5 Trick-or-Treating Tips for Tweens and Teens

Eventually, tweens and teens reach the stage where they would rather canvass the neighborhood without any grownups tagging along. As they head out and about on Halloween to have fun with their friends, take time to talk with them about how to stay safe. Here’s what your son or daughter should know before heading out.

  1. Choose a routeMake sure they know the major streets so they can find their way home. Explain to visit houses with lights on, and to never enter the house of someone they don’t know for any reason.
  2. Talk about smartphone safety: If your teen has a smartphone, Halloween is the perfect time to have the extra talk about using these devices safely. Typing and scrolling while walking is a big no-no… especially on the roads after dark.
  3. Drive safeIf they’re borrowing the car, remind your kids that Halloween is a time when it’s especially important to be vigilant while driving at night. That means absolutely no texting and driving. Make sure they budget extra time to get where they’re going, just in case the hordes of trick-or-treaters cause a traffic jam in the neighborhood.
  4. Avoid the tricksThis one is trickier, because it’s not like your teenager is going to let you know if they’re up to some Halloween mischief – midnight pranks, vandalism or trespassing in a cemetery or abandoned house. Have a talk about the consequences and dangers, and consider a curfew.
  5. Host a gathering: If you don’t want to wonder about them, consider giving your teens and their friends a safe place to socialize and hang out at your place. You can go all out with decorations, food and costumes… or it can be something more laid-back, like a backyard bonfire with marshmallows and warm drinks.

Staying on the safe side can help you make sure everyone enjoys this ghoulish time of year. Happy Halloween!

Something that seems scarier than it is? Letting your new teen driver head out on their own. Call an insurance professional like a Scott Lynch at (317) 886-0081 or visit us online at www.lynchagency.com

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Marijuana and insurance policy disputes

Marijuana is currently legal in varying degrees in 29 states and the District of Columbia, with legalization pending in two additional states. Attempts to legalize marijuana failed in 2017 in 13 states, as it is still federally illegal as a Schedule 1 controlled substance.

Illegal to possess or use under federal law

A Schedule 1 controlled substance is illegal to possess or use under federal law. As it has historically been illegal, growing and selling marijuana operations have been considered uninsurable due to general policy provisions excluding coverage for illegal activities, or the public policy against insuring illegal actions.

Related: When marijuana collides with the claims industry

According to the McCarran Ferguson Act, though, regulation of insurance is to be left to the individual states. Most state statutes that legalize marijuana expressly grant an insurable interest in marijuana up to the legal quantity. Since recreational use of marijuana is currently legal in eight states plus Washington, D.C., those state statutes can legalize insuring marijuana. The laws are not uniform across the states where medical or recreational marijuana is legal, and this becomes a confusing issue for both policyholders and insurers.

Making a case for coverage

This increase in legalization has created a new realm of coverage issues for insurers that are willing to insure marijuana risks. One of those known coverage issues is that of currency. Since marijuana is still federally considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance, and banks are federally insured through the FDIC, banks are required to function under the current federal laws. One such law prohibits banks from accepting money that is suspected to be associated with the illegal drug market.

As a result of these laws, it’s estimated that about 70% of businesses participating in the flourishing marijuana industry do not have a bank account.

One example of how the banks not accepting marijuana money affects the insurance industry arose in a case a few years ago. In an attempt to get the bank to accept the money the insured had collected from his marijuana business, the insured washed his drug money in his washing machine, and then transferred the money to his dryer. During the drying cycle, the dryer exploded. The insured then filed a claim with his insurance company under his homeowners policy.

A claim like this cannot be denied simply because the insured was in a federally illegal business. The insured in this case wasn’t doing anything illegal at the time, he was just doing something reckless, but by paying out this claim, an insurer may be guilty of aiding and abetting in the use of marijuana, and perhaps conspiring to violate federal law under the federal Controlled Substances Act. The banking issue is just one that increases risk for insurers in the marijuana field.

Theft & vandalism

Two of the largest areas where insureds expect coverage for marijuana losses, or due to marijuana activity, are theft and vandalism. In a case called Bowers v. Farmers Insurance Exchange, Farmers Insurance Exchange denied the insured landlord coverage for mold damage to a rental house.

The damage occurred when the tenants converted the house into a marijuana growing operation. The marijuana cultivation caused damage to the house, including mold growth. The landlord filed an action against Farmers for refusing her claim. The trial court found in favor of Farmers.

The insured landlord appealed and contended that the purpose of her policy was to insure from accidental loss to the rental property, and as far as she was concerned, the damage was accidental. Farmers argued that the damage was from mold, which was excluded under the policy, and not vandalism, which was covered under the policy. The court determined that the tenants’ acts constituted vandalism and the insured landlord won the case. The case is Bowers v. Farmers Ins. Exch. 99 Wash. App. 41, 991 P.2d 734 (2000).

USAA homeowners’ claim denial

In one of the most well-known marijuana and insurance law cases, Tracy v. USAA Cas. Ins. Co., USAA issued a homeowners policy to Barbara Tracy, a medical marijuana patient permitted under Hawaiian law to possess and grow her own marijuana. After a thief stole 12 marijuana plants, valued at approximately $45,600 from Tracy’s property, she filed a claim with USAA. USAA denied the claim, and Tracy sued them for breach of contract.

Related: Marijuana growers at risk of being wiped out by California fires

USAA contended that Tracy did not have an insurable interest in the plants. Hawaiian law defined an insurable interest to be any “lawful and substantial economic interest in the safety or preservation of the subject of the insurance.” USAA argued that any interest in marijuana is not lawful, as Hawaii’s medical marijuana law at the time did not legalize the use of marijuana, it simply provided an affirmative defense for marijuana-related crimes.

Unenforceable illegal contract?

USAA had a policy provision covering theft of “trees, shrubs and other plants,” which Tracy argued should also cover her marijuana plants. USAA also argued that it could not purchase medical marijuana using insurance proceeds, as that violates federal law. The court agreed with USAA, concluding that Tracy’s possession and use of marijuana violated federal law, despite compliance with the state law. The court also stated that the insurance policy that was supposed to cover her marijuana was an unenforceable illegal contract. This case is Tracy v. USAA Cas. Ins. Co., No. 11-00487 LEK-KSC, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35913 (D. Haw. Mar. 16, 2012)

Due to its illicit nature, marijuana historically has not been covered by insurance; therefore, few cases involving marijuana and insurance have made it to the high levels of litigation. We can be sure that with the growing legalization of the drug, more court cases and insurance disputes will soon follow.

Original article

Hannah Smith (hsmith@alm.com) is an editor with FC&S Online, the authority on insurance coverage interpretation and analysis for the P&C industry. It is the resource agents, brokers, risk managers, underwriters, and adjusters rely on to research commercial and personal lines coverage issues.

A Very Merry Mishap

To ensure that your family is properly protected this Holiday Season, call us at (317) 886-0081 or (317) 420-2867. You can also visit us online at: Lynch Insurance Agency

How to Organize a ‘Trunk-or-Treat’ Event

by Jennifer Sonntag on 

There’s a new way to trick-or-treat that’s been gaining momentum in communities over the past few years. It’s called Trunk-or-Treat. Specific organizations or businesses partner with one another to offer a less-spooky alternative to the typical nighttime trick-or-treating Halloween event. It’s great for younger children and offers a shorter, friendlier Halloween experience.

All you need is a large parking lot, participating vehicles decorated for Halloween, and attendees to enjoy the fun. Here are some tips to help you plan a trunk or treat event:

  1. Location: The parking lot should be a decent size (a school parking lot or business parking lot is great). The location will also determine how many participants you can invite to the event. For example, if it’s at a school, will it be just for the school or can other community members and children attend? You’ll want to have enough room.
  2. Date: While it’s an alternative to Halloween trick-or-treating, it’s recommended that you stay away from the actual Halloween holiday. Typically the weekend before Halloween is a good idea or a different day leading up to the holiday will work. Check to see when your community plans to hold trick-or-treating and try to schedule your event a different day.
  3. Cost: Will you charge participants a fee to enjoy the Trunk-or-Treat? Or will the event serve as a fundraiser with donations going to a specific organization or cause?
  4. Find your trunks: If you’re hosting the event at a school, see if the PTO or teachers want to participate. Or, recruit local businesses to participate. Just make sure you allow trunk participants enough time to come up with an idea, decorate their trunk and purchase candy or treats to pass out.
  5. Safety First: On the day of the event, make sure trunk participants arrive at least an hour prior to the event start time. Have them set up, decorate their trunk and get ready for the children. If possible, it’s also a good idea to make sure families can park in a separate area away from the kids walking through the event space.

Think you’re ready to take on a trunk-or-treat event? Hopefully this list of tips will help you get started. And for other ways to make sure your Halloween is as safe as it is happy, check out these tips from Eriesense blog:

Halloween Safety Checklist
4 Lesser-Known Halloween Safety Tips
How to Prepare Your House for Trick or Treaters

Original Article

Boarding the Bus

by Erie Insurance on 

When the big yellow bus swings around the corner and nears the corner bus stop, it can be an exciting moment for both kids and parents. It marks the real start of the new school year.

Every year, U.S. school buses carry 25 million children to and from school, according to the American School Bus Council. School buses also boast an impressive safety record: School-bus involved crashes amount to less than one percent of all fatal crashes in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In fact, the NHTSA says that the bigger risk to student safety isn’t riding the bus, but getting on and off the bus. Before the exciting day arrives, do a quick review of bus safety tips with your children.

Be aware of cars. Aside from your kids heading off to school, morning is a busy time of day in the neighborhood, with grownups racing out the door to work. Teach kids to stay on the sidewalk and never cross an intersection until the car is stopped, they make eye contact with the driver and no other cars are approaching.

Safe waiting. While waiting for the bus, kids should stay at least three giant steps back from the curb. Because of the bus stop’s proximity to the street, discourage kids from horseplay and running games too close to the street.

Don’t cut it short. When young kids are running late, they can quickly forget the safety rules and run right into the street without looking for cars. Get kids into the habit of leaving five minutes before the bus’s scheduled arrival. In fact, during the first week of school, it doesn’t hurt to give them a bigger cushion of time because schedules can vary until the driver gets the route down.

Boarding safely: Everyone loves to grab their favorite seat. But it’s more important to board the bus safely. The safest way to do this is to stay back on the curb and not approach the bus until it comes to a complete halt and the door swings open.

For additional family/business safety, visit Scott Lynch Agency