Category Archives: Reference

Top Five Mistakes People Make Regarding Auto Insurance

Russ on the Radio!  Russ was a guest speaker on KSCO “money moves” talk show last Thursday, May 12.

5. Choosing a policy that is inconvenient or an agent or company that is hard to communicate with.  You should choose a policy that “clicks” with you.  Choose the coverages that are important to you.  Options like towing and road service, auto medical, rental car reimbursement, and original manufacturer replacement parts are all convenient coverages, but can be redundant (if you have health insurance, you might not need auto medical, if you have membership in an auto road club, you might not need towing) Also, choose a payment plan that is right for you.  There are many options, like annual payments, monthly payments, or automatic payments (EFT).  Communicate with your agent.   Don’t let your policy go out of force!

4. Spending too much on insuring your car, carrying too low of a deductible, or insuring physical damage on a car with a low value.  In the event of a total loss, all insurance companies pay Actual Cash Value (ACV) not replacement cost.  Actual Cash Value is the depreciated market value of the vehicle.  You should research your car online, to get an idea of how much cars like yours sell for in your area.  Then decide if it is cost effective to carry comprehensive and collision coverage.

3. Not understanding who is covered.  Who is defined as a named insured?  You should check the contract, to understand who is covered to drive your car.  Do you have permissive use on your policy?  Or is your policy a “named driver” policy?  Who is excluded?  If you are not feeling well, and your friend drives your car home, are they covered to drive your car?  Take the time to read your policy.

2. Carrying lower UM coverage or carrying uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage that does not match your liability limits.  You can lose everything you have if you’re hit by someone with no insurance, or not enough insurance.  You should carry the same limits of uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage that you carry for liability.  There is a chance you might become disabled, short term or long term because an uninsured driver collided with you.  Your UM coverage would help to pay your medical bills, and loss of income if you are unable to work, so make sure your UM matches your liability limits.  Remember:  25% of drivers on the road in California are uninsured!  (Study conducted by the Insurance Research Council, published in the Insurance Journal, on-line)

1. Carrying the state minimum limits of liability.  If you cause an accident, you may find that the liability limits you purchased are not sufficient to protect your assets.  The state minimum limits of 15,000 per person, 30,000 per accident, and 5,000 property damage is simply not enough liability coverage in today’s world.  The law was passed in the early 1940s and the limits have never been raised to keep up with inflation, and the high cost of medical bills, and auto repairs.  You should make sure you have enough coverage to protect your assets and your future earnings.  Everything you have is at risk every time you or someone else drives your car!  Not carrying enough liability coverage is the number one mistake people make regarding auto insurance.

Capitola flood victims caught by subtle differences in insurance

By TOVIN LAPAN  as seen in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, April 23, 2011
Posted: 04/23/2011 01:30:31 AM PDT

Businesses Wading Through Insurance

CAPITOLA — The stores Hot Feet and Euphoria are separated by about 100 feet of sidewalk in the Capitola Village.

Both were hit hard in the flash floods of March 24 and 26, closing for a week or more while mold-harboring carpet and drywall were torn out.

When it came time to submit insurance claims, however, the responses to their shared circumstances were completely different.

Amy Tognazzini, who owns Hot Feet, Slap Happy and Big Kahuna on Capitola Avenue, had a general business insurance policy with Farmers Insurance Group. A claims adjuster visited her stores within a couple days of the flood and soon after her claim was accepted.

“The adjuster was down here right away,” Tognazzini said. “I’ve had Farmers for 30 years, and I think everyone in the village who used them has been happy.”

Indeed, others who carry insurance through Farmers, including San Jose Avenue’s Rainbow City Limits, have said that the company approved their claims and was very responsive.

Tatiana Lima, who owns the clothing store Euphoria on Stockton Avenue, had a general policy with Allied Insurance.

No adjuster came to look at her store, but she recently received a letter saying her claim was denied. The letter from the insurance company cited her policy, which specifically excludes coverage for water damage from broken pipes or backed up sewers.

“Allied basically denied my claim over the phone, no one ever came to look at the damage,” said Lima, who said there was $10,000 in damage to her store. “I’ve been with them nine years and never filed a claim until now.”

Allied said that they cannot discuss individual claims because of privacy issues, but that they try to resolve all claims as quickly and accurately as possible.

“In all cases, we evaluate each claim on its own merits subject to the terms of the policy and state law. Allied makes its claim decisions based upon the applicable facts and circumstances in a fair manner and pursuant to the terms of our insurance policy,” said Elizabeth Gianetti, spokeswoman for Allied’s parent company, Nationwide Mutual Insurance.

The two March flash floods occurred after heavy rains blanketed the county, and a drainpipe that carries Noble Gulch Creek under the city-owned Pacific Cove Mobile Home Park ruptured, creating a sinkhole and releasing a rush of water through the park and the village.

Insurance policies can vary significantly in the language and type of coverage. Where one company may include coverage for an item in its basic package, for water damage from off-site broken pipes for example, another company may charge less for its basic policy but require additional coverage for certain types of water damage.

“All insurance policies contain differences in language that affect claims, and different adjusters can interpret the policy in different ways,” said insurance agent John Allanson, who sells Farmers policies. “It can make it tough for the consumer to know what will happen ahead of time.”

When consumers are shopping for insurance, the little details can have huge ramifications.

“In general Allied is cheaper than ours and there is a reason why. They exclude some things that we don’t,” said Matthew King, an insurance agent who sells Farmers policies, “When people buy insurance they may think certain policies are all the same, but that’s the furthest thing from the truth.”

Allied is not the only company that has denied claims for the water damage. Nat Inpong, who owns the clothing store La Vita, said her State Farm business insurance policy also did not cover her estimated $8,500 in loses. Others in the village are still waiting on decisions from their insurance companies.

Some business owners had flood insurance, which covered repairs to their stores but not business losses such as lost payroll and income from having to close for cleanup.

The Village Mouse and Thomas Kinkade Gallery received some money through their flood insurance policy, but Allied turned down their claim through their general business policy. After carrying the Allied policy for 30 years, they found that none of the lost revenue, wages or business materials would be covered, said the Village’s Mouse’s Valerie Austen.

Tom Austen, of the Thomas Kinkade Gallery, said the store lost 120 giclee canvases and frames in the flood, and, while he did not have an exact figure for the damages, he previously estimated the total cost at more than $1 million.

Since it is common for policy holders to go years, or even decades, without filing a claim, it is important for people to review their policies regularly, industry experts said.

“You want to check your policy yearly and go over what is and isn’t covered,” said Tully Lehman, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Network of California, a nonprofit consumer information organization supported by the insurance industry. “You want to make sure you have the right amount and type of coverage. A lot can change in 30 years in a given area. Areas that didn’t flood 30 years ago may flood now because of new construction that has limited the amount of water the ground will absorb.”

The California Department of Insurance will investigate claims in which the policy holder thinks they have been unjustly denied.

“The department will mediate and try to find a positive resolution,” said Pat McConahay, Department of Insurance deputy press secretary. “If we see something that they should pay, we encourage them to pay and most times they do. If they don’t, there can be financial penalties, but generally things are resolved before that point.”

In the end, if the decisions of the insurance companies are upheld, the only recourse for policyholders may be to react with their wallets.

“I’m not going to renew with Allied,” Lima said. “After talking to my neighbors, I’ll be switching to Farmers.”

HUGE California Traffic Tickets Fines Effective 01/06/2011


Please be extremely careful in your driving, and your car registration & insurance matters.  The State of California is broke and they are trying to squeeze all of us hard to collect money.  

Effective immediately, if you do not stop at the red light, be ready to pay $436 in fines, or if you pass a school bus with flashing red signals, you will be charged $616.  The state of California is going for blood, so be extra careful in driving, you cannot afford to mess with them.  I have been hearing that Highway Patrols are under pressure to issue a lot more tickets than last year with at least 30% increase in fines over 2009, so beware of radar guns, highway and traffic cameras installed everywhere and the tougher enforcement of parking rules.
Just for your info, the next time you park in the handicapped zone, even for a minute, you will be looking at almost $1000 in parking tickets, so it’d better be worth it.

California needs money, so pay close attention to the rules of the road!

               Traffic Ticket Fines (Effective 01/06/2011)

VC 12814.6      $214          Failure to obey license provisions

VC 14600(A)     $214         Failure to notify DMV of address change within 10 days
Note: The fine may be reduced with valid proof of correction
VC 16028(A)     $796         Failure to provide evidence of financial responsibility (insurance)
Note: This fine may be reduced with proof of insurance on or after the violation date
VC 21453(A)     $436         Failure to stop at a red signal
VC 22349           $214         Unsafe speed,  1 to 15 miles over the limit

VC 22350           $328         Unsafe speed, 16 to 25 miles over the limit

VC 22450           $214         Failure to stop at a stop sign

VC 22454(A)      $616        Passing a school bus with flashing red signals

VC 23123(A)      $148        Driving while using a wireless phone not hands free, first offense

VC 23123(B)      $256        Driving while using a wireless phone not hands free, each subsequent offense

VC 23123.5        $148        Driving while using a wireless device to send read or write text

VC 23124            $148        Minor driving while using a wireless phone

VC 22500            $976       Parking in a bus loading area

VC 22507(A)       $976       Violation of disabled parking provisions, first offense

VC 22507(B)     $1876        Violation of disabled parking provisions, second offense

VC 26708            $178        Unlawful material on vehicle windows

VC 27150            $178        Adequate muffler required

VC 27315            $148        Mandatory use of seat belts

VC 27360            $436        Mandatory use of passenger child restraints
Note: This fine may be reduced by completing a court authorized child seat diversion program

VC 27400            $178        Headsets or Earplugs covering both ears

VC 27803            $178        Violation of motorcycle safety helmet requirements

VC 34506            $616        Commercial Driver – Log book violation

VC 4000              $256        No evidence of current registration
Note: The fine may be reduced with valid proof of correction
VC 4159              $178        Notify DMV of change of address within 10 days
Note: The fine may be reduced with valid proof of correction

VC 5200             $178         Proper display of license plates
Note: The fine may be reduced with valid proof of correction

VC 9400             $178         Commercial weight fees due

Note: The fine may be reduced with valid proof of correction. Look out for the money grabbers in Sacramento but don’t blame the cops. They don’t set the fines or collect them!

YES Discount Program Directions

 Your Essential to Safety – The YES Discount for Young Drivers

1. Go to

2. Log in (Click ‘Enroll’ to create new account)

3. Click on your auto policy link

4. Click on YES Discount

5. Read the text and click ‘Next’

6. Fill in name and birthdate of the new driver and click ‘Submit’

7. Read the text and answer the questions on each page

8. After all questions have been answered, click on ‘Certificate of Completion’

9. Print the YES Certificate to be signed by parent and young driver

10. Sign and Return YES Certificate to Russ

Note: If you have any difficulty accessing, we will mail you a paper copy of the        

‘Wrecked – Life and Death on the Road’ booklet and a paper copy of the YES Certificate.

Yes Certificate
Yes Certificate to be signed by parent and young driver

Shell Oil Comments – A MUST READ!

Safety Alert!
Here are some reasons why we don’t allow cell phones in operating areas, propylene oxide handling and storage area, propane, gas and diesel refueling areas.

The Shell Oil Company recently issued a warning after three incidents in which mobile phones (cell phones) ignited fumes during fueling operations.

In the first case, 
The phone was placed on the car’s trunk lid during fueling; 
It rang and the ensuing fire destroyed the car and the gasoline pump.

In the second, 
An individual suffered severe burns to their face when fumes ignited as they answered a call while refueling their car!

And in the third, 
An individual suffered burns to the thigh and groin as fumes ignited when the phone, which was in their pocket, rang while they were fueling their car.

You should know that:

-Mobile Phones can ignite fuel or fumes

-Mobile phones that light up when switched on or when they ring release enough energy to provide a spark for ignition 

-Mobile phones should not be used in filling stations, or when fueling lawn mowers, boat, etc.

Mobile phones should not be used, or should be turned off, around other materials that generate flammable or explosive fumes or dust, (i.e. solvents, chemicals, gases, grain dust, etc….)

TO sum it up, here are the Four Rules for Safe Refueling: 

1) Turn off engine
2) Don’t smoke
3) Don’t use your cell phone, turn it off, and leave it inside the vehicle.
4) Don’t re-enter your vehicle during fueling.

Bob Renkes of Petroleum Equipment Institute is working on a campaign to try and make people aware of fires as a result of ‘static electricity’ at gas pumps. His company has researched 150 cases of these fires. His results were very surprising:

1) Out of 150 cases, almost all of them were women.
2) Almost all cases involved the person getting back in their vehicle while the nozzle was still pumping gas. When finished, they went back to pull the nozzle out and the fire started, as a result of static.
3) Most had on rubber-soled shoes.
4) Most men never get back in their vehicle until completely finished. This is why they are seldom involved in these types of fires.
5) Don’t ever use cell phones when pumping gas
6) It is the vapors that come out of the gas that cause the fire, when connected with static charges.
7) There were 29 fires where the vehicle was re-entered and the nozzle was touched during refueling from a variety of makes and models. Some resulted in extensive damage to the vehicle, to the station, and to the customer.
8) Seventeen fires occurred before, during or immediately after the gas cap was removed and before fueling began.

Mr. Renkes stresses to NEVER get back into your vehicle while filling it with gas. If you absolutely HAVE to get in your vehicle while the gas is pumping, make sure you get out, close the door TOUCHING THE METAL, before you ever pull the nozzle out. This way the Static from your body will be discharged before you ever remove the nozzle.

As I mentioned earlier, The Petroleum Equipment Institute, along with several other companies now, are really trying to make the public aware of this danger.

I ask you to please send this information to ALL your family and friends, especially those who have kids in the car with them while pumping gas. If this were to happen to them, they may not be able to get the children out in time.