You’ve been denied insurance coverage…all because of your electrical panel.
Learn why Federal Pacific breakers (and other panels) are ineligible for insurance.
You rely on electricity to power your favorite devices, but it can also be dangerous without the right safeguards in place. In fact, most homeowners aren’t aware of what’s going on in the wires behind their walls.
If there’s an issue with the electrical wiring, many people don’t find out until it’s too late…or until a home inspection uncovers a potential problem.
We’re willing to bet that you’re reading this article right now because you were recently informed that the electrical panel on your home is ineligible for insurance. We’re insurance agents—not electricians—so we can’t pass judgment on the safety of your electrical wiring. But many insurance companies will refuse to issue policies on homes that have certain types or models of circuit breaker (models such as Federal Pacific breakers and Zinsco).
Why is that? And what can you do about it?
How Does an Electrical Panel Work?
You know what an electrical panel is and you (hopefully) know where yours is located, but do you know why they’re important?
Electrical panels—also known as breaker panels, load centers, service panels, or breaker boxes—are the housing for your home’s circuit breakers. In the event of a power surge, short circuit, or circuit overload, the breakers are designed to “trip,” which is another way of saying they cut the electricity to that particular circuit.
While it may be irritating to experience a power outage at the moment you’re trying to make your morning cup of coffee, circuit breakers are a vital safety feature that prevent electrical fires.
If a breaker fails to trip, the high amounts of electricity can melt the plastic coating of the wires and spark a fire. The entire electrical panel can also overheat, which can cause it to catch fire.
Put this way, it is easy to see why having a high-quality, reliable electrical panel is so important.
Why Certain Electrical Panels (Such as Federal Pacific Breakers) Are Uninsurable
If you’re wondering, “Will a Federal Pacific panel pass inspection?” the answer is no.
In our recent article, “How Does Insurance Work?”, we explained how spending more money on claims means the insurance company has to collect more in premiums. If your home is located in a certain area or has certain features that the insurance company has deemed to be riskier, you will pay higher premiums than homeowners without those features.
There are some features, however, that are more than just “riskier.” And Federal Pacific breakers (among others) are one of them.
Just like the infamous polybutylene plumbing, some electrical panels have cost insurance companies so much money that they simply refuse to insure them. For them, it’s essentially a losing bet.
Which Electrical Panels Are Dangerous?
Despite their importance, there have been a surprising number of electrical panel “fails” over the past few decades. In most cases, the panels work fine for years, giving many homeowners the impression that nothing is wrong. In fact, most aren’t aware of what type of electrical panel they have until they get a 4-point inspection.
So, which are the ones your insurance company won’t touch with a 10-ft. pole?
Federal Pacific breakers (also known as Stab-Lok breaker panels) were some of the most widely used electrical panels from the 1950’s until the 1980’s. Yet nowadays, they are popular for an entirely different reason.
Not only do Stab-Lok panels fail to trip during a power surge (failure rates are between 25-65%), they can fail to switch off power when the switch is in the “off” position, resulting in electrocution.
Think about how much more electricity your household uses compared to, say, your grandmother’s day. Your WiFi router, Alexa, laptops, cell phone chargers, and gaming console have a much bigger appetite than a 1950’s blender.
Replacing Your Electrical Panel
While there are some insurance companies that will provide coverage on homes with these types of electrical panels, most homeowners prefer to have them replaced.
If you suspect that your home might have a recalled or outdated electrical panel, don’t try to replace it yourself as your weekend project! Instead, have it examined and replaced by a qualified electrician.
Electricity is part of what makes our modern-day lifestyle possible. But having good insurance coverage is just as important as having safe electrical wiring.
If you’ve shopped for home insurance recently, you might be wondering something…
Why are home insurance quotes so different between carriers?
It’s great to get home insurance quotes from multiple companies before settling on one. After all, isn’t that how you get the best value on your insurance?
But it begs the question,” why do homeowners insurance quotes differ so much?”
In last month’s article, “How Does Insurance Work?” we discussed how certain risk factors (or liabilities) can increase the amount you have to pay toward your premium or deductible. This might explain why insurance on your three-bedroom ranch is so different from your sister’s McMansion, but can it explain why your house received four completely different quotes from four different companies?
Turns out, there is a good explanation for that! Read more →
Whether you’ve heard it called Errors and Omissions insurance or Professional Liability insurance, let’s take a closer look at what it is (and why you need it).
We all learned from a young age that no one is perfect. But, while we’re usually quick to overlook our own mistakes, you’ve probably discovered that your clients aren’t as forgiving when you mess up.
Everyone is sure to have an “off day” from time to time, but businesses that perform a service or give advice can’t afford to make a mistake. Especially when those mistakes can lead to a loss for a client or colleague.
Luckily, the insurance industry recognizes a need to cover instances of errors, omissions, and negligence, which means there’s a product available to protect your business.
Hi everyone and welcome to the Harry Levine Insurance YouTube channel. Thank you for joining us. My name is Julie Levine. I’d like to welcome our special guest today: Magali with Safelite Auto.
Thank you so much for joining us.
Oh, thank you for having me.
Magali and Safelite are great partners to the Harry Levine Insurance Agency. There are so many vendors out there that try to take advantage of our clients. We wanted to do this video so we could educate you on who you need to call if you have a problem.
So if you have a small crack, a big crack, broken windshield, you know what to do.
What Can Safelite Do To Help HLI Clients?
So Magali, what is the scope of Safelite? What can they do to help our clients?
Well, we will help your customers out, whether they have a small crack or a large crack, if it’s something on the windshield, it all depends on, you know…. Best thing to do is call your agent and take it from there and they will direct you to a reputable glass shop, such as Safelite Auto Glass.
Great, so you guys can do a little bit of everything. No job too small or too big. You guys can do full replacements, too?
There are many different types of glass out there. I’ve heard of OEM glass, I know there’s different types out there. Can you explain those for our viewers?
Oh, that’s a great question, Julie. Um, when it comes time to replace auto glass, the best decision making thing is to understand what your options are, okay?
You mentioned OEM. So the three different types of glass: there’s OEM, OE, and OEE. OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. Okay, that’s when the glass is made by the same manufacturers of the original car when it was made, it also has the automaker’s logo on it. Most people refer to it as dealer glass. OE is original equipment, same as OEM, except it doesn’t have the logo. It’s the only difference.
And then there’s OEE, or what people typically call “aftermarket.” But it meets the same standards, the same
specs as OEM and OE. It’s safe to use the OEE, and it’s usually more cost effective when you use the OEE as well.
One thing to be aware of though, if you have a leased vehicle, some leasing companies require that you have OEM. So it’s suggested you check with your leasing agreement to make sure before requesting the replacement of the glass.
Julie Levine 03:14
Thank you Magali. That was a great description of the different types of glass available for our clients.
Why Is It So Important To Use a Reputable Glass Vendor?
Now, why is it so important for them to use a reputable vendor?
Julie, that’s a great question to ask. First and foremost, it’s about safety. It’s about safety for your policyholders out there.
A reputable glass vendor will use safe drive away urethane so that when that customer leaves, that urethane cures more quickly and allow safe drive away time.
You also need to be aware that today, many vehicles on the market have advanced safety systems. These include forward collision warning, maybe it has emergency braking. These rely on advanced technology in the vehicle. And it’s important—and a reputable vendor will know this—that these advanced systems need to be recalibrated after a windshield installation, so that the customer can leave and the function of these advanced safety systems can work just like they did before the replacement of the windshield.
It’s a lot more complicated than just popping out a glass and throwing in a new one.
Absolutely. The other thing too, is keep in mind, a reputable glass vendor will have a warranty—not only for the replacement of the glass, but also for the recalibration. Okay. And also, they work with your insurance carriers to make sure that there’s reasonable pricing so they’re not overly pricing your insurance carrier.
Fraud and Rate Increases Due to Windshield Bullies
That leads us into my next question. There’s a lot of fraud in the insurance industry when it comes to windshield replacement. What are some of the things that you’re seeing in the industry that are causing everyone’s rates to go up?
Oh geez, there’s so many things. As you mentioned, it is a big hot topic. You have vendors that are going door-to-door. Okay, they are walking parking lots, they are pointing out non-existing damage on vehicles. They’re called Windshield Bullies. They’re usually very aggressive and go after the policyholder and say, “Hey, you have to report this right away!”
Some will even bill the insurance companies more than once! Once they have that carrier information, they have your policy number, your make & model…. Often you can’t get a hold of these companies afterwards; they’re like ghost companies.
Some will even go as far as having you sign Assignment of Benefits and then they go back and actually sue the carrier for more money. Well, there’s a bait the consumer by charging them for let’s say an OEM when they actually installed an OEE.
So there’s lots of different things to be aware of out there. And that’s another reason you want to make sure you use a reputable vendor.
Assignment of Benefits Explained
You mentioned Assignment of Benefits. I want to quickly explain that for our viewers. (And we’ve done a lot of blog posts on it.) What an Assignment of Benefits is is you’re basically signing away your rights to a claim as a homeowner or an insured with an auto. The vendor you’re using takes over that right. And that’s where the fraud usually comes in, with increased costs.
I tell all of our clients: do not sign anything. If you have any questions, call your agent.
That’s what you have an agent for, right?
That’s our job! Give us a call!
What Is the Average Cost to Replace a Windshield?
What is the average cost to replace a windshield?
Well, that varies. The price depends on the type of car, for example. What’s the year, make, and model? What type of features does the car have? Does it have some of these advanced safety features in it? Is it a vehicle that needs recalibration? Typically you can see anywhere between $300 and maybe as high as $2,000.
Can Tesla Owners Use Safelite?
We get a lot of questions from our Tesla owners. They feel that, since their car is so high-tech, that the only place they can go for windshield replacements or cracks is Tesla. Are you guys able to help with those?
We do and we actually do replacements on Teslas. I believe a standard windshield on a Tesla—just the windshield alone—is probably about $2,500. That’s without the installation.
How Do You Know When It’s Time to Repair vs. Full Replacement?
How do you know when it’s time to fix a windshield vs. a full replacement?
That’s an excellent question, Julie. So typically, it’s important to note that, while your insurance company will cover the replacement, you want to make sure that the vendor you’re using has a “repair first” mindset, okay? Because obviously, the repair is going to cost less than the replacement. So you want to make sure that the customer’s needs are being met first, over a more expensive job.
So typically, if a crack or a ding is less than six inches…. So take dollar bill. When you can cover that area, and it’s not near the edge and it’s not in your driver’s line of view or blocking any advanced safety system camera, that’s repairable. And again, it’s very important that the glass shop you’re using has that mindset to repair first whenever possible and do replacement when absolutely necessary.
Thank you. Now we know whether we need to make a repair or a replacement.
Next Steps For Your Windshield Replacement Or Repair
So once we have that figured out, what are our next steps?
Well, first and foremost, call your insurance agent. That’s your trusted, reliable person to start off with. They are your advocate and they’re going to help you get to a reputable company, such as Safelite Auto Glass.
Magali, thank you so much for joining us today. I know I’ve learned a lot and I think our viewers have, too.
Thank you for having me.
To all our viewers out there, thank you for joining us. Hopefully you’ve learned something, what to do if you have windshield damage. Make sure to call your agent (call us!) and we’ll get you hooked up with one of our reputable windshield vendors so you can be safely on the road and on your way.