As a homeowner, one of the most important aspects of your home isn’t something you use daily. And it isn’t something flashy you show off to friends. It’s your homeowners insurance policy, and it protects you in more ways than you may think, helping you rebuild your home or repair damage that results from a covered loss.
But, that’s not all. It can also help cover the costs of a lawsuit, help you pay for somewhere else to live when your home is uninhabitable, and much more.
Home insurance is typically very comprehensive, but all policies have exclusions and coverage limits. It’s vital to know what those are so you know what’s covered and what’s not. Fire damage? Typically covered. Flood damage? Typically not.
With this guide, you can begin to understand what a typical home insurance policy covers. Just keep in mind that coverage varies from carrier to carrier, region to region and even policy to policy. Only your individual home policy can tell you the coverage you have and that which you don’t. For an even better understanding of your home policy coverage, review it with one of our agents.
What Home Insurance Covers The typical homeowners insurance policy has six types of coverage. They are commonly known as:
Remember that, despite having all of these different types of coverage, you’re only covered up to the dollar amounts that you select and only for covered losses, as outlined in your policy. Typically, you can change these policy limits at any time if you’d like to purchase more coverage. This is a good idea if, for example, you’ve recently added on to your home, acquired some pricey personal belongings or made other updates to your property. If needed, you can also reduce your coverage, though always ensure you are adequately protected.
What Home Insurance Doesn’t Cover
It’s just as important to know what your homeowners insurance doesn’t cover as it is to know what your home policy does cover. For starters, your policy does not cover any damage or repairs costing less than your deductible. It also does not cover any costs that exceed the coverage limits outlined in your policy. You are solely responsible for excess costs, unless you have an umbrella policy to provide additional liability coverage for a covered loss.
More than likely, your policy also does not cover routine maintenance and repairs, as well as damage due to animals, termites, floods, earthquakes, sinkholes, sewer backups, and other incidents. These are often considered non-covered losses. If you experience a non-covered loss, as outlined by your policy, you will be responsible for the costs.
What Home Insurance May Cover
Outside of the typical home insurance coverage, optional or separate coverage may be available from your carrier or from a different carrier. For example, you may be able to purchase earthquake or flood coverage separate from your homeowners policy.
Other coverage options are add-ons to your existing homeowners insurance. These can include identity protection and equipment breakdown coverage, which covers the cost to repair or replace a range of appliances and other equipment, such as pool equipment, in your home. If this sounds similar to an extended appliance warranty, it is. The difference is that you can insure an array of appliances at once through this optional coverage rather than purchasing a separate warranty for each one.
This guide is a starting point for understanding your home insurance policy. Your own policy may vary greatly from the descriptions above depending on the state where you live, your carrier, and the coverage you have selected. So take a close look at your policy by reviewing your documents or viewing your coverage online. Or, even better, sit down with one of our insurance agents who can explain your coverage in detail, as well as discuss whether your policy provides adequate protection for your home, property, and belongings.
Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.
Motorcycle riders are far more likely than people in cars to be seriously injured or killed in a crash — but keeping safety in mind can reduce your risk.
There are many benefits to motorcycles — they get great gas mileage, they can make your commute easier, and it’s almost never a problem finding a parking space. As anyone who rides will tell you, they’re also a lot of fun.
But riders assume a lot of risk to get those benefits — according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, they’re 30 times more likely to die in a crash than drivers and passengers in cars. Whether you’re an experienced motorcyclist or you’re just getting started, these tips from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and Consumer Reports can help keep you on the road, and out of danger.
Choose the right bike — and know how to use it. Riding a more powerful motorcycle than you can truly handle can get you into trouble. According to Consumer Reports, a model with a 250-cc to 300-cc engine is great for a starter or commuter motorcycle, while those with 500-cc to 750-cc engines are good for extended highway riding. Whatever size bike you choose, though, taking a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) riding course will ensure you know how to operate it properly.
Make sure you’re visible. Even when drivers are alert, it can be hard for them to see motorcyclists (and it’s even worse if they’re distracted). That means you need to help as much as possible. Try to stay out of the blind spots of cars and trucks, and make sure your headlight is always on, even when riding in the daytime. It’s also a good idea to wear bright-colored clothing or add reflective strips to your bike.
Use the right safety gear. Whether your state has a helmet law or not, we strongly recommend that you protect your head — studies show riders without helmets are three times more likely to have a brain injury in a crash. You should also wear leather or other thick clothing. As the MSF puts it, “The only thing between you and the road is your protective gear.”
Be safety-minded at all times. This can mean any number of things, from keeping your bike well-maintained to deciding not to ride when the weather is bad. Both of those things are good ideas, of course. Perhaps most important is driving defensively, because at least one study shows that in the majority of car-motorcycle accidents, car drivers are at fault. You need to be hyper-alert and prepared for sudden lane changes, being cut off and more.
“Born to be wild” may be a phrase forever associated with motorcycles, but don’t take that to heart when it comes to safety. Let your hair down and enjoy the ride — just use some common sense to make sure you’re around for the next ride, too.
Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.
Adam and Bob were best friends since junior high school. They shared an apartment in college, majored in the same field, and even went to work for the same company. When they were in their mid-30s, they came up with a great idea for a product that would become very popular, and the two decided to venture out with their own business. They decided to form a partnership with each owning 50%. The business soon began to flourish.
Two weeks after his 47th birthday, the seemingly healthy Adam suffered a massive heart attack and died. Upon his death, Adam’s ownership in the company was transferred to his wife, Cathy. Having known Bob for many years, Cathy left control of the company to him and the business continued to prosper.
Two years later, Cathy met Donald and after a whirlwind romance, the two were married. Donald became very interested in the stock in Cathy’s late husband’s business. Eventually he would begin having ideas about how the company could be better run. Although he had no experience to back his ideas, being a good wife, Cathy would make these suggestions to Bob. The relationship between the partners began to suffer from this tension.
Not long after Cathy and Donald’s third anniversary, Cathy was diagnosed with cancer and soon she also passed away. Like many people, Cathy had failed to plan properly for her future, and under community property laws, her ownership transferred to Donald at her death. Donald was now a 50% owner of the company with an equal authority in how the business was run.
Bob and Donald rarely agreed on the operation of the company and although he had years of experience and knowledge far superior to Donald’s, Bob was unable to override Donald’s ideas. Time spent on these disagreements, dissatisfied customers and mounting costs would all prove too much for the company, and on the 20th anniversary of Adam and Bob opening the doors of the company, they would be closed for good as the owners filed for bankruptcy.
A Simple Solution
A very simple yet often overlooked strategy could have helped avoid this unfortunate end to the previously happy story. A buy-sell agreement is a legally binding clause in a partnership agreement that controls what happens if one of the partners dies or otherwise needs to leave the partnership.
Typically, the agreement sets a price and gives the surviving partner the option to buy the deceased partner’s share from their estate. In the story above, this would have let Bob simply buy Adam’s ownership interest, allowing him to maintain full control of the business and avoid the other problems.
This strategy runs into difficulty at the time of the partner’s death if the surviving partner does not have sufficient capital to make the purchase. Keyperson life insurance helps to solve this problem. With this product, the business buys a life insurance policy, equal to the agreed upon purchase price, on the life of each of the partners with the other partner listed as beneficiary. Death benefit of the insurance is then used to pay the deceased partner’s estate and transfer ownership.
With the business listed as the owner of the policies, they are considered business assets and premiums are allowable business expenses. This allows the partners to successfully plan for the future of the business while receiving some valuable tax benefits as well.
For more information, please visit the Life Happens blog.