Insurance Brokers and Agents of Sacramento
Insurance Brokers and Agents of Sacramento

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The insurance policies that protect your family, home, and business against loss are among the most important purchases you make. With the right insurance in place, you know that even if the unforeseen or unthinkable happens, your loved ones will still be supported, and the assets you have worked so hard to build will be replaced.


All members of the Sacramento Brokers Association understand the critical importance of insurance to their customers' financial security and peace of mind. At our Web site, we are pleased to give you initial assistance in your insurance purchasing decisions.


What is an Independant Insurance Broker?


We are an Independent Insurance Broker, which means we act as professional insurance advisers operating an independent business to serve all your insurance needs. We are experts at simplifying the intricacies of insurance policies, sharing our knowledge and presenting our best recommendations to you, the customer. Our office represents several different insurance companies and we are, therefore, able to shop around and negotiate the best premiums matched to the best coverage for your protection. Simply put, we work with you to help you make a more informed decision.


The success of our independent brokerages relies solely upon satisfying your insurance needs. Therefore, it is always in our best interest to continually provide you with prompt and personal service whenever you are purchasing or updating your insurance. If you are ever caught in the unfortunate circumstance of having to make a claim, we will always be by your side. We will do our best to assist you quickly and to make sure you are treated fairly by the insurance company.


The Broker Advantage


With a broker, your needs take priority agents are authorized to sell only the products of the companies they work for. An independent broker, on the other hand, maintains relationships with several insurance companies. He or she will carefully assess your insurance needs, then search for the product that best meets your requirements. If your circumstances demand it, your broker will negotiate a tailor-made policy for you.


Your broker will make every effort to ensure you receive the most extensive coverage possible for the price paid. In fact, IBA member brokers are bound by IBA's Code of Ethics to obtain the best possible coverage for their clients.

Simply put, working with a broker allows you to purchase customized insurance that would be impossible to access on your own, or to comparison shop for the product that gives you the best possible coverage.


Brokers Are Experienced in Assisting You, Should a Loss Occur Independent brokers pride themselves on offering personalized, caring service to their clients. They understand the confusion and stress felt when a loss occurs. They will help guide you through the claims process.


If you ask your broker for help, you can rest assured that you won't reach one stranger after another at a call center. Instead, you will be supported through a stressful period by your broker and his or her knowledgeable staff, individuals who have taken the time to build trust in their business relationships with you.



General Topics


Insurance Fraud


The insurance industry estimates that 10 to 15 cents of every dollar paid in premiums goes to paying fraudulent claims-totaling more than $1.3 billion each year. This makes insurance fraud second only to the drug trade as a source of illegal profits in North America. Unfortunately, insurers have to pass these costs on to customers in the form of higher premiums.

Insurers are doing much more than raising premiums to deal with the costs of fraud. A number of industry associations are working together to fight this problem by promoting public awareness, better business practices and improved investigative and enforcement techniques.


You can be part of the solution

It's easy to sit back and say "There's nothing I can do to stop fraud," but there is something you can do. Insurance fraud is often the result of fairly routine manipulations of the system-a tow truck driver who recommends a garage and gets a commission for doing so; a service provider who bumps up a charge because they know the insurer is paying; or a paralegal who asks for a percentage of an insurance award. These may seem harmless to you, but they are part of the web of fraud schemes that are costing you money. When you see fraudulent activity, challenge the service provider directly or report the behavior to the police.


Insurance Defined

Four good reasons to insure
In some cases, insurance is mandatory - to obtain a mortgage, for example, or to drive a car. Otherwise, the choice is yours, but it's a wise choice for four main reasons:

1. Reduces worry. With the right type and amount of insurance, you can be protected from the risks to property and person that are inherent in everyday life.

2. Makes it easier to obtain credit. Lenders may be more willing to extend personal or commercial credit if they know that proper insurance is in place.

3. Helps to prevent loss. Brokers and insurers work to help prevent loss with information and advice on road safety, anti-theft, fire prevention and fraud reduction.

4. Frees up capital. Because insurance protects your assets, you do not have to put money aside in case of future losses.This security applies to individuals and businesses.

Safety Net


Three main types of insurance
In addition to life and health insurance, there are three main types of property and casualty insurance:

1. Automobile insurance whereby vehicles and their equipment are covered in cases of accidents and theft.

2. Property insurance in which home and business assets and property are protected from perils such as fire, theft and accidental damage.

3. Liability insurance that protects people who are responsible for injuries or damages to third parties.


Why Use Brokers?

The value of objective advice
Insurance brokers are business people whose success rests on your satisfaction with your coverage, price and service. It's in their interest to understand your needs and negotiate on your behalf for competitive premiums-even if it means approaching several companies to find the right solution. Because your broker doesn't work for the insurance company, he or she can also assist you with objective advice should you have to make a claim.


Making A Claim

The right time to make a claim is immediately or as soon as you are able.

Alert your broker as soon as practically possible
If there is any danger or ongoing damage occurring, your first priority should be to insure your safety and limit the damage to your property. At that point, you should take care to act quickly and with the right information.

* Alert your broker and your insurer of an insured loss as soon as your situation permits
* Keep phone numbers available
* Alert the police of any theft or break-in
* Do not alter evidence of the loss, for example, by starting to clean up after a pipe bursts or altering the scene of a break-in. If you absolutely must alter anything, take detailed pictures of the damage first.

Consider whether or not you should make a claim
First things first. Should you make a claim? There are some situations in which you shouldn't and your broker can help you decide.

* Is it covered? Remember that your policy has limits and exclusions that mean some losses are not covered. Property belonging to your employer, for example, is probably not covered. Damage from a fire that was set intentionally might not be covered, and theft of a valuable painting could be beyond your insurance limit. Is it covered? Ask your broker first.
* If the loss is less than the amount of your deductible, then you cannot make a claim.
* If your loss is covered and above the amount of your deductible, you might still not want to make a claim if your premiums will increase as a result. Again, ask your broker for advice.

Work with your broker and the claims adjuster
Once your claim has been made, the insurance company may appoint an adjuster to get a clear picture of the circumstances and extent of the loss. They may assist in securing repairs and can help with arrangements for accommodations. They might also decide to limit the amount of a payment or to not pay at all - depending on the situation. If you are unsure about the role of your adjuster and the information they are using, be sure to contact your broker who can help bring clarity to the situation.



No one likes to pay insurance premiums, so any chance to control or reduce cost is welcome. Your broker can help you minimize premiums by helping to define your insurance needs and by shopping around for the best policy.


Don't over or under-insure
Under-insure and you might be left carrying the cost of damage, theft or loss of property. Over-insure and you will be paying more than you have to. Your broker can help you find the right balance by examining your assets, your risk profile and your insurance history. They can also alert you to choices that could reduce your insurance costs such as installing an alarm system in your home.


Stay claims-free
Under-insure and you might be left carrying the cost of damage, theft or loss of property. Over-insure and you will be paying more than you have to. Your broker can help you find the right balance by examining your assets, your risk profile and your insurance history. They can also alert you to choices that could reduce your insurance costs such as installing an alarm system in your home.


For your vehicle:
* Avoid car accidents by driving defensively and never while impaired
* Install an anti-theft system
* Never leave valuables in the car
* Keep your driving record clean


In your home:
* Consider a home security system
* Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
* Clear the snow and ice off your walk
* Install good quality locks on your doors and windows


These are just a few examples of ways in which lowering the risk can mean lowering the cost to you.


Auto Insurance


Whether you are transferring your insurance from another province, seeking to change insurers or owning a car for the first time, the process of getting an insurance quote can be daunting. In general, the more the insurer knows about you and your driving record, the better off you will be, even if your record is less than perfect. Full disclosure at the beginning will save any risk of misrepresentation if you do need to make a claim in the future. This is an area where your broker can be of particular assistance in helping you to navigate the terrain.


What do I need to get an insurance quote?

Whether you are transferring your insurance from another province, seeking to change insurers or owning a car for the first time, the process of getting an insurance quote can be daunting. In general, the more the insurer knows about you and your driving record, the better off you will be, even if your record is less than perfect. Full disclosure at the beginning will save any risk of misrepresentation if you do need to make a claim in the future. This is an area where your broker can be of particular assistance in helping you to navigate the terrain.


There are three main categories of information required:

1. Information about you

* Names of the drivers of the vehicle to be insured. This usually includes all licensed members of your household since it is assumed they will use the car. Provide their names as shown on their license, the number of years licensed and the percentage of time they will use the vehicle.
* Driving records of all applicants will be screened to identify applicants with undesirable driving records. This will include driving convictions in the last three years and accident claims in the last six years.
* Insurance history for the preceding three to six years must be provided, including any canceled, declined or refused insurance.
* License history of all listed drivers must be provided for the preceding six years, including suspensions, cancellations or lapses.
* In provinces that have public insurance, all required information is already captured by the government.

2. Information about the vehicle

Full information about the make, model and year are required as well as the Vehicle Identification Number or VIN. Also, include the details of a lease if you have one, the purchase value, whether new or used, and the value of any modifications to the vehicle. Include vehicle ownership. If any other party has a financial interest in the vehicle, this should be recorded so they are protected in the event of a loss.

3. Information about your coverage requirements

Finally, you will need to provide information of how the vehicle will be used. Is it for pleasure or business? If it is for commuting, what is the daily estimated distance? What will the annual distance be? If for business use, will you be carrying paying passengers, renting the car out to others or transporting any goods? You will also need to indicate your choices regarding your coverage, for example, your preferred deductible, liability limit and coverage for any special situations, including storing the car or driving in the U.S.


Liability Coverage


What is liability insurance?
Liability insurance covers the cost of damages (for accident benefits, medical costs, lawsuits and awards) in the event of personal injury or death from an accident involving the insured party. In other words, you are financially protected if you are held liable for an injury or loss by others arising from the operation of your vehicle.


Many states in the U.S. now have some level of no-fault insurance in which each person's own insurance company pays for injury or damage up to a certain limit.This applies regardless of whether or not the insured person was at fault. In Quebec and Manitoba, for example, there is a pure no-fault. In Ontario, however, there is a threshold system in which the no-fault clause only applies up to a certain threshold of liability. So, if you are involved in an accident and injured, your own insurance covers the associated costs of treatment, living expenses, loss of work and pain and suffering. This means injuries that are not "serious and permanent" are covered by your own insurance. Your insurance also covers the associated costs of treatment, living expenses, loss of work and dependent care.


The recommended level of liability insurance coverage is usually about $1 million. There are some situations in which you might want to increase your liability limit depending on the use of your vehicle. For example, if you carpool to work or drive groups of children in your car to school or after-school events, you might want to increase your coverage to reflect the higher risks to which you are exposed.


Specialty Coverage


Rent a car
If you drive a rented car or any vehicle that is not owned by you, your existing policy automatically extends accident benefits and third party liability coverage to your rented car. These limits are the same as those on your own car. You can purchase additional coverage by way of an annual endorsement to your own policy that provides physical damage insurance for any rented vehicle during the policy term. It is important to note that this endorsement usually has a limit of $50,000. So, if you rent a luxury car, you should be aware that the cost of repairs are limited.This endorsement is simple to arrange and far more economical than the costly damage waivers offered by the rental companies.


Traveling outside the state or country
Your insurance will apply if you take your car on short trips to other states or into the Canada and Mexico, as long as you engage in normal use of the vehicle.


Moving to another state
If you are relocating long-term or permanently, you must inform your insurer and arrange for new coverage that reflects the risks in your new location.


When the car is "in the shop"
Under most insurance policies, you are not entitled to a replacement vehicle while your car is in the shop for normal maintenance or repair. If you lose the use of your car because of an accident, then you might be entitled to a loaned vehicle depending on the situation.


When driving someone else's car
If you borrow someone elses car, you are covered by the insurance on that car. However, if you are involved in an accident, the owner's record, not yours, will be affected. If you borrow a car on a regular basis, ask your broker to arrange a special clause in your policy to cover your use.


When someone else drives your car
Remember that when someone else is driving your car, you are still responsible for it. Any at-fault accidents or claims will go onto your driving record and affect your future premiums.


Consumer Rights

1. You have the right to purchase auto insurance coverage.
2. You have the right to be treated fairly by your insurance company.
3. You have the right to be given written reasons if you have been denied auto insurance.
4. You have the right to keep your policy in place if you pay your premiums and meet the responsibilities.
5. You have the right to pay your auto insurance premium in monthly installments.
6. You have the right to keep your policy in place if you pay your premium within 30 days following one or two non-sufficient fund (NSF) situations.
7. You have the right to be informed in writing if your policy is not being renewed.
8. You have the right to change or cancel your insurance policy at any time.
9. You have the right to remain with your insurance company even if that company no longer sells insurance through your broker.
10. You have the right to know from which companies your broker received quotes and the amounts.
11. You have the right to prompt and fair handling of claims.
12. You have the right to reasonable repair of your damaged vehicle.
13. You have the right to choose a repair shop, tow operator or vehicle rental company.
14. You have the right to receive information about accident benefits.
15. You have the right to dispute your insurance company?s refusal to pay benefits.
16. You have the right to choose your health care provider.


You have the right to register a complaint about your insurance company.


Consumer Responsibilities
1. You must insure your vehicle and retain your proof of insurance (pink slip) while driving.
2. You must pay your premium in a timely fashion.
3. You must give true and accurate information to your insurer and complete all forms promptly.
4. You must promptly let your insurer know about any change in circumstances that could affect your insurance situation, including if you are involved in any accident.
5. You must provide your insurer with updated information when requested.
6. If you are claiming accident benefits, you must send your insurer a completed accident benefits package on time.
7. If you are claiming accident benefits, you must attend medical examinations requested by your insurer that are reasonably necessary to evaluate your claim.
8. If you receive accident benefits from your insurer, you must participate in treatment and rehabilitation, and try to get back to work.



Commercial Insurance


How can I reduce the risk in my business?

An experienced commercial broker knows how to identify and manage many of the risk factors in your business and translate that knowledge into a cost-effective risk management program.


There are four key steps:

1. Know your risk exposures
The first step is to accurately identify and analyze the risk exposures to your tangible and intangible property, your income, personnel and liabilities. These can be determined in a thorough audit of your office, warehouse or shop floor to identify all perils, probabilities and potential financial consequences.

2. Consider the risk management alternatives
Insurance is one form of "financing" your risk, but there are other alternatives to explore. These include eliminating the exposure, loss prevention, loss reduction and contractual transfer of responsibility for losses, for example, when a lessee assumes the liability for damages to leased space. A thorough risk management plan will examine all these alternatives before getting to the issue of insurance. Commercial insurance is the most widely used of all risk financing techniques because of the cost-effective protection it provides. General and specialized policies can cover just about any peril. Another way to manage risk is to be financially prepared for a loss. One way to do this is to accumulate your own capital reserves to cover the loss, but this can tie up large amounts of capital at low rates of return.

3. Implement your plan
With loss prevention and reduction plans in place, your broker can help you implement your insurance program with one or multiple insurers.

4. Monitor and adapt your plan
Make sure to adapt your plan to match the changes in your business including geographical expansion, physical growth, new lines of business or increased complexity. Consider an annual review of your needs with the help of your insurance broker.


What extra coverage should I be aware of?


Business Interruption
This form of insurance provides you with the funds required to protect your business's financial position if your operations are interrupted by an insured loss such as a fire. Features and costs will vary considerably depending on whether you insure for named perils, a specific time-frame, specific costs or just a portion of the income you lose.This form of insurance is highly customizable and can include coverage for extra business expenses, rental income lost, gross earnings lost, payroll and professional fees.


Consequential Loss
A consequential loss is not caused directly by damage to property, but is a consequence of other damage. For example, a cold storage facility might experience significant inventory losses if an on-site transformer station failure cuts out electricity supply or a fire damages the refrigerators. A greenhouse operation or a winery might require constant temperature and humidity to be maintained. Consequential loss coverage would insure the resultant damage caused to stock by an insured peril that changes these factors.


Equipment Breakdown
Many named perils and broad commercial property insurance policies will exclude coverage of breakdown or damage to highly sensitive or specialized equipment including high-pressure boilers, control systems and computers, diagnostic equipment and more. Special machinery policies can be obtained to cover equipment for sudden and accidental breakdown, which is advisable if loss of use is a significant risk for your business.


Errors and Omissions and Director's and Officer's Liability
It is common practice to protect company directors and senior managers from personal liability for actions that are the responsibility of the company they direct. While insurance does not remove their fiduciary duty, it does provide some financial protection from legal liability for a claim made against them for an alleged or wrongful act.A wrongful act is any error, misstatement, misleading statement, act omission, breach of duty or neglect allegedly committed or attempted. Errors and omissions insurance is usually used in professional services firms such as law, accounting and consulting to protect professional staff from the impact of errors and omissions in their work.


There are as many forms of specialized coverage as there are risks to your business. A broker can help you assess the probability of experiencing a loss and determine whether or not you should purchase specialized coverage. Talk to your broker to see if there are risks unique to your business that require extra protection.


For example:

* Crime - designed to protect against loss of money or securities, may include theft overnight or on the way to the bank.This also includes employee dishonesty.
* Electronic Data Processing Systems - protects your computer and its data.
* Sewer Back-up - covers loss or damage caused by the backing up of sewers, sumps, septic tanks or drains.
* By-law Coverage - covers additional expenditures resulting from by-laws regulating construction when rebuilding a building after a loss.

Who needs business insurance?


Every business has unique requirements
Your commercial insurance should be designed to protect against the most prevalent risks, to the assets and capital in your business. Your broker can help you itemize and quantify those risks, and determine the level of coverage you should consider.


Risks include:


Property loss. Insurance against property damage or theft protects the physical assets that support your business including buildings, equipment, vehicle fleets and inventory, as well as intangible assets such as licenses, patents and accounts receivable.To arrange the right level of insurance, you must know your rights and obligations as an owner, tenant, leaseholder, landlord or mortgage holder. You must also take into account local bylaws on standards for physical repair and reconstruction.


Liability loss. Every business is exposed to liabilities and should be protected against the minor as well as the major ones including personal injury, product failures or negligence.

Personnel loss. Group health and benefits insurance can help to improve employee retention and well-being thereby reducing the cost of turnover and lost time.


Net income loss. Some businesses are exposed to specific perils that are beyond their control and that would cause critical damage to the viability of the business.

For example, a food services operation might insure against a major electrical outage that would result in spoilage of their inventory.


Consider the underlying risk drivers in your business


An experienced commercial insurance broker can help you read the risks in your business, advise you on how to reduce some of the more manageable exposures and suggest an insurance mix that takes your risk tolerance and financial situation into account. The following are examples of common risk drivers:

* Heavy reliance on limited sources of income
* Dependence on one or a few people to run the business
* Elaborate and specialized physical assets
* Extensive international operations
* Sensitivity to factors outside your control, such as weather and commodity prices
* Labor unrest
* High levels of inventory
* Large vehicle fleets
* Rudimentary workplace health and safety practices
* Dangerous materials handling


Personal Insurance


Common Questions

The following definitions explain a few of the major building blocks of home insurance.


Acts of God
Acts of God are considered natural disasters that could not have been reasonably prevented or avoided. Most standard forms cover the perils of hurricanes and tornadoes. Lightning and hail are classified as named perils. Coverages for floods or earthquakes are not included in standard policies. In some cases, earthquake coverage may be available for an additional premium, and is likely to be more expensive and difficult to obtain in areas susceptible to this peril.


Deductibles are the amounts you pay to cover a loss before you are entitled to payment by your insurer. Just about every policy has a deductible, usually ranging from $500 to $5,000. Deductibles are designed to discourage small claims, since the purpose of insurance is to protect you from catastrophic losses, not minor inconveniences.


Quite simply, exclusions are items, perils or situations that are not covered by your policy. Your insurer might exclude anything from long-term mold damage to natural disasters, computer data or high-speed watercraft. Other common exclusions include avoidable damage from termites or rodents, water seepage, frozen pipes, intentional damage and high value items such as art and jewelry.


Liability in the home and away from home
Although liability insurance is part of your homeowner policy, it also protects against third party claims for bodily injury and property damage caused (unintentionally) by you when you are away from home.


Depreciation is a measure of the loss in value of an item over time resulting from wear or obsolescence.


Your insurer will likely want to conduct a valuation of your home in order to set the right replacement value and coverage level. Unlike an appraisal, this does not determine the market value of the property, but rather the likely cost to rebuild the dwelling and other structures to original standards in the event of a complete loss.


High Value Items

Most policies limit payments for certain items and categories
It is common practice for policies that cover personal property to have special limits on the amount that will be covered for specific items or items within specific categories. If you require the full replacement or market value to be insured, you will have to arrange for additional insurance and pay the appropriate premiums.The rationale behind this practice is to ensure that everyone is provided with a base level of insurance at reasonable rates and those with high value items cover their own extra costs.


Examples include:

* Jewelry, watches, gems and furs
* Coin collections
* Silver and gold ware
* Money or bullion
* Business property



Home Based Business

More and more people are starting home-based businesses, for everything from marketing homemade products to keeping a home office for a consulting business. From an insurer's perspective, this adds new types of risk to your home, and therefore, may require additional insurance.


Residential policies provide limited coverage on business property


Anything you use in running your home-based business is subject to the limits of insurance and/or might not be covered at all. Be aware that:


* Dollar limits apply on business property, computer and software.This limit might be as low as $2,000 in total, which would not cover even the most basic home office.
* Your policy might completely exclude any special equipment that you keep in your home for business purposes.
* Items that are covered for business use are only covered while in the home. So, for example, if the computer you use for your home-based business is stolen while on a trip, it will not be covered.


The operation of your home-based business might mean that you have more people coming and going, and therefore, more risk associated with the activities in your home. If this is the case, not only will a basic liability limit of one million dollars likely not cover you, but also, some insurers might refuse to cover a third party claim by a customer or employee who is injured in your home. If you think this situation applies to you, be sure to tell your broker about your home business and make sure your insurance company is made aware of your home-based business activities.


Home Policies

Your home should be insured from the moment you take legal ownership-even if it is under construction. Your broker's expertise is particularly useful at this stage when you really need to match policy features with needs. Here's a primer to get you started:

Home insurance covers the building, its contents and liability


There are usually three parts to your homeowner's policy. For condominium owners and tenants, just the contents and liability coverages apply:
1. Building insurance covers the main dwelling, garage and any out buildings.
2. Contents insurance covers the cost of replacing furniture, carpets and personal possessions.Valuables such as art, jewels and furs may require additional coverage. Note that most contents are insured even outside the home, for example, if stolen while you are on a trip.
3. Liability policies insure against the costs incurred if, due to negligence, you are held responsible for an act causing injury or property damage to others.


Policies range from offering comprehensive to "bare-bones" coverage
You can save money by scaling down your policy, but be careful not to underinsure. Basically, there are two common types of protection. 1. Named Perils coverage provides coverage for specific basic perils outlined in the policy. This coverage is usually less expensive, but places more risk to financial loss on you. 2. All Risks coverage provides you broader coverage for normal risks to which your home exposes, except those which are specifically excluded, such as acts of terrorism or flooding.


There are three general policy categories from which to choose:
1. Basic/Named Perils policies which is the most basic policy you can buy, providing "Named Perils" coverage only for both your home/outbuildings and its contents.
2. Broad Form policies provide slightly broader protection, offering "All Risks" coverage on your home and outbuildings and "Named Perils" coverage on your contents.
3. Comprehensive policies provide the most thorough coverage available by offering "All Risks" coverage for your home/outbuildings and also your contents.


Regardless of which policy you select, some coverages can be increased and certain items insured separately. Your broker will be happy to sit down with you to review your coverage needs.



Insurance Tips


Numerous factors contribute to the cost of your insurance, many of them beyond consumer control (for more information about these factors, please contact your insurance broker). However, as a consumer, you can exercise some control over your insurance costs by minimizing the chance that you will have to make a claim.


Of course, no one sets out to raise his or her own rates by having an accident or experiencing a burglary. However, sometimes these unpleasant experiences are the result of a lack of knowledge or planning. Applying the following tips as relevant to your situation will reduce your risk of becoming an accident or crime victim.


Note that more information on some of the topics discussed below may be available from other organizations included on our links page.




How to Prevent Vehicle Theft


Although you cannot ensure your vehicle will not be stolen, you can take a few easy steps to prevent the likelihood of it happening. Make it as difficult as possible for a thief to steal your vehicle and its contents.


* Always lock your vehicle
* Never leave your keys in the vehicle
* Avoid parking on the street when there are safer locations.
* Turn off your ignition whenever you leave your car
* Conceal items left in your car; keep things in the trunk. Never leave money or compact discs in the open
* Whenever possible, park your vehicle in a well-lit, well-guarded, highly visible area.
* Ask your neighbors to watch out for your vehicle and do the same for them
* Install an anti-theft deterrent such as car alarms or an ignition disabler.

For more information that will help you avoid having your car broken into or stolen, please contact the appropriate industry organization in your area.

Vehicle Safety and Maintenance
* Read your vehicle owner's manual to understand its maintenance needs.
* Maintaining your vehicle according to the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule will go a long way toward extending the life of your vehicle, and minor problems will be spotted before they turn into major repairs.
* Have your vehicle checked by a qualified mechanic whenever you notice a change in braking or handling.
* Consider taking a recognized driver safety course.

Your brakes are obviously one of the most important components of your automobile. Proper care and regular maintenance is essential to protect both yourself and others from the potential harm caused by faulty brakes. Some signs that your brakes may be failing or require maintenance include:

* The brakes squeal, grind or bang when applied. If this occurs, you should immediately have your brakes checked
* The car pulls to one side when you apply the brakes
* The brakes stick or a loss of engine power occurs when you are driving. In such cases, your brakes may not be releasing properly, which can lead to total brake loss.
* The brakes grab when lightly applied. This could be caused by loose or broken brake parts
* The brakes need a lot of pressure to work or the pedal needs to be near the floor before it works. This may be a sign that your brakes are worn and replacement is necessary
* The brake pedal, steering wheel or entire car vibrates when you step on the brakes

Child Restraint Safety
* It is important to install a child's restraint seat properly in order for it to be effective.
* Read the manufacturer's installation instructions thoroughly
* Many police departments have programs to help with proper installation


Road Safety
Road safety is an important issue especially on today's crowded roadways. For statistics and information regarding road safety and its impact on social and medical costs, please contact the California Department of Transportation.


Airbags and Seatbelts
Airbags have been the topic of much discussion since becoming a standard feature of newer automobiles. For information and guidelines pertaining to their use and for a discussion of safety issues with respect to airbags, please contact the following organizations: Transport Canada, the Canada Safety Council, and the Insurance Bureau of Canada.


Drinking and Driving
Drinking and driving results in serious injuries and loss of life on our roadways. The following organizations can provide statistics and information pertaining to drinking and driving: Transport Canada and the Canada Safety Council.


Cell Phones and Safety
Cell phones can be valuable equipment in a car when you need to call for assistance. However, they can also be a distraction if they are used while driving, and many jurisdictions have restrictions on cell phone use while driving.

For safety's sake, don't use your cell phone while driving. If you need to make a call, pull over away from traffic.

Californians know that winter driving can be treacherous at the best of times. The following organizations can provide tips and information to help you prepare yourself and your vehicle for safe winter driving: Safety Council and The California


Department of Transportation.

What to Do When You Are Involved in an Accident
Being involved in an accident can be a very stressful event.


To help you protect both yourself and your interests, we have provided some basic hints:

* Call the police immediately, and an ambulance if necessary.
* Do not admit liability.
* Record details of the accident including date, time, location, a description of the accident, any injuries, and any charges laid.
* Record details concerning the other party and vehicle such as owner's name and address, phone number, and vehicle year, make and model.
* It is very important to obtain the insurance information of the other driver. This includes the name of the insurance company, the policy number, and the name of the broker or agent.
* Obtain a copy of the police report from the attending officer as this will include the accident report number for future reference.

These tips are general rules of thumb only, and may not fit all situations. For the definitive word, contact your insurance broker.




General Commercial Crime and Fire Prevention
* Ensure that all exterior doors have deadbolt locks with a minimum one inch bolt into the strike plate.
* Secure exposed exterior door hinge pins to prevent their removal.
* Protect all grade floor glass through the use of bars, metal screens or burglary resistant glazing materials.
* Install a burglar alarm system that is monitored off-site. Look for a system certified by the Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC).
* Continually check for unsafe work conditions and practices, and take prompt corrective action.
* Provide serviced, multi-purpose fire extinguishers on your premises and instruct all staff in their use.

Protecting Your Computer Equipment & Data
* Clamp or lock PCs to desks/work stations. Security kits are available at a nominal cost.
* Back-up data and programs on a regular basis and store them off-site in a secure location.
* Laptop computers are portable and easy targets for theft. Do not leave them unsecured or unattended.
* Maintain records of serial numbers for all of your computer equipment.

Business Interruption Prevention
* Employ the services of a professional accountant to:
o Prepare financial statements.
o Perform an annual audit of your books.
* Maintain a list of secondary suppliers of materials in the event your primary supplier suffers a loss.
* Be prepared with a plan of action of how you will continue to service your customers while your premises are being repaired after a loss. This will help you to avoid losing your customer base. Consider availability of temporary premises where you can resume operations immediately.
* Reduce the physical and moral hazards that could cause loss to your business.
* Duplicate your business records and store them off-site; in the event that your premises are damaged, you will have documents to substantiate any business interruption loss.

Contractors' Loss Prevention Tips
* Focus on pre-job and pre-task planning. The principle of planning the work and working the plan should be followed.
* All tools and equipment should be kept in a locked area at all times when not in use.
* All tools should be stamped with an identification number to assist in recovery. Tools should be painted with bright, easily recognizable colors to assist their easy identification.
* Any on-site storage of materials should be in a secure storage area. Where the materials are considered a high target, they should be kept inside a building in a locked area or brought to the site only when they are needed.
* Warning signs should be posted limiting access and indicating the safety equipment required to gain entry.
* All electrical cords that pass through pedestrian areas should be secured so that tripping is avoided.
* All mud or water on public traffic areas should be cleaned regularly.
* The local utilities should be contacted to locate underground services in the event that any excavations are to be performed.
* All flammable liquids used should be stored in approved safety containers.
* All hot-work should be controlled. Combustibles should be removed at least 10 yards from the hot-work. If this is not possible non-combustible shields should be used. A fire watch should be provided for at least a half-hour after the hot-work is completed. All hot-work permit regulations must be followed.
* All combustible refuse created during the work should be cleaned up regularly. Oily rags should be separated and stored in metal containers with tight fitting lids.
* Fire extinguishers of the appropriate type should be available at all times.
* Certificates of liability should be obtained from all subcontractors to ensure they are maintaining adequate liability coverage.
* All new equipment should be tested and inspected when the work is completed. Customers should sign off the job once complete.
* Ensure that the project complies with all applicable codes and standards.
* Records of all jobs including plans, testing documents and approvals should be maintained.

Office Loss Prevention Tips
* Avoid overloading of electrical outlets, particularly in older buildings equipped with fuses instead of circuit breakers.
* If existing electrical service is inadequate, ensure that any required electrical modifications are done by a professional electrician.
* Ensure that life and safety features such as fire alarms, exit signs and emergency lights are operational and serviced as per applicable fire code specifications.
* Clean all spills or wet floors immediately, post signs warning of wet or damp floors and check floor surfaces for potential hazards on a regular basis. Non-slip rugs should be used during the winter months.

Commercial Vehicles Loss Prevention Tips
* Be SELECTIVE when hiring drivers for your vehicles by obtaining pre-employment checks on all employees. Your vehicles should be suitable for the type of work you do and the relative experience of your drivers. A safety conscious driver, with a clean driving and operating record, is the key to reducing the risk of personal injury to the driver and passengers as well as any damage or injury to others.
* Drivers should NEVER pick up hitchhikers or allow anyone who is not authorized by the OWNER, to ride in the vehicle.
* Proper MAINTENANCE improves road safety and should be completed by experienced and qualified mechanics. Regular maintenance schedules and records should be kept to prevent accidents caused by unexpected mechanical failures.
* Inspect your vehicle every day against a standardized checklist. Keep your vehicle equipped with a flashlight, good spare tire, jack and flares in case of emergencies.
* Proper USE of vehicles extends their life as well as prevents damage to the property of others. Drive on well-maintained and well-traveled roads. Travel at speeds that are not in excess of the posted speed limit. Properly secured loads prevent your load from spilling on the roadways causing damage to others. Improper loading or overloading leads to load shift and/or upset or rollover. Vehicles should only be used for their intended purpose.
* Always lock your vehicle and take the keys with you, even if it is only for a few minutes.
* Never leave the engine running while your vehicle is unattended.
* Safeguard your keys - NEVER keep your vehicle keys or business keys on the same key ring and NEVER attach identification tags to them.
* Valuable items exposed to view are an invitation to thieves, e.g. log books, delivery schedules, cash, checks. Drivers should NEVER reveal the contents of their vehicles, their loads, their destination or leave their loads unattended.
* Deliveries should not be made unless the receiving party signs for them.
* Parking in well-lit areas is important for personal safety and for the protection of your vehicle and cargo. Keep your vehicle in a locked garage or protected location when not in use.
* Choose your anti-theft devices carefully. There are many types of anti-theft devices available to protect your vehicle and cargo. Choose the mechanical device, alarm or electronic immobilizer that is best suited to protect your vehicle and cargo.

Repair Garage Loss Prevention Tips
* Establish, post and strictly enforce a rule forbidding customers from entering the service bay area. By establishing a clean, safe waiting area for customers, you will significantly reduce the possibility of "slip and fall" types of losses. An added benefit is that customers will not disturb your mechanics while they are working on vehicles.
* Ensure that you always get signed customer work orders that outline the authorized repairs. This will eliminate any disputes as to the work that was authorized by the customer.
* When preparing a customer's work order, all completed repairs should be listed along with all recommended repairs declined by the customer; the customer should sign-off the work order. Including declined recommendations in the work order could protect you from a potential liability loss.
* Make sure that the front, rear and interior of your business premises are well lit, particularly when closed for business.
* When overnight storage of customers' vehicles is necessary, they should be stored inside if possible. If outside storage of vehicles is required on a regular basis, the area should be well lit, adequately fenced and padlocked overnight.
* Establish a key control procedure with employees to limit access to customers' keys. Keys should be kept under lock, within your office premises. This will reduce the accessibility of keys to potential thieves and vandals, reducing the possibility of customers' vehicles being stolen or vandalized.
* Limit the amount of cash in the till by using a safe or money-limiting device. Make regular bank deposits, varying the time of deposits and the route taken.
* Ensure that you maintain accurate inventory records for all stock, including tools, automobile parts and miscellaneous retail items. In the event of a theft loss, accurate records will make it easier for the insurance adjuster to settle your claim fairly, quickly and equitably.
* Obtain driver abstracts for all employees on a regular basis. This will help you to determine which employees should be test-driving customers' vehicles.
* Establish guidelines for employees as to when and who is permitted to test drive customers' vehicles.
* Ensure that test drives follow a predetermined route, in areas that have relatively light vehicular and pedestrian traffic. This can significantly reduce your chance of suffering a loss with a customer's vehicle.

Retail Loss Prevention Tips
* Never store combustible material such as cardboard or paper near heaters or electrical equipment and remove combustible waste on a regular basis.
* In sprinklered buildings, keep stock more than 18 inches below the sprinkler heads, so as not to interfere with the system's effectiveness in the event of a fire.
* Avoid overloading electrical outlets, particularly in older buildings equipped with fuses instead of circuit breakers.
* Keep all of your stock off the floor, stored on skids, shelves, or racks.
* Make sure the front, rear and interior of your business premises are well lit, particularly when closed for business.
* Arrange the interior layout of the store so that the till area is clearly visible from the exterior of the building.
* Limit the amount of cash in the till by using a safe or money-limiting device.
* If your store is open long hours, consider the installation of closed circuit television cameras and hold-up alarms.
* Make regular bank deposits, but vary the timing of the deposits and the route taken.
* Install anti-shoplifting devices and surveillance equipment or keep high priced merchandise under lock and key in display cases.
* Ensure that life and safety features such as fire alarms, exit signs and emergency lights are operational and serviced as per applicable fire code specifications.
* Do not block exits with stock or equipment. Ensure that all exit doors are unlocked during store hours.

Slip and Fall Loss Prevention Tips
* Inspect the interior of your premises on a regular basis for unsafe conditions that could lead to a slip & fall loss. Maintain a daily log of when the inspection was done, what conditions were noted and what corrective action was taken.
* Floors should be kept clean and in good repair at all times, with loose or defective flooring being replaced immediately.
* Ensure that aisles are kept clear and free of fallen merchandise or stock. (e.g. fruit, vegetables, clothes etc.)
* During periods of inclement weather, all entrances should have mats or rugs to help keep the floor clean and dry. Damaged mats should be replaced as soon as possible.
* Non-slip wax should be used on floor surfaces, where required.
* Water and other spills should be mopped up immediately and a Caution-Wet Floor sign should be posted.
* For surfaces that are consistently slippery, specialized non-slip epoxy coatings or non-skid flooring materials may be used.
* For spills involving oil or other industrial materials, absorbent, non-combustible cleaning materials should be used.
* Ensure that all entrance-ways and aisles are clear of obstructions and/or promotional displays.
* Inspect the exterior of your premises on a regular basis for unsafe conditions that could lead to a slip & fall loss. Maintain a daily log of when the inspection was done, what conditions were noted and what corrective action was taken.
* Any damage to stairs, sidewalks and pavements should be repaired as soon as possible, with signs and barriers posted, until such time as repairs are completed.
* A snow and ice removal program should be implemented and adhered to, with a single individual having responsibility for the program.
* Have the appropriate equipment, tools and materials available for use by your staff, in the case of a weather related emergency e.g. shovels, salt, sand, etc.
* Professional snow removal contractors should be contracted to plow, sand and salt your parking and walkway facilities. Ensure that the contractor keeps a comprehensive log of the work performed.
* Clean gutters and downspouts and ensure that melted snow/ice is directed away from sidewalks and walkways. Check that exterior lighting is adequate and check on a regular basis for malfunctioning light fixtures.
* Establish and maintain a daily garbage removal program, whereby the walkways and sidewalks are swept and the debris removed on a regular basis.





Crime Prevention Tips
Burglary is always a crime of opportunity. Here are some interesting facts you should know about burglary:


* Studies show that most burglars attack during the daytime when dense bushes and trees protect them from view, and the building appears unoccupied
* One-third of burglars enter from the basement
* One-third of burglars force entry through a window or door
* One-third of burglars gain access from an unlocked/open door or window


To best protect your home, look at it from a burglar's perspective. What are the vulnerable parts? If you take a few simple and inexpensive steps to make sure your home is not an attractive target, you'll greatly reduce your chances of becoming a victim.


The following are some tips to help you prevent a burglar from entering your home:


Tips for Inside Your Home

The goal of indoor crime proofing is to secure your premises, and to make them appear occupied at all times.


Here are a few simple tips:

* Secure your premises.
o Close blinds and curtains at night so that a burglar can't scope your belongings.
o Lock all doors and windows before leaving.
o Lock windows so that they can't be opened from the outside. If they can't be locked, you can pin them by drilling a hole through both window frames and inserting a bolt or metal pin. The pin must be easily removable for emergency situations.
o Home burglar alarm systems are a great deterrent. Even if you have an alarm system, don't neglect the other security measures available to you. An alarm provides an extra layer of security, but is no replacement for good common sense. Alarm owners should still do what they can to make sure their home is not an attractive target for thieves.
* Make your home look occupied at all times.
o Use timers to maintain normal lighting patterns.
o Leave a radio on when you are away from your home for short periods of time.
* Protect your valuables.
o Consider marking your valuables indelibly (engraved) with your driver's license or social insurance number.
o Take an inventory of your home with a videotape and/or photographs.
o Keep jewelery and negotiables in a safety deposit box or an unlikely place (i.e. not your bedroom).

Tips for Outside Your Home
There are many things you can do to the exterior of your house or in the yard to deter burglars and make it more difficult to force entry.

* Keep your shrubbery cut back so that it doesn't block windows and doors.
* Secure window air conditioners from the inside.
* Illuminate as much of your property as possible.
* Exterior doors should be solid, not hollow. Metal doors provide the best protection against forced entry.
* Use a fencing style that would not conceal a burglar's activities. Remember if you can't see out, others can't see in.
* Secure any glass that is less than 40' from a door lock. Either coat exterior glass with an acrylic or polycarbonate to strengthen, or replace with laminated or tempered glass.
* Door hinges that are on the outside should have a non-removable center pin that can't be tampered with.
* Install deadbolt locks.
* Dogs are great deterrents to burglars. Even a strategically placed "Beware of Dog" sign can make a burglar think twice. Of course, vicious dogs are never a good idea. If your dog bites someone, you might find yourself in court.
* Place hinged security bars over basement windows. Remember to keep the key nearby for emergency exits.
* Pin sliding patio doors together when closed. Another easy security step is to drill a hole in the upper track and insert a screw that extends out into the runner to prevent the door from being lifted up and out of its track.
* Ensure that a burglar cannot access the roof from high trees or a ladder left outside.

What NOT to Do
* Don't put up a nameplate outside of your house with your full name. A burglar can use this information to look up your number in the phone book and call to see if you are home.
* Don't leave a note on the door or in the mailbox telling a friend/family member that you aren't home.
* Don't leave spare keys in an obvious place such as the mailbox or under the front door mat. This makes it very easy for a burglar to rob your house quickly without forcing entry.
* Don't leave cash and handbags in view in your home.
* Don't leave any doors unlocked when you are at the other end of the house or in the yard.

Going on Vacation
f you are going on vacation, it is especially important to make your home appear inhabited. To fully protect your home, you will need to enlist the help of trusted neighbors, family and friends. Here are some things you can do:

* Stop all mail delivery.
* Arrange for a neighbor to cut the grass or shovel snow.
* Cancel all deliveries during the time you will be away.
* Maintain normal lighting patterns by using electronic timers.
* Ask a neighbor to put one of their garbage bags in front of your house on collection day.
* Leave a radio on, with a timer if necessary to simulate normal use.
* Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway.
* Arrange for neighbors to pick up fliers.
* Don't talk about your vacation plans with strangers or service people.
* Use your work address on your luggage tags so a potential burglar won't know where your empty house is.
* If practical, remove valuables from your home. Small valuables should be stored in a safety deposit box.
* Lock garage door.

Note: Before you leave, you should tell someone you trust:

* That you will be away.
* How long you will be absent.
* Whether or not you will have a house sitter.
* The number where you can be reached.

What to Do if Your House is Broken Into
Despite your best efforts, a burglar may still penetrate your home. If you return to find that your house has been robbed:

* Don't stay - Always think of your safety first
* Never confront a burglar or block the exit route
* Go immediately to a neighbor's home or nearby location and phone the police



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P.O. Box 255246, Sacramento, CA, 95865
(916) 834-3372 |


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