Monthly Archives: January 2015

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Renters cannot afford to be without renters’ insurance

It might be easy to say, “Well I just cannot afford renters’ insurance. My budget is so tight and probably nothing is going to happen to my stuff”. But have you considered natural disasters and fires? Apartment buildings go up in smoke all the time. Can you afford to lose all your possessions in one night? When you think about what it might cost you to replace everything after a lifetime of purchases, you likely will think you cannot afford not to buy renters’ insurance for your Washington home. Cheap Insurance Have you checked into the costs of renters’ insurance? You might be pleasantly surprised to learn that many policies are relatively inexpensive. Paying for insurance is not a bad deal for protecting your prized possessions, furniture and all your clothes. Theft We have all watched the comedy routines on TV where thieves come in and clean out an apartment right down to the carpeting. On TV, it is funny. However, in the real world, you really might have many of your most valuable belongings stolen. Just imagine trying to replace these possessions out of pocket! Homer Smith Insurance provides inexpensive renters’ insurance coverage for customers throughout Washington State, as well as policies for home, auto, marine and commercial insurance - call one of our agents today!

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Washington Service Animals

We live in a very pet friendly area in a pet-friendly state so there are dogs just about everywhere.  We feel it is worthwhile to share some information and observations on pets, people and business.  

One major area that ought to concern any business is the issue of service dogs – or service animals generally.  Washington Law bans animals from some establishments and, of course, business owners may ban animals whether they are food establishments or not.  Service animals are a different story.  A service animal is allowed virtually everywhere.  Washington’s RCW 70.84 – the “White Cane Law” - states, in part:

“The blind, the visually handicapped, the hearing impaired, and the otherwise physically disabled are entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges on common carriers, airplanes, motor vehicles, railroad trains, motor buses, street cars, boats, and all other public conveyances, as well as in hotels, lodging places, places of public resort, accommodation, assemblage or amusement, and all other places to which the general public is invited, subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law and applicable alike to all persons.”

 

Interfering with these rights is a misdemeanor offense.

There are procedures for getting animals trained and certified as service animals and many people have either a special vest or other indication, but there is no requirement that an animal be certified or registered and while a business owner may ask if it is a trained service animal, they cannot ask about any disability nor seek proof of training.

If an animal appears disruptive or dangerous, it can be barred from a place of business. There is some good news for a business owner who has misgivings about allowing an animal in a confined space with other customers- particularly as that might impact their Washington Commercial Liability insurance.  Washington State has a law that places the responsibility for animal behavior squarely on the owner or person in control of the animal.  So, if somebody’s prize Pekinese decides to nip a toddler while on your premises, it should be their liability policy that provides the coverage.

In 2011 Washington passed House Bill 1728 which adjusted the definition of service animals to include miniature horses.  This was done to bring state law into conformance with national Americans With Disability Act (ADA) practice.  While we likely will not see a herd of miniature service horses wandering through Port Townsend or Sequim, it is important to know that horses and dogs can be legitimate trained service animals.  Of course we could be in big trouble if the decide to define our Elk in as well.

For those who need more information, the state has an FAQ page on service animals.  You can find it here.

What’s Your New Year’s Resolution?

New Year’s is a 4,000 year old celebration as we mentioned in an earlier post on this blog, and we get to credit the Romans for having it on January 1 instead of the middle of March as the Mesopotamians intended. The other thing we can credit the Romans for his the tradition of New Year’s resolutions. 

Julius Caesar changed the Roman calendar in 46 BC to reorganize the Roman year. Among the reforms he instituted, he named one month after himself, now July, and he ran in a new month called Januarius after Janus, the Roman god of doors and gates. Finally, Caesar set the Roman New Year to begin in January. As a god, Janus is generally shown with two faces – one facing forward and one facing back, a fitting representation for a new year. The Romans themselves evidently saw Janus as representing new beginnings and it was a custom for Romans to pray to Janus whenever they undertook a new task.  He also became a symbol for resolutions and many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts before the beginning of each year – a sort of “everything changes with the new year.”

While the Romans seem like they may have had some lofty interpersonal goals centered on the New Year, we have largely left noble proclamations of change to political and religious leaders and most of us concentrate on more mundane goals, like eating less and quitting smoking.  In the US, our top 10 list of resolutions (courtesy of about.com) reads like a row of self-help books:

1. Spend More Time with Family & Friends
2. Fit in Fitness
3. Tame the Bulge
4. Quit Smoking
5. Enjoy Life More
6. Quit Drinking
7. Get Out of Debt
8. Learn Something New
9. Help Others
10. Get Organized
(http://pittsburgh.about.com/od/holidays/tp/resolutions.htm)

These days, about 1 in every 2.56 adults will make a New Year’s resolution – with about 207 million adults in the US population, that is about 80 million resolutions.  Given the nature of the top 10 resolutions listed above, it’s a good bet those resolutions will involve breaking some sort of negative pattern. Unfortunately, as most of us know, this type of change ain’t easy.  A University of Washington study done in 1997 discovered that 47 percent of the 100 million adult Americans who make resolutions give up on their goals after two months. If this figure seems low, from your personal experience, more recent research at the University of Minnesota pegs the number at closer to 80%. A contemporary website, bookofodds.com, puts the odds that an adult who makes a New Year’s resolution will not keep it for more than one week at 1 in 8.33, the odds for a month are 1 in 2.7 and for a year 1 in 1.15.  In short, if you like to make New Year’s resolutions of the large and life-changing variety, don’t entertain high hopes of success.

Experts in these matters suggest staying away from the sort of grandiose and hard to define resolutions and stick with simple goals that can be measured and try to stick to those one day at a time.  Take a small number of goals you are really interested in and create a specific plan of action to achieve them. Write down your plan and put it somewhere where you can see it regularly. You can share it with people you trust to help you keep it but steer clear of broadcasting it to everyone you know. Keep track of your progress and if you stray from your plan, forgive yourself for your transgressions and get back on your plan.

Good luck in the New Year from all of us here at Homer Smith Insurance.  And if one of those simple resolutions includes reviewing your insurance needs to make sure you are up to date and adequately covered, don’t hesitate to give us a call.  We can help you keep that resolution.