Money, Time & Peace of Mind: Benefits for Your Small Business

As a business owner, you have a lot on your plate. Sure, your finances on the line. But on any given day your role can evolve from being the boss to HR specialist to head of sales to sweeping floors — that’s just how it is. You spend every minute trying to meet the day-to-day demands of the business, working toward success.

Insuring your business adequately can seem overwhelming, especially if you’re new to the game. But you can’t afford to get this wrong. Every company has multiple areas of vulnerability — some are general (like a fire or theft) while others are unique to your line of work. And it’s scary to realize how easily you could overlook an area of vulnerability and be sideswiped if the worst were to happen.

Ask yourself: If my business were to suffer a significant loss, could it survive? If your answer isn’t, “Definitely. I’m 100% sure,” then it’s time to ask for help.

When it comes to insuring your business, a Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent will save you time and money, plus bring you peace of mind. Your independent insurance agent’s mission is to help protect your firm. And getting the proper insurance coverage doesn’t have to be complicated or break your bank. Here’s why:

Right Coverage, Right Price

Everyone knows that if you want the best combination of service, product and price, you’ve got to shop around. Insurance is no exception. But it’s not as easy as picking the cheapest option. You don’t want to run the risk of getting flimsy coverage that leaves you vulnerable. You also don’t want to pay way too much for coverage you might not need. Your Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agent has the capacity and know-how to search for an appropriate protection package for your firm.

With your business and budget in mind, an independent agent will go to work and compare policies and rates among many insurance carriers to ensure you’re offered appropriate coverage — tailored to the unique needs of your business — at a competitive rate.

Knowledge Gained, Time Saved

If you Google, “What insurance does my small business need,” you’ll find that Forbes lists 13 different kinds. As a busy business owner, do you have the time to research and understand the intricacies of them all, let alone comparison shop? Make the most of your time and turn to a trained professional.

Working with a Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agent is like having a trustworthy, silent partner. After an exploratory meeting with you to determine the insurance needs of your business, your agent will do all of the heavy lifting and research necessary. You’ll be surprised at how little of your time is required to get it right. Instead of spending countless hours trying to understand the ins and outs of insurance, you’ll be able to do what you do best — operate your business.

Coverage Confidence

You’ve made significant investments in your business and probably have worked tirelessly towards its success. And you have employees and customers who rely on you for a paycheck or for services or products. All of this comes with pressure to succeed and probably more than a few sleepless nights. There are so many important aspects to running a business, but your Trusted Choice agent can take a significant burden off your shoulders by making sure your insurance coverage is appropriate.

No one wants to consider the worst happening. But it could, so turn to your Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agent today for guidance.

One of the most anticipated events and loved film series is Star Wars! From those who fondly remember seeing that massive star destroyer fill the theater screen for the first time in 1977, to those who’ve only watched the later animated version, millions of fans eagerly await a return to that universe far, far away.

Similarly, the parents among you may also be remembering your inaugural journey to a college campus far, far away — as you prepare your own son or daughter for imminent departure into an unfamiliar universe. You may already feel like you are careening through a veritable asteroid belt of urgent priorities — checklists, dorm requirements, aid applications, medical forms, roommate concerns, and the ever stressful “what stays and what goes.”

Before you launch the escape pods, your Trusted Choice® independent agent suggests you schedule a review of your student’s “away at school” insurance needs. Here are but a few of the questions every parent and student should consider:

  • How will your homeowners insurance respond for a personal property loss at college? Packing for school once meant a few boxes and a suitcase, but moving on today’s campuses typically involves trucks and trailers. How much will your student cart off to their dorm or apartment? Will it be properly covered for such losses as theft or fire, or will adequate coverage require endorsements or even a separate policy?
  • Will your student take a car to college? If so, who owns it? Where will it be garaged? Who will drive it? Should you change the location address on your current policy for that vehicle to the school location? How will this change affect your current policy? How will your current auto policy respond if your student’s roommate has an accident while borrowing your student’s car? What if your student is borrowing a roommate’s car?
  • Will your student live on or off campus? In a dorm, apartment or rented house? These variables, especially for older students, can impact your current protection and dictate a need to modify your policy or purchase a new one. For many insurance companies, there are also underwriting and coverage considerations based upon how many roommates will share your student’s humble abode.
  • What about liability protection? Yours as well as your student’s? A multitude of liability issues may arise from a family member living elsewhere. Some are common to any such arrangement, but others are unique to college students and their parents. Even when students are otherwise of legally independent age, can parents still face liability for the student’s actions while away?
  • How will your current health insurance apply at college? Will there be “in-network” professionals and facilities available locally? Does the college have its own infirmary, pharmacy or hospital facilities? Will your current plan cover their services? Are student insurance plans available, especially for activities like organized sports? Is it advisable to take advantage of them, regardless of your current coverage? Are there eligibility issues, especially if your student is older, is disabled, gets a full-time job or gets married?

While these considerations may seem to complicate an already anxiety-filled process, rest assured your Trusted Choice® independent agent knows this area of the galaxy like Han knows the Falcon. During your review you’ll find answers, experienced advice and options for those areas not already adequately addressed by your current coverage. Then, should claim time ever come, you’ll be relieved to find yourself protected.

May the Force (and your Trusted Choice® agent) be with you!

[SIDEBAR]

Avoid First Day Trauma

First year away at college? Here are a few tips from moving experts:

  • Checklist, checklists,
  • Confirm housing and dining options at
  • Attend orientation
  • Plan transportation: If you take a car, where will you park? If you don’t take a car, how will you get around?
  • Be sure your computer and other technology will meet your school requirements and
  • What are the school/dorm guidelines for personal property? Are certain items (such as appliances) approved or banned? What will be provided?
  • How much are you allowed to decorate your room?
  • Who will be available (student advisors or staff) on campus to help you with housing or other issues?
  • Contact your future roommates and coordinate the answers to the above or other “shared living space” questions prior to arrival. For example, who’s taking which room or bed is not an issue best decided on

Sources:

http://www.iiaba.net/VU/Lib/Ins/PL/Homeowners/EdwardsCollegeKids.htm
http://www.offtocollege.com/first_time/getting-ready.html
http://www.allmysons.com/columbus/tips_for_your_dorm_room.aspx

Humans are simple creatures. We like shiny things. For more than a thousand years, we’ve flaunted our jewels or lavished them on the people or animals we love.

Rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings or even crowns can be more than just bling. They acknowledge milestones, reward achievements and symbolize relationships. They’re among our most precious possessions.

Your own treasured pieces of jewelry may be priceless and irreplaceable in terms of sentimental value. But you can minimize the financial harm that results from loss, theft or damage.

Warranty as a Limited Protection

A jewelry seller or manufacturer may offer a warranty. It’s only for newly purchased jewelry and probably only covers manufacturer defects — for example, your ring is delivered with a scratch or a loose stone.

The warranty won’t cover theft or loss. And if the piece isn’t new or you’re not the original purchaser, you must find another form of protection.

Homeowner’s or Renter’s Insurance

Most homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies offer coverage for jewelry, but it can be limited in three ways:

  1. Dollar amount. The policy specifies a maximum amount the insurance company will pay.
  2. Valuation method. The policy allows the insurance company to calculate loss payment based on an item’s actual cash value (ACV), which usually is less than the cost to replace. For example, factoring in depreciation, the ACV of a 10-year-old necklace is $500. But the current cost to replace the necklace with one of similar type and quality is $3,000.
  3. Cause of loss and For example, a policy may cover the theft, but not the accidental loss of an item of jewelry.

The jewelry coverage in a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy often can be enhanced. Some companies offer endorsements or “riders” that can increase the amount of coverage on a specific item as well as broaden the valuation method and the causes of loss or damage.

Jewelry Insurance Policy

A separate policy for jewelry can be your best solution, for several reasons:

  1. Separate Buying a jewelry policy avoids the premium increases or nonrenewal that may result from a homeowner’s or renter’s claim.
  2. No deductible can be an option with a separate policy.
  3. The broadest valuation options and causes of loss or damage are available because jewelry policies specifically address common sources of claims such as “mysterious disappearance,” and they routinely cover replacement.

Protect Your Bling

Today’s annual pricing for a jewelry policy is usually $1 or $2 for every $100 that it would cost to replace. For example, if a ring’s replacement cost is $10,000, it would cost between $100 and $200 per year to insure it on its own policy. Discounts may be available for showing evidence of security, such as a home alarm system or storage in a safe.

An appraisal from a certified gemologist is required for a jewelry policy. The appraisal is used to determine the item’s replacement cost, not its current market value. Since the replacement cost of jewelry will vary over time, an appraisal is recommended (and may be required) every few years.

If you purchase a jewelry policy, be sure to notify your insurer of changes in ownership and address. For example, your mother’s heirloom necklace might currently be insured by her at her home address. Once it’s given to you, you must notify the insurer because it’s likely the policy will need to be changed or a new policy issued to keep coverage intact.

A Jewel of a Relationship

Your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent may want to congratulate you or admire that precious piece of jewelry, whether it’s a new purchase or a family heirloom. More importantly, though, your agent will offer reputable advice on the best way for you to adequately protect it.

Your Personal Umbrella Policy: A Few ‘Non-Negotiables’

So maybe you’re still on the fence about whether purchasing a personal umbrella policy is a good move for you and your family. Following is a list of “non-negotiables” — that is, these are the exposures your family may have that make having an umbrella policy a must.

If You Have Children

Of course, kids are wonderful. But they sometimes do stupid things or hang out with other kids who do stupid things. Fair enough?

Their conduct often leaves us adults shaking our heads (even while remembering we were all young once). And then there are the rare, but tragic times when something truly terrible happens. Your teenager is involved in a deadly auto accident. A child suffers serious injury while playing in your yard.

Whenever a child is injured, the damages related to the injury, including pain and suffering, may extend for years, leading to more costly settlements and judgments.

If You Have Pets

Injuries from dog bites are one of the most common causes of personal liability claims. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the cost of such claims continues to rise annually. Policies often cover such claims, but some personal insurance companies restrict coverage for specific breeds.

And while dogs might get the most attention, people also own cats, rodents, reptiles, birds, horses and a multitude of other animals. In January 2018, a woman made national headlines because she attempted to board a commercial flight with her peacock. The point is, any animal you own can potentially cause injury and result in a liability claim.

If You Own Vehicles or Watercraft

By a wide margin, auto accidents are the most common source of liability claims filed against families. But any motorized vehicle — golf cart, tractor, kids’ motorized toy, ATV or watercraft

— can seriously injure passengers or pedestrians. A personal umbrella policy can increase the liability coverage in your auto policy or homeowner’s policy. However, it may be possible to arrange an umbrella so that it also extends coverage over other policies for vehicles like motorcycles, ATVs or watercraft.

If You Own Property

You have personal liability coverage in your homeowner’s policy to cover injuries occurring on your premises (for example, a loose board on your front steps causes someone to slip and fall). But do you also own other property, such as vacant land or a secondary residence? Do you own rental property? Not only can these increase your overall asset exposure, but you must also consider the increased likelihood of a person at one of your properties alleging that your negligence contributed to their injury.

If You Conduct Business

Personal insurance policies often restrict liability coverage for claims arising out of a business activity — for example, if a person is injured while visiting your home for a business meeting or if an auto accident occurs while your vehicle is being used for a business purpose. Such restrictions often hinge on how the policy defines the term “business.” In some cases, the policy may not prove restrictive enough to remove coverage completely for all business-related exposures.

Be aware that your umbrella policy will likely include a definition of “business” and attempt to restrict coverage for such activities. However, a review of the policy with your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent can help determine if there is coverage for any business activities including those of a member of your household such as a minor child.

Increase Your Protection with an Umbrella

Personal umbrella insurance can prove valuable for most people and their families, not just the affluent. And it’s considered a “non-negotiable” if you have pets, children, motor vehicles, real estate property or business risks. For more information, contact your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent today.

Water. We love it when it’s clean and tasty. We love it when it makes our gardens grow. We love swimming in it or watching it in fountains, waterfalls and oceans.

We love water as long as it stays where it’s supposed to be. But that life-giving, cleansing force can be powerful and destructive despite our best efforts to tame or contain it.

• Every water-based system or appliance, whether it’s a sink or a dam, will eventually need maintenance or replacement.

• No building code can guarantee a structure will withstand a relentless barrage of tidal surge.

• No stormwater drainage system can be endlessly effective when hammered for unprecedented periods of time by unprecedented amounts of rainfall or snowmelt.

And cleaning up the mess flood water leaves behind isn’t cheap. One inch can easily cause $25,000 or more in damage to your home.

Depending on the cause of that damage, it may be insurable by your homeowner’s insurance. Or it may be covered by flood Insurance. Or you may have to pay out of pocket.

Flood insurance covers damage claims arising from the overflow of a body of water or the accumulation of surface water due to events like torrential rain, snowmelt, mudflow or storm surge.

Flood insurance doesn’t normally cover water damage resulting from a mundane event, like a burst pipe or an overflowing appliance — even though your home may flood dramatically. Some homeowner insurance policies cover common sources of water damage, but others don’t. Be safe and review your policy with your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent.

No Flood Insurance? Do You Feel Lucky?

Every homeowner should consider purchasing flood insurance. If you wait until you need it, you won’t be able to buy it in time to help you. Flood insurance normally includes a 30-day waiting period between the date of purchase and the date coverage takes effect.

Flood insurance is typically provided by the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through insurance agents who sell the policies on its behalf. Limits on NFIP insurance policies are capped and may not be enough to fully repair or replace a flood damaged home and its contents. For this reason, many insurance companies offer special flood policies — often called “excess” — that offer additional dollars to pay for flood claims.

Many of the 12% of U.S. homeowners who now have flood insurance were required to purchase it by their mortgage lender because their home is in a FEMA-defined “flood zone.”

But FEMA also reports that 20% of flood damage occurs outside of designated “flood zones,” and flood maps are often redrawn due to changes in development, weather patterns and stormwater drainage systems.

It’s in the Forecast

While flooding events are unpredictable, when it comes to flood water itself, there are four
universal truths:
1. There’s more of it there than you think.
2. There’s more coming than you think.
3. It’s moving faster than you think.
4. It’s more powerful than you think.

Don’t let your eyes or instincts deceive you. Flood water easily destroy things and can kill you.

Once you appreciate that, you’re in a good position to protect yourself, your things and your financial well-being the next time water sloshes or rages through your neck of the woods.

Talk with your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent to learn about primary and excess flood insurance for your home and its contents. And remember, don’t delay: That next storm may be less than 30 days away!

Buying a car is a big purchase!

Here are the top 10 tips to steer you in the right direction:

1. Do your research ahead of time. Check out vehicle features and compare prices online. Being knowledgeable will help you negotiate and get the best deal.

2. Compare prices with local dealerships. You are never bound to one dealership for simply scouting out the market.

3. Consider obtaining financing from your bank, rather than the dealership. Banks and credit unions usually offer better rates than dealerships when financing.

4. Always negotiate: The price of the car, terms of your loan, value of your trade-in. Bargaining can save a ton of money.

5. Selling your vehicle is better than trading it in. Receive more value for going the traditional route, and selling your car.

6. If you do decide to trade-in, plan ahead and know your vehicle’s most value. Consider having the car appraised by a professional.

7. Test drive the car. Schedule an appointment in advance so the vehicle is ready to go, when you are. Make sure the car is a good fit for you before committing to the big purchase.

8. Shop mid-week and early in the morning. Not weekends. If you shop during a less busy time, you’re potentially the only serious buyer. The salesman wants to make a sale and might give more wiggle room with negotiations.

9. Negotiate the add-on fees. You can save money by negotiating add-on fees, like documentation, delivery costs and advertising fees.

10. Finalize details. Make sure to do a final review and walk- around of the vehicle to make sure the car is in-tact and clean. Ask any questions about features of the car before you drive off of the lot.

Congratulations on the new purchase!

Remember to talk to your Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agent about insuring your new car.

You’ve properly registered, licensed or certified your home childcare business according to the requirements in your state and are ready to get to work. Before allowing a child to walk (or crawl) into your home, consider a few essentials for your business liability insurance.

Liability Coverage

The law in some states may not require you to carry insurance for your home childcare business but operating such a business without at least some essential liability insurance is extremely dangerous and could cause irreparable financial harm. Liability insurance covers claims of property damage and bodily injury for which your business is responsible. A single, severe injury to a child could result in millions of dollars in damages, medical bills, rehab costs, pain and suffering or other expenses. And depending on how you’ve decided your business should legally operate—for example, as a sole proprietorship or a corporation, and so on—you may also become personally responsible, thus putting personal assets at risk, for any claims of liability against your business and resulting damages.

To determine how much business liability insurance is adequate for your business, you’ll need to start with two questions:

1) How comprehensive do you want your coverage to be? There are many choices of policies for your home childcare business, and some will offer more extensive coverage than others. For example, some may cover injuries resulting from special events like parties or field trips while others may specifically exclude such activities. Discuss coverage options with your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent.

2) How high should your limits of liability be? Severity of a claim is unpredictable, so there’s no way to say how much is enough. Your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent can provide you with the cost of a base limit of liability—such as $1 million. The cost to exponentially increase this limit may be less than you think.

Medical Insurance

Business liability insurance is essential should your business be legally responsible for an injury to a child in your care. It may also be possible to secure a type of medical insurance—often called “medical payments” or “medical expense” insurance—designed to pay an injured person’s medical bills regardless of fault. Some business liability policies offer a small amount of this coverage—such as $1,000–automatically while others may include or allow for the purchase of a much higher limit.

A Few Potential Gaps

While it’s true that business liability insurance policies vary, there are some common characteristics —and that could pose problems for you. For example, if your home has a swimming pool or a trampoline, you may have more difficulty finding coverage for your home childcare business. In addition, if you have a dog, you may find that many insurance companies will decline to offer coverage, depending on its breed.

It’s also important to remember that the liability insurance policy for your home childcare business likely will not cover injuries to your own children and thus should not be viewed as an alternative to a family health insurance policy.

Insured? Prove It!

As more consumers become educated about the importance of insurance, it’s increasingly likely that a potential customer will require you to furnish proof that your business is insured. You can easily accommodate such requests with a certificate of insurance (COI). Even if you are not asked by a potential customer for a COI, consider furnishing one anyway. A COI can help a potential customer feel more comfortable leaving their child in your care, and it could also create a competitive advantage for your business.

Rely on Your Insurance Experts

Simply put, it’s far too risky to operate a business entrusted with the well-being of children without adequate liability insurance. For more information, contact your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent.

What Is Condo Insurance?

When you purchase a condominium, you want to protect that investment in case of adversity — whether a fire, plumbing catastrophe, liability or theft, to name a few. The condo association should maintain insurance on the building, but it will not deliver all the coverage a condo owner needs

An HO-6 condo policy will insure your unit and can provide liability coverage. Condo association insurance typically does not cover all damage to the structure or contents in a member’s condo unit, leaving an insurance gap and making you vulnerable to financial loss. You can close that gap by buying a condo policy.

A condo policy is a contract between you and an insurance carrier. You agree to pay premiums in a timely fashion, and the carrier agrees to provide you with specified coverages. Your insurance coverage is determined by the insurance policy you select. Clauses in it may address:

  • Structural damage to the interior of your condo unit — for example, from a fire or plumbing problem — that requires ceiling, wall or floor repair.
  • Appliances.
  • Loss of personal property and valuables, such as computers, jewelry, antiques, art or other items.
  • Temporary housing costs incurred after a fire or storm made your condo uninhabitable.
  • Liability for accidental injuries or damages to others, such as a pet biting a neighbor; water damage in an adjacent unit because your child overfilled the bathtub; or other damages associated with a lawsuit.

To evaluate your condo insurance needs and purchase the policy that is right for you, be sure you know what master policy coverage your condo association purchased. A “bare walls” policy will provide you, the condo owner, with little to no coverage in your unit while an “all-in” condo master policy may cover some items, such as appliances, electrical wiring or plumbing.

Your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent can review your condo master policy and help you determine your insurance needs. Your Trusted Choice agent is independent and can provide rate comparisons for policies offered by numerous companies and help you make your policy selection.

If the Condo Association Has Insurance, Why Would a Unit Owner Buy a Condo Policy?

Condo association insurance may not meet all your coverage needs as an owner.

Condo associations oversee management of the common property owned by the condo association’s membership (the condo unit owners), including grounds surrounding the structure(s), any amenities, and structural aspects of the building(s) that must be maintained. The insurance they purchase to protect the association’s interest in this property may or may not include aspects of the interior of a member’s condo unit.

The extent of coverage carried by an association will affect what policy you, as a condo owner, need to buy. Condo insurance may cover damages resulting from theft, fire, or a severe storm, including temporary housing costs if your condo is significantly damaged. Condo insurance provisions also may cover your loss of personal possessions and personal liability and medical coverage in the event someone is injured in your unit. Policy deductibles and payment limits govern when payments kick in and define maximum payments that the insurance may make in such instances.

Additionally, the purchase of HO-6 policies (which are specifically for condos, townhouses and co-ops) often are stipulated by lenders.

How Do I Know How Much Coverage I Need in My Condo Policy?

This is not a one-size-fits-all question. The answer hinges on what it would cost you to replace your belongings or restore your unit in the event of a burglary, a fire, or some other calamity.

You should create an inventory of what you have and identify the value of your furniture, electronics, clothing, and other personal items. (Use photos or video to make the task easier.) Then compare the level of coverage in the policy you are considering with how much it would cost you to replace the items.

In some instances, you many need to purchase additional coverage for jewelry or other high-value items if they exceed the coverage limits (maximum that can be reimbursed) in the policy.

To find appropriate coverage at a competitive price, ask your Trusted Choice agent to assist you.

When Should I Supplement My Condo Insurance Policy with Other Coverage?

You may want to supplement your condo policy under certain circumstances.

For instance, if your valuables would appraise for more than the limits (maximum that can be reimbursed) stated in your condo policy, you should consider beefing up your coverage with a personal property rider. It is a good practice to keep an inventory of your high-value items and get them appraised. Work with your Trusted Choice agent to purchase the policy rider or endorsement that you need to make you financially whole in the event your items are lost, stolen or damaged.

You also may want an umbrella liability policy (a supplement to your condo policy) to protect you against personal claims. For example, if someone is injured in your condo; if a grease fire in the kitchen goes out of control, damaging your neighbor’s unit; or if your child throws a ball and breaks a neighbor’s window, a liability policy can come to your aid. Costly claims can arise from unanticipated situations, and adequate liability coverage can save an individual or family from financial ruin.

Your local Trusted Choice agent is a trained professional on whom you can rely for a complete evaluation of your insurance picture.

How Much Does Condo Insurance Cost?

The cost of condo insurance varies. Geography, weather, the size of the unit insured, and the amount of coverage (including the size of the deductible, which is the amount you agree to pay up front) are among the variables that can affect the insurance rate. Produced in 2019, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Dwelling Fire, Homeowners Owner-Occupied and Homeowners Tenant and Condominium/Cooperative Unit Owner’s Insurance Report: Data for 2017 lists the average annual rate of condo insurance in the United States as $488 per year. Wisconsin had the lowest average annual rate ($249), and Florida had the highest ($942).

Can Condo Policy Owners Deduct the Insurance Cost from Their Taxes?

Condo insurance is normally not tax deductible. However, if the property is used as a rental to generate income, the owner may be able to treat the insurance as a business expense.

Similarly, if the condo owner operates a home-based business, they may be able to deduct a percentage of the insurance cost, depending on what square footage of their living space is solely dedicated to their work. The owner should adhere to government requirements in making such calculations and may find a tax adviser’s guidance helpful.

How Do I Purchase Condo Insurance?

We recommend purchasing condo insurance through an independent insurance agent in your community. Your local Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agent is a trained professional who understands your neighborhood (for example, are you in a food zone?) and can provide you with a comparison of rates based on your insurance needs.

Your Trusted Choice agent also can advise you on various coverage options and tell you about insurance discounts for which you may be eligible. For instance, insurers often give lower rates to customers who purchase multiple policies from them, such as a combination of condo, umbrella, and car insurance policies.

To feel confident that you are adequately protected and are not overpaying, let your Trusted Choice agent help you. It couldn’t be easier. Just click “Find an Agent” at TrustedChoice.com.

Is Theft Covered by Condo Insurance?

If the condo policy you purchase includes personal property, it will most likely cover theft or burglary. Sometimes it also will include coverage for items stolen from your car.

To be sure you have the insurance you need, ask your Trusted Choice agent to help you review the terms in your policy so you know what it will cover. You also should inventory your personal property and calculate its value. If your belongings would cost more to replace than what your policy would pay in the event of a loss, you may want to buy more coverage.

Also, in today’s world, many face the threat of cyber theft, and purchase products to guard against malware, hackers, bank fraud and identity theft online. However, just 20 percent of those participating in a Verisk study purchase personal cyber insurance. If you shop or bank online or use the internet for other activities that could put you financially at risk, you may want to consider cyber coverage.

As always, your agent is best able to help you evaluate your needs and identify the coverage that is right for you.

Is Storm Damage Covered by a Condo Policy?

Condo insurance generally provides coverage for personal property losses resulting from a hurricane, tornado, or windstorm.

Other related structural damages to fixtures, electrical wiring or plumbing caused by a storm may be covered by the condo owner’s policy or that of the association, depending on whether the condo association’s master policy is a “bare walls” policy.

If it is a bare walls policy, a condo owner may want to ensure that the policy they select includes some coverage in the event of damages caused by a storm. Work with your Trusted Choice agent to verify that the coverage you select will include the coverage you might need in the event of a hurricane, tornado or windstorm.

Earthquakes generally are not covered by condo policies. In California, where the risk of an earthquake is particularly great, the state’s Earthquake Authority, established in 1996, has worked with carriers to offer more affordable earthquake insurance. The California Earthquake Authority (CEA) has become one of the world’s largest residential earthquake insurance providers. These policies are purchased in addition to a condo policy.  Your Trusted Choice agent can assist you.

Are Special Assessments Covered by Condo Insurance?

A loss (or special) assessment occurs when individual owners are required to help the association make good, or when individual owners are required to help the association meet a high master policy deductible.

Here’s an example: A hailstorm severely damages the building roof and landscaping, and the repair bill is $750,000. But the master policy limit is only $500,000. The unit owners will each be assessed their share of the $250,000 remaining due after the policy claim is paid.

Another example: A child is killed on the association’s common playground equipment, and the child’s parents successfully sue the association for $3.5 million. The master policy liability limit is $2 million. Unit owners will be assessed their share of the $1.5 million remaining due to the parents after the insurance company has paid the policy limit.

Loss assessment oftentimes are not adequately covered by an HO-6 condo policy. Your Trusted Choice agent can help you review your policy and whether it provides adequate coverage should you receive a special assessment. You may want to add more coverage. Depending on the circumstances, a loss assessment could run into the tens of thousands per condo owner.

Is Mold Covered by Condo Policies?

Condo insurance plans usually exclude mold remediation. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners reports that insurance carriers frequently define mold as an “excluded peril” so costs associated with its remediation may not be factored into condo insurance policy costs.

Still, depending on the cause of the mold, you may be able to secure assistance from your insurer under certain circumstances. For instance, if you return home from a vacation and find mold growing in the aftermath of a water leak that occurred while you were gone, the insurance may pay for the repair. However, that also hinges on whether the origin of the problem is a covered peril in your condo owner policy.

If you are concerned about how your policy will cover you, talk with your Trusted Choice agent.

Are Appliances Covered by Condo Policies?

If your condo association’s master policy is “all-in,” it may include coverage for appliances, and it may be included in the policy you bought for your unit. To understand how appliances are covered in your insurance, be sure to review that aspect of your insurance with your Trusted Choice agent so that you know what the coverage requirements and limits are.

When you purchase a new appliance, you should let your agent know so your condo policy remains current.

How Does a Condo Owner File a Claim?

If you are a condo owner and you need to make an insurance claim, first consider whether the loss falls under your condo association’s policy or your own. If the loss rightfully falls under the coverage provided by the condo association’s master policy, then you need to follow the steps outlined in your condo association’s governing documents. You also may want to reach out to your condo association’s management team for guidance as it relates to making a claim.

Under certain circumstances, such as a fire or theft, you may need to contact your agent and the condo association’s insurance company. For instance, if a fire originating in your unit breached another part of the condo structure governed by the condo association, your condo policy and the master policy may both be involved. In the case of a theft, the robber may have done structural damage in a common area while gaining admittance to your unit.

When you are unsure what to do, contact your Trusted Choice agent to help you navigate the process.

If I Decide to Rent My Condo Out, Will My Condo Policy Still Cover Me?

If you plan to turn your condo into a rental property and will not be living there, you must discuss the change with your agent. Condo policies are written with the understanding that the owner is the resident, so a change in policy will be required. Also, as you become a landlord, you may have other potential risks and liabilities to consider with a tenant.

Your Trusted Choice agent can help you evaluate what policy will be right for you.

What Is Auto Insurance?

An auto insurance policy is a contract between you and an insurance company. You agree to pay a premium for protection, and the insurer agrees that as long as your premium payments are current, the company will pay for covered losses. The policy outlines specifically what is covered and how much you would receive in compensation if you are involved in an accident, your car is stolen or vandalized, or if your car is damaged by some other cause — for example, a rock thrown from the tire of a large truck or a fallen tree.

Exactly what risks are covered and how much you would be compensated depends on the details of your specific policy, the deductible you select, and the limits of compensation you agree to. A deductible is the amount that you’re willing to pay up front before the insurance company pays any expenses when you file a claim. A limit is the maximum amount the insurance company will pay you. In general, the lower the limits and the higher the deductible you choose, the lower your premiums — and your protection — will be.

Policies are usually issued for six-month or one-year timeframes, and premiums can change with each renewal cycle depending on a variety of factors.

What Does Auto Insurance Cover?

Auto insurance coverage depends on what you buy. There are several categories of auto insurance, and different states have different requirements for what kind of coverage drivers must have. Here are the basic types of auto coverage:

● Liability. Fault is an important factor when it comes to auto coverage. If you cause a car accident and therefore are at fault, your property damage liability and bodily injury liability will pay for the other vehicle’s repairs, the medical costs for anyone injured in the other vehicle, and such things as legal fees or other accident-related costs. Liability coverage has limits that are established when you purchase your policy. You must pay for anything above that limit, unless you have an additional insurance policy.

● Collision. If you crash into another vehicle or some object like a telephone pole, collision coverage will pay for damage or repairs to your vehicle after you pay the deductible. For example, if your collision coverage has a $1,000 deductible and the damage to your car costs $2,500, your collision coverage will pay $1,500 after you pay the first $1,000.

● Comprehensive. Sometimes this coverage is called “other than collision.” It will compensate you for damages caused by something other than a traffic accident. For example, if a bear looking for food damages your car, or your car is stolen, you will be reimbursed for some portion of the loss if you have comprehensive coverage. As with collision coverage, you choose a deductible for comprehensive coverage.

● Medical expenses. Regardless of who is at fault, your medical coverage will pay for medical bills to treat any injuries that you or your passengers may experience in a car accident. It also will pay the medical costs for injuries that you or your family members may suffer while passengers in someone else’s car.

What Doesn’t Auto Insurance Cover?

It depends on the policy, but most standard auto insurance policies will not cover:

● Personal belongings stolen from inside a vehicle.
● Drivers who live with you but aren’t listed as drivers of your vehicle on the policy.
● Damages or medical bills not covered by an uninsured or underinsured at-fault party.
● Commercial use of a personal vehicle, such as ridesharing or delivery side-hustles.
● Aftermarket additions, such as a sound system installed in a car after purchase.
● The difference between your car’s value and what’s left on your loan (for that, you need gap coverage).
● Rental car reimbursement for when your car is being repaired or replaced.
● Roadside assistance.

Separate coverages like homeowners or renters, uninsured/underinsured motorist, gap, and roadside assistance can be bundled with or added onto an auto insurance policy for additional premium to cover any of the above.

Why Do I Need Auto Insurance?

Even the best drivers take a significant risk every time they get behind the wheel. Auto insurance provides financial help when you or another motorist make mistakes. If you don’t have insurance, you must pay for damages and injuries yourself.

If you are in a state with no-fault laws, each driver involved in an accident is responsible for their own damages and medical costs. However, if you’re in a state with tort insurance laws and you are at fault in an accident, you are typically liable for the cost of not only your vehicle damage and medical bills, but also the other driver’s and injured victims’ damages and medical costs — as well as the cost of legal fees if you are sued. If the other driver is at fault and is under- or uninsured, they are responsible for your compensation, but chances are they don’t have a lot of assets and you may not be able to recover damages even if you win a lawsuit against them — so the financial risk will ultimately still fall on you.

For the cost of your premium, the insurance company will absorb much of that financial risk for you.

Is Auto Insurance Required?

State requirements vary, but 48 states require some level of coverage, typically for property, liability, and/or medical — at minimum, enough liability insurance to cover any damage or injuries you could cause. If you don’t maintain auto insurance in these states, you can be fined or serve jail time, and your license can be suspended or revoked. Although New Hampshire and Virginia don’t require you to purchase auto insurance, they do require you to prove that you can afford to be without it, and Virginia won’t issue you a license to drive unless you pay an uninsured motorist fee.

How Do I Get Auto Insurance?

You can get excellent coverage designed for your specific needs through your Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agent®. You also can shop for coverage directly from an auto insurer online, but it can come at the expense of professional expertise and quality customer service.

Your local Trusted Choice agent knows the insurance requirements for your state and can help you find a policy that meets them. Trusted Choice agents also do the work of shopping among many different companies for you, so you can be sure to get reasonable rates and coverage appropriate for your situation.

Not sure what you need? Use the Trusted Choice independent agent matching tool to find a reputable independent agent near you. Just tell us what you’re looking for. Any information you provide will be sent only to the agent you designate.

How Expensive Is Auto Insurance?

Auto insurance is a manageable expense, particularly when you weigh it against the financial risks it protects you from. Rates do vary from state to state and are affected by several factors, such as whether your car is new or used, its safety rating, your driving record, and your age and gender. Because some areas are more prone to accidents and claims than others, even your ZIP code affects your insurance rates.

No matter how bad your driving record is, you almost always can find insurance. But if you have a record that includes tickets, accidents, or points on your license, you may be considered too risky for a company or you may be charged a higher premium to compensate for the greater risk of insuring you.

You can also talk to your agent to determine if you or a driver on your policy qualifies for one of these common discounts:

● Good student discount.
● Good driver discount.
● Multi-car discount.
● Multi-policy discount (meaning you have more than just an auto policy with the insurer, perhaps adding homeowners, renters or umbrella insurance).

Is Auto Insurance Tax Deductible?

While auto insurance policies typically don’t cover commercial use of personal vehicles (such as for ridesharing or delivery side-gigs), you can get a tax deduction if you are self-employed. However, you can deduct only the actual number of miles you drive for business — not the miles you drive for personal reasons.

Why Has My Auto Insurance Premium Changed?

When it’s time to renew your policy, your premium may go up or down (though in most states, costs are currently rising). Some factors that contribute to premium fluctuations include whether or not you filed a claim recently, if there are any incidents on your driving record, if the number of crashes in your area have been increasing, and if the cost of auto repairs or medical care in your area have increased.

Moving to a different city or state can affect your premium. As a general rule, premiums are higher in riskier locations and where there are more uninsured drivers.

Can an Auto Insurance Company Drop You?

You can cancel or void your policy, and your auto insurance company can too in the following circumstances:

● If you fail to pay your premiums.
● If you lie on your application.
● If you lose your driver’s license, temporarily or permanently, because of bad driving behavior.

Insurance companies can cancel policies for additional reasons in some states. A local Trusted Choice independent agent can help you better understand the laws in your state.

Why Was My Auto Insurance Claim Denied?

There are a few reasons why your claim can be denied, including:

● A claim that misrepresents an accident, damage, injury or loss.
● A claim filed for coverage or a loss not included in a policy.
● A claim filed while insurance is suspended for lack of premium payment.

Do Auto Insurance Companies Check Credit?

Your credit score indicates your ability to pay your bills, so auto insurance companies do check credit to determine if you are a good risk.

Does Getting Auto Insurance Quotes Affect Credit?

A credit check for a car insurance quote will not affect your credit rating because insurers are not extending you credit, but simply determining whether you are a good financial risk.

Do Auto Insurance Companies Share Information?

Insurance companies do not share your personal information among themselves. If you file an insurance claim or you are switching insurance companies, information about your claims history is placed into a national loss-underwriting database. That information can be accessed by the insurance companies you want to purchase a policy from.

Remember too that your driving record is public information — including tickets and accidents.

Does Auto Insurance Cover Rental Cars?

When you rent a car, you will most likely be offered special coverage at the rental counter. Do you need it?

Most auto insurance policies cover you whether you’re driving your own car or a rental — unless you’re renting the car for business use. If you’re not sure what your own policy covers, ask your Trusted Choice agent.

Can I Get Auto Insurance with a Suspended License?

Most insurance companies won’t insure a driver whose license is suspended or revoked. You may be able to work with your local DMV to get a hardship license. Many states require high-risk drivers to file an SR-22 (or FR-44) form, which certifies that you have met your state’s requirements for car insurance. Your Trusted Choice agent can help you file an SR-22 form.

Will Auto Insurance Cover Me If I’m a Gig Driver?

If you’re a rideshare or delivery driver, your personal auto insurance usually doesn’t cover any accidents that happen during your gigs. The company you drive for may offer commercial auto insurance, but the policy will only cover you for specified times.

For example, most rideshare companies have insurance plans that will cover drivers after they have accepted a trip and are on their way to pick up a passenger; they’ll also cover the miles driven after the passenger has been picked up until they are dropped off. However, the plans usually won’t cover drivers who have their ridesharing app turned on but are waiting for a pickup request. And personal policies won’t cover that period either because it’s considered as commercial use of your vehicle.

Fortunately, many insurers now offer rideshare insurance as a separate policy that can be bundled with a personal auto insurance policy for a more affordable premium or as an endorsement or rider to their personal policy. Hybrid policies that cover both ridesharing and personal auto use are also out there. If you’re using your personal vehicle for commercial purposes, you need rideshare insurance solutions to fill the gap in that gray area between personal and commercial auto insurance.

Remember to contact your Trusted Choice agent to get your insurance needs squared away:  Call our office directly.

Moving. It can be the best of times. It can be the worst of times.

But for better or worse, the average American will change homes 11.4 times during his or her
lifetime.

Amid the excitement and stress, it’s easy forget that moving will affect your home and auto insurance. You want to be prepared.

Changes to Your Home Insurance

When you realize a move is in your future, turn to your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent for help. Here are a few subjects you’ll want to discuss:

Your current home. If you’ve accepted an offer to sell, remember that a fire, windstorm or other damage could easily delay closing or even cancel the sale. Your agent will assist in making sure the insurance coverage lasts until the ownership change is formalized.

If you’ll still own your current home while living elsewhere, your agent needs to know immediately. Failure to inform the insurance company that a home is no longer owner-occupied can significantly affect or even eliminate coverage on it.

Can you keep the same agent and insurance company? Your current agent and insurance provider may be able write the policy on your new home, transfer any credits you’ve qualified for and apply any premium you’ve already paid.

But if your current agent or provider doesn’t operate in the area where you’re moving, your Trusted Choice agent can help you find a new agent and provider.

New neighborhood. New rules? Your Trusted Choice independent agent can also offer information about differences in insurance rules between one location and another. For example, your new home may be in a designated flood zone and require flood insurance or be in an area where policies include a separate deductible for windstorms.

What about personal property? Our stuff is important! Whether you own or rent your current and new home, talk with your agent about how coverage will apply:

1. If your property is damaged while it is being packed or is in storage or transit.

2. If your property is damaged while it is being unpacked at your new place or after it has been moved.

If you need more coverage, your agent will help you explore options. Also, if you are hiring professional movers, remember that they are required by federal law to provide at least a basic level of liability insurance with additional insurance available for purchase.

Changes to Your Auto Insurance

You may be moving, but chances are you’re not changing cars at the same time. Even so, it’s still essential to contact your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent. Here are a few reasons why:

Your risk exposure could change. This can happen even if you move just across town or to a different city in your own state. For example, your exposure will change if you are moving from a rural area to a higher-traffic area, or if your new home is further away from your work, increasing the total number of miles you normally drive.

You may qualify for new discounts or (eek, we’re sorry!) lose ones you currently have. For example, if you rent your current home but are buying your new one, you may now qualify for a homeownership discount.

New state? New laws. If you move to a new state, you’ll need a new policy because auto insurance is regulated by state law. Note that, as was the case with your home insurance, your current agent and insurance provider may not operate in your new location. Ask your current Trusted Choice agent for help in finding a new one.

Make New Memories

It’s important time to evaluate the insurance on your home, stuff and autos whenever you move. It’s also the perfect time to take inventory, including photos and video, of your possessions. That inventory is key to accurately insuring the things you treasure.

Happy moving! Enjoy making your new house or apartment into a home. And remember, you can rely on your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent to help you along your way. Contact Us today!