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Home-Sharing Services: Do You or Those Who Rent Your Home Need Insurance Coverage?

Posted by on Jul 5, 2018 in Personal Insurance | Comments Off on Home-Sharing Services: Do You or Those Who Rent Your Home Need Insurance Coverage?

Home-Sharing Services: Do You or Those Who Rent Your Home Need Insurance Coverage?

The sharing economy has brought about business model innovations, allowing people to monetize underutilized assets including cars, storage space, gear, and living space by renting them out. While this can create exciting opportunities, it can also present risks — particularly when it comes to home sharing. Having the proper insurance can help reduce those risks.

Home sharing

In today’s economy, home sharing typically involves short-term rental arrangements in which homeowners provide places for guests through platforms such as Airbnb or HomeAway. It can be a great way for those with underutilized homes to generate extra income and for guests to stay in convenient locations at reasonable prices. However, those without proper insurance coverage could find themselves in tighter spots than they bargained for.

Innovations like insurance and endorsements have made home sharing more convenient and less risky for all parties involved. Whether you participate in home sharing as a homeowner who hosts others or as a guest at a host’s home, be sure you understand how to protect yourself. Here’s what you need to know.

House Keys

Hosts

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), homeowners insurance policies typically allow policyholders to house borders on occasion — but “occasion” is subject to interpretation. Home sharers may also need more extensive personal liability insurance than typical homeowners policies provide. For added protection, landlord policies can help cover homeowners against risks including property damage, personal injury, legal fees, and lost rental income.

No matter the hosting frequency, however, listing a property on a home-sharing platform could result in the property being legally defined as a home-based business, which homeowners insurance policies usually exclude. In response to the sharing economy, some insurers have introduced endorsements and new policies. It’s no longer necessary for many homeowners who use sharing platforms to buy commercial insurance, which is costlier than special home-sharing policies.

Regardless of the coverage home-sharing services themselves offer, many platforms invoke dispute-resolution processes if guests cause damage to home sharers’ property. Hosts can receive reimbursements from these services via checks in the mail, and the home-sharing services’ insurance companies subrogate against responsible parties, sparing hosts time, frustration, and claim filing.

Even with these protections in place, however, and even if you’re renting your home to guests only a few days a year, it’s worthwhile to discuss such an arrangement with your insurance agent to mitigate risk.

Guests

Those who use home-sharing services as guests also have a few things to consider. Guests injured at short-term rental properties may be responsible for their own medical expenses if the companies they book their rentals through or their hosts don’t offer medical payment coverage. Similarly, guests who inadvertently damage their hosts’ property may have to pay out of pocket if their own homeowners, renters, or personal liability insurance policies don’t extend to cover their short-term rental occupancies.

How much could they be on the hook for? Homeowners policies commonly provide up to $1,000 in liability coverage for damage policyholders cause to other people’s property. Some guests might feel comfortable with that level of coverage, but others prefer to be better prepared in the case something were to go awry — even through no fault of their own — while they’re renting others’ homes.

To protect yourself, check with home-sharing companies before booking to see what liability coverage they require on their hosts’ properties. It’s also a good idea to speak with your insurance agent to verify your coverage levels and ask about options for increasing your coverage if necessary.

While home sharing can be a profitable and convenient opportunity for many homeowners and short-term renters, it’s a new industry for which some insurers are still working out some kinks. If you decide to try it out as a host or guest, a wise first step is to talk with your insurance provider.

Contact a Concklin Insurance expert today to better understand your policies and ensure you have the insurance coverage you need.

It’s Tornado and Hurricane Season: Is Your Property Insured?

Posted by on Jun 21, 2018 in Business Insurance, Personal Insurance | Comments Off on It’s Tornado and Hurricane Season: Is Your Property Insured?

It’s Tornado and Hurricane Season: Is Your Property Insured?

As glorious as the spring and summer months can be, they can also bring some of Mother Nature’s most destructive behavior. April, May, and June are peak months for tornadoes in the U.S. while hurricane season officially begins June 1 and lasts through November. Both can cause widespread catastrophic damage as well as injury and death. While those who live in areas prone to such natural disasters should have emergency plans in place to protect themselves and their families, what about their homes, businesses, and personal property? It’s impossible to predict or control the amount of damage such storms can cause, but it is possible to manage how well you bounce back and rebuild after such life-altering events. Ensuring you have adequate insurance coverage in advance is a huge step in protecting yourself amid such devastation.

Weathering the financial storm

While no insurance exists specifically for tornadoes or hurricanes, those in areas that could be affected should have proper policies in place to cover the damage inherent in such storms.

Wind damage

Standard homeowners or business insurance policies typically cover damage sustained in wind-related disasters. However, homeowners policies for those who live in areas prone to violent storms are typically subject to limitations or separate deductibles just for storm-related wind damage.

  • Most insurers restrict windstorm damage coverage for those who live in the parts of the Midwest or South-Central U.S. commonly called Tornado Alley.
  • While a policy’s general deductible is a specific dollar amount, the deductible for hurricane damage is often a set percentage of the insured structure’s total value. If a hurricane triggers the deductible, policyholders can be on the hook for that percentage — usually 1 to 5% — of the total insured structure’s value. Insurers pay only for damage that exceeds the deductible amount.

With these in mind, you should analyze and fully understand your coverage to be sure it aligns with your financial situation. For example, you may save money each month on a policy that has a higher deductible, but are you prepared to pay that deductible if a tornado or hurricane destroys your home? If not, a higher monthly premium with a lower deductible may be a better option. Also, adding optional peril-specific endorsements to your standard homeowners policy can greatly decrease your post-disaster out-of-pocket expenses.

Flood damage

If flooding from a hurricane or tornado-related storm damages or destroys property, a general homeowners insurance policy will likely not cover the loss or damage. Rather, separate flood insurance is available to cover the repair or replacement of a home, a business, or personal belongings damaged by flooding.

Flood insurance can be especially tricky and expensive to obtain in hurricane-prone coastal areas, yet it’s required by law when buying a home in a high-risk flood area with a federally backed mortgage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s National Flood Insurance Program helps provide affordable flood insurance to property owners and renters. While this coverage is certainly better than none, those who can afford additional flood-specific policies beyond what government-backed programs provide can better protect themselves from flood damage expenses. A qualified insurance expert can help determine the best option available.

The true costs of starting over

Because of the potential for total loss due to tornado- and hurricane-related wind and flood damage, it’s important to understand the difference between replacement-cost and cash-value policies. A replacement-cost policy factors materials similar in kind and quality to those lost into rebuild or repair costs. A cash-value policy accounts for depreciation and likely won’t cover as much, which can leave those affected with much higher out-of-pocket expenses.

insurance-checklistAlso, those faced with total rebuilds or major restorations could be displaced from their homes or businesses during reconstruction. This means they are paying for hotel rooms, restaurant meals, storage, and other expenses related to displacement. To protect yourself, check your policy’s additional living expenses (ALE) reimbursement coverage.

Making sense of storm-related insurance claims and payouts can be as stressful as storms themselves. A major part of disaster preparedness is ensuring adequate insurance coverage if a tornado or hurricane hits, but this is not a simple process. Having an insurance expert on your side can make a big difference in how prepared you are to withstand the financial storm after the actual tempest.

Contact a Concklin Insurance expert today to better understand your policies and ensure you have the insurance coverage you need.

Don’t Get Left Underwater! Follow This Flood Insurance and Water Damage Prevention Checklist

Posted by on Jun 7, 2018 in Business Insurance, Personal Insurance | Comments Off on Don’t Get Left Underwater! Follow This Flood Insurance and Water Damage Prevention Checklist

Don’t Get Left Underwater! Follow This Flood Insurance and Water Damage Prevention Checklist

Water. We need it to survive, but it can also be a relentless, unforgiving beast. In mere minutes, water can cause property damage that requires months of costly cleanup and restoration.

Unfortunately, flood insurance is not typically included in standard homeowners or business insurance policies. While a policy may cover damage caused by a leaky dishwasher or faulty hot water heater, no standard policy automatically includes flood protection. When a rising tide of water causes a flood, damage to structures and personal property is usually covered only if the homeowner or business owner has a flood insurance policy. Examples of such flooding include water from oversaturated ground, backed-up drainage systems, and nearby surging creeks, rivers, or ponds.

Property owners should take appropriate measures to not only protect their homes and businesses but also themselves and their finances in case flooding occurs.

Flood mitigation tips

Taking some simple precautionary steps can help you protect your home or business from water’s destructive wrath.

  • Inspect your structure’s roof regularly and promptly fix leaks or missing flashing.
  • Check for good seals around all windows and skylights as well as ventilation and piping that leads into the structure from outside.
  • Ensure all gutters and downspouts are clear of debris that could obstruct water flow. Runoff should always flow away from structures and walkways. It should never cause pooling near a structure’s foundation.
  • Check basement drainage systems and test your sump pump for proper operation.
  • Check nearby stormwater channels or streams and remove any large debris or vegetation that could stop water flow and cause flooding.

Know your coverage

While mitigation is important to help ward off flooding, it’s also vital to have proper insurance coverage to protect you if disaster were to strike. For each property you own — home, business, vacation home, or investment property — make a point to know what is and is not covered if the property were to sustain water damage. Also, be sure you know if your property lies in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) that requires extra coverage. For each property, make a checklist that details what coverage, if any, is included for water damage caused by

  • Flood Disasterleaky plumbing or faulty appliances,
  • groundwater swells,
  • extreme weather, or
  • an accident.

For each of the above, note on your checklist:

  • Is structure repair or replacement covered?
  • Is personal property covered?
  • What is the deductible?
  • If displaced due to water damage, are expenses covered — or must you pay out of pocket?

A detailed list of what is and is not covered in each situation provides a clear picture of the coverage gaps you should address.

Once you know what your current policies cover, find out what policy riders are available to maintain adequate coverage and prepare for all possible circumstances. This can get complicated as different insurance companies may offer diverse options at varying rates. The best tactic is to work with an experienced agent who understands underlying water damage intricacies as well as flood insurance and can help you navigate such complexities. A trusted agent can review your policies, recognize potential coverage gaps, and recommend appropriate riders to fill them at the most reasonable rates available. Such measures can keep your finances afloat in the soggiest of situations.

Contact a Concklin Insurance expert today to better understand your options for flood insurance and ensure you have the coverage you need.

Babysitter Liability: Accidents Can Happen, Even on Date Night

Posted by on May 24, 2018 in Personal Insurance | Comments Off on Babysitter Liability: Accidents Can Happen, Even on Date Night

Babysitter Liability: Accidents Can Happen, Even on Date Night

A thousand questions can race through a parent’s mind when hiring a new babysitter or in-home nanny: Is the candidate experienced? Good with kids? Responsible? Dependable? CPR- and first-aid-certified? Able to cook? Does he or she have reliable transportation?

Here’s one most parents don’t think of: Does my insurance cover my babysitter?

When hiring someone to care for your children in your home, you should first consider some worst-case scenarios: What if the babysitter is injured at your home? What if the family dog bites him or he falls off the backyard play structure? Does your homeowners insurance cover his medical expenses? Does it cover your legal expenses if his family files suit against you?

While these questions can be enough to make you cancel your date night and forget hiring a sitter altogether, don’t despair. You have methods at your disposal to proactively protect yourself, your family, your home, and your babysitter in the rare event an injury occurs on your property. Here are some essential tips:

  1. Make sure your homeowners policy has adequate liability coverage.
    Talk to your insurance agent about how much liability coverage your current policy includes. You may find it’s quite affordable to increase home liability coverage.
  2. Know the amount of “no-fault medical coverage” in your homeowner’s policy.
    With this type of coverage, if your babysitter — or anyone beyond an immediate family member — were to sustain an injury on your property, you would be able to submit his or her medical bills directly to your insurance company and be reimbursed. This can help you avoid a long and expensive legal tussle if an accident were to occur.
  3. Consider purchasing an umbrella policy.
    Also called “excess liability insurance,” an umbrella policy goes beyond the monetary limits of a homeowners policy and provides added protection if an injured party were to sue you. For an estimated $150 to $300 per year, you could purchase a $1 million personal umbrella liability policy that would kick in after you’d exhausted your homeowners policy limits.
  4. Don’t treat a full-time nanny the same as an occasional babysitter.
    If you hire someone to watch your children in your home all day several days a week while you and your spouse are at work, you don’t have a babysitter — you have a full-time employee working in your home. In this case, you could reduce your risk by claiming this caretaker as an employee and providing workers’ compensation insurance. This is important because, if an injury or lawsuit were to occur, your homeowners insurance could deny any claims the insurer determines should fall under workers’ compensation. This means you could be on the hook for the caretaker’s medical bills, attorney’s fees, and lost wages if he or she is unable to work.

At some point, nearly every parent will want and need to hire a babysitter or maybe even a full-time nanny. While it shouldn’t be a terrifying decision, know you do assume certain risks when hiring someone to work in your home. A thorough review of your homeowners policy and a discussion with your insurance agent about your child care needs and intentions before hiring a babysitter is a great step toward extra financial protection and peace of mind.

Contact a Concklin Insurance expert today to better understand your policies and ensure you have the insurance coverage you need.

Boat Insurance Can Be the Difference Between Smooth Sailing and Rough Waters

Posted by on May 10, 2018 in Personal Insurance | Comments Off on Boat Insurance Can Be the Difference Between Smooth Sailing and Rough Waters

Boat Insurance Can Be the Difference Between Smooth Sailing and Rough Waters

For those who long to be out on the water, there is nothing quite like the freedom and thrill of a day spent on your very own powerboat. But with as much pleasure as boat ownership can bring, boating also carries with it inherent risks and responsibilities. Boat insurance, though not always required, is something every owner should understand and seriously consider when investing in a powerboat.

When is boat insurance required?

Boat insurance is mandatory when you:

  1. Live in a state that requires it. Contact your insurance agent if you are unsure of your state’s regulatory policies pertaining to powerboats.
  2. Carry a loan on the boat. If you borrow money to purchase a boat, the lender will require you to carry insurance that covers the full value of the boat in case significant damage or theft were to occur.
  3. Rent space to dock your boat. Most marina operators require proof of liability insurance before you can sign a contract at their sites.

Why invest in boat insurance?

Even if it’s not legally required, boat insurance is a smart choice for every boat owner as one mishap, even if it’s not your fault, can turn boat-ownership bliss into financial calamity. Without boat insurance, you would likely be on the financial hook if scenarios such as the following were to occur.

  • Your boat was to sink at the dock and require major equipment and work hours to extricate it
  • A bad storm was to relocate your boat and a salvage team had to recover it
  • You were to cause bodily injury to another person while boating and the person were to claim medical expenses and loss of income due to the injury
  • Your boat were to suffer a fuel spill requiring expensive environmental cleanup
  • An uninsured boater was to damage your boat or trailer

Clearly, insurance can cover a lot more than just the value of your boat. Even if your boat isn’t worth much on paper, an insurance policy could be worth every penny if an unforeseen disaster were to strike.

What and who does boat insurance cover?

As with most types of insurance, boat insurance varies in levels of coverage:

  • Collision coverage would repair or replace your boat and trailer if either or both were to be damaged in a collision.
  • Bodily injury liability would cover expenses — medical, lost income, and legal — related to any bodily injury caused while operating your boat.
  • Property damage liability covers any damage your boat may cause to another’s property, including boats, docks, and structures.
  • Comprehensive covers your boat if it were to become damaged or lost in an incident other than a collision such as theft, vandalism, or fire.

Added coverage may also be available to protect fishing or watersports equipment as well as subsidize or cover towing expenses and assistance if you were to have mechanical problems on the water.

Because potential boating risks are so varied and unpredictable, most boat insurance carriers offer “all risk” policies. These provide coverage for the vast spectrum of potential incidents including theft, vandalism, stolen equipment, collision, fire, and sinking. And your boat policy wouldn’t just protect you: Most boat policies allow anyone to operate your boat if you’ve given them permission. Thus, your insurance covers all authorized operators. If a passenger was to be injured on your boat, he or she would be covered under whatever liability insurance you carry.

Is boat insurance expensive?

Boat insurance costs vary widely — from $75 per year to more than $500 per year — depending on many factors:

  • The level of coverage and deductibles you choose
  • The age and type of your boat
  • The power of your boat’s engine
  • Where you intend to primarily use your boat, whether on the open ocean, on inland waters, or on a river, reservoir, or lake

Coverage type and cost also can depend on the size of your boat: In general, powerboats 26 feet long or shorter are “boats” while vessels 27 feet or longer are considered “yachts.” Insurance coverage for yachts can be very specialized since larger boats tend to travel greater distances and carry more people, often in open seas.

The important thing to remember is that owning a boat should be fun, not a constant source of worry. Having adequate boat insurance provides boat owners peace of mind that their boats and financial well-being are properly protected — even if boat ownership hits rough waters.

Contact a Concklin Insurance expert today to better understand your options for boat insurance and ensure you have the coverage you need.