Love Bites-Umbrella Insurance Can Help

In today’s economy, everyone is pinching pennies.  So why worry about umbrella coverage?  Shouldn’t a home and auto policy leave you adequately covered?

 

Unfortunately, we live in a world of lawsuits.  Large damages can be awarded, be extremely expensive and have long-term financial impact.  Those lawsuits can come from unlikely sources, such as our furry friends.

Take Herschel for instance.  Herschel is a much-loved, rather timid labradoodle who enjoys taking naps on the driveway while his owner mows the lawn.

 

Herschel watched from eight feet away as his neighbor, a 39 year old man, showed off his rollerblading skills to his kids.  The man wiped out on the sidewalk in front of Herschel’s house and broke his leg.  He required surgery, costing around $35,000 in medical costs and $18,000 in lost wages.

 

Fair or not, the man brought a lawsuit against Herschel’s owner, suing for $220,000 in damages.  He alleged that Herschel had caused the accident by getting in his way, despite multiple witnesses to the contrary.

 

But Herschel’s owner was lucky–a jury vindicated Herschel. However, lawsuits such as these can easily exceed the limits on a homeowner’s policy.  Leaving the insured responsible for the remainder.  An umbrella policy would prevent that, giving you an extra $1 million to $5 million in coverage.

 

Our furry friends can put your assets at risk in other ways as well.   According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year.  With half of those occurring on the owner’s property.  Dog bites, according to the Insurance Information Institute, account for about a third of all homeowner’s insurance claims, which only cover limited damages.

OR

One of the most certain things in life is uncertainty. Your dog could bite the neighbor’s kid. Your teen driver could hit a cyclist. A guest could fall down your stairs. A rainy morning commute on worn-out tires could result in a multi-car accident. And you could be held liable to others for the cost of damages – injuries, property destruction, emotional distress, lost wages and more.

Good thing you have insurance. But, wait, your policy covers $300,000 of liability, and, in a lawsuit, you’re judged liable for $1 million. That leaves $700,000 left to pay. How will you cover it?

If you have umbrella insurance and your policy covers the incident, the additional $700,000 will come from your policy. If not, it will come from the assets you have now, such as your home and savings, and from future assets, such as your wages or inheritance.

The fact is, it only takes one serious accident and a resulting lawsuit to put everything you own – and will own – at risk. And it only takes one umbrella policy to help protect it all.

Here are a few things you should know about umbrella insurance:

  • Personal umbrella policies typically offer between one and five million dollars of liability coverage. Consider your net worth when choosing your coverage –you could be sued for everything you have.
  • An umbrella policy is not a stand-alone policy. Your insurance carrier will typically require you to meet certain qualifications, such as having an auto policy with a certain level of liability coverage, in order to purchase umbrella insurance.
  • Even when you have umbrella insurance, your car or home insurance is your first line of defense. For example, if you are liable for $2 million in a car accident and your auto insurance covers $500,000 of liability, your auto policy covers the first $500,000. Your umbrella policy covers the remaining $1.5 million, assuming your policy covers the incident and that you purchased that much coverage. If you are liable for $250,000 in an accident on your property and your homeowners insurance covers $300,000, your umbrella policy won’t be needed.
  • If you insure a motorcycle, ATV, golf cart, snowmobile, motorhome, or watercraft, your umbrella policy may provide additional liability coverage on top of those policies as well. Be sure to check with your agent to confirm your coverage on these types of vehicles.
  • A single umbrella policy typically covers all of your family members who are residents of your household.

Med Pay? PIP? Dec pages? Insurance terms, explained

With all kinds of different coverages for all kinds of different needs, insurance can be very confusing. And to make it even more challenging, at times it probably seems like insurance websites and policy documents are written in a completely foreign language.

Of course, that’s why we recommend working with an independent agent—someone who is on your side during the process and who can explain everything you need to know.

Even if you do work with a {TGH Insurance}, however, it’s good to have a little basic knowledge about insurance. Below are definitions for some common terms that will help you understand your coverage a little better.

General insurance terms

  • Actual cash value: This type of coverage pays according to what an item was worth at the time it was damaged—it takes depreciation and wear and tear into account. For example, if you could have sold your couch for about $200 just before it was damaged, that’s the actual cash value, even if a similar new couch would cost $1,000.
  • Actual replacement cost: This pays the amount it would cost to replace a damaged item with a new one (such as the $1,000 couch above). It does not factor in depreciation or wear and tear.
  • Adjuster: A person who works for an insurance company to evaluate losses and settle claims.
  • Additional insured: Someone who is not the policyholder, but is still covered by an insurance policy.
  • Declarations page: This is what creates a contract between you and the insurance company. It describes who owns the policy, what property is covered and for how much, etc.
  • Deductible: The amount you agree to pay out of pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in. For example, if the cost to fix your car is $2,000, but your deductible is $1,000, you would pay $1,000 of the total cost. Typically, a higher deductible means a lower premium.
  • Endorsement: This is a change to your insurance policy’s coverage, usually made through a special form.
  • Exclusion: Something specifically listed in your policy that is not covered by the policy.
  • Liability: Your responsibility for injuries or damage to other people or property. You purchase insurance to protect against liability and other risks.
  • Loss of use: When damage from an accident or other cause prevents someone from being able to live in their home or drive their car.
  • Med Pay (medical payments):This pays for medical expenses for those covered by your policy in the event of an auto accident, regardless of fault. It also covers medical expenses for guests if they are injured on your property, but unless it is a car accident, it usually does not cover injuries someone suffers on their own property.
  • Premium:  The amount you pay for an insurance policy.
  • Subrogation: When an insurance company pays a claim, and then seeks damages from a third party who was responsible for causing the damage or loss. For example, your insurance company might pay for your car to be fixed even though an accident wasn’t your fault—and then pursue reimbursement from the person who was at fault.
  • Term: The period of time your insurance policy is in effect, usually six or 12 months.
  • Umbrella: A policy that provides additional liability coverage. It kicks in after your other insurance policies have reached their coverage limits.
  • Underwriting: The evaluation process insurance companies use to determine if they will provide coverage to a customer.

 

Auto insurance terms

  • Aftermarket parts: Vehicle parts made by a different company than the one that manufactured those originally included with the vehicle.
  • Bodily injury coverage: Covers expenses for physical injuries, such as hospital bills or medical care.
  • Collision coverage: This pays for damage to a vehicle caused by you or someone else covered by your policy.
  • Comprehensive coverage: If your vehicle is damaged by something you could not control, such as fire or a tree falling, comprehensive coverage applies.
  • PIP (personal injury protection): This pays medical expenses for a policyholder or additional insured, and their passengers, if they are hurt in an auto accident, regardless of fault.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM): Pays for your damages and expenses if another driver is at fault in an accident but does not have enough insurance to cover your costs.

 

Homeowners insurance terms

  • Additional living expenses: Coverage for expenses above your usual living expenses.  Such as if you have to stay in a hotel because you can’t live in your damaged home.
  • Catastrophe: A disaster, such as a hurricane or tornado. That impacts a specific area and results in significant damage.
  • Flood insurance: Typically, standard homeowners policies do not provide coverage for flooding.  It must be purchased separately.
  • Home contents: These are the things inside your house that aren’t fixed to the structure, such as your furniture, appliances, etc.
  • Peril: A specifically defined risk, such as hail, flooding, wind, etc.
  • Scheduled personal property: Separate coverage for high-value items, such as expensive jewelry. That exceed the limits of your policy or are otherwise excluded.

 

If something isn’t clear when you’re buying or considering insurance, don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Essentially, an umbrella policy gives you excess liability coverage on top of what your other policies provide. If you’re at fault for a serious accident, you’ll need it.

Umbrella insurance also gives you liability coverage in instances where other policies don’t. Examples include driving in a foreign country or renting a boat.

Protect what you love.  Call us to talk about your umbrella options.

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Are you ready to save time, aggravation, and money? The team at TGH Insurance is here and ready to make the process as painless as possible. We look forward to meeting you!

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