Monthly Archives: October 2014

Insurance Facts & Myths: What You Know, What you Don’t

By P. Andersen, 10/28/14


Do you know your insurance facts? Can you pick out the insurance myths that seem to crop up time and time again? Here is a quiz that gave to 2000 respondents, and the results may surprise you. I put the 10 questions below for you to answer, and you can click the link at the bottom to see how you did. If that isn’t good enough, there is a gender breakdown! That’s right, among the 2000 respondents, women did substantially better on this quiz than men!  Leave your ego at the door guys, or prove you ACTUALLY know what you THINK you know…

But what is the point? The point is that we all make decisions based on perceived facts. We don’t ask questions because we mistakenly think we know the answers, and because of that, we miss out on some important things in life. This is not just about insurance, it is about a world that we think we know, but that really is full of mystery.

But today, let’s focus on the insurance side of things. Decide if these 10 statements are facts or myths, then click the link and see how you did. Ready?

1: I should buy insurance coverage for my house based on its real estate market value.

2: Red cars cost more to insure because they get pulled over for speeding more.

3: If I cause a crash with extensive damages to others, my auto insurance company can cancel me immediately.

4: Small cars are the cheapest to insure.

5: The Affordable Care Act (also called Obamacare) allows health insurance companies to base rates on medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer.

6: Comprehensive auto insurance covers everything and anything.

7: Thieves prefer to steal new cars.

8: If my friend borrows my car and crashes it, their insurance will pay for damage.

9: The Affordable Care Act (also called Obamacare) requires me to take the health insurance plan offered by my employer.

10: Out-of-state speeding tickets can’t follow you home.

Results? Click here. Good Luck!

Fire Safety

by P. Andersen and The Hartford, 10/24/14


A big part of writing a blog is finding useful things to impart, and to impart those things in a unique way.  Sometimes, others offer information in a way that is pretty excellent, though, and pointing you to that information can be as useful as reinventing the wheel.

We have spoken about the relationships Levitt-Fuirst has with our insurance carrier partners, most notably in our “Why An Independent Agent?” piece.  These partners have amazing information available to them, and some of that really fits with what we are trying to impart to you in this blog.  For example?

The Hartford.  the Hartford started out as a fire insurance company 200 years ago, and continues today to lead in fire safety and prevention –  a major cause of loss to homeowners since, well, since the beginning…  They recently created this 28 page fire prevention and safety guide that should be mandatory reading for all homeowners.  Today’s blog?  Today I am hoping you will take the time to read this Hartford booklet to have a better understanding of fire risks, to reduce those risks, and to survive a catastrophe.  As is always the case, the safety of you and your family are the most important things – the rest is replaceable.

If you own a home, please read this booklet.  It will give you insights and reminders, conversation starters and a fresh perspective.  An ounce of prevention, as they say…

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance

By P. Andersen, 10/17/14


At Levitt-Fuirst, I manage a sub-company called Risk Reduction Services (RRS).   Simply, we collect proof of insurance documents from contractors for our clients.  If there is a claim caused by a contractor, our clients can feel secure that the contractor has insurance to pay the claim.

All of this made me think of personal auto insurance.  When you are in an accident, you expect the other driver to have proper insurance!  Recently, however, I have been reading many stories about individuals that either have only the minimum auto coverage limits, or forego auto insurance entirely.  Reasons vary from the slow economic recovery to increasing auto insurance rates, but whatever the reason, the number of uninsured drivers is climbing. Here is one such story that caught my eye.  Though this is from Dayton Ohio, you could insert your town name and the story wouldn’t change.

Even if that driver in the lane next to you DOES have insurance, however, there is no telling if they have ENOUGH insurance! Do you know how low the New York State’s mandatory limits are?  Mandated liability insurance limits are $25,000/person, $50,000/accident.  Limits for death are $50,000/person, $100,000/accident!  Property damage?  $10,000!!!

Cars are more valuable than ever, and humans are more litigious than ever. These limits will not protect you if you cause an accident, but they will also not care for you if you are involved in an accident caused by others with bad insurance!

What Is a Person To Do?

Two things, both accomplished by calling your insurance expert…

First, make sure you have a good uninsured/underinsured limit. This coverage is the one you need for those occasions where the other driver doesn’t have insurance, or has extremely low coverage limits. Although this is a required coverage in New York, the mandated limits are too low to truly protect you. Talk to your insurance professional to find out if your limits for this essential coverage are high enough.

Second, do you have a lot to protect outside of your car? Do you have an expensive home, vacation home, jewelry, kids with college funds, stock portfolios? If the answers are YES, than the rules are different for you.  You should have an umbrella policy to protect you in the case of a lawsuit or high cost claim.

Do you have an umbrella policy? Yes?  GOOD! But that auto policy better be $500,000 combined single limit, or you may have a large shortfall when that unthinkable auto claim occurs. Most umbrella policies require underlying insurance to be at least $500,000 before the umbrella coverage kicks in. This is one very good reason to keep all of your insurance with one insurance expert – the more you have to protect, the more you need a synergy amongst all of your policies.

Auto Insurance is expensive, especially in the tri-state region. Rates in New York City are especially high, and New Jersey is known for their high rates as well.  The risks to you, your family, and your personal wealth is real, though, and skimping on this essential coverage simply doesn’t make sense.  Give us a call, we are happy to check your policy to see if you are protected from this, and other risks you face each day.

Why Fear Insurance?

by P. Andersen, 10/9/14

CAI Tradeshow

This Saturday, October 11th, Levitt-Fuirst will have a booth at the Community Associations Institute Conference and Trade Show at the Ramada Inn in Fishkill, NY.  In addition, Jason Schiciano, President of Levitt-Fuirst, will be a part of the 9:00 a.m. panel “Can We Do This?”, discussing the legal, accounting, and insurance ramifications of what a property board can and cannot do.  We are a proud member of the CAI, and many of our clients are members as well – we are truly happy to be a part of the show.

The Levitt-Fuirst booth was recently created, and is intended to initiate conversation – “Why Fear Insurance?” is the slogan we decided on.  It seems some people think of insurance like they do the dentist, and we feel it shouldn’t be viewed with fear or avoidance.  Insurance is one of the good things in life, protecting our families and businesses from catastrophic loss, and keeping our world comfortable in the face of adversity.  It is Levitt-Fuirst’s goal to make insurance as pain free as possible – why fear insurance indeed?

Niche Markets

Levitt-Fuirst writes insurance for just about anyone, from the new homeowner to the multi-national manufacturer, but one of our specialties is condo and coop, or “habitational” insurance.  This is the insurance that the condo or coop has to have to protect the building and property from losses or claims.  If you live in a condo or a coop the New York/Westchester/Lower Hudson Valley region, or are a part of a community association in that area, there is a chance that we write the property and liability insurance for your building or association.  It is one of our specialties, along with construction, bonding, and high net worth personal insurance.

Insurance is an interesting business, with your success tied to many factors.  Clearly, there is the experience and knowledge of the area of expertise – having worked in real estate and construction for going on 50 years, it is understandable that we have that skillset.  As we have grown, we have broadened our reach as well, covering new industries from restaurants and food trucks, to manufacturing and technology firms.  With experience comes experience, and each year we find a new niche to broaden our reach and expand our business.  With each new experienced employee we hire, we have a broader, deeper pool of information to pull from as we write new policies.

Beyond the knowledge, however, are the relationships with the insurance carriers, the relationships with the communities in which we work and live, and the amazing referrals we receive from clients that appreciate what we bring to the table.  Levitt-Fuirst has always been a referral based agency – we don’t grow by acquisition, we grow by impressing our clients enough that they recommend new clients.  It is an old school philosophy that has truly worked for us, as we continue to succeed even in a difficult marketplace.

The Community Association Institute Conference and Trade Show

But back to the CAI show…  We exhibit because we want more properties and property managers to hear about us and our success stories, and because we want to connect with our current clients who always have a question or two for us when we are at an event.  We want people to know that insurance should not be feared, that insurance keeps you whole when life conspires against you.  Our booth?  It is something to behold, and we hope it gets that point across… With the right professional organization behind you, there is no reason to fear insurance after all…

New York Auto Insurance Rates – Something to Think About

by P. Andersen, 10/1/14


Reading the Chappaqua Daily Voice, this story jumped onto our radar.  It isn’t surprising that auto insurance is expensive in our region, but the story made us think about the auto market in general here in New York.

Something that you will hear a lot is that auto insurance has become “commoditized”.  When competitors offer a product with no discernable differences, price becomes the only factor that matters.  The commodity concept is what Geico focuses on  – how much you can save?  The study that is referenced, which can be found here on the ValuePenguin website, points out the expense associated with auto insurance in the region, but fails on a few other fronts.  When all you talk about is price, you lose sight of the bigger picture of risk, protection, and security for you and your family.

Auto Insurance is an Important Insurance Policy!

First of all, I want to mention that this study uses some very low insurance coverage numbers.  If you live in Chappaqua (or Armonk, or Harrison, or Greenwich, or Scarsdale), you likely have more to protect than those low limits allow.  You have more to risk, and far more to lose with low limit insurance – and the study actually INCREASES the numbers from what New York requires!  Hello, maybe it is time to talk Uninsured/Underinsured insurance coverage?  Next weeks blog, read it here next Wednesday!  For now, just know you NEED IT!

You will hear me often talk about the professional guidance Levitt-Fuirst offers our clients, and how this professional knowledge is essential to making good insurance decisions.  This is also true with the supposed commodity personal auto insurance.  For a well-off family, the auto insurance you carry could be a huge benefit – or problem – when a big auto claim hits.  Having an insurance expert explain the coverage options to you, and make recommendations to you based on your particulars, might mean the difference between being covered for a major claim and suffering a large out of pocket expense.

Let’s look at some examples… 

Some vehicles are unique, and their value is higher than what you would expect for the make and model.  Under these circumstances, you should be directed toward agreed value coverage.  Blue Book values are the standard basis for insurance reimbursement, but a standard blue book value coverage could cost you when your unique auto’s value far eclipses the blue book.  Perhaps you read about this concept in our Antique Auto blog? 

Also, did you know that you can stipulate that only OEM parts are used in the repair of your vehicle?  Private Label parts may not have the same high standards as the parts that were used to build your car originally, and could impact the quality of the vehicle after repair.  Diminished quality means diminished value of the vehicle after repair as well…

What about rental insurance?  When does it kick in, how long does it last, how much comes out of your pocket?  Rental cars are expensive; a few weeks of a car being in the shop could cover several years of the savings garnered by not having this coverage (or having a poor version, with economy cars and 1 week limits).

Umbrella Requirements?


Or the big one – do you have enough auto insurance to reach your umbrella coverage?  Umbrella policies often stipulate that the underlying auto policy have limits as high as $500,000 in order for a claim to be covered – that low limit policy that saved you a few hundred dollars may cost you $400,000 during a lawsuit!

Commodity?  No, I don’t see auto insurance as a commodity.  I see it as any other essential coverage, and the more you have to lose, the more you have to think about what the policy protects you from.  This doesn’t always mean excessively high premiums either – a lot has to do with you and your driving record, the people in your household, the other policies you have with the particular carrier.  The simple fact is, you should talk to us.  We are your trusted advisor for a reason…