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Tip Sheet

October 5, 2009

Ask an expert

ERIE Agent Paulette Troutner

Paulette Troutner
ERIE Agent, Boizelle Insurance Partnership, Gaithersburg, Md.

Q: What happens if someone sues me after a car accident?

A: ERIE auto policies offer some liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage. If you’re in an accident and the other person sues, your insurance will help cover the costs of the suit.

However, there are limits to policies. They may not cover all costs, and you could be financially responsible for damages outside those limits. To avoid this, you can purchase a Personal Catastrophe Liability (PCL) policy or a Business Catastrophe Liability (BCL) policy. These policies are often called umbrellas.

A PCL policy provides coverage after your policy’s limits are exhausted. It can help
if a lawsuit results from someone being hurt in a car accident or on your property.
It also follows you everywhere—that’s different from most auto insurance policies.
If you have an accident out-of-country and it results in a lawsuit, a PCL will respond. Your regular auto or homeowners insurance might not.

You can purchase a PCL in addition to your auto or homeowners insurance.
Check with your Agent to see what your policy’s liability limits are and how a PCL
might help.

Have a question for an insurance expert? Let us know. E-mail us at or send us a letter.

Don't Fall into Football Folly

Football Folly

If you’re one of the 20 million or more Americans who’ll travel to a stadium parking lot this fall, remember safety. Here are some tips from

Pack smart. If you can’t see out the back window, don’t start the engine. Ensure visibility out all windows, place heavier items such as coolers and grills in the vehicle first and only take as many people as you have seatbelts.

Drive safely. Your excitement to get to the stadium shouldn’t translate to the pedal. Follow the speed limit, keep your distance between other vehicles and stay attentive when behind the wheel.

Guard your grill. Avoid letting your tailgate go up in flames. The Home Safety Council recommends that you place the grill at least 10 feet away from other objects, check for leaks before igniting and stay near the grill when cooking. Never leave a grill unattended.

Drive safely, again. It will likely be dark after the game, and you may encounter rowdy and emotional fans. When leaving the tailgating area, be patient and give pedestrians the right of way. Make sure the decision about who will be behind the wheel is part of the tailgate planning. (Be a good sport—give the designated driver the best seat at the game.)

Rest Assured: ERIE Remains Financially Strong

securityA shaky economy can leave you wondering about the financial strength of any company. Third-party organizations like A.M. Best and The Ward Group, who objectively evaluate financial institutions, make it easier to know who to trust.

We’re proud to report that both groups give high marks to Erie Insurance. A.M. Best has affirmed ERIE’s financial strength rating of A+ (Superior), a distinction carried by fewer than 10 percent of companies, and Erie Family Life’s* rating of A (Excellent). The Ward Group has named ERIE to its list of the 50 top performing insurance companies, chosen from more than 3,000.

*Erie Family Life insurance not available in New York

Evacuation10 and gone

If a catastrophe hit your home, how quickly could you get out?

Having to leave home unexpectedly can rattle anyone’s cool, especially if the house you’re leaving is pummeled by wind or water, or threatened by wildfire. Practicing a 10-minute home evacuation beforehand can help you prepare and make the real thing a little easier to handle.

Check out this video from the Insurance Information Institute about how to take the 10-minute evacuation challenge. 

Teach Seatbelt Habits to Your Young

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury and death among children and teenagers in the United States. To decrease this number, NHTSA conducted a
study that looked for ways to increase seat belt use among 8- to 15-year-olds.

Among other results, they found that, regardless of age, tweens and teens are largely influenced by their parents. If the parents set the example and make it a
point to teach children to buckle up, it becomes a good habit.

SeatbeltsCommon barriers
If it’s such an easy fix, why doesn’t everyone do it?

Both parents and children in the study noted reasons they hadn’t built a habit of buckling up. The most common included: not enough reminders; lack of example; and exceptions to the rule (“oh, it’s just a two-minute drive”).

Other barriers included lack of seatbelts in the car (or lack of ones that work), and the perception that seatbelts are restricting or uncomfortable.

Switching gears
The easiest solution to all of these barriers is to make seatbelt use a priority. Buckle up every time you’re in the car to set an example, and consistently remind children to do the same. If a belt is broken, get it fixed and don’t have anyone use the out-of-order seat until it is. Make it a point to never put the car in gear until every occupant is buckled.

The best result is that tweens and teens will carry the habit with them into sweet 16 and beyond.

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