Are you traveling for the holidays?

Here are 15 top tips to keep your home safe while you are away:

1. Make sure alarm systems and motion sensors are in place and working properly. Connect these to your phone to monitor activity at all times of day.
2. Use automatic lights to scare potential robbers away.
3. Let a neighbor know you are leaving and the amount of time you will be gone.
4. Keep all trees and bushes trimmed. Overgrown shrubbery can be a good place for burglars to hide.
5. Unplug appliances to avoid fires and excess electric use.
6. Keep your thermostat as low as possible. This will save you money on electricity.
7. Close windows and blinds so intruders cannot see in.
8. Double-check all doors and windows are locked.
9. Arrange for mail/newspapers to be temporarily stopped or have a neighbor pick these up for you. Piled up deliveries could signal a vacant home and make your house a target for intruders.
10. Make sure holiday decorations are running properly to avoid disasters while away. Check that all plug-in lights and decorations are in proper condition as not to start a fire, while you are away.
11. Consider placing a camera on your home and linking to your phone to keep an eye on activity.
12. Keep a car in the driveway to trick potential intruders into thinking someone is home.
13. Avoid broadcasting the vacation via social media. You don’t want the world to know your home is left unattended.
14. Hire a snow removal service or neighbor to keep your driveway and paths clear when you return.
15. Leave a spare key with a neighbor.
16. Lock away valuables in a safe.

Have a safe and happy holiday from your Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agent!

The definition of a drone isn’t always clear. The FAA defines a “drone” as an “unmanned aircraft system (UAS),” and a “UAS” is defined by statute A growing colony of recreational drones is taking over our skies. There are millions of them. Literally, millions.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported receiving nearly 700,000 registrations in 2016, but that number falls far short of the 2.8 million drones sold that year to U.S. hobbyists who often fail to register them. The FAA predicts that registrations will number 7 million by 2020, but who knows how many more will actually be flying. Recreational drones have exploded in popularity, and you can’t escape the growing buzz.

More drones mean more drone incidents. We’ll see more headlines like, “Drone strike! Our photographer injured by TGI Friday’s mistletoe copter,” or, “Watch a chimp knock down a drone.” Why? Because drones are flown by humans, and humans sometimes do dumb things. In 2016 alone, the FAA reported about 1,800incidents when drones flew too close to airplanes.

If you’ve purchased a drone, or even if you’re just thinking about it, you’ll want to stay in the good graces of regulators, avoid accidents and ensure that your drone and flying activities are adequately protected by insurance.

What Is a ‘Drone’?

as “an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on theaircraft.”

Regulations Stacked as High as a Drone Can Fly!

It’s no surprise that drone use is subject to substantial regulation by local, state and federal authorities.The following is a small sample of FAA rules regarding recreational use:

  • Fly at or below 400
  • Keep drone within line of
  • Drone must weigh less than 55
  • Never fly near other aircraft or airports.
  • Never fly over groups of people or over emergency scenes such as fires or storm recovery

Before you send your drone into flight, contact your local law enforcement office for rules, such as no-fly zones, regarding recreational drone use in your community. You can find comprehensive guidance on federallaw regarding drone use on the FAA website.

If you’re thinking of using your drone to make money, note that the rules for commercial drone use differ significantly from the rules for recreational use. You can find those rules, too, on the FAA website.

Insurance for Your Drone & Concerns about Its Use 

In June 2017, a drone flyer in Silicon Valley crashed his quadcopter into high-voltage power lines. He not only incinerated his drone, but knocked out the lights for some 1,600 people. He fled the mayhem and tens of thousands of dollars in damage he caused, and police requested the public’s help to track him down.

In the event you accidentally cause something bad to happen with your drone, or if your drone sustainsdamage, the value of good insurance cannot be overstated.

Before you go drone flying, contact your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent for detailedinformation about your insurance coverage, and take our tips into consideration.

“My drone is broken … as is my heart and spirit.”

— Sad hobbyist without drone coverage

Homeowners policy and your drone. You love your drone and don’t want anything bad to happen to it. But should it be damaged or stolen, will your home insurance policy pay for a replacement? Well, that depends on the policy you have. Some home insurance policies will cover a damaged drone in the same manner as any other personal property, while others may provide only limited or no coverage at all.

If your policy does cover damage to your drone, keep in mind that the damage must be caused by a covered peril. A few examples of common covered perils include fire, windstorm, theft or accidentally hitting the drone with your car. Any cause of damage that is not a covered peril, such as flying your drone into the side of a sturdy tree branch or building, would not be covered.

“I was flying my drone and a guy’s house got in the way.”

— Baffled novice operator

Drones can cause serious bodily injury and damage to property. Consider the following scenarios:

  • Your teenage son flies his drone into your neighbor’s house, damaging siding and a glass door.
  • While at the park, you try to avoid a collision with another drone and accidentally steer yours into a person’s head.
  • The camera you mounted onto your drone comes loose, plummets from the sky and damages aparked

Liability claims are serious. If you damage someone’s property, a liability claim could make you responsible for the cost of repairs to that property and its loss of use. If you cause bodily injury to someone, a liability claim could make you responsible for that person’s medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.

In some cases, a liability claim could result in a lawsuit which likely will include expensive legal fees.

Will your home insurance policy cover the cost of such claims? Again, that depends on the policy you have. The rapid increase in drone use over the last few years has caused many home insurers to reevaluate the coverage offered for this exposure. It’s essential that you review your policy’s liability coverage with your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent to identify any limitations in coverage before you take yournext flight.

If your policy does cover drone-related accidents, consider increasing your limit of liability insurance and adding a personal umbrella insurance policy to further increase your available funds. It’s often possible tosignificantly increase your limit of liability insurance for little cost.

And if your policy does not cover drone-related accidents, ask your agent about options to obtain thisessential coverage.

No pictures, please. Another liability concern for drone pilots is violation of privacy. For example, manydrones come equipped with a camera. Consider this scenario:

One of your children flies a drone over a neighbor’s house, takes video of some people in the backyardand posts the video online without permission.

An allegation of the violation of one’s right to privacy is serious. Damages may include trauma as well as reputational harm and recovery. Similar to claims of bodily injury or property damage, claims of personalinjury (such as violation of privacy) may be covered by some home insurance policies and not by others. Ask your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent about this exposure and how your policy mayrespond.

Fly Safely

Drones are an awesome technology and using them is a fun hobby if pursued safely. Call your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent today, get your insurance in order and go fly those friendly skies!

Own a Home-Based Business? Think ‘Presidentially’ When Considering Risks

No, we are not implying you fancy yourself the next Washington or Lincoln. But are you the proud owner or founder of one of the estimated 59% of established businesses in the United States that operate from a home? Then, even if your face doesn’t appear on Mount Rushmore, for your business you are still the top dog, head cheese, or grand high poobah. So welcome to your month, Ms. or Mr. President!

But just as you realize that there are similarities to all businesses, wherever located, you also know there are often concerns, considerations and risks unique to a home-based environment. And your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent wants to remind you that designing proper protection encompassing both those common and unique risks requires ongoing communication and review of your current insurance and risk management programs.

Yet studies show that of the 11 million-plus home-based businesses, nearly 60% do not have insurance specifically recognizing and providing coverage for these unique risks. When asked about the reasons for this lack of additional insurance, business owners responded:

  • They thought they were already properly covered by their personal insurance: 40%.
  • They thought their business was too small to insure: 30%.
  • They could give no specific reason: 20%.

The first assumption is demonstrably false. Standard homeowners policies are designed for personal exposures, not business. While there may be small areas or limits of coverage available for certain types of home-based businesses, the vast majority will find coverage severely limited or specifically excluded for business losses related to such common risks as theft, vehicle usage, employee injuries, or life/health/disability. The largest potential gap in proper coverage arises from the lack of liability protection for claims arising out of business activities, whether the claim occurs in the home or elsewhere.

The second assumption above is also wrong, and the third response, at a minimum, shows a dangerous lack of knowledge.

Starting a home-based business may be the first step on your road to successful entrepreneurship. Whether your business ultimately remains in your home or grows into the need for outside facilities or a relocation, your Trusted Choice® independent agent stands ready to be your ongoing valued partner. Schedule a time today to review your current or future business plans, and let us help you establish a comprehensive insurance and risk management program to protect what we both hope will be your most valuable growing asset.

Can Mount Rushmore be far behind?

You’re Not Home Alone in Business

The stereotype of a home-based business being about networking, consulting or holding sales parties has long been out-of-date. Today, the term can encompass everything from a one-

person operation turning a hobby into an income to a major enterprise with dozens of employees. Here are a few facts from recent studies:

  • Most home-based businesses — 67% — fall outside the traditional categories such asfreelancing, independent contracting, consulting and virtual
  • Of all new businesses, 69% are started in a
  • Three and a half years later, 59% of those new businesses are still operating from a
  • Home-based businesses that have employees: 75%.
  • Women-owned businesses: 72% operate from
  • Founders come from all age groups. Those planning to start a business include:
    • 5% of young entrepreneurs.
    • 25% of retirees.

Sources:

http://smallbiztrends.com/2013/07/home-based-businesses-startup.htmlhttp://www.independentagent.com/News/PressReleases/Pages/2004/NA20040225120203.aspx

Hiring Workers

As the cost of traditional daycare centers continue to rise, the home childcare industry is primed for growth. Depending on your location, the number of workers required on a per-child basis will vary, but one thing remains certain: Bringing new employees or volunteers into your business creates exposures your business may not otherwise have faced. The following are just a few exposures regarding some unique insurance coverage issues your business should prepare for when bringing in help.

Liability for the Actions of Employees and Volunteers

Running a home childcare business presents a multitude of liability concerns for employers and employees. The behavior of young children is unpredictable and can be unsafe even under careful supervision. The thought of a child being injured while in the care of your business is a terrible but realistic possibility. Furthermore, property damage can happen in a split second— just consider how easily a ball could hit a neighbor’s car or window. To help protect your business and yourself from having to pay the costs of injuries or property damage, you probably have purchased a business liability insurance policy. But if your business expands and you hire employees or use volunteers, make sure to contact your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent to ensure that your liability policy will respond to claims resulting from their actions or possible negligence.

Workers Compensation

Laws regarding whether an employer must provide workers compensation insurance coverage vary significantly by state. For information about your state law regarding this coverage, contact your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent.

If the law in your state does not mandate that you purchase workers compensation insurance to cover your staff’s work-related injuries or illnesses, consider these two important reasons to do so anyway:

  • Workers comp can provide your injured worker with essential dollars to receive needed medical care as well as compensation for lost wages needed to pay other living expenses.
  • As the employer, you could become financially responsible for all costs associated with the worker’s injury or illness—including their medical bills, rehab costs, lost wages and resulting

Employment Practices Liability

Childcare operators are aware of the risks involved in being entrusted with the well-being of people’s children. But the liability claim that ultimately bankrupts your business may actually have nothing at all to do with a child’sinjury.

Consider the difficulty of having to let an employee go and then learning that, as a result, you are being accused of wrongful termination due to discrimination. Even if the claim is proven groundless, there likely will still be expensive costs associated with defense. Unfortunately, your business liability insurance policy will not cover such costs. To help avoid the potential financial disaster such an employment-related liability claim could cause to you and your business, ask your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent about employment practices liability insurance.

Confirm Coverage of Third-Party Contractors

Does your growth plan include contracting with outside help? Say, for example, you are looking for a competitive advantage to help your business appeal to parents and their children, and you decide to bring in a music teacher or language tutor as an outside contractor. You already know how important it is to properly vet those individuals with background checks, but have you considered asking them for proof of insurance? Should a contractor not be properly insured, a liability claim created by their actions or an injury they suffer on your premises may become your responsibility.

Insurance can be confusing. If you need to ask contractors for proof of insurance, but you’re not sure how to determine its adequacy, ask your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent for assistance.

Your Agent Is Part of the Childcare Team

Hiring workers may be essential to your business growth. To ensure that those acting on behalf of your business do not cause financial devastation to your business, contact your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent today.

So you’ve heard everyone talking about how easy it is to make money driving for a ride-sharing service such as Uber or Lyft. You’ve decided that making a few extra bucks would be great, so you begin preparations. If you’relike most prospective drivers, your to-do list will look like this:

  1. Tune up and clean your
  2. Contact the ride-sharing
  3. Plan a schedule and start transporting

Unfortunately, too many ride-sharing service drivers don’t think about insurance. Specifically, what insurance coverage will be available should you be involved in an accident while you are driving for a ride-sharing service?

As the ride-sharing driver, there are a variety of factors you need to think about with regard to insurance in case youever are injured while behind the wheel of your personal vehicle.

Understanding Livery Conveyance

 Before you can understand the potential problems that driving for a ride-sharing service creates in a typical personal auto insurance policy, you first must know the meaning of an essential term often used in that policy—“livery conveyance.” According to the International Risk Management Institute, this term means “the transporting of people and/or goods for hire, such as by a taxi service, motor carrier, or a delivery service.”

Livery conveyance is an exposure that is almost always excluded in personal auto insurance policies.

Medical Payments

 Many personal auto insurance policies include an insurance coverage called “medical payments.” This coverage will pay reasonable medical expenses up to a set limit (it may be as low as $1,000) should you be injured in an accident. Unfortunately, most personal auto policies will not pay this coverage if the accident occurs in the course of employment or if it occurs while the car is being using as a livery conveyance.

Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM)

 This important insurance coverage is often included in a personal auto insurance policy and is designed to compensate you should you be injured in accident with an at-fault driver who has no insurance (UM) or not enoughinsurance to compensate your full damages (UIM).

This coverage can differ significantly from policy to policy, but it’s likely that your own personal auto policy willalso exclude this coverage while your car is being used as a livery conveyance.

Workers Compensation & Health Insurance

 Workers compensation insurance is designed to cover medical bills and other expenses resulting from on-the-job injuries. The workers compensation laws of your state will typically dictate if and when an independent contractor is required to secure workers compensation. As a ride-sharing driver, you would be considered as an independent contractor. For more information about this insurance and the laws in your state, contact a Trusted Choice®Independent Insurance Agent.

Many personal health insurance policies will not cover medical bills resulting from work-related accidents. A Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent can help you review your health insurance policy to determine what coverage—if any—will apply if you are injured while driving for a ride-sharing service.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

 Some states require drivers to purchase personal injury protection to cover expenses incurred as a result of an injury suffered in an auto accident. In other states, personal auto insurance companies offer this insurance coverage as an optional purchase. A Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent can help you determine what coverage—if any—will apply under your PIP insurance should you be injured while driving for a ride-sharing service.

Protect Yourself

 A typical personal auto insurance policy is not designed to cover your injuries if they occur while you are using your car as a “livery conveyance.” The extra money you earn driving for the service may seem insignificant should you suffer an uninsured loss. For information about how to protect yourself before you take that first fare, contact aTrusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent.

A commercial umbrella policy is an essential addition to your business’s liability insurance protection plan. But before you buy, ask your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent to review any policy you are considering, so you understand clearly how it will (or won’t) apply to an allegation of liability filed againstyour business.

The term “umbrella” is loosely used by many insurance companies and agencies to describe any liability policy that extends beyond the coverage and limits offered by the underlying policy. (“Underlying” is the term used todescribe the type of insurance policy that the umbrella covers

— for example, a commercial general liability insurance policy.)

While there are no boilerplate or standard commercial umbrella policies, they do fall into two basic types:the follow form (or excess) liability umbrella and the “true” umbrella.

Follow Form (or Excess) Liability Umbrella

By whichever name it’s called, the function of such a policy is to cover only those losses that are also covered by the underlying policies. Thus, the umbrella’s purpose is to “follow the form” of the underlying policy regarding coverage and simply offer more dollars to pay damages should the underlying limit prove insufficient. Stated differently, if the loss isn’t covered by the underlying policy, then it’s not covered by the follow form (or excess) liability policy, either.

True Umbrella

An umbrella policy is often called a “true umbrella” if it serves both of two purposes:

  1. Offers you additional dollars to pay damages should the underlying limit prove
  2. Offers you coverage for allegations of liability that are not covered by the underlying policy. For example, say that your underlying commercial general liability policy limits geographical coverage and will pay for allegations of liability resulting from a defective product that injures a customer only if the injury occurs in the United States, its territories, possessions, Puerto Rico and Canada. In contrast, your umbrella policy may offer a worldwide coverage territory, not restricting payment for injuries only to those occurring in the places specified by the underlying policy.

Self-Insured Retention (SIR)

If your umbrella does respond to a loss that is not covered by your underlying insurance (such as theproducts liability loss example above), you may have to fund a portion of the loss. This

self-funded portion is called the “self-insured retention” or SIR and will vary depending on your policy. Somepolicies may include a low SIR of $1,000, while others may be much higher.

Which Parties Are Protected as ‘Insureds’?

It’s essential to understand which parties are protected by your umbrella policy. Further, some businesses have a contractual requirement to ensure that other parties — such as property owners, vendors or contractors — are covered as “insureds” by the umbrella policy. Your particular umbrella may automatically consider all parties insured by the underlying policies as insureds, or it may require modification to ensure that coverage. Your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent can review an umbrella policy with you to determine if it adequately protects the appropriate parties.

Be Sure It’s the Right Policy

Simply purchasing more insurance isn’t enough. You must understand the intricacies of any umbrella policy to truly grasp its value to your business. Schedule a review with your Trusted Choice® IndependentInsurance Agent today.

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.