Littman Thomas Agency Blog

pothole auto claims

Does My Auto Insurance Cover Damage Caused By Potholes?

The good news is, yes, pothole damage is usually covered—providing you have collision coverage. Collision coverage, an optional portion of a standard auto insurance policy, covers damage to a car resulting from a collision with an object (e.g., a pothole, lamp post or guard rail), another car or as the result of flipping over. However, it does not cover wear and tear to a car or its tires due to bad road conditions.

Collision coverage is generally sold with a deductible—the higher your deductible, the lower your premium. Your collision coverage will reimburse you for the costs of repairing your car, minus the deductible.

Collision insurance is different from comprehensive insurance, which is also an optional coverage. Comprehensive coverage reimburses drivers for theft, vandalism, flooding and damage from fallen objects, such as trees.

A driver who hits another car, or a pedestrian, due to a pothole also will be covered by liability insurance, which is required to drive legally in every U.S. state except New Hampshire. Liability coverage applies to injuries that you, the policyholder or designated driver, cause to someone else.

Facts and Figures

Most motorists carry collision coverage on their vehicles. Indeed, 71 percent of U.S. drivers had collision coverage as of 2011, the most recent year for which the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has data.

The NAIC found that 76 percent of all drivers had comprehensive coverage in 2011.

2013 New England Blizzard

Monster Winter Storm Expected to Blanket the Northeast in Snow, Sleet and Wind: The I.I.I. Has Statistics and Insurance Information Available to Reporters

Winter Storms Are the Third Largest Cause of Property Damage

February 7, 2013

NEW YORK, February 7, 2013 — With high winds, snow and other blizzard conditions expected to hammer much of the East Coast starting Friday, reporters with questions about insurance coverage can contact the Insurance Information Institute

Winter storms are the third-largest cause of catastrophe losses, behind only hurricanes and tornadoes. From 1992-2011, winter storms resulted in about $28 billion in insured losses, according to ISO. Insured annual U.S. winter storm losses in 2012 totaled $38 million, following losses of over $2 billion in 2011, according to Munich Re.

“Standard homeowners policies provide coverage for damage caused by wind, snow, severe cold and freezing rain,” said Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president and consumer spokesperson at the I.I.I. “Car accidents caused by slippery road conditions are also covered under standard auto insurance policies.”

The I.I.I. offers the following information on insurance coverage for winter storms.

  • Car crashes between two or more drivers caused by snowy and slippery roads are covered by liability insurance. A car that crashes into an object would generally be covered under the optional collision portion of an auto policy.
  • Physical damage to a car caused by heavy wind, flooding or fallen ice or tree limbs is covered under the optional comprehensive portion of an auto policy.
  • Wind-related damage to a house, its roof, its contents and other insured structures on the property is covered under standard homeowners insurance policies. Wind-driven snow or freezing rain that gets into the home because it was damaged by wind is also covered.
  • Tree limbs that fall on a house or other insured structure on the property would be covered for both the damage the trees inflicts on the house and the cost of removing the tree, generally up to about $500. Ice or other objects that fall on the home are also covered.
  • Damage to the house and its contents caused by weight of snow or ice that creates a collapse is covered under standard homeowners insurance policies.
  • Freezing conditions such as burst pipes or ice dams—a condition where water is unable to drain properly through the gutters and seeps into a house causing damage to ceilings and walls—is covered. However, there is generally a requirement that the homeowner has taken reasonable steps to prevent these losses by keeping the house warm and properly maintaining the pipes and drains.
  • Melting snow that seeps into a home from the ground up is considered flooding and would be covered by flood insurance, which is provided by the National Flood Insurance Program, and a few private insurers. Flood insurance is available to both homeowners and renters. This type of damage is not covered by standard homeowners or renters insurance policies.
  • Standard homeowners policies also include additional living expenses in the event that a home is severely damaged by an insured disaster. This would pay for reasonable expenses incurred by living elsewhere while the home is being fixed or rebuilt.

“Consumers who need to file an insurance claim should contact their insurance professional as soon as possible,” said Salvatore. “Let your agent know the extent of the damage and start to document your loss with lists, receipts or photographs. If you have a home inventory, now would also be a good time to use it.”

For those who do not have a home inventory, this weekend may be a good opportunity to create one as many people will be home sheltering from the storm. To make creating your inventory as easy as possible, use the I.I.I.’s free Web-based home inventory software, Know Your Stuff® - Home Inventory. The software includes secure online storage so you can access your inventory anywhere, anytime. You can also download the Know Your Stuff app in the iTunes App Store or from Google Play (search for “iii inventory”).

liability insurance

Liability when the weather outside is "frightful"?

As I write this, there is a Winter Weather Advisory across half the nation and it brings to mind a very popular risk management question:

Is my business liable for slip and falls in ice or snow?

The answer is maybe, depending on the circumstances. According to Kelly Maheu’s article, “The Politics of Shoveling” in the March 2010 from Claims Magazine, “In many states there is a `natural accumulation’ rule under which a property owner has no duty to remove or warn of the natural accumulations of snow, ice and freezing rain dangers. He is also not liable for injuries caused by natural accumulations of snow. Generally, this rule applies to private homeowners, business owners, and municipalities alike.”

In Ohio, homeowners and business owners have no duty to clear snow and ice from driveways, sidewalks or parking lots. Homeowners and business owners, however, are liable for unnatural accumulation of snow and ice and will be responsible for injuries, according to Ohio attorney, Brett Goodson, in his February 2009 The Injury Board Blog Network post.

Be aware, however, that this rule does not apply to every state and even when it does apply, a person seeking liability has to prove that conditions were caused by a condition of the property.

“… A person seeking to prove liability must show that a defect in the condition of the property — say, a blocked drain or poor grading around the building - was the source of the accumulated snow or ice,” says Maheu. If the business owner fails to exercise reasonable duty of care for customers, he/she may very well be held liable.

Consider a variety of potential risks

Mindful business operators shouldn’t limit their focus to conditions on the ground when considering perils of bad weather. A clogged gutter or drifted snow on roof edges can cause equally dangerous conditions. Accidents caused by ice cycles and undetectable black ice often result in claims of negligence.

“Missouri law regarding the liability in slip and fall accidents, sometimes called premises liability, rests on the determination of what is ‘open and obvious’ and if the property owner had knowledge a dangerous condition existed, yet did nothing to rectify it,” says attorney Jason Krebs of the Krebs Law Firm LLC in his January 2010 Springfield Injury Law Blog post.

As a best practice, you should be vigilant in identifying potential snow and ice hazards and eliminate or minimize them to the extent possible. If you are unsure of liability or coverage, contact your insurance carrier. If you use a contracted service for snow removal, make sure there are indemnification provisions and that the service provider is adequately insured. Ignoring the dangers of winter weather or leaving customers to fend for themselves may come back to “frost bite” you.

insurance checkup

Is it time for an Insurance Check Up?

A few years ago I heard a story from a professional acquaintance the worked at a local bank as a loan officer. He had helped a client do a Home Equity loan on their home to do a room addition as well as do a complete remodel of their kitchen. All told, about a $45,000 HELOC. About 12 months after the project was complete tragedy, in the form of a fire, took place and totaled the house. No one likes to think of these contingencies, but when doing remodels and additions, one of the most important contacts you need to make is to your Insurance Agent. The home was insured for $150,000- which was more than sufficient… before the remodel.

Many homeowners have taken advantage of low 2nd mortgage rates over the last several years to do remodeling projects to their home. Unfortunately, because of their hard work and sweat equity, the insured value of their home is stuck in pre-construction levels.

If you have completed projects recently or even if you haven’t had a check up in a while, contact Littman Thomas Agency in Greenville or Bradford to do a thorough review of your coverage coverage limits to make sure that you are adequately covered in the event of a loss. We are able to write policies to fit your budget from some of the most respected names in insurance: Westfield Companies, Mennonite. Buckeye Insurance Group, and Ohio Mutual Insurance.

Protect yourself and your assets from loss, contact us today.

Holiday Shopping Safety: Tips to Help Investigate a Theft

Holiday Shopping Safety: Tips to Help Investigate a Theft

The bottom line is, stay safe, and don't be a hero. If you are a victim of a theft, here are some ways you can help with the investigative process.

Tips to Aid the Investigative Process:

  • Take a good look at the offender(s). Try to take note of and remember:
  • Age, height, weight, hair color, sex, race/nationality
  • Location and type of any scars, tattoos
  • Clothing worn
  • Details of mannerism, voice
  • Any other physical features
  • Pay attention to see if the offender(s) touches anything so you can notify law enforcement for fingerprint evidence.
  • Observe direction of flight.
  • Obtain description of any vehicle used and write down license number.
  • Call the police immediately after the offender leaves!
  • While waiting for the police, write down your thoughts and descriptions.
  • If other employees or witnesses are around, tell them to do the same.
  • Do not discuss the incident with others until you have written down your observations or given them to the police.
  • Contact your supervisor or family to notify them of the incident and to accompany you home or to police station.
christmas tree safety

Christmas Tree Safety

As we enter the holiday season, it is important to remember to be safe while decorating for the holidays. Christmas trees account for 250 fires annually, resulting in 14 deaths, 26 injuries and more than $13.8 million in property damage.

When selecting your holiday tree, be sure to tap it on the ground first at the base to see if many needles fall off. If several needles fall out, select another tree. Falling needles is an indication that a tree it too dry, which means it will not last as long and will be at greater risk of fire.

When you bring your tree home, be sure to place it away from heat sources and provide it plenty of water. A tree will absorb as much as a gallon of water or more in the first 24 hours and one or more quarts a day thereafter.

Check your lights and decorations prior to placing on the tree for damage. Discard any damage ornamentation. Always turn your lights off at night and when no one is home.

It is also recommended to hold off putting your presents under the tree as provide strong ignition for a fire, should one start. The presents will spread the first faster than the tree. Be sure to check your smoke detector batteries!

As the holiday season comes to a close, be sure to discard of your tree in a timely manner. A good rule of thumb is one month after purchase.



The Littman-Thomas Agency has a history back to the 1860's in Greenville and Darke County, Ohio. In the mid 1800's the Ohio Farmers Insurance Company, now known as Westfield Companies, appointed one insurance agency in each of the eighty-eight counties. Littman-Thomas Agency was one of the original eighty-eight and has been with the company since 1860.