In light of all of the recent weather disasters and catastrophes, we in the Brown & Brown personal lines department want to be sure you aren’t in for a surprise (the bad kind, not the good kind) if something were to happen to you. It is important that you understand the coverages provided to you by homeowner’s insurance and your auto insurance. Contact your agent today to review your policy.
Review Your Policy
The first thing to do is read your policy. Car insurance terminology can be a bit daunting, but the main thing to know is your limits of liability, your uninsured motorist coverage, and your deductibles. For home insurance, make sure that your dwelling coverage is at replacement cost. There is obviously a lot more to each policy, and if you have questions, our personal lines agents are here to help.
Contact Your Agent
We want you to be confident that you are covered properly. Our three offices are in Albuquerque, Taos, and Santa Fe, but we insure clients throughout all of New Mexico. We hope you give one of our offices a call to help with all of your insurance needs.
You buy your daughter a brand new Power Wheels Jeep, and you let her drive it up and down the block. All is well until she swerves to avoid hitting a cute little lady bug and drives right into your neighbor’s beautiful new real Jeep, causing a nice long scratch in the paint. This is your child, so you are clearly liable for this damage. But the Power Wheels isn’t something you insure on your auto policy, so what do you do?!
Fortunately, there is a solution, and it’s fairly simple. Give your insurance agent a call. You’ll find that in the fine print of your homeowner’s insurance policy you are actually covered for liability for a child’s riding toy. The only stipulations are that it can only have one battery, designed for kids age 7 and under, and is designed to only go 5 mph (which is how most are designed).
You can put your mind at ease knowing that a simple toy isn’t going to cost you thousands in liability, thanks to your homeowner’s policy.
Saving Money on Your Personal Insurance
In today’s unsettled economy, many people are looking for ways to stretch their money—but sometimes this includes altering insurance coverages to dangerously low levels or eliminating coverage entirely. If you’re thinking about changing your coverage to save money, consider these key issues below — and give us a call. We can help make sure you’ve got the right protection at a price you can afford.
- Make sure you’re getting the appropriate discounts and credits: Most insurers offer a variety of policy credits and account discounts that can translate into significant savings — without endangering the level of protection you need for your home, autos and other valuable property. And often, if you purchase multiple policies through the same insurance company, you’ll receive further discounts. People who own motorcycles or boats and who complete approved safety courses can qualify for discounts, and families with teen drivers who earn good grades in school may qualify for auto policy discounts.
- Increase deductibles for cost savings: Only a small percentage of homeowners have claims in any given year, so you might consider increasing your deductible.
- Specialty lines coverage options: Own a classic car or RV? If their use is seasonal, you can typically reduce your coverage to liability only during the off-season, then add full coverage only when you are actually using the vehicle
- Full payment on policy: Depending on your financial circumstances, you may be able to make lump-sum payments instead of partial premium payments, such as monthly or quarterly. Partial payments often include small transaction fees, so paying the full amount can eliminate those extra costs.
Some decisions to avoid
It is just as important to understand what not to do as you look for cost savings. Here are some scenarios you should avoid:
- It may be unwise to carry only the minimum state-required amount of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on auto policies, or to cancel it entirely if it is not required in your state: According to the Insurance Research Council (IRC)*, the correlation between the percentage of uninsured motorists and the unemployment rate is high — when the economy is struggling, more people go without insurance. You want to make sure you’re protected in this instance.
- Ignoring renters insurance: This coverage is often overlooked no matter what shape the economy is in. Landlords’ policies generally only cover the structure, not the individual renters’ contents. Imagine having to replace furniture, clothing and other personal property out of pocket because you excluded this essential, affordable coverage and then suffered a devastating loss from a burglary or other covered event.
Saving money is important, but so is making sure that what you’ve got is protected. If you’re looking for ways to save, or want to review your coverages, give us a call!
*Insurance Research Council, January 21, 2009
Insurance Tips for Back-to-School Time
College is expensive enough without finding out too late that an accident or theft isn’t covered under your current policies. So, as you get your children ready to head off to school in the fall, there’s one vital “to-do” to add to your list (other than writing that tuition check): a review of your insurance coverage.
It’s important to keep in mind that policy language varies from state to state, and there are never “one-size-fits-all” situations, but below is a general guide. If you have questions, or want to go over your insurance needs, don’t hesitate to contact us!
HOMEOWNERS (may vary by state and individual policy)
- Coverage of personal property: Most homeowners policies provide 10 percent of Coverage C (Personal Property) for property owned by an insured that is at a residence other than the insured’s. For example, if the contents of a policyholder’s home are insured for $100,000, a student’s property up to $10,000 would be covered if living in a dormitory – provided the damage is caused by a covered peril and the student meets the definition of an insured.
- For apartments or houses off-campus, the same coverage generally applies. Certain items, such as jewelry or expensive electronics, may require special coverage, or a “rider.” Renters insurance is strongly recommended if a particular policy does not cover a student’s personal property.
- Liability coverage: There usually is an exclusion for damage to property rented to an insured, so generally damage to a dorm room or apartment would not be covered.
- Ensuring adequate coverage: Contact us to get specific answers and information about your coverages. Also, it’s a great idea to create an inventory of the items your student is taking to school, as is keeping photos of and receipts for the items.
- Renters insurance: If your student’s needs can’t be met under your current policy, don’t forget renters insurance. Landlords’ policies generally only cover the structure, not the possessions of renters.
AUTO (may vary by state)
- Coverage without a car at school: If your student will continue to drive while at home on school breaks, they should continue to be listed on your auto policy. If they are attending school more than 100 miles from home, and are not taking a vehicle with them, the policy may qualify for a distant-student discount.
- Coverage with a car at school: In most instances, a car registered to parents and listed on their policy will be covered if used by a listed student away at school. But you should make sure that your insurance carrier writes coverage in the college’s state and location. And note that a change to the principal location of the vehicle could result in a change in premium.
- Driving a friend’s car at school: Students generally would be covered while driving a friend’s car if the students are listed on their parents’ policy and do not have regular use of the vehicle. The coverage would likely be secondary in this case, as the carrier for the friend’s vehicle likely would be the primary coverage.
- Coverage discounts: In addition to the possible distant-student discount mentioned above, students may qualify for a good-student discount. To qualify, most insurance carriers require that a student must be enrolled in at least four courses per term as a full-time student at an accredited college or university and meet certain academic qualifications. Also, drivers under the age of 21 who complete a driver education course may be eligible for a policy discount.
Going away to school is an exciting time for both students and their parents. Making sure you’ve got the right insurance coverage can help you protect your assets as you invest in your child’s future. We’re happy to discuss your coverage and options — just give us a call or stop by!
Do you know when you should replace your roof? Occasionally, a roof claim is denied because the damage is caused by wear and tear or lack of maintenance. It is always best to stay on top of the maintenance and repairs of your roof. Check out the blog below for helpful advice and tips on staying up to date with your roof.