Auto insurance, homeowners or renters insurance, umbrella liability insurance…in some ways, personal insurance is like a trapeze artist’s safety net. When she’s performing, a trapeze artist thinks of her moves, not the net underneath her. But you can bet that if she falls, she wants a strong safety net, because a single hole could prove fatal.
While personal insurance coverages might not be a life-or-death matter, they do protect your most valuable assets—your home, your vehicles and most importantly, your income.
For most people, their home represents the biggest investment they’ll ever make. Homeowners insurance might sound simple, but a single oversight can make a difference of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost claims payments if your property is damaged or destroyed.
Likewise with auto insurance. Do you want to trust your coverage to an online insurer, with representatives you’ll never meet in some far-away call center? Or do you want to trust a respected local professional, one who is a member of your community and understands local risk exposures?
Many individuals take all the right steps to insure their home and vehicles from damage, but neglect to adequately estimate their liability exposures. Most lawsuits against individuals stem from accidents on their premises, auto accidents or service on a nonprofit board. The more assets you have, the more likely you are to be sued. Some cases, such as accidents causing serious injury or death, can even result in liability that exceeds the value of your assets. Adequate personal liability coverage can protect your assets and future income from being taken in a liability lawsuit.
Life can sometimes seem like a three-ring circus. But with the right personal insurance, you can fly through life knowing you have a safety net to catch you if you fall.
Whether you live in a single-family house, a condominium or an apartment, the place you call home likely represents the biggest single investment you’ll ever make. The right insurance coverage can help you protect that investment.
Homeowners insurance will help you repair or rebuild your home if it’s damaged by fire or other covered disaster. It also provides these valuable protections:
- Contents: A well-written policy pays to replace your personal possessions when damaged or lost due to fire, theft or other covered peril, whether at home or away.
- Medical payments: Your homeowners policy will pay reasonable medical costs for a non-resident who suffers injury at your home. This valuable coverage can help prevent a minor accident from turning into a liability lawsuit.
- Liability: Your homeowners policy provides your first line of defense when someone sues you for an accident that occurs at your home or through your negligence. It helps pay your attorney and court costs; your insurer will even help arrange your legal defense.
Your insurance costs will depend on many factors, including your home’s value, location and type of construction. The higher the value and risk of damage, the more you’ll pay.
The type of coverage you select also affects costs. The basic “named perils” policy covers you only for loss or damage caused by one of the perils named in the policy (hence its name). These generally include fire or lightning, windstorm or hail, explosion, and more. A broad-form policy provides broader coverage, covering you for the named perils listed above, plus others, including damage from burglary; falling objects; freezing; electrical surges; and weight of ice, snow or sleet.
An “all-risk” policy differs from a named perils policy by covering damage or loss caused by any peril, unless specifically excluded by the policy. Typical policies exclude losses due to earth movement, water damage, power failure, neglect, war, nuclear hazard and intentional loss. “All-risk” coverage costs more, but provides more comprehensive coverage for your property and liability exposures.
Condominium owners sometimes make the mistake of thinking their condominium association covers their property. While your association probably insures your building and common areas, its coverage ends at your walls. You need your own condominium policy to cover damage to your interior walls, floors, cabinets and fixtures.
Like a homeowners policy, a condominium policy also protects your personal property. “Contents coverage” pays for damage or loss to your personal property, whether it’s at home or off premises. The policy also provides liability protection that will help pay your attorney and court costs if you are sued for injury to another person or another person’s property.
Don’t own your own home? If you have any assets to protect, you still need property insurance. For only a few dollars per week, a renters policy protects your personal property by paying you when it is lost or damaged by a covered peril, such as fire or theft.
It also protects your financial assets by paying your attorney and other costs if you become liable to another person for injury or damage to his/her property.
Every homeowners, condominium and renters policy covers fire damage. But did you know that floods are four times more likely to occur than fires?
Standard policies do not cover flood damage to your property. You can buy a separate flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program or private insurers. Flood insurance covers damage to a building and contents due to flood, flood-related erosion or mudslide.
Valuable Items Insurance
Your possessions may be worth more than you think. Most homeowners, condominium and renters policies limit coverage on specific high-value items, such as jewelry, electronics, fine art and collectibles, antiques and firearms. Buying extra insurance to cover these valuables costs less than you probably think.
Some valuable items “floater” policies provide extra protection, such as “pair and set” protection, which will pay you for the value pair or set when one item in the pair or set is lost or damaged. Please call us for more information.
Personal Auto, Boat and Vehicle Coverages
Motor vehicle accidents lead to more personal injury lawsuits than any other cause. Even if you don’t care if your car gets damaged or stolen, you need auto liability coverage to pay for any injury or property damage you might cause to others in an accident.
The personal auto policy (PAP) provides two main types of coverage: liability and collision and comprehensive damage. Part A, the liability portion of the policy, pays for an insured drivers’ liability for bodily injury or property damage they cause to another person while operating a covered vehicle. Every state requires auto owners to carry liability insurance.
Part D, collision and comprehensive damage, pays for damage to your covered vehicle(s). Some owners don’t buy Part D, while others want collision coverage only—this coverage pays if their car is damaged in a crash, but not if it is damaged by other causes or stolen.
“Comprehensive” coverage protects your car from damage or loss due to reasons other than collision, such as theft, fire, flood, earthquake, windstorm, falling objects, explosion, vandalism and more.
Auto policies also provide other important coverages. Part B, medical payments coverage, is optional in most states. It supplements your family’s medical insurance by paying medical expenses, usually up to $5,000 or $10,000, if a covered driver or your passenger is accidentally injured in a car or light truck or as a pedestrian. Part C, uninsured motorists coverage, covers you if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. Some policies also provide additional coverages that help you after an accident, such as towing and replacement rental car coverage.
Your premiums will depend on your vehicle’s type and cost and garaged location, along with your driving record and miles driven and the limits you choose. We can help you determine the right balance of protection and premium for your family.
Boat and Personal Watercraft Insurance
The typical homeowners policy provides only limited coverage for your liability due to operating any type of watercraft. It also limits coverage for loss or damage to your watercraft to $1,000, including trailers, furnishings and motors. And coverage for watercraft applies only on your premises, rather than where theft or damage is most likely to occur—in transit or on the water.
As nonstandard policies, boat and watercraft insurance terms, conditions and limits vary widely. At a minimum, however, you will want a policy that provides:
- Property damage coverage: Look for coverage due to theft—no matter where located—and physical damage due to fire, theft, windstorm, lightning or vandalism. All policies cover the hull and machinery; look for one that covers your trailer, permanently installed equipment and personal property required for the boat’s operation, such as tools, GPS, etc.
- Liability coverage: Limits usually range from $100,000 to $1 million. The more assets you have to protect, the higher the limits you need.
Some insurers offer additional coverages, such as towing and assistance coverage, uninsured boaters coverage, medical payments coverage for someone injured on or while boarding/leaving the boat, and fishing tackle coverage. We can help you find the policy that covers your boating needs.
State laws require motorcycle owners to buy a minimum amount of liability coverage. Motorcycle owners have two choices for insuring their bikes: adding a “miscellaneous type vehicle endorsement” to their auto policy, or buying a standalone motorcycle policy.
The miscellaneous type vehicle endorsement has limitations. Unlike your personal auto policy, it does not cover you for liability for non-owned motorcycles, so if you take a friend’s motorcycle for a spin, you won’t have coverage. It typically covers only the actual cash value of your bike, or the original price, less depreciation. If you have a rare or collectible bike, a customized bike or one with many add-ons, the endorsement is unlikely to provide enough coverage.
For many people, a specialized standalone motorcycle policy offers the best coverage. Its liability coverage applies in more situations and it provides better coverage for the damage or theft of a valuable or customized bike. With some specialized motorcycle policies, you can get “agreed value coverage,” where you and the insurer set a price for the motorcycle when you buy the policy. If it is stolen or totally damaged, the policy will pay you this agreed amount, less any depreciation of tires, batteries and engine parts.
Motor Home — RV Insurance
Whether you own a deluxe land yacht with all the bells and whistles or a simple folding camper, having any type of recreational vehicle represents a change in lifestyle…and insurance needs.
You can insure most recreational vehicles under your personal auto policy. However, specialized recreational vehicle or motor home policies provide better coverage. You won’t notice the difference until you need to file a claim, but then differences become apparent.
Auto policies pay actual cash value when your vehicle is stolen or totaled, but RV insurers often offer agreed value coverage. With agreed value coverage, the insurer will pay you the amount you select when you buy the policy in the event of total loss or theft. Some insurers also offer total loss replacement coverage, which will pay for a new RV like the one you own if yours is stolen or suffers a total loss in its first five years.
RV policies can also provide unique coverages designed to prevent your vacation from turning into a nightmare. Your homeowners policy provides only limited coverage for your personal property away from home, and puts strict limits on coverage for jewelry, electronics and other valuables. Most RV policies offer better coverage for your personal property carried in the RV, along with coverage for attached accessories, such as satellite dishes and other valuable equipment.
Vacation liability coverage protects you from claims if someone is injured at your campsite or in your RV. Towing and emergency assistance coverage often goes beyond what your personal auto policy provides. It costs a lot more to tow a Winnebago than a Mini Cooper, and RV servicers are fewer and farther between than auto mechanics. Some policies will even cover your temporary housing or travel expenses to help you get home if your RV is damaged while you are traveling.
Personal Umbrella Insurance
Unfortunately, accidents happen. And when they do, the victim usually tries to blame someone else.
Under the U.S. system of tort liability, courts can hold injurers liable for many different types of torts, such as bodily injury, trespass and “personal injuries,” such as invasion of privacy, slander, libel or damage to reputation. Your homeowners policy covers both the costs of your legal defense and any court awards for this type of claim, while your auto policy covers you for liability resulting from accidents you’re involved in. The typical homeowners policy provides from $10,000 to $500,000 in liability coverage, while your auto policy might provide $500,000.
However, if you are found liable for causing serious injury, the sky-high cost of medical treatment and other claims, such as negligence, could quickly exhaust the coverage limits on these policies. Once your policy pays its limits, any remaining liability costs become your responsibility. That’s where umbrella coverage kicks in.
The typical umbrella liability policy can provide an extra $1-2 million in additional liability protection for only hundreds of dollars a year. You can buy policies with higher limits if needed; generally, the more assets you have to protect, the more coverage you need.
Dream vacation or nightmare? Travel insurance can make the difference!
Trip cancellation/trip interruption coverage
Political instability can make planning an overseas vacation a hit-or-miss proposition these days. Even if you’re traveling to a relatively stable country, bad weather, natural disaster or strikes can affect your transportation and accommodations. Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance will reimburse you for all or a portion of your costs if your trip is cancelled or cut short due to unforeseen circumstances such as weather, airline strike and more.
Click here for a travel insurance quote
Travel medical/medical evacuation insurance
Did you know that Medicare does not provide coverage for your hospital or medical costs outside the United States? Many private health insurance plans also do not provide coverage overseas.
Insurers that do provide coverage for overseas medical treatment might provide coverage on a reimbursement basis only, leaving you to pay the bills, file a claim and wait for reimbursement. And they might not pay for your medical evacuation back to the United States, which can easily cost $10,000 and up, depending on your location and medical condition. Travel medical insurance can cover your expenses for emergency or urgent medical care you need while overseas.
A comprehensive policy might provide additional travel assistance benefits, such as access to a 24/7 telephone hotline that provides services such as lists of English-speaking doctors, directions to nearby medical facilities, and lists of specialists.
As with all insurance policies, travel policies have limitations. Before buying coverage, make sure it provides emergency evacuation services. Does it exclude injuries you sustain while doing high-risk activities such as parasailing, mountain climbing or scuba diving? Does it cover you for pre-existing conditions? Do you need to obtain pre-authorization or a second opinion before emergency treatment can begin?
We can help you determine if your existing health policy provides the medical coverage you need.
Identity Theft Insurance
In 2010, 8.1 million Americans became victims of identity theft. According to a Javelin Strategy & Research survey, the average victim lost $600. In addition, the Identity Theft Resource Center estimates the average victim spends 607 hours clearing his or her financial records and restoring his/her credit rating.
Some homeowners policies, particularly high-end ones, automatically include some coverage for identity theft. If yours does not, you can add coverage to an existing policy by buying a coverage endorsement, or you can buy a standalone policy.
Identity theft coverage does not cover direct monetary losses incurred due to identity theft. Most credit cards limit your liability for unauthorized charges to $50, making this coverage unnecessary. Identity theft insurance does cover some of the expenses you incur to fix the problem, such as the costs of making phone calls and copies, mailing documents and possibly legal bills. Some companies also give policyholders access to fraud specialist who will guide them through the process of cleaning their records and protecting their identity.
Identity theft insurance is very affordable—usually $100 or less per year, a small price to pay for peace of mind!