Most condo, town-home, and other communities are bound together by a Homeowner’s Association. For each homeowner, that usually means an annual fee.
What does the homeowner’s association have to do with your insurance? Quite a bit, actually: From an insurance standpoint, if anybody got insured on the association’s joint property, such as, for example, a walkway or a playground, the association would be held liable. That’s why each homeowner’s association has a Master policy in place. The question is: What does the Master policy cover?
Some Master policies don’t provide high enough protection, so if a loss occurs that exceeds the policy limits, each homeowner in the association will share an equal part in the liability. In that case, you may be required to pay a share of hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
If you don’t have the right protection on your homeowner’s insurance, that money would need to come out of your pocket. Luckily, your homeowner’s insurance can be adjusted to provide you with adequate protection. You might want to discuss your situation with your insurance agent.
Although these are small cars, there is a surprising amount of passenger and cargo space in each (well, not so much in the iQ!). But if you are interested in saving money, having a safe car, getting good gas mileage, and possibly lower your insurance rates, you might want to look at these cars.
Note: This information is from Liz Weston, one of the Web’s most-read personal-finance writer. The complete article can be found at MSN Money.
Tombstone damage … If a vandal destroys or carries off a loved one’s headstone, it might be covered under your homeowners insurance. The damage would be subject to the same restrictions that apply to other coverage. Theft and vandalism damage are typically covered losses, but natural disasters often aren’t.
Massage … It turns out that you can get your shiatsu subsidized, depending on your coverage and the circumstances. Your doctor can prescribe massage to help you recover from a car accident or an on-the-job injury, for example. If your insurance covers chiropractic care, it may also cover massage ordered by the chiropractor.
Stupid Kids … Parents in most states can be held financially responsible for damage caused by their minor children. Fortunately, many homeowners insurance policies will help pay the bill — depending on the child’s age, the circumstances and the policy language. A big exception: Insurance policies won’t pay for damage resulting from “intentional,” “malicious” or “illegal” acts. If your little Sally accidentally knocks a baseball through the neighbor’s plate-glass window, your homeowners insurance may kick in. If she hurls a brick through the same window, though, you’re on your own for the costs of the replacement.
Stupid Pets … You’re out on a walk with Dudley, your mild-mannered pooch. Suddenly, the mutt gets it into his head that a passing pedestrian poses a deadly threat. Without warning, he lunges to the end of his leash and sinks his fangs into her leg. A few days later, the pedestrian sends you her rather hefty emergency-room bill, and there’s talk of emotional distress and lost wages. Once again, it’s your homeowners insurance policy to the rescue — maybe. Many insurers have gotten so sensitive to dog-bite claims that they won’t insure owners of certain breeds or dogs that have already bitten someone. To get insurance, these owners often have to agree to an exclusion that prevents them from making a claim related to the animal.
The Dorm Thief … College dorms are packed with tempting goodies, including computers, televisions, music players and bicycles. The good news, according to the Insurance Information Institute: If you live in a dorm and you’re considered a dependent of your parents, their homeowners insurance policy covers your stuff from destruction and theft — with one big exception. Few insurance policies cover the value of digital music collections or other computer files. So if the thief makes off with your iPad plus the computer that contains your music and video library, you wouldn’t get financial help replacing files potentially worth thousands of dollars. That’s yet another reason it’s essential to back up all your files regularly and store the backups off-site or online.
Counterfeit Cash … If you unknowingly accepted a bunch of bogus Benjamins, you may not be completely out of luck. Homeowners and renters insurance typically provide a limited amount of coverage for losses due to counterfeit money, check forgery and credit card fraud. The limits are usually low, $500 to $1,000, and deductibles may apply.
Note: This post is for our business clients, particularly those who handle chemicals.
On March 20, 2012, OSHA filed a final rule with the Federal Register revising the manner in which employers are required to communicate chemical hazards to their employees. The rule, which will take effect in stages through 2016, was written to align the American system with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, commonly referred to as GHS. The new rule adjusts the way chemical labels and material safety data sheets (which will be referred to simply as safety data sheets moving forward) are written to better communicate hazards to employees. These changes are expected to affect 40 million workers at 5 million American workplaces.
Monday’s post asked the question “Are You Prepared for a Disaster?“. Little did we know there would be a 7.4 earthquake in Mexico the next day. Luckily, there was only moderate damage and apparently no one was seriously injured. It seems appropriate to offer some information about preparing for an earthquake while the Mexico quake is fresh in our minds.
Before an Earthquake
During an Earthquake
After an Earthquake
Most Americans are not fully prepared in the event of a natural disaster, according to a new national survey by Trusted Choice® and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”).
Of all survey respondents, less than 22% said they felt they are fully prepared in case of a disaster. More than half of respondents (51%) admitted they are only somewhat prepared, and more than a fifth of households (22.7%) reported that they were not prepared at all.
The survey further revealed that many households have not even taken the most basic steps to protect against a disaster. For example, more than two-thirds of those surveyed (67.7%) said they had not created a photo or video home inventory of their belongings. More than 40% have not assembled a disaster and emergency supplies kit in their homes. Sixty-eight percent of homeowners have not made any structural improvements or reinforcements to better protect their property from a disaster.
Of all survey participants, almost 36% said they don’t have or don’t know if they have adequate insurance coverage to help them through a disaster, and an alarming 62% say they have never discussed a complete disaster preparedness plan with an insurance agent.
Because this is such an important topic, watch for more related posts during the coming weeks.
Believe it or not, Social Security numbers were not intended to be used for identification when they were introduced in 1936. But, some 75 years later, nearly every form we fill out asks for our Social Security number. To reduce your risk of identity theft, you should only disclose your number when absolutely necessary. Since the advent of Social Security, many federal and state government agencies have begun to require Social Security numbers. While many federal and state agencies are required to obtain your number, some are not. If an agency requests your number, it must tell you the following:
In addition to government agencies, some private businesses (including insurance agencies) must obtain your Social Security number. Generally, private businesses must obtain your number if you’re engaged in a transaction with any type of tax implication. Additionally, if businesses could potentially launder money or fund terrorism, Social Security numbers are required by law. If a private business must obtain your number, it should be able to explain why.
Many think that an umbrella policy is too expensive and only for wealthy people. But, in reality, many people are candidates for umbrella coverage because of their typical possessions and everyday activities. So who could benefit from an umbrella? People who:
While many of these activities are covered by underlying policies, a few are not and a personal umbrella policy may apply in that instance. For example, most auto policies have geographical restrictions, but most umbrella policies provides worldwide coverage. An umbrella policy will also protect you if the damages exceed the limits of your underlying policies. In addition:
Personal umbrella policies are very affordable. A $1 million umbrella, in most cases, is less than $200 per year.
Reducing your homeowners insurance because the value of your home has declined seems logical. But there’s a very good reason why this is one way you don’t want to save money. Home values have fallen so far and so fast that when you get your insurance renewal, it’s easy to feel that you’re grossly over-insured. However, you need to insure your home for the replacement value, not the market value. If you suffer a catastrophic loss, the cost to rebuild would be far higher than what you could sell your home for right now.
Consumer Reports Money Adviser recently reported that about two-thirds of homeowners are significantly under-insured. The average home is now worth a third less than it was five years ago. But, at the same time, the cost of reconstruction is up. So the typical person who thinks they’re over-insured is actually under-insured.
To make sure you are adequately insured, talk with your agent or insurance company. Insurers used to rebuild even if you didn’t have enough stated coverage, but that’s no longer the case. It’s up to you and your agent to stay on top of this.
To save money you may want to raise the deductible on your policy. Some mortgage lenders have a cap on how high you can set your deductible so check with yours about any limitations. As you bump up your deductible and the level of coverage, you could have an even lower premium than you do now. But, should you have a claim, there will be more initial dollars coming out of your pocket. But Consumer Reports Money Adviser says that only 6% of people make a claim during a five year period of having a policy, so the likelihood that you would is tiny.
Now that our new website is live, you can look forward to frequent posts from one or more of our insurance experts. We will strive to only post information that we feel is relevant to our clients. And, we welcome your comments on our posts.
For now, use the “Subscribe via RSS” button at the right to automatically have new blog posts appear automatically in Google Reader, or whatever reader you use.