Will Your Homeowner’s Policy Cover a Mold Infestation?

Mold is a perennial problem for homeowners and, if left untreated, can cause health problems for members of your family.

People exposed to mold on a daily basis can have a number of reactions, including:

  • Asthma
  • Eye irritation
  • Itchy skin
  • Sneezing and runny nose
  • Coughing and sore throat.

 

While these symptoms can be signs of other health issues, if you have a mold infestation they would likely be more pronounced in evenings and mornings and on weekends, when are you are more likely to be spending time at home.

If mold is left untreated, affected areas also need to be scrubbed and it can affect the value of your home if you plan to sell it at some point.

But there are steps you can take to reduce the chance of mold building up in your home. And if you do have mold, your insurer may cover cleanup unless you haven’t been diligent about upkeep.

 

When insurance covers mold remediation

Your insurer will provide coverage if the source of the mold is a peril already covered in your homeowners’ policy, such as water damage.

Some examples of when coverage would kick in:

  • Your water heater breaks and the water leaks out. The moisture eventually allows black mold to flourish on the walls near the unit.
  • You have a fire in your kitchen and firefighters extinguish it with water. A few months later, mold starts growing.
  • Your washing machine breaks and floods the laundry room. Even though you clean it up and replace the machine, moisture persists behind the baseboards and mold begins to grow.

 

Mold is not covered if you’ve failed to maintain your home or neglected to fix issues like a leaky shower or faucet for years – or if a non-covered event like flooding hits your home.

The average cost of remediating mold damage runs between $15,000 and $30,000, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Some policies will limit what they pay, so make sure to read the fine print of yours to see how much coverage you have.

If you suffer water damage from a burst pipe or other mishap, make sure to keep records and photographs of all damaged areas so you have proof if you need to file a mold claim later.

If you do discover mold, take the following steps:

  • Call us or your insurance company. The insurer will send out an adjuster to assess the damage and make an estimate of the cost to repair the damage.
  • Since mold thrives in wet and or moist conditions, open a window or run a dehumidifier or fan in the room to dry it out as much as possible. This can slow the growth of mold.
  • Don’t clean any of the mold off the walls.
  • Take pictures of all damaged areas and any property or furniture that has been damaged by the mold. If you had a prior leak that ended up causing the mold growth, hopefully you took photos and documented the damage, which you can use to support your claim.
  • If you had a prior event like a burst pipe, use your records to support the argument that the mold is related to your initial water damage claim and that the two events are therefore part of the same claim. That way you won’t be subject to having to pay a deductible on two claims, when they should be treated as one.

 

Prevention

The key to avoiding mold in the first place is prevention and basic upkeep. That means fixing any leaks immediately when you notice them.  And if you live in a humid area, you can install dehumidifiers in your home or regularly run your air conditioners during the most humid times.

Other steps you can take:

  • Install exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Avoid installing carpets in damp areas like basements or bathrooms.
  • Don’t allow water to accumulate under house plants.
  • Regularly clean out your gutters.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a professional advisor, please contact ACBI Insurance at 203-259-7580.

Are You an Airbnb Host? Make Sure You’re Covered

If you have been considering becoming an Airbnb host to generate some extra income and make use of that extra room that you never use, you’ll want to make sure that you are covered in case of injury to one of your guests.

You may also be concerned about theft by a guest or any damage they may cause in your abode, none of which you’d want to pay for out of pocket. 

Hosts are covered by an Airbnb policy, but it’s not comprehensive and those gaps could leave you exposed to a claim or lawsuit if the loss to the guest is severe enough.

 

Airbnb’s insurance plan

Airbnb carries something called Host Protection Insurance, which all hosts are covered with at no charge. The plan will cover up to $1 million of liability for you and your landlord (if you have one) against property and physical damage claims by third parties.

For example, if one of your guests falls down the stairs because of an obstruction and they file a lawsuit against you, the insurance could cover the cost of defending and also paying out an award.

Similarly, if one of your guests injures another guest or a tenant in the apartment building you live in, Airbnb’s insurance would also cover that.

And if your puppy gets into the guest’s room and devours a $200 pair of shoes and some $300 headphones, Airbnb’s policy would also kick in.

What’s not covered by Airbnb

•          Damage to personal property like furniture, stereo equipment, your prized china set, etc.

•          Theft of your valuables.

•          Sickened guest due to issues at the property, like mold.

•          Slander and defamation. Both can be grounds for a lawsuit and if a guest sues a host for either one, the host will not be able to file a claim through Airbnb.

•          Harm caused by intentional criminal acts. This is actually excluded on any insurance policy, even homeowner’s or renter’s coverage.

 

Do you have a coverage gap?

Fortunately, most homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies will cover your personal property if it’s damaged or stolen by an Airbnb guest.

While most people who own a home will have homeowner’s insurance as the lender requires it, the majority of renters do not purchase renter’s insurance, which they should, particularly if they are an Airbnb host. It will provide the extra security you need in case a guest sues you for something the Host Protection Insurance won’t cover.

Here are some other tips:

•          Keep the insurer updated. If something happens when a renter is visiting and the insurer does not know that the home is being rented out, there could be major issues with coverage. Insurers want and need to know about the home, who is living in it, or if how it is being used changes.

•          The insurer may deny coverage by citing business use of a home. When a home is rented out frequently, it could be considered a business. A home insurance policy does not cover regular business activities taking place in the home. Talk to an agent to discuss renting basics, renting frequency and what will happen if a guest is injured based on a current policy.

•          Consider landlord coverage. If you are frequently renting out your place, then you definitely may have a problem if you need to file a claim. Often, landlord insurance would cover most of the issues that would arise as an Airbnb host.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a professional advisor, please contact ACBI Insurance at 203-259-7580.

 

Hiring a Contractor? Make Sure They’re Insured

When you hire contractors, electricians or other home repair specialists, you may shop around on price and go with the least expensive one.

But if a contractor comes in with a bid that is much lower than the competition, it could mean they are cutting corners – and one of the top ways for them to do this is in the insurance they carry, or are supposed to carry.

Consider these scenarios:

  • An electrician’s faulty work starts a fire that guts your kitchen and dining room.
  • A contractor’s worker breaks a leg while working on your home.

If either of these events occurs and the contractor doesn’t have insurance, you’ll be on the hook for the damages.

Even if a contractor tells you they are insured and bonded, you need to verify that it’s true. After all, they could be stretching the truth by just having their vehicle insured, and they could be bonded for another project they have worked on in the past.

While your homeowner’s policy provides some liability coverage, it may not cover all the costs in an especially costly event.

The first thing you should do when hiring a contractor is to ask to see their certificate of insurance. If they don’t have it, they can call their insurance agent and ask them to send it to you. A certificate doesn’t provide all the insurance details, but it’s a good start.

However, if you are having major work done on your home, you need to delve further. You should look for the following:

 

Coverages on certificate of liability insurance

Current dates – Check to see that the coverage is current. If it’s past the policy expiration date, then it doesn’t tell you if they currently have insurance.

General liability coverage – The contractor should have this insurance, which covers bodily injury to you or third parties and property damage arising out of their operations. Check also to see if their coverage includes “products and completed operations,” which covers damages that may arise out of their finished work. If this is not included, then the contractor’s liability ends when they finish the job.

Workers’ compensation – This coverage is mandatory for all employers, except under very rare circumstances. It covers medical expenses and lost wages if an employee is injured on the job. If the contractor doesn’t have this coverage, you could be on the hook for these costs.

Sometimes small contractors will tell you that they don’t need to have it, but that is typically true only if they have no employees and it’s a sole proprietorship.

 

Other coverages to look for

Builder’s risk – If you are building a new home or adding onto your home, this provides protection for the new construction and building materials while it is being built.

While most contractors will buy this coverage, some of them will ask the homeowner to do so. Make sure you are clear who should buy this coverage and, if it is the contractor, make sure you ask for proof that it’s been purchased.

Fidelity bonds – The most common type of bond you could encounter provides protection if a contractor’s workers steal from you. While better than nothing, actually getting paid from these bonds can be somewhat difficult.

It’s probably a better bet to lock up or remove your valuables when contractors are working in your home. Although you have hopefully picked a contractor you trust, he or she is probably not going to be the only one that enters the job site.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a professional advisor, please contact ACBI Insurance at 203-259-7580.

Fix Deck Problems Before Someone Is Injured

Everyone loves to spend time on the deck with the family or entertaining. That’s why you bought a house with a deck or you built one yourself.

Decks are part of the American way of life, but they require upkeep as they are subjected to the elements all year long from hot summer months and cold, rainy or snowy winter months – and everything in between. Collapses happen regularly and people are injured because the owners failed to maintain their deck.

Here are the main things you should look for to reduce the chances of a collapse or other incident.

 

Splintering boards

It’s imperative that you check your boards annually. The weather changes from the hot summer months to cold and harsh winters (all of this varies by region, of course), which can lead to splintering. Splintering decks can cause cuts and scrapes, splinters and tripping hazards. Someone wearing flip-flops on the deck can sustain a nasty gash from a splintering board.

If you notice any splintering, you should remove the splinters and inspect to see if the entire board needs replacing.

 

Handrails

As time marches on and the various weather conditions of the seasons take their toll on your deck, handrails can become less secure and wobbly. Here’s what’s going on: Warm weather expands the wood, leaving room for the nails and screws to become loose and move. When the cold weather comes and the boards contract, the nails may be in a slightly different position, which when summer comes will make the handrail even less stable.

If a handrail is wobbly or bending, it may be time to replace it.

 

Stairs

This is another area that causes hundreds of injuries every year. Wear and tear and weather can loosen the stairs much like handrails, but there is an added danger if one step collapses or becomes loose as they can pose tripping hazards, if not worse.

If stairs bend when you walk on them or there are splits or splinters in the wood, you should inspect the steps to see if they need replacing.

 

Posts

The posts are potential access points for termites, wood-boring beetles or dry rot. Not only that, but the posts are the main support for your deck so it’s imperative they remain free of infestation from pests, lest you want to risk the stability of your deck.

If the wood is splitting or decaying, you can inspect it by inserting a flathead screwdriver into the cracks or splits. If you can insert it more than 1/4 inch into the wood and the wood feels spongy, you should call an inspector and replace as necessary.

 

Protruding nails and screws

As mentioned in the handrail section, nails and screws can loosen and start working themselves out of their holes. If they start working their way out, they can protrude from the floor of your deck and cause snag and trip hazards. Not only that, but loose nails and screws can cause boards and support structures to become less stable.

 

Prevention

Inspection tip

Get down on your hands and knees periodically and crawl around your deck, which will give you an excellent vantage point to see splinters, raised nails and other hazards that are hard to spot from an adult’s perspective. Seeing the world from your pet’s or child’s point of view will help you spot problems before they become real dangers.

 

Sealer and stain tips

The best way to prevent wear and tear on your deck is by applying a coat of sealer annually. Sealers protect against moisture that causes rot and splitting, last one cycle of seasons and should be reapplied each year.

Also, if you have used stains, paint-maker A.G. Williams recommends that if they are transparent or semi-transparent, you apply sealer on an annual basis. Solid states, which are almost like paint, provide several years of protection and should be recoated every four or five years.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a professional advisor, please contact ACBI Insurance at 203-259-7580.

Automated Property Protection: A Good Investment

According to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2013 there were 487,500 structure fires (55 every hour) in the U.S., costing $9.5 billion in losses. In 2012, there were 670 burglaries for every 100,000 inhabitants. In addition to the expense, these losses were disruptive, dangerous, emotionally upsetting, and bad for business. Small wonder that many households and businesses invest in automated systems to prevent or reduce losses.

The effectiveness of systems such as central station fire and burglar alarms, sprinkler systems, surveillance cameras, and point-of-sale systems can be dramatic. While automatic fire sprinkler systems do not prevent fires, they do limit the damage. The National Fire Protection Association reported that, over a five-year period, the cost per fire in eating and drinking establishments with sprinkler systems was one-fourth of the cost for those without them. A University of North Carolina at Charlotte study revealed that 83 percent of convicted burglars considered the presence of alarm systems when deciding which homes to target.

Surveillance camera systems, in addition to discouraging potential criminals who are aware of them, create a record of events. Their recordings can be a significant help to security personnel and law enforcement officers investigating theft or property damage incidents. Point of sale systems in stores, because they do not exchange cash, can prevent traditional cash register thefts, though they could be vulnerable to data theft.

Installing these systems can do more than just prevent or reduce losses. They can also make it easier for property owners to get insurance and reduce their premiums. The Insurance Services Office is an organization that calculates the portion of insurance rates necessary to pay for losses. Many of its calculations apply one “loss cost” to an entire group of similar buildings, not recognizing individual differences. However, ISO individually inspects and calculates loss costs for every commercial property that has a sprinkler system. Owners of these properties will pay premiums that reflect the specific characteristics of their buildings, not premiums developed with the average in mind.

The effect of other protective devices on premiums will vary from one insurance company to another, depending on the type of property. Many insurers will not offer burglary and theft coverage to jewelry stores that do not have central station burglar alarms. Other types of businesses may not face that requirement but will still get reduced premiums because of the security protections. Protective devices not typically found in a certain type of building make a building that has them a better than average risk for the insurer. Underwriters will typically reduce the premium, both to reflect the lower risk and to make their prices more competitive.

The cost of installing these systems varies with the system’s sophistication. A business with theft target items on premises, such as jewelry, electronics and copper pipe, will need multiple cameras and constant monitoring. Premises that are less attractive to thieves may need a less expensive burglar alarm. Sprinkler systems are normally installed when a building is first constructed; regular maintenance, testing and monitoring add to the cost.

While these devices come with price tags, some of that cost will be offset by reduced insurance premiums and deductibles not paid. There are also intangible benefits, such as avoiding the disruption caused by property damage and police investigations of a crime.

Homeowners and business owners interested in installing an automated loss control system may find that more insurance companies will want to insure them and compete for their business. Installing these systems can save money and provide peace of mind.  If you have any questions, please contact ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website

 

Earthquake Protection ~ Do You Need Coverage?

PLAINFIELD, CT (WFSB) – Five small earthquakes rattled New England on Monday, January 12th. The Weston Observatory at Boston College said the first four happened within 20 minutes of each other. The fifth was 5 1/2 hours later. It was the third day in less than a week that rumbles shook the Plainfield region.

Plainfield police said it happened around 6:30 a.m. Scientists from the observatory registered the largest of the four at a 3.1 magnitude. Though the U.S. Geological Survey told Eyewitness News it was 3.3. It was felt in Rhode Island and as far away as New Bedford, MA, and Framingham, MA. The observatory said the smaller ones were recorded at 1.1, 0.9 and 2.0. A quake around noon time registered at 1.3.     *Click for link to full WFSB article*

When most people think about earthquakes in the United States, California and Alaska are the two states that come to mind. However, earthquakes can happen in any part of the country. They are a very real threat that everyone must consider and plan for. One of the most vital aspects of proper preparedness is having ample insurance coverage. Earthquake damage isn’t covered in the majority of homeowners policies. This is also true for business policies. Both types of policies specify that damage from earth movement is not covered. While actual damage from a quake may not be covered, property insurance may provide coverage for fires and other incidents that occur as a result of it.

Many people think they won’t experience a major earthquake during their lifetime. This is especially true for those who live in areas where earthquakes happen every 100 years or less. Although many people may not experience a strong earthquake, there are over 5,000 incidents recorded each year by the USGS. Damage from earthquakes has been recorded in all 50 states in history. There have been reports of damage in 39 states alone since 1900. This proves that while some people may not live in areas that commonly experience earthquakes, they’re still not immune to the threat.

Earthquake insurance is available as a rider, which is added to a Home or Business policy.  Since they’re unpredictable and happen suddenly, it’s best to be prepared for all types of disasters. Earthquake insurance is so important that it can’t be stressed enough. The nation’s average is less than 12% who carry this coverage.

Earthquake insurance costs vary by location, building type and the age of the building. Buildings more likely to withstand the force of earthquake are less costly to insure.

Every earthquake policy also has a deductible. This means that homeowners must pay upfront for a portion of the damages before the insurer pays the remaining amount. The deductible may be up to 20% of the structure’s replacement value. The percentage depends on the insurer and the location of the structure.

There are also options for renters. There are coverage policies that protect personal property. In addition to this, they usually cover living expenses if the building becomes uninhabitable after an earthquake. It’s important to keep a list of belongings and their values. Major appliances, furniture, electronics and other expensive items must all be documented properly. A new way of creating a record of belongings is making a narrated video tour of the home and focusing on belongings.

Call ACBI at 203-259-7580 to discuss earthquake coverage that is right for your individual needs.

Renovating Your Home? Protect Yourself Against Liability

A home renovation can be a stressful but exciting and rewarding project. But it’s also a time of increased peril, from a homeowners’ perspective. Any time you open your home to strange people to tear things apart and engage in hazardous activities using ladders, scaffolding, flammable materials and power tools, with tens of thousands of dollars on the line, you have all the basic building blocks in place for something to go terribly awry.

Some examples of possible hazards:

  • Uninsured property loss or theft
  • Criminal activity on the premises by a contractor or employees.
  • Workplace injury or death
  • Faked workplace injuries
  • Abandonment of projects mid-stride by contractors experiencing financial or personal difficulties
  • Fires, flooding or weather-related damage while your home’s structure is compromised by construction.
  • Kidnapping and/or extortion schemes (not unusual among high-net worth families).
  • Bankruptcy or death of an important contractor

This is why your property and casualty insurance professional should be involved in the building or renovation project from the very beginning. An experienced insurance agent can help you identify a wide variety of significant – even life-changing – risks, and help you protect yourself and your family for a very small cost compared to the protection received.

Check the Basics

The first step in the process is to check on your existing insurance coverage. Unfortunately, many high-net-worth families are severely underinsured. According to a survey commissioned by ACE – an insurance carrier that specializes in the protection needs of high-net-worth families, 40 percent of families with $5 million or more in investable assets had less than that figure in umbrella liability coverage. One high-net-worth family in five responding actually had no umbrella liability coverage. At the same time, actual claims history from jury verdicts and out-of-court settlements can rise to $10 million per case and even more.

A smart homeowner embarking on a major project will inspect contractors’ coverage and make sure they have adequate coverage in place themselves. Your P&C professional can help guide you through this process, which is a vital part of due diligence on contractors. The idea is for you as the homeowner to know that the contractor has so much coverage in place that anything that goes wrong will be their problem to solve – not yours – and that they have the wherewithal, expertise, financial stability and insurance protection to solve it.

11 Mistakes People Make When Renovating Property

Major home renovation projects and construction projects are complex endeavors with a lot of moving parts. The more complex the endeavor, the more that can go wrong. Here are some of the major mistakes high net worth people make that put their hard-earned wealth at risk.

  1. Insufficient umbrella liability coverage. Generally, your protection in place should equal your current net worth plus the net present value of expected future income. At a minimum, you should have enough to protect your investable net worth because that’s precisely what trial lawyers will be gunning for, in the event of a lawsuit.
  2. Attempting to act as their own general contractor. Contracting is complex, and requires a full-time understanding of the process, rules and regulations. Plus, a good general contractor will come with their own insurance against a variety of mishaps-insurance coverage that protects you.
  3. Failure to insist on background screening of all workers. Most construction workers are honest and hardworking tradesmen. But in some studies, we find as much as 30 percent of contractors, subcontractors and employees working a given home renovation job site are convicted felons.
  4. Failure to ensure workers compensation insurance is in place for all contractors, subcontractors or employees. If someone is injured and there is no workers compensation coverage in place, the worker’s lawyers will be coming after you.
  5. Failure to conduct due diligence on contractors. Does the contractor actually have the skill sets, financial stability and leadership/management in place to complete the project within the estimated cost range and on time? Do they have a track record of success? Have they had trouble paying their bills, workers and invoices? Does the management have a good reputation for integrity?
  6. Failure to check licenses and bonds. Legitimate general contractors are very careful to use only licensed subcontractors. Some insurance policies may not cover events that arise because of actions by unlicensed contractors and their employees.
  7. Insufficient insurance coverage. This isn’t just at the homeowners’ level. It starts with the contractor himself.
  8. Failure to inspect specific language of contractors’ insurance policies. The language you want is something that establishes the contractors’ insurance as the primary insurance, with your insurance as secondary. You also want language that waives the contractors’ insurance carrier’s right to subrogate claims against your policy. Overall coverage amounts for your contractor’s general liability policy should at least cover the value not only of your home, but also its contents. Total amount of coverage is key.
  9. Failure to establish a bond protecting you against the possibility that the contractor will fail to finish the job. If the contractor fails to perform, the bond company pays you a set sum you can use to finish the job. Contractor failure can happen for a variety of reasons beyond the contractor’s control. It will add a few percentage points to the cost, but it will potentially protect you against many thousands of dollars in damages.
  10. Failure to protect oneself against a contractor’s failure to pay subcontractors. When this occurs, a subcontractor could put a lien on your house. If you’ve already paid the general contractor, you’ll have to pay the unpaid subcontractors twice to release the lien. To prevent this, you can require the general contractor to post a payment bond guaranteeing payments to subcontractors.
  11. Failure to buy Builders’ Risk insurance, or add endorsements to homeowner’s’ policies. Your homeowner’s policy will usually have some general liability insurance, but generally not more than $500,000. This is not usually sufficient general liability coverage to protect you. Your standard home insurance policy is designed and priced to provide protection when you are simply living in your home. They are not designed to cover you when you have the place torn up and strange people crawling all over your property using hazardous implements. To protect yourself, speak to ACBI about adding temporary riders or builders risk endorsements.

The Number Of Homeowners Insured Against Earthquakes Drops Despite Rising Threats And Damage Costs

Recent research shows that about 10 percent of American homeowners have earthquake insurance. In 2012, the percentage was slightly higher. Western states had a higher concentration of homeowners with this type of coverage. However, the number had decreased from 27 percent in 2012 to 22 percent in 2013.

Experts say that the famous Northridge earthquake happened 20 years ago. At that time, nearly 30 percent of homeowners in California had earthquake insurance. However, they estimate that the number of California homeowners with this type of insurance today is only about 10 percent. Although the number of people buying coverage has become lower, the possible costs of earthquake damage have only grown. This is partially due to the constant growth of urban areas and the vulnerabilities of older buildings. Not all of the older buildings have been brought up to code.

Since 1900, experts say that earthquakes have happened in all 50 states in the U.S. In 2011, there was an earthquake in Virginia that was so strong most of the people along the East Coast felt it. There was an earthquake in Cuba recently that was felt as far away as Florida. The big 6.7 magnitude quake in Northridge hit on January 17, 1994. Experts say that it was the most expensive earthquake in history in terms of damages. It cost an estimated $15.3 billion in insured damages alone. When calculated with inflation increases, that would be about $24 billion if the same quake and same damages occurred in 2013. This damage amount is comparable only to Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Andrew and the famous attacks on the World Trade Center.

Although there have not been any events as devastating as the Northridge quake, California is still the state that is most at risk for a huge earthquake. Experts say that powerful quakes are more likely to hit Southern California than any other part of the state during the next three decades. This was the finding of a 2008 study released by USC’s Earthquake Center and the U.S. Geological Survey. Sixty percent of the costliest earthquakes in America have occurred in California. The figures were based on insured losses.

During the 30 years preceding the quake in Northridge, experts say that insurance companies received less than they paid out for that quake alone. Earthquake insurance costs have certainly increased since the Northridge incident, but it is still as important as ever for business owners and homeowners to have this vital coverage. Experts point out that it is not only vital for California residents but also residents everywhere. Nobody knows when or where an earthquake will happen, and it is best to be prepared instead of facing catastrophic financial losses.

It is important for homeowners to remember that earthquakes are not covered under standard American homeowners insurance policies. To obtain coverage, they must purchase separate policies from private companies. In California, residents can obtain coverage from the California Earthquake Authority, which is a publicly managed and privately funded organization. It was established in 1996 following the Northridge quake. However, they do not extend coverage to any industrial, business or commercial properties. To learn more about options and how to obtain coverage, call ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website to request a call back.

Disasters that Insurance Policies do not Cover

Every year, many home and business owners discover there are certain disasters their policies do not cover. It is important to consider these issues before they happen and cause damage that will have to be paid for out of pocket. Earthquakes, floods and acts of terrorism are three types of disasters that a policy will not cover.

Flood Damage Protection

Every home and business owner needs to know if his or her property is located in a flood zone. If it is, it is crucial to purchase a flood policy. Business owners should also find out how often floods have happened in that particular area in the past. In some cases, the government is slow to map out flood areas, so it is important to ask more than one source. To purchase a flood policy, discuss options with an agent. Flood insurance is provided by the National Flood Insurance Program. If a building is in a flood zone and its floor plans do not conform to plain building codes, the government requires it to be torn down after damages are more than 50 percent of its market value. People may purchase ordinance or law coverage, which is helpful for covering the costs of tearing down a building. Business owners should also make sure their properties are compliant with any coinsurance clauses in their policies.

Earthquake Protection

Homeowners and business owners do not have earthquake protection in their policies. People who live in areas that are prone to earthquakes should purchase this coverage. Even if most earthquakes are small, history has shown that any areas prone to quakes will eventually have ones that are large enough to cause significant damage. For homeowners, there are special earthquake insurance policies, and there are endorsements available for commercial properties. There are different types of deductibles for earthquake policies. They are calculated on a percentage of the coverage instead of a specific dollar amount. For example, a building owner who insures a property at five percent for $200,000 would have to pay for the first $10,000 of damages. It is important for business owners to remember that interruption protection only applies for losses that occur due to covered disasters or incidents. If a business does not have earthquake protection and has to shut down for a while, there will be no compensation for lost income. However, homeowners and businesses may have an option to add an endorsement to add earthquake coverage or purchase a seperate policy.

Acts Of Terrorism Protection

In 2002, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act was passed. It ruled that only businesses purchasing special coverage would be compensated for losses resulting from acts of terrorism. Many policies already include this, however you need to check your policy to be sure. The only exception for this type of insurance is workers’ compensation, which only provides coverage for deaths and injuries resulting from acts of terrorism.

Nearly every business or home needs one or more of these types of coverage. Homeowners and business owners who are not protected could end up paying thousands out of pocket for damages. The premiums for these types of policies or endorsements are affordable, so it is important to discuss options and review coverage as soon as possible.  If you have any questions, call ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website. 

Insurance Considerations for Parents with College Kids

In today’s world, college students arrive on campus with more than their clothes, notebooks and pencils. They usually come with an arsenal of electronic gadgets. Laptops, smart phones, mp3 players, tablet PCs, printers and other devices are usually in their luggage. In some cases, today’s college students may not even live on campus. They may live hundreds of miles from their campuses. However, every college student has more expensive learning supplies than students in the past did. The belongings of college kids living in dorms will usually be covered under a homeowners insurance policy. Full-time students living off campus may also be covered if their primary residence is still their parents’ home. Insurers have several other qualification criteria, and they usually place a maximum age limit of 24.

Although the liability limits of a homeowners insurance policy usually apply equally to covered college students, many insurers place a 10 percent cap on the possessions limit. However, some insurers may not have sufficient provisions to cover college kids in certain situations. Many parents want to purchase additional coverage to ensure their kids will be taken care of. A renters insurance policy is often the best solution. It usually costs between $150 and $200 annually. If a child will be living with roommates, the policy will not cover the roommates’ possessions. Another important possession to consider is a college kid’s car.

Parents should ensure their kids are fully covered when going to college. Rates will fall or rise depending on the school’s location. Some students may opt to attend college without taking a car. This is especially true for students who attend college in large cities where efficient bus systems exist. When this happens, parents should contact their insurers if the campus is at least 100 miles away. In many cases, parents receive a discount totaling up to 20 percent. However, students will still be covered on holiday visits and during summers at home.

Another important consideration is health insurance. Many college kids are known for making poor nutritional choices, experiencing high stress and not getting enough sleep. These factors can add up to more trips to the doctor. As a rule, student health plans offered by schools are very limited. They are expensive, have low cap amounts and may require students to seek care only on campus. Since children are usually covered by their parents’ medical insurance, most parents opt to rely on this type of coverage. However, children of parents with limited HMO plans may only be able to seek emergency treatment on campus. This could mean much higher bills or higher copay amounts.

An individual health insurance policy may be the best option for parents who have limited HMO plans. At about $150 less per month for one individual, these plans are affordable. Premiums are lower with high deductibles. Students with plans featuring a deductible of $1,200 or more may open a health savings account and make contributions without tax penalties.

Another consideration for college students is identity theft insurance. Typically, this coverage is limited. It cannot prevent parents or students from becoming victims of identity theft, and it doesn’t cover financial losses directly.  However, it does give coverage for the cost of reclaiming you or your student’s financial identity.  For instance,it may cover the costs of making copies, making phone calls, mailing documents, lost wages, and attorney fees.  Parents should check first to see if their homeowners policy includes identity theft insurance while the student is away from the family home. If a student is renting an apartment, ask if his/her renters insurance covers identity theft, or if that could be added to the policy. 

To learn more about insurance options for college students, call ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website