8 Questions to Ask for Car Insurance

Courtesy of iii.org
Make sure your car coverage reflects your needs and budget

The vehicle you own, your personal priorities and your budget all factor into your unique auto insurance needs. Before comparing policies and insurers, evaluate how you use your car and what risks you face to figure out what options make the best sense for you.

1. How much do you drive?

Do you absolutely need your car every day—for instance, to commute to work or drive the kids to school and activities? Do you drive 100 miles a month or closer to 1,000 or more? Make sure your policy reflects how much you use your car. If you don’t drive a lot, you may want to opt for mileage-based insurance.

2. Will you be using your car for work?

If you use your car not just to get to work, but to perform tasks for which you get paid, commercial auto insurance is a necessity. A personal auto policy will not provide coverage if you transport paying passengers through a ride-share service, deliver pizzas, drive as a courier or use your car for other commercial activities.

3. What type of car do you drive?

Insurers have mountains of data, and they know in precise detail what types of cars, makes and models are more—or less—likely to incur claims. A flashy sports car with a powerful engine may be more likely to be stolen and its bodywork costs will be more than on a mid-sized sedan—and your insurance will be priced accordingly. Some types of cars—such as modified or classic cars—require special insurance. By the same token, you may receive discounts if you have a “safe” car—one with the latest safety features and a good safety record.

4. How much do you love your car?

If you love the way your vehicle looks and take pride in its appearance, you’ll likely want it fixed perfectly—or replaced with the same model—if it gets damaged. That means you’ll probably to consider the fullest range of insurance—including collision, comprehensive and glass coverage. On the other hand, if you drive a beater, see cars merely as transportation and want to save on premiums, you might prefer to limit your policy to liability.

5. Where do you live—and park your car?

Where you live will impact your insurance rates—and it may be a factor in what coverage you purchase. For example, cars parked on the street in urban areas face a greater risk for theft or vandalism, so comprehensive coverage might be a good option. You may discover that your premium rates are lower if you move from a city to a suburb.

6. Who else will be driving the car?

Generally, your car insurance will cover other occasional drivers. However, if other drivers live with you and use your car—whether a spouse, a teen driver or a housemate—they should be listed on your policy.

7. What are your legal obligations?

Nearly every state requires that you carry minimum liability coverage for your car. At the very least, you need to make sure your policy complies with state mandates. However, the levels of required coverage are generally pretty low. Keep in mind that, if you are involved in a serious accident, you may be sued for a large sum of money. Depending on your assets and financial risk tolerance, to be safe, you’ll probably want to purchase a higher level of liability coverage.

8. Is your car financed or leased?

If you still owe money on your car or have to return it in good condition when a lease expires, you’ll likely be required to insure the car for its full value—and even for any gap between what you owe and the car’s market value. Collision and comprehensive will cover damage to your car—and supplemental gap insurance will cover the rest.

Keep in mind that your insurance options and costs will also be affected by your age, gender and driving record. Be aware too that your credit score can also impact your insurance rates. Once you’ve looked at your needs and priorities, and understood how insurance options will match them, you’ll be better prepared to make an informed decision about the types and levels of coverage to buy.

Auto Accidents & Distracted Drivers, Continued

Courtesy of iii.org

BACKGROUND

Cellphones play an integral role in our society. However, the convenience they offer must be judged against the hazards they pose. Their use contributes to the problem of inattentive driving, which also includes talking, eating, putting on make up and attending to children.

As many as 40 countries may restrict or prohibit the use of cellphones while driving. Countries reported to have laws related to cellphone use include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Botswana, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe. Most countries prohibit the use of hand-held phones while driving.

Supporters of restrictions on driving while using a cellphone say that the distractions associated with cellphone use while driving are far greater than other distractions. Conversations using a cellphone demand greater continuous concentration, which diverts the driver’s eyes from the road and his mind from driving. Opponents of cellphone restrictions say drivers should be educated about the effects of all driver distractions. They also say that existing laws that regulate driving should be more strictly enforced.

Earlier Studies: Over the past decade numerous studies have been conducted on driver inattention, in particular focusing on the use of cellphones. Below is a summary of some these studies.

Motorists who use cellphones while driving are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves, according to a study of drivers in Perth, Australia, conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The results, published in July 2005, suggest that banning hand-held phone use will not necessarily improve safety if drivers simply switch to hand-free phones. The study found that injury crash risk didn’t vary with type of phone.

Many studies have shown that using hand-held cellphones while driving can constitute a hazardous distraction. However, the theory that hands-free sets are safer has been challenged by the findings of several studies. A study from researchers at the University of Utah, published in the summer 2006 issue of Human Factors, the quarterly journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, concludes that talking on a cellphone while driving is as dangerous as driving drunk, even if the phone is a hands-free model. An earlier study by researchers at the university found that motorists who talked on hands-free cellphones were 18 percent slower in braking and took 17 percent longer to regain the speed they lost when they braked.

A September 2004 study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that drivers using hand-free cellphones had to redial calls 40 percent of the time, compared with 18 percent for drivers using hand-held sets, suggesting that hands-free sets may provide drivers with a false sense of ease.

A study released in April 2006 found that almost 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds of the event. The study, The 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study, conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the NHTSA, broke new ground. (Earlier research found that driver inattention was responsible for 25 to 30 percent of crashes.) The newer study found that the most common distraction is the use of cellphones, followed by drowsiness. However, cellphone use is far less likely to be the cause of a crash or near-miss than other distractions, according to the study. For example, while reaching for a moving object such as a falling cup increased the risk of a crash or near-crash by nine times, talking or listening on a hand-held cellphone only increased the risk by 1.3 times.

Employer and Manufacturer Liability: Although only a handful of high-profile cases have gone to court, employers are still concerned that they might be held liable for accidents caused by their employees while driving and conducting work-related conversations on cellphones. Under the doctrine of vicarious responsibility, employers may be held legally accountable for the negligent acts of employees committed in the course of employment. Employers may also be found negligent if they fail to put in place a policy for the safe use of cellphones. In response, many companies have established cellphone usage policies. Some allow employees to conduct business over the phone as long as they pull over to the side of the road or into a parking lot. Others have completely banned the use of all wireless devices.

In an article published in the June 2003 edition of the North Dakota Law Review, attorney Jordan Michael proposed a theory of cellphone manufacturer liability for auto accidents if they fail to warn users of the dangers of driving and talking on the phone at the same time. The theory holds that maker liability would be similar to the liability of employers who encourage or demand cellphone use on the road. Holding manufacturers liable would cover all persons who drive and use cellphones for personal calls. Michael notes that some car rental agencies have already placed warnings on embedded cellphones in their cars.

Be Sure to Protect Your Valuables Today!

Courtesy of iii.org

The holidays are a time of giving and receiving gifts, but would you be able to replace those gifts if they were destroyed in a fire or other disaster? A home inventory is the best way to protect your personal possessions, yet only 50 percent of homeowners said they had an inventory in a 2016 Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) survey. That’s where Know Your Stuff®, the free, award-winning home inventory app can help.

The I.I.I.’s Know Your Stuff® home inventory app allows you to enter information on mobile or desktop and syncs across all your devices so you can access it anywhere, at any time. It can help you:

  • Purchase enough insurance to replace the items you own, if they are stolen or damaged.
  • Get insurance claims settled faster.
  • Substantiate losses or charitable donations for tax purposes.
  • Keep track of items that require maintenance or repair.
  • Declutter and organize your home.

“With the average property damage and liability claim costing more than $9,000 and about one in 15 insured homes having a claim each year, it’s important for homeowners to protect their assets,” said Loretta Worters, a vice president with the I.I.I. “Renters should also consider taking a home inventory.”

To simplify the task of creating an inventory, the Know Your Stuff® app allows you to take photographs of your possessions and organize them according to the room in which the items are located.

With the Know Your Stuff® Home Inventory app, you get:

  • Secure free cloud storage of your inventory data. You can also store and manage all your insurance policy information, including contact information for your insurance professional and your policy numbers.
  • Downloadable reports for easy recordkeeping and claims filing.
  • A tool that is backed by the expertise of the I.I.I., a leading independent insurance research and communications organization.

Know Your Stuff® also allows you to keep track of multiple properties and insurance policies. An opt-in service provides integrated weather alerts for your area as well as updates and tips on how to prepare your home against severe weather.

Auto Insurance Myths

Courtesy of
https://www.iii.org/article/8-auto-insurance-myths

When purchasing an auto policy, it’s important to understand the factors that affect your policy costs and coverage. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad information that passes for “common wisdom”—here, we separate myth from facts about car insurance.


Myth 1 – Color determines the price of auto insurance

It doesn’t matter whether your car is “Arrest Me Red” or “Hide In Plain Sight White”—the color doesn’t actually factor into your auto insurance costs. The price of your auto policy is based on many factors, such as car make, model, body type, engine size and the age of the vehicle, as well as the car’s sticker price, the cost to repair it, its overall safety record and the likelihood of theft. Insurers also take into account the age, driving record and sometimes the credit history of the driver.

Myth 2 – It costs more to insure your car when you get older

Quite the opposite, in fact—older drivers may be eligible for special discounts. For example, those over 55 years of age can get a reduction in their auto insurance premium if they successfully complete an accident prevention course (available through local and state agencies as well as through the AAA and AARP). Retirees or those who aren’t employed full time—and therefore, who are driving less—may also be eligible for a car insurance discount. Older driver programs and discounts vary by state and insurance carrier and driver age, so if you think you may qualify, check with your insurance professional.

Myth 3 – Your credit has no effect on your insurance rate

Your credit-based insurance score—which is derived from your credit history—may matter. A good credit score demonstrates how well you manage your financial affairs and has been shown to be a good predictor of whether someone is more likely to file an insurance claim so many insurance companies take it into consideration when you want to purchase, change or renew your auto insurance coverage. People with good credit—and, therefore good insurance scores—often end up paying less for insurance.

Myth 4 – Your insurance will cover you if your car is stolen, vandalized or damaged by falling tree limbs, hail, flood or fire

This is only true if you opt for comprehensive and collision coverage along with your standard policy. If a car is worth less than $1,000, or less than 10 times the insurance premium, purchasing these coverages may not be cost effective—but you do need to have collision and comprehensive insurance to fully protect your vehicle from all types of damage.

Myth 5 – You only need the minimum amount of auto liability insurance required by law

Almost every state requires you to buy a minimum amount of auto liability coverage but buying only the minimum amount of liability means you are likely to pay more out-of-pocket for losses incurred after an accident—and those costs may be steep. The insurance industry and consumer groups generally recommend a minimum of $100,000 of bodily injury protection per person and $300,000 per accident. If you have substantial personal financial assets to protect in the event of a lawsuit, you may even want to consider an umbrella liability policy.

Myth 6 – If another person drives your car, in the event of accident, his or her auto insurance will cover the damages

In most states, the auto insurance policy covering the vehicle is considered the primary insurance. This means that the car owner’s insurance company must pay for damages caused by an accident, regardless of who is driving. Policies and laws differ by state, so make sure you understand the rules before allowing another person to drive your car.

Myth 7 – Soldiers pay more for insurance than civilians

If you are in the military—regardless of which branch—you actually qualify for a discount on auto insurance. You’ll need to supply documentation that lists your name, rank and the time that you will be enlisted in the service (in some situations, you might be able to have your commanding officer make a phone call on your behalf). Shop around—some auto insurance companies provide discounts for former members of the military, as well as their families.

<
Myth 8 – Personal auto insurance also covers business use of your car

If you are self-employed and use your vehicle for business purposes, personal auto insurance may not protect you so it’s important to purchase business vehicle insurance. If you have other people—such as employees—using your vehicle, regularly check their driving records.

 

 

Emergency Evacuation Tips

Courtesy of iii.org

In the event of a sudden, catastrophic event, you may have just minutes to gather your family and get out of your house—possibly for good. What would you take? Where would you go? Planning ahead for the worst can help minimize the impact of a tragedy and may even save lives. This five-step plan can help get you and your family on the road to safety.


Some of this information is also covered in the I.I.I.’s Know Your Plan app. Check it out for preparedness tips, handy checklists (including ones you can personalize yourself) and evacuation planning advice to cover a variety of disasters. It’s a great tool to help get you and your family—including pets—organized and ready to act more quickly if an emergency strikes.

For your evacuation planning:

1. Arrange your evacuation ahead of time

Don’t wait until the last minute to plan your evacuation.

  • Identify where you can go in the event of an evacuation. Try to have more than one option: the home of a friend or family member in another town, a hotel or a shelter. Keep the phone numbers and addresses of these locations handy.
  • Map out your primary routes and backup routes to your evacuation destinations in case roads are blocked or impassable. Try to have a physical map of the area available in case GPS satellite transmissions are down or your devices run out of power.
  • Pre-arrange a designated place to meet in case your family members are separated before or during the evacuation. Make the location specific, for example, “meet at the big clock in the middle of town square” not “meet at the town square”. Ask an out-of-town friend or family member to act as a contact person for your family.
  • Put all evacuation plans in writing along with pertinent addresses and phone numbers and give them to each member of the family. Note that many home printer inks are NOT waterproof, so take appropriate precautions to ensure legibility.
  • Listen to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio or local radio or TV stations for evacuation instructions. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.

2. Plan what to take

Many families choose to have a “go bag” ready with some of these critical items. Consider packing the following for an evacuation.

  • Prescriptions and other medicines
  • First aid kit
  • Bottled water
  • Flashlight, battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • Clothing and bedding (sleeping bags, pillows)
  • Special equipment for infants or elderly or disabled family members
  • “Comfort items,” such as special toys for children
  • Computer hard drive and laptop
  • Cherished photographs
  • Pet food and other items for pets (litter boxes, leashes)

3. Create a home inventory

Making a home inventory and having it handy will be useful if you need to apply for disaster aid. It will also:

  • Help ensure that you have purchased enough insurance to replace your personal possessions.
  • Speed the insurance claims process, if necessary
  • Substantiate any losses for income tax purposes.

4. Gather important documents

Keep the following important documents in a safe place that you can easily access and take with you in the event of an evacuation. And while for most of these you’ll need an original, it’s a good idea to make digital copies and keep them with you on a thumb drive, as well:

  • Prescriptions
  • Birth and marriage certificates
  • Passports
  • Drivers license or personal identification
  • Social Security cards
  • Recent tax returns
  • Employment information
  • Wills and deeds
  • Stocks, bonds and other negotiable certificates
  • Financial information such as bank, savings and retirement account numbers and recent tax returns
  • Home inventory

5. Take the 10-minute evacuation challenge

To ensure that you and your family are fully prepared for a sudden evacuation, do a real-time test. Give yourself just 10 minutes to get your family and belongings into the car and on the road to safety. By planning ahead and practicing, you should be able to gather your family members and pets, along with the most important items they will need, calmly and efficiently, with a minimum of stress and confusion.

Next steps link: Watch two families practice a 10-minute evacuation.

Back to School & Insurance

Courtesy of iii.org

With burglaries constituting approximately 50 percent of all on-campus crimes, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, it is more important than ever that college students and their parents review their insurance coverage.

For students who live in a dorm, most personal possessions are covered under their parents’ homeowners or renters insurance policies. However, some home insurance policies may limit the amount of insurance for off-premises belongings to just 10 percent of the total amount of coverage for personal possessions. This means that if the parents have $70,000 worth of insurance for their belongings, only $7,000 would be applicable to possessions in the dorm. Not all insurers impose this type of limit, so check with your insurance professional.

Expensive computer and electronic equipment, sports equipment, and items such as jewelry may also be subject to coverage limits under a standard homeowners policy. If the limits are too low, a special personal property floater or an endorsement can be purchased to cover these items. There are also stand-alone insurance policies for computers and cellphones.

Students and/or their parents may also want to consider purchasing a stand-alone policy specifically designed for students living away at college. This can be an economical way to provide additional insurance coverage for a variety of disasters.

Students who live off-campus are likely not covered by their parents’ homeowners policy and may need to purchase their own renters insurance policy. Your insurance professional can tell you whether your homeowners or renters policy extends to off-campus living situations.

For students going off to college, the I.I.I. recommends the following:

  • Leave valuables at home if possible 
    While it may be necessary to take a computer or sports equipment to campus, other expensive items, such as valuable jewelry, luxury watches or costly electronics, should be left behind or kept in a local safety deposit box.
  • Create a “dorm inventory”
    Before leaving home, students should make a detailed inventory of all the items they are taking with them, and revise it every year. Having an up-to-date inventory will help get insurance claims settled faster in the event of theft, fire or other types of disasters.
  • Engrave electronics 
    Engrave electronic items such as computers, televisions and mobile devices, such as your smart phone, with your name or other identifying information that can help police track the stolen articles.

The I.I.I. offers the following advice to guard against theft of your personal belongings on campus:

  • Always lock your dorm room door and keep your keys with you at all times, even if you leave briefly. And, not just at night—most dorm thefts occur during the day. Insist your roommates do the same.
  • Don’t leave belongings unattended on campus. Whether you are in class, the library, the dining hall or other public areas, keep book bags, purses and laptops with you at all times. These are the primary areas where property theft occurs.
  • Buy a laptop security cable and use it. A combination lock that needs decoding may be just enough to dissuade a thief.
  • Most campus fires are cooking related so be careful about the types of hot plates or microwaves you to bring to school, and how you use them.

In the event a student is planning to have a car on campus, choose a safe, reliable vehicle and do some comparison shopping to find the best auto insurance rate. You should also check with your own insurance company as it may offer a multi-policy discount. If you decide to keep the student’s car at home, be sure to let your auto insurance company know, as many insurers will give discounts for students who are living at a school at least 100 miles away from home.

It’s Hurricane Season, Follow These Guidelines

Courtesy of iii.org

Hurricanes are violent and dangerous to your family and your home. When a hurricane threatens to bear down, make sure that you know how to batten down your hatches and protect yourself, your loved ones and your property.


When it’s hurricane season

Hurricane season starts June 1 and runs through November 30. But don’t wait until a warning—take steps to prepare in advance for a potential hurricane—it’s the best way to protect your family, your home and your business.

For more preparedness tips, handy checklists (including ones you can personalize yourself) and evacuation planning advice to cover a variety of disasters, get the I.I.I.’s Know Your Plan app. It’s a great tool to help get you and your family—including pets—organized and ready to act more quickly if a hurricane or other emergency strikes.

When a hurricane watch is issued

A hurricane watch is issued when there is a threat of a hurricane within a 24-36 hour period. At that time, you should:

  • Purchase any emergency supplies that you don’t already have on hand. Hit the stores early, as items such as batteries, candles and flashlights will get snapped up quickly.
  • Prepare your yard by removing all outdoor furniture, lawn items, planters and other materials that could be picked up by high winds. If you haven’t already, remove weak branches on plants and trees. Lower antennas and retractable awnings.
  • Fully charge your cellphone.
  • Fill your car’s gasoline tank.
  • Jot down the name and phone number of your insurer and insurance professional and keep this information handy in your wallet or purse.

When a warning is issued

A hurricane warning is issued when hurricane conditions are expected in 24 hours or less, which means a storm is imminent.

  • Stay informed of the storm’s progress by listening to the radio or TV. Even better, listen to a NOAA Weather Radio for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS).
  • Install hurricane shutters, board up or otherwise securely shutter large windows and draw drapes across windows and doors.
  • Get off the boat—never remain on a boat during a hurricane! Check mooring lines of boats in water.

If evacuation becomes necessary

Hopefully, you’re fully prepared with an evacuation plan. Also remember:

  • Don’t wait until the last minute—shelters might be full or the roads might be jammed. If you have pets, consider traveling before an evacuation is ordered—otherwise, you might be ordered by officials to leave your pet home.
  • Take along survival supplies from your list.
  • Keep important papers with you at all times, including your home inventory and make sure you have the name and phone number of your insurance professional.
  • Take warm, protective clothing for the whole family in case you get stuck.
  • Lock all windows and doors on your home. Don’t compound hurricane damage with the threat of possible looters.
  • Keep all receipts for anything that might be considered to be an additional living expense (ALE) in the event your home is destroyed or damaged and rendered uninhabitable.

If you remain at home during a hurricane

Stay indoors. Don’t go out even during the brief calm when the eye of the storm passes over as wind speeds can increase dramatically in seconds.

  • Stay away from windows and glass doors and move furniture away from exposed doors and windows.
  • Stay on the downwind side of house. If your home has an “inside” room, stay there during the height of the hurricane.
  • Keep the television or radio tuned into information from official sources.

After the hurricane, beware of the dangers that remain

The storm may have passed, but it likely has created new dangers.

  • Beware of outdoor hazards like loose or fallen tree limbs, loose signage or awnings that are in danger of breaking off and falling.
  • Keep away from loose or dangling power lines, and report them immediately to the proper authority.
  • Walk or drive extra cautiously as washouts may weaken road and bridge structures.
  • In the event of a power outage, throw out food that may be spoiled.
  • Boil municipal water before drinking until you have been told it is safe.

If your home is damaged

Notify your insurance professional as soon as possible of any losses. If you had to relocate, let your representative know where you can be contacted. In addition:

  • Make temporary repairs—if they can be made safely—to protect property from further damage or looting; for insurance purposes, keep all receipts for materials used.
  • Get written estimates for any proposed repair jobs and use only reputable contractors. Be especially careful of building contractors who want huge deposits up front or encourage you to spend a lot of money on temporary repairs. Ask for their references and check with the Better Business Bureau on complaints.
  • Gather any other receipts for expenses that will be covered by insurance or will be tax deductible.

Protect Your Business From Severe Weather Events

Courtesy of iii.org

With predictions of an above-average hurricane season issued by Colorado State University this week, businesses need to take measures to prepare and increase their chance of surviving, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

Forty percent of businesses do not reopen after a disaster and another 25 percent fail within one year, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). But by taking action now to prepare, businesses can increase their chance of getting back on their feet financially and keeping their doors open.

The I.I.I. and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) recommend the following steps:

Develop a Business Continuity Plan

Having a business continuity plan is vital for companies to prepare for, survive and recover from a hurricane. Use IBHS’ free OFB-EZ® (Open for Business) business continuity planning tool to create a plan that focuses on recovering after the initial emergency response. Share your plan with employees, assign responsibilities and offer training so your workforce can collaborate in the recovery of your business. Conduct regular drills to assess and improve response.

Maintain Key Information Offsite

To get your business up and operating as quickly as possible after a disaster, you’ll need to be able to access critical business information. In addition to backing up computer data, keep other critical information offsite such as your insurance policies, banking information and phone numbers of employees, key customers, vendors and suppliers, your insurance professional and others. If you have a back-up site, make sure it’s sufficiently far away so as not to be affected by the same risks that threaten the primary location. Use IBHS’ free EZ-PREPTM severe weather emergency preparedness and response planning toolkit with checklists that can be customized for your company to be sure you have a well-organized plan and are ready to respond when disasters occur.

Create a Business Inventory

Include all business equipment, supplies and merchandise—and don’t forget commercial vehicles.

Review Your Insurance Coverage

The time to review your insurance policy is before disaster strikes and you have to file a claim. It is important that your business have both the right amount and type of insurance for its needs and risk profile. There are two types of policies you can buy as a business owner:

A Business Owner Policy (BOP) is commonly used by small businesses. BOP policies combine property and liability coverage in one policy and are usually less comprehensive than a commercial policy.

A Commercial Multi-peril (CMP) policy combines several coverages—such as commercial property, liability, inland marine and commercial auto—into a single policy. It is typically less expensive to buy a CMP policy than to buy the coverages individually.

Opt for Replacement Cost Coverage

Most commercial property policies provide either replacement cost coverage, actual cash value coverage, or a combination of both. Replacement cost coverage will pay to rebuild or repair property, based on current construction costs. Actual cash value coverage will pay to rebuild or replace the property minus depreciation. Depreciation is a decrease in value due to wear and tear or age. If your business is destroyed and you only have actual cash value coverage, you may not be in a position to completely rebuild.

Consider Tenant Coverage

If you rent or lease a building, consider tenant coverage, which will insure your on-premises property, including machinery, furniture and merchandise. The building owner’s policy will not cover your contents.

Don’t Forget About Flood Insurance

Flooding is not covered by standard commercial insurance policies, so consider buying a separate flood policy. If you’re located in a high- to moderate-risk flood zone, you could be protecting your business from devastating financial loss. Commercial flood coverage is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and provides up to $500,000 in building coverage and $500,000 for contents. You can also get coverage through private insurers.

Visit the Business Insurance section of the I.I.I. website for more information.

RELATED LINKS

Facts and Statistics: Catastrophes

Articles: When Disaster Strikes: Preparation, Response and Recovery; Does My Business Need Flood Insurance?

SOURCES:

Colorado State University

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety

National Flood Insurance Program

National Hurricane Center

Seasonal Hurricane Predictions

Small Business Administration

Airbnb, Insurance and You

Courtesy of iii.org

Before you consider renting out your home, your guest room—or even your couch—first contact your insurance professional so you fully understand the financial risks and can take the proper precautions. Here’s some general information to jumpstart your insurance conversation.

If you are considering renting out your home, your guest room or even your couch your first step should be to contact your insurance professional. Peer-to-peer home sharing opportunities such as Airbnb can be a great way to bring in extra money and are increasingly popular; however, they can also leave you financially vulnerable. If your renter starts a fire and damages your property or is hurt while renting your home, will you be protected?

Peer-to-peer home rental

Peer-to-peer home sharing opportunities such as Airbnb are increasingly popular and can be a great way to bring in extra money. However, they can also leave you financially vulnerable. If your renter starts a fire and damages your property or is hurt while renting your home, will you be protected?

Standard homeowners and renters insurance policies are designed for personal risks, not commercial risks. Some insurers now offer a home-sharing liability insurance policy that can be purchased on a month-to-month basis, but there may be exclusions and limitations, so read the policy carefully. If you plan to rent out all or part of your home on a regular basis, many companies will consider this a business use and you may need to purchase a business policy—specifically either a hotel or a bed-and-breakfast policy.

If you are doing the renting

If you are the one using a peer-to-peer network to rent a space from someone else, check your own homeowners or renters insurance policy. In most cases, if your personal possessions are stolen or damaged off-premises, you can simply file a claim with your own insurer. And if you accidentally injure someone, you should also be financially protected.

Occasional home rental

There may be times when a major event in an area—the Super Bowl, say, or a graduation at a major university—depletes local hotel space. In these cases, it’s fairly common for people to rent out their home or part of it for the extra cash it brings in.

Many insurance companies take this situation into account when creating a homeowners or renters policy and, with sufficient advance notice, will extend your coverage to the renter on a one-time basis. Other insurance companies may require the purchase of an endorsement to the policy to provide broader coverage for the renters in your home.

In both cases, be sure to let your insurance company know ahead of time, so you can be prepared.

Insuring Student Loss

Courtesy of iii.org

With burglaries constituting approximately 50 percent of all on-campus crimes, it’s important for college students and their parents take steps to prevent theft, adhere to safety measures—and review their insurance coverage.


Campus coverage basics

It’s best to consult your insurance professional for the details of your family’s specific coverage and where you might need additional protections, but here are some general guidelines:

  • Students who live in a dorm are covered under their parents’ standard homeowners insurance policies – That is, their possessions are protected by “off premise” coverage. However, some homeowners policies may limit this amount of insurance, so make sure you understand your own policy.
  • Students who live off campus are likely not covered by their parents’ homeowners policy – Your insurance professional can tell you whether your homeowners or renters policy extends to off-campus living situations. If it does not, to protect student belongings, those living off campus may need to purchase their own renters insurance policy.
  • Computers and smartphones may carry stand-alone insurance – If you’re getting these items new, at the time of purchase you may be offered insurance or other protections against theft or loss. Also, check the credit card used for the purchase, to see what protections might be available.
  • Consider a stand-alone policy specifically designed for students living away at college – This can be an economical way to provide additional insurance coverage for a variety of disasters.
  • If your college-bound student is leaving the car at home, make sure to tell your insurance agent – Depending on how far he or she is going away to school, you might be eligible for a premium discount.
Take pre-campus precautions with belongings

It’s better to prevent a loss than to deal with the aftermath. To help prevent loss:

  • Leave valuables at home, if possible – While it may be necessary to take a computer or sports equipment to campus, other expensive items—such as valuable jewelry, luxury watches or costly electronics—should be left behind or kept in a local safety deposit box. These items may also be subject to coverage limits under a standard homeowners policy, so if they must be brought to campus, consider purchasing a special floater or endorsement to the homeowners policy to cover them.
  • Engrave electronics with IDs – Permanently engraving a name and other identifying information on computers, televisions, smart phones and other electronic devices can help police track stolen articles.

Guard against theft or damage of personal belongings while on campus

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, burglaries constitute more than 50 percent of all on-campus crimes. In addition, carelessness can cause other types of damage. To help prevent losses, students should:

  • Always lock dorm room doors, and keep the keys with you at all times – Know that most dorm thefts occur during the day, and even if you leave briefly, lock up. Share the theft statistics with your roommates, and get agreement that they’ll do the same.
  • Don’t leave belongings unattended on campus – Classrooms, the library, the dining hall or other public areas are the primary places where property theft occurs, so keep book bags, purses and laptops with you at all times.
  • Buy a laptop security cable and use it – A combination lock that needs decoding may be just enough to dissuade a thief.
  • Be aware of fire hazards – Most campus fires are cooking related so be careful about the types of hot plates or microwaves you to bring to school, and how you use them.