Flood-Damaged Vehicles Across the U.S. – Buyer Beware

If you’re in the market for a used car or truck, be aware that water-damaged vehicles could soon be coming to your community. While most will arrive from areas deluged by tropical storms and hurricanes, others can come from flooding in other parts of the country. The U.S. Justice Department and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners warn that crooks often ship these flooded vehicles across the country to unwitting buyers, and any used vehicle in any part of the country needs to be checked for water damage.

Carfax estimates there are now more than 325,000 water-damaged vehicles on American highways. They’ve been found from California to Maine and Minnesota to Florida. In fact, the cities where the most flooded cars have washed up are Houston, New York, Philadelphia, Dallas/Ft. Worth and Chicago. The states with the most flood-damaged vehicles are Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Florida and Kentucky.

A waterlogged vehicle can have chronic issues that can last for years. Water fouls fuel lines, destroys electronics, and rusts engines, brakes and other important parts.

You should always test drive and inspect any used vehicle you plan to purchase. Here are some signs a vehicle has suffered water damage:

  • A musty odor or heavy aroma of cleaners or disinfectants to mask mold odors
  • Water marks or dirt in the dashboard, carpets or trunk
  • Rusty door hinges and truck latches
  • Corrosion around bolts or screws
  • Silt or mud under seats, glove compartments or window wells
  • Electronics that flicker or don’t work
  • Fog or moisture in interior lights or the dashboard

When test-driving a used vehicle, experts say you should:

  • Turn on the ignition and check all instrument panel lights and accessories
  • Test the interior and exterior lights, air conditioning, windshield wipers, turn signals, high beams and heater
  • Turn on the sound system and check door speakers, which often become damaged in water
  • Look at the engine oil – when mixed with even small amounts of water it turns murky and looks like a melted chocolate shake
  • Inspect the air filter for water stains

If you suspect you unknowingly bought a water-damaged vehicle, the Federal Trade Commission has a wealth of resources for used car buyers who fear they are victims of fraud.

You can get a free vehicle history check from Carfax or through vendors approved by the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System.

TAKEAWAY:

Learn more about avoiding flood-damaged vehicles at https://mycalcas.com/?s=flood+damaged+cars.

Agency Services – Who They Are and What They Do

Kim, Tanya, Kelly, Bianca, Linda, Lori and Nancy

With almost 100 years combined insurance industry experience, California Casualty’s Agency Services team can help you with your specialty insurance needs, such as earthquake, flood, pet insurance, personal umbrella, or antique and collectible car insurance. It’s a one-stop shop for your insurance needs.

Our Agency Services team members are a diverse group of personalities. From the world-traveling Tanya and the outdoorsy Kelly, to Nancy, who is the vegetarian military mom, this group of individuals finds ways to have fun while providing you exceptional service.

Lori S. is the team manager of the group. She has nine years of insurance experience, seven-and-a-half of those with California Casualty. She takes great pride in educating people about the insurance Agency Services offers.

Lori values time with family members. “Coming from a large family helps me manage our fun, exuberant group. It has also taught me how to relate to others. I will do whatever I can to help customers and keep them with California Casualty,” she said.

Lori also helps organize the many Agency Services potlucks and celebrations, because everyone in the group considers themselves a “foodie.” The lunches provide a time for everyone to catch up with each other, building teamwork and unity.

Tanya C. has worked in insurance for 20 years, and has the longest tenure with Agency Services, starting when it was created, 16 years ago.

A travel aficionado, Tanya says seeing and experiencing other parts of the world allows her to connect with people who have different perspectives. “It helps me relate and build rapport,” she said.

Tanya credits her travel experiences and her ability to relate to others for her long run with Agency Services.

Tanya is also the “green chili” champ of the group, having won numerous Agency Services and California Casualty chili cook-offs.

Kelly D. has been at California Casualty since she was a teenager. In her 15 years with the company, she has worked in underwriting, sales, customer service and Agency Services.

Kelly and her family are avid outdoors people, and she often goes camping, hiking or exploring with her husband and daughter. That time away helps her recharge, enabling her to be a better agent to others.

“I try and make sure people understand what they are getting, what it will do and won’t do. I don’t want to sell something they don’t need.” she said.

Kelly loves that California Casualty is a family-owned business that appreciates the people it serves, and is very proud of the company’s disaster call-out efforts. “I was talking to a police officer in South Carolina after the hurricane who was so surprised and thankful that we were checking on him. I told him that we care about protecting him just as he was protecting his community.”

Kelly likes to show off her culinary expertise at potluck time. While she’s perfected many dishes, one of her favorite creations are her home-made cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. “They are light, fluffy, and not-too-sweet heavenly deliciousness,” she added.

Nancy N. is the quiet one. She’s also considered the flood insurance expert of the team. She has 13 years experience in insurance, seven of those in Agency Services. She considers herself a “sports and military mom,” supporting and traveling with her military family that includes three children who are all very involved in a variety of athletics. “All this has taught me how to deal with a multitude of interesting situations. That helps me address the many needs of our clientele,” she said.

She added that she especially loves working with first responders, who often don’t take care of their own insurance needs because they are too busy helping others. “I believe in helping them quickly and efficiently and giving them the insurance they need to protect them and their families.”

Being the vegetarian of the group, Nancy brings healthy choices to their various food events.

Kim H. has been employed in insurance since 1985, with the last eight years at California Casualty. She’s licensed for property and casualty, health, life and commercial insurance.

She is a devoted grandma who likes to tackle home improvements. After a recent fall that resulted in a broken wrist, her four-year old grandson now calls her “Grandma Owie.”

Kim also spends many evenings playing softball.

Working in specialty products, Kim tries to put herself in other people’s situations. “I was a mother with teens and understand the difficulties of insuring them, and the high rates that come with that. I think it takes empathy, understanding and compassion to do this job well,” she said.

With a broad understanding of insurance, Kim is dedicated to counseling the people she works with, and believes in follow-through to the end. “I make sure that everything gets done by reassuring the client, and then confirming with them when the paperwork is completed.”

While she may have great follow-through with clients, Kim likes to take the easy way out by bringing Chipotle’s Barbacoa Beef to the luncheons.

Linda T. is the team’s administrative assistant. She’s been with California Casualty almost nine  of the 30 years she’s been in the insurance business.

Besides handling reports, paperwork and other duties, Linda takes great pride in doing important follow-up with clients on policies and  renewals.

Linda works with customers to make sure they have the appropriate insurance, reminding them to pay before renewal and helping them get refunds. “I try and do as much as I can in my administrative role to free up our licensed agents to do their important work.”

Linda is devoted to golf, both as a sport and working weekends at a golf course. She likes to say that she serves people at both jobs. She likes to bring sports-related food to the team’s potlucks, like chips with homemade salsa or BBQ wings.

Bianca O. oversees the operations of the Agency Services Department, in addition to managing an inbound customer service team.  In the 18+ years that she’s worked for California Casualty, she’s had the pleasure of working in sales, customer service and Agency Services.

When Bianca isn’t at work, she enjoys traveling and spending time with friends and family.

Getting to know the ladies in Agency Services, and sharing various meals and gatherings, has been a delight for Bianca. “The team’s wealth of knowledge and ability to change focus with each incoming call is extraordinary,” she said.

With a husband who is a bakery chef, Bianca likes to put the “sweet” in the Agency Services potlucks with a variety of scrumptious deserts.

Agency Services – Ready to Serve You

With wide-ranging backgrounds and years of expertise, if you need specialty insurance, our Agency Services department can provide it. Lori, Tanya, Kelly, Nancy, Kim, Linda and Bianca are ready to help you, and they might even share their favorite recipes.

TAKEAWAY:

Meet the team and contact California Casualty’s Agency Services for your specialty insurance needs at 1.877.652.2638 or at agencyservices@calcas.com.

 

 

Connecting With America’s Educators

It’s been quite a year for educators. California Casualty is glad to celebrate the progress made despite challenging times.

Once again, we had a great opportunity to meet with the delegates at the annual NEA Representative Assembly (NEA RA), held this July in Minneapolis, and explain the benefits of the NEA Auto & Home Insurance Program provided by California Casualty.

 

Gathering with 6,000 representatives from around the country is always inspiring. The passion for students and public schools always impresses us. It’s wonderful to reconnect with old friends (many of whom are longtime policyholders) and get introduced to new ones, sharing the importance of membership to an organization like the NEA that fights for the rights of teachers and education support professionals.

 

Brian Goodman, Assistant Vice President of Field Relations, was working feverishly to catch up with as many NEA members as he could. “The NEA RA is really a remarkable event. It is rewarding to see our genuine leadership connections from across the country and get a chance to interact with 6,000 NEA leaders at one location,” he said.

 

California Casualty Senior Vice President Doug Goldberg concurs. “This year, the passion and energy at the RA was palpable, understandably with all of the external pressures facing public education,” he said.

 

Assistant Vice President Lisa Almeida added, “In my 13 years attending the Assembly, this was the best ever. Meeting with NEA leaders from across the country and hearing about their positive interactions with California Casualty and their local Field Marketing Managers is so gratifying.”

 

Doug said that NEA members took notice of the value and attention they receive from California Casualty. “We learned over handshakes and hugs with our friends and customers how much they appreciate the NEA, NEA Member Benefits and partners like California Casualty. In one example, a past NEA president sought us out to say he’d be switching over soon. The presidents of a couple states’ two largest locals also came to thank us for our local representation.”

 

 

Field Relations Vice President Debbie Harris summed it up with, “We often hear praise from delegates about our local reps from their states. They see us as friends and partners. Those relationships are priceless.”

 

TAKEAWAY:

We love hearing your California Casualty stories. Share them at our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/CaliforniaCasualty, or tell your colleagues and family about our exceptional service and have them visit www.calcas.com to learn more about what we do and how we serve you.

College Students & Renters Insurance

The rush is on to get everything ready as students head back to college. If yours are moving into a place of their own, don’t forget to purchase renters insurance to protect all the special items that make the new place their home away from home.

Here are some important reasons why renters insurance is a necessity for your college student(s):

1. College kids have more these days: books, bicycles, TVs, computers, tablets, gaming systems, smart phones, sound systems, clothes, bedding, furniture and kitchen items. Replacing those items if they were stolen, damaged or destroyed in a fire could add up to tens of thousands of dollars. Renters insurance also pays for temporary living expenses, like a hotel room, while their room or apartment is repaired.Renters insurance also pays for temporary living expenses, like a hotel room, while their room or apartment is repaired.

2. While most students who live in a dorm have personal property coverage under their parents’ homeowners insurance, once they move into a place of their own they usually need their own renters insurance policy.

3. A landlord’s insurance policy won’t cover your student’s belongings. The landlord’s insurance protects the building and only pays to fix walls, roofs, etc., not any of your kid’s contents.

4. Renters insurance provides liability coverage if someone gets hurt at your student’s apartment. It helps pay for medical expenses and other costs, like legal fees, if the injured person sues.

5. Renters insurance is a great value. On average, it costs between $10 and $20 a month, or about $200 a year. That’s less than most people spend each month for cell phones or the cable bill.

TAKEAWAY: Learn how renters insurance will cover your college student’s belongings by contacting one of our advisors at 1.800.800.9410, or visit https://secure.mycalcas.com/loverenters

The Dangers of School Safety Zones

You might be surprised to learn that school zones and bus stops are some of the most dangerous places for kids as they go to and from school. Since it’s been a few months since school has been in session, these safety refreshers can make this back to school season safer for our children:

SCHOOL ZONES

  • Be aware of school zones
    • Pay close attention to all school zones along your route. Warning signs, flashing lights and speed bumps are good indicators that a school zone is nearby.
  • Never drive distracted, especially in areas where children travel to and from school
    • Drinking coffee, texting, talking on the cell phone and completing the morning routine to get ready for the day (applying makeup or shaving) are all distractions.
  • Slow down and observe school zone speed limits
    • Avoiding the need to rush by building in extra time can save a life. Slamming on the brakes is not the best approach to reducing your speed in a school zone.
  • Be patient and expect increased traffic during drop-off and pick-up times
    • Don’t get overwhelmed by the controlled chaos. Your patience is greatly appreciated.
  • Avoid double parking or blocking crosswalks in school drop-off zones
    • Always yield to pedestrians, whether or not they are in the designated crosswalks.

BUS STOPS

  • Yield to buses at all times
    • Filled with precious cargo, they deserve the right of way.
  • Stop when you see school bus yellow or red flashing lights and the stop arm extended
    • Drivers behind the bus as well as those approaching it are required to stop.
  • Let students getting off of the bus cross in front of your car and wait to ensure all riders have crossed safely
  • Stopping a good distance from the bus will help you to see the students and the students to see you
  • Be aware of kids standing at bus stops
    • They may accidentally step off of the curb and into your path. Be ready.

 

Nothing is more valuable than the lives of our children. These simple rules can prevent tragedies and keep our school zones safer for all.

TAKEAWAY: Find a great back to school safety resource at https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/seasonal-safety/back-to-school/drivers

A New Voice for California Casualty

We understand that reaching out to your insurance company is not typically a top contender on your list of fun things to do. However, how we answer your call can lead to a surprisingly positive experience.

The small team responsible for the automated phone system that answers your call and routes you to the correct parties knew it was time to refresh the voice prompting callers to choose their appropriate call destination.

Through a very “scientific” approach of walking around and listening to employees conversing with policyholders, one employee stood out from the rest as the perfect candidate for the project. Her diction was clear and she was highly upbeat and personable.

Let us introduce you to Kelly, the new voice of California Casualty.

Kelly has been with California Casualty for 15 years, interacting with customers in a variety of jobs from Sales, Underwriting, Customer Service and our specialized Agency Services department.

It didn’t surprise Kelly’s manager that she was the top choice for the project. She sits next to Kelly and knows the pride Kelly takes in providing solutions for customers with her “soothing style.”

Kelly was more than happy to help. It felt natural, given her focus on connecting with customers through just her voice.  She shared some insight regarding her phone etiquette: “I watch my tone and pace so clients get a clear understanding of what I’m saying and the products we have to offer.”

Here are a few of the compliments Kelly has received from customers:

“Kelly is the most professional, courteous, energetic and kind person I have every spoken with.”

“Kelly was very concise, attentive and very pleasant to speak with.”

Luckily for Kelly (and her manager), it only took a few days in a local studio to get all of the messages recorded. The quick turnaround time just proved again that she was perfect for the project.

The next time you call us, listen carefully. The voice you’ll hear will now have a familiar face.

TAKEAWAY: Reach out to California Casualty and hear Kelly anytime at 1.800.800.9410.

 

 

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