Entries Tagged 'Personal Insurance' ↓

When it’s Time for Teenagers to Take the Wheel

He has matured past the tricycle phase, grown beyond the bicycle stage, and is ready to try his hand at something with an engine. Your teen says he’s ready to drive. Are you ready?

Whether or not you’re emotionally up for the task, you can at least prepare yourself financially. Take the following steps before your teen takes the wheel.

Assign for savings: Which car will your teen drive? If possible, ask your insurer to assign your teen to the car with the lowest value. Keep in mind that this must be the car that the teen drives. By linking your teen to the least-valuable car, you can save on insurance premiums.

Boost your coverage: If you currently have minimum liability insurance, consider increasing your coverage. You may be fortunate to have a responsible teen, but statistics are still stacked against him. Research shows that teens are more likely to be involved in car accidents than adults, and their chance of being held accountable for a crash is twice that of adults. You’ll be grateful for greater coverage if your teen has an accident that results in costly repairs or lawsuit payments.

Balance the cost: As you raise your liability, you may pay higher premiums. To balance this, consider raising your deductible. Higher deductibles typically result in lower premiums. You can apply this savings to your increase in overall coverage.

Make the call: As with any life changes that may affect your insurance, contact your agent to discuss what solutions are best for your new teen driver.

Car Sharing and Auto Insurance: What You Need to Know

More and more car owners are looking to their vehicles as sources of potential income. The family sedan is no longer simply a tool to get to work, and it does more than deliver pizzas.

Peer-to-peer car-sharing services have made it possible to “rent” a personal vehicle to other drivers who are seeking transportation. If you don’t drive your car every day, this can be a fairly simple way to earn a little extra cash.

However, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind regarding car sharing and auto insurance. Using your vehicle in this way can greatly affect your coverage.

First, your policy may not cover your vehicle while it is being driven by other people under a car-sharing agreement.

Your carrier doesn’t have any information about who is driving your car or their driving record, so the coverage cannot extend to them. If someone is in an accident or your car is stolen while he or she is using it, you may not have coverage.

Second, you are making money with this arrangement. This puts your vehicle use into a business category, rather than personal. Again, this might negate coverage from your personal policy.

Due to these circumstances, car-sharing services typically offer their own auto insurance.

If you’re considering offering your vehicle for peer-to-peer car sharing, first consult with my office.

Someone here can advise you about your coverage and help you determine if this is a viable option for the use of your vehicle.

Do I Need Extra Insurance for Exterior Rebuilds?

You’re planning your next remodeling project. Perhaps you’re expanding your home to enjoy more living space. Maybe you’re replacing the 1990s siding. Whether your project is a minor exterior renovation or major roofing repair, it’s important the work is properly insured. This may or may not involve the purchase of additional insurance.

In dealing with a contractor: If you are planning to hire a contractor to perform the work, protect yourself and your property with proper coverage. For example:

  • Ask for proof of insurance. Examine dates and coverage carefully to ensure coverage is current and legitimate.
  • Ask to have your name added in writing as an additional insured on the contractor’s liability policy. Some contractors offer this free, but you may have to pay a small fee for this service.
  • Make sure the contractor’s insurance coverage includes workers’ compensation. You don’t want to have to pay for injuries occurring to contract workers on your property.

By placing yourself as an additional insured on your contractor’s policy, you’re also covering the gray areas that include situations such as a roofer’s ladder falling over and damaging your neighbor’s property. The additional-insured documentation should protect you in these types of third-party cases.

For major projects, such as additions or new homes, you might want to consider purchasing temporary builders risk insurance. This will cover mishaps during construction.

Contact my office: Whatever type of project you’re planning, contact your insurance agent early in the process. Your agent can advise you on the best type of coverage to add. He or she can also make the proper adjustments to the value of your home.

If you are building an addition, for example, your home will be worth more than when your homeowners policy was originally written. Communicate with your agent to ensure you have appropriate coverage based on the new value of the property.

Do I Need Extra Insurance for Exterior Rebuilds?

You’re planning your next remodeling project. Perhaps you’re expanding your home to enjoy more living space. Maybe you’re replacing the 1990s siding. Whether your project is a minor exterior renovation or major roofing repair, it’s important the work is properly insured. This may or may not involve the purchase of additional insurance.

In dealing with a contractor: If you are planning to hire a contractor to perform the work, protect yourself and your property with proper coverage. For example:

  • Ask for proof of insurance. Examine dates and coverage carefully to ensure coverage is current and legitimate.
  • Ask to have your name added in writing as an additional insured on the contractor’s liability policy. Some contractors offer this free, but you may have to pay a small fee for this service.
  • Make sure the contractor’s insurance coverage includes workers’ compensation. You don’t want to have to pay for injuries occurring to contract workers on your property.

By placing yourself as an additional insured on your contractor’s policy, you’re also covering the gray areas that include situations such as a roofer’s ladder falling over and damaging your neighbor’s property. The additional-insured documentation should protect you in these types of third-party cases.

For major projects, such as additions or new homes, you might want to consider purchasing temporary builders risk insurance. This will cover mishaps during construction.

Contact your insurance agent: Whatever type of project you’re planning, contact your insurance agent early in the process. Your agent can advise you on the best type of coverage to add. He or she can also make the proper adjustments to the value of your home.

If you are building an addition, for example, your home will be worth more than when your homeowners policy was originally written. Communicate with your agent to ensure you have appropriate coverage based on the new value of the property.

A Home Inventory Can Help You before and after a Disaster

If disaster struck, could you recall every item you own? And what you paid for it?

After a fire or a flood, a complete home inventory will help you verify your losses and settle insurance claims faster. It can also help you and your agent determine how much insurance you need. To prepare an up-to-date home inventory, follow these easy steps:

List it: Make a list of all your possessions. Walk from room to room, noting what each space contains. Include basic information such as the make and model and the cost. For major appliances, record the serial numbers. Don’t forget any items you have stored outside or off-site.

Document it: Keep sales receipts, contracts, and appraisals with your list. As you purchase new items, be sure to add them to this inventory. To stay organized, you may want to create an envelope system to group receipts based on type of item. Be sure to store your inventory and all receipts in a fire-safe box or in a safe deposit box to ensure it’s available after a disaster.

Picture it: For a thorough record of your belongings, take pictures. Capture entire rooms and/or individual big-ticket items. You may also want to shoot a video of your inventory. Walk through your home and describe the contents as you record them. These photos and videos can be extremely helpful when making an insurance claim.

Your insurance agent can be a great source of help when you’re creating your home inventory by providing tips, recommending inventory apps, and - most important - offering advice on the right coverage.

‘I Only Sell Online. Why Do I Need Insurance?’

There’s an easy - and important - answer to this question. The truth is, online entrepreneurs need protection just as much as traditional brick-and-mortar (B&M) businesses. Specific coverage will vary somewhat, but commercial insurance is still a must. Here’s why:

  • Your physical assets, whether inventory or equipment, still need protection.
  • You are not immune to lawsuits simply because you never see your customers in person.
  • You may suffer cyberattacks that cripple your business.

With this in mind, online business owners should discuss with their insurance agent what types of insurance coverage are appropriate for their operations. And soon.

Typically, online business owners should carry:

Commercial property insurance: Many home-based business owners assume their homeowners policy will cover their business assets. This is generally not the case. For proper protection of inventory, tools, materials, or equipment, you should have a commercial property insurance policy. This will provide coverage in case of theft or damage. Without it, one storm or one criminal could bankrupt your operations.

Commercial liability insurance: What happens if a customer sues you? Any lawsuit related to your business operations will not be covered by your homeowners policy. You need commercial liability insurance to provide coverage for the settlement and your defense costs. Even if you win the case, attorney fees add up quickly. Some companies are more likely to be sued than others, but anyone who provides a service or a product (either online or via B&M) is vulnerable.

Cyber liability insurance: Internet security is essential in today’s online marketplace. Even with the best protocols in place, you are still at risk. If your system is hacked, you may lose sensitive information about your business and your clients. You may suffer costly downtime. And it may impact your customers as well. With so much at stake, you can’t afford not to have cyber coverage.

Workers’ compensation: Do you have employees? Even if they don’t work in a B&M location, both full- and part-time employees must have workers’ compensation coverage. Consult with your insurance agent on exactly what coverage you need based on your operations and employee responsibilities.

Professional liability insurance: Those who don’t sell a product can still get sued. If advice provided in a consultation causes harm, or is perceived to have caused harm, you might get sued. This policy will cover you in these potentially costly cases.

Products liability insurance: This coverage is only needed by those who sell a product rather than a service. Even if you believe your product is completely benign, it’s a good idea to have coverage in place. You might be surprised at how children (or even adults) can hurt themselves. As they say: Better safe than sorry.

Loss of income: Do you have a backup plan for a business interruption? Loss of income insurance offers coverage if your online business ceases due to a fire or other covered disaster. With it in place, you can bridge the gap and get things flowing again. Without it, you might be up the creek without a paddle.

Travel Insurance Is Crucial for Those 50+

In today’s uncertain world, a health travel insurance policy makes more sense than ever. But if you’re over 50, you definitely need to consider purchasing it before setting out abroad or on a cruise. Injuries and illnesses arise during travel, and ensuring you have the proper medical coverage to meet your needs is crucial.

New situations, different terrain, and riskier activities, such as parasailing or hiking excursions, can contribute to injuries, particular for older travelers. Even driving in a strange country can be a problem for many.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the top cause of death of U.S. citizens abroad.

Medicare and Medigap

If you have Medicare, your coverage applies in the U.S. wherever practitioners accept it. But if you have a Medicare or Medigap supplement, check with your supplemental insurer on overseas coverage. TheĀ Medicare.gov website offers travel coverage advice, and warns that Medigap policies have a lifetime travel emergency coverage limit of $50,000.

Evacuation and repatriation coverage

The best way to ensure you have the broadest coverage overseas is with a travel insurance policy. For example, travel insurance provides emergency evacuation and repatriation. If injured overseas, you (and your spouse) may want to return home for treatment and recuperation. This coverage goes beyond transporting you after an injury or illness. It includes advice, coordination of admission to a local facility, medical air transport and escort when needed, and ground transportation coordination at both ends of an evacuation; it also smooths immigration and flight clearances and assists with travel arrangements.

While some travel policies cover both medical and repatriation, you still may require two policies. Also, although some insurers offer coverage for a single trip, if you make frequent trips in the same year, an annual plan may be the best choice for you. Snowbirds in particular may benefit from this type of plan.

Prevent Homeowner Claims with This Checklist

A few simple maintenance tasks can help prevent major liability insurance claims. The following tasks, completed annually, will help protect you from several types of homeowners insurance claims, such as:

Liability

Inspect your driveway and walkways. Are these areas safe and smooth? Repair any broken, cracked, or uneven areas. This helps prevent accidents on your property. And don’t forget to fix fences and gates.

Winter weather may have taken a toll on your home’s exterior. Check hinges, latches, and locks to ensure they work. If you have a pool, maintaining these deterrents is especially important to keep your own kids or neighboring children away from the pool area and out of danger.

Fire damage

Change batteries in all your smoke detectors and ensure they’re functioning correctly. Also clean your dryer’s lint hose. Your lint trap doesn’t catch it all. You should clean the hose once each year to prevent fire. (And as a bonus, it also increases dryer efficiency.)

Moisture damage

Check the water heater, and if you notice any corrosion or leaks, get it repaired right away. As well, seams and caulking on doors and windows can crack over time and allow moisture to enter your home. This can cause further damage to its structure. Reseal or recaulk where needed.

You also should clean out your gutters and clear away all the debris left by winter storms. The gutter and downspout system protects your home from water damage by directing water away from your roof and foundation. When it’s clogged, it can’t do its job.

Theft

Overgrown bushes can block windows and create shelter for thieves. Trim the landscaping so everything (and everyone) is out in the open. Also check outdoor lighting for burned-out bulbs; ensure your home is well lit to discourage any unwelcome visitors.

If you’re worried about a homeowners insurance claim, this annual checkup can give you a safe home and peace of mind.

Spring Cleaning: Remember to Dust Off Your Insurance

With the arrival of spring, many homeowners equip themselves with cleaning supplies and tackle the accumulated winter grime. If you’re making a checklist for spring chores this month, include a quick cleanup of your personal insurance policies. This yearly review of your coverage should include:

Top-to-bottom cleaning: Review your home from shingles to cellar. Have you made any renovations or improvements since last spring? Did you add a room or remodel a kitchen? Examine your policy to ensure it offers proper coverage to rebuild your home to its current state.

Asset organization: Go through your stuff. Did you receive expensive jewelry for Christmas or purchase any other valuable items in the past year? Check to see if their total value exceeds the limits on your homeowners policy. If so, consider a personal property endorsement or floater to get proper coverage.

Car detailing: What is the current value of your vehicle? You might be able to save money by lowering your coverage. Here’s a good rule of thumb: if your car is worth less than $1,000 or less than 10 times your premium, comprehensive coverage may no longer be cost-effective.

Rain forecast review: Do you need an umbrella? If your assets have increased, they might be at risk if you are showered with lawsuits. Consider an umbrella policy, which kicks in if you reach the liability limit of a standard homeowner or auto policy.

To complete your spring cleaning, consult with my office to determine what changes, if any, are best for you this season.

Why Would I Want to Raise My Insurance Deductible?

We’re all looking for ways to save a buck or two. When it comes to homeowners insurance, a great way to put more money in your wallet is to bump up your deductible.

“Won’t I have to pay more when I make a claim?” most people ask. Yes, but you’ll likely save in the long run.

If you’re like the average homeowner, you’ll make a claim only once every nine years (and often wait considerably longer). If you can save a little more than $100 a year in premiums by raising your deductible, the math typically works out in your favor.

Making this adjustment to your deductible results in a threefold benefit:

Lower premiums: A higher deductible reduces the cost of your insurance.

Increased cash flow: With less money flowing out of your account to cover insurance premiums, you have more on hand to cover other regular expenses (like groceries, the heating bill, and transportation expenses).

Reduced claims: If you have a small loss or theft, where costs will likely fall short of your deductible amount, you can opt to not file this claim and decide whether you want to replace the item. Fewer claims help keep your premiums lower.

If you decide to go this money-saving route, it is important to establish a savings “buffer” by creating an emergency fund that you can easily access if you need to cover the full deductible. My office can review deductible and premium options with you to determine the best fit for your financial needs.