Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Boat Insurance


Most companies provide limited coverage for property damage for small boats such as canoes and small sail boats or small power boats with less than 25 mile per hour horse power under a homeowners or renters insurance policy. Coverage is usually about $1,000 or 10 percent of the home's insured value and generally includes the boat, motor and trailer combined. Liability coverage is typically not included–but it can be added as an endorsement to a homeowners policy. Check with your insurance representative to find out if your boat is covered and what the limits are.

Larger and faster boats such as yachts, and personal watercraft such as jet skis and wave runners require a separate boat insurance policy. The size, type and value of the craft and the water in which you use it factor into how much you will pay for insurance coverage.

For physical loss or damage, coverage includes the hull, machinery, fittings, furnishings and permanently attached equipment as part of either an actual cash value policy or on an agreed amount value basis. These policies also provide broader liability protection than a homeowners policy. But there are distinct differences between the two types of policies.

Actual Cash Value policies pay for replacement costs less depreciation at the time of the loss. In the event of a total loss, used boat pricing guides and other resources are used to determine the vessel’s approximate market value. Partial losses are settled by taking the total cost of the repair less a percentage for depreciation.

Agreed Amount Value basis policies mean that you and your insurer have agreed on the value of your vessel and in the event of a total loss you will be paid that amount. Agreed Amount Value policies also replace old items for new in the event of a partial loss, without any deduction for depreciation.

Physical damage exclusions might include normal wear and tear, damage from insects, mold, animals (such as sharks), zebra mussels, defective machinery or machinery damage.

Boat insurance also covers:
  • Bodily injury—for injuries caused to another person
  • Property damage—for damage caused to someone else’s property
  • Guest passenger liability—for any legal expenses incurred by someone using the boat with the owner’s permission
  • Medical payments—for injuries to the boat owner and other passengers
  • Theft
Most companies offer liability limits that start at $15,000 and can be increased to $300,000. Typical policies include deductibles of $250 for property damage, $500 for theft and $1000 for medical payments. Higher limits may be available. Additional coverage can be purchased for trailers and other accessories. Boat owners may also consider purchasing an umbrella liability policy which will provide additional protection for their boat, home and car.

Boaters should also inquire about special equipment kept on the boat, such as fishing gear, to make sure it is covered and verify that towing coverage is included in the policy.

 Boat owners should also inquire about discounts for the following:

  • Diesel powered craft, which are less hazardous than gasoline powered boats as they are less likely to explode
  • Coast Guard approved fire extinguishers
  • Ship-to-shore radios
  • Two years of claims-free experience
  • Multi-policies with the same insurer, such as a car, home or umbrella policy
  • Safety education courses, such as those offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons, or the American Red Cross.
Boat Safety
There are thousands of recreational boating accidents per year. Contributing factors to these accidents include traveling too fast for water or weather conditions, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, failing to follow boating rules and regulations, carelessness and inexperience.

To prevent boating accidents, we offer these safety suggestions:

Care and protection of vessel
  • Check weather forecasts before heading out.
  • Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.
  • Check engine, fuel, electrical and steering systems, especially for exhaust-system leaks.
  • Carry one or more fire extinguishers, matched to the size and type of boat. Keep them readily accessible and in condition for immediate use.
  • Equip the vessel with required navigation lights and with a whistle, horn or bell.
  • Consider additional safety devices, such as a paddle or oars, a first-aid kit, a supply of fresh water, a tool kit and spare parts, a flashlight, flares and a radio.

Care and protection of crew and guests
  • Make sure that every person on board the boat wears a life-jacket.
  • Know and obey marine traffic laws, the "Rules-of-the-Road." Learn various distress signals.
  • Keep an alert lookout for other watercraft, swimmers, floating debris and shallow waters.
  • Pay attention to loading. Don’t overload; distribute the load evenly; don’t stand up or shift weight suddenly in a small boat; and don’t permit riding on the bow, seatbacks or gunwales.
  • Don't operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Skippers can obtain free advice and boating-safety courses from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. Upon request, the auxiliary will conduct a Courtesy Marine Examination (CME) on your boat, checking electrical and safety equipment and fuel hoses. Boats meeting safety standards are awarded the CME decal “Seal of Safety.”


Article From : http://www.iii.org/article/boat-insurance


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Friday, March 13, 2015

What Is Covered by a Basic Auto Insurance Policy?

Your auto policy may include six coverages. Each coverage is priced separately.
1. Bodily Injury Liability
This coverage applies to injuries that you, the designated driver or policyholder, cause to someone else. You and family members listed on the policy are also covered when driving someone else’s car with their permission.
It’s very important to have enough liability insurance, because if you are involved in a serious accident, you may be sued for a large sum of money. Definitely consider buying more than the state-required minimum to protect assets such as your home and savings.
2. Medical Payments or Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
This coverage pays for the treatment of injuries to the driver and passengers of the policyholder's car. At its broadest, PIP can cover medical payments, lost wages and the cost of replacing services normally performed by someone injured in an auto accident. It may also cover funeral costs.
3. Property Damage Liability
This coverage pays for damage you (or someone driving the car with your permission) may cause to someone else's property. Usually, this means damage to someone else’s car, but it also includes damage to lamp posts, telephone poles, fences, buildings or other structures your car hit.
4. Collision
This coverage pays for damage to your car resulting from a collision with another car, object or as a result of flipping over. It also covers damage caused by potholes. Collision coverage is generally sold with a deductible of $250 to $1,000—the higher your deductible, the lower your premium. Even if you are at fault for the accident, your collision coverage will reimburse you for the costs of repairing your car, minus the deductible. If you're not at fault, your insurance company may try to recover the amount they paid you from the other driver’s insurance company. If they are successful, you'll also be reimbursed for the deductible.
5. Comprehensive
This coverage reimburses you for loss due to theft or damage caused by something other than a collision with another car or object, such as fire, falling objects, missiles, explosion, earthquake, windstorm, hail, flood, vandalism, riot, or contact with animals such as birds or deer.
Comprehensive insurance is usually sold with a $100 to $300 deductible, though you may want to opt for a higher deductible as a way of lowering your premium.
Comprehensive insurance will also reimburse you if your windshield is cracked or shattered. Some companies offer glass coverage with or without a deductible.
6. Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
This coverage will reimburse you, a member of your family, or a designated driver if one of you is hit by an uninsured or hit-and-run driver.
Underinsured motorist coverage comes into play when an at-fault driver has insufficient insurance to pay for your total loss. This coverage will also protect you if you are hit as a pedestrian.


Reference:  Insurance Information Institute

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Why should I buy life insurance?

Many financial experts consider life insurance to be the cornerstone of sound financial planning. It can be an important tool in the following situations:

Replace income for dependents
If people depend on your income, life insurance can replace that income for them if you die. The most commonly recognized case of this is parents with young children. However, it can also apply to couples in which the survivor would be financially stricken by the income lost through the death of a partner, and to dependent adults, such as parents, siblings or adult children who continue to rely on you financially. Insurance to replace your income can be especially useful if the government- or employer-sponsored benefits of your surviving spouse or domestic partner will be reduced after your death.

Pay final expenses
Life insurance can pay your funeral and burial costs, probate and other estate administration costs, debts and medical expenses not covered by health insurance.

Create an inheritance for your heirs
Even if you have no other assets to pass to your heirs, you can create an inheritance by buying a life insurance policy and naming them as beneficiaries.

Pay federal “death” taxes and state “death” taxes
Life insurance benefits can pay estate taxes so that your heirs will not have to liquidate other assets or take a smaller inheritance. Changes in the federal “death” tax rules between now and January 1, 2011 will likely lessen the impact of this tax on some people, but some states are offsetting those federal decreases with increases in their state-level “death” taxes.

Make significant charitable contributions
By making a charity the beneficiary of your life insurance, you can make a much larger contribution than if you donated the cash equivalent of the policy’s premiums.

Create a source of savings
Some types of life insurance create a cash value that, if not paid out as a death benefit, can be borrowed or withdrawn on the owner’s request. Since most people make paying their life insurance policy premiums a high priority, buying a cash-value type policy can create a kind of “forced” savings plan. Furthermore, the interest credited is tax deferred (and tax exempt if the money is paid as a death claim).


Reference Insurance Information Institute


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Thursday, February 26, 2015

What Is Covered by a Standard Homeowners Policy?



A standard homeowners insurance policy includes four essential types of coverage. They include:

  • Coverage for the structure of your home.
  • Coverage for your personal belongings.
  • Liability protection.
  • Additional living expenses in the event you are temporarily unable to live in your home because of a fire or other insured disaster

The structure of your house

This part of your policy pays to repair or rebuild your home if it is damaged or destroyed by fire, hurricane, hail, lightning or other disaster listed in your policy. It will not pay for damage caused by a flood, earthquake or routine wear and tear. When purchasing coverage for the structure of your home, it is important to buy enough to rebuild your home.

Your personal belongings

Your furniture, clothes, sports equipment and other personal items are covered if they are stolen or destroyed by fire, hurricane or other insured disaster. Most companies provide coverage for 50% to 70% of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your home.

Liability protection

Liability covers you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you or family members cause to other people. It also pays for damage caused by your pets. So, if your son, daughter or dog accidentally ruins your neighbor’s expensive rug, you are covered. However, if they destroy your rug, you are not covered.

Additional living expenses

This pays the additional costs of living away from home if you cannot live there due to damage from a fire, storm or other insured disaster. It covers hotel bills, restaurant meals and other expenses, over and above your customary living expenses, incurred while your home is being rebuilt.


Reference :  Insurance Information Institute

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

White House: 11.4 million ‘and counting’ signed up for Obamacare in 2015



About 11.4 million Americans have signed up for private health insurance coverage through Obamacare exchanges by the official end of the law's second-ever enrollment period, the White House announced in a video Tuesday night.

The announcement indicates the Obama administration will beat its own 2015 enrollment goals after a much quieter sign-up season this year. But the announcement also comes just weeks before the Supreme Court will hear a case challenging the legality of premium subsidies provided through the nearly three dozen states relying on HealthCare.gov for enrollment.

The number of enrollments will likely drop throughout the year. For instance, 8 million people had signed up for exchange coverage when the law's first-ever enrollment period ended in April 2014, but by November, 6.7 million remained enrolled in exchange plans. The administration said last fall it hoped to keep at least 9.1 million enrolled in exchange coverage throughout 2015, a target that now seems likely secure. Still, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had projected 12 million people would be enrolled in 2015 exchange coverage.

"The Affordable Care Act is working," Obama said in the White House video released Monday night. "It's working a little better than we expected."

Though the enrollment window officially closed on Feb. 15, the administration is keeping it open through this Sunday for people who started an application before the deadline. Most states running their own exchanges are also allowing some enrollment leeway.

The administration has also said it's considering a special enrollment period for uninsured people who'll find out this tax season they have to pay the individual mandate penalty for not having coverage. The administration expects up to 6 million will face this penalty, which starts at $95 or 1 percent of household income in 2014. The minimum penalty in 2015 more than triples to $325, or 2 percent of income.

Oral arguments in King v. Burwell, the Supreme Court case challenging the premium subsidies, are scheduled for March 4, with a decision expected in late June. More than 8 in 10 people purchasing coverage through the exchanges received subsidies, worth on average three-fourths of monthly premiums.

Reference : The Washington Post

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Monday, February 9, 2015

5 Insurance-Buying Mistakes to Avoid

Buying insurance can be confusing, but when the unexpected happens – a house fire, a fender bender or a broken bone – it's a relief to know that some of those financial losses will be covered. But how do you know how much coverage you need? And what questions should you ask before buying a policy? Many consumers aren't sure. Insurance coverage is far from one size fits all, so here's a look at mistakes some consumers make when buying insurance.
1. Assuming insurance is out of reach. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 48 million Americans had no health insurance in 2012. And about 30 percent of U.S. households have no life insurance, according to LIMRA, a worldwide research and consulting organization for insurance and financial services. In some cases, consumers skip insurance because they think it's out of their budget. Often, that's not the case, according to Marvin Feldman, president and CEO of the LIFE Foundation, a nonprofit organization that educates consumers about financial planning and insurance. The LIFE Foundation collaborated with LIMRA on the 2013 Insurance Barometer Study, which found that the average consumer thinks life insurance is three times more expensive than it actually is. "[Consumers are] not researching it to determine what the cost is," Feldman says.
When buying health insurance or property and casualty insurance, ask about potential discounts. "Two-thirds of consumers don't realize they can get financial help if they buy their own health insurance, and they can get financial help if they go and buy in these health insurance marketplaces," says Lynn Quincy, senior policy analyst with Consumers Union, a division of Consumer Reports. "You may be way overpaying if you don't investigate this possibility." While health insurance discounts are often income-based, homeowners and auto insurers offer discounts for everything from being a member of groups like AARP, to being a good student or a good driver, to having a home security system.
2. Relying on assumptions or outdated figures. Changing economic conditions mean you might need more insurance coverage than you had in the past. Take life insurance. In the past, consumers might have based their life insurance coverage on their current income, but "if something happens and you're no longer around, you need more capital at work to provide the same income [to your beneficiaries]," Feldman says. Disability and long-term care insurance are even more complicated than traditional life insurance. "For disability, do you want coverage that lasts forever? Are there health issues in your family?" Feldman asks. "That's where you need to speak to somebody to get some guidance."
In the case of homeowners insurance, your home could be underinsured if you've renovated or if the cost to build a home has increased due to higher material costs or other factors. That's why experts recommend reviewing insurance coverage once a year to make sure it still fits your needs. Talk to your insurance agent if you're unsure.
3. Shopping on price alone. Comparing insurance policies can be confusing, but resist the urge to simply choose the policy with the lowest premium. Consider the company's reputation and the coverage you'd get for that premium. "As a general rule with health insurance, the higher the premium, the lower the amount you pay when you go to the doctor," Quincy says. Private health insurance plans must provide coverage examples showing what your estimated out-of-pocket costs would be for, say, having a baby or managing Type 2 diabetes. Some examples might not apply to you, but they can help you compare plans and see how much you might pay in coinsurance and copays.
"Make sure you're shopping apples to apples and getting quotes based on the same coverage that you have," says Lori Conarton, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Institute of Michigan. Your property and casualty insurance may not cover things like food spoilage in the event of a power outage or stolen electronics worth more than $1,000, so you may want to purchase extra endorsements to cover those possibilities, she adds.
With disability or long-term care insurance, prices can vary depending on the length of the elimination period – the amount of time you must wait before coverage kicks in – and whether the policy includes inflation protection, so consider these factors, too.
4. Glossing over the details. Make sure you understand what your insurance policy covers. For health insurance, it's cheaper to see doctors who are in-network and buy prescription drugs covered by the formulary, so Quincy suggests checking to see if your doctor is in-network and if your prescription drugs are covered before you buy a policy. Otherwise, you could get an expensive surprise.
Read your insurance policy and contact your insurance agent if anything is unclear. "Unfortunately, a lot of people don't find out what coverage they should have had until they have a loss," Conarton says. "Here in Michigan, we've had a lot of winter weather, and some people don't know that flooding is not covered under a regular homeowners insurance policy." However, you can usually buy a separate flood insurance policy. Many people also assume that drain and sewer backups are covered by insurance, but often they're not, Conarton adds.
5. Setting your deductible too low. Setting a low deductible typically means higher premiums, and in the case of property and casualty insurance, a greater likelihood of small claims that could ultimately raise your premiums. Insurance is designed to protect against losses you could not cover yourself, so if you can afford to pay the first $500 or $1,000 in losses yourself, you may not need a lower premium. "Consider your own financial situation," Conarton says. "How much of the risk are you willing to assume before you make a claim and the insurance company pays on your claim? You really have to think about how much of that loss you could pay yourself."

Article From : US NEWS
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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Longtime advocate: Insurance chief from Louisiana could be bad news for consumers

Robert Hunter has spent decades in the insurance industry as a consumer advocate. When he heard the name of the man being considered for the state's insurance regulator job, he was "shocked."
Gov. Rick Scott's office confirmed Monday that Ron Henderson, Louisiana's deputy insurance commissioner for consumer advocacy, is being considered as the replacement for Kevin McCarty, who has been commissioner of Florida's Office of Insurance Regulation since 2003 (and is favored by Hunter, incidentally).
"It's really shocking to me that a guy who's supposed to be in consumer advocacy I haven't heard of," said Hunter, who was Texas insurance commissioner and founder of the National Insurance Consumer Organization before his current job as insurance director for the Consumer Federation of America. "I know everyone who's done anything in consumer work."
The size of Hunter's Rolodex aside, he said hiring an insurance regulator from Louisiana could be bad for consumers in Florida.
The insurance commissioner plays a critical role in setting rates for property insurance, and Hunter said Louisiana's reputation for in the industry is decidedly not pro-consumer.
"Louisiana's one of the worst states in the country for insurance regulation," he said. "They just don't regulate. They've done a very bad job protecting consumers."
Insurance rates in Louisiana have risen twice as fast as the rest of the country, said Hunter, who recently started a study on 20 years of rate increases.

Reference : Tampa Bay Times


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