Q: Can I drive legally without insurance?
A: Actually, almost every state requires you to have auto liability insurance. All 50 states have a financial responsibility law, which means even if your state does not require liability insurance; you need to have adequate assets to pay claims if you would cause an accident. If you do not have enough assets to meet the requirement, you must purchase the state minimum amount of insurance.
Q: What type of insurance do I need if I lease my car?
A: If you lease your car, you will still need to buy your own auto insurance policy. You will be required to buy collision and comprehensive coverage by the auto dealer or bank that is financing your car. In addition, you will need to buy liability insurance and any other coverage’s that may be mandatory in your state.
Q: Do I need separate rental car insurance?
A: Before renting a vehicle, check your personal auto policy and with your agent. In most cases, the coverage and deductibles you have on your own car apply when you rent a car. If your rental car is stolen or damaged in an accident, you must have comprehensive and collision coverage to be covered. Also check to see whether your insurance company pays for administrative fees, loss of use, diminished value or towing charges.
Q: What is the difference between comprehensive and collision coverage?
A: Comprehensive coverage provides coverage for direct auto physical damage to a covered auto resulting from any cause of loss except collision or a cause of loss specifically excluded. Comprehensive coverage includes damage caused by fire, theft, explosion, windstorm, hail, water or contact with an animal. Collision coverage provides coverage for direct and accidental loss or damage to a covered auto caused by collision with another object or by overturn.
Q: Are my friends and family covered if they drive my vehicle?
A: Other people are covered when they drive your vehicle if they have the permission to do so. All insurance will follow the vehicle, so any damages would be paid by your company (up to the policy limit).
Q: Who is covered under medical payments?
A: Medical Payments coverage pays for medical expenses (up to the policy limit) for you or your immediate family while either in a car you own, while riding in another individual's vehicle, or as a pedestrian. This coverage also pays medical expenses for any person injured while occupying your coverage auto.
Q: How will my teen driver affect my premium?
A: Generally, insurance on your teen driver will make your premium increase. This is due to the risk associated with having an inexperienced driver in your household. Studies show that teenage drivers have more at-fault accidents than experienced drivers due to lack of experience and distractions.
Q: How will auto accidents that I am involved in affect my premium?
A: Insurance companies usually charge for at-fault accidents, as well as other driving violations for each driver. Some chargeable violations include speeding, careless driving, or alcohol/drug violations.
Q: Is my pet covered in the case of an accident?
A: Pet coverage varies from company to company. Some companies will pay $500 for any veterinarian bills, including medication, resulting from injuries sustained while the pet is a passenger in your vehicle.
Q: What is commercial General Liability Insurance?
A: Commercial general liability insurance is a form of business insurance that financially protects your company from the damages resulting from an accident that is the fault of you, your equipment, or one of your employees during the course of the performance of the services offered by your company. It is an often overlooked, but vital component of the general insurance coverage for your business.
Q: What is business income coverage?
A: Business income insurance may reimburse you for ongoing expenses such as utility bills while your business is closed due to a property loss. This coverage also provides your loss of net income that you would have earned if a covered cause of property loss had not occurred. This coverage may also cover losses due to down time or extra expenses needed to restore operations (such as additional property rental expenses).
Q: Will I need to protect my employees in the event they are injured on the job?
A: Yes, and in most states there are legal requirements that must be met, and for which you may be responsible. State laws vary, but most states require that you carry some form of workers compensation insurance. This protects the employee and also offers you, the business owner, and some immunity from lawsuit by an injured employee.
Q: What is fire legal coverage?
A: Fire legal coverage provides coverage for you if you rent a business space and are held responsible for fire damages to that rented space. It does not apply to all business risks.
Q: What is coinsurance all about?
A: Most business policies include a "coinsurance" clause stipulating what percentage of the total value of your property must be insured to be fully reimbursed for a loss, even a partial one. (Most losses are partial.) If you insure for less than that amount, your insurance company may impose a "coinsurance penalty" on your claim.
Here's how coinsurance works:
Let's say you have a building insured that you believe would cost $100,000 to replace and a coinsurance penalty in your policy of 80 percent. You insure the building for $80,000, thinking you have fulfilled the coinsurance clause. A fire loss causes $60,000 worth of damage, so you submit a claim. Your insurance company subsequently determines that the replacement cost of the building is actually $150,000. To determine how much to pay on the claim, the insurer divides the amount of insurance you purchased ($80,000) by the amount you should have purchased (80% of $150,000 or $120,000). The result (two-thirds of $60,000 is $40,000) is the amount of your claim the insurer will pay.
Q: Can I do anything to lower my insurance premiums?
A: Remember that all insurance premiums are based on the risks involved. The insurance company evaluates the situation to determine the risks-or potential for losses-and bases its rates on the results. Therefore, deliberate steps you take to lower your risks not only can help safeguard your business but also may make you eligible for lower insurance rates.
Consider these steps:
1. Maintain adequate lighting throughout your business premises.
2. Keep electrical wiring, stairways, carpeting, flooring, elevators, and escalators in good repair.
3. Install a sprinkler system, smoke and fire alarms, and adequate security devices.
4. Keep only a small amount of cash in the cash register.
5. Keep good records of inventory, accounts receivable, equipment purchases and the like. Consider keeping a second set of records off-site, such as with your accountant, agent or at home.
6. Make sure your employees have good driving records.
7. Make sure your employees know how to lift properly and use all necessary safety equipment, such as goggles, gloves and respirators.
8. Consider using the services of a risk manager. Such an outside consultant can advise you of any safety or environmental regulations you may have overlooked or not been aware of and talk to your employees about safety practices. Many insurance companies offer these services upon your request.
9. You may also wish to raise your deductible where appropriate to lower your insurance premiums. How high to raise the deductible should be governed by how much you can afford to pay out of pocket? Be careful not to raise it so high that you cannot cover it should a loss occur. Also, make sure the reduction in premiums is worth the risk with having an increased deductible.
10. Finally, make sure your Hickok & Boardman agent is familiar with your business and the risks inherent in it. He or she should be able to advise you on risk management techniques and their benefits to both you and the insurer.
Q: Who keeps an eye on the insurance companies?
A: Insurance is a heavily regulated industry. Every state has a department that regulates and monitors every insurer operating within the state's borders. In addition to approving rates, your state's insurance department is involved in all insurance matters on behalf of private citizens and businesses. It also issues operating licenses to insurers and agents, based on their ability to meet the state's requirements for conduct and knowledge about insurance issues.
Q: Why do I need certificates of insurance from sub-contractors?
A: An audit may require you to show proof that sub-contractors had their own insurance coverage. The sub-contractors' certificates of insurance will prevent you from being charged for their exposure. This is extremely important in regards to worker’s compensation.
Q. I am traveling to Europe next month. Are my personal contents covered by my homeowner’s policy across the world?
A: Yes, your personal contents are covered anywhere in the world by the contents coverage of your homeowners policy.
Q: I accidentally dropped my wedding ring down the sink drain. Am I covered?
A: Yes, you are covered if your ring is properly scheduled on a Scheduled Personal Property Endorsement prior to the loss.
Q: I have an expensive diamond ring. Is this covered by my basic homeowner’s policy?
A: A standard homeowner’s policy includes coverage for jewelry and other precious items such as watches and furs. However, the insurer will not pay more than an amount specified in the policy. You should schedule your diamond ring by purchasing a Scheduled Personal Property Endorsement, in which the ring will be scheduled at the professionally appraised limit.
Q: I do not have many personal belongings. Do I still need homeowner’s coverage?
A: Think about it this way, how much would it cost you to replace your entire wardrobe all at once, or all of your dishes, pots and pans, and linens? Those few belongings may not seem like much to you, but may financially add up to a large amount when you begin to replace them. Or what if you or an immediate family member cause bodily injury or property damage to other people? Would you be financially stable to cover your legal responsibility?
Q: Can I own a home without homeowners insurance?
A: If you have financed your home with a mortgage, your mortgage company will require you to get homeowners coverage in order to protect their investment in your home. If you have paid off your mortgage or paid cash for your home, no one will force you to buy homeowners insurance. However, it is not advised to go without homeowners insurance and risk losing what you have invested in your home.
Q: Is renters Insurance is expensive?
A: Actually, it is not as costly as you think! For a relatively low premium, you can greatly minimize your financial risk.
Q: I do not own the home, so I do not need personal liability insurance?
A: Not true. Your landlord’s policy most likely does not include liability for something that happens in your rented residence.
Q: Does my homeowner’s policy cover flooding?
A: Most homeowners and renters policies do not cover flood damage. Flood coverage can be purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program, as well as a group of private insurers.
Q: I just had water back up in my basement through my drain. Am I covered?
A: You are covered only if your policy has a Water Back-Up Endorsement form.
Q: My dog bit my neighbor and required my neighbor to get stitches. Is this covered under my homeowners insurance?
A: Yes, a standard homeowner’s policy will provide coverage, up to your medical payments policy limit, for your neighbor’s stitches and medical expenses. Bodily Injury would also apply due to strict liability.
Q: I sold my entertainment stand online and when the lady came to pick it up from my apartment, she tripped on my rug and broke her ankle. Are any of her medical expenses covered under my renter’s insurance policy?
A: Yes, the lady’s medical expenses are covered up to your policy limit.
Q: Lightning hit my house during a recent storm. My computer monitor was fried by the electrical current. Is this covered under my homeowner’s policy?
A: Under a standard homeowner’s policy, lightning is one of the common covered perils. Yes, you would be covered.
Q: During a recent storm, my neighbor’s tree fell and destroyed my fence. Is this covered under my homeowner’s policy, or my neighbor's?
A: You are responsible for the loss unless the neighbor was determined to be negligent. An example of negligence in this situation would be your neighbor not removing a rotten tree.
Q: Is my bike passenger covered?
A: Yes. Passengers on your bike are covered for medical payments coverage and in certain situations, bodily injury coverage.
Q: I will not use my motorcycle during the winter months. Can I turn off coverage temporarily during the winter?
A: No! But this is accounted for in the rate which determines your premium. You never know, you may get your bike out on an unseasonably warm day in January and if so, you're covered.
Q: Does my driving record affect my watercraft and power sports policy?
A: It depends on your policy and the insurance company you are with. To stay clear of any violations on your driving record, remember to use caution with any motor vehicle or watercraft you drive.
Q: I am a biker through and through and own multiple bikes. Would I qualify for a discount?
A: Yes, most standard power sports policies offer a multiple bike discount.
Q: Is my boat trailer covered?
A: Generally, a boat owner’s policy may be used to cover trailers used to transport one or more covered boats. Trailer values are added to the value of the boat that it is used to transport.
Q: Are young boat operators covered?
A: Drivers below the minimum age for operating a boat or personal watercraft are not covered on most standard boat owner’s policies.
Q: What is an umbrella policy?
A: An umbrella policy is a single policy that is added to your package of underlying policies that increases your liability limits for each underlying policy.
Q: Why do I need an umbrella policy?
A: With the increase in litigation in the U.S. in the past few years, everyone should evaluate how much they have to lose in assets should they be found liable for damages in court. To offset this risk, an umbrella policy that offers millions of dollars in coverage can be purchased for a few hundred dollars a year. With the rising cost of medical and auto repair expenses, a major accident can often exhaust the policy limits on a typical policy if there are serious injuries involved. In this case, your umbrella policy would kick in and provide additional coverage.
Q: Umbrella policies are expensive!
A: No, umbrella policies are relatively cheap! For $1 million in coverage, the average yearly premium is between $100 - $300 dollars!
Q: Umbrella policies are only for the wealthy.
A: With the rising cost of litigation costs and auto accidents, it is not uncommon for one accident to deplete the policy limits. Everyone should have an umbrella policy if you have assets to protect!
Q: What is a deductible?
A: This is your share of the loss. Generally you will pay a sum of money described on your declarations page before the insurance company’s obligation to pay under the terms of the policy.
Q: Will my policy premium rise if I file a claim?
A: Possibly. Your premium rates are determined by a variety of factors and your claim adjuster won’t immediately know if a claim will affect your premium in any way. In some cases, a claim will cause a premium to rise; in other cases, it won’t. Typically, comprehensive auto claim losses will not adversely affect your premium rate, but each individual situation is unique. All claims should be discussed with your Agent.
Q: Will liability-only auto policies cover damage to my vehicle in case of an accident?
A: No. Liability insurance only provides coverage for damage to the property of others. If the other party to the accident is deemed to be at-fault, his or her insurance will probably pay for the damage to your vehicle.
Q: My vehicle was damaged in a collision. How do I know if it’s a total loss?
A: Generally, there’s no way to know from sight alone. A vehicle can be drivable and still be a total loss, just as a vehicle with dents all over the body cannot be. A qualified shop estimate or claim adjuster’s appraisal is the only way to know for sure. If the cost to repair the vehicle exceeds the value of the vehicle prior to the loss less any applicable salvage, the vehicle is deemed to be totaled.
Q: I’ve been paid on a claim for stolen or lost property, but the items have been found. What do I do?
A: First, determine if the items are in a condition in which you’d like to keep them and/or have value. Items recovered from a theft can be damaged in a variety of ways and may not be in useable condition. Contact your claim adjuster to see what you should do. Often, insurers will let you choose between keeping the old item or the replacement item (or insurance payment if you have not yet replaced the item). They would then take possession of whichever item you did not want as salvage.
Q: Will a renter’s policy cover damage to my apartment unit?
A: No. A renter’s policy provides coverage for your personal property and liability coverage for anything that happens inside your rented residence. Physical damage to the structure, such as walls, doors, and windows are the responsibility of your landlord.
Q: How is my personal property loss determined in the event of a fire?
A: Fires can make value determination very complicated for obvious reasons. The most helpful thing you can do both for yourself and your claim adjuster is to inventory what you own now, before a loss has even occurred. Make a list of all the items in your home and include things like their brand, model info, age and original cost, if you know it. You can also take pictures or video the rooms in your home to show your belongings. Keep a copy of the documentation in a safe, or at a different location, such as your workplace or a family member’s home.
Q: Can I choose the contractor that does repairs to my home/shop or that works on my vehicle?
A: That depends on your insurer. Depending on the size and location of the loss, your insurer may want you to work with a designated contractor or shop of their choice.
Q: When can I use rental reimbursement coverage?
A: If your vehicle is safe to drive, reimbursement begins when your vehicle goes into the shop for repairs. You should not get a rental vehicle until you confirm that the shop has the necessary parts and is ready to begin repairs to your vehicle. If your vehicle is disabled or unsafe to drive, a rental vehicle can be authorized from the moment your claim investigation begins.
Q: How long can I keep the rental vehicle?
A: If your vehicle is being repaired, you can keep the rental vehicle until your vehicle is back on the road or until your coverage limit runs out, whichever comes first. If your vehicle is a total loss, your claim adjuster will advise you when to return the rental vehicle. The amount of authorized rental time is often limited, so you should begin shopping for a replacement vehicle as soon as you learn your damaged vehicle is a total loss.
Q: What kind of vehicles can I rent?
A: Usually you can rent a vehicle comparable in size to your own vehicle. However, you should always consider your rental reimbursement limits when choosing a rental vehicle. If the daily rate of your rental vehicle is more than your daily limit, you will have to pay the difference.
Q: Do I need to purchase additional insurance for the rental vehicle?
A: Usually this coverage is not necessary if you have comprehensive and collision coverage’s on your auto policy. Insurers do not reimburse the cost of additional insurance you purchase from the rental company.
Q: I was in an accident that I feel wasn’t my fault, but the other insurer believes I am. I only have liability coverage on my vehicle. What do I do?
A: File a claim on your policy. A claim adjuster will investigate the loss and come to a liability decision. If we disagree with the other insurer, we will deny payment for their damages and will fight for our position in arbitration. If we agree with their liability decision, we will pay their damages.
Q: Do I pay a deductible when I have to use my auto liability coverage?
A: No, your deductible applies only when your policy provides comprehensive or collision coverage’s for your vehicle. Liability coverage and injury coverage’s typically do not have deductibles.