Our Blog

Posted: Nov 26, 2014

Freezing Weather Maintenance

When the temperature drops, frozen pipes are one of the biggest risks of property damage. In fact, a burst pipe can result in more than $5,000 in water damage, according to safety experts at the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS).

Who are the most vulnerable?

Many businesses are not prepared to respond to a natural or man-made disaster. Small and home-based businesses are particularly at risk because they may have all of their operations concentrated in one location that could be damaged or destroyed. For home-based business owners, weather-related disaster could mean losing a home and a business at the same time.

You should treat your small or home-based business like a big business and make a plan for the unique risks you may face. It's the best way to stay open for business.

How to prevent frozen pipes

Help prevent costly water damage caused by frozen pipes by using the following guidance recommended by IBHS and ERIE's staff of risk control consultants:
• Provide a reliable back-up power source to ensure continuous power for heat at your workplace.
• Place a monitored automatic excess flow switch on the main incoming water line to provide early detection of a broken pipe or valve when the space is unoccupied.
• Seal all wall cracks and penetrations, including domestic and fire protection lines, electrical conduit, other utility service line, etc.
• Hire a central monitoring company for your indoor and outdoor fire protection sprinkler systems. They could provide early detection of a sprinkler pipe water flow and rupture due to freezing.
• Install insulation and/or heat trace tape with a reliable power source on various wet sprinkler system piping in buildings without heat or that are unoccupied. This includes main lines coming up from underground passing through a wall as well as sprinkler branch lines.
• Insulate all attic penetrations and ensure proper seals on all doors and windows.
• Be aware: The freezing point for water is 32 degrees. It doesn't take subzero temperatures for a pipe problem to develop. If you suspect a frozen pipe, don't take any chances. Call a plumber immediately.

While emergency planning ideally is a year round priority, the start of the severe weather season in your area is a good time to refocus your efforts. Go to disastersafety.org for more advice on preventing winter weather damage.

Erie Insurance offers Customers a variety of risk control services and disaster planning resources, including OFB-EZ™, a streamlined, business continuity planning toolkit developed by IBHS. It will help you develop a plan so your business can recover from business interruptions and resume operations. Contact us today to learn more about the business safety services that are available to ERIE Customers. Be sure to ask us how ERIE's staff of risk control consultants could help your business.

Posted: Jun 17, 2014

Insurance Coverage

Who Insures Improvements in a Leased Building or Office?
Before you remodel a leased space, review your coverage

If you lease an office and make improvements to the space—such as interior remodeling—you need to review your insurance coverage. Generally, if you've installed any after-the-fact alterations, it's up to you, not the property owner or landlord, to insure them.

For example, let's say you've leased space for an auto garage and then install a vehicle lift. The lift may not be covered. If you leased space for your beauty salon or florist shop and install new sinks and counters, you should determine whether you need to insure those items too.

In the insurance industry, we call these changes improvements and betterments. Essentially, it means that you're responsible in a leased space for insuring any alterations you have made, such as flooring, light fixtures, wall coverings, wiring, plumbing, cabinets, shelving or anything else that is attached to the ceiling, walls or floors.

Because these improvements might be essential to your business operations, it's important to understand who has responsibility for replacing them if they become damaged. If you do not update your business property insurance to cover these improvements, you could be underinsured and without the means to fully repair or replace the improvements if a covered loss occurs.

With an Erie Insurance business policy, the improvements and betterments are included as part of your business personal property. Contact our agency for more information.

Posted: Nov 19, 2013

Data Breaches: A Big Threat Small Businesses Often Ignore
Common problem for small businesses

Whether it's a misplaced computer, an improperly shredded document or a hacked database, data breaches happen.

And they happen frequently. Recent research reveals that 55 percent of small businesses have lost confidential or private information as the result of a data breach. That said, only about 31 percent of businesses have coverage to protect against this growing threat.

Statistics like these reinforce the importance of coverage like Data Breach Response Expenses. ERIE teamed up with Identity Theft 911, a leading provider of data risk management solutions, to offer an endorsement that helps your business overcome a breach in which your customers', employees', and/or tenants' nonpublic personal information is exposed. That's a big help since business owners are often legally required to take action in the event of a data breach.

Data Breach Response Expense coverage from ERIE provides five important coverages and services for your business:

  Expenses to notify affected individuals of the breach
  Legal and forensic costs to determine the extent of the breach and how best to respond
  Services to impacted individuals such as credit monitoring, a help line and identity restoration case management
  Access to data security resources for your business
  Crisis resolution for your business

In addition to the Data Breach Response Expenses endorsement, ERIE also offers Data Breach Liability to protect your business against lawsuits and settlements incurred as a result of a data breach and Identity Recovery Coverage to provide business owners (and, if selected, their employees) with recovery services incurred as a result of a theft to their personal identity.

Don't leave your business exposed to this serious and growing threat.

Posted: Apr 16, 2013

Ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety take the guesswork out of selecting boosters most likely to provide good lap and shoulder belt fit in a range of vehicles.

Unlike child restraints with built-in harnesses, booster seats rely on vehicle safety belts to restrain children. Boosters are supposed to make adult belts fit children better. Booster seats are for kids who have outgrown their forward-facing restraints.

Proper fit is key

Our ratings identify boosters most likely to provide good lap and shoulder belt fit. Safety belts are designed with adults in mind, not kids, but when a booster seat is doing its job, the vehicle belt will fit a child correctly. That means the lap belt will lie flat across a child's upper thighs, not across the soft abdomen, and the shoulder belt will cross snugly over the middle of a child's shoulder.

The Institute puts the booster seats it tests into 4 categories:

  • BEST BETs are seats that provide good belt fit for typical 4 to 8 year-olds in almost any car, minivan or SUV.
  • GOOD BETs provide acceptable belt fit in most cars, minivans or SUVs.
  • Not recommended don’t provide good belt fit and should be avoided.
  • Check fit applies to booster seats the Institute has tested that have varied results depending on child size and vehicle model.

Checking booster fit

Both the lap and shoulder belts must fit your child correctly.

Lap belt fit — The lap belt should lie flat and on top of the thighs, not higher up on the abdomen.

Good lap belt fit

Good lap belt fit
outline = arm rest removed
to show belt position

Poor lap belt fit

Poor lap belt fit
outline = arm rest removed
to show belt position


Shoulder belt fit — The shoulder belt should fit across the middle of the child's shoulder. If it falls off the shoulder or rests on your child's neck, it won't work as well. An improper fit could encourage your child to move the belt to a dangerous position, such as behind the back or under the arm.

Good shoulder belt fit

Good shoulder belt fit

Poor shoulder belt fit

Poor shoulder belt fit

Poor shoulder belt fit

Poor shoulder belt fit


Good shoulder belt fit

Test protocol

The Institute assesses boosters using a special crash test dummy representing an average-size 6 year-old. Engineers measure how 3-point lap and shoulder belts fit the dummy in each of the tested boosters under 4 conditions that span the range of safety belt configurations in vehicle models. An overall rating for each booster is then assigned based on the range of scores for the lap and shoulder belt measurements.




2012 model ratings

2011 model ratings

  • October 2011 news release — New booster evaluations: More top-rated seats help parents make a safe choice for their kids
  • Status Report, Vol. 46, No. 9 — More boosters are doing a good job of fitting safety belts to kids in the latest round of seat evaluations (PDF, 8 pages, 627 KB)

2010 model ratings

2009 model ratings

Keeping children safe in crashes — choosing the right type of restraint for a child's age and size

Q&A: Child passenger safety

NHTSA/Ad Council infographic: choosing the right seat Go to external website

Technical information

Posted: Jan 31, 2012
Boaters: Beware of Land Sharks
Keep your boat safe when it's ashore. Boat theft often occurs in the off-season. Once they’re stolen, most boats are not recovered. If you are a boat owner, learn some easy and effective ways to protect your craft from theft.
>>Five tips for storing boats safely
Boat Theft Often Occurs in the Off-Season
If you’re about to store your boat for the off-season, be sure it’s in a secure location. Many theft cases happen when the boat is ashore.
“There are an unbelievable number of cases in which the storage facility says they never received the boat and the insured says that they left the boat in front of the building,” says Gene Robertson, supervisor in ERIE’s Corporate Security. “Many boat owners don’t discover that the boat is missing until they attempt to retrieve it at the start of the new season.”
Marine theft is a problem nationwide. From January to May, nearly 2,000 boats were stolen, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). In 2010, there were more than 6,660 boat theft cases. Less than half of those stolen were recovered.
Navigating Safety and Security
Whenever you’re storing your boat, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) recommends obtaining a contract from the storage facility that includes an employee’s signature. Other proactive steps to follow:
  1. Mark it: Mark your boat and equipment with the vessel’s Hull Identification Number (HIN). A 12-character serial number helps law enforcement agencies to recover stolen boats and equipment quickly. All motorboats, with very few exceptions, must display the registration number on the forward part of the boat.
  2. Keep records: Place registration and title papers in a safe location other than your boat.
  3. Take video or photographs: Take photos or videotape your boat, equipment and HIN.
  4. Secure the ship: Disable the boat and remove expensive equipment when not in use. When parking a boat on its trailer, use a trailer hitch lock.
  5. Buy insurance: Talk to your insurance agent about purchasing coverage for your boat and personal needs.
You should also be cautious when buying a boat. Carefully review the vessel and its ownership paperwork. To avoid problems, be sure to match the HIN listed on the title and registration to the one attached to the boat.
Posted: Sep 6, 2011
You probably come to a full halt at stop signs, always use your turn signals and never speed through a yellow light. But even the best drivers all have one thing in common: we're all human, and humans make mistakes.
Maybe you forgot to look both ways before making that right turn on red, or you were following the car in front of you just a smidge too closely. It happens to the best of us. With most auto insurance companies, one human slip-up might be enough to send your premiums sky high. Luckily, Erie Insurance isn't like most insurance companies.
We offer two different types of accident forgiveness. First Accident Forgiveness lets you off the hook for your first at-fault accident, with no surcharge. The second is called Feature 15. This special forgiveness means that after 15 continuous years of holding your car insurance with ERIE, you'll never get surcharged for another at-fault accident again. It's just our little way of rewarding your loyalty.
So keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel and your head in the game. We never want you to have an accident. But just in case you, we'll help get you back on your feet as soon as you can.
Call us today to learn about how accident forgiveness and other discounts and extras can save you money on your auto insurance.