Personal Property & Casualty Insurance

 

  • How Auto Insurance Protects You

    If you have an accident, auto insurance can help protect you against financial loss. Very simply, it is a contract between you and the insurance company. You agree to pay a premium and the insurance company agrees to pay for your losses, due to an accident, as defined in your policy.

    Auto insurance protects you on three fronts:

    • Property coverage pays for damage to or theft of your car.
    • Liability coverage pays for your legal responsibility to others for bodily injury or property damage.
    • Medical coverage pays for the cost of treating injuries, rehabilitation and sometimes lost wages and funeral expenses.

    Most states require you to buy some vehicle coverage. If you’re financing a car, your lender may also require that you buy car insurance.

    The six primary sections of an auto insurance policy
    Your auto policy may include these six areas of coverage or a combination of them. Each is priced separately.

    1. Bodily Injury Liability: For injuries the policyholder causes to someone else.
    2. Medical Payments or Personal Injury Protection (PIP): For treatment of injuries to the driver and passengers of the policyholder’s car.
    3. Property Damage Liability: For damage the policyholder caused to someone else’s property.
    4. Collision: For damage to the policyholder’s car from a collision. The collision could be with another car, a fence, a light post, a wall, etc.
    5. Comprehensive: For damage to the policyholder’s car that doesn’t involve a collision. Coverage includes fire, theft, falling objects, explosion, earthquake, flood, etc.
    6. Uninsured Motorist Coverage: For treatment of the policyholder’s injuries as a result of collision with an uninsured driver. Additionally, underinsured motorist coverage can also be included in the policy. Underinsured motorist coverage is for when an at-fault driver has auto liability insurance, but the limit of insurance is insufficient to pay your damages.

    Each state requires that you have certain types of coverage combination with minimum liability limits. Talk to your agent about the type of coverage at a premium you can afford.

    Footnote: This is a brief overview of how automobile insurance works. You should read a policy thoroughly before purchasing any insurance policy.

  • Auto Insurance Checklist

    What you pay for your car insurance may vary greatly, depending on several factors including:

    • your driving record
    • the make and model of your car
    • the insurance company from which you buy your policy

    Here is a list of tips to consider when researching auto insurance that can help you save money on your car insurance costs.

    Before you buy a car, compare insurance costs

    Don’t be surprised. Know what a car costs to insure before you buy it. In part, insurance premiums are based on:

    • the car’s sticker price
    • the cost to repair it
    • its overall safety record
    • the likelihood of theft.

    Many insurers offer discounts for features that reduce the risk of injuries or theft, such as air bags, anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights and anti-theft devices. For more information on car safety, check the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

    Needless to say, cars that are favorite targets for thieves cost more to insure. For information on car theft, check the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB)

    Request a higher deductible
    The deductible is the amount you pay out-of-pocket before your insurance policy kicks in. Increasing your deductible from $200 to $500 can reduce your collision and comprehensive premium by as much as 15 to 30%, depending on your plan. Typicaly, the greater your deductible the more you save on premium. However, if something happens to your car you will need to have access to money to pay the amount of the deductible.

    Re-evaluate coverage for older cars
    If you have an older car, think about dropping the collision and/or comprehensive coverage. It may not be cost-effective to insure cars worth less than 10 times the amount you would pay for the coverage. Ask an auto dealer or bank about the value of your car or look it up online at Kelley Blue Book.

    Consider buying your homeowners and car insurance from the same company
    Many insurers give discounts if you buy two or more types of insurance policies from them, such as auto and home. Also, you may receive a discount if you have more than one vehicle insured with the same company. Some insurers reduce premiums for long-time customers. It’s also worth asking if the insurance company is offering new policy programs.
    Most important, shop around; you may still save more money by buying your insurance from a different insurance company even with the multi-policy discount.

    Ask for a low-mileage discount
    If you drive less than the average number of miles per year, ask if your insurance company will offer you a discount. Low mileage discounts can also apply to drivers who carpool to work. If your insurance company doesn’t offer this discount it might be worthwhile to shop around.

    Maintain a good credit rating
    Your credit rating can affect your insurance premium, so monitor it carefully. You can check your credit rating with the three major credit-rating agencies EquifaxExperian, Trans Union.

    Ask for a safe driver discounts
    Many insurance companies offer discounts to policyholders who have not had any accidents or moving violations for several years. You may also qualify for a rate cut if

    • you have recently taken a defensive driving course, or
    • if you are more than 50 and retired.

    The addition of a young driver to the policy may increases the premium, but may be eligible for a discount if he or she is a good student, has taken a driver’s education course or is away at a college that is at least 100 miles away from home.

    Most importantly, work with a knowledgeable agent to make sure you get the right coverage at the right price.

  • What to Do After a Car Crash

    Although they happen all too often, car crashes always take you by surprise and leave you feeling a bit dazed. That’s why it’s important to know what to do after you’ve been involved in a car accident, even if you’re in a bit of a daze.

    Dos

    • Stay in your car until you know how badly you’ve been injured, if at all. If everything seems to be fine, just sit for a minute and collect your thoughts.
    • If you think you’re injured, don’t move until help arrives and your injury can be stabilized. Sometimes movement can make your injury worse.
    • If the car is still running, shut it off. Pull the keys out of the ignition.
    • Apply the emergency brake. Turn on your hazards lights. If it’s nighttime, leave your headlights and parking lights on (if they work). This way, other motorists and emergency personnel can see you.
    • If your cell phone works and you have coverage, call 911.
    • Determine if it’s safe to exit the car. If you’re unsure, stay in the car until help arrives.
    • If available, use cones or flares to warn other motorists.
    • If you struck a deer, wait for authorities to clear it from the roadway.
    • Check the damage of your car. Look for body damage, leaking fluids, smoke from the hood, and tire and wheel condition. Take photos if you can.
    • If it’s a serious accident, assume that your car is not drivable. Even if it looks ok, there may be structural and mechanical damage you cannot see. Driving could further damage your car.
    • Attempt to move the car only if it poses a danger to oncoming motorists in its current position (for example, if it is in the middle of a busy road).
    • Drive your car away only if it’s dangerous to stay put or if it is absolutely clear to you that your car has not sustained any real damage.
    • Stay a safe distance away if the car catches fire.
    • Wait for help to arrive.
    • Inform emergency personnel if your car is a hybrid or electric car. The high-voltage components in these cars may require specialized handling.

    Don’ts

    • Don’t move the car unless it poses a threat to oncoming motorists.
    • Don’t drive the car away unless it is dangerous for you to remain at the crash site.
    • Don’t attempt to drive the car if the fenders are pushed into the tires.
    • Don’t lift the hood too soon if you’re checking for damage. The burst of oxygen can make a small fire turn into a large one in a matter of seconds.
    • Don’t try to move a deer you just hit, unless you are absolutely sure the animal is dead and it poses a threat to oncoming motorists.
  • Motorcycle Insurance

    You might be new to owning a motorcycle or you might be an enthusiast with years of riding experience. But, one thing that is consistent across the board is the importance of having the right motorcycle policy to meet your needs.

    There are a variety of motorcycle policy options to meet your needs. Let your insurance agent explain the different liability limits; comprehensive, collision, uninsured motorist and medical coverage, in addition to the various deductible options available to you.

    Here are some things to look for when choosing a specialized insurance policy for your motorcycle:

    • Safety apparel coverage to help protect your investment in helmets, leathers, gloves and any other clothing designed to help minimize injury in the event of an accident
    • Optional equipment coverage for chroming, custom painting, side cars or anything else that was not included as standard by the manufacturer
    • Optional towing and roadside assistance in case your bike breaks down and can’t be ridden when you’re away from home because you run out of gas, get a flat, or have other mechanical issues
    • Optional replacement cost coverage on a bike purchased new and insured within 30 days

    Remember, having the right motorcycle insurance coverage benefits you, your bike and others on the road.

  • Boat Insurance

    There is nothing better than being out in your own boat on the open water. However, practicing safe boating and having the right insurance policy is critical to your well-being, passengers and your craft.

    Many states now require boat owners to have boat insurance. If you have a loan on your boat or use a marina, you may also be required to have boat insurance.

    Boat insurance is similar to your car insurance and can help protect you in the same way. As with car insurance, this policy protects you against liability and damage in the event of an accident. However, since boats have different features than your car, make sure your insurance company includes the coverage you need. Plus, boat insurance may differ depending on the type of craft you own. Each policy provides detail on what is covered and what is excluded.

    Boat Insurance Coverage You Will Want:

    • liability
    • physical damage
    • theft
    • medical payments
    • motor coverage
    • trailer coverage
    • boat covers
    • docking fenders
    • communications devices

    It’s likely that your boat is docked some place other than your backyard. Regardless of where you store your boat, make sure your policy covers you from damage caused by;

    • a collision
    • sinking
    • an accident
    • malicious mischief
    • vandalism

    Also, make sure your boat policy covers physical damage to:

    • the hull
    • sails
    • machinery
    • furnishings
    • most on-board equipment
    • boat trailer for damage from an external cause

    Make sure your boat insurance coverage travels with you

    Some insurance companies limit where you can go with your watercraft and still be covered, or they charge you extra if you travel. Confirm that your policy provides coverage in and out of the US, regardless of the body of water. If the policy does not provide the necessary coverage, make sure to add it for your trip out of the country.

  • About Homeowner's Insurance

    It’s your home and you want to protect it with the right homeowner’s insurance policy. To do this it’s important to understand what a standard homeowner’s insurance policy includes. There are four key components consisting of:

    1. Coverage for the structure of your home.
    2. Coverage for your personal belongings.
    3. Liability protection.
    4. Living expenses in case you are temporarily unable to live in your home due to a fire or other insured disaster.

    1. Your house

    This part of your policy generally pays to repair or rebuild your home if it is damaged or destroyed by fire, hurricane, hail, lightning or other disaster listed in your policy. It generally does not pay for damage caused by a flood, earthquake or just wear and tear. When purchasing coverage for the structure of your home, make sure to buy enough to rebuild your home. Also, review this coverage on an annual basis to make sure you have sufficient coverage.

    2. Your personal belongings

    Your furniture, clothes and other personal belongings are usually covered if they are stolen or destroyed by fire, hurricane or other insured disaster. Most companies provide coverage between  50% to 70% (this is just an average, every policy is different) of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your home. The best way to determine if this is sufficient is to conduct a home inventory, in case you need to increase your coverage. If you have questions about what is covered by a specific policy, contact us.

    This part of your policy may also include off-premises coverage, which means that your belongings are covered anywhere in the world, unless you have decided against this coverage.
    Expensive items such as jewelry, furs and silverware are covered, but there are usually dollar limits if they are stolen. To insure these special items to their full value, consider purchasing a special personal property endorsement or floater and insure these items for their appraised value.

    Trees, plants and shrubs are also covered under standard homeowners insurance. They are protected against theft, fire, lightning, explosion, vandalism, riot and even falling aircraft. They are not covered against damage by wind or disease.

    3. Liability protection

    Liability protects you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you or family members cause to someone else. It also pays for damage caused by your pets. So, if your child or dog accidentally breaks something in your neighbor’s yard, you are covered. The liability portion of your policy also pays for both the cost of defending you in court and any court awards—up to the limit of your policy.

    Liability limits generally start at about $100,000. Many recommend that you have up to $300,000 in coverage. Some people feel more comfortable with more coverage. You can also purchase an umbrella or excess liability policy which provides broader coverage, including claims against you for libel and slander, as well as higher liability limits.
    Your policy also provides no-fault medical coverage. If a friend or neighbor breaks an ankle playing basketball in your back yard, he or she can simply submit medical bills to your insurance company. Expenses are paid without a liability claim being filed against you. You can generally get $1,000 to $5,000 worth of this coverage.

    4. Additional living expenses

    If your home is damaged because of a fire, storm or other insured disaster and you can’t live in it, this coverage pays the costs of living someplace else while your home is repaired or you find another place to live. While your home is being rebuilt, hotel bills, restaurant meals and other living expenses are covered. Coverage for additional living expenses differs from company to company.

    Footnote: This is a brief overview of the coverage that can be included in a Homeowner’s Insurance policy. You should read a policy thoroughly before purchasing any insurance policy.

  • How much homeowner's insurance do you need?

    When buying a home you think about the mortgage and the bills associated with owning a home.  But, just as important is to figure out what your homeowners insurance will cost.

    It’s especially to figure out the cost of homeowners insurance to get an accurate budget your living expenses.

    What is the right amount?
    The simple answer is that it depends. There are several factors that can determine how much you will pay for your homeowners insurance.

    Choose a Deductible That’s Right for You
    Just like with a car, your deductible will impact the cost of your homeowners insurance. If you pick a plan with a high deductible, the annual fee for your insurance coverage most likely will be lower.  However, if you have to make a claim for repairs to your home, your out-of-pocket cost will be higher. On the other hand, a low deductible will probably cost you more up front, but you will pay a smaller amount if you have a claim.

    Determine the Value of Your Home and Property
    If you’re buying an insurance policy to cover a home that’s worth $250,000, you’re going to pay more than someone whose home is worth half that amount. A solid assessment of what your home is worth will help determine the right amount of coverage you need.

    The value of your personal belongings also has a lot to do with the value of your home. If you’re living in a home worth $150,000, but your belongings that are worth $50,000, you will will want a policy that covers both these amounts. Otherwise, if something happens, you could still be at a loss, even with insurance coverage.

    Your Claim History
    Unfortunately, the price you pay for homeowners coverage can also be affected by your past insurance history. Homeowners who had fewer claims typically pay less for insurance than those who have more claims. One of the considerations that all insurers have to keep in mind is your level of risk to the insurance company.

    Also consider

    • Are you buying an older home or a new home? That too will impact your policy.
    • Is your electrical and plumbing reliable?
    • Is the house built to specific codes for maximum safety?
    • Do you own a dog? If so, what breed?

    There’s so much that goes into determining the cost of homeowners insurance. It’s definitely worth talking to you agent to help determine the coverage that is right for you and within your budget.

Are you renting an apartment? If so, keep in mind that it’s up to you to protect your personal belongings from damage or theft with renters insurance.

Your landlord insures the building in which you live. However, it’s up to you to protect what is inside your apartment? As a renter, you need insurance to cover your personal things, such as clothing, furniture or electronic equipment.

Plus, renter’s insurance protects you if someone gets hurt in your apartment or breaks something. For example, a friend visits your apartment and trips over a rug, breaking an arm. Not only may your renters insurance cover the medical costs (depending on the policy) but also the cell phone your friend broke when tripped.

Personal property coverage

A renter’s policy protects your things, such as an iPod or computer, from theft in your apartment or anywhere in the world. The coverage may extend to fire damage, weather damage, explosion, smoke, vandalism, and plumbing leakage.

An independent agent can help you if you have questions as to the amount of coverage that’s right for you. Or, you can use an inventory of your possessions to determine the value of your property.

Additional property coverage options

Depending on the extent of your possessions, you may require additional coverage for your individual needs. You can buy additional coverage for the following:

  • Contents Replacement Cost: pays to repair or replace most personal property in your apartment with no deduction for depreciation.
  • Valuable Items Plus: provides higher limits and worldwide protection for special property such as jewelry, fine art, cameras, computers, and musical instruments for an extended variety of losses.
  • Additional Coverage Endorsement (ACE): extends protection or increases limits on special types of property (for example: jewelry or silverware). This coverage also increases personal liability coverage by $100,000 and includes coverage for personal injury.

Personal liability protection

If you are sued, your renter’s personal liability protection helps cover the associated legal costs and related damages. Most renters policies provide $100,000 (minimum) of financial protection against liability claims and/or lawsuits brought by others for accidental bodily injury or damage to their property while

  • in your apartment ,
  • as a result of your personal activities, including most sports, or
  • caused by your children or pets.

Additional living expenses

If you must move out of your apartment for a period due to a covered hazard such as fire, the policy might pay you up to 20% of the contents coverage for necessary additional living expenses (hotel, meals, laundry, etc.) while your damaged apartment is being repaired.

Improvements

Many renters spend considerable time and money on alterations or redecorating. Under a renter’s policy, you may apply for up to 10% of your contents coverage to repair or replace these damaged improvements.

Conducting a Personal Property Inventory

It’s important to inventory your apartment and possessions. It will save you precious time and frustration later. A personal property inventory is important because it:

  • guarantees that you have sufficient coverage
  • makes it easier for you to file a complete and prompt claim, supported by accurate documentation

What is a personal property inventory?

A complete inventory includes the following information about each item on your inventory list:

  • The room in the house where it’s located
  • Item description and quantity
  • Purchase date
  • Place of purchase
  • Original cost
  • Estimated current value
  • Serial and model number (if applicable)
  • An accompanying photographs of each item
  • Receipts and current appraisals for the most valuable items

No one can ever be prepared for a loss due to theft or damage, but make sure you take the necessary steps to reduce the stress from the aftermath. It’s only after a loss, that many people find out they were not sufficiently covered.

What is peace of mind worth to you? For some, it’s knowing that they are protecting their assets and future with personal umbrella liability insurance.

Umbrella insurance is designed to give you added liability protection above and beyond the limits on your homeowners, auto and other personal insurance policies. With an umbrella policy, depending on the insurance company, you can add between $ 1 to 5 million in liability protection. This protection is designed to take over when the liability on other current policies has been exhausted.

What does this really mean?

Liability insurance is the portion of a homeowners or auto policy that pays for expenses such as the injured person’s medical bills, lost wages, or damages to a car due to the person at fault. The liability portion of an insurance policy also covers legal expenses if the negligence results in any court proceedings. After adding up all of the medical expenses for the injured and the legal fees, the standard liability in one’s homeowners or auto policy may be sufficient.

Almost every state has financial responsibility laws that hold drivers accountable for bodily injury and property damage due to a car accident for which the at-fault driver could be sued for damages. Consequently, personal assets from the at-fault driver could be seized as a result of a lawsuit. Similar laws are in force for home, watercraft and motorcycle owners.

A personal liability umbrella insurance policy gives you added liability protection without much added cost. Having the added protection of an umbrella policy is coverage you shouldn’t think twice about –especially for the extra peace of mind it provides.

 

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