Monthly Archives: July 2013

Is My RV/Camper Covered While Being Towed By Vehicle?

CampertowDear Sherri,Is my Camper covered while being towed by my vehicle to our vacation destination? – Having fun in the sun

Dear Having Fun,
Ahhh camping; driving on the open road, having the whole family together, cooking, cleaning up… Good God why would you do this? Anyway, in response to your question, while being towed, coverage is extended from your personal auto policy to your camper for liability coverage ONLY. The camper must have its own comprehensive and collision coverage that you can purchase on a separate camper or RV (Recreational Vehicle) policy. It is always best to purchase an RV policy as these types of policies can include basic liability, medical payments, physical damage, replacement cost, contents, personal effects coverage, trip interruption and towing. However, remember to never allow passengers in the RV/Camper while it is being towed or when it is parked and you are taking a nap.
As always, check with your Insurance agent or carrier to be sure your camper has adequate coverage.

– Sherri

Business Activities Are Not Covered Under Homeowner Policies

home businessIn today’s challenging economic climate, with companies cutting back on their workforce, we find that many of our clients who have been affected by this have become very creative and resourceful. To put it succinctly, they are starting their own businesses right out of their homes to supplement their income so their bills can get paid. Garages, playrooms and even bedrooms are being converted into office space in order to run these business activities. We are finding these same clients are not aware that all Homeowner, Renters, Co-op or Condo policies contain an actual exclusion for any liability arising out of business activities of any kind. Not only is Liability excluded; but, additionally there is also very limited, if any, coverage for business property in the home as well.

The term “Business Activities” is not always so clear cut. The courts are full of instances where they have had to rule on the exact meaning of the term. There are specific features to a business activity:
(1) the hope that it will produce income; and
(2) the insured’s continuous participation in the activity constituting the business.
With reference to the desire to make money, that isn’t always applicable to the definition of the business since there are a great number of businesses that don’t get off the ground and others which never make any profit despite every effort made on the part of the entrepreneur to make it a success.

Remember, failure is not the inability to succeed; rather it really is the inability to try.

Here are some examples of In-Home Business Activities:
• Consultants – Attorney’s, Accountants, Organizers, Engineers, Architects, etc
• Whole Sale & Retail Sales: Cosmetics, Tuperware, Toys, Real Estate, Cookies, Bread, Home Renovations, Childcare, etc
• Manufacturing: Hand Crafted Jewelry, Baby clothes, Accessories, Clothing, Plaques, Furniture, Editing, Publishing, etc

The sole intent of a Homeowner’s policy is to provide coverage for all actions arising out of personal activities. There are, however, In-Home Business Endorsements which may be available to add as a rider to your existing Homeowner’s policies for only SOME of the business Activities listed above.

If you are lucky enough to have your small business grow to the point where you need to start hiring employees and /or purchasing extensive computer equipment, inventory and business furniture then you need to STOP RIGHT HERE! This is the time to call your insurance agent immediately as you may need a Businessowner’s Policy !

As the number of in-home business ventures explodes along with the need for supplemental income, we strongly suggest that you check your present Homeowners, Renter, Co-op or Condo policy for any limitations.

Speaking to your insurance agent on, at the very least, an annual basis to discuss changes in your occupation, or any other changes in your life or to your home for that matter, is vital to having all property and assets insured the way you want and need them to be insured. After all, that is what your agent is for—to assist you in covering your exposures to loss whether you recognize the need or not.

– Karen Skoler, CPCU

Insurance As A Career Choice

careers In 1968, during the Vietnam War and amidst all the civil unrest here in this country, I became a college graduate and began my chosen career – and it wasn’t insurance! Actually, it was teaching on the Elementary School level. Basically, I had followed the advice of my parents and studied to take a job that could give me security and a career path I could follow even when I had children someday. The trouble was that I never bothered to consider what other choices were available to me. The choice of career, in our culture (although very important in later years) is very understated in one’s early 20’s, and most young people today are just interested in trying to find a job so that they can begin to pay back those school loans they find themselves saddled with after graduation.

It feels as though years ago there was a tremendous emphasis on what college and graduate schools to attend, where one would make their home, who they would marry, etc., but the choices seemed more culturally based then driven by a need to make a lot of money. Today, however, I am told by young people that most of their peers are “chasing the money”. The fact is, the choice of career is too important to make in haste or without considering multiple alternatives when you think of how many years you will spend supporting yourself in your chosen field. In other words, you better like what you do for a living, because chances are you’ll be doing it for a long, long time!

Recently, while interviewing prospective employees, I was amazed at the discrepancy between what they had prepared for in terms of their education and what they were pursuing in terms of a career choice. Is this just a function of a challenged economy or was this always the case?

As for me, after only six months in my chosen career, I knew what I had prepared for was in a field I didn’t enjoy, held no interest for me, and could not face going to on a daily basis for the next 43 years of my life (albeit the retirement age was a definite 65 at that time). Quite by accident I found myself in the insurance business and there I have stayed up until the present. And, believe or not, I’m still only in my 30’s!

I am not going to tell you that I love my chosen profession every day of my life; however, for the most part I really like what I do. I find it creative, challenging, informative, social, and just packed with other positives where my talents are put to good use. And, yes, it has afforded me a very nice lifestyle.

With everyone looking for young talent, don’t ignore the possibilities of a career in the insurance business and what it can offer you. Ours is an industry that is aging out. No matter what our high tech world wants us to believe, we still need a real person with the ability to talk to us, offer suggestions, and consult with us when purchasing insurance. We also need young talent, bright minds and quick thinkers and yet despite our professionalism, our need for continuing education credits, licensing, etc. young people are not naturally drawn to choose insurance as something they’d like to pursue. It is just not glamorous or sexy as a career choice.

Well, I am here to tell you not to knock it if you haven’t tried it!

Have you thought of being an intern? Do you enjoy working as a team?

At our agency, we even have a social media team and we are always looking for new and creative ideas to help us stay connected with our clients and offer them excellent information. We make our own videos, write our own blogs, have a presence on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. And we do it all while still underwriting, servicing and selling insurance.

Who knows, you might just like it as much we do! For more information about pursuing a career in the Insurance Industry, go to www.pohsinstitute.com as these people can prepare you for insurance licensing exams and provide you with some idea of what the insurance industry is all about.

The fact is that insurance is “here to stay” and has been around for a very long time. If you are looking for a stable, professional, rewarding career choice, I say give it a try… “you might like it!”

– Karen Skoler, CPCU

My Landlord Wants A Certificate of Insurance

On a regular basis, our agency receives calls from our clients who are opening a business and are in the middle of lease negotiations with a landlord. Whether your business is an office, a store, or a showroom, a lease agreement typically obligates a tenant to carry specific limits of insurance. Often the landlord wants to be named on your policy and requests proof of this prior to the tenant taking possession of the space. This proof is called a Certificate of Insurance and it typically requires updating on an annual basis.

Sometimes, we find that the landlord’s insurance requirements are so outrageous it is as if they want to transfer the entire insurance obligation to the tenant and cancel their own policies! What most would-be tenants do not realize is that the terms of a lease and the limits of insurance required by management are usually negotiable and a knowledgeable insurance professional can be of great assistance during this time. In addition, the landlord’s interests are never fully protected by a tenant’s policy and a savvy landlord will always maintain their own policy to protect their own interests.

Most leases minimally request that the tenant carry General Liability limits of $1 million per occurrence and $2 million in the aggregate. Often there may be an additional request for a $1 million (Excess) Umbrella policy. They might also require Workers’ Compensation, Automobile Liability and, depending upon the nature of the business, Professional Liability. These requirements, we feel, are not unreasonable demands. Some leases might require coverage for Improvements and Betterments made to the space by the tenant as well as the continuation of Rent Payments even if the space becomes uninhabitable in the event of a claim. We strongly suggest that you have someone who is really well-versed in contract language, such as your attorney, review the lease clauses prior to signing such a document.

Once your policies are bound, your agent or broker issues you, the insured, a certificate naming your landlord as the Certificate Holder. It is very important to understand that the certificate of insurance is only a snapshot of the coverage you just put in place.

A Certificate cannot add to the coverage, change the coverage or modify it in any way. The issuer (your agent) cannot provide any wording other than that which is contained in the policy document. In addition your agent cannot provide any assurance of payment for a loss because liability is based upon negligence (fault) which is something to be investigated by the insurance carrier.

In fact, the subject of “Certificates of Insurance” is such a hot topic that many agents and brokers take innumerable courses to become more knowledgeable as to the proper procedure to follow when issuing a certificate, so they can answer a variety of questions such as those we hear on a daily basis:
• Why all this emphasis on who, what, where, how and when to get a certificate?
• Who should you provide with a certificate? What should it say?
• How do you know what really should be included?
• When can you push back on a landlord asking for unreasonable inclusions?
• Why do landlords request the name of every officer, director, member, agent, representative, successor, and assign appear on a certificate of insurance these days?

The main answer to all these questions is that we live in a very litigious society in very challenging economic times and everyone is looking to have their interests protected. Moreover, everyone is looking to have their interests protected by someone else so that they don’t have to pay any additional monies on their own insurance policies. Most important, when a loss occurs depending upon who is named on a certificate and to what degree they are included, they are often entitled to a defense should a suit be brought against them. Therefore, it is up to an insured to become educated and be sure that their limits of liability aren’t in any way being diluted by the inclusion of numerous others. After all, your insurance is there primarily to protect you and should be available to make payment in case a judgment is ultimately rendered against you.

So, before you agree to give away your “store,” we suggest that you make a call to your agent. Ask them to look over your lease, the requested limits of insurance, as well as any request for additional insured status to see if everything being requested is both reasonable and in order. After all, insurance agents pride themselves on being able to offer their clients a “decent night’s sleep”.

– Karen Skoler, CPCU

Does my Insurance Policy on my House cover my Daughter?

Q: My Daughter lives in a 1 family house that I own. Does my insurance policy on this house cover my daughter in any way?

A: NO. Your Policy for this house only covers you as the owner. Your daughter will not have any coverage for her belongings. She will needs to purchase a Renters Policy which will cover her personal property as well liability coverage. Check out our blogs on Renters Insurance for more info.