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.

 

Insuring a Classic Car

Courtesy of iii.org

A classic, custom, collectible or antique car requires insurance that reflects your vehicle’s uniqueness and value. If you own—or are thinking of owning—a special set of wheels, find out about the kind of policy you need.


What types of vehicles need special insurance?

A classic, collectible or antique car is no ordinary car—and regular auto insurance is not sufficient to protect such a vehicle against damage or loss.

That said, there is no uniform definition of a classic car. If a car’s value exceeds its original selling price, then it might be considered collectible and a candidate for specialized classic car insurance. In general, vehicles that might warrant classic car auto insurance include:

  • Antique and classic cars, usually at least 25 to 30 years old
  • Hotrods and modified vehicles
  • Exotic and luxury autos—think James Bond
  • Muscle cars
  • Classic trucks

You might also seek specialized insurance for vintage military vehicles, classic motorcycles and antique tractors.

Qualifying for classic car coverage

A car’s age is not enough to qualify for specialized classic car insurance. While requirements differ from company to company, most cars need to meet the following criteria in order to qualify:

  • Limited use – Your classic car cannot be used for everyday commuting or errands, and your policy may include mileage limitations and proof the car is being properly garaged if you do travel with it. In some cases, insurers may require that you also own a primary car for everyday use.
  • Car shows and meetings – The limited use provision of a classic car policy allows for travel to car shows and auto club meet-ups; however, this coverage may be restricted by some insurers. If this is the case, there are insurers that can provide specialized coverage for car shows and meetings. Before choosing a classic car insurer, it’s worth checking whether they have travel restrictions if you plan to take your car on regular, multi-day, high mileage drives.
  • Secure storage – When not in use, your special vehicle must be stored in a locked, enclosed, private structure, such as a residential garage or storage unit.
  • A clean driving record – You may be disqualified from classic auto insurance if you have serious offenses on your driving record, such as reckless driving, repeat speeding violations or driving while intoxicated.

Not every vehicle, however special, will meet the qualifications of every insurer. For instance, some insurers may not cover vintage off-road vehicles. Insurers may also decline to insure vehicles that are in poor condition or have been previously damaged.

What you should know about classic car policies

Your classic car policy will include provisions found in standard auto insurance policies, notably property damage and bodily injury liability coverage. But there are some differences, as well:

  • Your car’s value – Because each car’s condition is unique, there is no set “book value” for specific makes and models. The first step in insuring your classic car is for you and your insurer to reach an agreement on the value of the vehicle. This value will be specified in your policy and your car will be covered up to that value without depreciation.

Note that, unlike everyday vehicles that depreciate over time as you add miles to them, classic cars may gain value. Make sure you adjust your coverage as the value of your auto appreciates.

  • Specialized repair or restoration – Your policy should you the flexibility to bring your vintage Mercedes, Ferrari or Corvette to a specialist—even if the rates may be twice, or three times, the cost of a typical car repair at a traditional auto body shop.
  • Special towing and spare parts – Coverage for towing is commensurate with the special demands of transporting a classic car. Spare parts coverage, too, needs to be aligned with the cost of replacing valuable and perhaps hard-to-find vehicle components, such as wheels, transmissions, and engine parts.

You and Hurricane Insurance

Courtesy of iii.org

  • Florida accounted for 13 percent of all U.S. insured catastrophe losses from 1987 to 2016: $70.8 billion out of $364.3 billion, based on data from the PCS division of ISO. (Adjusted for inflation by ISO using the GDP implicit price deflator.)
  • Six of the 10 costliest hurricanes in U.S. history have impacted Florida. Four of these storms occurred within just two years: 2004 and 2005. (See chart.)
  • The costliest hurricane, based on insured property losses to Florida, was 1992’s Hurricane Andrew. It caused $25.4 billion in damage to Florida and Louisiana (in 2018 dollars). (See chart.)
  • Standard homeowners policies typically do not cover flood damage. Flood insurance is covered by the federally managed National Flood Insurance Program, but private flood insurance is becoming increasingly available.
  • Florida leads the nation in the number of flood policies, according to the National Flood Insurance Program, with about 1.8 million policies in force in 2017.
  • The number of people living in coastal areas in Florida increased by 4.2 million, or 27 percent, from 15.6 million in 2000 to 19.8 million in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. About 98 percent of the total population of Florida lives in one of the coastal counties.
  • In Florida, 2.8 million homes were at risk in 2018 for storm surge damage from hurricanes up to Category 5 strength, according to CoreLogic, Inc. These homes would cost $552.4 trillion to completely rebuild, including labor and materials.
  • Given the growth in the number and value of insured property, a repeat of the hurricane that devastated Miami in 1926 would have resulted in approximately $130.2 billion in insured damage in 2016, according to Karen Clark and Co.
  • After its establishment in 2002, when the state passed legislation combining two separate high-risk insurance pools known as the Florida Windstorm Underwriting Association and the Florida Residential Property & Casualty Joint Underwriting Association, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. (CPIC) experienced exponential growth. As a result, Florida Citizens has evolved from a market of last resort to the state’s largest property insurer.
  • Florida Citizens Property Insurance Corp. provides multiperil and wind-only insurance coverage to Florida homeowners, commercial residential and commercial business property owners.
  • Direct homeowners insurance premiums in Florida written by Citizens was $460.9 million in 2017 down from $795 million in 2014.
  • Citizens was the state’s fourth leading homeowners insurer in 2017, with a market share of 5.0 percent, down from 9.1 percent in 2014.
  • Florida Citizens had 482,765 policies with an exposure of $112.3 billion in fiscal year 2017, according to the Property Insurance Plans Service (PIPSO).

 

8 Myths About Auto Insurance

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.

 

 

Gap Insurance and You

Courtesy of iii.org

How gap insurance works

When you buy or lease a new car or truck, the vehicle starts to depreciate in value the moment it leaves the car lot. In fact, most cars lose 20 percent of their value within a year. Standard auto insurance policies cover the depreciated value of a car—in other words, a standard policy pays the current market value of the vehicle at the time of a claim.

If, when you finance the purchase of a new car and put down only a small deposit, in the early years of the vehicle’s ownership the amount of the loan may exceed the market value of the vehicle itself.

In the event of an accident in which you’ve badly damaged or totaled your car, gap insurance covers the difference between what a vehicle is currently worth (which your standard insurance will pay) and the amount you actually owe on it.

When you might need gap insurance

It’s a good idea to consider buying gap insurance for your new car or truck purchase if you:

  • Made less than a 20 percent down payment
  • Financed for 60 months or longer
  • Leased the vehicle (carrying gap insurance is generally required for a lease)
  • Purchased a vehicle that depreciates faster than the average
  • Rolled over negative equity from an old car loan into the new loan

Where you can get gap insurance

Your car dealer may offer to sell you gap insurance on your new vehicle. However, most car insurers also offer it, and they typically charge less than the dealer. On most auto insurance policies, including gap insurance with collision and comprehensive coverage adds only about $20 a year to the annual premium.

 

Do You Need Insurance Protection?

Courtesy of iii.org

June weather in New York City can be fickle. As the I.I.I.’s own Brent Carris reported, this fickleness can lead to chaos for the city’s outdoor music festivals, like the recent fiasco at this year’s Gov Ball. Carris noted that event organizers will often have event cancellation insurance to protect themselves financially.

But this got me thinking: is there rain insurance?

Weather insurance

The answer: yes, actually. It’s usually called “weather insurance” – and covers financial losses resulting from adverse weather, including rain. Typically, weather insurance is useful if you’re planning an outdoor event, like a wedding or a bar mitzvah. Commercial events can also buy this insurance, like fairs or festivals.

According to Trusted Choice, weather insurance is often tailored to a specific event’s needs. For example, a sailing regatta in San Francisco might want to be covered for excessive fog, whereas a baseball tournament in Arizona might want to be covered for extreme temperatures. Of course, these covered perils can be combined: it gets hot in southern Florida and rains a lot, so you might want to cover your golf tournament for both high temperatures and precipitation. Plus, you know, hurricanes.

How the coverage gets triggered also depends on the event: one-day events might want their policies to kick in if a certain amount of rain falls over a certain amount of time. Other events that last multiple days or weeks might want the trigger to be if rainfall or temperatures exceed their averages during the policy period.

Special event insurance

Okay, cool, that means I can protect myself in case I have to cancel my invitational street hockey tournament. But what if I have to cancel or postpone for non-weather reasons? That’s where “special event insurance” comes in. It’s broader than just plain weather insurance and will cover other causes of cancellation.

In the case of a wedding, special event insurance can cover cancellation due to, among other things: death or illness of a key participant, or if the bride or grooms is suddenly called to military duty. You can also cover your gifts in case they’re stolen or damaged. You can even cover your losses if one of your third-party providers can’t uphold their promises to you. For example, you could be covered if the bridal salon goes out of business and you have to get a dress somewhere else, or the photographer fails to show up and you need to deputize your cousins to take pictures with their smartphones.

Ticket insurance

It’s not just event organizers who can get insurance protection, though. There are also products to protect attendees. For example, Allianz calls its product “Global Assistance Event Ticket Protector Insurance,” which roughly translates into English as “ticket insurance”.

According to the Ticketmaster website, this insurance will reimburse you 100 percent of your ticket (including taxes and shipping) if any of a long list of things happens that prevents you from enjoying your event. Illness or serious injury, for example. Military duty is also covered (who knew there was such a high risk of someone being whisked away to military duty on short notice?). You’ll also be covered if a traffic accident keeps you from getting to the venue, or if your plane is delayed getting in.

However, being lazy is not a covered cause of loss: “Please note that no benefits will be extended for cancellations due to simply changing your mind.”

Homeowners Insurance & Grilling Safety

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

Millions of Americans safely enjoy outdoor barbecues, but accidents do happen. Ensure trouble-free summer cooking fun by maintaining your grill, using it safely and knowing what to do in case of emergency.


Hot to handle

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, about 5,700 grill fires take place on residential property every year, most caused by malfunctioning gas grills. These fires cause an annual average of $37 million in damage, 100 injuries and 10 fatalities. In addition, thousands more people visit emergency rooms every year because they have burned themselves while barbecuing.

In the rare instance of a grill fire spreading to your property, your homeowners insurance provides financial protection, as fire is a covered peril. A standard policy covers:

  • Damage to the house itself
  • Damage to personal possessions, such as lawn furniture
  • Damage to insured structures on your property, such as a shed or gazebo
  • Injuries to a guest, under the liability portion of the policy

Of course, the best way to enjoy a summer of outdoor barbecues is to take steps to prevent accidents, and take fast action should any occur.

Properly maintain and store your grill

Gas grills are generally safe if they are properly designed and constructed, properly maintained and regularly checked for leaks. Follow these safety tips when setting up at the start of each grilling season:

  • Search the Consumer Product Safety Commission website to make sure there has not been a recall on your model grill.
  • Check grill hoses for cracks, holes and brittleness.
  • Check for blockages, especially in the Venturi tube that runs to the burners. These can be caused by food drippings, spiders or insects. Clear any blockages with a wire or pipe cleaner.
  • Check for leaks by running a solution of one part liquid soap, one part water along hoses and on connections. Open the valve at your tank and check to make sure that gas isn’t escaping, which will be indicated by bubbles at the leaking points.
  • Adjust hoses away from hot areas or where grease might drip on them.
  • Cover your grill when cooled and not in use to help protect its parts from inclement weather, falling leaves, and insect activity.
  • Store propane tanks outside, away from your house. Always check to make sure valves are firmly turned off.

 

Practice safe barbeque habits

When barbecuing, use common sense:

  • Operate your barbecue on a level surface, away from your house, garage and landscaping.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby and let everyone know where it is and how to operate it.
  • Don’t move the grill once it is lit.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill.
  • Protect yourself—or whoever is doing the grilling—with a heavy apron and oven mitts that reach high on the forearm. Use very long-handled utensils designed for barbecuing.
  • Use only lighter fluid designed for grilling when charcoal grilling. Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids, and never add more lighter fluid once the fire has started.
  • Never grill indoors or in enclosed areas. Charcoal grills produce carbon monoxide (CO) fumes, which can be fatal in unventilated areas.
  • Wait until the grill is cooled before storing or covering. When you’re done cooking, remember that the grill will remain hot for a while.
  • Soak charcoal briquettes with water to ensure they are cool and inactive before throwing them away.

 

Know what to do in case of an accident

Despite all good efforts to prevent them, accidents do happen. Which is why they’re called accidents—and why people have insurance! Here are steps to take if the worst should happen:

  • In case of fire get out the trusty fire extinguisher and, if the situation warrants, call 911. Fire spreads quickly and it’s better to be safe with professional help than sorry.
  • Address injuries immediately. Run cool water over minor burns, but do not cover injured areas with bandages, butter or salve. In the case of serious burns, take victims to the emergency room or an urgent care facility. Again, if needed or when in doubt, call 911.
  • Assess your property damage. Once you have dealt with any injuries and the smoke clears, assess your property damage. If the situation calls for it, contact your insurance professional to discuss filing a claim.

2019 Hurricane Season

Courtesy of iii.org
Dr. Phil Klotzbach, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University (CSU), and his team released their updated forecast for the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane season which began on June 1 and continues through November 30.

The team adjusted their original forecast which predicted a slightly below average season, and now call for an average season. The new estimate calls for about 6 hurricanes (average is 6.4), 14 named storms (average is 12.1), 55 named storm days (average is 59.4), 20 hurricane days (average is 24.2), 2 major (Category 3-4-5) hurricanes (average is 2.7) and 5 major hurricane days (average is 6.2). These numbers include Subtropical Storm Andrea which formed in May.

“We …believe that 2019 will have approximately average activity. There remains considerable uncertainty as to whether El Niño conditions will persist through the Atlantic hurricane season. The tropical Atlantic has warmed slightly faster than normal over the past few weeks and now has near-average sea surface temperatures. We anticipate a near-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean,” said Dr. Klotzbach.

As is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them. They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.

Dr. Phil Klotzbach is a non-resident scholar at the Insurance Information Institute.

Has Your Car Insurance Been Cancelled?

Courtesy of iii.org

There’s a difference between an insurance company cancelling a policy and choosing not to renew it. Learn why your insurance might not be renewed

Auto insurance cancellation

Insurance companies cannot cancel a policy that has been in force for more than 60 days except when:

  • You fail to pay the premium
  • You have committed fraud or made serious misrepresentations on your application
  • Your drivers license has been revoked or suspended.

Auto insurance non-renewal

Either you or your insurance company can decide not to renew the policy when it expires. Your insurance company must give you a certain number of days notice and explain the reason for not renewing before it drops your policy (the exact timeframes and rules will depend on the state in which you live).

There are a number of reasons an insurance company may choose not to renew a policy, and it may have nothing to do with you personally. For example, your insurer may have decided to drop that particular type of insurance or to write fewer policies where you live.

However, a nonrenewal can also be due to your record or your actions. Doing something to considerably raise the insurance company’s risk—like driving drunk—would be cause for non-renewal.

If you’ve been told your policy is not being renewed and you want a further explanation or think the reason is unfair, call the insurance company’s consumer affairs division. If you don’t get a satisfactory explanation, contact your state insurance department.

Note that nonrenewal at one insurer doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be charged a higher premium at another insurance company.