Life Insurance Buying Decisions

Life Insurance needs vary by person, and will change depending on what stage of life a person is in. Life insurance is a vital part of your family’s financial stability and well-being. Here are some questions you should answer when analyzing your life insurance needs:

1. Do you actually need life insurance?
If you have no debt, and no one depends on you financially, and your estate has enough cash to pay death taxes and expenses, you may not need life insurance. However, most people do need some life insurance.

2. How much life insurance do you need?
There are two important considerations:

  • What financial resources will be available to survivors after your death? Consider three categories of resources: (1) Social security and other retirement-related survivor benefits; (2) group life insurance; and (3) other assets and resources. It is also important to know when these resources will become available—for example, social security survivor benefits are payable immediately to a surviving spouse with dependent children, but only after age 60 if there are no children.
  • What financial needs will your survivors have after your death. For simplicity, consider three categories of requirements: (1) final expenses; (2) debts; and (3) income needs. Then subtract the financial resources of your survivors from their financial needs to determine how large a policy to buy. Many people are underinsured, often because they skip these steps or take a shortcut (such as simply buying a multiple of annual income). For more help in determining the right amount of life insurance, a good life insurance agent can guide you.

3. What type of life insurance best meets your needs
Three main types of life insurance are available: term life, whole life and universal life. A Term Life policy has lower premiums, and may be appropriate if insurance is needed for a specific period of time (20 Years? 30 Years?). A better choice for someone who wants the insurance for a longer period of time, and as a way to accumulate savings, may want a Whole Life or Universal Life policy.

4. What “riders” to the policy should be included
Two types of riders to consider are: 1.) Waiver of premium and 2.) Guaranteed insurability. Waiver of premium will pay the life insurance if you are disabled. Guaranteed insurability allows you to increase the death benefit without providing additional evidence that you are in good health.

5. Tell your beneficiaries about your life insurance policy
Once the policy is issued, inform your beneficiaries the company that issued it, where to find the paper copy of the policy and any specifics about what you want them to do with the death benefit. And store your policy somewhere it can be easily accessed by your beneficiaries.

Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners coverage provides financial protection against loss due to disasters, theft and accidents. Most standard policies include four essential types of coverage: Coverage for the structure of your home; Coverage for your personal property; Liability protection; Coverage for Additional Living Expenses.

  • Coverage for the structure of your home:

Your homeowners policy pays to repair or rebuild your home if it is damaged or destroyed by fire, hurricane, hail, lightning or other disasters listed in your policy. Generally, Homeowners policies also cover "other structures" such as a garage, shed, patio, swimming pool and more.

Keep in mind that a standard policy does not pay for damage caused by a flood, earthquake or routine wear and tear.

The policy limit covering your dwelling should be its "reconstruction value", not its market value, tax value or appraised value. A good agent will help you determine this value.

  • Coverage for your contents (also know as personal property):

Personal belongings coverage includes your furniture, electronics, clothes and more. Your contents are covered anywhere in the world, but those regularly kept at another residence are limited to 10% of your contents limit.r possessions. You also have up to $500 of coverage for unauthorized use of your credit cards.

Expensive items like jewelry, furs, art, collectibles and silverware are covered, but there are usually dollar limits if they are stolen. To insure these items to their full value, purchase a special personal property endorsement or floater and insure the item for its officially appraised value.

  • Liability protection:

Liability covers you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you or family members cause to other people. It also pays for damage or injuries caused by your pets (think dog bites!).

The liability portion of your policy pays for both the cost of defending you in court and any court awards—up to the liability limit stated in your policy.

Liability limits generally start at about $100,000, however, it is really not expensive to increase this limit to $300,000, or better yet, $500,000.

  • Additional living expenses:

"Additional Living Expenses" pay the additional costs of living away from home if you cannot live there due to damage from a covered insurance claim. It covers hotel bills, restaurant meals and other costs, over and above your usual living expenses, incurred while your home is being repaired after a claim.

Accident Forgiveness on Car Insurance

What is accident forgiveness on Car Insurance?
Accident forgiveness is a feature of an auto insurance policy that protects your driving record from being affected by the insurance company's rating system for an at-fault accident, so that your insurance premium won't go up because of an at-fault accident. Not every at-fault accident is going to be forgiven by an insurance company. This usually only applies to your first at-fault accident and then only if your driving record is otherwise clean. However, some companies offer accident forgiveness for all accidents that occur during the life of a policy with the company. This is something to ask your insurance agent if it is available on your policy.

Every auto insurance carrier has its own rules for accident forgiveness. You should ask if you qualify for accident forgiveness, and it is up to the insurance company to include it on your policy. Some companies automatically offer accident forgiveness while others require you to purchase it as an endorsement to your policy. Even though the insurance company forgives the accident from the rating of your policy, you should know that it is still on your driving record. This is important to know if you want to change insurance companies in the future.

Summer Tips to Avoid Water Damage

With summer being a popular time for vacations, here are some valuable tips to avoid costly water damage to your home:

  1. Clean your gutters and downspouts.
  2. Turn off the Water Main Valve. Be sure to test faucets, if you've never done this before.
  3. Shut off Water Supply Valves. If you can't shut off your water main, due to having a sprinkler system or if someone needs to come water your plants, shut off the valves to toilets/sinks/icemaker, etc.
  4. Replace supply lines. Change out any plastic lines for stainless steel ones. Very inexpensive to do this.
  5. Test the sump pump. Very simple to do this. Fill up your sump pit with a bucket of water to see if it is really working.
  6. Ask someone to check on your home while you're away!

And then, enjoy your vacation!

Flood Insurance - Top Ten Facts

Top Ten Facts About Flood Insurance:

1. Everyone lives in a flood zone. You do not need to live near water to be flooded! Over 20% of all flood claims to the National Flood Insurance Program come from properties outside of high-risk flood areas!

2. Flood damage is NOT covered by Homeowners Insurance.

3. You can buy flood insurance no matter what your flood risk is. Anyone that lives in a community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program can buy building and/or contents coverage.

4. The Preferred Risk Policy may be purchased for homes and businesses in moderate to low risk areas of being flooded.

5. Flood insurance is affordable. Policies are available to homeowners, condo owners, apartment owners, renters and business owners.

6. Flood insurance is easy to get through a licensed property insurance agent. Call yours today!

7. Contents coverage is available to homeowners, business owners and tenants. Up to $100,000 for homeowners and renters!

8. Up to $1,000,000 in flood insurance is available for non-residential buildings and contents (up to $500,000 for non-residential buildings and $500,000 for contents in non-residential buildings.)

9. The is usually a 30 day waiting period before coverage goes into effect (the exception being for properties requiring coverage to close a loan-backed purchase).

10. Federal disaster assistance is NOT a good alternative to flood insurance!

Distracted Driving Crashes

Distracted driving, including talking or talking on cellphones, that take a drivers attention off the road are a major safety threat to anyone on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gauges distracted driving by collecting data on distraction-affected crashes, which focus on distractions that are most likely to affect crash involvement such as dialing a cellphone or texting and being distracted by another person or an outside event. In 2016, 3,450 people were killed in distraction-affected crashes, according to latest data from NHTSA, or 9.2 percent of all crash fatalities in the United States. Check out these statistics from 2016 to learn how dangerous Distracted Driving was in 2016.

Fatal Crashes Affected By Distracted Drivers, 2016

Crashes Drivers Fatalities
Total fatal crashes 34,439 51,914 37,461
Distracted-affected fatal crashes
Number of distracted-affected
fatal crashes
3,157 3,210 3,450
Percent of total fatal crashes 9% 6% 9%
Cellphone in use in distracted-affected
fatal crashes
Number of cellphone distracted-affected
fatal crashes
444 457 486
Percent of fatal distracted-affected crashes 14% 14% 14%

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Business Interruption Insurance

Business interruption insurance is as important to a business as fire insurance. Most business owners consider their fire insurance needs, or if they suffered damage due to a windstorm. But too many small business owners fail to think about how they would manage if a fire or other disaster damaged their business premises so that they were temporarily unusable. Business interruption coverage is not sold separately. It is added to a property insurance policy or included in a package policy.

A business that has to close down completely while the premises are being repaired may lose out to competitors. A quick resumption of business after a disaster is essential.

  1. Business interruption insurance compensates you for lost income if your company has to vacate the premises due to disaster-related damage that is covered under your property insurance policy, such as a fire. Business interruption insurance covers the revenue you would have earned, based on your financial records, had the disaster not occurred. The policy also covers operating expenses, like electricity, that continue even though business activities have come to a temporary halt.
  2. Make sure the policy limits are sufficient to cover your company for more than a few days. After a major disaster, it can take more time than many people anticipate to get the business back on track. There is generally a 48-hour waiting period before business interruption coverage kicks in.
  3. The price of the policy is related to the risk of a fire or other disaster damaging your premises. All other things being equal, the price would probably be higher for a restaurant than a real estate agency, for example, because of the greater risk of fire. Also, a real estate agency can more easily operate out of another location.

Cyber Liability and Small Business

If you have a small business, check out these statistics:

  • Forty-three percent of cyberattacks target small businesses.
  • Only 14% of small businesses consider their cyber defenses to be highly effective.
  • The average small business data breach costs $86,500 in recovery costs.
  • Sixty percent of small companies fail within six months of a breach!

These statistics should be enough to scare you into asking your insurance agent what your coverage options are. Coverage is available and very affordable.

Homeowners Insurance and House Buying

Shopping for your dream house? There are many considerations when looking at real estate, like property taxes, school district, the appeal of the neighborhood—and, of course, the bottom line. Don't overlook the financial implications of homeowners insurance as part of your overall investment.

While house hunting
As you search for your new home, remember that the physical characteristics of the house—its size, location, construction and overall condition—can affect the cost, choice and availability of home insurance. In some cases, desirable features—like ornate plasterwork or proximity to the coastline—can make insuring a home costlier or more difficult. Some factors to consider when shopping for a home are:

Proximity to the coastline

Houses located on or near the coast will generally cost more to insure than those further inland. They will also likely require a separate hurricane or windstorm deductible. In some coastal communities, private homeowners insurance coverage may not be readily available. Instead, you may need to purchase insurance through a state-run insurance program.

Age of the home

A stately, older home can be quite beautiful but ornate features like plaster walls, ceiling molding and wooden floors may be costly to replace and can raise the cost of insurance. And plumbing and electrical systems can become unsafe with age and lack of maintenance. If you are considering buying an older home find out how much it will cost to update these features and factor that into the cost of ownership.

Condition of the roof

A new roof matters to insurers and keeps you and your family safer. Make sure to check the roof's condition. Depending on the type of roof and whether or not it's made with fire and/or hail resistant materials, you may even qualify for an insurance discount.

Quality of construction

Find out whether the house has been updated to comply with current building codes. Homes well built by careful craftsmen and those constructed to meet modern engineering-based building codes are likely to better withstand natural disasters.

Risk of flooding

Damage from flooding is NOT covered by standard home insurance policies. If you are buying a home in an area at risk from flooding, you will need to purchase separate flood insurance policy, which is available from the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and from a few specialty insurers.

Possibility of earthquakes

While earthquakes are most frequently associated with California, they occur in the majority of states and are not covered under standard home insurance policies. Earthquake insurance is available from private insurers as an endorsement to a homeowners policy.

Swimming pool or other special feature

If the house has a swimming pool, hot tub or other special feature, you will likely need more liability insurance. You may also want to consider purchasing an umbrella policy to provide added protection in the event someone gets injured on your property and decides to sue you.

Call your insurance professional
Don’t wait until the last minute to think about homeowners insurance and don’t be shy about asking for estimates on more than one house. Ask if the house will qualify, and get an estimate of the premium. The sooner you speak with your insurance professional, the smoother the process will be. If you're uncomfortable with the cost of insuring a particular house, look for one that better fits your financial situation.

Car Insurance Discounts

Are you taking advantage of all of the discounts available on your car insurance?

You may want to call your agent to review what discounts are offered by your car insurance company. Not all discounts are offered by every company, but here are a list of common ones:

  • Multi-car discount - up to 15% discount for more than 1 car on a policy
  • Paid-in-full discount - if you can pay your annual premium in full
  • Home ownership discount - if you own your own home
  • Multi-Policy discount - combining your car and homeowners insurance with the same company
  • Good Student discount - young drivers listed on policy with a "B" or better average in school
  • Driver Training discount - new drivers who have 6 hours of "Behind the Wheel" training
  • Student Away at School discount - drivers who are students away at school over 100 miles away
  • Loss-Free Discount - No claims over a 3 (sometimes 5) year period
  • Good Payer discount - If you always pay your premium on time
  • Electronic Funds Transfer discount - paying your premium with automatic withdrawals

These are some of the most common discounts, but your company may offer other discounts. For example, some companies are offering "usage-based discounts", where you place a device or enable a smart-phone app which monitors your driving habits. Companies do not penalize you for regularly speeding or excessive hard-stopping, but a driver with good driving habits can be rewarded with car insurance discounts.

Unless you ask your agent, you may not know if you are getting all of the discounts available to you!

Cyber Liability Insurance

Technology is vital to conducting business. However, the same technology your business relies on can also leave it vulnerable to costly security threats. Cybercrime is big business and becoming increasingly more sophisticated with advances in technology.
No one is safe from cybercrime – neither individuals, nor small businesses, nor the largest corporations. Cyber liability insurance can help protect your business from major expenses, business losses, and regulatory fines and penalties should a data breach occur.

What Cyber Liability Insurance Covers

Cyber liability insurance is designed to cover losses related to hacking that other business policies will not cover. For example:

  • Client or customer names and contact information, employee information and social security numbers, and all your business data have the utmost value to your company, and to criminal hackers as well. Although standard business and property insurance will not cover this asset, cyber liability insurance will.
  • If your systems fail because of a computer virus, a data breach, or a destructive employee, business interruption insurance will not provide coverage. Cyber liability insurance can cover loss of profits when a system crash is caused by a virus or cyberattack.
  • Your company may be held liable for loss of third-party data. Under commercial contracts containing security warranties, non-disclosure agreements, or merchant service agreements, you could be dealing with expensive damages claims in the event of a data breach. Your company could be held responsible for the costs of fraud conducted on stolen credit cards, forensic investigations, and card re-issuance. Cyber liability insurance can provide protection from these losses.
  • Most states in the U.S. have enacted data breach notification laws. When sensitive personal information is lost in a data breach, written notification must be sent to affected individuals. This time-consuming, expensive endeavor is covered by cyber liability insurance, along with any regulatory fines or penalties assessed against the company.
  • Your business website and employee activity can trigger liability on social media sites. Cyber liability insurance can cover liability for copyright infringement, defamatory statements, and leaked information. It may also cover the PR costs of repairing the damage done to your brand. When a data breach occurs, the loss of customers and company image can me more damaging than the costs incurred in repairing the breach.

Minimizing Cyber Risks for Your Business

Policy premiums for cyber liability insurance will depend on industry, services, types of sensitive data, risks and exposures, along with a number of other factors.

Condominium Insurance

What type of insurance do you need as a condominium unit-owner? You will need a homeowners insurance policy form made specifically for condo unit owners, an HO-6. If you own a unit, but rent it to others, the policy form may change to a DP-6, which is designed for a tenant-occupied condominium unit. A condominium unit will be insured by a Condominium Association's Master Policy, and the Association's By-laws will state at what point the Association's responsibility ends, and where the unit-owner's begins.

The coverage provided by an HO-6 include property coverage for your Contents and "unit-owners building improvements" coverage AND personal liability coverage. Unit-owners Building Improvements coverage provides property coverage for building items not covered by the Condominium Association's Master Policy. The Association may insure up to the unfinished walls, or may be only up to the frame not including dry-wall, interior cabinets, tiling, plumbing fixtures and more. It is very important for every condo owner to ask the Condominium Association's Property Manager what the By-laws state.

An important optional coverage on an HO-6 is called "Loss Assessments Coverage". If there is a covered claim to common property owned by all owners of the association, the By-laws will state that each unit-owner can be assessed a portion of any un-covered damages. If the Association's Master Policy is not sufficient, has a high deductible or excludes coverage, each unit-owner CAN be assessed a portion of the uncovered damages. This "Loss Assessment" can be claimed on a unit-owners HO-6.

How much Contents coverage should be included on an HO-6? This is a question every owner needs to decide for themselves. Consideration should be given to "replacement cost" of all contents (furniture, clothes, appliances, carpeting (may be contents, or may be considered under building improvements).

As with all insurance-buying decisions, consult with your insurance professional to see what coverage is right for you.

Service Line Coverage and Homeowners Insurance

You may not know that the plumbing and underground wiring that brings water, power, data and communications to your home is your responsibility! Despite the city or town providing these services, homeowners are responsible for the maintenance and repair costs for these service lines should something go wrong. And generally, your homeowners insurance only covers the pipes and wires where they connect to your house! It can be VERY expensive to rip up and trench your lawn (or driveway!) to find and fix the problem.

For a small additional premium, you can add Service Line Insurance Coverage to your Homeowners Insurance policy with many insurance companies. This new coverage protects you from unforeseen repairs and replacement of underground pipes and wiring that bring water, power and data to your home. Coverage generally includes: repair of damaged service line, excavation costs, loss of use coverage, additional living expenses, and damage to outdoor property due to the necessary repairs and replacement of damaged service lines.

This coverage can be very enticing if you live in a city, or in an area where the infrastructure is old or outdated. But even in a newer neighborhood where there are newer water mains or underground power lines, it would be worthwhile to add this coverage. Any idea what it would cost a contractor to tear up and repair your driveway, walkway or lawn? No one wants to find out the hard way!

This is a good thing to check with your agent to see if your Homeowners Insurance includes this coverage.

Workers Compensation Explained

Compulsory Workers Compensation in New Jersey:

Compulsory means that every employer must have workers compensation insurance! If you employ even just one part-time worker, you must have workers compensation insurance.

Workers compensation insurance covers the cost of medical care and rehabilitation for workers injured on the job. It also compensates them for lost wages and provides death benefits for their dependents if they are killed in work-related accidents, including terrorist attacks. The workers compensation system is the “exclusive remedy” for on-the-job injuries suffered by employees. As part of the social contract embedded in each state’s law, in all states except Texas, where employers may opt out of the state’s workers compensation system, the employee gives up the right to sue the employer for injuries caused by the employer’s negligence and in return receives workers compensation benefits regardless of who or what caused the accident, as long as it happened in the workplace as a result of and in the course of workplace activities.

Workers compensation systems vary from state to state. State statutes and court decisions control many aspects, including the handling of claims, the evaluation of impairment and settlement of disputes, the amount of benefits injured workers receive and the strategies used to control costs.

Workers compensation costs are one of the many factors that influence businesses to expand or relocate in a state, generating jobs. When premiums rise sharply, legislators often call for reforms. The last round of widespread reform legislation started in the late 1980s. In general, the reforms enabled employers and insurers to better control medical care costs through coordination and oversight of the treatment plan and return-to-work process and to improve workplace safety. Some states are now approaching a crisis once again as new problems arise.

Among the cost drivers that require attention are the increasing costs of prescription drugs, in particular the long-term use and abuse of narcotic painkillers, according to industry studies.

New Year's Eve and Insurance

The Dos And Don’ts of New Year’s Eve

These are not all insurance related tips, and most are just common sense. But this New Years Eve, be safe! It is estimated that about 40% of all fatal crashes on New Years involved a drunk driver. Educate yourself before something happens. New Year’s Eve should be a time to celebrate the closing of one year and the start of the next. Don’t let you celebration be ruined by a preventable accident. Here are some quick and easy dos and don’ts to keep you and others safe on this celebratory day!


  • Have a designated driver or someone you can call for a ride. Especially if you have been drinking or at a party, it is never safe to get behind the wheel when alcohol is involved.
  • If you are hosting a New Years Eve Party, make sure that your house is prepped for guest. This can include installing handrails for stairs, removing slippery surfaces like rugs, and putting salt on walkways.
  • If you are hosting, make sure your guests don’t drive if they are inebriated. Instead, call them a taxi service, or a ride sharing service.
  • If you have children, make sure you know their whereabouts on NYE. Because it’s a dangerous day on the road, encourage them to stay at one location for the night. You should also make sure to know not to get into the car with someone who has been drinking. And especially, make sure that they do not drink and drive.
  • If you plan on drinking on NYE, make sure to not over-drink. Alternate your drinks with water to prevent inebriation.


  • Don’t leave your car parked somewhere overnight. This is a prime opportunity for thieves to break into your vehicle.
  • Do not use fireworks – especially if they are illegal! Fireworks can cause fires and other dangers. When there is alcohol involved, fireworks are not a good idea.
  • Don’t forget about your pets! Fireworks, and other loud noises can scare them. Make sure that they are accounted for and are safely inside your home.
  • Do not leave your drink unattended. Especially if you are out in a bar, club, or other party, leaving your drink can have bad consequences. Take it to the bathroom with you, or give it to a trusted friend or family member to watch. An unattended drink could have been drugged and is never safe.
  • Don’t go to crowded places alone. Attending a festival or other fun new years events, it’s always safer to go with someone else. Be aware of your surroundings and stay alert in crowds.

This New Years, use these tips to keep safe. You should also call you insurance agent to make sure you have auto insurance and homeowners insurance. Auto insurance can help protect you and others in the event of an accident. Homeowners insurance may help protect you and your guests if something happens at your new years’ party. It’s always best to take precaution in these types of situations. You may also want to ask you insurance agent about umbrella insurance. Especially if you are hosting a party, umbrella coverage can help extend your coverage and your policy limits. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Car insurance & Accident Forgiveness

We are often asked: Can I get Accident Forgiveness on my car insurance policy? If I don't have this option, how much will my insurance go up after an accident?

The first question is easier to answer: Yes, many companies offer this. The cost to add this option, and it is an option not automatic, can be inexpensive for some companies but more expensive with others. Its best to ask your agent for a quote.

The second question is more difficult to answer, since an "at-fault" accident will affect your rates in different ways. For instance, a younger driver will be more likely to see a greater increase in rates than a more seasoned driver.

Generally, it is a better idea, and for more stable future car insurance costs, to include the cost of Accident Forgiveness on your policy, if you can get it. The cost to add it is much easier on your wallet, then an at-fault accident will be.

Dog Bite Liability Claims

Your homeowners insurance policy includes "Personal Liability" Coverage. Review your policy to see if it includes up to $300,000 or $500,000 of liability coverage. If you get sued for someone's injuries, your policy will pay to defend you (attorney's fees!) and for a judgment against you up to the policy limit. So if your dog bites someone, whether in your home, at the park or on the street, your homeowners insurance policy covers you for your legal liability. This is why many homeowners insurance companies want to know IF you have a dog, and if so, WHAT breed of dog do you have. Many insurance companies may not offer you coverage if the breed of dog is on their list of more aggressive types.

An independent agent, who represents many companies, should have a company available to you, even if others say no. It is important to be honest about the breed of dog you own, and make sure the company agrees to insure you. Dog bite liability claims cost the insurance companies a lot of money in claims costs. In the year 2016 alone, the Insurance Information Institute recorded these figures for the state of New Jersey:

537 dog bite claims, paying out over $28 Million!

Just another reason to be sure your Homeowners Insurance is in place.

Umbrella Insurance - Do I really need it?

This is a very common question! The answer is, yes! Everyone should have an umbrella policy. Watch this video to learn more:


A common answer from people is "But I don't own anything. If I get sued, they can just take everything!" Wrong answer. Wage garnishment happens if the "negligent" person doesn't have enough assets to cover a judgment against them. So someone who must pay for a judgment against them, could be paying for it for years to come...

An umbrella policy comes into play if the liability limits on an auto insurance policy, or the liability limit on a homeowners policy, have been exhausted. So if you seriously injure someone, or kill them, in a car accident the most your car insurance will pay is $250,000, or if you're lucky, $500,000. The lawsuit sure to follow will be for a lot more than your car insurance liability limit. This is when you will be happy that you have an umbrella policy!

And, defense costs are included up to the limit of your policy! So the insurance company will pay the attorney fees up to the limit of their policy limit.

Here are some actual claims rom Travelers Insurance on a Personal Umbrella policy. You decide if a Personal Umbrella should be obtained:

  • A 28 year old engineer dove into a friend's above ground swimming pool and struck his head on the bottom. As a result, he became a quadriplegic. He sued both the homeowner and the pool manufacturer. The court found the homeowner to be 60% responsible and the pool manufacturer to be 40% responsible. The jury's award: $10,000,000!
  • An insured's tenant claims she became ill from carbon monoxide poisoning resulting from a faulty furnace. The tenant claimed permanent brain damage and demanded $750,000.
  • The insured's 18 year old son was driving the insured's car on a short trip to the store with his girlfriend. He lost control of the car and struck a tree. The son claimed another car cut him off, but there were no witnesses. His girlfriend, a 19 year old college student, was hospitalized for a month with multiple fractures and internal injuries. She was in a wheelchair but now is able to walk with crutches and continues physical therapy. The umbrella policy limit was paid.

There are many more examples of actual claims paid by an umbrella policy. People aren't always reckless, or negligent, to be found to be so. An umbrella policy is cheap insurance. For a little money, you should have the peace-of-mind that an umbrella policy affords!

Homeowners Insurance - How You Can Save Money

Here are some ways you may be able to save money on your Homeowners Insurance:

  1. Raise your deductible - the higher your deductible, the more money you can save on your premium. The standard deductible is generally $500. You will have to pay your deductible before the insurance company pays for any claim, so if you can afford to put more money out at the time of a claim, it will save you money.
  2. Buy your homeowners and Auto Insurance policies with the same carrier - Known as "bundling", carriers will give a discount on BOTH policies. And is you have any other insurance policies, ask if they can be bundled too.
  3. Ask about discounts for home security systems - Discounts up to 10% are available for centrally monitored burglar and fire alarm systems.
  4. Stay with the same insurer - You may be receiving a "long-term" policyholder renewal discount. It is a good idea to periodically shop around to compare your premium with other carriers. If you go through an independent agent, your agent should be able to easily get comparisons for you.

Some other important considerations:

  • If you're looking to save money on your homeowners insurance, make sure you do not skimp on the coverage limits! Your dwelling limit should be enough to completely rebuild your home if disaster strikes!
  • Make sure your policy includes replacement cost coverage (for both the dwelling AND contents).
  • And be sure to talk to your agent about special coverage needs, like jewelry, coverage for finished basements, utility service lines, and any other special needs

Home-Based Business

You need to think about your risks and insurance needs if you are running a home-based business. If you are going to start a business, or have been running one without the proper insurance, you should make this a priority. What type of business it is will determine what your insurance needs are. Here are some questions about your business that your insurance advisor will ask:

  • What type of business do you run?
  • What is the value of your business property?
  • Does your business have employees?
  • Do customers or contractors visit your business at my home?
  • Do you use your car or other vehicles in the course of your business operations?
  • Does your business store customers’ financial and personal information on a computer or through a cloud computing service?

The answers to these questions will guide your insurance advisor for which types of insurance you'll need. The types of coverage you may need:

  • Property and Liability Insurance - Is there an endorsement available to add to your homeowners policy? Maybe you will need a Business Owners Policy (BOP) which combines property and liability coverage, with many other coverage options.
  • Business Auto Policy - Maybe your personal auto insurance policy will allow and provide coverage for business use? Or if the vehicle is titled in the business name, you'll need a Business Auto Policy.
  • Workers Compensation Insurance - If you have employees, your state (like New Jersey) may require you to have Workers Comp. This insurance pays lost wages and medical benefits to employees that are injured in the course of employment.
  • Other types of insurance may be needed. Consult your insurance advisor, or give The Schenck Agency a call.

Employment Practices Liability Insurance

Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) covers businesses against claims by workers that their legal rights as employees of the company have been violated.

No matter the size of your company, there is a need for EPLI. Most suits are filed against large corporations, no company should be without this liability protection. Even if your company only has 1 employee! Whether you can get an endorsement to your Businessowners policy, or need a standalone EPLI policy, there are many reasons to buy this coverage. Watch this short video to learn more: ""

Some of the claims an employee can make, are as follows:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Discrimination
  • Wrongful termination
  • Breach of employment contract
  • Negligent evaluation
  • Failure to employ or promote
  • Wrongful discipline
  • Deprivation of career opportunity
  • Wrongful infliction of emotional distress
  • Mismanagement of employee benefit plans

A claim may be groundless, but the EPLI policy will pay for the defense of the claim against you. In addition, it will cover you for judgments or settlements. EPLI policies typically do not pay for punitive damages or civil or criminal fines.

The cost of EPLI coverage depends on your type of business, the number of employees you have and various risk factors such as whether your company has been sued over employment practices in the past.

Car Insurance Cost

How much you'll pay for car insurance depends on many factors. Here is a list of many of the primary factors:

  1. Your driving record – The better your record, the lower your premium. If you've had car accidents or been ticketed for violations, it's likely you'll pay more than if you have a clean driving record. You may also pay more if you're a new driver without an insurance track record.
  2. How much you use your car – The more miles you drive, the more chance for accidents so you'll pay more if you drive your car for work, or use it to commute long distances. If you drive only occasionally, you may pay less.
  3. Where you live – Due to higher rates of vandalism, theft and accidents, urban drivers pay a higher auto insurance price than those in small towns or rural areas.
  4. Your age – In general, more mature drivers have fewer accidents than less experienced drivers. If teenagers are licensed and in your household, you will pay more due to a greater risk for an insurance company..
  5. Your gender – Historically, women tend to get into fewer, and less severe, accidents than men. So all other things being equal, women may pay less than their male counterparts.
  6. The car you drive – The cost of your car, and the cost of its replacement parts, is a major factor in the cost to insure it. Other factors are the potential for theft and the overall safety record of the car.
  7. Your credit – Insurance companies may use an insurance score mainly tied to your credit. Historically, there is a connection between the likelihood of you filing a claim and the likely cost of that claim.
  8. The type and amount of auto insurance coverage – The coverage limits and deductibles you choose, whether you choose comprehensive and collision coverage (referred to as "full coverage"), will be big factors in the premium you will pay.

A good insurance agent will be able to discuss how your premium is determined, and recommend cost-saving options. And if you consult an independent agent, they should have many companies to choose from, and can compare rates with all your circumstances to find the best rate for you!

Business Interruption

Business interruption insurance is crucial for a business to survive after a covered claim, such as after a fire, to your premises. If your business premises is unusable, business interruption insurance will cover a business for the loss of income which would have been earned. This coverage should be added to a business' property insurance.

Business interruption insurance compensates you for lost income if your company has to vacate the premises due to disaster-related damage that is covered under your property insurance policy, such as a fire. Business interruption insurance covers the revenue you would have earned, based on your financial records, had the disaster not occurred. The policy also covers operating expenses, like electricity, that continue even though business activities have come to a temporary halt.

Make sure the policy limits are sufficient to cover your company for more than a few days. After a major disaster, it can take more time than many people anticipate to get the business back on track. There is generally a 48-hour waiting period before business interruption coverage kicks in.

The price of the policy is related to the risk of a fire or other disaster damaging your premises. All other things being equal, the price would probably be higher for a restaurant than a real estate agency, for example, because of the greater risk of fire. Also, a real estate agency can more easily operate out of another location.

Flood Insurance Reauthorization Date Approaching

Did you know: Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On July 31, 2018, the President signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to November 30, 2018. Congress must now reauthorize the NFIP by no later than 11:59 pm on November 30, 2018.

FEMA and Congress have never failed to honor the flood insurance contracts in place with NFIP policyholders. Should the NFIP’s authorization lapse, FEMA would still have authority to ensure the payment of valid claims with available funds. However, FEMA would stop selling and renewing policies for millions of properties in communities across the nation. Nationwide, the National Association of Realtors estimates that a lapse might impact approximately 40,000 home sale closings per month.

NFIP reauthorization is an opportunity for Congress to take bold steps to reduce the complexity of the program and strengthen the NFIP’s financial framework so that the program can continue helping individuals and communities take the critical step of securing flood insurance.

Auto Insurance for Teen Drivers

For parents, the excitement of having a first-time driver in the house is usually tempered with worry. With little driving experience, immature drivers are at a higher risk for accidents. Of course, safety concern is uppermost in most parents' minds but other stressors—like the high cost of insuring your new driver and the financial liability implications of a teen driving mishap—can be reduced with these steps.

Step 1: Call your agent.
Your agent can clearly explain the costs involved in insuring a teenage driver. The good news is, as your teenager gets older, insurance rates will drop—providing he or she has a good driving record.

Step 2: Involve your teen in the car insurance discussion.
From the outset, it's important to talk to your child about the relationship between driving a car and the attendant responsibilities, including insurance costs. Explain and reinforce safe driving tips, and the serious consequences of driving infractions or accidents.

Step 3: Encourage positive behaviors.
Auto insurers offer discounts or reduced premiums to:

  • Students who maintain at least a “B” average in school
  • Teens who take a recognized driver training course
  • College students who attend school at least 100 miles away from home and don't bring their car to campus

Step 4: Choose the right auto insurance company.
It's generally less expensive for parents to add teenagers to their policy than it is for teens to purchase one on their own. By insuring your teenager’s car with your insurer, you may also qualify for a multi-vehicle discount. That said, insurance companies differ in how they price policies for young drivers, so do some research into prices to be sure to find the best fit for you and your teen. An independent agent should have many companies to choose from!

Step 5: Assign your teen to the right car.
Find out how your insurer assigns drivers to cars—some insurers will assign the driver who is the most expensive to insure (generally the teenager) to the car that is the most expensive to insure. If possible, assign your teen to the least valuable car.

Note that with this kind of arrangement there can be no exceptions; your teen must use only the car to which he or she is assigned, even in an emergency. If your teenager is involved in an accident with an unassigned car, penalties could be imposed and your own premiums might increase.

Step 6: Increase your liability insurance for greater protection.
If your teen gets into an accident, state minimums for liability insurance will not be enough to fully protect you from lawsuits. Consider purchasing higher amounts of liability coverage—if your teenager is found negligent in an accident and the damages exceed your insurance limits, you will be held financially responsible and could be sued in court for those amounts not covered by your insurance. Depending on the value of your financial assets, you may even want to have an umbrella policy.

Step 7: Raise your deductible to save on your premium.
The higher your deductible, the more money you can save on your premium, so consider raising your deductible from the minimum amount required. You may want to use those savings to increase your liability insurance.