One of the most frequent questions we receive to our agency is regards to how much insurance coverage an individual should purchase.   While there are a large number factors that help determine the proper auto insurance coverage limit, we want to hopefully help provide some insight here that will you in deciding the right limit for you and your family.
First of all, almost every state requires you to buy a minimum amount of liability coverage (usually $10,000 or $15,000 per accident).   In almost every case, the auto insurance coverage limits required by the state are way too low.   If you’re found legally responsible for bills that are more than your insurance covers, you will have to pay the difference out of your own pocket.   We recommend purchasing a minimum liability of at least $100,000 per accident, but in some cases even that limit is not sufficient protection.
In those cases you may also consider purchasing an umbrella or excess liability policy. These policies pay when your underlying coverages are exhausted.   An umbrella policy typically costs between $200 and $300 per year for a million dollars in coverage.  If you have your homeowners and auto insurance with the same company, check out the cost of coverage with this company first. If you have coverage with different companies, it may be easier to buy it from your auto insurance company.
In addition to liability coverage, consider buying collision and comprehensive coverage, uninsured and underinsured motorists coverage, towing, and rental care endorsements.
If you would like to see various price options for the auto insurance coverages outlined above, please feel free to reach out to our office.

Will my insurance cover renting a car after an accident?

Most drivers don’t ever really think about their auto insurance policy until they are involved in an accident and to begin filing a claim with their insurance company to help pay for the vehicle’s repairs, and even a rental car.
Unfortunately, many drivers are surprised to find out that their auto insurance policy doesn’t cover the cost of a rental car while their vehicle is being repaired.   And since cars are in the repair shop an average of two weeks after an accident, it can cost as much as $500 to rent a vehicle during that timeframe.  However, for drivers with rental reimbursement insurance coverage, the cost of renting the vehicle is little or nothing.
Rental reimbursement coverage is one of the cheapest coverage options you can select for your insurance policy.  At a cost of only $15 to $30 per year, we recommend that all of our clients add this coverage to their auto insurance policy.
This becomes especially handy in situations where you were not at fault in an accident, but the other party’s auto insurance company is still working out the claim details.   Rather than wait for the rental car approval, you can rent a vehicle on your policy and have the other party’s insurance


Did you know that, according to the Small Business Administration, more than half of all businesses in the United States are based out of the owners’ home?

Many of these entrepreneurs assume their homeowners insurance will step in if they ever experience a property loss to their business equipment or a liability claim.

Unfortunately, that simply is not the case.

For example, did you know that if a delivery person was injured at your residence while dropping off a business package, that he or she would most likely be excluded from coverage on your homeowners policy? Or that if customer information was stolen or destroyed from your home computer that you would not receive assistance from your homeowners insurance company to recover the data?

Below is some insight in determining if your home-based business needs insurance coverage and where to properly obtain it.

If you have any questions at all on coverages, options or pricing, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our office.

Do I Need Coverage?

Determining whether or not you need coverage is the first step in properly protecting your business. The following questions will provide some insight into whether or not you need additional insurance coverage:

  • Does your homeowners policy limit coverage of any business equipment? Most homeowners policies will either provide a small sub-limit for business equipment or exclude coverage completely.
  • Do you have an office, but work from home regularly? If you regularly work from your home, you may need additional coverage for protection against work-related incidents that could occur in your home.
  • Do clients, vendors, or employees visit your home, or do you visit other people’s homes as part of your operations? Injuries to a third-party at your residence for business purposes are surprisingly not covered by most homeowners insurance policies.
  • Do you store vital data or customer information electronically at your home? Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover lost business data, so if you have a disaster at your residence, you may be forced to recover that information on your own.

How Do I Obtain Coverage?
Home-based business owners typically have three types of business insurance options to consider. The policy you choose will depend on your business’ size and type, how often you have business visitors to your home and your exposure to liability, among other factors. The three types are:

Rider or endorsement to your homeowners insurance policy. Some insurance companies will allow you to add coverage for a minimal cost to your homeowners policy. However, it should be noted that the coverage provided is extremely limited for property coverage and liability protection. While it may be appropriate for a small one-person operations with limited risks, keep in mind that you could still be on the hook for a large liability loss.

In-home business policy. This type of policy typically combines the homeowners and business coverages into a single policy. While the policy does provide some additional protection for lost income, they are still usually pretty limited with liability protection and exclude any errors and omissions coverage.

Business owner’s policy. This type of policy is by far the most comprehensive for business owners. In addition to higher liability limits (usually $1,000,000 per occurrence), they provide much better coverage for claims like loss of business equipment, loss of records and data, lost income due to a claim, and even some secondary auto coverage (non-owned and hired vehicles). Depending upon your type of business, the coverage can be fairly inexpensive as well. Most policies start at $500 in annual premium.

Boat Insurance

During the summer boats are an extremely popular activity for families.  However, do you know if your boat has the proper insurance coverage?
Did you know that your homeowners or renters policy typically provides some small boat coverage?  The coverage is very limited – it covers property damage only, can only be used on boats with less than 25 mile per hour horse power, and coverage is usually limited to $1,000 total for you boat, motor, and trailer.   Liability coverage is not included, but it may be added with an endorsement.
Larger and faster boats such as personal watercraft such as jet skis and wave runners require a their own separate boat insurance policy. The size, type and value of the craft and the water in which you use it factor into how much you will pay for insurance coverage.
For physical loss or damage, coverage includes the hull, machinery, fittings, furnishings and permanently attached equipment as part of either an actual cash value policy or on an agreed amount value basis.
Actual Cash Value policies pay for replacement costs less depreciation at the time of the loss. In the event of a total loss, used boat pricing guides and other resources are used to determine the vessel’s approximate market value. Partial losses are settled by taking the total cost of the repair less a percentage for depreciation.
Agreed Amount Value basis policies mean that you and your insurer have agreed on the value of your vessel and in the event of a total loss you will be paid that amount. Agreed Amount Value policies also replace old items for new in the event of a partial loss, without any deduction for depreciation.

Physical damage exclusions might include normal wear and tear, damage from insects, mold, animals (such as sharks), zebra mussels, defective machinery or machinery damage.

Boat insurance also covers:

  • Bodily injury—for injuries caused to another person
  • Property damage—for damage caused to someone else’s property
  • Guest passenger liability—for any legal expenses incurred by someone using the boat with the owner’s permission
  • Medical payments—for injuries to the boat owner and other passengers
  • Theft

Most companies offer liability limits that start at $15,000 and can be increased to $300,000. Typical policies include deductibles of $250 for property damage, $500 for theft and $1000 for medical payments. Higher limits may be available. Additional coverage can be purchased for trailers and other accessories. Boat owners may also consider purchasing an umbrella liability policy which will provide additional protection for their boat, home and car.

Boaters should also inquire about special equipment kept on the boat, such as fishing gear, to make sure it is covered and verify that towing coverage is included in the policy.
Boat owners should also inquire about discounts for the following:

  • Diesel powered craft, which are less hazardous than gasoline powered boats as they are less likely to explode
  • Coast Guard approved fire extinguishers
  • Ship-to-shore radios
  • Two years of claims-free experience
  • Multi-policies with the same insurer, such as a car, home or umbrella policy
  • Safety education courses, such as those offered by the Coast Guard AuxiliaryU.S. Power Squadrons, or the American Red Cross.

If you would like to receive an insurance quote on your boat, please fee free to contact our office.

With summer quickly coming upon us, this means it’s time to lay out next to a pool, take in some sun, and just relax.

Not to put a damper on that, but did you know that according to The Pool Safety Resource drowning is still the second-leading cause of death for children under age 14?

So while we certainly hope you’re able to spend some time swimming and barbecuing with the family, we want to make sure you’re aware of the safety precautions you should take in and around swimming pools.

We have compiled a list of the top safety measures you can take from Pool SafelyAmerican Academy of Pediatrics, and The Pool Safety Resource.  Below you will find both an infographic and list of pool safety tips to help keep you safe.

Hope you have a fantastic summer!

Pool Safety Infogrpahic

Pool Safety Tips

  1. It’s the most obvious, but by far the most important: NEVER LET YOUR CHILDREN SWIM ALONE.
  2. Install a fence around the pool. The fence should be at least 4 feet high with a self-closing latch. If you are not using the pool, the gate should remain locked. (Remember that as a pool owner you’re responsible for anyone who comes onto your property and into your pool.)
  3. Keep safety equipment like life rings, shepherd’s hooks, and a first-aid kit in plain-view from the pool.
  4. Keep a phone with you by the pool at all times.
  5. Take CPR and basic first-aid classes so you know how to respond in an emergency.
  6. Remove all toys from the pool when you’re not using it so that kids aren’t tempted to reach for them.
  7. Teach your children basic water safety tips including how to find the nearest wall and how to pull themselves out of a pool.
  8. Secure the pool with a cover so that kids cannot access the pool when you’re done swimming. (Remember a pool cover should not be a substitute for a fence.)
  9. Install a surface wave or underwater alarm.
  10. If a child is missing, check the pool or spa first. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool-bottom and surface-as well as the surrounding area.
  11. Maintain the pool properly. Make sure all drains are functioning the way they should. Also, check the pool edges for loose tile or concrete.

THE TOPIC

With the recent earthquake in California, we through we would share some insight into earthquakes and insurance.  Earthquake, at least for insurance purposes, is defined as a sudden and rapid shaking of the earth caused by the shifting of rock below the earth’s surface.

Earthquakes are not covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy.  Coverage must usually be purchased via an endorsement or on a separate policy.  Also, according to the U.S. Geological Survey the U.S. experiences approximately 20,000 earthquakes a year.

As development increases in seismically active areas so does the risk for loss when an earthquake hits.   In July 2014 the U.S. Geological Survey updated its U.S. National Seismic Hazard Maps. The new maps reflect the best and most current understanding of where future earthquakes will occur, how often they will occur, and how hard the ground will likely shake as a result.

The new maps show that 42 states are at risk, with 16 states that have experienced earthquakes with a magnitude 6 or greater and which are considered at high risk.

Earthquake hazard is especially high on the West Coast, the intermountain west and in several active regions of the central and eastern U.S.

EARTHQUAKE INSURANCE COVERAGE

As there are no national earthquake programs, coverage is usually purchased through a private insurance company.  (However, some states, like California, have put together state programs.)

  1. Private Insurance Company:  Just like with flood insurance, there are several insurance companies that have put together programs for earthquake insurance you can purchase separately or in conjunction with flood and landslide coverage.
  2. Your Current Homeowner’s Policy.  There are some states where you are actually able to purchase earthquake coverage through your homeowners insurance policy.

Items to Note:

    • Your deductible is almost always a percentage of the coverage limit (typically 5%).
    • Pay special attention to your policy if you purchase earthquake coverage through your homeowners insurance company.   While you will have coverage for earthquakes, your policy will most likely exclude everything else related to land movement, including landslides/mudslides.

If you would like to find out more about earthquake insurance, please contact our office.

If you have children, it’s so important that you have them properly secured in their carseats while driving.   While child safety seats are wonderful at preventing potential injuries in an accident, wrong usage of them is very common.  When you think about it, even a small error in how the seat is used versus how it should be used can be the cause of serious injury or accident.

The following list of tips will help ensure you are using your carseat safely:

  1. Never put an infant in the front seat of a vehicle with a passenger air bag.
  2. Route harness straps in lower slots at or below shoulder level.
  3. Keep harness straps snug and fasten the clip at armpit level.
  4. Make sure the straps lie flat and are not twisted.
  5. Dress your baby in clothes that allow the straps to go between the legs. Adjust the straps to allow for the thickness of your child’s clothes.
  6. To keep your newborn from slouching, pad the sides of the seat and between the child’s legs with rolled up up diapers or receiving blankets.
  7. Put the car seat carrying handle down when in the car.
  8. Infants must ride in the back seat facing the rear of the car. This offers the best protection for your infant’s neck.
  9. Recline the rear-facing seat at a 45-degree angle. If your child’s head flops forward, the seat may not have reclined enough. Tilt the seat back until it is level by wedging firm padding such as a rolled towel, under the front of the base of the seat.

Do not use a car seat if any of the following apply:

  1. It is too old. Look on the label for the date it was made. Most carseats now have an expiration date where you are not supposed to use the seat past that date.
  2. It does not have a label with the date of manufacture and model number. Without these, you cannot check on recalls.
  3. It has been in a crash. If so, it may have been weakened and should not be used, even if it looks all right.
  4. It does not come with instructions. You the instructions to know how to install and use the car seat properly. Do not rely on the former owner’s instructions. Get a copy of the manual from the manufacturer.
  5. It has cracks in the frame of the seat.
  6. It is missing parts. Used seats often come without important parts. Check with the manufacturer to make sure you can get the right parts.

What does my credit rating have to do with purchasing insurance?

Everyone knows that credit scores are an evaluation of your payment history on a variety of consumer debt items like your home, credit cards, auto loans, etc.  Credit scores are also used for a variety of other purposes such finding a place to live, getting a cell phone, and, most recently, buying insurance.
Insurance companies have found a direct correlation between one’s credit score and likelihood of filing an insurance claim at some point in the future.  According to the actuarial tables and statistics the lower your credit score, the more likely you are to file a claim. So insurance companies are knowing using credit scores to generate an “insurance score” as part of the underwriting process.  Your insurance score plays a large role in determining the premiums charged by your homeowners and auto insurance companies.
Therefore a solid credit history can go a long way to decreasing your insurance premiums.  We recommend checking your credit score regularly and requesting that any discovered errors are immediately corrected.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. For more information, go to the Federal Trade Commission’s Web site on credit.