Uni Aguilar

Recent Posts

Lying on an auto insurance application.. the benefits vs consequences

Posted by Uni Aguilar on Tue, Oct 15, 2013 @ 13:10 PM

I am currently taking a class on becoming a tax preparer, and in that class I drew some comparisons to the insurance world. Today I will specifically be talking about some of the common "details" that customers fib or flat out lie about on the application. Much like the insurance world, there are certain misinformed individuals that believe that omitting or flat out lying on their tax return is beneficial to them. Although the "benefit" is immediate, the consequence can be far more costly in the end if you are discovered. The insurance purchasing process is a data entry process and interview at the same time. You inquire on the customer's specific information, such as address, telephone number, name, birthdate, marital status, and so on and so forth. The application of an insurance policy includes language that expressly states that lying on the application is grounds for a denial of coverage, or even in some cases, prosecution in the court of law. Here are a few examples of what people lie about when purchasing auto insurance:

  • Address/zip code: For those that know, for auto insurance, where you live has an effect on how much you pay for your premium. Ask anyone that has moved from Los Angeles County to Riverside County and they will tell you that the impact on the cost of insurance is significant (by the way, Riverside is cheaper than LA). Some people know that their rate is cheaper in certain zip codes, and they lie about where they live. This results in a decrease in premium, however, if you are caught doing this after a claim, you will most likely be denied coverage or in some cases prosecuted legally. Companies are now suffering through what is called a "hard market" - a cycle during which time coverage may be more costly, terms may be more restrictive, and policy conditions and requirements more stringent - so they are being more careful with business they write. Many companies are employeeing individuals that are tracking patterns in where there is a "discrepancy" in the zip code vs the area in which the policy was purchased.
  • Not diclosing household members of driving age on the application: Essentially, insurance premiums are relative to the risk. So more risk, more premium. Many companies want to know the names, birthdates and sometimes the license number of ALL members of the household who are of driving age. The "trick" that is pulled with this one is an individual will buy a policy under their name, having a good driving record, and getting a really good rate, BUT not disclosing that there are actually other drivers driving the vehicle other than himself. Companies base their rates on what is on the application, by not disclosing all members of the household, the company is not giving you that rate that you should be paying. The best commercial that I have ever seen that illustrates how rates work is the Progressive commercial "Rate Suckers". This is why rates go up.
  • Annual mileage: This is another rating factor in California, and I will admit that there is a lot of gray area with this one. A good example to compare: someone that is retired and drives to and from the store, the pharmacy or the park is going to be a lower risk than someone that has a commute of 100 miles a day to and from work. Unfortantely, this is something that many companies have a different policy on, so it is fairly inconsistent as far as the rules on how they are reported. However, if a company is expressly asking you to detail you annual mileage, do not underreport it, because again, you may be denied coverage.
  • Marital status: The discount rate on this one varies from company to company. A married person represents a lower risk to insurance carriers, and that is why a discount exists. Some people put themselves as married on an application when they really aren't. If you are separated but not divorced, most companies will want you to list yourself as single. There are some individuals that actually go beyond that and flat out lie and invent names of people who do not exist and give them the same last name as theirs. There are a lot of companies that you can get away with this with, however, many companies that are privy to this "trick" are asking for proof of marriage, proof of residence or in some cases plain and simply proof of existence (anything with their name on it with the same address as yours). I have seen cases where a brother & sister put themselves as married to each other (because they have the same last name) just so that they can get that married discount. The insurance carrier discovered this during the claim, and needless to say the claim was denied and they were prosecuted for fraud.
I have listed a few, but not all, of the common things that I have seen that people can lie on. Again, the consequences far outweigh the benefit. If it can be proven that you lied, your claim will be denied. Most accidents cost more than the premiums you pay, so saving a few dollars for a discount you don't qualify. Another thing that I strongly urge you to pay attention to and red flag is to NEVER allow an insurance sales person to ever "help" you. Lying on an application will not "help" you. The only person that will suffer consequences will be you, not the sales person, because most likely that sales person will not be there when you come back and need them to explain to you why you are being denied coverage. Someone that suggests to you that they can lower your rate by "helping" you lie on an application is not someone you want to do business with. Help insurance rates stay low, represent yourself accurately on all applications you submit. DON'T BE A RATE SUCKER!
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Topics: coverage, underinsured, rates, insurance, riverside, auto insurance, myth, debunked, liability, vehicle

Do I need to file for a DBA?

Posted by Uni Aguilar on Tue, Aug 20, 2013 @ 20:08 PM

In continuation of our series of articles from my friend Jim Betinol from Withrow & Betinol Law we share an article that discusses DBAs, or Doing Business As. The purposee of these articles is to emphasize that is not merely enough to have business insurance, but other aspects that surround your business lay the ground work and foundation in which your business is founded on. You can make $1,000,000.00 in the year, but you can also lose it all and more because of a tehcnicality or mistake.

August 20, 13 

Do I need to file for a DBA?

Also referred to as a Fictitious Business Name, Doing Business As (DBA) is a required filing that lets the public know the true owner of a business.  It was created to provide a form of consumer protection against those dishonest business owners operating under a different name to avoid legal trouble.

Who needs a DBA?

Generally, there are two situations in which your business will need to file a DBA:

A. If you are a sole proprietor or partnership operating a business using a name that is different from your own personal name(s). 

Example 1:

John Doe wants to open a coffee shop called “Bean Café.”  Under this situation, John would need to file a DBA since his operating a business under a name that is different form his own personal name. 

Alternatively, if John Doe decides use the name “John Doe’s Café,” he may not need to file a DBA since his operating the business under his own personal name. 

Example 2:

John Doe wants to open an auto repair shop, called “John Doe and Family Auto body” or “John’s Auto body.”  Under these two situations, John would need to file a DBA since the business either implies a larger group unnamed owners and/or ambiguous.   

B. If you have formed a limited liability company or have incorporated your business and is operating the business under a name that is different from the name of the company or LLC registered with the State.

Example 1:

John Café, LLC decides to open a store called “Coffee Bean Café,” or “johncoffeeroaster.com.”  Under this situation, John would need to file a DBA for the other names.

Where and when do you file a DBA? 

DBA’s are generally filed with your local county clerk’s office, will include a small filing fee to the clerk and an additional expense to publishing your DBA filing with an approved newspaper to satisfy the public notice requirement of DBAs.  Consult with your local clerk’s office for further details. 

DBA’s should be filed before any business is conducted using the name.  Some jurisdictions may allow a grace period before assessing penalties, but it is important to have your DBA filed from the start because it is necessary for using the name in contracts, bank accounts, licenses and permits.

Written by Guest Writer: Jim Betinol, Partner at Withrow & Betinol Law

Tel: 424-229-2560

Email: betinol@wibelaw.com


Website: www.wibelaw.com

Topics: coverage, business insurance

What some homeowners insurance carriers consider too risky ....

Posted by Uni Aguilar on Tue, Jun 25, 2013 @ 18:06 PM

When I quote a homeowners insurance policy, aside from asking the address and other basic questions such as square footage, year built, and so on and so forth, I also inquire on some of the most common things that companies won't accept. The reason I do this is because knowing what the customer has that is not acceptable enables me to narrow down which insurance carriers will and will not insure that property. Some of the questions that I ask are if they own a dog, and if they do, which breed of dog; furthermore, I inquire on if their property has a pool; and, the other common question, which a lot of people are not educated on, is if they have a trampoline on the property. All of these things are tied in one way: liability. Remember, as I mentioned in my other articles, any time you own something, whether it be a car, a property, or an animal, you are legal liabile for whatever damages may arise from the ownership of it. Here are a few details and a video illustrating why some risks are not acceptable:

  • Of all of the questions I do ask customers about their homes, the first question that I almost always ask is whether or not they own animals. The most common animal on a property are dogs. The reason why this is important to know is that some dog breeds have a higher risk or tendency towards biting. The list of dog breeds is surprising and not surprising in some cases. The most common dog breed that has a bad reputation and has a long history of biting is the pitbull breed. Many shows have popped up showing us all that pitbulls are actually a nice, calm and friendly breed, however, due to the history of biting, many insurance companies simply will not insure any property that has this breed of animal on their property. The most suprising, at least in my opinion, are the innocent looking chow chows. The list of breeds also includes rottweilers, german shepherds, siberian huskies, doberman pinschers, boxers.describe the imagerottweilersf2 resized 600
  • The next question I ask about is if there is a pool on the property. Now owning a home with a pool is not a bad thing, but what is important is that the pool be fenced off from the general public, meaning, that there is a fence that is between the public and the pool itself, not necessarily that the pool itself within the property is fenced off. The reason for this is because the insurance carrier wants to see that you are fencing off your pool from the public that can just come in, drown, or be injured on your property, and file a claim or lawsuit. Although I personally believe having a fence around your pool is a great idea, this way you can prevent small children from going into the pool and accidentally drowning. Another question I do ask, and many carriers want to know, is if there is a diving board and or slide. The reason for this, again, has to do with safety. Because of the diving board's unpredictablity, such as, where the person lands, or if the diving board breaks, the risk for some carriers is too high and or unacceptable.
  • The next question I ask my customer, and which surprises them all, is whether or not they own a trampoline. I have embedded a video that I found on Youtube.com that will illustrate for you why many carriers do not want any trampolines on the property. First off, the risk of injury is very high due to the fact that it is unpredictable where a person will land. In addition, trampolines have a finite space, and sometimes, as you will see, that space is limited, so when trampoline space runs out, there's only two places to land: on the edge of the trampoline where it is all metal tubing or right on the floor next to it:
  • Here's a list of a few other things that companies want corrections on:
  • Unsecured waterheaters
  • Inoperable appliances outside the home
  • Inoperable vehicles
  • Air conditioners that are secured inproperly
  • Damaged and patched up rooftops
I hope that this article will help homeowners understand the "risk" that they "pose" as an insured. As a homeowner, simply having insurance is not enough to protect yourself. The insurance carrier wants you to demonstrate what is called due diligence and hazard reduction. If they see that you did not do your part in preventing a claim/loss the claim may be denied. Many customers have the false belief that just because you simply have insurance, the insurance carrier will cover the claim, but that is not the case. There have been many cases where a claim was denied due to an insured's inability or unwillingness to correct hazards that will pose a higher risk of a claim or loss. It is our responsiblity as property owners to make sure that things that may be dangerous be corrected, otherwise way hurt ourselves financially by not having the claim paid for, and even worse, possible injury someone by not preventing an accident from occurring. Although the video that I have embedded for you is humorous, we do not see the aftermath, many of these people could've been seriously injured. Please call us, e-mails us or post a comment below if you have any questions or comments on more risk reduction methods.

Topics: coverage, liability, homeowners

Protecting your business & personal assets - at the same time..

Posted by Uni Aguilar on Tue, Jun 25, 2013 @ 14:06 PM

Today we feature an article from a personal friend of mine, Jim Betinol, who is also a business associate of mine as well. He is a partner at the law firm Withrow & Betinol Law. I have asked him to write an article educating people on the importance of business insurance AND doing business under a corporation or LLC. Notice how I emphasize the word "AND" - because it is not simply enough to have one without the other. Jim can be reached @ 424-229-2560, betinol@wibelaw.com & visited @ www.wibelaw.com.

Why you should have both a limited liability entity (LLC, Corp) and business insurance.

Many business owners mistakenly believe that there is no reason to have both business insurance and a limited liability entity like an LLC or a Corporation -- that business insurance will provide enough protection so an LLC or a Corporation is unnecessary.  This misconception puts many business owners, their homes, savings, and financial security at risk. 

For example, if a customer  is injured at your place of business or due to your services, including unintended injuries (i.e. slipping on a wet floor, a driver accident, construction materials falling on customer, or a mistake made by one of your employees causing property damage, etc.) there is a strong chance that a lawsuit will be filed.  Most business owners have the foresight that these types of situations may occur, which makes obtaining strong business insurance with policies that provide coverage for the types of risks that are likely to happened a must.

However, as medical costs increase, business owners have to pay for higher and higher damages, which may be beyond what is covered by insurance.  When your insurance coverage runs out, this is where your lifesavings, home, and other personal property could be at risk -- and where having a limited liability entity steps in. 

The benefits of having a limited liability entity, such as an LLC or a Corporation, is that they shield your personal assets and keep them separate from your business assets.  This means, when a business liability arises you do not have to worry about the damages affecting your lifesavings or personal assets.  A limited liability entity generally limits personal liability to cases in which you personally cause the harm, guarantee a loan, intentionally act with recklessness, or fail to maintain the LLC or Corporation. 

A properly planned and operated limited liability business can provide:

  • Asset Protection by limiting liability to the assets of the business:
    • For business owners with multiple businesses, this can mean that losses in one higher risk business will not affect the other businesses;
    • For all owners, it will help protect your lifesavings, home, and other property.
  • Potential Tax Savings by reduction of self-employment taxes.
  • Flexibility when bringing in new investors or when selling your business. 

This article should not be taken as legal counsel and readers should not base any legal decisions solely on the article without consulting an attorney.  Legal decisions must be approached on case-by-case basis as your situation may require specific requirements.  For additional questions, feel free to contact the author at betinol@wibelaw.com.

Topics: underinsured, insurance, liability, business insurance

Common mistakes & assumptions customers make..

Posted by Uni Aguilar on Thu, May 09, 2013 @ 17:05 PM

Today I'll spare you the reading.. here's a video of me talking about the common mistakes & assumptions customers make when it comes to their autos:


Topics: change in ownership, prevent, dmv, auto, prevention, riverside, auto tag agency, VIN verification, Title transfer, notice of release of liability, auto tag

What you need to know about insuring your classic car...

Posted by Uni Aguilar on Sun, Apr 28, 2013 @ 21:04 PM

classic auto, hagerty

After you got your classic auto's VIN verified, it's time to insure it! Much like renters insurance, classic auto insurance is the type of insurance that is not commonly known, but is definitely something that is worth buying, simply because the cost is surprisingly small in comparison to what it covers. What I often see what owners of classic autos is that they are insuring their vehicle under a regular/standard auto policy. The error in this is that by doing this you will most likely be underinsuring their auto. The reason for this is this: most insurers don't specialize in these types of autos, and as a result, their valuations are not accurate. I will give you an example: a 1980 Chey El Camino could be valued at $500.00 by the insurer, without laying eyes on it, but a classic auto insurer knows that these vehicles are often fixed, painted, and modified, adding a signficant value to the vehicle. If you went ahead and insured this under your standard auto policy, you may be paying a premium, but that premium won't be getting you what you actually need. This is why I highly recommend getting a separate policy just for your classic auto or autos. Here are a few things that you need to know about classic auto insurance policies:

  • Classic auto insurance is relatively cheap. The reason for this, as with all insurance, is risk. The risk is low with classic auto insurance. Often, the owners of such vehicles are low risk drivers themselves. Also, they tend to love their cars, so they drive them less, often only on the weekends, at most, and also, they drive them very carefully, and don't leave them just anywhere, like at the Costco parking lot for instance. Classic auto owners do not use their vehicles as a daily driver, and as a result, their exposure is a lot less.
  • Classic auto insurance is very comprehensive. The coverage in an auto policy for classic autos covers nearly every base, from roadside assistance, to uninsured motorist, to locksmith coverage in some cases, and, to a ZERO deductible. They also have networks of bodyshops that specialize or exclusively repair classic autos only. So the policy covers all of the bases for the type of potential problems one would have as a result of an accident and it is time to file a claim.
  • The insurers that offer classic auto insurance have strict guidelines on who qualifies to purchase classic auto insurance. A few of those are that you must have an existing auto policy for your daily driven vehicles. Another stipulation is that your coverage limits on your standard auto policy must match the coverage that you purchase on your classic auto. Another rule is that your vehicle must be garaged & locked, meaning, not parked out in the street, exposed to the elements or where there is an increase in exposure of theft to your vehicle. In addition to all of this, most classic auto insurers will only insure California Good Drivers, meaning, only 1 point on your record, so, unfortunately for some classic auto owners, their bad driving records precludes them from being able to buy insurance with some carriers.
  • Some insurers will require receipts of the modifications that have been made, or in some cases an appraisal. This requirement by some insurers may be a hassle for some people, but I highly recommend this, because this helps in three ways: one is that it will help in justifying the value when it is time to resell the vehicle; two, it helps in the claims process when the company is trying to asses the true value and cost of the parts of the vehicle; and three, when it is actually time to insure the vehicle, the agent that is helping you write the policy knows which value to insure the vehicle at, making the process seamless.
Our staff at Mey's Insurance Services can help you get a quote with the biggest classic auto insurer in the the United States: Hagerty Insurance. If you are currently insuring your classic auto under your standard policy, you are making a mistake by not getting a quote from us with Hagerty. Keep your beautiful car insured with the right company and the right coverage! Give us a call, or send us an e-mail for a quote today.
Insure My Classic Auto!

Topics: insurance, riverside, auto tag agency, VIN verification, classic auto, vehicle, vin verifier

You just sold your car.. Submit a release of liability

Posted by Uni Aguilar on Sun, Mar 24, 2013 @ 23:03 PM

Did you just sell your car, and you are wondering what do you do now.. and how do you do it? One of the most important things to do after you have signed off on the title of the vehicle is to report that the vehicle has been sold. Any time you own property, whatever liability arises from its use is YOUR responsibility. In the case of a vehicle, once you sell it, it no longer belongs to you physically, but on paper, it does, and that is why it is imperative that you report to the DMV that it has been sold. So what could happen to you if you don't submit the release of liability to the DMV?

  • If the person you sold your vehicle gets a parking ticket & that person has NOT regitered that vehicle into their name, that parking ticket is coming straight to you. Even though you no longer own that vehicle, because the new buyer did not register the vehicle, that ticket is coming to you. You cannot avoid this situation because for the most part it is out of your hands, however, by doing a release of liability at the DMV, it is much easier for you to prove to whoever is giving you that ticket, that you are not the responsible party.
  • If the person you sold your vehicle to gets involved in an accident and there is a lawsuit as a result of it, you as the registered owner could be the target of that lawsuit. Because you are the registered owner, some attorney could try to fish for anyone that will pay their client's bills, and that person could be you. Avoid this horrible scenario by simply submitting the release of liability to the DMV.
  • If the person you sold your vehicle to is involved in a crime sometimes you may be put in a scenario where the cops are looking for you! Although the police won't take the time to look up the history of your vehicle's registration, it does help in some cases to eliminate you as a possible suspect.
How easy is it to submit a "notice of release of liability"? Well, at Mey's Insurance Services, where you can get your auto tags, do ownership transfers, and many other things, we make it very easy for you. But outside of us, you can submit the REG 138 form that you can print off of the DMV's website here. OR, even better, you can submit the "notice of release of liability" electronically through the DMV's website here. It is that easy! Such an easy step can help you avoid major headaches later on! But if you just want us to take care of it, give us a call, shoot us an e-mail or click here for us to contact you.

Topics: sold, parking ticket, tickets, liability, release, notice of release of liability, vehicle

Need a VIN Verification?

Posted by Uni Aguilar on Sun, Mar 10, 2013 @ 04:03 AM


Do you need a VIN verification done on your vehicle? You've come to the right place. We have 2 on-site and off-site VIN inspectors ready to serve you. But if you are still wondering what is a VIN verification and why you need one, read on.

What types of vehicles need the services of a VIN inspector?

      • Vehicles that come from out-of-state or from another country. This includes motorcycles, automobiles, trucks, motor homes & trailers. Here's an example of an out-of-state motorcycle that needed a VIN verification:VIN Inspector
      • Vehicles who have no California record. Some vehicles have been out of the DMV system for so long that there is no longer a record. The DMV no longer has your vehicle on their database, so it needs to be inspected and verified. Here's an example of a vehicle that has been sitting for years and needed a VIN verification:
VIN Verification
What does a VIN verification process actually do?
  • The VIN verification process confirms the VIN on the vehicle.
  • It tells the DMV what type of vehicle or trailer it is. The DMV will want to determine if the vehicle is an automobile, truck & trailer. In addition, it also wants to know how many doors, what the gross vehicle weight is, and if it is a trailer, type of trailer.
  • It also tells the DMV if the vehicle is California emissions compliant or not and if the vehicle is built based on the US Federal Safety Standards.
  • Tells the DMV what year the vehicle is.
Essentially, what a VIN inspector is are the DMV's eyes. It tells them what type of vehicle it is, without actually seeing it. Based on the type of vehicle, you will be charged different registration fees and have different requirements. It is also very important to realize that if you modify the body type of your vehicle, it may be necessary to have your vehicle re-inspected by a licensed VIN verifier to appropriately "categorize" your vehicle. Call us or e-mail to schedule an appointment!
Schedule your VIN Verification today!

Topics: vin inspector, VIN verification, vin verifier, vin inspection

The importance of updating your address at the DMV

Posted by Uni Aguilar on Tue, Mar 05, 2013 @ 22:03 PM

When you are moving, one of the final things people tend to is updating their addresses to everyone that sends correspondence to them via USPS mail. One of the most simplest things that you must legally do and you must do for other purposes is update your address when you move. The DMV requires that you do this, and so does law enforcement. Why is updating your address so important? Here are a few reasons:

  1. The DMV will send you your registration renewal notices to the right address, and not the wrong one. By doing this simple thing, you avoid possibly being late and incurring late penalty fees when it is time to get your auto tag stickers. Don't be like so many of my customers that only find out they are late when one of their kids or a friend tells them that their tags are already expired.
  2. The DMV will send you a notice of a suspended registration and you will be unaware of it. Sometimes your insurance company doesn't notify the DMV that you have insurance, and as a result, you could be driving around with a suspended registration for assuming that the insurance company did their part by electronically notifying the DMV.
  3. The DMV will send you a notice of unpaid registration fees. Sometimes a person you sold a vehicle to doesn't do a title transfer, and as a result, the vehicle remains in your name, and as a result, all notices, such as tickets, unpaid registration fees, and things of that sort, get sent to you. By having the right address on file, you will quickly respond to those notices & avoid collections process against you on a vehicle that you no longer own.
  4. Other entities, such as a tow yard, parking ticket enforcements and other third parties may send you notices and you may not be aware of them. A a tow yard could send you a notice of a pending lien sale or a parking enforcement agency may have sent you a ticket that you are unaware of. Having these notices sent to you is imperative so that you can respond promptly to clarify the situation.
So how easy is it have your address updated at the DMV? One of the ways is by filling out form DMV 14: fill it out, sign it, and mail it to the DMV. The other way is to sign up online on the DMV's website and electronically update your address yourself. Unfortunately with these first 2 options you won't get an updated registration card, however, the other, and quickest way to do it, is coming into our office and having us do it for you. We can issue you the new registration with the updated address immediately, and you won't have to worry about it again.

Topics: change in ownership, dmv, registration, auto, auto tag agency, Title transfer, Tags, suspended registration, auto tag

Can't get your auto tag because of a suspended registration ?

Posted by Uni Aguilar on Wed, Jul 25, 2012 @ 23:07 PM

If you have not had insurance for your vehicle you may be unable to get your auto tag because of a suspended registration. California has implemented a system a few years back that forced people to get auto insurance, and what they have done is suspended your registration. You will need to get a few things done in order to reinstate your suspended registration. The following is a list of the three simple, but absolutely essential steps that you must take to obtain your auto tag:

  1. Purchase auto liability insurance: CA law requires that you have auto liability insurance. This is the first step in getting your suspended registration reinstated.
  2. Pay the $14 reinstatement fee: This fee is only $14. The fee is not much, but for some people it can be a pain to pay because the DMV has assigned a totally separate department to handle the fee, the suspension and the reinstatement process. This fee can only be paid online or by mail, the local DMV office cannot accept this fee & cash is not accepted. However, our office can help you pay this fee in our office.
  3. Wait: Yes.. the third step is to wait. Although your insurance company notifies the DMV electronically that your insurance is in place, the process usually takes 3 to 7 business days. Some people have the "luck" of getting their suspended registration reinstated sooner than 3 days, but it is rare. But if you come into our auto tag agency, we can help you clear your suspended registration and get your auto tag .. instantly! Give us a call...
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Topics: auto tag agency, suspended registration, auto tag