Monthly Archives: February 2013

Why Do I Need Uninsured/UnderInsured Motorist Coverage?

uninsured-underinsured-motorists-coverageWhile it is true that we do try to impart some humor in our blogs, while educating our readers about insurance, this topic is NO laughing matter.

Recently, a young couple we know had their first children, a set of twins, and they were extremely thrilled at the prospect of raising their new family. On the way to a family gathering they suffered a flat tire and pulled over to the side of the road. The husband got out of the car and, while checking to see if his trunk had all the equipment needed to fix the flat, he was hit by a vehicle driven by a young graduate student texting while driving. In the midst of studying for finals, he had inadvertently allowed his insurance coverage to lapse. The husband suffered very serious injuries which left him unable to work and care for his family for the next three years. Clearly, the accident was the fault of the graduate student! BUT coverage under no fault was limited and our young family was left without any help against the young man with limited resources who had caused this tragic accident.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage is simply “insurance that pays for injuries suffered in an accident where the owner or driver who causes the accident doesn’t have enough liability or is uninsured at the time of the loss”. With the presence of additional limits such as an Umbrella policy, excess uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage kicks in after the coverage on the underlying auto policy is used up. I always tell my customers, “you can be sure of the coverage provided by your own policy because you bought it, but you can’t be sure of the coverage held by the other drivers on the road”. The importance of this coverage can’t be and shouldn’t be minimized. In addition, if you are hit by a vehicle that doesn’t stop, whether you are in your car, walking across the street, or riding your bicycle uninsured/underinsured coverage also comes into play.

As insurance agents, it is our job to make our customers aware of the coverages they need and the reasons why they should include such coverage in their purchase. Today, more and more, it seems like the emphasis is on the cost of insurance rather than on the protection which it affords. While some people understand the need for higher than state mandated liability limits to protect us if we are responsible for the injuries of others, we don’t really understand this coverage which can protect us and our loved ones if someone else has the lowest limits or no limits at all. After all, isn’t the purpose of insurance to protect us and our families from unforeseen disasters such as the scenario depicted above?

There is no doubt that everyone today is looking for a bargain and nobody wants to incur any additional expense, especially for something they don’t really understand. A good agent or broker will take the time to answer your questions to your satisfaction and make you knowledgeable about what coverages should be included in your insurance portfolio. Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist is a must when it comes to designing your Auto policy. Take it from us, we see claims everyday and nobody is ever sorry for including this coverage in their purchase of insurance when the need for it arises. If you want to feel safe every time you get in your car, you might want to rethink purchasing this coverage and buying adequate limits with this article in mind.

– Karen Skoler, CPCU

Is My Girlfriend/Boyfriend covered under MY Homeowners Policy?

PetschauerInsuranceAgencySo you have decided to take the next big step in your relationship and asked your girlfriend to move in your home. The two of you are now trying to figure out how to fit all of her “stuff” in your home. Where are you going to put all those clothes, handbags and shoes! But did you ever stop to think “are her belongings covered under your homeowners policy?” The answer is NO! Your Homeowners policy only covers an “Insured”. The policy defines an Insured as:

You (the person named on the policy)

Your Spouse (must be a resident of the same household)

Resident Relatives

Any other person under the age of 21 who is under the custody of the person named on the policy

Clearly, your girlfriend does not fall under this definition therefore her contents would not be covered under your policy. The definition of an Insured is the same for condos, co-ops and renters policies.

Now your girlfriend is all settled in the home. She decides to have a “Girls Night” at the house and one of her friends falls in the home and is injured. She sues both of you for her injuries because you’re the owner of the house and she’s the one that hosted the party. Did you know that you are covered under your policy but your girlfriend is not? Again, she does not meet the definition of an Insured. That’s grounds for a huge argument definitely not the best way to start this new chapter of your lives.

There are several ways to ensure that everyone in your household has contents and liability coverage:
• Name the person as a Named Insured on the policy.
• Add the person on by endorsement such as “Other Persons in the Household” endorsement
• That person can get their own Renters policy.

As always, please contact your broker as every company has different guidelines for these situations.

With today’s changing family dynamic, we strongly encourage you to review your policy with your insurance agent and make sure that everyone in your home is covered under your policy.

Now that you have the insurance covered, the rest of the relationship is on you!

– Sharon Davidson

The Importance of an Independent Insurance Agent

Heidi & ErwinFor the last two weeks we have been discussing different elements of a policy that affects a premium. We stressed that not all policies are written the same way even if the Dollar amount of coverage is the same and this, of course, will affect the premium. Therefore, we determined that it was extremely important to review the details or fine print of each coverage provided in the policy. However, how can busy consumers be expected to know and understand all the finer points of an insurance policy? You have enough on your plate without having to become an insurance expert too!

This is where a good insurance agent or broker comes in. Imagine if you woke up with a high fever, nausea, an ugly rash, and a nose bleed. While you might look your symptoms up on the Internet to get an idea of what you had, would you go all the way to finding out what medicine you should take and then go to the pharmacy and buy it without ever seeing a trained physician? Common sense screams “No!” A visit to your trusted doctor is a foregone conclusion. Likewise, you obviously should do your homework before you purchase any insurance policy, but to do so without the advice and counsel of a trained insurance professional could lead to much heartache in the future.

Remember that your independent insurance agent or broker is like your real estate agent or attorney. They work for YOU. Just like a real estate agent is the go-between between you, the buyer of real estate, and someone selling property, insurance agents and brokers are the go-between, between you and the various insurance companies to which they have access. Anybody can sell you a policy, but GOOD insurance agents and brokers are not there to merely sell you an insurance policy. They should also provide you with sound advice about which of the many options is best for you and make sure that no gaps are left in your overall risk protection program. So when discussing insurance quotes with your agent or broker, discuss the entire quote including the details, not just the price. Always ask questions. Make sure you totally understand what you are buying before you buy it. Believe it or not, there is nothing more professionally rewarding than to obtain the best coverage for a client and still have that client save a lot of money!

So, how do you find a GOOD insurance agent or broker? Well, how do you find a good doctor, dentist, lawyer, contractor, or almost any other service provider? Referrals. Speak with your friends, co-workers, family members, and other people you trust and ask them who they use and if they would make a recommendation. Also ask WHY they would make the recommendation. Ask about the advice the agent or broker gives, the problems they helped avoid, and the satisfaction or dissatisfaction felt after submitting a claim. This will give you a good idea of who to use as your agent or broker too! Find someone with whom you can partner and trust so that you not only get insurance you can afford, but also insurance that protects you, your family, and your hard-earned assets.

– Ray Alvarez

Ask Sherri Episode #4 – Valentine’s Day Special – Inland Marine Policy

Planning to propose this Valentine’s Day? Sherri makes sure that you know how to properly insure that engagement ring! Click the link and view our latest video. Learn something about a Floater policy and maybe have some laughs along the way. Enjoy!

Starring
Sherri Cosentino
Steve Russo
Patrycja Nawrocka

Directed By
Ray Alvarez

Filmed + Edited By
Peter Sidlauskas

Sound Production By
Bill Pierce