Auto (10)

What is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and do I need it?

Uninsured/underinsured motorist is an important coverage that is included in almost every auto policy.  The coverage is designed to compensate you for losses you sustain which are caused by a driver/s who do not carry insurance or who are inadequately covered.

Is my car covered while other people drive it?

Remember that coverage goes with the vehicle.  So, as long as the driver has permission to drive the vehicle, there is coverage.  But remember that claims caused by other drivers will still be recorded on your policy and could affect your premiums.  If someone drives your car more than a few times a month they should be added as an occasional operator.

What are the best liability policy limits?

Appropriate liability limits will vary person to person; but generally it is a good idea to make sure that you are covered at a level that will sufficiently protect your assets if you are liable for property damage or bodily injury.  Your agent can advise you on coverage levels that make sense for you.

What is the difference between “collision” and “other than collision”?

“Collision”  coverage can be viewed as coverage for incidents where the policy holder is at fault.  For example, if you are at fault in a rear end accident, collision coverage will pay for the damage to your vehicle.   Incidents covered under “collision” do not necessarily involve another vehicle.  Sliding off a wet road and striking a tree is considered at fault and is covered under “collision”.  In each of these examples your insurance company will pay the cost to repair or replace your vehicle minus the policy deductible.

“Other than collision” protects your vehicle against perils that are outside of your control.    Examples could include damage caused by weather, theft, vandalism, or hitting an animal.  It can also be referred to as “comprehensive”.

How does my driving record affect my insurance premium?

Every insurer has different guidelines for exactly how they treat driving records.  Naturally, driving violations and claims will have an adverse affect on your ability to get competitive rates.  Consult with your agent and carrier for specifics on how they treat negative or positive driving records.

My teenager just got his license, what do I do now?

It’s important to let your agent or carrier know once your teenager begins driving.  This will allow them to add the child to the policy and provide you as a parent with important tips about staying safe and avoiding youthful accidents.  Failing to report a new driver may lead to complications if a claim needs to be filed so it is best to talk with your agent in advance.

What do insurance companies consider when deciding cancellations?

Of course not every company has the same policy when it comes to cancellations, but there are a few common items that can lead to a company seeking cancellation.  Frequency of claims is one of those major factors.  Insurance companies understand that claims happen – that’s what insurance is for.  However, a client that has consistent and frequent claim issues is considered to be a “bad risk” and a company may wish to cancel people fitting that general description.

Does everyone have to have auto insurance?

Yes.  The law requires that all vehicles have at least state minimum liability coverage.  Minimums will vary by state and your agent can advise you on good coverage levels.

Does my policy cover a rental car?

As long you are renting within the U.S. or its territories, your policy will cover rental vehicles.  The coverage afforded for the rental will match the coverage carried on your vehicle.  Meaning if you do not carry collision and other than collision on your vehicle, it will not be provided for a rental.

Business (12)

I’m just getting my business started. Do I need insurance right away?

It’s recommended you get covered right away to protect yourself and your new business.  An insurance professional can advise you on what types of coverage you may or may not need as a start up.

I don’t have any major business assets. Why do I need insurance?

Even without any major assets, most believe it is important to protect a business against lawsuits and claims.  A major aspect of any General Liability policy is coverage for defense costs.  If a business is falsely accused and sued, and the business does not carry insurance, defense costs and other expenses will be out of pocket.  Also, many businesses will want to work only with other businesses that carry proper insurance.

Is insurance coverage different for different businesses?

Yes.  There are certain coverages and policy types that are unique to certain businesses.  It is a good idea to talk with your agent about the various aspects of your operation so that the proper insurance program can be put in place.

What types of property do I need to insure?

Types of property to insure or not insure will vary with an individuals own tolerance for risk.  If a business cannot likely afford to replace a piece of property in the event of a loss it is a good idea to get that property insured.  Usually any property with a lien holder will require insurance.

What does General Liability protect against?

General Liability protects your business from third party claims of Bodily Injury and/or Property Damage.  Including the cost to defend a suit.

Will I need to protect my employees in the event they are injured on the job?

Yes.  In many certain states Worker’s Compensation coverage is required as soon as a business takes on even one full or part time employee.  In other states there may be different thresholds.  Talk with your agent about covering your business and being in compliance with state laws.

I keep one auto strictly for business. Do I need a separate policy?

It will depend on who the auto is titled to.  If you aren’t sure which policy is appropriate it’s recommended you discuss it with your agent or carrier.

I just signed a 3-year lease to open my business. Why does my insurance agent want to see my lease?

The agent is likely asking for a copy of the lease to review the insurance requirements section.  Reviewing the insurance clauses of your lease is a value added service your agent can offer and can help prevent lease compliance issues.

I work out of my home. Will my homeowners insurance cover my business?

Yes, however the coverage is usually very limited and has restrictions.  Unless the home based business is small and fits into your homeowner’s policy guidelines it’s recommended to get a separate policy.

What is coinsurance all about?

Insurance companies use coinsurance clauses to prevent businesses from under insuring.  Coinsurance protects both the insured and the insurance company.  Generally coinsurance requires the insured to insure for at least 80% of true value. If the insured fails to meet the requirement they are penalized at the time of a claim and will in effect become a “co insurer” with the insurance company.

As a retailer, do I need to worry about product liability?

Generally a retailer will not have as big an exposure with products liability as the company who is actually manufacturing the products.  However, it is still important to carry Products and Completed Operations coverage and it is provided on nearly every General Liability policy that the average retailer carries.

Can I do anything to lower my insurance premiums?

There are number of ways to achieve lower insurance costs.  It’s important to keep your business properly covered too so the best way to work on lowering costs is to talk to your agent about your particular business and situation.

Homeowners (18)

What is Homeowners Insurance?

Homeowner’s Insurance is meant to protect your home against a catastrophic loss.  It provides protection against losses such as fire, smoke, theft, water damage and wind.

How much do I need to insure my home for?

Your home needs to be insured for the actual cost to rebuild.  This is determined by using replacement cost estimation software that calculates the cost to rebuild based on local builder costs.

What can I do to lower my homeowner’s insurance premiums?

You can lower your premium, without compromising coverage, by adding another policy with the same company, such as an auto policy.  You can increase your deductible and you can pay the premium in full.

How do I take a home inventory?

The Insurance Information Institute offers free online inventory software called Know Your Stuff.  The link is https://www.knowyourstuff.org/iii/login.html.

What information do I need to provide to my insurance agent?

In order to obtain a quote, your insurance agent will need the following information to get started:

  • Your full name and property address.
  • The date of birth of all owners.
  • Closing date.
  • The name and contact number for the bank providing the loan.
  • A copy of the appraisal.
  • Square footage of the home.

When should I review my home insurance policy?

Your homeowner’s policy should be reviewed whenever you make improvements to the home, if you make a major life change such as marriage, or every two to three years.

What type of home insurance coverage do I need for my condo?

Condos are covered under a policy called a HO-6.  This provides coverage for your personal property and walls-in coverage for your unit.  It is important to know what coverage is provided by the condo master policy in order to prevent any gaps in coverage.

Does my homeowners insurance cover flooding?

No, flood insurance is provided by FEMA program.  However, other types of water damage are covered by your homeowner’s policy, such as accidental discharge or overflow of water from a plumbing or HVAC system.

Do I need insurance if I rent my home?

Yes!  We recommend that you purchase a tenant homeowner’s policy if you are a renter.  This is an inexpensive way to provide world-wide coverage for your personal property as well as personal liability coverage.

Do I need separate coverage for jewelry and art?

There are limits on certain types of personal property such as jewelry, fine arts, collector’s items, and guns.  If you have these types of property, please let your agent know and she can advise you as to what limits apply under your policy and the best way to protect your valuables.

What type of homeowners insurance do I need if I am installing a pool?

It is important to let your agent know when you make any additions to your property.  You will want to review your Other Structures coverage.  It is wise to consider a Personal Umbrella policy to protect your increased liability exposure.

What is an umbrella liability policy?

A personal umbrella policy is a relatively low cost way to add $1M or more liability protection to your insurance portfolio.  It provides an extra layer of liability protection over your existing auto, home, boat, RV and motorcycle policies.

Do I need extra insurance coverage if I am renovating my home?

It depends.  It is important to check with your insurance agent whenever you are making renovations to your home.

Does home insurance cover water damage caused by household appliances?

Homeowner’s policies provide coverage for water damage caused by accidental discharge or overflow of water form a plumbing or heating/air-conditioning system.

What is the difference between actual cash value and replacement cost coverage?

After a loss, your personal property or home will be settled on either an actual cash value basis or a replacement cost basis.  Actual cash value deducts for depreciation and replacement value will replace the damaged property at the actual cost to replace at the time.

How does my home insurance deductible affect my premium?

The deductible represents the amount at which you want to self-insurance.  The higher the deductible, the lower the premium.

Why do home insurance companies check credit scores?

Insurance companies do not check credit scores.  However, they do obtain certain information from your credit score that determines your insurance score.  Insurance companies have found that the higher the insurance score, the more likely a person is to file a claim.  Insurance companies use this information to determine your rate.

What types of losses are not excluded by homeowner’s insurance?

There are certain types of perils that are not covered by the standard homeowner’s policy.  These include, but are not limited to, flood, earthquake, ordinance and law and damage caused by water backup from a sewer or drainage system.  Many of these perils can be added to your policy for an additional premium.

Helpful Links

Highway Safety Institute for ratings on car safety

American Insurance Association– offering more information on coverage basics and credit scoring

Insurance Information Institute – Leading source for insurance definitions and concepts