Common insurance questions, answered.

Got insurance questions? We’ve got the answers to the most common questions we are asked, everyday. And to make navigating the answers easier, we’ve broken the frequently asked questions into several categories. Nice and simple.

Personal Insurance

Should I have my home and auto insurance with the same company?

Absolutely YES! If you can package your home and auto together with the same insurance company you should do it. There could be significant cost savings involved, in addition to other benefits.

Do claims and tickets affect my insurance premiums?

Yes. Claims for homes and claims and violations for autos do make a difference in the rating of your policy. The impact depends on the severity of the claim and if you were at fault. Tickets and accidents will impact your premiums for a three-year period while major tickets such as DUI’s and careless driving can impact your rates for five years.

Is my credit considered when rating my policies?

Yes. Your credit will be checked when an insurance company is rating a home or automobile policy for you. This is an insurance score, which is slightly different than your credit score. The insurance score does not show as a “hit” on your credit, like other credit inquiries (multiple credit inquiries can actually lower your credit score).

Do I need to buy insurance from the rental car company if I have my own personal automobile insurance?

That depends. Liability protection that you carry for personal injury and property damage will provide some protection while you are driving the rental car. Damage to the rental car would be covered under Collision and Comprehensive Coverage, if your policy has it. The rental car company may also try to recover damages for lost income while the rental car is out of service. Your auto policy may or may not protect you against this claim; the best way to know is to look at your policy or ask us to review it for you. Credit card companies often provide protection against these kinds of rental car claims so you should check there to see what the provisions and restrictions might be. Finally, you can purchase a Collision Damage Waiver – CDW – from the rental car company. This isn’t actually insurance but a release from financial liability you might otherwise be charged with as a result of damaging the rental car. The CDW is expensive at $8 to $12 a day. This would amount to over $4,000 a year for very limited coverage. Still, if you do not have protection via your auto policy or credit card, paying the CDW over a few days may be preferable than being personally accountable for $15,000 or $20,000 or more to replace the rental car.

How do I file a claim?

You can file a claim several ways. The best way is to contact the insurance company directly. For contact information by carrier, click here. You can also complete the File a Claim form on our website or call us.

How does my automobile policy protect me when I’m driving in other states that may require different limits or types of coverage? What about when I’m driving in another country?

Your policy will normally adjust for differences in other state requirements if you have the required minimum coverage for your state. Personal automobile policy protection is only applicable in the United States, US territories and possessions and the provinces of Canada.

If I rent a car or truck am I protected against loss by my business auto policy?

That depends. A business auto policy by itself won’t extend protection to rented autos unless you have amended it. You can get protection for situations where you rent autos if you add Hired Auto Liability and Physical Damage coverage.

What happens after I file a claim?

The claim process has a few variations but these are the essential steps once the claim has been submitted to the insurance company:

  1. You will be contacted by an insurance company adjuster to gather detailed information about your claim.
  2. Often, someone from the insurance company will inspect your auto or property for damage or will ask you to provide evidence of value and ownership for loss to property that is not a vehicle or real property.
  3. An estimate is prepared.
  4. A check is delivered.
  5. Sometimes differences in actual and estimated damages arise, especially after repair work has been undertaken. Every attempt is made to resolve these differences and sometimes a supplemental check is prepared.

It is the responsibility of the insurance company to settle and pay your claim and the responsibility of our agency to make sure that is done as quickly and fairly as possible with a minimum of uncertainty and bother for you. We monitor claim progress closely and communicate with you throughout to make sure you are satisfied.

What happens if I cause a car accident?

If you own, lease (long term) or finance your vehicle then you will file a claim with your insurance company. You will have to pay any deductible amount. Payment for your loss will include payment to the finance or leasing company, if any. If you cause damage to other vehicles or property, your insurance company will handle that with little or no involvement on your part, in most cases.

What if another driver hits my car?

In most cases the other driver’s insurance policy would respond and reimburse you for damages to your vehicle, property or injuries. In some cases, as when you or your passengers are injured and the other driver has inadequate or no insurance, coverage from your own policy may apply (Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage).

Will filing a claim make my premium increase or result in my policy being canceled?

Generally the answer is no. One claim is not a cause for concern on the part of insurance companies. But a pattern of claims may result in a premium increase or cancellation. So if you have a claim that is the third in three years, for example, that will be viewed differently than having one claim only. Individual claims that are suggestive of gross negligence can also result in significant premium increase or cancellation. An example might be an auto accident accompanied by a reckless driving or driving under the influence conviction.

Will my automobile policy protect a friend or relative if I loan my vehicle to them?

Your automobile policy protection is extended to anyone you grant permission to drive your car. You do not need to explicitly provide permission, the other person only needs to have a reasonable belief that they are driving with permission.

Are natural disasters such as flood, earthquakes and hurricanes covered under my homeowner policy?

Many natural disasters, such as hurricanes or tornadoes, are covered in a homeowner policy. Others, like earthquake and flood are not. Let us know if you have any concerns about your protection from loss due to natural or even man made disasters; we’ll be happy to review your insurance program and let you know what, if any, changes you might want to consider.

Do I need a condominium policy if my condominium association has a master policy for the complex?

The association master policy is for coverage to the structure, which you don’t need. However, to get protection for your own possessions and for legal liability related to your own unit, you need your own policy. Many condominium associations will assess unit owners for master policy deductibles. That’s another reason why it is important to have your own policy and why it is important that the coverage in your policy match up well with the association master policy.

Does my homeowner policy cover my possessions when they are not in my house?

A standard homeowner policy provides coverage equal to 10% of the limit for Coverage C of a homeowner policy or $1,000, whichever is greater. This coverage is useful for protecting you while traveling and for other temporary situations. If you have property in excess of these amounts away from home or property that is kept away from your residence premises for extended periods, you should consider additional protection.

The 10% limitation for household property, is for property at an Insureds Residence Premise……There is no limitation for property carried on vacation or stored in a storage unit (except whatever the contents limit is on the property.)

I’m not near any body of water. Is there any particular reason why I would need flood insurance? Doesn’t my homeowner policy provide flood coverage?

Homeowner policies specifically exclude reimbursement for damage caused by flood. Your home may be a significant distance from a major body of water but still be exposed to flood risk if your home was built in a flood plain. The National Flood Insurance Program has a flood risk indicator on their website. All you have to do is enter your property address and you will get an indication of the degree of flood risk you face. Our agency can get flood coverage for you. For an indication of the cost, the National Flood Insurance Site also has a ‘quick quote’ table of premiums to give you an idea.

What are the benefits of a renters policy?

Renters policies provide several benefits. A renters policy will provide compensation for many types of loss to your personal property. Renters policies also include liability protection. This can be especially important because a fire, caused by your negligence, could damage a large number of other rental units and the property contained in them. Liability coverage will normally cover your legal obligations to compensate other parties in cases like this as well as for other instances where you are legally liable for damage of loss.

Will my roommate’s renters policy cover me as well?

Typical policies provide coverage for you and relatives that live with you. So, if your roommate is not a relative you will not be protected under his or her policy. Renters policies are very affordable, starting at not much more than $150 a year and they provide liability protection as well as coverage for your personal possessions.

Is my boat insured if I have an auto or homeowner policy?

If you have a homeowner policy your boat might be covered but there are limitations. Automobile policies do not extend coverage to boats. Boat coverage can sometimes be increased by modifying a homeowner policy but a separate boat policy may be needed.

How often should I review my life insurance policy?

You should review all of your insurance needs at least once a year. If you have a major life change, you should contact your insurance agent or company representative. The change in your life may have a significant impact on your insurance needs. Life changes may include:

  • Marriage or divorce
  • A child or grandchild who is born or adopted
  • Significant changes in your health or that of your spouse/domestic partner
  • Taking on the financial responsibility of an aging parent
  • Purchasing a new home
  • A loved one who requires long-term care
  • Refinancing your home
  • Coming into an inheritance

Business Insurance

Is Business Insurance Tax Deductible?

Business insurance is tax deductible, as long as the coverage is for the purpose of operating a business, profession, or a trade. Businesses may not deduct their business insurance premiums if the coverage is for the purpose of a self-insurance reserve fund or a loss of earning insurance policy.

What is the difference between general liability and professional liability?

At a 10,000 foot view general liability is slips, trips and falls meaning bodily injury and/or property damage to a 3rd party. Professional liability is protecting your business against bad advice or guidance. Any time you give professional opinion, advice or guidance you are opening yourself up to a professional liability claim.

Should my small business have business income insurance?

Business income provides reimbursement for lost revenue after a covered insurance loss. For a company that does not have a physical address that is crucial to its business, such as a contractor, business income is probably not necessary. For store front or main street businesses, like a coffee shop, business income is a must.

What kind of insurance does my business need?

That depends on the kind of business you engage in. All businesses need basic liability to protect them against acts of owners or employees for which the business might be considered legally liable. Professional service providers often need special liability protection. Examples might be professional liability protection for lawyers, doctors, architects or software designers. Another example are businesses that manufacture or distribute a product; they typically need product liability protection. It’s always a good idea to review the kinds of liability exposures your business might have when updating or initiating an insurance program.

Businesses that own autos or use non-owned autos in the conduct of their business will probably need a business auto policy.

All businesses have property which can be divided up into several categories: office or other equipment, inventory, real property, etc. and it is a good idea to think about your ability to replace any damaged or lost property in these categories. If the possible amount of loss exceeds your comfort level then insurance might be a good altenative.

You also need to think about how long you could afford to be out of business. Insurance, known as business interruption insurance, can pay suppliers, salaries and other costs you might incur even if your business income were to be interrupted by a covered cause of loss.

Employee Benefits

What determines whether I am a large or small employer?

An employer’s size is based on the number of its employees. Generally, an employer with 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalents (FTEs), is considered a large employer. If you have fewer than 50 full-time employees or equivalents, you are considered a small employer.

Does health-care reform apply to our company?

Effective January 1, 2015, companies that employ 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, must offer an affordable group health plan to their full-time employees (and dependent children up to age 26) or possibly be liable for a penalty.

Small businesses, those with fewer than 50 full-time employees, are not subject to this provision. In fact, small businesses have the option to purchase plans on state-run or federally run Exchanges and may qualify for tax credits to offset the cost of providing insurance coverage to employees.

Can employees pay for or share in the cost of health care?

Yes. You as the employer may choose how much of the cost you would like to share with your employees. This gives you tremendous flexibility to tailor a benefit package for your company at a price you will feel comfortable with.

General

What is an Independent Insurance Agent?

What defines an Independent Insurance Agent is our ability to shop your insurance through multiple insurance companies. Our job is help you create the best coverage package to meet your needs and then go to the market and find the most competitively priced insurance company for those coverages.

Does changing my insurance company affect my credit score?

Changing your insurance carrier has NO effect on your credit score. You can change as often as you like and it makes no matter to your credit score.

I had a claim, now what?

We know that “stuff happens” and there will be the unfortunate instance where you will have a claim to report. The majority of our companies have 24/7 claim centers and we would first advise you to call your insurance company in which you had the claim and report it to an authorized representative. That being said, there are some advantages to calling our office to speak to us about your claim. Our dedicated agents can advise you on what the effects of filing your claim would be, and explain how the claims process works. Hopefully taking the headache out of what already is a painful process. If it is an emergency, you should call your insurance provider directly, to expedite the process.