Why Not Reporting the “Little” Changes Can be a HUGE Mistake

People are required by all insurance policies, including their auto and homeowners policies, to report changes to their insurance companies or agents–usually within 30 days. Often, the failure to report a required change within a specific time period results in the denial of a claim.

Example:  Your son got his driver’s license 3 months before your policy renewed and you forgot to tell your agent and/or insurer. When the policy was ready to renew, you glanced at the renewal form you received in the mail and, because you still insured the same vehicles, tossed it away because you thought, Nothing has changed.

Unfortunately, something HAD changed: you had a new licensed, family member–something you are required to report. If your son drove your car and was involved in an accident after the policy renewed, your insurer could deny the claim for misrepresentation (i.e., lying).

Although you didn’t lie intentionally, the fact that you forgot to report the change, twice, might be interpreted as if you had lied because you didn’t comply with requirements of the policy (a requirement that would increase your premium) . Of course, your insurer may believe you and may simply charge you premium retroactively to the first day you son was licensed. But it doesn’t have to.

One of the changes on homeowners insurance policies that often go unreported involve different family members moving into and out of the home. Technically, a homeowners insurance policy is only intended to provide coverage for the resident owner(s) of the home–the people whose names appear on the deed AND who live there.

Example: Dad moved out of the home and into a nursing home permanently, and you moved from your apartment into his house. The homeowners policy wasn’t designed to provide coverage for this situation because you are NOT the owner. The change should be reported to the insurer and the company will cancel the policy and either issue a dwelling fire policy in Dad’s name or require coverage to be issued on some other type of policy that insures tenant-occupied buildings. Even if you are not paying rent, you need to buy a renter’s policy.

I know, I know, that’s more expensive for everyone and you and Dad don’t want to pay more money–things are already tight. But the reason it’s more expensive is because a loss is more likely to occur when a home is not occupied by the person who owns it.

If an insurance company learns someone other than the owner his living in a home (especially shortly after the policy is written), it will issue a cancellation notice for the homeowners policy. In the same way an auto insurer will deny a claim if a change isn’t reported on a renewal form, a homeowners carrier will refuse to provide insurance.

Please report all changes to your agent promptly. He or she will help you find the most cost-effective way of making sure your coverage does apply in the event of a loss. Think about it: if you save $100 a year by not reporting a change and the insurer doesn’t pay a claim afterwards, you not only didn’t save $100, you incurred a much higher cost.

Pardon the pun, but honesty IS the best policy!

Writer’s Market reports “4 Book Publishers Looking for Writers”

I subscribe to Writer’s Market, as well as an email feed.  Couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share this information:

4 BOOK PUBLISHERS LOOKING FOR WRITERSWritersMarket.com lists hundreds of book publishers for writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, writing for children, and more. Here are four open to submissions from writers:

  • Avon Romance publishes high quality romance novels. In fact, this HarperCollins imprint publishes 400 novels per year, and they take submissions directly from prospective authors. Use their online submission form.
  • Free Spirit Publishing produces 20-25 titles per year “to provide children and teens with the tools they need to succeed in life and to make a difference in the world.” Prospective authors should submit a proposal.
  • Seal Press publishes 30 titles per year. The publisher proclaims they publish books by women for women and hopes writers will take that into consideration when submitting. Prospective authors should send a query letter or proposal.
  • Shambhala Publications publishes 90-100 titles per year. This publisher is mostly focused on nonfiction topics, especially related to Buddhism, yoga, mindfulness, creativity, martial arts, natural health, and green living. Prospective authors should submit a book proposal by post.

(NOTE: If you’re unable to access the listing, it means you either need to log in or sign up for WritersMarket.com first.)

WritersMarket.com lists more than 8,000 publishing opportunities, including listings for contests, magazines, book publishers, literary agents, conferences, and more. Log in or sign up today to start submitting your work.

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How Much do YOU Know about Car Accidents and Renting Replacement Vehicles?

I’m proud to announce that my magazine article, Rental Reimbursement Coverage:  Minor Coverage with Major Impact is the featured article in the Fall 2012 issue of the  national trade magazine, Today’s Insurance Professional.  It’s actually been so well-received, I’m receiving reprint requests!

I was asked to write the article by the International Association of Insurance Professionals after being contracted by a client to develop and write several insurance education courses on the topic of Rental Reimbursement insurance–which I then presented around the country and at two of the associations’ annual conventions.

Although the article was written with insurance professionals as its intended audience, consumers will certainly benefit from ” tips” about what the coverage provides and how both personal and business auto policies seldom offer “good enough” rental coverage without the addition of an endorsement.

Care to share any of your stories about car accidents and renting replacement vehicles?

What self-publishing is … and is not

A lot of unpublished folks seem to think self-publishing is the way to go these days.  Unfortunately, the two people I spoke with during the past few days didn’t really understand what self-publishing is.

So, in an effort to educate those without any publishing experience, here’s a brief outline of some facts I think you should know when considering to self-publish.  Of course, this is only my personal opinion so I’m counting on the rest of you–published and self-published alike–to chime in here to assist the uneducated.

Traditional publishing:  The writer sells his or her work to a publisher, who pays the author for the rights to publish it.  The publisher pays the costs associated with transforming the writer’s manuscript into a book–whether it’s a hardcover, paperback, or ebook.  This includes editing, printing, some publicity, etc.  The author doesn’t pay the publisher anything.  Depending upon whether the publisher is a large conglomerate  or a small press, the writer will either receive an advance and royalties in exchange for the rights to publish the book or will simply receive royalties. 

Self-publishing:  The writer controls all aspects of the publication of the work–and pays all the costs associated with publication.  This includes editing, printing, and publicity.  The self-published author may pay a publisher to handle publication (sometimes called a vanity, or subsidy, publisher) or can handle everything himself or herself.

All the details about book publication are negotiated and spelled out in a contract when a writer contracts with any type of publisher.

The popularity of print on demand services (the publisher prints books as they’re ordered rather than printing a large quantity at one time, before most orders are received) has given many people the impression that writers published by small, independent presses are self-published.  Not true.  A self-published writer may certainly get his or her books to market via print on demand services, but so can an independent press or a traditional publisher.

With the proliferation of small, independent presses, it’s a lot easier for writers to get published these days.  The publication of ebooks is also helping writers get published more easily.

I provided a couple of links for you to check out if you’d like a little more detail.  What does anyone else have to add?

Using Two Monitors

If you’re a writer–or anyone who sits in front of a computer all day–you might want to consider using dual monitors.  I pooh-poohed the idea before I tried it, too.  But I wouldn’t work any other way now.

With the wide screen monitors in the photo shown above (which sit on the desk in my office), I can have 4 documents or screens open at the same time.  This eliminates the need for much of the paper on my desk, including the easel that took up a lot of space in the area I preferred to use for writing notes.  Of course, if you’re not blind as a bat like I am, you might be able to move the easel more than arm’s distance away!

I find the dual monitors especially helpful when I’m conducting online research or when I’m writing and have to copy information or need to refer to details.  The larger the monitor, the large the font size I can use, which really saves on eye strain.  Hint:  my super-smart, computer geek son-in-law informed me you can reduce eye strain by making sure the room in which you sit when working at the computer is neither too bright nor too dark.  I always thought bright light was best but he says it isn’t–and he’s right!  I also found that if the light in the room is indirect (not overhead and not within my field of vision when looking straight ahead) I don’t suffer as much eye strain.

I purchased my second monitor (the one on the right side of the photo) for $99.  Brendon (the genius son-in-law) referred me to an online site where I purchased the video card for my computer.  For under $200 and one beer (that was Brendon’s fee), my monitor was installed and operational in about 15 minutes.  Of course, that was after I ordered the video card online and waited for it to be delivered!

Seriously, you should consider the dual monitors.  Anyone else out there use them?  Care to share your thoughts?

Apostrophe Abuse: A Lesson

I’m seeing a lot of apostrophe abuse lately.  Everywhere.  I can’t pick up any reading material, or look online, without seeing people misusing apostrophes:  In the newspaper, in advertisements, on Facebook and Linked In, and on slates hanging outside front doors, for Pete’s sake!

Here’s the free lesson.  Apostrophes are used for the following major purposes:  (1) To indicate one or more letters have been omitted, as in a contraction: don’t (the “o” is missing); and (2) To indicate possession, as in Linda’s rant about apostrophes.

There are other reasons to use apostrophes, but they are all related to the preceding.  So, how do I see apostrophes being misused? Let me count the ways:

I heard that song in the 1970’s. What’s the omitted letter? Where is the possession? It should be the 1970s.

The slate outside your front door says The Faulkner’s. If you want the sign to indicate that the house belongs to the Faulkners (i.e., possession), I guess it’s okay. But if you want the sign to indicate two or more people named Faulkner live in the house, the slate should say The Faulkners – as in the plural of a singular Faulkner.  (Each of us is exceptionally singular, by the way.)

Merry Christmas from the Smith’s:  Bert, Bertha, Bertie, and Bertina.  NO APOSTROPHE!  The Smiths is the plural of a singular Smith. 4 Smiths = plural; 1 Smith = singular. The Christmas message isn’t about possession.

Now that you get the idea, please report apostrophe abuse by commenting here.  Maybe we can eradicate the damned nuisances.