Auto insurance protects you against financial loss if you have an accident. It is a contract between you and the insurance company. You agree to pay the premium and the insurance company agrees to pay your losses as defined in your policy.
Auto insurance provides property, liability and medical coverage:
- 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.
An auto insurance policy is comprised of six different kinds of coverage. Most states require you to buy some, but not all, of these coverages. If you’re financing a car, your lender may also have requirements. Most auto policies are for six months to a year.
The six parts of an auto policy
Your auto policy may include all 6 coverages or some of them. Each coverage is priced separately.
- Bodily Injury Liability
For injuries the policyholder causes to someone else.
- Medical Payments or Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
For treatment of injuries to the driver and passengers of the policyholder’s car.
- Property Damage Liability
For damage the policyholder caused to someone else’s property.
For damage to the policyholder’s car from a collision. The collision could be with another car, a light post, fire hydrant, etc.
For damage to the policyholder’s car that doesn’t involve a collision with another car. Covered risks include fire, theft, falling objects, missiles, explosion, earthquake, flood, riot and civil commotion.
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage
For treatment of policyholder’s injuries as a result of collision with an uninsured driver. Underinsured motorist coverage can also be included in an auto policy. Underinsured motorist coverage comes into play when an at-fault driver has auto liability insurance, but the limit of insurance is inadequate to pay for your damages.
Each state requires that you have certain types of coverages with minimum liability limits. The insurance industry recommends that at a minimum your bodily injury liability limits be $100,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence.
How much homeowners insurance do I need? You need enough insurance to cover the following:
- The structure of your home.
- Your personal possessions.
- The cost of additional living expenses if your home is damaged and you have to live elsewhere during repairs.
- Your liability to others.
You need enough insurance to cover the cost of rebuilding your home at current construction costs. Don’t include the cost of the land. And don’t base your rebuilding costs on the price you paid for your home. The cost of rebuilding could be more or less than the price you paid or could sell it for today.
Some banks require you to buy homeowners insurance to cover the amount of your mortgage. If the limit of your insurance policy is based on your mortgage, make sure it’s enough to cover the cost of rebuilding. (If your mortgage is paid off, don’t cancel your homeowners policy. Homeowners insurance protects your investment in your home.)
For a quick estimate of the amount of insurance you need, multiply the total square footage of your home by local building costs per square foot. To find out construction costs in your community, call your local real estate agent, builders association or insurance agent.
Factors that will determine the cost of rebuilding your home:
- Local construction costs
- The square footage of the structure
- The type of exterior wall construction — frame, masonry (brick or stone) or veneer
- The style of the house (ranch, colonial)
- The number of bathrooms and other rooms
- The type of roof and materials used
- Other structures on the premises such as garages, sheds
- Fireplaces, exterior trim and other special features like arched windows
- Whether the house, or parts of it like the kitchen, were custom built
- Improvement to your home – adding a second bathroom, enlarging the kitchen or other additions that have added value to your home
Standard homeowners policies provide coverage for disasters such as damage due to fire, lightning, hail, explosions and theft. They do not cover floods, earthquakes or damage caused by lack of routine maintenance.
Replacement cost policies.
Most policies cover replacement cost for damage to the structure. A replacement cost policy pays for the repair or replacement of damaged property with materials of similar kind and quality. There is no deduction for depreciation — the decrease in value due to age, wear and tear, and other factors.
If you purchase a flood insurance policy, coverage for the structure is available on a replacement cost basis.
Guaranteed or extended replacement cost coverage.
After a major hurricane or a tornado, building materials and construction workers are often in great demand. This can push rebuilding costs above homeowners policy limits, leaving you without enough money to cover the bill. To protect against such a situation, you can buy a policy that pays more than the policy limits.
Building codes are updated periodically and may have changed significantly since your home was built. If your home is badly damaged, you may be required to rebuild your home to meet new building codes. Generally, homeowners insurance policies (even a guaranteed replacement cost policy) won’t pay for the extra expense of rebuilding to code. Many insurance companies offer an Ordinance or Law endorsement that pays a specified amount toward these costs. (An endorsement is a form attached to an insurance policy that changes what the policy covers.)
Consider adding an inflation guard clause to your policy. This automatically adjusts the dwelling limit when you renew your policy to reflect current construction costs in your area.
Your personal possessions
Most homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for your personal possessions for approximately 50% to 70% of the amount of insurance you have on the structure or “dwelling” of your home. The limits of the policy typically appear on the Declarations Page under Section I, Coverages, A. Dwelling.
To determine if this is enough coverage, you need to conduct a home inventory. This is a detailed list of everything you own and information related to the cost to replace these items if they were stolen or destroyed by a disaster such as a fire. If you think you need more coverage, contact your agent or insurance company representative and ask for higher limits for your personal possessions.
Replacement Cost or Actual Cash Value.
You can insure your possessions in two ways. You can either insure your belongings for their actual cash value or their replacement cost.
A cash value policy pays the cost to replace your belongings minus depreciation. A replacement cost policy, on the other hand, reimburses you for the cost to replace the item.
Suppose, for example, a fire destroys a 10-year-old TV set in your living room. If you have a replacement cost policy for the contents of your home, the insurance company will pay to replace the TV set with a new one. If you have an actual cash value policy, it will pay only a percentage of the cost of a new TV set because the TV has been used for 10 years and is worth a lot less than its original cost. Some replacement cost policies also replace the item and deliver it to you.
Generally, the price of replacement cost coverage is about 10% more than actual cash value. If you need a flood insurance policy, you can purchase flood insurance for your belongings. It is only available, however, on an actual cash value basis.
Insuring expensive items with floaters/endorsements.
There may be limits on how much coverage you get for expensive items such as jewelry, silverware and furs. Generally, there is a limit on jewelry for $1,000 to $2,000. You should ask your agent or look it up in your policy. This information is in Section I, Personal Property, Special Limits of Liability. Insurance companies may also place a limit on what they’ll pay for computers.
If the limits are too low, consider buying a special personal property floater or an endorsement. These allow you to insure these items individually or as a collection. You are charged a premium based on what the item (or collection) is, where you live and its dollar value.
You can determine the value by providing your agent with a recent receipt or getting the item or collection appraised.
Additional living expenses after a disaster
This is a very important feature of a standard homeowners insurance policy. This pays the additional costs of temporarily living away from your home if you can’t live in it due to a fire, severe storm or other insured disaster. It covers within reasonable limits hotel bills, restaurant meals and other living expenses incurred while your home is being rebuilt.
Coverage for additional living expenses differs from company to company. Many policies provide coverage for about 20% of the insurance on your house. Some companies will even sell you a policy that provides you with an unlimited amount of loss of use coverage, for a limited amount of time.
You should talk to your agent or company to make sure you know exactly how much coverage you have and how long the coverage will be in effect. In most cases, you can increase this coverage for an additional premium.
Liability to others
This part of your policy covers you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you or family members cause to other people. It pays for both the cost of defending you in court and for any damages a court rules you must pay.
Generally, most homeowners insurance policies provide a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability insurance, but higher amounts are available. Increasingly, it is recommended that homeowners consider purchasing at least $300,000 to $500,000 worth of coverage of liability protection.
Umbrella or Excess Liability.
You should buy enough liability insurance to protect your assets. If you own property and or have investments and savings that are worth more than the liability limits in your policy, you may consider purchasing an excess liability or umbrella policy.
Umbrella or excess liability policies provide extra coverage. They start to pay after you have used up the liability insurance in your underlying home (or auto) policy. An umbrella policy is not part of your homeowners policy. You have to purchase it separately. In addition to providing a higher dollar amount, they offer broader coverage. You are covered for libel, slander, and invasion of privacy. These things are not covered under standard homeowners or auto policies.
The cost of an umbrella policy depends on how much underlying insurance you have and the kind of risk you represent. The greater the underlying liability coverage, the cheaper the policy. This is because you would be the less likely to need the additional insurance. Most companies will require a minimum of $300,000 on your home and your car, if you own one.
Most companies provide limited coverage for property damage for small boats such as canoes and small sail boats or small power boats with less than 25 per hour horse power under a homeowners or renters insurance policy. Coverage is usually about $1,000 or 10% of property coverage. Check with your insurance representative to find out if your boat is covered and what the limits are.
For other boats, you will need to purchase separate insurance. The size, type, value of the craft and the water in which you use it factor into how much you will pay for insurance coverage.
Home and auto insurance policies may provide limited coverage for personal watercraft. Talk to your insurance representative about coverage limits. You may want to consider purchasing a personal watercraft policy to protect you and your water vehicle in the event of an accident.
The personal watercraft policy covers:
- bodily injury
- property damage
- guest passenger liability
- medical payments
Liability limits start at $15,000 and can be increased to $300,000. Typical policies include deductibles of $250 for property damage, $500 for theft and $1,000 for medical payments. Additional coverage can also be purchased for trailers and other accessories. Please contact us about the type of coverage that would best suit your needs.
Insurance coverages to consider:
- Physical Damage
- Medical Payments
- Motor Coverage
- Trailer Coverage
- Boat Covers
- Docking Fenders
- Communications Devices
Remember, since every boat is unique please make sure you check with us to see if you need any additional coverages or would be eligible for additional discounts.
What type of insurance do I need for a co-op or condo?
If you have purchased a condo or co-op, the bank will require insurance to protect its investment in your home. You may, however, need more insurance to cover your personal items, liability or fees that may be charged to you regarding shared areas of the building like the lobby.
You will need two separate policies to protect your investment:
Your own insurance policy.
This provides coverage for your personal possessions, structural improvements to your apartment and additional living expenses if you are the victim of fire, theft or other disaster listed in your policy. You also get liability protection.
A “master policy” provided by the condo/co-op board.
This covers the common areas you share with others in your building like the roof, elevator, boiler and walkways for both liability and physical damage.
To adequately insure your apartment, it is important to know what structural parts of your home are covered by the condo/co-op association and what are not. You can do this by reading your association’s bylaws and/or proprietary lease. If you have questions, talk to your condo association, contact us or family attorney.
Sometimes the association is responsible for insuring the individual condo or co-op units, as they were originally built, including standard fixtures. The individual owner, in this case, is only responsible for alterations to the original structure of the apartment, like remodeling the kitchen or bathtub. Sometimes this includes not only improvements you make, but those made by previous owners.
In other situations, the condo/co-op association is responsible only for insuring the bare walls, floor and ceiling. The owner must insure kitchen cabinets, built-in appliances, plumbing, wiring, bathroom fixtures etc.
Also ask us about the following additional coverages:
This reimburses you for your share of an assessment charged to all unit owners as a result of a covered loss. For instance, if there is a fire in the lobby, all the unit owners are charged the cost of repairing the loss.
This insures your property for damage by the back-up of sewers or drains. Water back-up may not always be included in a policy. Check to see that it is included.
This is an inexpensive way to get more liability protection and broader coverage than is included in a standard condo/co-op policy.
Flood or earthquake.
If you live in an area prone to these disasters, you will need to purchase separate flood and earthquake policies. Flood insurance is available through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program ( http://www.fema.gov/nfip/ ). Both flood and earthquake insurance can be purchased through your insurance agent.
Floater or endorsement.
If you own expensive jewelry, furs or collectibles, you might consider getting additional coverage since there is generally a $1,000 to $2,000 limit for theft of jewelry on a standard policy.
Also don’t forget to ask about all available discounts. You can reduce your rates by raising your deductibles and by installing a smoke and fire alarm system that rings at an outside service.
Flood insurance covers losses to your property caused by flooding. From structural and mechanical damage to flood debris clean-up and floor surfaces (like carpeting and tile), your investment is protected by a flood insurance policy, something that your homeowners policy does not offer.
Having flood insurance gives you many benefits. Not only is coverage there when you need it, but it also:
- Compensates for all covered losses
- Compensates for flood damages even if federal disaster aid is unavailable
- Pays for your covered losses, unlike interest-bearing loans through federal disaster assistance
- Comes in low-cost policies for those who qualify
- Guarantees compensation for flood damages because the Federal government backs NFIP flood insurance
- Helps you move on – if your property is damaged by flood, your agent is there to help you handle your claim
If you should have any questions regarding Flood Insurance, or we can assist you with a quote, please feel free to contact our office.
Manufactured Homes Insurance
Manufactured Home Insurance
Generally it costs more to insure a manufactured home than a conventional home because of the difference in construction materials and the mobile home’s greater susceptibility to wind damage.
Having the right insurance helps you protect one of your most valuable assets – your home.
Your mobile home policy provides:
- Coverage for your mobile home.
- Protection for your personal effects.
- Personal Liability protection.
Optional Coverages You May Wish to Consider
- Guaranteed Replacement Cost Coverage
- Inflation Guard Endorsement
- Increased Limits on Money and Securities
- Scheduled Personal Property Endorsement
- Increased Limits on Money and Securities
- Secondary Residence Premises Endorsement
- Flood Insurance
- Earthquake Insurance
- Windstorm Coverage
Life Insurance – What are the principal types of life insurance?
There are two major types of life insurance—term and whole life. Whole life is sometimes called permanent life insurance, and it encompasses several subcategories, including traditional whole life, universal life, variable life and variable universal life.
Life insurance products for groups are different from life insurance sold to individuals. The information below focuses on life insurance sold to individuals.
There are several different types of term insurance you can consider:
- Renewable Term Insurance
- Convertible Term Insurance
- Level Term Insurance
- Decreasing Term Insurance
- Increasing Term Insurance
Term Insurance is the simplest form of life insurance. It pays only if death occurs during the term of the policy, which is usually from one to 30 years. Most term policies have no other benefit provisions.
There are two basic types of term life insurance policies—level term and decreasing term.
Level term means that the death benefit stays the same throughout the duration of the policy.
Decreasing term means that the death benefit drops, usually in one-year increments, over the course of the policy’s term.
Whole Life / Permanent Insurance
There are four basic types of permanent insurance:
- Whole Life
- Joint Whole Life
- Survivorship Life
- Universal Life
- Variable Life
- Variable Universal
Whole life or permanent insurance pays a death benefit whenever you die—even if you live to 100! There are three major types of whole life or permanent life insurance—traditional whole life, universal life, and variable universal life, and there are variations within each type.
In the case of traditional whole life, both the death benefit and the premium are designed to stay the same (level) throughout the life of the policy. The cost per $1,000 of benefit increases as the insured person ages, and it obviously gets very high when the insured lives to 80 and beyond. The insurance company could charge a premium that increases each year, but that would make it very hard for most people to afford life insurance at advanced ages. So the company keeps the premium level by charging a premium that, in the early years, is higher than what’s needed to pay claims, investing that money, and then using it to supplement the level premium to help pay the cost of life insurance for older people.
By law, when these “overpayments” reach a certain amount, they must be available to the policy owner as a cash value if he or she decides not to continue with the original plan. The cash value is an alternative, not an additional, benefit under the policy.
In the 1970s and 1980s, life insurance companies introduced two variations on the traditional whole life product—universal life insurance and variable universal life insurance.
Choosing the right insurance policy is much like choosing the right bike. You want it to fit your needs and lifestyle, but at the same time be within your budget.
The key to finding which coverage is best for you involves learning about all the options available.
Liability insurance covers bodily injury and property damage that you may cause to other people involved in an accident. It doesn’t cover you or your motorcycle. Find out if your coverage includes Guest Passenger Liability, which provides protection in the event that a passenger is injured on the motorcycle. Whether or not this is included depends on the laws of your state and the company issuing the policy.
Collision insurance covers damage to your motorcycle if you are involved in an accident. Your insurance company pays for damages, minus your deductible, caused when you collide with another vehicle or object. Collision insurance usually covers the book value of the motorcycle before the loss occurred.
Comprehensive coverage pays for damages caused by an event other than a collision, such as fire, theft or vandalism. However, just like collision coverage, your insurance company will pay for damages, minus your deductible, and cover only the book value of the motorcycle.
Keep in mind most comprehensive and collision coverages will only cover the factory standard parts on your bike. If you decide to add on any additional optional accessories such as chrome parts, a custom paint job, trailers or sidecars, you need to look into obtaining additional equipment coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage pays for medical treatment, lost wages and other damages if a driver who has no insurance hits you. If your uninsured motorist coverage includes property damage, then your cycle would also be covered under the same circumstances. Check with your insurance professional to see if property damage is included or needs to be purchased separately.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Underinsured motorist coverage is similar to uninsured motorist coverage, except it applies when the other party has lower coverage limits than you do and damages exceed the other party’s limits.
Tips for the cost-conscious rider
Many factors can play a role in determining what your insurance costs will be, such as being a graduate of a rider-training course, your age, your driving record, where you live and the type of motorcycle you own.
- Many companies offer discounts from 10 to 15 percent on motorcycle insurance for graduates of training courses, such as the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) rider course. Riders under the age of 25, usually considered a higher risk, may see some savings by taking this course. It’s also a good idea for cyclists who have already had accidents.
- Maintaining a good driving record with no violations will also help reduce your premiums.
- Find out what discounts your insurance representative offers. Multi-bike discounts for those insuring more than one bike; organization discounts, if you’re a member of a motorcycle association; and mature rider discounts for experienced riders, are just a few possibilities. Discounts can range anywhere from 10% to 20%, depending on the company and your state. Availability and qualifications for discounts vary from company to company and state to state.
- Keep in mind that the type, style (such as a sports bike vs. a cruiser), age of the motorcycle, number of miles you drive a year and where you store your bike may also affect how much you pay for your premium.
Motorhome & RV Insurance
Whether your RV is a Class A, Class C, Fifth Wheel, Travel Trailer or Camper Shell — we are dedicated to providing you the right motor home insurance quote at the right price.
Many people are unaware that an auto policy is not designed to insure the special needs of an RV owner.
Coverages to consider when purchasing RV Insurance:
- Personal Property Coverage
- Attached Accessories
- Guaranteed Loss Replacement
- Full Timers Coverage
- Agreed Value Coverage
- Vacation Liability Coverage
- Emergency Expense Coverage
- Purchase Price Protection
Even though you don’t own your own home you have personal property that can be lost to fires, burglaries and even lawsuits.
While most homeowners are insured for these risks, many renters are not. No one requires renters to buy insurance to protect their personal property, so many do not.
These are some of the types of losses for which your personal property is covered:
- Smoke, if sudden and accidental
- Sudden and accidental discharge of water or steam from plumbing, heating, or air-conditioning system, or household appliance
- Fire or lightning
- Windstorm or hail
- Loss of use
If you rent a home or a mobile home, you need special protection. Our plans can cover you from almost any kind of hazard. You can be protected against damage to the home or adjacent structures and your contents as well
What is personal umbrella insurance?
Personal umbrella insurance provides coverage beyond your homeowner or auto policy by adding an extra layer of liability coverage. Coverage is provided in amounts of $1,000,000 increments. Umbrella insurance also covers situations that may not be covered by another policy such as slander or libel.
The umbrella policy coverage “kicks in” where you’re existing coverage ends, up to limit of the umbrella policy purchased.
Personal Umbrella Protection covers:
- Operating most motor vehicles, including cars, RV’s, motorcycles, pickup trucks, and most watercraft
- Incidents involving any property covered by your basic homeowners policy.
- Incidents alleging slander, libel, defamation of character, invasion of privacy, even false arrest.
- Business liability coverage is provided if covered by your basic homeowners policy.