Defensive Driving

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Welcome to the Merriam Agency

The Merriam Agency is an award-winning full-service insurance agency providing commercial insurance, personal insurance, health insurance and employee benefits. By working with clients nationally, we see the national trends and help you prepare for potential threats. Through our systematic approach to evaluating your risk management and insurance, we ensure that we cover all the bases and properly underwrite your risk. We show you the “must-haves” and present any options that make sense to consider. In addition, our network of providers is so extensive that we can get risk personnel on the ground quickly . . . all to make sure you’re back up and running in the event of a loss.  Contact us now by phone or email, for a free, no obligation quote.

Recent Articles

  • Aetna-Sign

    Aetna to completely drop Obamacare next year

    Aetna Inc. plans on leaving the few states where it has still been selling Obamacare plans. To find out more read the entire article courtesy of Insurance Business Magazine.

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    Careful on the stairs!

    Handrails to Prevent Lawsuits Many of the inns we serve are beautiful historic mansions. Many times the bespoke architecture from yesteryear does not include a key component of inn safety – handrails on all steps. While this may seem like a small item, in the minds of insurance companies and ambulance-chasing attorneys, handrails are a key item that often determines the fate of an injury, insurance claim, or lawsuit. Slips and falls are the most common injury sustained at an inn, whether by visitors, guests, or employees. Additionally, inns have more steps than a typical hotel and often attract older guests, who may be less able to navigate even level floors, let alone stairs and hallways with rugs. Many of the slips and falls we see from our clients occur around steps. Therefore, a best practice for keeping steps safe is to make sure they have a non-slip surface and a handrail. Even if the stairs have only two or three steps or are located outdoors, handrails are still a non-negotiable. If someone slips and falls, and comes to you seeking compensation for their injuries or inconvenience, your insurance company will investigate to determine the extent of your responsibility (also known as liability). In my opinion, if your insurance company finds out that you did not have an handrail on the steps in question, they will be less likely to fight the allegation of your negligence and more likely to settle the case with little negotiation. They know from experience […]

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    Driving on Inn Business? What You Need to Know

      Due to the nature of most inn-keeping business models, owning a vehicle is not a key asset. Most innkeepers, however, personally own a vehicle and insure it under their personal car insurance. This is fine, except that every innkeeper I have ever spoken with drives his or her personal car for inn business. Innkeepers go to the store to pick up food, run errands, and maybe in an emergency, take a guest to the hospital. So how does insurance work when you are driving a personal vehicle for business like this? All personal car insurance policies are written in the same way; for example, if Joe causes an accident while driving his personal vehicle for his business of “Joe’s Inn, LLC”, the car insurance policy will pay to defend both Joe and the Inn. Provided Joe has sufficient auto insurance liability (I often recommend all inn owners carry a $1M umbrella – typically an additional $200 annually), both the inn and Joe should be protected. What happens if you are transporting a guest? I strongly discourage regularly transporting guests in your personal vehicle for a variety of reasons – the most salient of which is that all personal auto insurance policies, no matter your insurance company, carry a “livery exclusion.” This means that if you are carrying someone in your car in exchange for money, your insurer can probably avoid paying a claim if you get into an accident. If a guest is injured and you feel the right thing to do is to take […]

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    You may have a lawsuit on the horizon . . .

    Did you know you could be sued for seemingly innocuous actions? Things such as: the “wrongful imprisonment” of the neighborhood kid you caught lurking in your backyard and suspected him of burglary. In good conscience, you kept him there until the police arrived, but they determined he really was just looking for a baseball he hit over the fence. That social media post that your daughter made last night about a girl in her class? Or perhaps the local Chinese restaurant that had to close because of your negative online reviews that went viral. Worse yet, actions like these (libel, slander, defamation of character and invasion of privacy) may not be covered by your standard homeowners policy if you were to be sued. Unlike a slip and fall (bodily injury), these types of activities hurt someone’s person (or their “being”) and are thus known as “personal injury.” Although this coverage is not included in most homeowners policies, it can be added on for a relatively low premium. Having this coverage does not give somebody a license to start making hurtful comments, but does protect against unintentional wrongs of this nature. For more information on this coverage or to find out what it would cost to add to your homeowners policy, call our helpful customer service staff. We would be happy to speak with you.

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    The Severity of Employee Dishonesty

    We rarely expect our employees to steal from us. Unfortunately, it happens more frequently than other forms of theft and the loss is often significant. Theft can be in forms of money or items like boxes of new books (sold for recycling), shop equipment like large drill presses (stolen for the challenge of theft). Insurance applications often ask questions about your background screening process for purposes of evaluating the coverage they can offer, and the associated cost. The Commercial Crime Coverage Form states that if you learn of a theft or any other dishonest act (catching an employee lying, deceiving a customer, padding reports, or spinning his own version of an event, etc.) of an employee prior to your policy period, the loss that he/she causes is excluded from coverage. It is important to note that this dishonest act does not have to involve financial loss to your organization or prior organizations. If the employee was ever dishonest, and you learn of it, the coverage for that employee ceases. If you learn of the dishonesty in conjunction with a loss, the insurer will provide coverage for that event as long as no other exclusions apply. If you or any of your partners, members, managers, officers, directors or trustees learned of that theft or dishonest act, it is imperative that they report it to you so you can determine appropriate risk management steps. The worst time to find out coverage exclusions is when you have filed a claim and expect to […]

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    Auto Insurance Covers More Than You Think It Does!

    Do you drive your own car for work or volunteer activities? If your answer is yes, how does your insurance work in the event of an accident? It could be argued that the only reason you were on the road at that time is because you were representing that work or volunteer organization. So who pays for the damage – you, or the organization? Payment starts from the auto insurance covering the car that was in the accident. All personal auto insurance policies have the same language: They will pay to defend the driver, the car owners, and anyone else who is liable for the accident. This last category “anyone else who is liable” includes the driver’s employer or volunteer organization. So if Mom is taking kids on a school field trip as a volunteer and she causes an accident, her car insurance will pay to defend her, her family, and the school. If Mom borrows a neighbor’s van so she could fit in more children, the neighbor’s car insurance will pay for the accident. Automobile insurance follows the car, with some exceptions. If the accident is a small one, that should be the end of the situation – the personal car insurance policy will assume the liability for injury and vehicle damage. However, if the accident is a large one, with one or more people sustaining permanent injuries, the personal car insurance will likely be exhausted. Most states require only a small amount of insurance to pay for another […]