September Newsletter


 
Your Jewelry Could Be in Danger

According to the Department
of Justice, jewelry accounts for
70% of all personal property theft
losses each year. If your jewelry
exceeds the coverage limit on
your homeowners policy, you will
need to get special insurance that
specifically protects your pieces.

A typical homeowners insurance
policy limits coverage for jewelry
to a fairly small amount—maybe
$1,000 or $2,500. That may seem
like a lot of coverage at first
glance, but keep in mind that gold
prices have skyrocketed and that
many wedding-ring sets exceed
that amount all by themselves. If
you are robbed and your rings are
stolen or your home is burglarized
and all of your gold is taken, you
might find your insurance claim
check very disappointing.

The first step in getting your
jewelry insured properly is
assessing its true value. Update
the appraisals of your jewelry,
especially your nicest pieces, then
call your agent to determine if
you need to put your items on a
special schedule to get them fully insured.

 
Cars at College

While a child is still living in the parent’s home, auto coverage issues tend to revolve around rates and traffic tickets. But a student taking a family car off to a distant college campus raises a new set of coverage concerns.

Considerations include the principal parking location of the vehicle; insurance laws in the new location, if different from your resident state; use of the car as part of your child’s business duties; or a vast increase in the annual mileage. There may also be an increase in liability risks, unfortunately, as children move out from under their parents’ watchful eyes.

If you’re allowing your child to take a car to college this fall, talk with us about your coverage to be sure the protection you want is the protection
you have.


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Business at Home?

Imagine that you are hosting a product party for your new network marketing venture and your dog bites one of your guests. What if your part-time administrative assistant slips and falls carrying computer supplies from your basement to your upstairs home office, or a kitchen fire burns up not only your cabinets but also the extra inventory you were storing in the pantry closet?

Will your homeowners
policy respond for such losses since they occurred in the home? Not necessarily. A typical homeowners policy limits claims for business property to about $2,500, but check your policy for its particular limits. Additionally, your homeowners policy usually
excludes coverage for liability arising from your home-based business. That would mean you would have no coverage for injuries
to clients, customers
or helpers.

If you operate, or are just considering operating, a business in your home, please contact us immediately to review how your current coverages will respond to your business protection needs. Operating some businesses without notification to your insurer could render some of your insurance protection invalid, so don’t delay.

Reduced Coverage for Self-Storage Facilities

In the last decade, the amount of property stored in self-storage facilities has exploded around the country. The newest homeowners insurance forms, however, restrict the amounts of coverage on such property to below what has been previously provided. The new forms explicitly reference self-storage facilities and establish a limit on insurance of 10% of the homeowners policy’s personal property limit.

If you keep lots of items or even a few very expensive things in a self-storage facility, you might require some insurance changes
to accommodate your stored property. If you store ATVs or other recreational vehicles or watercraft, you will need to be especially careful, since many of these are excluded from coverage under your homeowners insurance.

Many storage companies explicitly state in their contracts that insurance for the contents in the storage space is the responsibility of the tenant. The good news is that endorsements (additions) to your homeowners policy are available so you can obtain coverage for your stored property.

Coverage for Multi-Generational Homes

Over the past 20 years, the percentage of multi-generational families living in the same household has increased significantly. Such households now represent more than 20% of current homes, according to one national survey.

The good news is that a homeowners
insurance policy is designed to cover
the home and all the contents inside
of it, barring those specifically limited
or excluded by the policy language.
That means that it doesn’t matter who
“owns” the things in the home. The
people who live there are also covered
for their liability should they injure
someone or damage someone’s property. It doesn’t matter if they are
the homeowner’s teenage children or
their septuagenarian parents; the residents are insured.

The important thing is to make
sure you tell your agent about all residents at the time of your application
for insurance. If your living situation
changes during your policy period,
you need to bring the changes to your
agent’s attention so appropriate notifications can be made to your insurer.
The likelihood is that your coverage
and premiums won’t change much or
at all, but you never want to leave off
information concerning your coverage.

Seasonal Use of a Vehicle

As winter approaches, many insureds’ thoughts turn to winter and warmer climes.

If you travel without your vehicle, it may seem that canceling or significantly reducing your auto insurance could save some money, but don’t be hasty. Your car insurance does more than just insure that vehicle while driven.

Your auto insurance provides liability coverage for you when you drive other cars, and it insures against damage to others’ property caused by your vehicle. For example, if you were to park your car in your driveway and it for some reason rolled, hitting another vehicle, your auto liability insurance would pay, even though you weren’t behind the wheel.

Numerous events can happen while you are gone, including storms and fires, so keeping comprehensive coverage is very important—even if you aren’t going to use your car for a few months. If you are looking for ways to save on auto insurance for a seasonally used vehicle, we may have some ideas you haven’t considered. Give us a call to find out more.

 
Personal Trusts Can Affect Insurance

Personal trusts are a rapidly growing technique often recommended to simplify probate and inheritance concerns.

Yet a basic necessity of such trusts can create a significant problem for your home and auto insurance.

Beyond all the legalities, the basic problem is generically stated: In order to function properly, the trust takes title to your property. So now you are driving a car or living in a home you no longer legally own. Yet by its very name, a homeowners policy assumes the persons named on the policy do, in fact, own that house. Personal auto policies operate under the same assumption. In effect, when you establish the trust and transfer title of your property into the trust, you are no longer a homeowner, but the tenant of a trust landlord. You no longer own the car, but are a permissive user of a trust-owned car.

As insurance policies are legal contracts, any legal change in ownership of the covered property of necessity leads to the need to change those policies to reflect the new reality. This is often as simple as attaching the necessary endorsements to your existing policies, but in some cases you may require entirely new coverage. If you now have, or are discussing the usefulness of, such a personal trust for your probate and inheritance needs, include us in the planning.

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