http://home.insureuonline.org . . . creating a home inventory helps you track exactly what you own and what it is worth, making important insurance decisions easier. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offers a FREE iPhone app to make it easy to build a home inventory. This video shows you how it works.
Usually insurance decisions are made on a static basis, related to life’s milestones such as the following:
The above events often trigger a need to evaluate one’s insurance landscape. It may spur a need to buy renters coverage, a homeowners or auto policy or secure wedding coverage, an umbrella policy or endorsements for jewelry etc.
However, there’s an issue with milestones. Typically years pass between these events and that may cause you complacency about your coverage needs. You may not recognize that having adequate protection is more dynamic.
Not to worry, there is an easy way to consider making necessary changes. Often, holidays and vacations include acquiring more personal items, such as Christmas, anniversaries and birthdays. These are times that, besides fun and memories, are also accompanied by gifts, such as jewelry or other high-value items. After these special days, take a moment to evaluate whether you received property that might make it prudent to update your coverage.
How about vacations? Generally any coverage concerns are unnecessary for routine trips within the country. However, what about dream vacations in foreign destinations or in-country get-aways for extended periods? In either case you may need to consider whether your existing policies cover the situation. For instance, do you need temporary, separate coverage for protection in other countries? Will your travel create any special liability issues? Did you acquire new property that needs protection? Will you be away so long that you have to address any issue created by your absence from your residence?
Having proper coverage means taking the steps to make sure that it protects you in the manner you need. Use these special days and events as touch points to contact one of our insurance professionals to make sure you have needed protection.
Business transactions frequently require the valuable protection provided by insurance. A Certificate of Insurance is a document that is often requested as proof that adequate insurance exists. A certificate is not the same as a policy and certificates do not affect the coverage provided by a particular insurance policy. Therefore, requests to "endorse the certificate of insurance" are inappropriate and misleading. A certificate is a separate document that is used to comply with a common contract requirement to verify certain types and amounts of insurance.
Certificate holders, the entity or party requiring the certificate, often demand that they appear as "additional insureds." This requires an endorsement (change) to the policy and it gives them coverage for injury or damage resulting from the contract.
Example: Tenant A leases a building from Property Owner B. Property Owner B demands that the tenant changes its insurance policy to also show the property owner as an additional insured. If a tenant’s customer is injured on the premises and sues both the property owner and the tenant, the tenant's liability policy would provide coverage for both parties.
Construction contracts require certain forms of insurance, certain insurance limits, a hold harmless agreement and the inclusion on insurance policies as additional insureds. A "hold harmless" agreement is a contract provision that states how much responsibility each party accepts for damages arising out of the agreement.
A certificate of insurance can confirm that the appropriate policies were issued and that other requirements were also met. It is important to have a system for monitoring receipt of certificates BEFORE any sub-contractors are allowed to begin work. If certificates are not obtained or kept up-to-date, when the contractor’s Workers Compensation and General Liability policies are audited, the payroll for the sub-contractors without Certificates will be included with the contractor's resulting in an additional premium charge.
Ask agency to help determine if you should be obtaining or providing certificates of insurance in conjunction with your business. In addition, when you’re required to provide a Certificate, send our agency a copy of the contract. The contract allows us to assist you in determining what liabilities you are accepting and what can be done to modify your insurance program to best protect your financial well-being.
Like homeowners insurance, renters insurance includes three key types of financial protection:
Coverage for personal possessions
Additional living expenses (ALE)
The big difference is that renters insurance doesn't cover the building or structure of the apartment—that's the landlord's responsibility.
The following questions will help you choose the right coverage when you are discussing your needs with one of our insurance professionals.
What is liability insurance?
Renters insurance provides liability protection that covers you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage done by you, your family members and even your pets. This coverage pays for the cost of defending you in court, up to the limit of your policy.
Your renter’s policy should also include no-fault medical coverage as part of the liability protection. Medical payments coverage allows someone who gets injured on your property to simply submit his or her medical bills directly to your insurance company so the bills can be paid without resorting to a lawsuit.
Do I have enough liability insurance?
Make sure the amount of liability coverage provided by your policy is sufficient to protect your financial and other material assets in the event of a lawsuit.
Do I need an umbrella liability policy?
If you need a larger amount of liability protection, consider purchasing a personal umbrella liability policy. An umbrella policy kicks in when you reach the limit on the underlying liability coverage provided by your renters or auto policy. It will also cover you for things such as libel and slander.
Additional living expenses
Additional living expenses (ALE) coverage provides coverage if your home is destroyed by an insured disaster and you need to live elsewhere for a time.
What does ALE cover?
The additional living expenses portion of your rental insurance policy pays for hotel bills, temporary rentals, restaurant meals and other expenses you incur while your rental home is being repaired or rebuilt. Essentially, it covers the expenses you would not have to incur if you had your usual roof over your head.
How much does ALE cover?
Most policies will reimburse you the full difference between your additional living expenses and your normal living expenses; however, there are generally limits as to the total amount the insurer will pay or time limits specifying how long you’re eligible for the ALE payments. Make sure you’re comfortable with the limits of the policy you choose.
Event Data Recorders
Your daily travel routine is not much different than many others’. You get up and start the car, pick-up, SUV or hybrid, leave the garage or parking spot and head to work. Perhaps you pop out somewhere for lunch and, later, back home. Hey, it’s the weekend, so maybe you take a day trip to see relatives or go to a nearby state park and do some camping. Maybe you stay in town and decide to enjoy the local music and clubbing scene. Who knows what adventures await for you and your vehicle? Well, increasingly, your insurer does.
For well over a decade car manufacturers have, without much publicity, manufactured and installed special boxes in your vehicles called event data recorders or EDRs. Though less sophisticated, they are similar to “black boxes” used on aircraft. While they aren’t equipped for tracking you in a way you might expect from a spy attempt, they do perform at a level that may surprise vehicle owners.
EDRs can capture a large amount of information about a vehicle, particularly information about what occurs before a traffic accident. When vehicles are repaired or prior to being sent for salvage, EDRs can be removed, have their data reviewed and statistics be reported on the speed of vehicle, time of incident, whether brakes were applied, road surface response and other details.
While a vehicle is operated without incident, the data is, at some pre-set limit, written over. However, should an accident occur, the information is frozen and maintains the pre-accident data. Manufacturers typically use the information to study vehicle response. It is meant to assist with future vehicle development. However, increasingly, authorities and private insurers have moved to get access to the information and use it for crime and claims investigation respectively.
An interesting twist involves privacy issues. Many vehicle owners are unaware of EDRs and their purpose. A larger issue is the ownership of the information. Manufacturers treat the information as proprietary and do not share it with vehicle owners. Authorities and insurers get legal access to the information, yet vehicle owners do not. Currently, lawsuits are arising regarding whether the use of such information and the existence of EDRs constitute invasion of privacy.
As technology becomes more pervasive and advanced, both insurance companies and insurance consumers should be more aware of its impact on their business relationship.
If you own a home; you’ll want to think about the best way to insure it. One goal is to match your needs to the right company. Some companies like new, high-valued homes while some companies do well with older or historic preservation homes. Others are comfortable with country homes or old farm homes.
There are two common levels of coverage that you may consider:
Named causes of loss coverage–The policy only covers certain causes of loss to your property. You must prove to the company that one of the covered causes damaged your property.
Risks of physical loss–This covers all causes of loss except those that are excluded. The company must prove that one of the excluded causes of loss damaged your building.
You may want to consider other types of homeowners coverage if you own a different type of residence such as a modular home, mobile home, apartment, town home, condominium or you have personal living space in a commercial building.
A Basic Homeowners policy usually provides the following:
Technology continues to affect our daily lives and that is also the case with a nasty element, car crashes. Crashes often means lots of time spent on paperwork and having to provide a lot of information on exactly what happened. With the presence of smart phones and their camera feature, accident participants can now provide far more substantive information to their insurers (as well as police, lawyers, etc.)
First, a reminder to be sensible with your priorities. After an accident, the biggest issue is everyone’s safety including doing everything one can to assist with injured persons as well as getting everyone away from further harm. Remember, people first, and then worry about getting accident information.
While pictures are better than verbal and written accident descriptions, it’s best to have a photographic strategy in order to gather visual accident information. Note, that strategy should also include respecting the privacy rights of others at the accident scene.
If you can keep a cool head and a steady hand, consider doing the following:
While no one wants to be involved in an accident, if you are, why not be smart and use your smart phone to help with dealing with the accident’s consequences?
For the more than half million U.S. entrepreneurs who start a business each month, making the right insurance moves can mean the difference between a first-anniversary celebration and an inaugural-year flop. Whether you have one or a few hundred employees, sell products or offer services, or command your operation from inside or outside your home, your insurance considerations as a small business owner are quite different from those of an individual consumer. Insure U for Small Business tips, tools and resources are designed to help you choose the right plans to protect your investment.
Five Insurance Questions to Ask Before Starting a Business
A business owner’s policy – sometimes called a BOP – is a “package” product that typically includes property, business interruption/continuation and liability insurance. For many small businesses, purchasing a BOP can be a less costly option than buying individual policies. Many insurers also customize BOPs for specific types of businesses.
A home-based business or a company with only a few employees may start out with a BOP and then expand coverage as the company grows. However, a BOP typically does not include commercial auto insurance, workers’ compensation, health or disability insurance or liability insurance for claims of wrongful professional practices.
Not all businesses qualify for a BOP. For example, a factory or a jewelry store, because of the unique risks, usually require more customized coverage than what’s included in a standard BOP.
Small Business Insurance Tips and Considerations
Insurance premiums are based on risk. Small business owners who take steps to minimize risk in the workplace can help keep employees and customers safe, and save money. Consider the following:
Did You Know?
Our articles are written by professionals in the insurance industry who's mission is to educate