Tornado Damage: Are you covered?
Does windstorm include tornado?
Since the policy refers to windstorm as a covered cause of loss, some residents have wondered what exactly windstorm includes. Tornadoes, hurricanes, high winds, thunderstorms and blizzards are all included in the definition of windstorm. Your homeowners policy also provides ‘lose of use’ benefits to cover additional living expenses while repairs are being made to your home.
Please call us with any specific questions regarding your property coverage. We are always happy to review your current coverage needs. (517) 332-7500
Volunteer Activities: Are you covered?
You are a volunteer soccer coach, a 4-H adviser, a chamber of commerce committee member, on the church board, or you helped raise contributions for the last United Way campaign. Perhaps you have volunteered hundreds of hours this year without a thought of insurance coverage. If someone is injured, who pays for any legal action brought against you in these volunteer activities? If you serve as a board member and are sued for breach of duty, imprudent investments, discrimination in hiring or wrongful termination, are you covered? To answer these questions, there are two places to check: your home insurance and the organization’s insurance. Let’s look at them:
Your homeowners insurance policy gives you liability protection for bodily injury and property damage to others in non-business activities, like a child who is injured when you are the volunteer soccer coach or 4-H advisor. On the other hand, no protection is provided if your volunteer activity is related to a business (chamber volunteer, union, trade or professional association representative, etc.) or if you receive any compensation. Any legal action other than bodily injury and property damage is not covered (an exception: some homeowners policies cover personal injury — libel, slander, false arrest, false imprisonment, etc.).
Also check for coverage under the organization’s policy. Ask the organization leadership for proof of insurance for general liability, directors and officers liability, and employment practices liability. Also check to see if volunteers are covered (named as additional insureds) under those policies. Some other potential loss situations could include:
- Failure to examine documents signed
- Silence with respect to improper conduct to fellow officials
- Improper rejection of bids
- Failure to exercise diligence in management
- Incurring unnecessary expenses
Communities are fortunate to have so many volunteers donating their time in a host of different areas. This discussion is not meant to discourage any present or prospective volunteers. Rather, our intent is to help individuals be well-informed, comfortable and adequately protected when it comes to volunteering.
Earthquake, Flood and Sewer Back-up
While not wanting to dampen your anticipation of this long-awaited season, it is a good idea to review some optional coverages you may wish to add to your current homeowners policy. Flood insurance as well as the sewer back-up and earthquake endorsements are worth a brief examination.
Flood- Since flood damage is excluded under your homeowners coverage, you should be aware that flood insurance is available from the National Flood Insurance Program. Most communities have qualified for the program that provides coverage for surface flooding only. Structural and contents protection are offered. A $500 deductible applies.
Sewer Back-Up- This endorsement provides protection for direct loss caused by water that backs up through sewers, drains or sump pump wells. Just as flood insurance excludes coverage for sewer back-up, this endorsement excludes any coverage for damage due to flooding. Coverage is subject to a deductible.
Earthquake- Coverage is available with the premium determined by the structure of your home or building. Because it will better withstand an earthquake, a frame structure is less to insure than a masonry one. A substantial deductible (often a percentage of the amount of insurance that applies to the destroyed or damaged property) is in effect.
For clarification of your current policy or information regarding the above coverages, please contact us. We welcome the opportunity to evaluate your present needs and to discuss possible insurance improvements for you and your family.
Your Home Business: Know Coverage
Test your knowledge of your homeowners insurance:
Are you covered?
- While caring for a child for a fee, the child is injured in your home. The parents expect you to cover the hospital bills
- You replace a friend’s car brakes for a “few bucks” and the car is damaged or your friend is hurt in some way. He expects compensation
- A friend slips on an icy walk or trips on a toy while picking up the craft item she paid you to make. She expects you to cover medical bills.
- You use your detached garage for a small woodworking business and the garage is damaged in a windstorm. You want your garage rebuilt
- You do word processing for a fee from your home. Your computer is stolen. You want it replaced.
- You are a self-employed sales representative with an office in the home. While entertaining a client in your home, the client is injured and expects compensation.
In each situation described, the answer is probably “not covered” — unless you have added specific coverage to your policy for this home business. Take away the compensation, or business aspect, and each would probably be “covered”. Situations like those described can be covered in one of three ways:
Your employer may cover it if your business is conducted on behalf of your employer.
A business insurance policy may be purchased to cover it.
Your home insurance policy can sometimes be broadened to cover it.
If you have any concerns about a business-type activity in your home, call us. We’ll be happy to discuss it with you.
Money Saving Tips
Controlling household expenses is something we all try to do. We want to help you reduce your home insurance costs when possible. Here are some points to consider:
- Smoke alarms. Check your policy or contact us to see that you are receiving a discount. If you don’t have alarms, get them. Not just for the discount, but for your family’s safety.
- Higher deductibles. The standard deductible today is $250. If yours is lower, you are paying an added charge. If you choose a $500 or higher deductible, more savings are available.
- Delete unneeded coverage. Review your policy. There may be jewelry listed that has since been sold, endorsements for businesses in the home that are no longer in operation or other unnecessary coverages.
- Central station alarms. Fire and burglary alarm systems that automatically dial a central station can provide both good security and a significant premium savings.
- Combine home and auto insurance in one company. Companies often offer a discount on the home and auto insurance or both when carried by the same insurer.
In addition to these money-saving tips, some companies offer discounts if you have fire extinguishers, deadbolt locks or a loss-free record. Check with us to see if your plan offers any of these options.
Remember, under insuring is not a recommended way to save premium as it can lead to serious problems settling a claim. Whether it’s a question about cost or coverage, we’re always willing to review any insurance concerns with you. Please call us.
Homeowners Insurance: Covering the Bizarre Losses
Just how broad is your insurance coverage? Will it cover sunken tractors? This true story has occurred several times: our client parks his riding mower on a hill, dismounts, and the tractor slips out of gear and rolls into the pond. Covered? Only if you have an HO15 endorsement on your policy.
You don’t have a riding mower or a pond you say?
The HO15 endorsement broadens a homeowners policy so that it also covers other personal property lost due to extraordinary situations. Consider these other covered losses:
- Lost jewelry or gemstones falling out of jewelry not specifically insured (subject to a policy dollar limit).
- Loss in value when a gemstone is scratched or cracked (subject to a policy dollar limit).
- A hot iron falling on and scorching an area rug.
- A deer crashing through a sliding glass door causing extensive damage to household contents as it struggles to deal with the unfamiliar surroundings of a family room.
- Raccoon damage (rodents and vermin are not covered).
- Lost hearing aids, eyeglasses, telescopes, cameras, etc.
- Spillage of paint, India ink, nail polish, acid, bleach, and other chemicals that damage household contents.
- Most home insurance policies list 17 or 18 different perils of coverage for household contents that do not include the above or numerous other bizarre possibilities. The H015 will cover most of these — subject to your policy deductible.