What Happens if Your Car Insurance is Cancelled?

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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  • Your drivers license has been revoked or suspended.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.

Should I Insure Household Help

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Accidents happen—and if they happen to people you’ve hired to come into your home or onto your property to work, you’re financially liable. It makes sense to understand how you’re already covered and when to further insure household help.


Appropriate and adequate insurance coverage depends on the nature of the employee’s position and the assets you’re protecting. As always, consult your insurance professional with any questions or requested changes to your policy. Here’s some information to get you started.

If you contract a worker with an outside firm

For many household and in-home care needs—for example, for a nurse, a physical therapist, a cook or a housekeeper—you may decide to contract with a business or agency that provides these types of pros.

  • Determine who is the employer. When you’re dealing with a firm or agency, in most cases the worker you hired is an employee of that business and insured under their auspices. (If for some reason you’re the employer, read on to the situations below and talk to your insurance professional.)
  • Ask the firm for a copy of its certificates of insurance, which provides documentation that the firm provides workers compensation for its employees. If the firm also offers health and disability insurance, you can feel comfortable that any worker injured on your property will receive medical treatment.

If you hire occasional workers

If you occasionally hire a babysitter to take care of your children or a young person in your neighborhood to rake leaves or clean the garage, review your current insurance and:

  • Learn about the current no-fault medical coverage in your homeowners policy or renters insurance. If someone other than an immediate family member is injured on your property, you can submit their medical bills directly to your insurance company for reimbursement. Make sure your policy limits are adequate to your needs.
  • Check your liability insurance. Depending on your current homeowners and renters coverage and your assets, you may elect to raise the amount or buy more coverage through an umbrella liability policy.

If you hire permanent full- or part-time employees

If you hire one or more home workers on a permanent, regularly scheduled basis, consider purchasing workers compensation insurance. Workers comp provides coverage for medical care and physical rehabilitation for an employee who is injured on the job, as well as lost wages if the employee is severely hurt and no longer able to work. In the worst-case scenario, it also provides death benefits.

  • Find out if your state requires workers compensation for the type of employees you’re hiring (ex. housekeeper, gardener, etc.). Your state workers compensation board or agency can provide this information.
  • Determine the mandatory requirements workers comp coverage. For instance, some states may require an employer who hires a certain number of employees to buy workers compensation. In other states, the determination might be based on the number of hours an employee would work.
  • Don’t ignore the law. It’s important to note that if you’re required by law to buy workers compensation insurance and you fail to do so, your homeowners or other applicable policies will not pay for any fines, court awards or any other penalties against you.

If your employee is going to drive your car

Whatever the nature of the employee relationship, it’s important to inform your auto insurance company if the person you hire is going to drive your car. For example, if you’re going to lend your car to a worker to pick up groceries or take an aging parent to the doctor, your insurer needs to know about the additional driver for auto insurance purposes. Whatever the employee car usage, your insurer can explain your options.

Next steps link: Do you anticipate lots of workers because you’re renovating? Know the insurance implications of remodeling your home.

Dog Bites & Homeowners Insurance

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Almost 90 million dogs are owned as pets in the United States according to a 2017-2018 survey by the American Pet Products Association.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Among children, the rate of dog-bite–related injuries is highest for those 5 to 9 years old. Over half of dog-bite injuries occur at home with dogs that are familiar to us.

Homeowners and renters insurance policies typically cover dog bite liability legal expenses, up to the liability limits (typically $100,000 to $300,000). If the claim exceeds the limit, the dog owner is responsible for all damages above that amount.

Dog bite liability and homeowners insurance

Some insurance companies will not insure homeowners who own certain breeds of dogs categorized as dangerous, such as pit bulls. Others decide on a case-by-case basis, depending on whether an individual dog, regardless of its breed has been deemed vicious. Some insurers do not ask the breed of a dog owned when writing or renewing homeowners insurance and do not track the breed of dogs involved in dog bite incidents. However, once a dog has bitten someone, it poses an increased risk. In that instance, the insurance company may charge a higher premium, nonrenew the homeowner’s insurance policy or exclude the dog from coverage.

Some insurers are taking steps to limit their exposure to such losses. Some companies require dog owners to sign liability waivers for dog bites, while others charge more for owners of breeds such as pit bulls and Rottweilers and others are not offering insurance to dog owners at all. Some will cover a pet if the owner takes the dog to classes aimed at modifying its behavior or if the dog is restrained with a muzzle, chain or cage.

Homeowners insurance liability claims

  • Homeowners insurers paid out over $686 million in liability claims related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries in 2017, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) and State Farm®.
  • An analysis of homeowners insurance data by the I.I.I. found that the number of dog bite claims nationwide increased to 18,522 in 2017 compared to 18,123 in 2016—a 2.2 percent increase.
  • The average cost per claim for the year increased by 11.5 percent. The average cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide was $37,051 in 2017, compared with $33,230 in 2016. The average cost per claim nationally has risen more than 90 percent from 2003 to 2017, due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs, which are trending upwards.
  • California continued to have the largest number of claims in the United States, at 2,228 in 2017, an increase from 1,934 in 2016. The state with the second highest number of claims was Florida at 1,345. Florida had the highest average cost per claim at $44,700. The trend in higher costs per claim is attributable not only to dog bites but also to dogs knocking down children, cyclists, the elderly, etc., which can result in injuries that impact the potential severity of the losses.

State and local legislation

Dog owners are liable for injuries their pets cause if the owner knew the dog had a tendency to bite. In some states, statutes make the owners liable whether or not they knew the dog had a tendency to bite; in others, owners can be held responsible only if they knew or should have known their dogs had a propensity to bite. Some states and municipalities have “breed specific” statutes that identify breeds such as pit bulls as dangerous; in others individual dogs can be designated as vicious. At least two states, Pennsylvania and Michigan, have laws that prohibit insurers from canceling or denying coverage to the owners of particular dog breeds. In Ohio, for example, owners of dogs that have been classified as vicious are required to purchase at least $100,000 of liability insurance.

The American Kennel Club reports that while many municipalities have enacted bans on specific breeds, several states have laws barring municipalities and counties from targeting individual breeds.

  • Dog owners’ liability: There are three kinds of law that impose liability on owners:
    1) A dog-bite statute: where the dog owner is automatically liable for any injury or property damage the dog causes without provocation.
    2) The one-bite rule: where the dog owner is responsible for an injury caused by a dog if the owner knew the dog was likely to cause that type of injury—in this case, the victim must prove the owner knew the dog was dangerous.
    3) Negligence laws: where the dog owner is liable if the injury occurred because the dog owner was unreasonably careless (negligent) in controlling the dog.
  • Criminal penalties: On January 26, 2001, two Presa Canario dogs attacked and killed Diane Whipple in the doorway of her San Francisco, California, apartment. Marjorie Knoller, the owner of the dogs, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for keeping a mischievous dog that killed a person. She was sentenced to four years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and was ordered to pay $6,800 in restitution. Her husband, Robert Noel, was convicted on lesser charges but also received a four-year prison sentence. Knoller became the first Californian convicted of murder for a dog’s actions. This was only the third time such charges have been upheld in the United States, the first coming in Kansas in 1997.

Car Insurance Terms-What They Mean

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Don’t be intimidated by specialized insurance language. Below you’ll find definitions of some of the most common terms used when dealing with auto insurance.

Adjuster

An insurance company employee or contractor who reviews the damages and injuries caused by an accident and okays claims payments.

Bodily injury liability

Usually mandated by state law, this insurance provision covers costs associated with injuries and death that you or another driver causes while driving your car.

Claim

The formal request to an insurer for payment under the terms of your policy.

Collision coverage

Optional coverage that reimburses you for damage to your car that occurs as a result of a collision with another vehicle or other object?e.g., a tree or guardrail?when you’re at fault. While collision coverage will not reimburse you for mechanical failure or normal wear-and-tear on your car, it will cover damage from potholes or from rolling your car.

Comprehensive coverage

Coverage against theft and damage caused by an incident other than a collision, such as fire, vandalism, hail, flood, falling rocks and other events.

Credit-based insurance score

A confidential ranking developed by insurance companies based on your credit history that may be used to determine the cost of your insurance policy. A good credit score?an indication of responsible money management?has been shown to be a good predictor of whether someone is more likely to file an insurance claim.

Deductible

The amount subtracted from an insurance payout that you are responsible for. For instance, if you have a $500 deductible for your collision coverage, and an accident causes $2,000 of damage to your car, you pay $500 and your insurance covers the remaining $1,500. There is no deductible for your liability coverage.

Defensive driving

Driving in a way that reduces that chance of an accident. Defensive driving techniques include maintaining a safe following distance, scanning the road ahead, keeping both hands on the wheel and much more. If you take a defensive driving course, you may be able to get a discount on your auto insurance.

Diminished value

The value of a car after it has been in an accident and repaired. Even though the car may look fine, it is worth less than its value before the accident. If you’re the victim of an accident, you may be able to collect payment for the diminished value of your car, beyond the repair costs.

Distracted driving

Driving your car while distracted is dangerous and often illegal. Texting and using your phone are the most well-known distractions, but fiddling with your radio, looking at a map or GPS system, eating and drinking, talking to passengers and applying makeup also take your eyes off the road?and raise the risk of getting in an accident. Traffic tickets for texting or using your phone, as well as accidents caused by distracted driving, can drive up your insurance rates.

Gap insurance

As soon as you drive a new car off the dealer’s lot, its value begins to depreciate. And if you lease or finance the car, you’ll be responsible for the full amount you still owe should something happen to it, but your collision and comprehensive insurance will only cover the actual market value of the car. Gap insurance covers the difference between these two amounts?what the vehicle is worth and what you owe on it. The coverage can be purchased from the auto dealer or directly from your insurance company. For leased vehicles, gap insurance is usually rolled into the lease payments.

Liability

Your legal obligation to reimburse others for damage or injury that you cause. Nearly every state requires that you have liability insurance for your car so that if you or someone driving your car causes an accident, the victim will receive appropriate compensation.

Medical payments/Personal injury protection (PIP)

Coverage that provides reimbursement for medical expenses for injuries to you or your passengers stemming from an accident where you or someone using your car is at fault. This coverage may also pay lost wages and other related expenses.

OEM and generic auto crash parts

Crash parts are those that form the outside “skin” of a vehicle?such as fenders, hoods and doors panels?and are the most frequently damaged in auto accidents. Replacement parts provided by the manufacturer of your car are called original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. Parts that are made by another manufacturer are known as generic or aftermarket crash parts and are generally a lower cost, equally safe match for an OEM auto part.

Premium

The cost of your insurance policy, payable annually, semiannually or in monthly installments.

Property damage liability

Insurance coverage that reimburses others for damage that you or another driver operating your car causes to another vehicle or other property, such as a fence, building or utility pole.

Totaled

A car is totaled if the cost of repairs exceeds the car’s value. If your car is totaled and you have comprehensive and/or collision coverage, an insurer will pay you the full market value of your car or the limit of the policy, less your deductible if you are at fault.

Umbrella liability

Extra coverage beyond the limits of your regular liability policies. This will provide an additional layer of protection for your assets in the event you are sued. Your umbrella policy also covers claims that fall under your homeowners insurance policy.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

Uninsured motorist coverage will reimburse you when an accident is caused by a driver who lacks insurance?or in the case of a hit-and-run. In the case of a serious accident, underinsured motorist coverage will make up the difference between your losses and the coverage limit of the policy held by the driver who causes the accident.

Motorcycle Insurance Coverage

Courtesy of http://www.iii.org/article/motorcycle-insurance. Choosing the right insurance policy is much like choosing the right motorcycle. You want it to fit your needs and lifestyle, but at the same time be within your budget. Although most states require you to carry a minimum amount of liability coverage, other types of coverage are usually optional. Always ask your insurance agent or company representative which laws apply in your state.

In order to find out what coverage is best for you, it is important to understand all the options available.

Liability coverage

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 coverage

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

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 will 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 motorcycle. If you decide to add on any optional accessories such as chrome parts, a custom paint job, trailers or sidecars, you should look into obtaining additional or optional equipment coverage.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

Uninsured/underinsured Motorist Coverage covers damages to you and your property caused by another driver who either doesn’t have insurance (uninsured) or doesn’t have adequate insurance (underinsured) to cover your damages.

This coverage typically pays for medical treatment, lost wages and other damages. If your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage includes property damage, then your motorcycle 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.

Tips for the cost-conscious rider

Many factors can play a role in determining what your insurance costs will be such as your age, your driving record, where you live and the type of motorcycle you own, or being a graduate of a rider-training course.

  • 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.
  • In many northern states, riders may save money by buying a “lay-up” policy. With a lay-up policy, all coverage except comprehensive is suspended during winter months.
  • Find out what discounts your insurance representative offers. Multibike 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 percent to 20 percent, 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) and age of the motorcycle, as well as the number of miles you drive a year and where you store your bike may also affect how much you pay for your premium.

Home-Based Business & Insurance

Courtesy of iii.orgWhether you’re running a part-time, seasonal or full-time business from your home, you’ll want to carefully consider your risks and insurance needs. Starting a business—even at home—can be a challenging venture, and having the right insurance can provide a financial safety net and peace of mind.

Your insurance choices should, in part, be based on the type of business you operate. For instance, if you’re a sole practitioner home-based accountant, you’ll have very different insurance needs than your neighbor who runs a childcare business. When considering insurance for your business, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What type of business do I run? What are the potential risks faced by your type of business?
  • What is the value of my business property? Do you have expensive equipment, such as cameras or commercial printers? Do you stock valuable business inventory, such as gemstones?
  • Does my business have employees?
  • Do customers or contractors visit my business at my home?
  • Do I use my car or other vehicles in the course of my business operations?
  • Does my business store customers’ financial and personal information on a computer or through a cloud computing service?

The answers to these questions will guide which types of insurance to purchase—and how much coverage you’ll need. For your home-based business, the main types of insurance to consider include the following:

Property and liability insurance

Depending on the nature of your home-based business, you’ll need insurance to protect the value of your business property from loss due to theft, fire or other insured perils. You’ll also need liability protection to cover costs if someone is injured as a result of visiting your business or using your product or service. Your homeowners insurance may provide some protection for your business, but it may not be sufficient. Options for property and liability insurance for home-based businesses include:

  • Adding an “endorsement” to your homeowners policy
  • Stand-alone home-based business insurance policies
  • A Business Owners Policy—or BOP—which combines several types of coverage

Business vehicle insurance

Your personal auto insurance may provide coverage for limited business use of your car. But if your business owns vehicles or your personal vehicle is primarily used for business purposes, you’ll need business vehicle insurance.

Workers compensation insurance

If you have employees, you’ll want to strongly consider purchasing workers compensation insurance to cover costs if an employee is hurt on the job. Workers compensation insurance provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of employment, in exchange for relinquishing the right to sue the employer. In some states, workers compensation insurance is mandatory, so be sure to check your state’s workers compensation website for local requirements.

Other types of insurance may be suitable for your home-based business as well. Your insurance professional can help you evaluate your needs and select insurance to meet your budget.

If You Need to a Locate Life Insurance Policy

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Locating life insurance documents for a deceased relative can be a daunting task—for one thing, as of this moment there are no national databases of all life insurance policies. However, with a little sleuthing, you can successfully navigate the paper trail.

Here are some strategies to help simplify your search.

1. Look for insurance related documents

Search through files, bank safe deposit boxes and other storage places to see if there are any insurance related documents. Also, check address books for the names of any insurance professionals or companies—an agent or company who sold the deceased their auto or home insurance may know about the existence of a life insurance policy.

2. Contact financial advisors

Present or prior attorneys, accountants, investment advisors, bankers, business insurance agents/brokers and other financial professionals might have information about the deceased’s life insurance policies.

3. Review life insurance applications

The application for each policy is attached to that policy. So if you can find any of the deceased’s life insurance policies, look at the application—will have a list of any other life insurance policies owned at the time of the application.

4. Contact previous employers

Former employers maintain records of past group policies.

5. Check bank statements

See if any checks or automated payments have been made out to life insurance companies over the years.

6. Check the mail

For the year following the death of the policyholder, look for premium notices or dividend notices. If a policy has been paid up, there will no notice of premium payments due; however, the company may still send an annual notice regarding the status of the policy or notice of a dividend.

7. Review income tax returns

Look over the deceased’s tax returns for the past two years to see if there is interest income from and interest expenses paid to life insurance companies. Life insurance companies pay interest on accumulations on permanent policies and charge interest on policy loans.

8. Contact state insurance departments

Twenty-nine state insurance departments offer free search services to residents looking for lost policies. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has a “Life Insurance Company Location System” to help you find state insurance department officials who can help to identify companies that might have written life insurance on the deceased. To access that service, go to the NAIC’s Life Insurance Company Location System.

9. Check with the state’s Unclaimed Property Office

If a life insurance company knows that an insured client has died but can’t find the beneficiary, it must turn the death benefit over to the state in which the policy was purchased as “unclaimed property.” If you know (or can guess) where the policy was bought, you can contact the state comptroller’s department to see if it has any unclaimed money from life insurance policies belonging to the deceased. A good place to start is the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administration.

10. Contact a private search service

Several private companies will, for a fee, assist you with the search for a lost life insurance policy. They will contact insurance companies on your behalf to find out if the deceased was insured. This service is often provided through a websites.

11. Might the policy have originated in Canada?

If you think the policy might have been purchase in Canada, try contacting the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association for information.

12. Search the MIB database

There is no central database of policy documents, but there is a database of all applications for individual life insurance processed since January 1, 1996. (nb: There is a fee for each search and many searches are not successful; a random sample of searches found only one match in every four attempts.) For more information, go to MIB’s Consumer Protection page.

Family Employees & Business Insurance Tips

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One might think that family-owned and operated businesses would be relatively immune from employee lawsuits, but that?s not the case according to a recent Gen Re article.

The reasons family-owned businesses get sued include: most family owned businesses employ at least one non-relative; the non-relative is likely to be first to be fired when the business is struggling; and family members are reluctant to discipline each other for bad workplace behavior, especially if the family patriarch is the one misbehaving.

The article gives several examples of lawsuits against family businesses and the awards paid out, concluding that a family-owned business would benefit from including employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) as a part of its insurance package.

According to GenRe:

These workplace scenarios and settlement amounts mirror those we see for all businesses. Discrimination and sexual harassment – as well as wrongful termination, violations of privacy and other employment wrongdoing – are not limited to any type, place or structure of business.

When it?s time to evaluate insurance for the family business, be sure that Employment Practices Liability insurance is not overlooked. The chances of needing EPLI protection are no less than for a slip and fall or fire loss. It?s all relative.

Do You Have Adequate How Much Homeowners Insurance?

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If disaster strikes, you’ll want enough homeowners insurance to rebuild the structure of your home, to help replace your belongings, to defray costs if you’re unable to live in your home and to protect your financial assets in the event of liability to others. Use these guidelines to help determine the coverage and amounts you need.


Determine how much insurance you need for your home’s structure

Standard homeowners policies provide coverage for disasters such as damage due to fire, lightning, hail and explosions. Those who live in areas where there is risk of flood or earthquake will need coverage for those disasters, as well. In every case, you’ll want the limits on your policy to be high enough to cover the cost of rebuilding your home.

The price you paid for your home—or the current market price—may be more or less than the cost to rebuild. And if the limit of your insurance policy is based on your mortgage (as some banks require), it may not adequately cover the cost of rebuilding.

While your insurer will provide a recommended coverage limit for the structure of your home, it’s a good idea to educate yourself as well. To make sure your home has the right amount of structural coverage, consider:

Major factors that will impact home rebuilding costs

  • Local construction costs
  • The square footage of the structure

For a quick estimate of the amount of insurance you need, multiply the total square footage of your home by local, per-square-foot building costs. (Note that the land is not factored into rebuilding estimates.) To find out construction costs in your community, call your local real estate agent, builders association or insurance agent.

Details that can impact home rebuilding costs

  • The type of exterior wall construction—frame, masonry (brick or stone) or veneer
  • The style of the house, for example, ranch or colonial
  • The number of bathrooms and other rooms
  • The type of roof and materials used
  • Other structures on the premises such as garages, sheds
  • Special features such as fireplaces, exterior trim or arched windows
  • Whether the house—or a part of it—was custom built
  • Improvements you’ve made that have added value to your home, such as the addition of second bathroom, or a kitchen renovation

 

Other considerations

Whether or not your home is up to code

Building codes are updated periodically and may have changed significantly since your home was built. In the event of damage, you may be required to rebuild your home to the new codes and homeowners insurance policies (even a guaranteed replacement cost policy—see below) generally won’t pay for that extra expense. If you suspect that elements of your home are not up to current building codes, consider getting an endorsement to your policy called an Ordinance or Law, which pays a specified amount toward bringing a house up to code during a covered repair.

Whether your home is older with hard-to-replace features

Lovely, special features on older homes—like wall and ceiling moldings and carvings—are expensive to recreate and some insurance companies may not offer replacement policies for that reason.

If you own an older home, you may have to buy a modified replacement cost policy. This means that instead of repairing or replacing features typical of older homes—like plaster walls—with like materials, the policy will pay for repairs using today’s standard building materials and construction techniques.

Allowing for possible increased cost of building materials

Inflation can impact rebuilding costs. If you plan on owning your home for a while, consider adding an inflation guard clause to your policy. An inflation guard automatically adjusts the dwelling limit to reflect current construction costs in your area when you renew your insurance.

After a major catastrophe such as a hurricane or tornado, construction costs may rise suddenly because the price of building materials and construction workers increase due to the widespread demand. This price bump may push rebuilding costs above your homeowners policy limits and leave you short. To protect against this possibility, a guaranteed replacement cost policy will pay whatever it costs to rebuild your home as it was before the disaster. Similarly, an extended replacement cost policy will pay an extra 20 percent above the limits (possibly more, depending on the insurance company).

Determine how much insurance you need for your possessions

Most homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for your belongings at about 50 to 70 percent of the insurance on your dwelling. However, that standard amount may or may not be enough. To learn if you have enough coverage:

Conduct a home inventory of your personal possessions

In order to accurately assess the value of what you own, it’s highly advisable to conduct a home inventory. A detailed list of your belongings will not only help you figure out how much insurance you need, but it will also serve as a convenient record. In the event any or all of your stuff is stolen or damaged by a disaster an inventory will make filing a claim much easier.

There are several apps available to help you take a home inventory, and our article on how to create a home inventory can help, as well.

While you’re reviewing your possessions, think about whether you want to insure them for actual cash value (where the policy would pay less money for older items than you paid for them new) or for replacement cost (which would cover to replace the items). The price of replacement cost coverage for homeowners is about 10 percent more but is generally a worthwhile investment in the long run. (Note that flood insurance for belongings is only available on an actual cash value basis.)

If you think you need more coverage, contact your insurance professional and ask about higher limits for your personal possessions.

Take stock of your expensive items

There are limits on how much a standard homeowners insurance policy will cover for items such as jewelry, silverware, collectibles and furs. For example, jewelry coverage may be limited to under $2,000. Some insurance companies may also place a limit on what they will pay for computers.

Check your policy (or ask your insurance professional) for the limits of your coverage for any expensive items. If your home inventory includes items for which the limits are too low, consider buying a special personal property floater or an endorsement. This will allow you to insure valuables individually or as a collection, with significantly higher coverage limits.

Determine how much additional living expense insurance you need

Additional Living Expenses (ALE) is a very important feature of a standard homeowners insurance policy. If you can’t live in your home due to a fire, severe storm or other insured disaster, ALE pays the additional costs of temporarily living elsewhere. It covers hotel bills, restaurant meals and other living expenses incurred while your home is being rebuilt.

If you rent out part of your house, this coverage also reimburses you for the rent that you would have collected from your tenant if your home had not been destroyed.

Many policies provide coverage for about 20 percent of the insurance on your house. But ALE coverage limits vary from company to company. For example, there are policies that provide an unlimited amount of coverage, for a limited amount of time, while others may only set limits on the amount of coverage. In most cases, you can increase ALE coverage for an additional premium.

Determine how much liability insurance you need

The liability portion of homeowners insurance covers you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you or family members or pets cause to other people, as well as court costs incurred and damages awarded.

You should have enough liability insurance to protect your assets. Most homeowners insurance policies provide a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability insurance, but higher amounts are available and, increasingly, it is recommended that homeowners consider purchasing at least $300,000 to $500,000 worth of liability coverage.

If you own property and or have investments and savings that are worth more than the liability limits in your policy, consider purchasing a separate excess liability or umbrella policy.

Consider an umbrella or excess liability policy

Umbrella or excess liability policies provide coverage over and above your standard home (or auto) liability policy limits. These policies start to pay after you have used up the liability insurance in your underlying policy. In addition to providing additional dollar amount coverage, umbrella or excess liability often offers broader coverage than standard 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 you have, the cheaper the umbrella or excess policy. To write an umbrella or excess policy, most companies will require a minimum of $300,000 underlying liability insurance on your standard homeowners policy.

2018 No-Fault Insurance in Florida

Courtesy of iii.org

The Florida Legislature is again looking at ending no-fault auto insurance in Florida. Sound familiar? Tweaking no-fault (also known as personal injury protection ? PIP) is a frequent topic for legislative debate.

You may recall a fix to fight no-fault fraud came in 2012. Regulators issued a report in 2015 that said the fix appeared to be working. Regardless, it seems the desire to do something about rising auto insurance rates may be driving the desire to abolish no-fault. Florida is one of 12 states with a no-fault law. Proponents say it allows those injured in a car crash to recover costs for medical treatment under their own insurance policy, without needing to determine who is at fault for the accident. Among the proponents are hospitals, which say about one-third of the people they treat for auto injuries only have no-fault coverage. Critics discount that view, saying no-fault duplicates coverage that most people already have with medical insurance.

What will replace no-fault/PIP if the legislation becomes law? A requirement for bodily injury coverage, which applies to injuries you as a driver cause to someone else. This may cost more than no-fault coverage for some people. With this change, the Legislature is also considering raising the compulsory financial responsibility limits. Any time most people hear the word “raising” they think it might cost more money, and it might ? but here’s the other side of that:

Florida has the lowest financial responsibility requirement of any U.S. state. That means we set the bar very low for the responsibility drivers have if they cause a car crash with injuries. And, the end result is that too many people are not fully compensated, so while they are trying to recover physically from injuries caused by another, they may also be suffering financially. Raising that bar is about accountability.

A reminder: Insurance of any type (auto, home, health, business) is about protecting your assets. Always, always (always!) make sure you have insurance equal to the total value of the assets you own.