Monday, October 18, 2010

Vicci's Story

     Vicci Grey was run down by a drunk driver and abandoned on the side of the road. Now on the road to recovery, Vicci is trying to work through the physical and financial pain that the accident has caused her.

"I was on the way home from my daughter's 37th birthday party and I saw a truck ahead of me in the road that seemed to be out of control. He was on the wrong side of the road. All of a sudden it seemed as though he slammed his foot on the gas and veered straight towards me. I thought that if I could just turn the corner on the next street maybe I could keep him from hitting me. I couldn't get out of the way fast enough, and he broadsided me."

The driver that hit Vicci was driving a Lincoln Navigator. After he crossed the median into Vicci's lane and hit her, the driver and his passenger got out of the truck and ran. Both were heavily intoxicated and wanted to get away before the police arrived. Neither of them checked to see if Vicci was alive, if she was hurt, or if she needed help. She was hurt. She did need help. Both cars were totalled.

"I couldn't get out of my car, I couldn't even try. I wanted to find my cell phone so I could call my kids and let them know I was in an accident but my neck had swollen up and I couldn't turn my head. My arm had gone completely numb and I couldn't really move."

Fortunately for Vicci, someone in a nearby house had heard the accident and called the police. Within 5 minutes they were on scene and the firemen were cutting Vicci out of her car with the jaws of life. Before she really knew what was going on, Vicci was at the hospital. The accident had fractured Vicci's C6 and C7 vertebrae and cause extensive nerve and muscle damage. Vicci spent the next three days in the hospital before being sent home on oxygen for 2 months of bed rest and physical therapy.

The police found the passenger in a Walgreens near the site of the accident that night. After 2 months, the police have still not located the driver. The passenger admitted to police that they had both been drinking and that he had told the driver many times that he should not be driving, but he didn't listen. Although the driver does own a home in Colorado Springs, he had recently lost his job and was not living at home due to a domestic violence case with his wife. Although the driver did have insurance, Vicci was about to find out how little he had and how little it would help.

Vicci has not been able to drive or return to work in the two months since the accident. She has been walking to a nearby physical therapist 3 times a week in an effort to recover and regain her full mobility. About a month and a half after the accident, Vicci was finally able to get to her car and retrieve some of her belongings.

"When I finally saw my car, it was truly devastating", says Vicci. "It was like looking at death, it was absolutely horrible." Vicci soon found out that the driver's insurance policy was not going to be enough to pay for her car because the driver had such low limits. "The insurance that he had should be against the law. He had the barest of bare minimum that would pay $25,000 for my medical bills and work loss and up to $15,000 for my car." Vicci's hospital bills were already over the $25,000. Add in the work loss, physical therapy, oxygen for her home, neurologist visits, etc. and things really start to add up. Vicci's car was also a total loss and cost well over the $15,000 provided by the other driver's insurance policy.

Fortunately for Vicci, her own insurance policy DID have the right coverage to protect her. Her own insurance policy DID pay off her car and WILL take care of her medical bills, physical therapy, work loss and anything else that Vicci needs to get back to normal.

"It was a relief to find out what kind of insurance coverage I had. I had not paid much attention to my own insurance coverage because I had no reason to. I'm a good driver and I've never hit anyone. You always think that it's not going to happen to me, you always think that you're the invincible one so you don't think much about your coverage. You only think about trying to save money here and there. I'm truly thankful for what I have on my policy to take care of me."

After two full months, Vicci was finally cleared to start working again...slowly. She'll have to take it easy for the next few months, taking frequent breaks and limiting her driving but she needs to get back to work and is grateful for her progress so far.

"My insurance policy with American National has pretty much sustained me. It paid off my car and is helping me with a rental car. The service has been phenomenal. Trying to deal with his (the other driver's) insurance has been a nightmare, it's been a full time job."

When asked if she had any words of advice regarding what she's learned from her ordeal, Vicci had this to say: "Make sure that you have good insurance coverage. Even if you think you're just giving your money away  because this sort of thing could never happen to you, you just don't know. You can never know for sure. Having the right insurance has made the difference between being destitute and being okay; between being under a bridge and being here at home. You need to have someone to sit down and talk to and then listen to what they say about protecting yourself. It's not about anyone trying to sell you insurance, It's about you and what you need. If it had not been for Robert and American National I would be devastated. I still have a long way to go, but I thank God for all that's been done for me."

Vicci has been through a lot and learned first-hand the value of having the right insurance to stay protected. She's been a great client for years and I appreciate her sharing her story and wish her a full and speedy recovery.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

New Study Reveals Home Owners Know LITTLE About Their Home Insurance

I recently came across a study from Zogby International that asked the question "how much do people know about the insurance for their most valuable asset - their home?" The answer was alarming to say the least. The majority of home owners have some very mistaken ideas about what their home insurance does - and does NOT - cover. Unfortunately, some home owners will find themselves very under insured if they don't take action, while others are obviously over paying for coverage they may not need. Read the full report below:

Homeowners Coverage Knowledge Gap Wide Among Consumers

Many Americans admit to having a knowledge gap when it comes to what their home insurance actually covers, according to a new survey.
Nearly one third (31 percent) of Americans don't know how much their most valuable assets -- their homes -- are insured for, and an additional 46 percent don't know how much coverage they have for their homes' contents, such as furniture and clothing, say the results of a survey by Zogby International for MetLife Auto & Home. Additionally, many homeowners aren't aware of coverage overlaps that may exist, which could result in opportunities to save money.
The first of a two-part "Insurance Literacy" survey, tested consumer knowledge of insurance basics, including homeowners, condo, and renter's insurance.
Common misconceptions that could lead to coverage gaps were:
-- Thirty percent of homeowners believe their insurance coverage is based on the current market value of their home. Actually, the available coverage limit for homeowners insurance is based on the cost to rebuild the home, a mistake that could lead to confusion for homeowners trying to evaluate whether they have the right amount of insurance.
-- More than two thirds (71 percent) of those surveyed believe insurance pays for the full cost to rebuild their property in the event of a major loss, such as a fire or other natural disaster. But nearly all insurance companies "cap" the amount paid to rebuild the dwelling following a total loss, unless additional coverage is purchased. Furthermore, the coverage is subject to a deductible, and certain causes of loss, such as water damage caused by the natural disasters of flooding, are excluded completely.
-- Almost three-quarters (73 percent) believe insurance will pay the full cost to replace personal belongings in the event of a loss. However, depreciation is usually factored in, unless optional replacement coverage is selected, and the coverage, regardless of the chosen settlement method, is subject to a deductible.
-- Sixty percent believe insurance will pay for the full cost of replacing valuables, such as jewelry and collectibles. Most insurance policies contain a payment cap for replacing valuables, although additional coverage can be purchased, and the coverage is subject to a deductible.
-- For a major loss, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of those surveyed expect their insurance to cover any building code mandated upgrades that are necessary. Without an endorsement/rider, most home insurance does not cover required upgrades located in an undamaged portion of the home.
"More than two-thirds of consumers surveyed also said they'd rather pay a higher premium than be told that a loss isn't covered," said Bill Moore, president of MetLife Auto & Home. "To ensure this doesn't happen, consumers can find the best value by learning more about their policies and selecting the coverage that best meets their needs, rather than simply shopping for the lowest premium."
On a positive note, with purse strings tight, opportunities exist for consumers to become more aware of what their current policies do cover in the event of a loss, to avoid insurance overlaps and unnecessary out-of-pocket expenses. For example:
-- Electronically downloaded and stored entertainment, such as music, ring tones, etc., can be expensive to replace without easy access to free re-downloads. However, more than 90 percent of homeowners didn't know that insurance can extend coverage to electronic data.
-- Almost half (47 percent) didn't realize there's no need to secure additional coverage to insure the personal property of college-age children living on campus. This is covered under the standard homeowners contract, subject to its terms and conditions.
-- Many homeowners would be surprised to learn that damage to appliances and wiring from a power surge would be covered by their insurance policy. More than half (59 percent) didn't think it would -- limiting out-of-pocket expenses to a deductible.
Natural Disasters
Many homeowners exhibit confusion about insurance coverage for natural disasters and unforeseen occurrences. The majority of homeowners understand that flood damage is written on a separate policy from their standard insurance policies. However, many consumers are still misinformed -- or unsure -- about the coverage available for other types of events.
In some cases, homeowners are aware of the potential for a loss, but don't realize what coverage they have against a particular hazard. Among other things:
-- Although 83 percent believe foundation damage from earth movement is very serious or somewhat serious, only 37 percent know they aren't covered for this under the standard homeowners policy.
-- More than a quarter (28 percent) incorrectly believe they'd be covered for an earthquake or volcanic eruption, and the same amount aren't sure one way or the other. Most standard policies exclude this peril.
-- For water damage from a sewer or sump-pump back up, 67 percent of homeowners believe this would be covered. Without the appropriate rider, most policies don't cover this.
The Zogby/MetLife Auto & Home homeowners insurance survey sample consisted of interviews with 1,196 adults who have homeowners, condo, or renter's insurance, and who are living in a household with a telephone. The interviewing was conducted May 26, to June 9, 2010.
Source: MetLife Inc.