Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Capital Insurance Group (CIG) Increases Auto Rates 12%

Due to the higher costs of doing business in California and the increase in the number of uninsured/underinsured drivers, CIG is raising its liability rates. Effective December 1, 2012, these changes will take effect:
    • Average liability rates up 12%
    • Average physical-damage rates down 10% 
    • Transportation expense-extended coverage rate up $2 per vehicle 
    • Roadside protection plan up $1 per vehicle
There will also be some auto program enhancements:
    • Good student discount of 3% available for any student 25 or younger who maintains at least a B average
    • Smart Teen Driver discount of 5% for anyone 19 or younger who completes the CHP’s Smart Teen Driver Program
    • New cost-saving deductible options of $5,000 for Comprehensive and $10,000 for collision
Most insurance companies are raising rates because they are currently losing money. Call us for a full review of your policy- we can look at ways to lower your rates or switch you to one of our other companies.

Five Important Tips on Gambling Income and Losses

Whether you roll the dice, bet on the ponies, play cards or enjoy slot machines, you should know that as a casual gambler, your gambling winnings are fully taxable and must be reported on your income tax return. You can also deduct your gambling losses...but only up to the extent of your winnings.

Here are five important tips about gambling and taxes:

1. Gambling income includes, but is not limited to, winnings from lotteries, raffles, horse races, and casinos. It includes cash winnings and the fair market value of prizes such as cars and trips.

2. If you receive a certain amount of gambling winnings or if you have any winnings that are subject to federal tax withholding, the payer is required to issue you a Form W-2G, Certain Gambling Winnings. The payer must give you a W-2G if you receive:
  • $1,200 or more in gambling winnings from bingo or slot machines
  • $1,500 or more in proceeds (the amount of winnings minus the amount of the wager) from keno
  • More than $5,000 in winnings (reduced by the wager or buy-in) from a poker tournament
  • $600 or more in gambling winnings (except winnings from bingo, keno, slot machines, and poker tournaments) and the payout is at least 300 times the amount of the wager
  • Any other gambling winnings subject to federal income tax withholding
3. Generally, you report all gambling winnings on the "Other income" line of Form 1040, U.S. Federal Income Tax Return.

4. You can claim your gambling losses up to the amount of your winnings on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, under 'Other Miscellaneous Deductions.' You must report the full amount of your winnings as income and claim your allowable losses separately. You cannot reduce your gambling winnings by your gambling losses and report the difference. Your records should also show your winnings separately from your losses.

5. Keep accurate records. If you are going to deduct gambling losses, you must have receipts, tickets, statements and documentation such as a diary or similar record of your losses and winnings. 

This article was provided courtesy of Orlando, Mitts, Moore and Company Certified Public Accountants of San Jose. If you have questions about gambling income and losses, call them at: 408 278-0300.

Dog Buries Itself Alive to Win Coveted Swag Bag

Last October, Peanut, a dachshund-terrier mix with a hard-wired grudge against rodents, managed to bury itself alive in the dirt below the deck of its owner’s house following an epic battle with a skunk. It’s not clear what enraged Peanut the most; the skunk’s arrogant “don’t even think about it” attitude or the humiliation of getting sprayed in the face, but in the end, Peanut dug so furiously that all that could be seen of him was one paw sticking out of the dirt.

The owner had to call the fire department to dig Peanut out, administer oxygen and rush him to the vet, where he made a full recovery in two days. There was no word on the fate of the skunk; however witnesses reported seeing what looked like a skunk doing an end-zone dance not far from the incident.

Peanut’s owners faced big vet bills. They also had to repair the parts of their deck that the firemen tore up to rescue their dog. Fortunately, they had a policy with Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), a subsidiary of Nationwide Insurance.  This claim won Peanut VPI’s 2012 Hambone Award.

The Hambone Award is given to VPI’s most unusual pet claim of the year. Peanut received a bronze trophy in the shape of a ham, a VPI swag bag filled with toys and lots of treats.

Allied Brokers does not offer pet insurance, but call us for all of your human insurance needs. Visit our website at or call 1-888-505-7988 for a free rate quote.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Mercury Insurance Boosts Auto Policy Rates 4.3%

On renewals effective October 26, 2012 or later, Mercury Insurance is revising its California Private Passenger Automobile program, resulting in a 4.3% overall rate increase. These rate increases are statewide averages, so each policyholder will be affected differently - your rate may go down or it may go up. If your rate goes up more than 4%, call us! Most companies are in the process of raising rates because they are all currently losing money. Call us for a full review and we can look at ways to lower Mercury's rates for you or switch you to one of our other companies.

Allied Insurance Offers Blanket Personal Property Policy

All homeowner's policies have limited coverage for valuable items that are likely to be stolen - sometimes as little as $1,000. Protect your jewelry, watches, furs, guns, cameras, musical instruments, golfing equipment - or whatever you value most- with Allied Insurance Company's new Blanket Personal Property Endorsement. It gives insureds the option to insure personal property, such as jewelry and fine arts, without having to specifically schedule each individual item or provide appraisals - with no deductible.