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A M I C A
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Up on a Roof
Most vulnerable spot in your home is right over your head
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Little Cars Tally Big Bumper Bills Texting & Driving How Much Life Insurance Do I Need? FEMA Updating Flood Maps Our Best Rewards
he largest hailstone ever recovered and recorded in the U.S. was a whopping seven-inch chunk of football-shaped ice found in Aurora, Nebraska, on June 22, 2003. No doubt, hailstones of this dimension aren’t an everyday occurrence in most neighborhoods. But damaging hail is more common, with the largest concentration of hailstorms occurring in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In fact, every year about $1 billion in property-casualty hail-related damage is reported across the U.S., according to industry statistics – and one of the most at-risk spots for a homeowner is the roof.
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Little Cars Tally Big Bumper Bills
f you’ve noticed more small vehicles on busy city streets these days, there’s good reason. After all, these minicars and microcars have a lot going for them – they’re affordable, “green,” fuel-efficient and easy to park on city streets. However, recent safety tests by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) are sending up a red flag concerning the popular vehicles’ bumpers. In fact, of seven minicars and microcars tested by the IIHS, none earned the top rating of good, and just one, the Smart Fortwo, earned an acceptable rating. Five out of the seven earned poor ratings and one earned a marginal. More Test Results The Institute evaluated results according to a new ratings protocol for low-speed tests that better represents the damage insurance claims centers assess daily. The worst performer is the Kia Rio, with $9,380 total damage in the four tests; two full-width and two corner impacts earned it a poor rating. The Rio’s repair bill is worse than those of most other small and midsize cars and minivans the Institute has tested. This minicar racked up about $3,700 damage, or 30 percent of its purchase price, in the full-front test alone. The Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent, and Mini Cooper also earn poor ratings for bumper performance, according to the IIHS report. The Smart Fortwo is best overall, with $3,281 total damage in four tests. Costs are relatively low for this microcar because its prepainted plastic body panels are dent-resistant, inexpensive and easy to replace. The Chevrolet Aveo, a minicar, is next best, with $4,490 total damage.
Better Design Possible “Bumpers can be designed so there’s no damage in these low-speed impacts. At a minimum, repairs should cost less than the typical insurance deductible for a collision, which is $500,” says Institute senior vice president Joe Nolan in an IIHS press release. “This is why we set the benchmark for a good rating at less than $500. Damage at this level may be only cosmetic, so consumers may choose not to bother with repairs.” No vehicle can earn a good or even an acceptable rating in the IIHS bumper tests if it’s unsafe to drive afterward or can’t be driven at all. Inoperable headlights or taillights, severely buckled hoods or a compromised engine cooling system
would prevent any vehicle from achieving the top two ratings. For instance, the Accent’s hood buckled and its radiator hose kinked in the full-front test. New Rating Standards Besides this group of minicars and microcars, the Institute tested 54 other vehicles under the new ratings protocol. The Smart Fortwo joined the Ford Focus and Scion xB as the only cars to earn acceptable ratings. The Aveo was one of 15 to rate marginal. Of the 61 cars the Institute tested as of June 2009, 43 rate poor. “With consumers watching every penny in this shaky economy, no one should have to shell out hundreds and even thousands of dollars to fix damage that shouldn’t happen in
the first place,” Nolan said. “Our new bumper ratings should help streamline the buying process so consumers can zero in on vehicles with good bumpers. At the same time, the ratings should encourage automakers to make improvements that help move cars off their lots.” The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is an independent, nonprofit, scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing the losses – deaths, injuries and property damage – from crashes on the nation’s highways. For more details on the IIHS bumper tests, visit www.iihs.org.
Bumper performance in low-speed crash tests: MINI AND MICROCAR RATINGS AND REPAIR COSTS
Rating A M P P P P P
G A M P
Front full $1,480 $1,071 $2,291 $1,688 $1,124 $3,476 $3,701
Front corner $663 $1,437 $2,637 $1,167 $1,216 $839 $1,758
Smart Fortwo Chevrolet Aveo Mini Cooper Toyota Yaris Honda Fit Hyundai Accent Kia Rio
GOOD ACCEPTABLE MARGINAL POOR
Rear full $631 $1,370 $929 $3,345 $3,648 $2,057 $3,148
Rear WEIGHTED corner AVERAGE $507 $899 $612 $743 $474 $999 $831 $773 $1,155 $1,637 $1,951 $1,960 $2,123 $2,705
Texting & Driving: Deadly Combo
ending text messages while driving is a dangerous habit. In teen vernacular, it’s called a “nobrainer.” Nonetheless, it’s a practice on the rise, with one in four cell phone users admitting to texting while driving, according to a recent consumer study of 5,000 respondents. In addition, accounts of accidents and deaths attributed to text messaging while driving continue to make the news. Although teens are the biggest offenders, drivers of all ages admit to text messaging. In fact, crash statistics surrounding distractions in vehicles, such as texting, are growing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that distracted drivers account for almost 80 percent of all crashes and 65 percent of nearcrashes in the United States. That’s one reason 14 states and the District of Columbia now have laws banning texting while driving (as of July 2009)
and many more are considering them, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Teens using a driving simulator while sending text messages or searching their MP3s slowed down, wove in and out of their lanes and, in some cases, ran over pedestrians, according to a study presented recently to the Pediatric Academic Societies. The study included 21 subjects between 16 and 18 years of age with at least six months driving experience. Each driver completed four separate 10-minute driving blocks: Undistracted, talking on a cell phone, text messaging and using an MP3
player. The results for the teens sending text messages or fiddling with their MP3 players showed increased “lane position deviation” and speed changes, mostly slowing down. For more information about the specific laws banning or limiting cell phones and text messaging while driving, visit www.ghsa.gov.
Up on a Roof
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Tougher Roofs In recent years impact-resistant roofing materials have been developed that far surpass the coverings that were out there even 10 years ago. If you’re considering a new roof, you’ll want to learn more about these options that can minimize damage while protecting your family’s home. The first things to look for, according to the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), are roofing materials tested and approved by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) with a code of UL 2218. However, that’s not enough; within this standard are four rating categories from Class 4, which is the best, to Class 1, which is the least resistant. Therefore, the best products will be rated UL 2218 Class 4. While you’re at it, also check for the fire-resistance rating of the roofing materials. If products are untested or failed tests, they are listed as “nonrated.” Inspect Your Roof Right now is a great time to check your roof for potential problems. Here are some tips on what to look for – after you’ve carefully secured and climbed your ladder – from the National Roofing Contractors Association: • First, check for ceiling spots and any signs of water damage on interior walls, which are usually a sign that your roof needs a leak repair.
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Clean gutters and check for excessive amounts of shingle granules in your gutters; granules give shingles added weight and protect them from ultraviolet rays. Inspect around chimneys and pipes for loose materials or wear. Flashing is the material installed between your roof and any wall, such as the wall of your chimney. If the flashing is cracked, it should always be replaced as it could cause leaks, especially if you live in areas of the country that receive heavy snowfall. Check shingles for buckling, curling or blistering; this indicates the end of the shingles’ life expectancy. Blistered shingles often are caused by inadequate roof ventilation. Also note any missing shingles, which are sometimes hard to spot. Make sure that the gutters are leaf-free because, if they aren’t, drain outlets will dam up and rainwater will fill the gutters, back up, overflow and eventually pull gutters loose from their mountings. Water that pools in troughs will rot wood gutters and rust sheet metal gutters.
Shingle Evaluation Checklist
Keeping shingles on your house is extremely important. If edge shingles are not well-fastened or extend beyond the drip edge more than the ¼-inch typically recommended for high wind areas, the wind can lift them up and start a peeling process. This domino effect leads to significant loss of roof covering, which can allow water into your home, or worse. To check your shingle strength, the IBHS suggests the following evaluation:
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Inspect a number of shingle tabs and make sure they are well-secured to the roof, particularly along the roof edges. Use the tips of your fingers or thumbs to gently lift up on the edge of the shingle tabs to assess the strength of the adhesive and whether or not the tabs are well-anchored to the shingle below. As long as the shingle is still flexible enough to lift and re-set flat, roofing cement can be applied. To do this with a caulking gun, place three dabs of asphalt cement about the size of a silver dollar under each tab, and press the tab firmly into the adhesive. On gable ends, secure the three shingle tabs closest to the gable edge.
Contact Amica Remember, if you ever experience a homeowners claim – whether it’s a roofing repair or major reconstruction – Amica can help you find the right contractor for the job. Amica’s Homeowner Repair Assistance Program gives you access to a national referral network of more than 2,000 professionally credentialed emergency service and restoration contractors. Your adjuster can answer any questions you may have about the program, or just call us at 800-242-6422 for more information.
he National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) and the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) are working together to offer a free online program to help consumers learn more about impact-resistant, steep-slope roof systems. According to an IBHS insurance claims study that involved 320,000 homes that suffered hail damage in a specific region of the country, homes with impact-resistant roofing materials benefitted from a 55 percent
Free Program on Roof Systems
reduction in losses when compared to homes that did not have impactresistant roofs. The program, entitled “Impact-resistant Roofs: Smart Steps to Reduce Hailstorm Damage,” discusses roofing issues and problems associated with hail impact and the benefits of installing impact-resistant roofing products. The program is free and consists of four self-paced learning modules. For more information, or to register for the program, visit www.nrca.net/nrcauniversity.
Life insurance can never heal emotional loss, but it will relieve a family’s financial worries.
How Much Life Insurance Do I Need?
t’s a question customers ask Amica Life representatives quite often. After all, life insurance is different from other insurance products. A car or home has a specific value attached that auto or homeowners insurance can “cover” when a loss occurs, and, in most cases, this type of personal insurance is either mandated by the state or a requirement for a loan or a mortgage. However, no amount of money can compensate for the loss of a loved one – a husband or wife, or a mother or father. “That’s why life insurance becomes a very personal decision that must be considered carefully,” said John Pickel, an assistant vice president at Amica Life. Two Kinds of Loss “Actually, when a person dies, two kinds of loss occur. There’s the emotional loss and the economic loss. Life insurance ensures that a family can deal with this economic loss for as long as needed,” he explained. “It can never heal the emotional losses, but it will relieve the financial worries initially and for years to come.” Another thing that differentiates life insurance from other types of insurance is the large monetary amount of a policy – such as $500,000 or $1,000,000. These are amounts that many families can’t identify with, explained Pickel.
“That’s why we break it down and discuss a family’s needs based on its monthly income and bills – what’s coming in and what’s going out,” said Maryanne St. Jean, an Amica Life training supervisor. “We want them to consider whether they could afford their current lifestyle if income were lost due to the death of a provider.” Commonly, someone looking for insurance will call Amica Life with an idea of how much insurance they’d like to purchase. Often, however, these figures aren’t based on real dollars needed. They simply represent a ballpark figure or a rule of thumb that someone might have suggested, explained Pickel. Pinpointing Your Needs For example, when customers say they’d like to purchase a $100,000 term life insurance policy for 20 years, they are often surprised to learn that this amount translates into only $553 of income per month.¹ If their current monthly income is $1,100, it doesn’t take long to realize that the $100,000 amount won’t go far in providing for a family’s needs. Often, with these misconceptions out of the way, an Amica Life representative can help pinpoint a family’s needs and the right amount of insurance needed.
“These needs vary widely from customer to customer, as income varies from person to person, and that’s why we try to learn as much as we can about our customers,” said St. Jean. She noted that one family with young children may need a strong safety net of long-term life insurance to ensure the children’s needs are met, while another family might have other forms of income to fall back on if a provider passes away. “Our customers must look carefully at their individual needs,” said Pickel. “It’s our job to make sure they have all the information possible to make an informed decision and to provide the right product for the right reason.” When considering life insurance, a “rule of thumb” is a safe starting point. However, when establishing a coverage plan that specifically meets your family’s needs, planning begins with your careful assessment and should include guidance from an Amica Life representative. To review your insurance needs, simply call 800-619-6077 to speak with an Amica Life representative.
¹ Amount of insurance income paid each month assumes principal and interest of 3% is liquidated over 20 years.
FEMA Updating Flood Maps
lood zones are land areas identified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that classify their risk of flooding. Everyone lives in a flood zone – it’s just a question of whether you live in a low, moderate or high-risk area. Flood risk can, and does, change over time for many reasons: new development, changes in levee classification, and environmental changes, to name a few. As a result, FEMA is currently updating flood hazard maps across the country. These new flood maps, also known as Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRMs), show flood risk at a property-by-property level. When new maps are issued, your risk may have changed as well – along with your flood insurance requirements. If your property is mapped out of a highrisk area, your flood insurance costs could decrease. If you’ve been mapped into a high-risk area, you will be required to purchase flood insurance if your mortgage is through a federally regulated or insured lender. If you live near a levee, your flood risk may be higher than you thought. Hundreds of levees across the country
no longer meet federal standards for protection, so when new maps are issued, these areas will be shown as high risk. If you’d like more information about flood risk or to learn when new flood maps will be available in your community, visit www.floodsmart.gov, the official Web site for the National Flood Insurance Program.
We’ve Been Busy at Amica.com
nhancing and expanding our online services at Amica.com is one way we respond to your changing needs and deliver nationally recognized customer service. If you haven’t visited Amica.com recently, we encourage you to do so. Here’s what you’ll find: Online Identification Cards If you have an auto insurance policy, you can now print or request copies of your insurance identification cards online. You can access this feature by logging into your account and then selecting “Insurance ID Cards” from the left side navigation bar. This function is available to auto customers in every state we service (restrictions apply for New Jersey and Delaware residents). Online Claims Status If you have an open claim, you can now check on its status and the details, such as the name of the claims handler, the claims summary and payment information. You can access this feature by logging into Manage Your Account. More to Come In the near future, you’ll have even more management tools to access your online Amica accounts. We’re redesigning the pages in an effort to expand the range of information we will be sharing with you. Our goal is to provide you with the information you need at the click of a mouse. If you have any questions or suggestions about Amica.com, we’d like to hear from you. E-mail us at email@example.com.
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A Note from Bob DiMuccio:
mica recently earned its 10th top ranking – “Highest Customer Satisfaction Among National Auto Insurers” – in the J.D. Power and Associates’ National Auto Insurance Study. It is our 10th auto insurance award in as many years. Amica also earned high praise for its claims service in a national consumer magazine’s most recent homeowners insurance group survey. Fact is, Amica has earned the magazine’s top rating in all six of its homeowners insurance surveys since 1985. We think that, too, is amazing. Why should you care? After all, these surveys represent the experience of only a small fraction of our customers. However, we believe these results are indicative of what you can expect when you discuss your insurance needs, purchase a policy or present a claim to us.
We recognize our service reputation is earned one customer at a time. That’s why we strive to serve the needs and expectations of each customer, each time. You’ll find our employees to be dedicated insurance professionals who work hard to make sure your customer service experience is as good as those reflected in these award-recognized surveys. We appreciate your willingness to tell others about your experience with Amica – be it through a J.D. Power and Associates survey or a friend or relative. These personal recommendations have been at the core of our growth. For more than 100 years, our best rewards have come from you. Your thank-you notes and stories about your Amica experiences – of loss and renewal, of hopelessness and regained strength, of thoughtless tragedy and surprising kindness – will always be the real indicators of our success. Thank you for choosing Amica as your insurance company. And keep letting us know how we can serve you better. Best regards,
Robert A. DiMuccio Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer
Amica received the highest numerical score in the proprietary J.D. Power and Associates 2000-2009 National Auto Insurance Satisfaction StudiesSM. 2009 based on 22,930 responses from policyholders of 32 insurance carriers, who were surveyed from March-April 2009 about their experiences and perceptions. jdpower.com.