Business Income Insurance

You’ve worked hard to build a stable foundation for your small business—but could you withstand an event that forced you to close your doors for a period of weeks or months?

 What is business income insurance?

Imagine that the theft of critical equipment forced you to stop operating for an extended period of time, how would you cover ongoing expenses like rent and personnel without your usual business income? Business income insurance, also called business interruption insurance, provides coverage for profits lost due to covered events and can help cover your payroll expenses, rent or mortgage, utilities, taxes, and even the cost of moving to a temporary location—ensuring that your temporary closure stays temporary.

What events are covered?

Covered events will vary policy to policy, but most will cover damages due to fire, theft, wind, hail, vandalism, or snow. In addition, your business income policy may cover events that have effect your supply chain; if you are a contractor and lose access to your place of operation for only a week, but your main source for lumber is unable to supply you for a month, your business income insurance will cover you for the full month—or as long as it takes to find an alternative supplier. Most business income policies exclude coverage for events caused by flood or earthquake, though coverage for these events is attainable through a special endorsements.

How much coverage do I need?

There are two basic figures to look at when deciding how much business income insurance to purchase: how much income do you expect to pull in over the course of a year? and, how long is it likely to take for you to resume business after a significant disaster? Taken together, these numbers provide a rough estimate for the amount of coverage you will need should disaster strike.

If you are a small, nimble business that trades largely on the expertise and knowledge of your employees, such as a law firm or accounting agency, it may not take much time for you to find a new or temporary office space, replace or move your computers and furniture, and get back to work. If, on the other hand, you are a large, complicated business that depends on having a backstock of inventory, expensive and difficult to obtain equipment, and industrial space that is specific to your needs, it may take much longer for you find an appropriate rental space, replace your inventory, obtain new equipment, and resume operations. Make sure you think through all the steps that you will have to take to reopen after a halt in operations and take factors that are specific to your area, such as the rental market and availability of suitable commercial spaces, into account when making your estimate.

How do I purchase business income insurance?

Unlike most of the policies we discuss on this blog, business income insurance is not typically sold as a stand-alone policy, and is instead usually included in, or purchased as a rider for, a business owner’s policy (also known as a BOP), or less commonly, a commercial package policy (or CPP). If you already carry one of these policies, there is a chance you already have business income coverage and simply need to review your policy and make sure your current coverage meets your needs. If your existing BOP or CPP doesn’t include business income coverage, you can purchase it as an endorsement on your existing policy.

Where can I go for help?

Because business income policies vary so widely from business to business, this is an area where independent insurance agents can be particularly helpful. Your agent can help you look at your existing BOP or CPP, assist you to evaluate your business’ exposure to risk, and advise you on how much coverage you should purchase—or whether you need additional coverage at all.

Remember, independent insurance agents like the ones at Moreland Insurance work for you, not your insurance carrier, and can be trusted to provide unbiased professional advice on this and all other insurance matters. We hope you’ll trust us with your business and other insurance needs.

General Liability Insurance: Built for Business

No matter how careful you are, having a business comes with liability. General liability policies cover the most common areas of risk that businesses face, providing crucial coverage in the case that someone has their property damaged or meets with an accident because of your business activities.

What is General Liability Insurance?

General liability insurance, also called business liability insurance or commercial general liability insurance, provides coverage if a non-employee injures themselves or has their property damaged either at your business site or as a result of your business operations. This coverage includes obvious items like personal injury and physical damage to property, as well as some less obvious items like slander and copyright infringement.

Who Needs General Liability Insurance?

General liability policies cover some of the most common liabilities faced by business owners, which means that the vast majority of businesses, large and small, can benefit from carrying one of these versatile policies. This list includes business that,

·        Have a physical location that is open to the public

·        Sell goods or services

·        Advertise themselves and/or are active on social media

·        Interact with people at off-site locations

Some business owners, such as contractors, freelancers, and other individuals who commonly work on-premises at third-party locations, may serve clients that require you to carry a general liability policy before beginning work with them.

What Does it Cover?

General liability insurance provides coverage for a number of costs associated with personal injury or property damage.

Medical Payments

If a customer trips and takes a spill at your business and you are found responsible for their injuries, your general liability policy will step in to cover the cost of their medical care.

Property Damage

If your business handles client property or operates on-site at client-owned locations, general liability insurance provides coverage if you or your employees damage that client’s possessions. For example, if an equipment malfunction on a job site causes significant damage to a client’s home, you may file a general liability claim to cover the cost of repairs.  

Legal Defense

In the case that there is a dispute as to whether your business is responsible for damages, your carrier may provide funds for your legal defense and other court costs.

Products

In addition to covering events that take place on the premises of your business or in the course of your business operation, general liability policies provide coverage in the event that one of your products causes illness, injury, or property damage.

Damage to a Rental Property

If you rent space for your business, your general liability insurance provides protection if your actions cause damage to land or structures. Flooding due to a hose that was left running, a fire caused by improperly cleaned rags, or damage to an interior caused by careless movers are a few examples of events that may be resolved through a general liability claim.

Advertising Injury, Copyright Infringement, and Slander

Along with physical damage, general liability policies provide protection in the case that your advertising or other communications are found to cause injury to others. If you develop a new logo and are then sued by a competitor who claims that your graphic is too similar to their own, your general liability policy may cover court fees and judgments resulting from the case.

What Doesn’t General Liability Insurance Cover?

While general liability insurance coverers a wide range of events, there are some common business-related liabilities that these policies do not cover.

Injury to an Employee

General liability insurance only cover events that involve a third party—not employees of your business. Business owners who desire coverage for work-related injuries should as their independent agent about purchasing a workman’s compensation policy.

Auto Accidents

Even though an auto accident that occurs during the course of your business activities may cause both property and bodily damage, general liability policies do not cover vehicle-related events. If you would like to make sure your business is covered, consider purchasing a commercial auto policy.

Punitive Damages

While a general liability policy may cover court costs and most damages that you are required to pay, most policies contain exclusions for punitive damages.

Professional Mistakes

General liability will not pay for damages caused by professional error, like missed deadlines or nonfunctional products. For protection against professional errors, ask your insurance agent about obtaining an errors and omissions policy.

Finding Coverage

Good business-to-policy fit is a function of multiple factors such as your industry, the size of your business, and the amount of coverage desired. An independent insurance agent can help you to evaluate your needs, shop around for the best policy available, and negotiate a favorable price. As always, the independent agents at Moreland Insurance would be happy to assist you to find the right coverage for your business, at the right price.

Errors & Omissions Insurance: Critical Coverage for Your Business

You’re an experienced small business owner who takes pride in providing quality services to your clients—but even the most diligent professionals can have an off day. Luckily, there is coverage available to ensure that honest mistakes don’t turn into financial disasters.

What is E&O Insurance?

Also known as Professional Liability Insurance, E&O Insurance is there to protect you in case a mistake made by you, or one of your employees, leads to damages to a client or other party. While policies vary widely from carrier to carrier, and from business type to business type, most E&O policies will provide coverage for defending a lawsuit and paying damages you are found responsible for.

What does E&O cover?

Carriers write E&O policies to fit specific industries, making these policies, and the events they cover, particularly diverse. Depending on your area of business, covered events may include accidental copyright infringement, negligence, data breeches, work that falls behind schedule, malpractice, and much more. Most E&O policies cover court costs, legal fees, settlements, and judgments. These policies do not cover every potential source of liability; most exclude personal injury, punitive damages, or intentionally malicious acts.

A couple examples

A freelance graphic designer creates a logo for an emerging company called Widgets Inc.  A month later, after Widgets Inc. has purchased signage, printed business cards, and taken other steps to brand themselves with their new logo, they receive a cease and desist letter from Sprockets Corp. alleging that the new Widgets Inc. logo is too similar to Sproket’s own. Through a simple mistake, the graphic designer has caused Widgets Inc. to spend thousands of dollars on materials they are now unable to use. If our graphic designer carries an E&O policy she will be able to file a claim and cover the costs arising from the snafu, rather than paying out of her own pocket.

A real estate agent lists a home and facilitates a successful sale. Months later, the buyers file a lawsuit. It turns out that one of the property lines of the house in question is disputed by a neighbor. While the agent was unaware of this dispute, he is now being accused of failing to disclose the dispute at the time of sale. If the agent carries E&O insurance he can expect costs associated with defending himself in court, as well as any damages awarded to the plaintiffs, to be covered by his policy.

Who needs E&O insurance?

Simply put, anyone who owns a business—including independent contractors and other solo ventures—that exchanges services for money should strongly consider carrying an E&O policy. This group includes  the majority of businesses large and small, including,

·         Real estate agents

·         Creative freelancers

·         Event planners

·         Consultants

·         Medical professionals

·         Accountants

·         Contractors

·         Attorneys

·         Brokers

For some of these professions, E&O insurance may be a requirement for licensure. Be sure to check the requirements in your state and make sure your coverage complies with all regulations.

Seek professional advice

You don’t need to be an insurance industry insider to guess that the coverage needs of a general contractor and those of an accountant are going to be radically different. The diversity of businesses that E&O policies are written for makes industry standards for these policies difficult to pin down and may make purchasing coverage particularly confusing to consumers. One thing can be said for certain: if you provide services directly to clients, then an E&O policy can provide critical coverage for your business. Moreland Insurance’s independent agents will be happy to help you evaluate your coverage needs and find the policy that is right for your industry, your level of exposure, and ultimately, your business.

Personal Article Policies: When Homeowners Insurance Isn’t Enough

Your homeowners policy provides ample coverage for the everyday items in your home, but what about the extraordinary ones? Whether you are the keeper of your great-grandmother’s heirloom jewelry, an avid collector of antique guitars, or even own costly medical devices, a personal articles policy can provide low- or no-deductible coverage for these difficult-to-replace items and keep you covered for a wide range of events.

Why isn’t my homeowners policy enough?

Well, it might be. For most people, a standard homeowners policy provides perfectly adequate protection for personal possessions, but these policies may fall short for those who own particularly valuable items. In addition, homeowners policies only provide coverage in the case of loss or damage that is the result of specific events. If you own an item, or items, that would be particularly difficult to replace if lost to a non-covered event, or that carries a value that greatly exceeds the sublimits attached to your homeowner’s policy, you may want to purchase additional coverage in the form of a personal articles policy.  

Sublimits

Most homeowners policies contain restrictions on how much the insurer is obligated to pay for certain types of items—even when overall coverage hasn’t been exhausted. For example, a diamond ring valued at $6,000 is likely to be subject to a sublimit that limits claims on jewelry to $2,000 or less—falling far short of the replacement value of the item.

Restricted Events

Coverage from homeowners policies only applies when loss or damage occurs due to the specific events listed in your policy, usually fire, theft, vandalism, and most (but not all) natural disasters. If you accidentally lose your item, or it becomes damaged by flood, earthquake, or other peril not covered by your policy, you will not be entitled to coverage through your homeowners policy.

Deductibles

While deductibles on homeowners policies vary widely, all homeowners should expect to pay something towards replacement of lost or stolen items when they file a claim.

Cover your valuables with a personal articles policy

Personal articles policies fill the gaps between standard homeowners policies and the replacement value of particularly costly items, offering full-value coverage, low- to no-deductible, and coverage for a wide range of events.

What Personal Articles Policies Cover

Items

Personal articles policies can be purchased for almost any item of value you own, including:

·         Antiques and collectables

·         Jewelry

·         Medical and prosthetic devices

·         Cameras and photography equipment

·         Musical instruments

·         Sports equipment

·         Furs

·         Fine art

While personal articles policies are most commonly purchased for items from the above list, it is by no means complete or comprehensive. Your independent insurance agent can help you find and purchase coverage for almost any valuable possession, no matter how unusual.

Events

Depending on your carrier, a personal articles policy may expand your coverage to include accidental loss or damage, as well as loss due to flooding, earthquake, or other disasters not typically covered by homeowners policies. In addition, personal articles policies follow your item anywhere in the world—meaning that engagement ring is covered whether you’re in Portland or Paris.

Coverage

Personal articles policies are typically full-coverage policies. This means that they are written to cover your item for its full appraised value, with no deductible to satisfy before insurance kicks in. 

Purchasing coverage

As always, your independent insurance agent is your best resource for evaluating your coverage needs, shopping for policies, and purchasing the insurance that’s right for your valuables. The insurance professionals at Moreland would love to help you evaluate you understand your current coverage and decide whether a personal articles policy is right for you.

 

Teen Drivers and Auto Insurance

Watching your teen settle into the driver’s seat may bring up some anxiety—but concern over your insurance premiums shouldn’t be the cause of your worry. While teen drivers do pay more for auto insurance, there are steps you can take to mitigate the financial impact and help ensure your teen’s safety on the road.

Why Teens Pay More

As with everything in the insurance industry, auto insurance rates are based on risk—and teen drivers pose a significantly greater risk than adults. A study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concluded that teen drivers are nine times more likely to be involved in an auto accident than those over eighteen, and six times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash.

Invest in Driver’s Education and Training

While some blame irresponsibility and impulsiveness for the high rates of teen-involved accidents, there is another explanation: simple inexperience. Driving is an acquired skill, and new drivers of any age are at a higher risk of accident during their first year of driving. Providing your young person with driver’s education and ample supervised time behind the wheel will put them ahead of the curve when it comes to practice and may be rewarded by your insurance carrier as well.

Provide a Safe Vehicle

As with all auto policies, insurance carriers extend preferable rates to teens who drive safe vehicles. While they may not be the hottest cars on the road, vehicles with high crash test ratings and plenty of safety features will lower your rates—and even more importantly—reduce the risk of injury in case of a collision. For guidance on purchasing a safe vehicle for your teen, consult the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit organization that determines vehicle safety standards and tests vehicles for crashworthiness and collision avoidance.

Ask About Good Student Discounts

Some carriers reward students for their hard work through good student discounts. If your student has an A or B average, be sure to inquire whether your insurance company has such a program.

Add Young Drivers to your Existing Policy

Rather than purchasing a dedicated policy, consider adding your teenager to your existing household auto coverage. Adding a driver, particularly a young one will raise your rates, but will likely cost less than purchasing a second policy for your young driver.

Investigate Occasional Driver Discounts

If you have a newly licensed driver but no plans of purchasing them their own vehicle, you may be able to add them as an occasional driver at a significantly lower rate. Most carriers define an occasional driver as someone who’s driving makes up less than 25% of the vehicle’s time on the road, which means you may be able to add a young person who has limited use of a car on evenings and weekends at a lower rate.

Consult an Independent Agent

Auto insurance for young people varies carrier-to-carrier and state-to-state, which can make shopping for coverage confusing for a lay person. An independent insurance agent can help determine what kind of coverage is most appropriate for your family, and which discounts your teen may be eligible for. Remember, independent agents work for you, not the insurance company, so you can trust them to provide unbiased advice.

Concern over your newly licensed teen may be unavoidable, but skyrocketing insurance premiums are not. Keep price hikes to a minimum—and your young person safe on the road—by having your teen complete driver’s training and ensuring that their vehicle has a high safety rating. As always, the independent agents at Moreland Insurance are available to help shop for plans, hunt down discounts, and ensure everyone in your household has the auto coverage they need.   

Homeowners Insurance and Knob and Tube Wiring

Whether it was the antique fixtures, real wood floors, or leaded windows that charmed you into making your offer, you know that older homes come with the kind of charm that money can’t buy. Unfortunately, the walls of that adorable Craftsman bungalow may be hiding a much less appealing feature: knob and tube wiring. Common in homes constructed before 1950, knob and tube systems are ill equipped to handle the electrical needs of the modern household, often show signs of age-related deterioration, and have often been inappropriately repaired and expanded over the years. All of these factors contribute an increased risk for fire and accident, which in turn causes many insurers to balk at providing coverage.

What is Knob and Tube?

Knob and tube is an early electrical wiring system used widely in homes from the late 1800s through the early decades of the 1900s. These systems consist of fabric- or rubber-insulated copper wires that run through the cavities of your home’s walls and ceilings. These wires are insulated by ceramic knobs that hold them away from the studs in your walls, and tubes, also ceramic, that insulate the conductors where they pass through joists. 

Why is it so difficult to insure homes with knob and tube?

To put it bluntly, knob and tube wiring is difficult to insure because it comes with significant added risk of fire or electrical shock. Some of this risk is endemic to the knob and tube wiring—such as the lack of ground conductor and a tendency to have switches on the neutral wire--while many others are the result of age and inexpert additions to the system.

As the decades push on, the rubber insulation on some knob and tube systems may become brittle and begin to fail, creating the potential for dangerous arching. This is particularly common in areas where electrical appliances, such as ceiling lights, have exposed the wiring above them to heat. The wires are also open to damage from animals and many systems have been stressed by improper alterations over the years. Inexpert splices and branches that are too large for the fuses supporting them both create the potential for arching and overheating—both of which create a significant risk of fire. 

How can I find a policy for my home?

Finding a homeowners policy for a house with knob and tube wiring can be particularly challenging. Some carriers refuse to insure homes with these wiring systems entirely, while others are willing to underwrite policies for an (often significant) rate increase. For those shopping for a policy as part of the homebuying process, some carriers may be willing to provide coverage under the condition that you replace the wiring within a set period after closing.

Whether you ultimately want to keep your original wiring or would like to modernize your home’s electrical system after purchase, the complexity of finding a policy for a home with knob and tube makes the guidance of an insurance agent particularly valuable. An independent agent can help you find a carrier willing to work with knob and tube and negotiate rates that won’t break the bank.

Earthquake Insurance: Are You Ready for the Big One?

Your homeowners policy provides coverage against a litany of dangers, from wind to vandalism, to riots and back again--but did you know that standard policies have exclusions for earthquake-related damage? This might not mean much to homeowners in the geologically stable areas, but these exclusions present a cause for concern among those living along the earthquake-prone west coast.

Why doesn’t my homeowners policy cover earthquakes?

In short, because earthquakes present a potentially devastating kind of risk to insurance companies. Most perils commonly covered by homeowner’s policies are likely to affect only a few homes at a time, and while they can be expensive to remediate, are unlikely to result in the total destruction of the structure.

Earthquakes, by contrast, occur over a large geographic area and—while most do little more than rattle the glasses on the shelf—are capable of leveling buildings or even altering landscapes enough to prevent rebuilding.   

From the insurer's point of view, earthquakes present the potential for hundreds of high-dollar-amount claims following a single event—a risk they are not usually willing to take for the standard homeowners insurance premiums.

Get Covered

Since it’s unlikely that your existing policy covers earthquakes, you will need to purchase either a special endorsement (also called a rider) for your homeowner’s insurance or a separate earthquake policy. Which you choose will likely depend on whether the carrier you use for your homeowners insurance can offer an earthquake endorsement at a competitive price. An independent insurance agent can help evaluate the coverage offered, and decide whether you should look elsewhere for earthquake coverage.

What Earthquake Insurance Covers

Policies will vary from carrier to carrier, but most earthquake policies provide coverage for damage resulting from any sudden movement of the earth including quakes, sinkholes, and sinkholes.

Most earthquake policies provide coverage for both structural damages to your home and damage to its contents. If a tremor causes a roof to collapse and crush a beloved grand piano, your insurance will pay to have both the roof repaired and a new piano—after your deductible has been satisfied.

What it Doesn’t

Damages resulting from the secondary effects of earthquakes are usually not covered. If a quake causes a fire to break out in your home, or breaks open a pipe and causes widespread flooding, the resulting damage will not be considered earthquake damage—even though the earthquake caused the fire or flood. The good news is that these secondary effects are likely covered by your existing homeowners policy.

Homeowners who live near large bodies of water should note that tsunamis—while they are often caused by earthquakes—are not covered by most earthquake policies or standard homeowners policies. For tsunami coverage, you will need to purchase a rider for your homeowners policy that provides coverage for flooding.

It’s worth noting that, unlike homeowners policies, which provide coverage for all structures on your property, earthquake policies usually provide coverage for your home and its contents, excluding landscaping, pools, and outbuildings. Your insurance agent can help you find and purchase coverage for these items if desired.

How Much Does it Cost?

The cost of an earthquake policy or rider will vary widely based on a couple of factors.

Location

The location of your home will play a large role in deciding how much you pay for coverage. Your insurance company will look at the history of seismic activity in your area and make a decision based on the frequency and severity of quakes in your area, and any features particular to your property that contribute to the likelihood of significant damage in the event of an event.

Construction

Your insurance company will also look at the construction of your home and evaluate its ability to withstand tremors. Recently constructed homes built to withstand seismic activity will be easier and cheaper to insure than older homes—especially older homes that have not been retrofitted to better withstand seismic activity. In some cases, an insurance company may require modifications—such as strapping a free-standing house to its foundation—before it will be willing to provide insurance at all.

Earthquake policies, with their regional differences and many exceptions, are a particularly complicated area of insurance, and one that many homeowners are nervous about navigating on their own. From evaluating your current coverage, to deciding between a rider or separate policy, to adding coverage for additional structures on your property, a qualified independent agent can be an immense help in finding the coverage you need at a reasonable price.

 

 

 

 

 

Homeshare Rentals and Homeowners Insurance

Homeshare sites like Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway have made it easy for homeowners to turn their spare rooms into alternative streams of income, but running a vacation rental out of your property comes with a few complications. Before you invest in that guest book, take some time to look over your homeowners policy and make sure you are covered for home-share related events. 

Your current policy

The more visitors you have to your home, the greater the likelihood that one will have an accident or cause damage to your property. Running a business that brings customers to your door increases the number of people coming in and out of the insured property, and with it, the risk to your insurer. For this reason, most homeowners policies have exclusions for “commercial use” that exclude coverage for events that occur as a result of business-related activities.

Whether or not a homeshare rental constitutes commercial use is up to the discretion of your carrier. Some may still provide coverage if you only rent space occasionally, while others may insist that you purchase extra coverage for paying guests, even if you only rent a few times a year. It’s worth making a call to your insurance carrier to find out how they deal with events involving home-share guests before you need to file a claim.

Purchasing the coverage you need

It is likely that you will need to purchase extra coverage for your homeshare rental, but the amount and type of coverage will vary based on the policies of your carrier and your personal preferences.

Homeshare Endorsements

Covering your homeshare rental may be as simple as calling your carrier and asking for a special endorsement (also called a rider) to extend coverage to paying guests. These endorsements vary but should extend your existing coverage to home-share activities, and may increase the amount of coverage available.

Homeshare Insurance

Many insurance carriers offer special policies for home-share hosts. These policies are usually affordable, and most provide coverage tailored to home-sharing--such as funds to fight bed bug infestations or willful damage to your property by a paying guest.

Business Insurance

If you take guests with great frequency, and especially if short-term rentals make up a significant portion of your income, a business policy may be the most appropriate route. These policies are the most expensive option, but also provide the most robust coverage, including funds to cover lost income should you have to interrupt your rental activities for repairs.

Coverage through hosting services

Many of the top homeshare sites offer some amount of coverage to hosts who book through their services, but these protections are this coverage is incomplete when compared to an insurance policy. Many exclude important areas of coverage such as personal liability, damage to possessions inside your rental, 

Insurance policies vary from carrier to carrier, and even customer to customer—something especially true as the industry works out responses to homesharing. As always, be sure to read your current policy thoroughly before purchasing any new coverage. If you would like help understanding your current coverage, or with purchasing coverage for your short-term rental, we home you’ll let one of Moreland’s independent agents find the policy that’s right for you. 

 

Renters Insurance 101

Many people do not purchase an insurance policy that covers their personal possessions until they buy a home of their own—but renters still have assets to protect. Renters insurance is there to help if your possessions are damaged or stolen, includes personal liability coverage, and can even provide funds for alternative accommodations in the event that you need to relocate while your unit undergoes repair.

Coverage for your posessions

While renters may not have as much wealth tied up in their homes as people who own a house or condo, they often have quite a bit invested in the things inside those homes. Renter’s insurance can help you to purchase a new guitar if yours is stolen from your apartment or buy a replacement computer if yours is ruined by a leaking pipe. Somewhat surprisingly, renters policies also cover items that are stolen from your vehicle--even if it isn’t parked at your rental at the time of the theft.

Still ambivalent? Many renters--especially students and other young people--may not feel that they have enough possessions of significant value to warrant the purchase of a policy, but taken cumulatively, even smaller ticket items add up. Even if you don’t wear designer brands, think of the cost involved in replacing your entire wardrobe in one fell swoop, or—even if you decorated your apartment on a shoestring budget—purchasing an entire home’s worth of furniture. Carrying a renter’s policy can make it possible to restore these possessions—and along with them a sense of normalcy—after a disaster.

Liability

People often become concerned about personal liability after purchasing a house or condo, but renters can also be held financially responsible for accidents that occur in their homes. If you are sued following an event that occurred at your rental, renters insurance can help cover your legal fees as well as any damages you are required to pay.

Alternative Accommodations

In the event that a disaster renders your rental uninhabitable, renters insurance can step in and cover the cost of alternative accommodations. Whether you need to relocate to a hotel for a few nights, or find a sublet while more extensive damage is repaired, your renters policy will ensure you don’t incur additional housing costs while you are away from your home.

Damages to Your Rental

Like homeowners insurance, renters insurance can be used to cover damages to your rental house or apartment that would otherwise be your responsibility. If you accidentally leave a tap running and cause water damage to your rental, or leave a candle lit and start a fire, your renter’s insurance will step in and cover repairs--up to the amount specified in your policy.

Landlord vs. Tenant Responsibility

Many people have an inaccurate understanding of their landlord’s responsibilities and as a result, neglect to purchase a renters policy. While it is true that your landlord must maintain your rental and pay for repairs necessitated by events outside of your control, landlords are not required to replace tenant possessions that become damaged in their unit, and can force tenants to pay for repairs to their rental space if the tenant’s actions can be shown to have contributed to the damage. Renters insurance helps to cover these gaps, preventing disasters in your rental home from wreaking havoc in your bank account as well. 

Low-Cost Protection

Renters policies offer a lot of protection for a very modest price. Most policies cost between $10-$15 per month and offer—for roughly the same price as a cheap lunch out—coverage against property damage, personal liability, and relocation costs.

 

While many people put off purchasing insurance until they are ready to own a home of their own, renters can protect themselves from significant financial hardship by carrying an affordable renters policy. Like all insurance policies, renters policies vary from carrier to carrier and even individual to individual. Be sure to read both your lease and insurance policy thoroughly, and enlist the help of an independent insurance agent if you need assistance understanding your coverage.

 

 

 

The Independent Advantage

Purchasing home, business, or disability policy can make the difference between future ruin or weathering an unexpected financial storm—so it’s worthwhile to seek professional advice. An independent insurance agent can help look at your current coverage, gauge your needs, and offer cross comparisons of policies from a diversity of underwriters. The work of an independent agent doesn’t end when you find your policy though; you can count on their continued assistance when it comes time to file a claim or search for necessary updates on your coverage.

Independent vs. Captive Agents

We covered this topic at length in a previous post, Independent vs. Captive Agents, but in short, captive agents work for insurance companies and are employed to sell the products of that company. Independent agents, on the other hand, work under brokerages and act as a bridge between their customers and a number of insurance companies.   

Choice and Convenience

For consumers, this translates into the difference between consulting a salesperson or hiring a personal shopper. The salesperson, played here by the captive insurance agent, is only able to present products from the company they represent, while the personal shopper can provide their client with products from the full variety of sources.

An independent agent’s ability to shop around translates into the ultimate one-stop-shopping experience for all your policies. Rather than attempting to find appropriate life, home, auto, and disability coverage from a single company, an independent agent can assemble coverage from a variety of sources, with an eye to both price and your individual needs.

A Professional Advocate

Customers are often attracted to the choices provided by independent agents, but the claims process is where these professionals really begin to shine. If you worked with a captive agent to find your policy, you are stuck dealing with a representative of your insurance company when it comes to filing a claim or deal with a billing issue. An ethical captive agent will still try to work on behalf of their customers, but they still represent your insurance carrier—a difficult problem to surmount when your interests and those of your agent’s employer are at odds. 

An independent agent’s success or failure depends on creating successful relationships with long-term customers, so when the time comes to file a claim or settle a dispute, an independent agent can be counted on to represent your interests to your insurance company. For this reason, we encourage our customers to call us before they file a claim with their insurance company. Having an informed professional there to advocate on your behalf is crucial to making the claims process move smoothly, and can take some of the stress out of an already difficult time.

A Relationship that Matters

An independent agent is more than a salesperson there to make a deal, we are resources you can turn to again and again as your family grows, your business develops, and your life takes off in new directions. When you form an ongoing relationship with an independent agent you gain access to an industry insider who has a complex understanding of the industry, and as the years go on, your needs as a consumer as well. We encourage our customers to consult their agents on a regular basis to discuss any need for increased coverage or note areas where they might save money by making changes to their policies.  

Large insurance companies and their agents may be ubiquitous, but the customer experience offered by independent brokerages remains unmatched by captive agents. Independent agent’s lack of ownership ties to policy underwriters allows us to provide our customers with flexibility, advocacy, and bias-free advice that creates great consumer-to-policy matches and keeps our customers returning to us for years to come.