If you're not putting too much thought into what you share on Facebook and your other social media accounts, this might be a good time to remember you must think before you post. Jacqueline Hammond didn’t thing before posting, and it cost her $500,000!
A couple of years ago, Jacquelyn Hammond allegedly posted just one sentence about a former co-worker, without actually mentioning the woman by name. That in itself shouldn't be a problem. Right?
Well, not exactly. The post said, "I didn’t get drunk and kill my kid." According to the complaint, Hammond was referring to the son of a colleague, who died in a gun accident with another boy back in 1976. That colleague, who is the plaintiff in the current case, Davyne Dial, was not drunk when she lost her son, and she wasn't responsible for his death, either.
She therefore had grounds to say that Hammond's post actually constituted a libelous statement, and sued her in 2015. (These type of defamation lawsuits can be made on grounds of libel, which means a written statement is defamatory, or slander, which is a spoken defamatory claim.)
The lawsuit was finally settled. Now, Hammond will have to pay Dial $250,000 in actual damages for the defamation and emotional distress, and she will also have to shell out an extra $250,000 in punitive damages. Her single sentence post came at a cost of a whooping $500,000.
If you have a personal injury endorsement on your homeowners policy, the insurance company will hire a lawyer to defend you and pay a claim in a situation like this.
The lessons from story are to make sure your homeowners policy has personal injury coverage, AND don’t make a post like Jacqueline Hammond did!
Emerge Insurance Agency recommends that everyone purchase the personal injury endorsement on their home insurance policy.
Call us with any question: 904-677-5884
By Dixie Somers
Many homeowners don't think about home maintenance until something breaks, but that's not the best way to take care of your home. Whether you’re a new homeowner or have been settled for years, it’s never too late to cultivate some home maintenance habits. Here are three tips to help you protect your investment and keep your property in good shape for years to come:
Create and Follow a Home Maintenance Schedule
A good place to start is by following a home maintenance schedule. Just as your car needs to have an oil change, your home and yard will need some regular maintenance. Home maintenance schedule apps such as HomeZada and Centriq are an easy way to get yourself on track.
You'll need to mow your lawn, clean your gutters and perhaps even top your trees from time to time. For pest control, you may need to spray or have ground treatment performed a few times a year, too. When it comes to appliances, make sure to send in any warranties and follow the maintenance recommendations in your owner’s manual. For older appliances, many documents can be found online.
Don't be afraid to do some research and speak with professionals about maintenance specific to your location.
Have All of Your Home Systems Checked Regularly
It's important to get your electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems checked annually to keep them in good shape. Some of these tasks can be done yourself; for instance, you might need to clean your air filters, remove debris from the vents and flush out your water heater.
For more technical inspections, check customer reviews on Yelp, Angie's List, Google, Facebook and the BBB when searching for a new company. Always go with one that is experienced, licensed, bonded and insured.
Follow a Cleaning Schedule
Home maintenance often focuses on repair work, but keeping your home clean can be just as important. In addition to once a week tasks such as vacuuming and dusting the shelves, deep cleaning every month or so can save you big in the long run. Moving furniture around, pulling out the washer and dryer to clean behind them and clearing out the garage gives you a chance to inspect for pest problems, water damage and similar issues that can quickly escalate into expensive repairs.
Being a homeowner is very rewarding on many levels, but homeownership comes witha great deal of responsibility. As long as you put in some effort on a regular basis, you should have no problem keeping your home in good repair.
EMERGE INSURANCE AGENCY
A home burglary takes place in the United States every 14.6 seconds. According to The Washington Post/Bureau of Justice Statistics, thirty-four percent of these burglars gain access to their victim’s home by simply walking across the welcome mat and through the front door.
Before you rush out to purchase an elaborate home security system or guard dog to protect your property, you should know there are 11 simple things you can do to dramatically reduce the risk of loss.
Employing these simple, precautionary measures and combining them with the protection you get from Mercury’s homeowner insurance can help provide peace-of-mind that comes from knowing your home is protected.
EMERGE INSURANCE AGENCY
Tax season is well underway, and that means your tax refund—and your identity—are in play for identity thieves looking for an easy payday.
Tax identity theft is a fast-growing crime, impacting more than 260,000 victims a year and costing the IRS more than $3 billion in fraudulent tax refunds.1 In 2016 alone, the IRS reported a 400 percent surge in phishing and malware incidents related to this crime.
“Tax refund fraud is a growing problem and it impacts hundreds of thousands of tax payers each year,” said Kevin Quinn, vice president of claims for Mercury Insurance. “There are a number of proactive steps you can take to reduce your risk of becoming a victim, however, and it costs very little money to protect yourself and your family’s sensitive information.”
Taxpayers can protect themselves by learning how to spot some of the most common scams criminals use to steal valuable personally identifiable information. Here are a few of the more common scams used by fraudsters.
It’s important for taxpayers to remember that the IRS first contacts people with a letter in the mail if there is an issue with tax payment. The agency will never initiate contact through email or social media, nor will it ever demand immediate payment of taxes or make threats to involve local police for not paying.
Follow these five tips to protect yourself:
Take action now before a thief steals your identity or tax refund. Mercury Insurance customers can get identity management help for less than $3 per month from our partner, CyberScout. Speak to your Mercury agent (yes, Mercury is one of the companies we represent) about this valuable coverage today.
EMERGE INSURANCE AGENCY
As a parent, you watch your child hit all the milestones—the first smile, the first words, the first steps. And far too quickly those milestones get bigger. Suddenly your child is a teen, itching to get behind the wheel of a car.
A new teen driver on the road is a daunting prospect for any parent. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, drivers ages 15 to 19 accounted for only 6.5 percent of the U.S. population in 2016 but represented 8.4 percent of costs related to vehicle accidents.
But rather than sitting by the door biting your nails as you wait for her to drive home from an evening out with her friends, help ensure your teen’s safety with a little extra help from her smartphone. A number of safe-driving apps actually reinforce smart habits behind the wheel that your kids have already learned in driving school and (hopefully) from you.
When she’s safely ensconced on the couch and craving screen time, have her download one of these safe driving apps to help keep her focused while on the road:
Bouncie: Whether you use the free version or upgrade for more features, this smartphone safe-driving app not only helps you keep track of your teen on the road (with real-time location updates) but also alerts him immediately if he’s speeding, accelerating too hard, braking too hard, or engaging in other unsafe driving behaviors. Plus, the driving app maintains a driving habit history so you can track his improvement over time.
Safe and Sound by Toyota: With speed and smartphone use being the two biggest contributors to vehicle accidents, this safe-driving app keeps your teen from texting and scrolling through Instagram when her eyes should be on the road. It automatically sets smartphones to “Do Not Disturb” mode when the vehicle is in motion, and if your teen breaks the rules, this driving app turns control of her music playlist over to you!
TrueMotion Family: This free driving app not only lets you track your teen’s location while he’s driving but keeps track of the whole family—their locations while in motion and while parked, everyone’s driving habits (i.e. no speeding or texting while driving because Mom and Dad will know!), and even rates the household drivers’ habits against one another, so you can start some friendly family competition that will also inspire teen safety.
DriveSmart: Give your mobile-savvy teen a little extra incentive to drive safely. With the DriveSmart free driving app, you can not only track your teen’s driving habits on every trip she makes, but she can collect Smartcoins for demonstrated safe driving practices. Nothing like earning a little extra spending money for keeping her eyes on the road!
AT&T Drive Mode: Kill the distractions that could get your teen in an accident with this safe-driving app that silences smartphone alerts when your teen is driving over 15 mph. The app automatically responds to texts to let senders know he’s driving and allows one-touch music and navigation access. The app will even send an alert to you if your teen turns it off.
Teen safety on the road is serious business. Keep your loved ones a little bit safer and inspire some friendly competition and fun at the same time with one of these safe driving apps. Ensure your teen’s next milestone moment—getting that driver’s license—is a positive one!
EMERGE INSURANCE AGENCY
Cecil Williams -