Homeowners Insurance and Liability Coverage: What You Need to Know

Homeowners Insurance and Liability Coverage: What You Need to Know > Homeowners Insurance and Liability Coverage: What You Need to Know

Homeowners Insurance and Liability Coverage: What You Need to Know

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Most people think of home insurance as the safety net for when the chimney catches fire, when the pipe bursts or when the alarms fail and burglars make off with all the valuables. However, there are some often-overlooked benefits of home insurance that can help you out of otherwise devastating financial situations.

One of the most important aspects of your home insurance policy is personal liability coverage. You might not expect to ever be sued for an accident that occurs on your property, but if you are, you could end up owing thousands of dollars in damages. Personal liability coverage helps to protect your personal assets should this situation ever arise.

Here's what you need to know about liability coverage for your home.

What's Covered by Your Policy?

You might be surprised by the extent of your personal liability coverage. Generally, these policies provide compensation for lawsuits resulting from accidents on your property. This compensation usually includes:

  • Pain and suffering claims. For injuries that cause lasting pain and emotional trauma, the costs can add up.
  • Lost wages. A person may lose work because of an injury.
  • Medical bills. These are often the most expensive part of a settlement.
  • Wrongful death payments. If a person is killed, their families can still be compensated financially for the loss.
However, personal injury compensation through your insurance can also help you stay covered when you're away from home. For example, if you attend a gym on a daily basis and accidentally injure another patron on the running track, that patron could bring a personal injury lawsuit against you. Your home insurance covers your own negligence in most accidents, even when you're not at home.

Every person in your home can enjoy this coverage. Your teens and children may cause accidents away from home, and your insurance can help bridge the gap. Even damage to property might be covered.

For example, if your teen was mowing the lawn and caught a large rock in the blades that was thrown into the window of the neighbor's home, liability coverage would also help to pay for the damage to the other person's property and any people who might have been injured by that damage (e.g. cuts from the glass).

However, there are some limitations to personal liability coverage. While this coverage provides compensation for others who are injured on your property or by your actions, you cannot claim these benefits for yourself if you are injured at home.

Also, intentional actions against another person are not covered. For example, if you assault someone by throwing a punch, that person can sue you for personal injury, but your insurance would not usually be required to pick up the slack.

How Do You Know If You Have Enough Coverage?

Most home insurance policies do have a cap for how much the insurer will pay in damages. That cap may not be enough for some injuries, which can go into the millions for some types of more serious injuries. In order to know if you should increase your liability coverage through your insurance, you need to consider whether people are at a higher risk of injury when they visit your home.

Here are two common situations where increased coverage may be a good idea:

  • You have a swimming pool. Swimming pools increase the risk of injury and death to visitors exponentially. When you routinely have young children visiting to use the pool, extra coverage is not just a good idea -- it's essential. Average liability policies provide about $100,000 in coverage. Pool-related injuries can be much more expensive.
  • You have a higher-risk lifestyle. Visiting places like the gym or dance classes makes it more likely that you can injure someone else. If you routinely enjoy high-adventure activities like boating, rafting or gliding, it's also a good idea to increase your coverage.
  • Your property is vast and provides a number of more risky attractions. Farm equipment, untamed woods or many outbuildings can cause more incidents of injury.
  • You have pets and animals. Horses, dogs and farm animals like goats can bite and stomp. Dog bites may cause intense trauma, and injuries from horses can also be quite serious.
The best way to know if you have enough coverage and what the limits of your policy are is to talk with an insurance agent. You might find you want to improve your policy beyond the standard amount.

Will You Need Additional Coverage Beyond What Home Insurance Can Provide?

Sometimes, insurance providers only allow liability coverage through home insurance to go so high. After that, you might need to take out an additional policy. These policies are umbrella policies that provide much higher coverage at a reasonable monthly fee. Umbrella policies do also have some limitations: you can't use the policy to cover costs of injury that are linked with criminal activity.

For more information about the coverage your home insurance can provide, contact us at Crowel Agency, Inc.

Insuring What You Own Against Tornadoes

Insuring What You Own Against Tornadoes > Insuring What You Own Against Tornadoes

Insuring What You Own Against Tornadoes

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Although tornadoes vary in intensity, the financial losses to victims can be devastating. Fortunately, having the right types of insurance coverage helps restore your life back to normal following the destruction a tornado leaves behind.
While you don't need special tornado insurance, you do need to make certain that your standard home insurance policy and current auto policy are enough to cover the damage.

Tornado Risk
Tornadoes can occur anywhere in the United States but are more common in certain regions including the Midwestern states, Mississippi Valley, northern Great Plains area and the southern United States.

If you live in an area where tornadoes are a risk, you'll need insurance to help cover the loss should disaster strike. For starters, a home insurance policy that covers wind events, including tornadoes.

Home Insurance Coverage
If you live in a tornado-prone region of the country, you need home insurance that helps cover damage to your home and the loss of personal property.

State and federal programs often offer disaster assistance in the form of low-interest loans in areas ravaged by tornadoes, but without home insurance, you aren't likely to get enough money to replace everything you've lost. Therefore, there are several factors to consider when buying home insurance.

Replacement Cost
Although insuring your home for the amount it would take to rebuild it instead of insuring it for its current market value increases your premiums, it's important to have adequate coverage.

Even if a tornado leaves your home standing, winds, rain and flying debris can do serious damage. However, if you are under insured, you may fall short of what it costs to repair the damage or replace all that you've lost.

While replacement cost does not deduct depreciation costs for age when you insure the structure of your home, your policy may limit the payout to a specific dollar amount. If you worry that you'll need more, extended replacement cost offers additional coverage beyond the limit set in your policy. This can give you extra cash you may need to meet rising construction and labor costs in a disaster-stricken area.

Content Insurance
Your home may receive extensive damage or be destroyed if it lies in the direct path of a tornado, but the contents inside your home are at risk too. You will have to spend a lot of money to replace everything you lose. That's why your home insurance policy should include plenty of personal property coverage.

Insuring your home's contents for replacement value costs more, but it will give you the money you need to replace damaged or lost possessions with new items of similar kind and quality. In contrast, actual cash value coverage reimburses you for the loss of personal property at depreciated value. In other words, the insurer only reimburses you a percentage of what an item originally cost.

If you're worried that a loss exceeds your policy's coverage limits, you can increase the coverage limit for your personal property. You can also add an endorsement that provides extra coverage for valuables for which your existing home insurance policy provides only limited coverage.

Loss-of-Use Coverage
If your home is destroyed or incurs serious enough damage, you may have to live somewhere else temporarily while your house is being rebuilt or repaired. Loss-of-use coverage helps pay for additional living expenses such hotel bills, eating out or paying rent during the time you are displaced.

Read your home insurance policy carefully as many insurers place limits on how long they will reimburse you for these costs. Generally, there is also a dollar limit on how much an insurer will pay out.

Some insurance companies may pay a flat dollar amount; others offer a percentage of the limit for which you have your home insured. In either case, your insurance company will continue to pay for additional living expenses until your home is repaired, you move to a new permanent address or you use up the limit stated in your policy, whichever occurs first.

Auto Insurance Coverage
Tornado damage to your home isn't your only concern. High winds and falling trees can damage vehicles. Consequently, you need comprehensive auto insurance to cover damage to your vehicle that a tornado causes.

Although comprehensive insurance generally is an optional coverage, it covers damage to your vehicle that isn't due to a collision. Comprehensive insurance covers wind damage — even wind from a tornado that tosses your vehicle or causes damage from flying debris.

The cost of comprehensive insurance depends on your driving history, a vehicle's value and the amount of the deductible you choose. If your policy has a deductible, that deductible is separate from the deductible you pay for collision insurance.

When you are uncertain about how to insure all that you own, the insurance agents at the Crowel Agency, Inc. can help you make sure that you are insured against the hazards for which your property is most at risk.



Setting Rules for Newly Insured Teen Drivers | Crowel Agency Inc

Setting Rules for Newly Insured Teen Drivers | Crowel Agency Inc > Setting Rules for Newly Insured Teen Drivers

Setting Rules for Newly Insured Teen Drivers

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All parents want their teenagers to thrive as they inch closer to adulthood. Driving is one big leap forward that's sure to make any mom or dad at least a little nervous. From the time your teenagers get a driver's permit and you add them to your auto insurance, you need to establish clear rules of the road.

According to AAA, crash rates for teenagers are higher than rates in any other age group. That's a sobering statistic, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that factors like not using seatbelts and reckless driving can put teens at increased risk. Set clear rules and enforce them with your teen drivers to protect their safety.


Make Clear, Simple Rules

When you are making safe-driving rules, keep things simple and direct. For example, no teenager should ever be texting and driving. Write the rule simply: Absolutely no texting while driving.

The Federal Communications Commission reports that more than 8 people are killed and over 1,100 people are injured daily because of distracted driving. Texting while driving appears to be most popular among teenagers. Point teens towards statistics on the dangers, but clear rules help teens know what they need to do.


Customize the Rules for the Specific Needs of Your Teen

You know your teenagers better than anyone, so you may choose to set some rules that apply specifically to their unique situations. Many driving rules will universally apply to all teen drivers, but some will need to be applied only to some teenagers.

For example, if your teenagers only had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a car during the day while they were learning to drive, make it a rule that they can't drive when the sun is down until you can supervise their night driving for a certain number of hours.

If your teens are on any medications, be sure to read any driving warnings on them and set rules accordingly.


Establish a Zero-Tolerance Policy for the Most Important Rules

Decide what the most important rules for your teen drivers are. Once you do that, communicate their importance to your teenagers and set a zero-tolerance policy for breaking them. In other words, if your teens break those rules, take away their driving privileges for a certain amount of time that you establish in advance.

You may also tie in additional punishments such as a loss of other privileges. Teens need to understand that the real-world consequences for irresponsible driving can be life or death. Nevertheless, setting strict rules with irrefutable consequences for their world can keep them on track even if they don't grasp the bigger picture of safe driving yet.


Encourage and Reward Good Behavior

Being a good driver is not all about fearing negative consequences for messing up. As an adult, you are probably aware of the peace of mind that comes from making wise choices on the road. However, teenagers can often use a little extra incentive.

Offer big rewards for following all the rules and being a responsible driver for a certain time frame. For example, for every six consecutive months that your teenagers meet your expectations for responsible driving, you may reward them with a weekend getaway, additional driving privileges, a gift card or other big reward that will be exciting and meaningful for the teens.


Have Your Teens Sign a Safe-Driving Contract

The idea of typing up your rules and printing them out may seem like a formality. However, this ensures that your teenagers understand and remember the rules. Go over them with your teens several times, then have them verbally agree to follow each driving rule. Every few weeks, go over the rules again and ask your teens if any rules are hard to follow.

Also, have your teenagers sign a safe-driving contract. As they are doing so, ask your teenagers to reassure you that they agree to follow the rules you've set. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a free contract you can download, or you may create your own.

In the contract, be sure that kids promise that they will obey all the laws of the road and the specific rules that you establish for your teens. They should promise to always stay focused on the road. The contract needs to clearly state how teenagers intend to be responsible drivers.

Finally, keep in mind that the point of all these rules is to protect your teens and others on the road. Convey this fact to them every time you discuss what they can and cannot do as drivers.

By setting clear rules and establishing boundaries, you empower your teenagers to get a head start as responsible drivers. Another way of helping your teenagers get a leg up is to find the best insurance. At the CrowelAgency Inc, we are dedicated to meeting each driver's individual needs, and we welcome young drivers.