5 Steps for Finding a Lost Life Insurance Policy

The Insurance Information Institute reminded Americans during Insurance Awareness Month to keep clean policy records and to know where they are located. When people die, it is not uncommon for their life insurance benefits to remain unclaimed because of beneficiaries not knowing about the existence of a policy. If dependents are left to struggle financially, this is especially an unfortunate event. Experts at the III said that many surviving family members talk about the possible existence of a life insurance policy after a person dies. However, they pointed out that people should not have to speculate and should instead be made aware of the policy’s existence beforehand.

It is especially important to tell beneficiaries that they are named. In most cases, policyholders avoid telling people because of the grim nature of the subject. They also avoid it and assume that the life insurance company will somehow notify the beneficiary or beneficiaries after the policyholder’s death even if those people have moved. Fortunately, there are several solutions for tracking down a life insurance policy. Start by following these five useful steps.

1. Search for insurance documents. Look through paper files and financial folders. The policy may be located in a bank safety deposit box or in a home safe. Look for insurance agents’ cards, and call any agencies found that are listed on the cards. Check an address book to see if there is any contact information for a life insurance agent.

2. Check financial records. Look through bank statements, receipts and copies of checks to see if any payments were made to a life insurance company. Accounting or other financial ledgers may also include this information.

3. Contact the decedent’s employer. If the decedent was employed or had recently quit a job at the time of death, contact his or her previous employer. Many companies offer minimal life insurance policies that are enough to cover funeral expenses. They usually offer additional voluntary coverage. It is also possible that the decedent converted the policy into a permanent one if the job ended.

4. Contact the unclaimed property office. Every state has a department for unclaimed property. If a life insurance company is aware of the death of a policyholder and cannot contact the beneficiary, the policy is reported to the unclaimed property office in most cases. The funds are submitted to the unclaimed property office in the state where the policy was purchased. If a decedent moved several times over the years, it may be necessary to contact the offices of each state where he or she resided in the past.

5. Check the MIB database. The MIB Group is a not-for-profit company made up of life and health insurance affiliates. They keep a database of all policies made in 1996 or after by companies that are members of the MIB Group. Since there is a fee of $75 to search the records, this should be saved as a last resort after having no luck with the previous four steps.

Life insurance companies may try to contact beneficiaries of policies. However, some people may not answer their phone if they see an odd number. They may forget to check their voicemail or may have a full inbox to prevent receiving important messages. Some people move and completely change their contact information or surnames, which often makes them unreachable for insurance companies. Experts emphasize the importance of telling several close friends and family members about an existing policy. Keep records of the policy, its benefits and records of recent payments made in a location where survivors can access them. To learn more about options, discuss concerns with an agent.

The Affordable Care Act Will Affect how Most Americans Vote in 2016

According to research recently published by InsuranceQuotes.com, 85 percent of respondents in a survey said that the Affordable Care Act would affect their voting choices in the 2016 presidential election. Of that amount, more than 40 percent said that the ACA was very important, and more than 30 percent felt that it was only somewhat important.

About 50 percent of respondents expressed their worries about being able to afford health care in the future. This number showed a decrease from last year’s 55 percent. Hispanics and women comprised the majority of respondents who were anxious about having affordable health care in the future.

People in the United States still have mixed opinions about the ACA, its advantages and its disadvantages. The percentage of people who want to repeal the law is about equal to the percentage of people who want to keep it in effect. These numbers have remained consistent since 2013.

Of the individuals who were surveyed, Millennials most commonly said that their insurance situation had improved during the past year and that they were happy with their current coverage. However, people who were between the ages of 50 and 65 reported being unsatisfied with the law and how it affected their insurance over the past year. They were also mostly in favor of repealing the law.

With the mixture of negative and positive opinions about the ACA and having it be a hot-button issue during the election, experts are interested to see the outcome of how Americans vote in 2016. Candidates must have a clear plan that is in favor or in opposition to it to catch the attention of most Americans. Some Americans are also open to reform or changes of the law without repealing it.

The ACA has made insurance easier to obtain for people with low income. However, it has also resulted in coverage changes with many insurance policies. This resulted in many employers changing their insurance benefits as well. American workers and employers will likely see several other changes over the next decade if the law remains in place. To learn more about insurance options or changes, discuss concerns with an agent.

What’s New in Car Safety Technology

If you’re a safety-minded driver and it’s been a while since you’ve looked at new cars, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised. When it comes to automotive safety and technology, it’s not your father’s Oldsmobile. The Industry, responding to consumer and regulatory pressure, has come up with loads of innovative safety features well beyond the dual air bag and the anti-lock brakes of a generation ago.

Here is an overview of some of the latest auto safety innovations now coming as standard features on newer cars.

  • Back-up/Rear View Video Systems. Many cars now come with an LCD monitor in the dashboard of your car hooked up to a small camera in the rear. When you put your car in reverse, your stereo display will switch to the camera feed, and you can see behind you, below the blind spot that exists below your rear window. If there are pets, toys, toddlers, pedestrians or other obstacles behind you when you back up, your first warning won’t be a dreadful bump.
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, improper tire pressure is responsible for some 660 traffic fatalities and 33,000 injuries every year. Furthermore, the same agency estimates that one out of every three cars on the road has a significantly under-inflated tire. A tire pressure monitoring system is a series of gauges that tells you what the tire pressure is in each tire – right on a dashboard display. If you know the manufacturer’s specification (you can find stamped on the side of the tire, and often in the glove compartment or on a plate in the driver’s side door jam), you can correct the problem before the tire blows.
  • Drowsiness Alert Systems. These systems use cameras to detect drooping head motions, eye movements or signs of weaving or erratic driving to detect drowsiness on the part of the driver. The system will cause a beep or a vibration in the steering wheel to wake you up and let you know it’s time to pull over.
  • Blind Spot Monitors. Most cars have a gap in their rear view mirror visibility. For example, cars at the 4 o’clock and 7 o’clock positions, moving at the same speed as you, may be too far forward to be seen in your side mirrors, and not easy to see even if you can turn your head. Cars equipped with blind spot monitors will alert you to cars that may be in your blind spot if you turn on your blinkers. The system could consist of an audio signal, or a visible alert in your windshield or mirrors themselves.
  • Forward Collision Warning/ Automatic Emergency Braking. These systems monitor the area to the front of your car and alert you to collision hazards. Depending on the system, the alert could be a beep, a vibration or on some systems an automatic braking mechanism.
  • Lane Departure Warning Systems. This feature relies on sensors that can ‘read’ the lane markings on the road in front of you. If you begin to drift across the lane marking and you’re not using your turn signal, your car will alert you with a beep or a vibration in the steering wheel or seat.
  • Curve Speed Warning. This system uses GPS technology to let you know if you’re driving at a speed that’s unsafe for an approaching curve.
  • Electronic stability control. These systems use state-of-the-art computer engineering and microprocessors and sensors to apply detect and correct for oversteering and understeering in response to road hazards. These systems reduce engine speeds automatically and apply brakes to individual wheels as necessary, helping to prevent spinouts, flipping and other loss of control incidents.

 

Insurance Benefits

These safety mechanisms can help reduce the risk and severity of automobile accidents. Because cars with these safety mechanisms are less likely to be involved in crashes and less likely to cause injury for drivers, passengers and others on the road, they also reduce insurance carriers’ risk exposure.

Insurance companies, naturally, want to attract drivers who own cars with these safety features, and many carriers do so by offering discounts to customers who have these safety technologies installed in their own cars. Speak with your insurance agent about possible discounts available to you.

Using Online Doctor Review Sites

In today’s connected world, Americans are now quite accustomed to finding online ‘reviews’ for anything from restaurants to hotels to tow truck drivers and plumbers. Between Yelp, Foursquare, Goodsnitch, Google Reviews, Facebook, Twitter and scores of others, nearly every business that’s been operating for more than a year or so will have online reviews on some site or other… and doctors are no exception.

That said, Americans have been slower to embrace online doctor review sites, compared to sites focused on other industries like hospitality and contracting. More than 90 percent of Americans go on the Internet to research home purchases, according to information from the National Association of Realtors. But a Journal of the American Medical Association report finds that only about one in four Americans use similar sites to research physicians.

What to look for in a Doctor Ratings Site

Not all ratings sites are alike. In fact, some of them are much more useful than others. Sites vary widely when it comes to the quantity of information presented, how up-to-date it is, the number and quality of reviews.  The Institute of Informed Patients tracks a number of these sites and rates them on content, timeliness, presentation, ease of use, information to help readers make decisions, and any special features, positive or negative, that either help readers make informed health care decisions or hinder the process.

The IPI issues a letter grade from between A and F. If there’s a site that doesn’t quite fit under their criteria, they’ll give it a “U” grade, for “unique.”

To access these letter grades and select the best sites for your state, visit the IPI website, select your state and select the type of information you’re looking for. You can select from doctor report cards, nursing home report cards or hospital report cards.

Some top scorers include DoctorFinder, by the American Medical Association, STS Public Reporting Online, by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and the Recognized Clinician Directory (NCQA). DocFinder, a project of the Association of State Medical Board Executive Directors, gets a U rating. Many state boards update their states’ site with disciplinary actions and malpractice settlements. All three are run by nonprofits and all three received “B” grades from the IPI.

Of the common for-profit doctor review sites and directories, RateMDs.com rated a “C” grade, as did the WebMD Physician Directory.

In addition to user-contributed reviews, the better online doctor scoring sites will make a good deal of practice and background information available on each doctor. For example, you may be able to find education and credentialing information, information on malpractice complaints, insurance plans accepted, Medicare/Medicaid acceptance, office hours and much more.

You may wish to take the online reviews with a grain of salt. Many in the medical profession express concerns that anonymous online reviews can be misleading. For example, if a doctor refuses to prescribe a narcotic to a known drug addict or drop a patient who refused to follow medical advice, that individual could log on and write a series of scathing reviews, even though the doctor may have acted entirely properly.

In sum, doctor scorecard sites can provide valuable information. But they should not be the only criteria you use to evaluate your physician.

The IIHS Releases Current List of Safest Vehicles for Teen Drivers

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety issues a list every year of their top recommended used vehicles for teen drivers. When parents buy cars for their teens, they typically either buy cars that their kids like or used cars that parents think are practical. However, many of the cars chosen by well-meaning parents are not the safest options for teens. It is especially important to provide these new drivers who are still developing their road skills the best cars for their own safety and for the safety of other motorists on the road.

As more manufacturers continue adding standard safety features as well as newer safety features, the list of top used cars for teens continues growing. Research conducted by the IIHS showed that most parents who bought vehicles for their teens were shopping on a budget. For this reason, the IIHS created different sub-categories in the list based on prices. According to their research, the average amount spent by parents on cars for their teens was close to $10,000. However, the median price was slightly less than $5,500.

While most parents are shopping on a budget for their teens, the IIHS points out that it is better to spend a little bit more than the budget amount over sacrificing safety to spend less. When parents are faced with the choice of buying a vehicle that is not on the list or spending a little more, it is better to pick the safer option. The addition of something as simple as a lane departure warning feature could save a teen from an accident and parents from spending more over the years on a higher insurance premium stemming from a teen’s at-fault crash. However, a teen losing his or her life in a crash is far worse than paying higher premiums or paying for medical bills.

The IIHS kept the same format for its list this year. They have a category for the best choices that are priced under $20,000, and they have a category for good choices that are priced under $10,000. The best choices passed the Institute’s most important crash tests with good ratings, and the good choices passed some tests with decent ratings. Experts emphasized the importance of avoiding three common mistakes when buying cars for teens.

Never make horsepower a priority. Although many teens beg and plead for vehicles with more horsepower, it is important to avoid these. It is too tempting for teens to test the power of these cars. In addition to this, many of these cars are more expensive to insure.

Avoid buying lighter cars. The IIHS emphasizes that larger and heavier vehicles are safer overall. Smart cars, Minis and other small and light vehicles are not on the list.

Never skip out on electronic stability control. This is a safety feature included in all of the recommended cars. It has been a mandatory inclusion on all vehicles made since 2012. Electronic stability control helps drivers stay on slick roads and stay on the road when it curves. It has been proven to save lives and has cut fatal crashes of single vehicles in half.

Parents who were hoping to spend a little bit less than $10,000 can take comfort in the good news that many safety features can help lower insurance premiums. To view the full list of safe cars recommended by the IIHS, visit their website. For more information about these cars and how they affect insurance rates for teens, discuss concerns with an agent.

Do Unwanted Relatives Have Access to Estate Assets Despite a Will?

Many people think that their closest relatives will only inherit what is specified in a will. However, inheritance laws are much more complex and come with some unexpected consequences. It is important to know what will happen whether there is a will in place or not.

Dying Without A Will For those who do not create a will, the remaining estate is divided between the next of kin according to state rules. In most cases, the surviving spouse and children have the right to the property. If there is no surviving spouse or children, grandchildren or parents are the next to receive property. If this is not applicable, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins become the heirs.

Community Property Rules When it comes to spousal property rights, the law can be complex. People who are unsure if they live in community property states should contact an agent to be sure. In community property states, any property bought or earned during a marriage is considered community or joint property. Any property that was purchased prior to the marriage or afterward is not included. When property is considered community property, each spouse owns 50 percent of it. A person may designate half of his or her property interest in a will to a beneficiary. However, the surviving spouse retains half ownership of the property as well. A special agreement signed by both spouses that agreeably designates a specific beneficiary may supersede community property laws.

Spousal Right Of Election There are laws in most states without community property laws that prevent complete spousal disinheritance. This means that a spouse has a right to one-third of the other spouse’s estate at the time of death of that spouse. The rule holds true even if the will states otherwise. In some states, this rule may depend on the length of the marriage. A surviving spouse must file a petition in court to obtain the property. If the surviving spouse fails to do this, the will is carried out as specified in the document.

Updating Wills Following A Divorce When two people divorce, it is important for both parties to update their wills. In some states, ex-spouses may still inherit certain assets if the will is not updated. However, some states have laws stating that ex-spouses no longer have the right to inherit certain assets after a divorce. Discuss this issue with an agent to determine individual state laws.

Rights Of Children A will leaves no right of election for children. When a parent disinherits his or her child in writing, the only choice left is to contest the will. However, most states have provisions for children who are born after the creation of a will. This means that the total amount will be divided among all living children. For example, consider a woman who creates a will when she has two daughters. She specifies that each one should receive 50 percent of her assets. The woman forgets to update the will after the birth of her third daughter and dies before she has a chance to update it. After the woman dies, each of her children would receive an equal 33 percent of her assets. The same idea is applicable for grandchildren when they are included in a will. I

nheritance Taxes Inheritance tax is an issue whether the assets are transferred through succession, a will or right of election. Any assets totaling over $5.43 million that go through probate are subject to federal taxes. Some states have their own estate taxes, and some states do not have any estate tax at all. Since inheritance laws are complex, it is crucial to understand state and federal laws when creating an estate plan and drafting a will.

By carefully planning who to include in the will and what to leave to each person, it is easier to avoid conflicts among survivors. Careful planning also means that assets are left to the right parties and do not fall into the wrong hands. To learn more, discuss concerns with an agent.

Considering an SBA Loan? Life and Disability Insurance may be Required

When a responsible lender considers a loan application, their topmost priority is safety of capital. Can they be reasonably assured that the borrower will pay back investors’ hard-earned money as promised? Or will they be stuck holding the bag if things don’t work out as hoped?

The Small Business Association is in a similar position. They don’t lend money directly, but they guarantee loans, and if the borrower doesn’t pay back the money, it’s the SBA – and the taxpayer – that’s left holding the bag.

They don’t want to be stuck. That’s why the Small Business Association requires entrepreneurs seeking SBA loans to have their own life and disability insurance lined up before they will agree to guarantee the loan, in many cases.

Life Insurance

According to Small Business Association guidelines, the lender should require life and/or disability insurance to be in place whenever there is doubt about the business’s ability to go on functioning in the event of the death or disability of a key founder or executive or group of such individuals. If the death or disability of one or more key persons would likely put the repayment of the loan in jeopardy, then the combination of available collateral and insurance should be sufficient to pay off the balance, or the SBA will not want to approve it for their program.

When life insurance is required, borrowers should not name the lender as a beneficiary, but instead arrange an interest in the insurance policy as a collateral assignment. To set up a collateral assignment, contact your insurance agent. It’s generally just a matter of signing a form. The insurance company will then send a notice to the lender, though the process could take a couple of weeks.

For businesses that are very concerned about short-term cash flow, a term policy or series of term policies may be appropriate. For businesses with higher margins, a permanent policy such as whole or universal life that allows the business or owners to accumulate cash value on a tax advantaged basis, separate from the business and not subject to the ordinary claims of creditors may be a smart strategy. Speak with your insurance agent about what approach or combination of approaches may work best for you.

Disability Insurance

Just as the lender or the SBA must protect itself and its stakeholders against being stuck with a loss in the event of the death of a key individual or executive, they must also take the same precautions to protect themselves against the risk of disability impacting the business, as well.

Borrowers can show that they will be able to make good on the loan even in the event of disability via a combination of collateral and disability insurance. This is sometimes accomplished with a traditional disability insurance policy that leaves enough income to continue to make loan payments as promised. Business owners may also elect to use a specialized form of coverage specifically designed to protect lenders, called business loan protection insurance. With these loans, benefits are paid directly to the lender. Specifics and available riders vary from carrier to carrier, so speak with your insurance professional to work out a strategy that is optimal for you.

Conclusion

Note that SBA lenders may require a number of additional types of insurance, depending on your business model and situation, including worker’s compensation, flood insurance, business interruption insurance, errors and omissions or malpractice coverage, product liability insurance, dram shop/host liquor liability insurance, and many others.

How Businesses Can Prepare for and Survive Disasters

The Insurance Information Institute says that disasters such as floods, hurricanes and fires cause many businesses to shut down temporarily or close forever when they happen. In their recent research, the III found that 40 percent of businesses did not open their doors again after experiencing a devastating disaster. About 25 percent of businesses reopened but wound up closing again within a year. However, businesses can take steps to prepare for disasters before they happen. By doing this, they will have an easier time recovering financially and staying open. The III provided the following recommendations.

1. Devise a plan for business continuity. This type of plan is important for disaster preparedness and survival during a catastrophe. Every plan should be shared with employees, and responsibilities must be assigned to employees. This encourages collaboration in the event of an actual disaster occurring. In addition to this, regular drills should be conducted to test the preparedness of employees and to aid in modifying the plan as necessary.

2. Keep a copy of key information in an offsite location. It is vital to have access to important information after a disaster. Any information that is critical for business or restarting business operations should be regularly updated and stored in an offsite location. This includes electronic information, databases, printed lists and any other mediums of information. Keep a list of vendors, insurers, suppliers and all other connections. Make sure their contact information stays updated on each subsequent list.

3. Create a business inventory. Make a list of all supplies, equipment and assets. For companies specializing in selling merchandise, it is important to make a list of all types of merchandise. Be sure to list vehicles and offsite property as well.

4. Review insurance coverage regularly. Reviewing coverage before a disaster strikes is the key to minimizing negative results. Many business owners forget to update their coverage as their business grows. When this happens, the coverage they receive is inadequate to compensate for the amount of growth they experienced. It is important to review coverage at least once each year. Business owners may buy a business owner policy or a commercial multi-peril policy. BOP insurance provides coverage for liability and property. CMP coverage is more comprehensive and extends coverage to autos and inland marine areas.

5. Choose replacement cost coverage. Many policies for commercial property coverage offer cash value coverage, replacement cost coverage or a combination of both options. Since cash value factors in depreciation, many business owners find themselves falling short of money when they need to replace items. Replacement cost coverage pays to rebuild or purchase the same items at current market cost. When a business must rebuild after a disaster, an actual cash policy may not provide enough money to do that.

6. Think about getting tenant coverage. For those who rent or lease buildings, it is good to think about tenant coverage. This insurance covers the property on the premises. Furniture, merchandise, machinery and other items are covered. A building owner’s policy does not provide coverage for the contents of the building.

7. Remember to obtain flood insurance. Standard commercial insurance policies do not cover floods. They may cover water damage, which is much different than flooding. Find out about the local zone and its classification of flood risk. Any business owner with a building in a high or moderate risk area should purchase flood insurance. This coverage is available through the National Flood Insurance Program from the government. It offers a maximum of $500,000 for contents and $500,000 for the structure.

Every business owner should make a list of needs and inventory before purchasing a policy. It is common to forget certain items or details when setting up a policy in haste. To learn more about options or to review and update coverage, discuss concerns with an agent.

Why Every Theft Victim Should File a Police Report Immediately

Anyone who has ever been the victim of theft knows the feelings of anger and violation. Most people yearn for a sense of justice after something is stolen from them. In many examples, the stolen property is never recovered. If it is recovered, it may be damaged. In addition to this, the perpetrators are not always found or prosecuted. When a theft occurs, it is important to file a police report immediately. A report must be filed whether the culprit was seen or not. Reports are needed for home insurance companies or credit card companies when filing a theft claim. One of the biggest reasons people are never compensated for losses is because they fail to file a police report. Alternately, they might file a report but may not file enough information to warrant compensation. The best way to be compensated, find the stolen property, and help the thieves get caught is to remember the following tips.

1. Take action immediately. By taking action immediately, victims improve their chances for finding the stolen items or the people who took them. One of the reasons for this is because people typically remember more details when the occurrence is fresh in their memory. As each hour passes while waiting to file a claim, details become hazy or may be forgotten completely. When filing a report, be sure to politely ask for the names of the officers responding to the incident. Ask for a copy of the report when it is ready.

2. Take as many photos as possible. Taking pictures of stolen items helps police officers find the items. Provide copies of receipts, records of serial numbers or other identifying details. Ask a police officer for the case number when filing a report. This will make it easier to find updated information upon request in the future, and using case number references saves time for busy law enforcement agents who have a great deal of responsibilities each day.

3. Request a copy of the entire police report. Always request a copy of the report, and make sure the officers know that the report is requested for reference and possible insurance claims. Look over the report for any errors or information that may have been forgotten. If any information was forgotten, tell the officer before he or she leaves the scene. Since insurance compensation depends on report accuracy, this is a very important tip to remember.

4. Conduct followups from time to time. Since law enforcement officers have many serious crimes to deal with, theft cases often get pushed lower on the priority list when filers do not follow up with their reports. Call several times each month to check on the status of the report. Ask if any new items have been added to the police’s property collection.

Every person should file a police report for stolen goods. The report may lead the police to a thief and help them catch that person before he or she steals from someone else. The report may be the difference of having to pay for the loss out of pocket or having the benefit of an insurer cover it. It also serves as a record in the event that any other issues come up in the future relating to the incident.

The Proper Amount of Business Liability Coverage

There is no set formula regarding how much liability a business needs. However, the more coverage you have, the more bulletproof your business becomes. If you are running a very successful business, you will probably want minimal disruption if an incident occurs in which you may be seen as liable. Thus, the more coverage you have, the greater the likelihood that your business will not be affected by such an incident. Moreover, if you don’t have enough coverage, the incident may result in hundreds of thousands-if not millions-of dollars costing you out of pocket.

Hitting Your Limits

The problem with not having enough liability occurs when you are faced with a legal situation where the injured party or parties don’t want to settle for the coverage amount you have purchased. For example, if you have a $2 million liability policy-and the combined parties will not settle for anything less than $4 million-then you have a problem on your hands. You can pay the difference out of pocket or be forced to go to court. If you go to court and your insurance company agrees to pay your limit to the other parties, then you are probably going to be on your own to cover your legal costs at this point. After all, the insurance company has agreed to pay its maximum obligation under your policy. Of course, if you don’t have the funds, bankruptcy is an option. But do you really want to deal with problems and the disruptions to your business that can result from bankruptcy?  Also, bankruptcy may not be an option if you don’t qualify for it under bankruptcy laws.

Multiple Plaintiffs Are Not Uncommon

Often times when a liability occurs, it affects more than one person. Take the recent explosion that occurred outside of Waco, Texas. About 15 people died and over 100 were injured, many seriously. While your business may not have the risk potential of a fertilizer plant, there are always potential dangers that can affect more than one person. Your liability limit is not in any way a per-person limit. It’s a flat limit-no matter how many people are injured. The bottom line is this: the numbers can add up when a number of people are injured. Insurance companies will then pro-rate and split up the limits between all injured parties.  Once the insurance runs out, it’s up to you to hire an attorney to settle all remaining cases.

Understanding the Numbers

In most cases, you will see two numbers on your liability policy. The first is your occurrence limit and the second is the annual aggregate. Occurrence refers to any single accident/incident and to subsequent related incidents. For example, in the Texas fertilizer plant incident, the blast constituted an occurrence. So any death, injury or property damage from that accident is only covered by this occurrence limit. The annual aggregate limit is if there are multiple and unrelated accidents or incidents. For this reason, the occurrence limit is extremely important and is the number you should look at as your coverage amount.

The Umbrella Solution

There are a number of ways you can purchase higher limits. Some companies will allow you to increase your liability limits on each of your policies. However, you may be capped at a certain limit, depending on the policy type, the size of the policy and the company. The best solution is to purchase an umbrella policy. An umbrella policy will extend the limits on all or most of your policies. For example, if you have a $2 million occurrence limit, the coverage amount in an umbrella policy will pick up any coverage thereafter. Umbrellas can be purchased in increments of a million dollars.  It’s not unusual for a business to purchase $10 million or more of this excess coverage.

Deciding on Your Amount

There are a few good ways to determine how much coverage you need. A discussion with your insurance agent about your business, your risks and your exposure is probably a great starting point. It may also be smart to have this discussion with your attorney or an attorney who handles liability cases. You can also do research on online legal sites to review incidents that have occurred in businesses similar to your own. However, the problem here is that you will only see the cases that went to court, since out-of-court settlements are bound by a gag order.

Liability limits should be taken seriously because your business is your livelihood.  Any liability incidents are not pleasant, especially when they put your business or your assets at stake. Robust insurance policies help neutralize these incidents and are crucial to the ongoing success of a business, especially when an undesirable incident occurs.