Five Common Auto Insurance Myths

auto insurance myths

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There are many common misconceptions associated with auto insurance coverage. Protect yourself from future misunderstandings by familiarizing yourself with the truth behind these five auto insurance myths.

Myth: If you loan your car to a friend, their auto insurance will cover any damages in the event of an accident.

Truth: Your insurance policy is considered primary. As the vehicle’s owner, you are responsible for any damages resulting from a vehicular accident, regardless of who was driving. In other words, auto insurance follows the car, not the driver. Every state, however, has their own rules and regulations so make sure to research those before giving your friend permission to operate your vehicle.

Myth: The color of your vehicle determines your policy rates.

Truth: The rate of your policy is determined by several variables. Among them are the make, model, body type, engine size, safety features, and age of the vehicle. Personal attributes that may also affect your rate include YOUR age, driving record, and credit history. Vehicle repair and replacement costs are also considered. Color is not considered when determining policy rates.

Myth: Your insurance company will pay off your loan if your vehicle is totaled in an accident.

Truth: Your insurance provider will pay fair market value for your vehicle in the event it is totaled. Usually, they determine fair market value by looking at comps; vehicles in your area that match your vehicle’s make, model, age, and condition. This is often, but not always, less than the balance of your loan.

In this situation, you, as the vehicle’s owner would be responsible for any remaining balance on the loan. For example: If you owe $10,000, but the fair market value is $7,000, you would be responsible for the remaining $3,000 on the loan. Therefore, you may want to consider purchasing GAP insurance, especially if you are leasing or financing a vehicle.

Myth: Thieves only steal new cars.

Truth: Vehicles with an established model line history, or cars that continually sell well year after year tend to be more attractive to thieves. Often, it’s more lucrative for a thief to steal a car for parts, than it is for them to try and sell the vehicle private party. Cars with an established model line are more abundant on the road, making it easier for thieves to find customers who are willing to purchase parts, no questions asked.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, these were the top ten stolen cars in 2016:

  • Honda Accord
  • Honda Civic
  • Ford Pickup (full-size)
  • Chevrolet Pickup (full-size)
  • Toyota Camry
  • Nissan Altima
  • Dodge Pickup (full-size)
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Chevrolet Impala
  • Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee

Myth: Your auto insurance will cover items that were stolen out of your car.

Truth: Personal belongings, such as cell phones, laptops, tablets, purses and/or wallets are not covered under any auto insurance policy, including comprehensive. These items are not considered part of the actual vehicle because they are not permanently attached. Consequently, your insurer will not cover you if they are stolen from inside your car; even if the entire car is stolen. Instead, these items would be covered under your homeowners, renters or personal property insurance policies.

Familiarizing yourself with these auto insurance myths will help you purchase coverage that best fits your needs. For additional tips, we encourage to read our blog monthly. Click here to receive a free quote on auto, home, and/or business insurance. You can also contact us direct at (480) 820-2297.

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Choosing Smoke Detectors for Your Home

smoke detectors

It’s hard to overstate the importance of having working smoke detectors in your home. They provide an early warning of fire and, by law, are required in every dwelling. They are also a requirement of most home insurance policies. In 2009-2013, however, two out of five (38%) home fire deaths resulted from fires in which no smoke alarms were present at all.” [Source: NFPA] And, in even more instances, when the alarms weren’t working.

Here is some information to ensure working smoke detectors are present in your home.

Types of Smoke Detectors

Per the NFPA, there are three types of smoke detectors:

Ionization Smoke Detectors are designed to recognize fast-burning, flaming fires much faster than other types of smoke alarms. They’re equipped with a small amount of radioactive material between two electrically charged plates that ionizes the air. When smoke passes through the device, it disrupts the flow of ions, activating the alarm.

Photoelectric Smoke Detectors are better at detecting smoldering fires (those that produce a lot of smoke). These alarms aim a light source into a sensing chamber at an angle away from the sensor. When smoke enters the chamber, light is reflected onto the sensor, triggering an alarm.

Dual-sensor Smoke Detectors are also available. These smoke alarms are the preferred choice by fire service professionals because they utilize both ionization and photoelectric sensors, so it can detect both fast-burning, and smoldering fires. They typically only cost a few dollars more than single-sensor smoke alarms.

Installing and Maintaining Smoke Detectors

The U.S. Fire Administration recommends installing a smoke alarm on every level of your home, in every bedroom, and outside every sleeping area. If you have a basement or attic, install one there too. On levels without bedrooms, install smoke alarms in your main living areas, and near the stairway leading to the next level.

You can never have too many smoke alarms! Mount alarms high on walls and/or ceilings. Wall-mounted alarms should be installed no more than 12-inches away from the ceiling. If installing a smoke alarm near the kitchen, it should be mounted at 10 feet away from cooking appliances, minimizing false alarms when cooking.

Installing a combination of battery-operated and hardwired ionization and photoelectric or dual-sensor smoke alarms ensures your home is fully protected. However, it’s also important to ensure your home’s alarms are maintained according to manufacturer’s recommendations. Test monthly, regardless if it’s battery-operated or hardwired.

Replace batteries once per year if battery-operated. If hardwired, replace the unit once every 10 years. Replace sooner if the alarm’s warning signal goes off or according to manufacturer recommendations.

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July 4th Events

July 4th Events

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

With July 4th – which marks the signing of the Declaration of Independence, just four days away, have you cemented your plans for the evening? Perhaps you’ll be among the reported 44.2 million Americans traveling 50 miles or more away from home to honor the red, white and blue?

There are a number of July 4th events in town, however, that never fail to be well-attended. Each of the following events not only promise family-friendly activities, but you’ll also find live entertainment, festive food and spectacular fireworks displays. Here are just a few of events happening around town.

Monday, July 3

Anthem’s Independence Day Celebration | 6-10:00 p.m.

Community Park

41703 N. Gavilan Peak Pkwy.

Anthem, AZ 85086

Fireworks commence at or around 9:30 p.m.

The whole family is invited to attend this free Independence Day event. Family-friendly activities, patriotic themed events and live entertainment will be on hand for the celebration, which is scheduled to take place from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. Families can bring blankets or lawn chairs and sit back to enjoy the spectacular event. All you can ride bounce bracelets are available to purchase from the Community Center.

Light Up the Sky | 6:30-9 p.m.

Maryvale Baseball Park

3600 N. 51st Ave.

Phoenix, AZ 85031

Fireworks commence at or around 9:10 p.m.

The annual Light Up the Sky event takes place from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. Attendees can expect live entertainment, an inflatable fun zone for the kids, local sports mascots, community resource booths, family-friendly activities on the baseball diamond, food and drink available for purchase, and so much more. Free admission.

Tuesday, July 4th

Fabulous Phoenix 4th | 6-10:00 p.m.

Steele Indian School Park

300 E. Indian School Rd.

Phoenix, AZ 85012

Fireworks commence at or around 9:30 p.m.

Enjoy the Southwest’s largest fireworks display with two international recording artists performing at this year’s Fabulous Phoenix 4th event. Now in its 32nd year, the free family-friendly event features a variety of vendors offering festival-style food and beverages, arts and crafts, interactive exhibits, and a classic car show. Youth activities, rides and inflatables, as well as a water spray zone will be part of Kids’ World.

July 4th Fireworks Spectacular | 5-10:30 p.m.

Tumbleweed Park

2250 S. McQueen Rd.

Chandler, AZ 85286

Fireworks commence at or around 9:00 p.m.

This annual event, which takes place from 5:00 to 10:30 p.m., kicks off at Tumbleweed Park in Chandler. Produced by R-Entertainment, attendees can enjoy all the amenities of this award-winning park in addition to live entertainment, games, and face painting, as well as a variety of food and beverage trucks. Admission is free. Parking is $5 per vehicle (cash only).

Fourth at the Fountain | 6-10:00 p.m.

Fountain Park

12925 N. Saguaro Blvd.

Fountain Hills, AZ 85268

Fireworks commence at or around 9:00 p.m.

Put on your red, white and blue, and join the City of Fountain Hills for music, kids bounce houses, and a rock climbing wall. DJ Steve Grosz will keep the whole family moving and grooving with great tunes, prizes, and giveaways throughout the night. A firework display over the park’s picturesque lake begins at approximately 9:00 p.m. Admission is free. Parking is available throughout downtown Fountain Hills.

July 4th Events for the City of Casa Grande | 10-10:00 p.m.

Fireworks commence at or around 9:00 p.m.

Family Fun Day at the Pool

The day’s events kick off at 10:00 a.m. at the Palm Island Family Aquatics Park (1150 N. Brown Ave.) for a Family Swim Day until 2:00 p.m. Activities and games will be held throughout the day. Admissions fees are reduced: $1 for adults and 50$ for children 17 and under. Food and beverages are available for purchase.

July 4th Fireworks Spectacular

Beginning at 7:00 p.m., bring your lawn chairs and/or blankets to Paul Mason Sportsplex in Casa Grande (2525 N. Pinal Ave.) for a night of family-friendly activities, including relay races, bouncers and games. Food and beverages are available for purchase. Admission is free.

Arizona Celebration of Freedom | 6-10:30 p.m.

Mesa Convention Center Campus

263 N. Center St.

Mesa, AZ 85201

Fireworks commence at or around 9:30 p.m.

You’ll find fun for the whole family at the annual Arizona Celebration of Freedom. Entry into the event and activities are free. The event features family-friendly activities, musical performances, and a reenacting of the Revolutionary War. There will also be a military vehicle showcase, KOOL zone, and Yankee Doodle Kids’ Zone.

Tempe Town Lake Festival

620 N. Mill Ave.

Tempe, AZ 85281

Fireworks commence at or around 9:15 p.m.

In its 66th year, Tempe Town Lake in partnership with Kiwanis Club of Tempe, presents the best fireworks show in the Valley shot from Mill Avenue Bridge. Featuring an inflatable village, rock climbing wall, various food and beverage vendors, and a Kid’s ID tent there is something for the whole family. General admission is $5 for per person. Children 12 and under are free. VIP garden tickets are also available for $60 (adults) and $30 (children ages 5-12).

Have a Happy July 4th, and as always, be safe!

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Save Lives! Prevent Distracted Driving!

distracted driving

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The term ‘distracted driving’ is used to describe any activity that takes the driver’s attention away from the road. Behaviors such as smoking, using electronic devices, eating and drinking, programming navigational systems, and adjusting the audio or climate controls puts your life and the lives of others in danger.

In 2015, distracted driving related crashes caused more than 391,000 injuries, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (which is where we collected much of the information posted here) and the U.S. Department of Transportation. An additional 3,477 were killed. More statistics can be found here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describe three types of distractions while driving. Visual distractions cause you to take your eyes off the road, manual distractions cause you to take your hands off the wheel, and cognitive distractions cause you to lose your focus.

Distracted Driving Activities

  • Texting
  • Smoking
  • Drowsy Driving
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Programming a navigational system
  • Adjusting the audio or climate controls
  • Talking on the phone (yes, even if using a hands-free device)
  • Grooming (e.g., applying makeup, shaving, tightening your ponytail, etc.)

How You Can Prevent Distracted Driving

#1. Out of Sight, Out of Mind. When you’re driving, set your phone on silent or better yet, power it down. Keep it in your purse, briefcase or backpack to avoid temptation from incoming calls and text messages. Many smartphones now have a driving mode setting that automatically forwards all calls to voicemail and replies to text messages alerting the sender you’re driving and will call back later. If you need to make an urgent call, move your vehicle off the road. Never park on the shoulder or in the breakdown lane for any reason except an emergency.

#2. Get a Good Night’s Sleep. Most people know that getting a good night’s rest is imperative to their health, but too often life’s commands or stimulants, such as coffee and energy drinks get in the way of us getting in the National Sleep Foundation’s recommended 7 to 9 hours (for adults). A recent report released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that drivers who slept less than seven hours, and drivers who have one or more hours less than their usual amount of sleep in a 24-hour period have significantly higher crash rates, than drivers who slept for their body’s normal rest time. If you become sleepy while driving – especially on long road trips – safely pull off the road and take a nap.

#3. Before putting your car in drive, you should:

  • Store loose gear
  • Secure children and pets
  • Program your navigation system
  • Adjust seats, mirrors, and audio or climate controls
  • Finish personal grooming (i.e., shaving, applying makeup, finishing hair, etc.)
  • Worth repeating – put away your electronic devices including your phone
  • Give your full attention to the road in front of you; no exceptions

For additional safety tips, we encourage you to read our blog monthly. Click here to receive a free quote on auto, home, renters, and/or business insurance. You can also contact us by calling us at (480) 820-2297.

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Rental Insurance | A Smart Investment

rental insurance

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You don’t need to own your home to benefit from insurance.

Frequently Asked Rental Insurance Questions

Can I afford rental insurance?

The average rental insurance policy in the U.S. is only $190. This breaks down to a little more than $15 per month or the cost of three Grande Caramel Macchiatos. When you consider the alternative – paying out of pocket to replace all of your personal belongings (i.e., your jewelry, electronics, furniture, clothing, etc.) – you should really be asking yourself if you can truly afford NOT to purchase an insurance policy.

What does it cover?

Depending on the policy you choose, rental insurance may provide financial reimbursement for your lost or damaged possessions after your deductible has been met. It may also provide liability coverage for legal costs in the event you’re sued by someone who was hurt in your home. Additionally, if you can’t stay at your place after a covered incident, it can help pay for a hotel.

Covered incidents typically include fire, explosions, smoke, vandalism, theft, burglary, falling objects, freezing, hail, and damage caused by water not resulting from a flood. The true beauty of rental insurance is that it protects your possessions wherever they may be – whether they’re at home, in the trunk of your car or in your backup during a trip to Italy.

How much coverage do I need?

Taking inventory is a good way to determine how much coverage you need. This inventory lists your personal belongings including clothing, along with details about their age, purchase price or current value, as well as other identifying information. Document the items with receipts or pictures when possible. Once you’ve completed the inventory process, total the amounts to determine coverage, keeping a copy in a safe place.

Choose the Coverage That’s Right for You

The Insurance Information Institute (III) recommends getting quotes from at least three insurance companies to compare prices. Keep in mind, however, that not all policies are created equal. Never select a policy based solely on price. An independent insurance agent can compare prices from a number of different insurance companies to find the best possible value for you. For more information, including a free quote, visit us at or contact us at (480) 820-2297.

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Car Emergency Kit Essentials

car emergency kit

Imagine, you’re driving on a lonely, dark road when suddenly your car becomes difficult to control. Managing to safely ease the car to the side of the road, you turn on your hazards, and get out to investigate. If the problem is a flat tire, and you’re prepared with a well-stocked emergency kit as well as a spare, you should be on your way in no time at all. For those situations that don’t involve a flat, you can use your cell phone and call roadside assistance; which we highly recommend having. Many auto insurers offer this.

Although you can certainly purchase a well-stocked pre-packaged emergency kit, the best value and most comprehensive kit is going to be one you create yourself, using many of the items mentioned below. Even if you decide to purchase a packaged kit, like this one for $87.95 from, you’ll want to beef it up to ensure you are always prepared for the unexpected. You should also consider weather conditions in your area; packing accordingly. Here are some essentials for your car emergency kit.

First Aid Kit: In addition to an assortment of bandages, include disposable gloves, adhesive tape, sterile gauze pads, painkillers, antiseptic cream or ointment, alcohol-free cleansing wipes, a thermometer, antihistamine tablets, tweezers, scissors, distilled water for cleaning wounds, insect bite/sting spray, skin rash cream, and anything particular to you and your family. You may want to consider purchasing everything latex-free.

Food & Water: If you find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere, the first priority is maintaining hydrated, and fed – especially if you have little ones. Have non-perishable food items and bottled water on hand. High-calorie options such as energy bars, almonds, nut butters, dried fruit, beef jerky, trail mix, and crackers are all great solutions. It is important to pack enough water for each of your passengers as well.

Flashlight: You should always include a good-quality flashlight in your emergency kit. It will come in handy whether you’re inspecting your car at night, need some extra visibility when changing a flat tire, or when having to take your son or daughter to use the bathroom off the road. You won’t want to forget to pack extra batteries as well! You should also make sure to pack flares in the event your car does breakdown.

Woolen Blanket: Whether it is pouring, sleeting or snowing, a wool blanket can help you and your loved ones stay warm and dry until roadside assistance arrives. We recommend purchasing a wool blanket over a blend or fleece option, as not only are these blankets extremely warm, they are also flame and odor resistant. Consider packing one in the truck of your car for each member of your family.

USB Battery Pack: While your phone is probably on your person, or nearby, you should also carry a USB battery pack in your vehicle. This should be in addition to a 12-volt car charger. Ensuring your phone is charged, and that you have a way to charge it should the battery run low, may make all the difference between getting help…fast…and not getting any help at all.

Fire Extinguisher: When purchasing a fire extinguisher for your car, look for one that is rated for both Class B and Class C fires by the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA. The NFPA states that Class B fires are those that involve flammable or combustible liquids, such as gasoline and kerosene, whereas Class C fires involve energized electrical equipment including panel boxes and batteries.

Winter Essentials: If live in an area prone to snow, or icy roads, you may need to consider packing some winter essentials in your car during the winter months. You knew know when you’ll need a folding shovel, ice scrapers, heavy socks, snow boots, chains, a change of clothes, and a pair of gloves is going to come in handy. You can carry all these items and more in a clear Rubbermaid box in the trunk of your car.

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Travel Safety Tips for the Holidays

travel safety tips

from your friends at Hegarty-Haynes Insurance, Inc!

The holiday season has officially arrived, and with it, the busiest travel season of the year. Many will hit the open road and skies over the course of the next month, because as we all know, no holiday would be complete without being in the company of friends and family.

Although we are sure plates stacked with mountains of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie provide good reason to travel as well. In fact, according to AAA, 50 million people are expected to hit the road this very week in celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Traveling during the holidays, however, can cause the best of us to stress as we are met with transportation delays and heavy traffic at every turn. We did mention there are going to be 50 million drivers all trying to make it to their family’s dinner, and perhaps, Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales, right?

The following travel safety tips for the holidays will ensure that you arrive safely at your final destination, so that you too can enjoy being in the company of those closest to you this season, while also avoiding many of the stressors associated with holiday travel.

#1. Motor Vehicle Safety

Please don’t go anywhere in your car until you’ve ensured it is properly maintained. At the very least, you should have your car, tires, lights, and fluids professionally inspected before hitting the open road for the holidays.

#2. Mind Mother Nature

Check the weather along your route and plan accordingly. Winter storm headed your way? Find another route or, if possible, head out a day earlier to avoid it. You can check the weather by visiting the National Weather Service’s website.

#3. Tell Someone of Your Plans

You should always inform someone, preferably a close friend, family member or neighbor, of your travel plans. However, we do caution against posting your absence on social media. If something were to happen, your contact person would be informed, which could make a world of difference.

#4. Don’t Drive Distracted

When you’re driving, 100% of your attention must be on the road at all times, thus ensuring your safe arrival. This includes driving while using cell phones for both talking and texting (both hands on the wheel). It also includes checking when a store opens for Black Friday. Not paying attention while driving can lead to people getting hurt.

#5. Avoid Driving Fatigued

It sounds simple enough, but a good night’s sleep before departing can make for a more enjoyable, and safer drive. Be sure to take regular breaks during long road trips to avoid becoming overly tired. Pull over in a safe, well-lit area if you’re tired, or around every 100 miles or 2 hours.

#6. Follow the Rules of the Road

Follow posted speed limit and other signs. You should also refrain from tailgating, driving defensively, and responding to aggressive drivers: It’s far less frustrating to let an aggressive driver pass you than to become aggressive yourself. Like you, everyone is trying to get somewhere, and get there safely.

#7. Be Prepared for the Unexpected

Keep a blanket, boots, extra pair of gloves, change of clothes, flashlight, flare, jumper cables, jack and a supply food/water in the trunk of your vehicle in the event of an emergency. Traction mats, kitty litter or sand can be used to improve traction on icy roads, should you get stuck.

#8. Don’t Leave Your Pets or Children in the Car

While this should go without saying, yearly statistics necessitate the need for reinforcing the importance of taking your pets and children with you, rather than leaving them in the car. In the winter, both children and pets are at risk of hypothermia, frost bite and, unfortunately, even death in extreme conditions.

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Halloween Prank-Proofing Tips

Halloween Prank-Proofing Tips

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

With Halloween just a few short days away, the streets will soon be filled with Superheroes, Princesses, Zombies, Ghosts, and more looking for treats. Halloween, however, isn’t just for kids or treats.

Teenage and, yes even adult, pranksters also fill the streets looking to deal out a few tricks. If you’d like to prank-proof your home this Halloween, and/or keep your property vandal-free all year long, follow these Halloween prank-proofing tips.

Keep Your House Lights On

This Halloween, keep your interior and exterior lights on all night long, whether you’re actually there or not to discourage pranksters from vandalizing your home. If it looks like you’re home, you – and your house, are less likely to be a target of tricks that have the potential to damage your property.

Install Motion-Sensor Lights

These systems turn on the lights as people walk around your property. This often discourages pranksters. If they don’t do the job, consider purchasing a few motion-activated sprinklers, which can be staked into the ground. These sprinklers will have invading pranksters running for cover in order to avoid getting drenched.

Nowhere to Hide

A security camera will allow you to hand out candy to the costumed kids while deterring pranksters. The market is flooded with quality night-vision cameras that will enable you to live stream security footage to your smartphone so that you can easily respond to toilet-paper wielding pranksters.

Safeguard Your Car

You may want to think about parking your car in a secure place Halloween night. Personal vehicles are twice as likely to be vandalized on October 31st than on an average day, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. What better way to safeguard your vehicle from pranksters than parking it in your home garage?

Bring in Your Jack O’ Lantern

After the costumed kids have gone, bring in your Jack O’ Lantern for the night, unless you want to spend the morning cleaning up smashed pumpkin. While you’re at it, you may also want to consider bringing in loose toys, lawn equipment and your mailbox. This way you’ll avoid having to clean up or replace these items.

Sit Outside During Trick-or-Treating

Instead of waiting inside for the doorbell to ring, get outside and greet trick-or-treaters and neighbors on the porch. It’s a good way to meet new people if you’re new to the neighborhood. We don’t recommend just leaving a bowl of candy out because teens often don’t follow the “please take one only” rule.

Review Your Insurance Policies

Additionally, you should review your home and automobile insurance coverage before kids come trick-or-treating, just in case. You should specifically look at your liability coverage, fire protection, and personal property coverage. If you have questions, or feel the need to up your limits, contact us at (480) 820-2297.

Happy Halloween!

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Activity Trackers and Life Insurance

activity trackers

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Would you consider sharing the data from your activity tracker?

A Win-Win Situation

1 in 5 American adults use a wearable activity tracker to monitor calories burned, active minutes, heart rate, sleep, steps, water intake, and more. Of these, 65 percent are willing to share the data from their activity tracker – whether it is a Fitbit, Jawbone, Garmin, or Apple Watch – with a life insurance company, if they received financial reward in return for healthy behaviors.

30% of consumers who do not currently own such a device would consider adopting a wearable for the same reason. Among those who would consider sharing their activity tracker results with a life insurance company, 60% would do so for financial savings, such as decreased premiums. Establishing a healthier lifestyle was noted by 57% and getting a free tracking device was a major incentive for 48%.

According to the same 2016 Insurance Barometer Study, just over 35% of respondents would not consider sharing the data from their activity tracker with an insurance company because a) are concerned about sharing too much personal information, citing privacy concerns, or b) are reluctant to share their data because they are currently not very active.

Leveraging the data from activity trackers opens a new opportunity for insurers to gain greater insight about their customers, while encouraging healthy behavior. Because most people who already own an activity tracker are willing to share their data, the opportunity for the industry can only grow as consumer use of activity trackers increases.

Should You Sing Up?

Fun, fitness, and the potential for financial reward in one small package. That, to me, sounds like a pretty powerful incentive for proving you lead a healthy, non-sedentary lifestyle. For all your life, auto, and homeowners’ insurance needs, contact Hegarty-Haynes Insurance at (480) 820-2297.

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Can Dogs Affect Your Home Insurance?

home insurance

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Bringing a new animal home is both exciting and adventurous. But with fluffy coats and puppy eyes comes a whole lot of responsibility. Responsibility that starts with notifying your homeowners (or renters) insurance carrier of your new animal’s arrival. Here’s why this is important.

Bark, Just the Facts, Bark

According to 2012 statistics, provided by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), over 43 million households in the United States have at least one dog. The average, however, is 1.6 dogs per household bringing the total number of dogs owned to almost 70 million. 2015-16 estimates by the Humane Society bring those numbers to 54.4 and 77.8 million respectively.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States. Only 1 out of 5 bites become infected. These dog bites, according to the Insurance Information Institute, accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners’ insurance liability claim payouts in 2015. The average cost per claim exceeded $37,000.

In Arizona, dog owners are strictly liable for injuries their pets cause, and liability is imposed without regard to an owner’s knowledge of the dog’s aggressiveness. The only defense to liability according to Arizona State Legislature is that the injured party provoked the dog. Proof of the incident is required. This, unfortunately, often leads to a “he said/she said” situation.

Are You Covered?

The aforementioned facts make informing your independent insurance agent of your new companion highly important. It is also advisable that you review your liability coverage to ensure you are adequately covered in the event Fido injuries someone (review should be done annually regardless of the occurrence of any changes).

Insurance carriers can unfortunately elect to exclude your dog from coverage in the event it is what some call a “blacklisted” dog. They may also raise your premiums. Fourteen of the most often blacklisted dogs, according to a 2014 article from Psychology Today, are:

  • Pit Bull Terriers
  • Staffordshire Terriers
  • Rottweilers
  • German Shepherds
  • Presa Canarios
  • Chows
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Akitas
  • Wolf-hybrids
  • Mastiffs
  • Cane Corsos
  • Great Danes
  • Alaskan Malamutes
  • Siberian Huskies

Dog Owners: Dog Bite Prevention

  • Educate yourself about the dog breed. Plenty of good resources exist including: The American Kennel Club (AKC),, and Pet MD.
  • Spay or neuter your dog. Healthy puppies can be spayed or neutered as early as eight weeks of age. Spayed or neutered dogs are much less likely to bite.
  • Socialize Your Dog: It’s important for puppies to meet a number of other dogs, people, and places within their first few months of life.
  • Train Your Dog: Begin taking your dog to positive reinforcement training, or reward-based training, shortly after Fido’s first set of vaccinations.
  • Avoid Stressful Situations: Thinking of taking your pet to Fourth of July festivities. You may want to rethink that. Fireworks and other loud noises are often far too stressful on a dog.
  • Be a responsible dog owner – period! This vaccinating and licensing your dog. Treat your dog as one of the family and avoid leaving him/her alone for long periods of time. You should also refrain from keeping him/her locked outside the house or restrained. Teach your children that your dog is NOT a toy and should be gently petted only.
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