Monthly Archives: December 2015

present motorcycleAs you sit in the middle of your new surround sound system enjoying the game, or cruise around on your new Harley feeling the envious stares of every guy you pass, remember that you need to be adequately insurance. Those pesky details are often not high on the priority list of someone who wishes it was warm enough to take the new jet-ski out on the lake. But if you want to avoid an unfortunate incident later, you should think about insurance now.

Many standard homeowners or renters policies will cover small electronics like iPads and smart phones. But when you start moving up the scale to surround sound systems and cutting edge computer systems, the line get s a little murky. Policies have limits and your $15,000 claim may only pay $5,000 depending on your coverage. For things like artwork, collectables, and jewelry may not be covered at all. A special endorsement or umbrella policy may be needed, or possible a new individual policy entirely.

Gifts like a new car obviously need to be covered by vehicle insurance, either added to your policy or with individual coverage. A new motorcycle needs motorcycle insurance. Jet-skis, boats and other watercraft need an appropriate policy, too.

An annual review of all your insurance policies is an excellent idea, and there is no time like the present. Jot down all relevant serial numbers and take video/photos of everything you feel is of value. Also make sure to get appraisals of any collections you may have, as well as any antiques.

Don’t wait until it is too late to make sure you have the coverage you need with all your new toys, as well as your old ones. Talk to your insurance professional and make sure there won’t be any surprises should you need to file a claim later.

beware of dog 3According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year and about 885,000 require medical attention for these injuries; about half of these are children. If your dog was the guilty party, do you know if your homeowners insurance would cover any liability? Anything not covered by your policy is your responsibility.

There are some companies that will not issue a policy to a household with a dog. Others go by a list of so-called dangerous dogs, like Pit Bulls, Staffordshire Terriers, Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Chows, Great Danes, Presa Canarios, Akitas, Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, and Wolf-hybrids to determine whether to provide coverage. You may even be asked to sign a liability waiver.

Once your dog is labeled a biter, your premium could go up or your insurance company may decide not to renew your policy.

An analysis of homeowners insurance data by the Insurance Information Institute found that while the number of dog bite claims nationwide decreased 4.7 percent in 2014, the average cost per claim for the year was up 15 percent. The average cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide was $32,072 in 2014, compared with $27,862 in 2013. The average cost per claim nationally has risen more than 67 percent from 2003 to 2014, due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs, which are still on the upswing.

Obviously, your best resource to find out if you are covered for dog bite liability is your insurance professional. Maybe you need an umbrella policy or possibly coverage specifically written for dogs. Don’t get caught short and end up paying a big bill out-of-pocket. Set up a meeting with your agent or broker and be sure you have all the coverage you need.

teen driver 1There are very few sentences that strike fear into the hearts of parents while bringing total joy to teenagers than “I got my driver’s license!” Another is “can I get a car?” Well, the first sentence is pretty much inevitable, and the pain of the second can be lessened by a little research done by the good people at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

“It’s easier than ever to find a used vehicle with must-have safety features and decent crash test performance without spending a fortune,” says Anne McCartt, the Institute’s senior vice president for research.

When it comes to crash test ratings, vehicles on the “best choices” list have good ratings in the Institute’s longstanding moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. Vehicles on the “good choices” list have good ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front test, good or acceptable ratings in the side test and a better-than-poor rating for head restraints.

If rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, vehicles on either list must earn 4 or 5 stars overall or 4 or 5 stars in the front and side tests under the old rating scheme.

The recommendations on teen vehicle choice are guided by four main principles:

– Young drivers should stay away from high horsepower. Vehicles with more powerful engines can tempt them to test the limits.

– Bigger, heavier vehicles protect better in a crash. There are no minicars or small cars on the recommended list. Small SUVs are included because their weight is similar to that of a midsize car.

– Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is a must. This feature, which helps a driver maintain control of the vehicle on curves and slippery roads, reduces risk on a level comparable to safety belts.

– Vehicles should have the best safety ratings possible. At a minimum, that means good ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front test, acceptable ratings in the IIHS side crash test and four or five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).


Remember to ask your insurance professional about adding any new driver living in your household, whether they have their own vehicle or not. Also, even if you are paying cash for a new or use car, that vehicle needs to carry at least the state minimum liability coverage.


To check the IIHS recommendations, visit

Sick dog with bandages lying on bed

Sick dog with bandages lying on bed

You buy only the best food for your four-legged pal. You make sure a regular visit to the groomer is part of your routine. You even make your canine or feline companion wear a ridiculous pet sweater in your family’s holiday portrait. Shots are all up to date and a regular physical is an annual event. But are you covered for medical bills above and beyond an annual checkup?

According to data from Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) posted on, the 10 most common claims last year were for relatively minor ailments–eye, ear, and skin infections; benign tumors; and digestive and urinary-tract ailments–and a handful of more serious problems. Costs for most of those averaged $100 to $200, but the highest bills for every type of illness ran from $600 to $4,400.

Just like health insurance for humans, there are different coverages available for pets. Be sure to do a little homework before purchasing coverage for Fluffy or Spot. Are there different deductibles? How about any co-pays? Does the coverage max out at any point? Do I pay up front and get reimbursed or does the vet bill the insurance company directly? Do I have to use a veterinarian in a network, or can I use any veterinarian?

Also, some animals have certain hereditary conditions and can be more susceptible to particular ailments. Will treatments associated with that be covered?  Many policies won’t pay for elective procedures. Ask if the policy has renewable benefits — if your pet receives treatment for a covered condition during the policy term, some companies will consider it a pre-existing condition when the policy renews and will not cover the condition in the renewal policy.

Your best bet is to talk with your insurance professionals to see what kinds of pet coverage are available. He or she will help you make a good, educated choice that will fit your needs and budget.

for rent 2Were you planning on renting out your primary residence for a few short rental terms while you are away?  Did you know that some insurance companies may allow a homeowners policyholder (assuming they have notified the company) a short-term rental. Other companies will require an endorsement to the existing homeowners or renters insurance policy in order to provide insurance coverage.

Also, renting your home out on a consistent basis throughout the year could constitute a business. Most homeowners policies do not cover businesses conducted in the home and you would probably need to purchase a business policy — specifically either a hotel or a bed and breakfast policy. If you have a second home that you plan to rent for an extended period of time (longer than six months), you will likely need a landlord or rental dwelling policy.

Landlord policies provide property insurance coverage for any physical damage to the structure of the home caused by fire, lightning, wind, hail, ice, snow or other covered perils. It also offers coverage for any personal property you may leave on-site for maintenance or tenant use, like appliances, lawnmowers and snow blowers. The policy also includes liability coverage; if a tenant or one of their guests gets hurt on the property, it would cover legal fees, due to injury claims, and medical expenses.

These scenarios do not include renting out a room or guesthouse on your property. Those situations would likely require you to upgrade your homeowners policy with a “unit rented to others” endorsement.

Before you decide to become a landlord – or if you already are renting out property – talk to your insurance professional to see you have the right insurance policies for your situation. Don’t wait until you are hit with a claim to find out you are underinsured. Take care of it right now.

auto accident 4Bodily injury coverage can help pay for medical expenses and funeral costs to somebody who is hurt in an accident you cause. Bodily injury coverage does not pay for your own injuries. Additionally, bodily injury coverage can help pay for long-term nursing care, lost income from time off work, and “pain and suffering.”

Bodily injury coverage consists of the following: Limit per person – The maximum amount your insurance will pay out for bodily injury to a single person in a car accident.

Limit per accident – The total maximum amount your insurance will pay out for bodily injury if multiple people are hurt in a car accident.

Basic auto insurance is broken down into three figures. For the California state minimum those numbers are 15/30/5. That means policyholders have bodily injury coverage for $10,000 with one claim, $20,000 worth of coverage for multiple claims with the same accident, and $5,000 for any property damage caused by the at-fault driver.

According to a 2013 report by Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Institute ( the average auto liability claim for bodily injury was $15,443. That means you would be on the hook for about $500 if  there was only one injury. Two injuries with minimum coverage will take $1,000 out of your pocket. Remember this is an average. In our whiplash society filled with personal injury lawyers happy to exploit what they hope is a lawsuit lotto.

The best way to insure you have the correct coverage is to speak with your insurance professional. He/she has a wealth of resources available to bring you the best protection for you at a price you can afford.