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Water Back UpThis rain has caused one common phone call for our agency this spring, “I have water in the basement”. Whether it is a home, business or rental property, water has been finding its way into places it should not be; so what better topic to blog about today than water in your basement.

The first question we are asked is whether or not it is covered. This depends on a few factors. The two main factors are the source of where the water is coming from and the type of insurance policy you have. If water is coming into your basement through window wells or other opening in your basement (excluding drains), then that would be considered a flood loss which often is not covered by your normal insurance policy. In fact, even if you had a flood policy it normally doesn’t cover contents located in parts of a building that are underground, i.e. a basement. If the water is gathering in your basement because of a sump pump failure or a backed up drain or sewer than there could be coverage, as long as you meet the second factor which is having the type of policy that covers those things. Rental property policies have the most limiting coverage for water in the basement. The main coverage you need is called “Water Back up of Sewers and Drains” and many insurance companies don’t offer that on rental properties. Commercial building insurance policies have the “Water Back up of Sewers and Drains” endorsement as an optional coverage so it just depends if you purchased that option or not if you would have coverage. Homeowners polices more often than not have the “Water Back up of Sewers and Drains” included in their basic policy but if someone tried to skimp on the premium they may have taken that coverage out.

Umbrella InsuranceHow much liability protection do I need to carry to protect me and my family? Unfortunately there is no simple formula which you can use to calculate how much liability insurance you really need. With your home or a commercial property, there are computer programs which will help determine the construction replacement cost of the building, but there is no such program in the area of third party liability claims. Some insurance companies claim they make you “legal” for less, but in Ohio, for example, that means bodily injury limits of $25,500 per person/$50,000 per accident and property damage limits of $25,000. Any kind of serious accident will wipe out those limits in a heartbeat. As a bare minimum, we recommend no less than $500,000 in Personal Liability and $250,000/500,000/100,000 in Automobile Liability, but higher limits are available and recommended. This is where the Umbrella Liability Policy comes into play. These policies are written in increments of $1,000,000 with $1,000,000 being the lowest limit you can purchase. Limits of $1,000,000 to $5,000,000 are usually available, and higher limits are also available depending on the circumstances.

Please contact us, and we will prepare a quotation for your review on this very important catastrophe liability protection.

Auto Insurance ClaimWhen should I file a claim and when should I not? It is a common question we get in our agency and every time it is asks we always say, "it depends on each situation". Let's first tackle this question with how claims can affect your insurance.

It varies by insurance company but most companies look at a 6 year window for home insurance claims and a 3 to 5 year window for auto insurance claims. What this means is that if you file a home claim it can have an affect on your premium for up to 6 years and if you file a claim on your auto insurance it can affect your premium for 3 to 5 years. If you have more than one claim in this window of time it can really have an impact on your premium and may even cause some insurance companies to look at canceling your coverage. With this in mind, it is best to consult with your insurance agent to see what prior claims you have on your record before deciding whether or not to file a claim. If you already have a claim inside one of those windows of time then it may be worth contemplating whether to file a claim or not.

Let me break for one second to mention that liability claims are a must file. These would be auto accidents that involve a third party bodily injury or a homeowner claim that involves injury to another person. These need to be handled by the insurance company and their legal firms. Also, if you have a large claim such as a totaled vehicle or large size house damage, these too are claims you would want to file without hesitation. The claims that we are talking about that may or may not be worth filing are things such as backing your car into a light post, backing into an unoccupied car or driving off the road and causing damage to the front bumper when you hit a ditch. On the homeowner side, it would be small claims such as ice dams that cause a $1000 or $2000 worth of damage or a roof claim that the repair is only a $1000 or so. These are the types of claims it is worth contemplating prior to filing. When you factor in deductibles and the affect on your premium for a few years, those smaller claims may be best to pay out of pocket.

Other Structures InsuranceThere’s more to your homeowner policy than just coverage for the house you live in. It also provides coverage for other structures on your property.

These may include all structures and buildings not sharing a foundation with your house. Most insurance policies provide 10 percent coverage for other structures. For example, if you insure your home for $200,000 an additional limit of $20,000 applies to all other structures. Remember that if you have a total loss, you don’t receive $20,000 for each structure, but $20,000 total for damage to all other structures. A large detached garage by itself can exceed this amount in many cases.


So how do you know you have appropriate coverage?

Cyber LiabilityA risk that is not addressed by many businesses in this era of technology is protecting data. Whether that data is your own data or that of your clients, it constantly stands at risk of theft or corruption. We always recommend taking risk management action such as firewalls, strong passwords, management of mobile devices, etc. However, one other risk management action we recommend is the purchase of insurance that will cover your business for network data breaches, electronic copy write infringements and computer viruses. We strongly recommend this to businesses that deal with Personal Identifiable Information (PII) which are things like dates of birth, social security numbers, addresses, credit card information, financial information and health information.

Your typical liability and property insurance policies do not have the type of coverage that best protect your business if you were subject to a cyber-attack or stolen data. There are specialty policies built to help keep your business going after such claims.

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