How To Save on Commerical Auto Insurance in the Off-Season

Ever mowed a lawn in January? Or plowed a snowy driveway on a hot July day? If you own and operate a seasonal business, chances are you aren’t working in the off-season, so the insurance you carry should be different than what you carry in-season.

Leading commercial auto insurers like Progressive offer seasonal insurance for businesses like landscapers, snowplow drivers, ice cream truck owners, and more. These coverages allow you to customize your commercial auto insurance based on when your business is running on all cylinders — and when it’s not.

Progressive offers these tips for getting the most out of your policy in the off-season:

  • If your vehicle will be parked during the off-season, you may think you should cancel that vehicle’s insurance during that time. But if you’d like to protect your vehicle and still save a little money, just switch your insurance to a Comprehensive-only policy. This will give you basic protection against incidents like vandalism, theft, falling tree branches and hail.

    A Comprehensive-only policy also gives you the bonus of having continuous insurance coverage. If you drop your insurance completely, you may pay significantly more to get a new policy when in-season rolls around because most insurance companies want to see proof of continuous coverage.


  • If you plan to drive your work truck or other vehicles for personal use during the off-season, let your insurance carrier know. They can adjust your policy to reflect personal use, which can be less expensive while still providing coverage.


Claims handling capability is the most important feature we sell our commercial customers. Progressive consistently proves superior at settling commercial claims quickly. Call Ross, Stepien & Kadey at 315-457-1511 for a free quote on your commercial vehicles today.

8 Tips For The Road Ahead – Be Safe, Be Smart On A Long-Distance Road Trip

Whether you’re traveling alone, with a buddy or with your spouse and a car full of kids, there are few things more “American” than the long-distance road trip. Countless vacation travelers will drive the highways looking for fun and making memories with every mile. If traveling down the “holiday road” is in your plans, take the time to prepare for your trip. You’ll have a more enjoyable vacation if you plan carefully. Here are a few driving tips, courtesy of Ross, Stepien & Kadey:


1) Maintain your car. Make sure your vehicle is up to date on its maintenance schedule, and be sure to check the battery and tires.


2) Plan your trip and know where you’re going. Call ahead for proper and safe directions to get you to your destination safely and have maps of the area on hand to help you navigate once you are off the main road. You’re more likely to make good decisions, even in dangerous situations, if you’re clearheaded and know where you’re going.


3) Be alert. Seems obvious, but driver inattention is surely the cause of a lot of accidents. If you stay focused behind the wheel and plan carefully, you will have a wonderful summer road trip.


4) Take precaution with a cell phone. Cell phones can be a lifesaver when you need immediate access to emergency services after an accident. Keep your phone within easy reach and get to know its features. However, use it prudently. Reports suggest that driving while talking on the phone increases accident rates.


5) Wear your seat belt. Whether or not it’s required by law in the state through which you’re driving, always wear your seat belt as a safety precaution.


6) Protect your car against theft. Help deter criminals from taking your car with steering wheel locks, switches that disable fuel or ignition systems, and electronic tracking devices.


7) If you’re in an accident. Taking immediate steps if you’ve been in an accident can protect your family and your car from further damage. Stop immediately and make sure your car is not blocking traffic. Turn off your car to keep it from overheating or catching fire. Warn oncoming cars using road flares or orange triangle reflectors. After you have protected yourself and your family, call your insurance company immediately.


8) Make sure your auto insurance is up to date. Before you even leave the driveway, you want to be sure you’re protected when you’re on the road and far from home. An independent insurance agent or broker can provide the personal service and advice you need to travel in confidence.


To learn more about what an independent insurance agency offers you, visit or contact Ross, Stepien & Kadey.

Insurance Coverage for Heavy Equipment and Products

Types of Products
  • Industrial / mechanical equipment
  • Construction equipment
  • Medical related products and accessories
  • Toys
  • Sporting goods (including firearms)
  • Environmental
  • Importers / distributors
  • General liability (including products / completed operations)
  • Monoline products liability
  • Excess limits up to $25M
  • New ventures
  • Accounts with loss frequency or severity

Insurance Coverage for Tow Trucks

Types of Risks
  • Full time towing
  • Repair shops
  • Up to 50% auto repossession
  • Maintenance on own fleet

Types of Coverage

  • Auto liability
  • Physical damage
  • In-tow / on-hook
  • Garagekeepers / in-tow storage
  • General liability
  • Excess liability
  • Excess on-hook

Insurance Coverage for Fall Festivals and Special Events!

Fall Festivals / Special Events
Types of Risks
  • Festivals / Fairs
  • Haunted Houses
  • Hayrides
  • Tailgate parties
  • Events including
    • Bounce houses
    • Pony rides
    • Fireworks
  • And many more!
  • General liability and liquor packages
  • Short term or annual policy terms
  • Additional coverage available:
    • Set up and take down
    • Rain date
    • Additional insureds
    • Excess / umbrella
    • Increased limits

How are insurance rates set?

How does insurance work?
People buy insurance coverage to protect themselves from potential future loss. In exchange for payment of a known fee—the insurance premium—the policyholder is able to transfer his or her potential risk to an insurance company, which agrees to pay in the event of such a loss.

Insurance works because it allows the cost of large, often catastrophic losses to be spread among many individuals. Insurance companies collect premiums from many individual policyholders, and then pay for the losses incurred from the money collected. Insurance companies operate successfully because it is unlikely everyone who pays an insurance premium will suffer a claim—at least not in any given year. In a nutshell, insurance permits the losses of a few to be paid by the insurance premiums of many.

How are insurance rates determined?
It’s a complex process. Insurance can’t be priced like most products, because the money people pay for it is intended to help cover the cost of unforeseen future happenings—for example, a fire, a burglary or an auto accident.

While many factors are considered in rate making, rates basically are dependent on two primary factors: the frequency of claims and the severity (as measured by cost) of each claim—known as the company’s loss experience. The companies use their loss experience, supplemented by factors reflecting economic trends, as a guide to the amount they will be required to pay for future claims and meet the costs of doing business.

Once the company determines its estimated future costs, its rates are set based on a variety of individual factors. In the case of auto insurance, drivers are categorized into several different rating classifications, based on similar expectations of having a loss. For example, young drivers and drivers in certain geographies are classified as potentially higher risks because of the loss experience of similar drivers.

What types of rating classifications apply to auto insurance?

Auto insurance rates are based on a number of factors, including where the car is customarily kept, the age and driving record of the driver, and the type and use of the car.

Rating territory: The state is divided into rating territories, whose boundaries are determined by such considerations as population density, traffic congestion and other factors which affect exposure to accidents. The premium charged to an individual car owner is affected directly by the number and cost of accidents caused by drivers who live in his or her rating territory, and by the number of thefts in that territory.

Driver classification: Well-documented studies make it clear some groups of drivers have more frequent and often more costly accidents than others. Age, gender and marital status are recognized as reliable rate-making criteria. The highest rates usually are assigned to youthful drivers who, as a group, have a worse record than older drivers.

Driving record: Statistics indicate that people who have been responsible for accidents or have been convicted of serious driving violations are more likely to have accidents in the future than are drivers with clean driving records. Drivers with bad records generally are charged more because they are expected to have more claims than the average driver.

Use of car: Cars that are driven to and from the job usually are more vulnerable to accidents than cars used only for pleasure purposes, because they regularly are exposed to heavy traffic conditions. The same is true for cars used for business purposes throughout the day. Premium charges are related to the total number of miles a car is driven each year, on the grounds the car that is driven more miles is more exposed to accident conditions.

Type of car: Certain types of cars cost more to repair or to replace, based on a variety of factors, including ease of repair and the original cost of the car. These factors are taken into consideration when determining auto insurance premiums. New cars, for example, are more costly to repair and to replace than are older, less expensive vehicles.

A Visit from the Mona Lisa


We were honored to receive a visit from the "Mona Lisa" today!  Thank you to our client Tom Barry (pictured right) for a view of his "one-of-a-kind" masterpiece.

We were honored to receive a visit from the “Mona Lisa” today! Thank you to our client Tom Barry (pictured right) for a view of his “one-of-a-kind” masterpiece.

Insuring your in-home business

Approximately 40 million Americans operate full- and part-time businesses from their homes. The home-based business represents a substantial investment of time, money and property. Yet many business owners do not have the coverage necessary to protect themselves and their businesses.

Is my in-home business covered under my homeowners policy?
Not sufficiently. Many homeowners policies provide only a limited amount of coverage for business-related exposures. Depending on your policy, your homeowners insurance may cover your business, but probably only to a maximum of $2,500 for business equipment in the home and $500 for equipment away from the premises. A stolen business credit card, a power surge causing the loss of important computer data and a lawsuit over a business-related matter are not covered.

How can I get the most appropriate coverage for my home business?
There are three ways. First, you may be able to add a home business endorsement to your existing homeowners policy. Coverage generally includes business property coverage; business liability, including product, personal injury and advertising liability; loss of business income protection; valuable papers coverage; and accounts receivable.

Second, you can purchase several individual business insurance policies to provide the various coverages you need, such as business property, general liability and business income insurance.

Third, you can purchase a business owners package policy designed for smaller businesses, which combines the necessary property and liability insurance coverages you need in a single policy.

I run a day-care service in my home. Does my homeowners liability insurance extend to my business?
No. Care providers must purchase liability insurance specifically for their business. You can, at any time, be held liable for injuries that are proven to be the result of events that occurred while the child was in your care. An occurrence policy will cover you at any time in the future should you be held liable for a child’s injury. You also may get coverage for children’s injuries that do not fall under liability. Accidental/medical insurance will cover injuries that are not due to negligence on the part of the provider.

What other types of insurance should I consider for my business?
If you use an automobile for your business activities, be sure that your automobile insurance will protect you from accidents which may occur on business-related errands. You may need to purchase a separate business auto insurance policy depending on your type of business and the kind of vehicle you own.

You’ll also need health insurance to cover medical costs if you become ill or injured, and disability insurance in case you become unable to work because of sickness or injury. Also, you may want to consider a small group insurance program if you have employees.

If you hire an employee, you may need to buy workers’ compensation insurance in the event that the employee is hurt on the job and needs medical treatment and income. Under certain state-specific circumstances, workers’ compensation insurance also may extend coverage to you in case you are injured at work.

Be sure that your in-home business is properly and adequately insured. Our agency can help you get the most appropriate coverage for your home business.

Identity theft – Who’s been in your wallet?

The Federal Trade Commission estimates nine million Americans have their identities stolen every year. Identity theft occurs when an unauthorized person uses your personal identifying information, such as your name, Social Security number, credit-card number or financial account information, without permission. The most alarming aspect of this crime is that you may not realize you are a victim until reviewing your financial statements, or worse yet, you are contacted by a debt collector.

Identity theft has serious implications, such as:

  • loss of money and time spent to repair damage to your name and credit record;
  • loss of job opportunities;
  • denied loans for housing, cars or education; and
  • possible arrest for crimes you did not commit.

How does it happen?
Headlines citing this crime appear often. How are thieves accessing confidential information? Identity theft happens when thieves:

  • obtain bills or other paperwork with your personal information such as bank or credit-card statements, pre-approved credit offers, new checks or tax information from your trash or mailbox;
  • use special storage devices when processing your credit, debit or ATM card or break into merchants’ credit-card electronic databases;
  • trick you into revealing your personal information through spam (unsolicited e-mails) or pop-up messages, known as phishing;
  • contact you claiming they are someone else (i.e., research firm) and obtain your personal information under false pretenses;
  • pose as a landlord, employer or someone else who may have a legal right to your credit report;
    divert your billing statements to another location by submitting a change of address with the firm;
  • steal wallets and purses;
  • steal personnel records from employers or bribe employees who have access to them; or
  • listen in on phone conversations in which you provide your credit-card number.

How do I avoid becoming a victim?
So, what can you do about it? Reduce the risk and protect yourself by employing these measures:

  • Shred all documents with personal information, including pre-approved credit offers, before discarding.
  • Review financial account and billing statements closely for charges you did not make.
  • Deposit mail in U.S. Postal Service collection boxes and never leave mail in your mailbox overnight or on weekends.
  • Use fire walls, anti-spyware and anti-virus software and keep it updated.
  • Do not respond to spam, pop-ups or unsolicited e-mails; go directly to the trusted website and make sure it is secure before providing personal and financial information.
  • Do not use personal identifying information for passwords, such as a birth date, mother’s maiden name, Social Security number or phone number.
  • Never provide personal information over the phone, through the mail or Internet unless you know the firm or person.
  • Never carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your number on a check.
  • Annually, obtain your free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus by calling (877) 322-8228 or going to Do not go directly to the bureaus, as they will charge you. Also, request each of the three bureau reports at different times to monitor your information throughout the year.
  • If you are an active-duty military member and away from your usual duty station, place an active-duty alert on your credit reports to minimize the risk while deployed. This will remove your information for prescreened credit-card offers for two years.
  • Be careful when responding to promotions. Identity thieves can use promotional offers to get your personal information.
  • If you prefer not to receive pre-screened credit-card offers, you can opt out for five years or permanently by calling toll-free 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) or visiting
  • Don’t buy “loss protection” insurance—according to the FTC, your liability for unauthorized charges is limited to $50.
  • Carry identity-theft insurance. This coverage provides reimbursement for expenses resulting from the crime, such as phone bills, lost wages, notary and certified-mailing costs and attorney fees. It is inexpensive and may be endorsed to your homeowners or renters insurance policies. As your agent, we can provide more details on this coverage.

What should I do if I think someone stole my identity?
The federal government and many states have enacted laws against identity theft. Take the following steps right away to prevent further damage:

1. Respond immediately to any debt collector in writing. Keep detailed records on all your conversations and copy all pertinent correspondence.
2. Put a fraud alert on all credit files. Contact one of the three major credit bureaus (see Helpful contact information section at right), which automatically will alert the others. There are two different alerts that may be used:

  • Initial fraud alert—use when you think you may be a victim but not sure; protects your credit records for at least 90 days and entitles you to one free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus.
  • Extended fraud alert—use when you know your identity has been stolen. This alert requires an identity-theft report that will remain on credit records for seven years. It also entitles you to two copies of your credit report, one right away and the other within 12 months.

3. Contact your bank or financial firm and speak with the security or fraud department. Follow their instructions and, if necessary, close the affected account(s).
4. Report the crime to your local police.
5. File a report with the FTC (see Helpful contact information section) to help authorities with investigations across the country.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Tips