotiations. Your case will then take a bump in value right before trial, when both sides try to settle the case right before trial. This is especially true if you and your attorney have performed extremely well during litigation.OK, But What’s My Case Worth?Some of you are now scratching your head and thinking there has to be some formula for putting a value on my case. Before I give you the rule-of-thumb, I must tell you there is no substitute for an experienced attorney evaluating your case and all its nuances.That being said, you case can usually value your case at somewhere between 1.5 and 4 times your Special damages. For example, if your total medical bills and lost wages were $15,000. Your case may have a value of between $22,500 and $60,000. I know. That is a very broad range. The factors above are what an attorney will evaluate to narrow that range. If you make a horrible witness, the other driver is a saint, and the case is going to be filed in a very conservative county, your case will be on the low end. If you make an incredible witness, the other driver was DUI and unremorseful and the lawsuit can be brought in a pro-plaintiff county, you are on the high side.How Insurance Companies Value Your CaseThe insurance adjusters for most insurance companies handle 100’s of claims. If it were not for their computer diaries on each case, they couldn’t keep the facts of each case straight. Because the insurance companies handle so much volume, they created computer software to determine your case’s value. The most notorious of these is Colossus. This computer system was developed by a consulting company called McKinsey & Co. Instead of humans evaluating your case, now more and more cases are taking this away from adjusters and forcing them to input data into Colossus. The factors the software uses in determining your case’s value are closely guarded secrets. What is known is that you attorney must do his/her best to provide the adjuster all the facts, including diagnostic codes, to the adjuster to help increase the Colossus valuation.Your best bet against Colossus is to retain a lawyer who will demonstrate you are willing to take your case to a jury. A computer can never know your pain and suffering. A jury will. Also, adjusters will sometimes override Colossus when faced with a lawsuit so they can evaluate your case “one more time” before incurring the time and expense of trial. Finally, there is evidence Colossus does factor in to its valuation your attorneys history of taking cases to trial versus just settling cases.