Stay Afloat With Proper Boater’s Insurance

There are many hidden costs associated with owning a boat: Dock fees, general maintenance, and winter storage, just to name a few. One expense that boat owners should never skimp on is purchasing the best available insurance policy for their watercraft.

Because buying a boat is a huge investment, owners should protect their boat with comprehensive insurance coverage. Plans are often based on the type and size of the boat. Many Homeowners and Renters insurance policies provide limited coverage for property damage if the boat’s engine is less than 25 mph horsepower or if it is a small sailboat, but without additional insurance, no liability coverage is included.

Owners of larger, more powerful boats and yachts will need to purchase a separate insurance policy for their boat. The insurance company will take into account the size and type of boat, its value, and where the boat sails when drawing up the conditions and cost of the policy.

Separate boat and watercraft insurance policies provide much more coverage to the owner. These policies generally include loss and damage coverage to the boat’s hull, machinery, furnishings, fittings, and any permanently attached equipment, like a navigation system. Liability coverage is extended to:

  • Bodily injury to other persons
  • Damage to other’s property
  • Legal expenses associated with non-consensual operation of the boat
  • Medical costs for injuries to the owner and passengers
  • Boat theft

Policyholders can choose the liability limits of their plan, ranging anywhere from $15,000 up to $300,000. The deductible cost for property damage is $250, and it ranges between $500 and $1,000 for theft and medical expenses. Of course, policies can be individualized based on the boat owner’s needs. Other endorsements and coverages can be added to the policy to cover the boat’s trailer, fishing gear kept aboard the boat, and any other accessories. Also, make sure to ask whether or not the policy covers the boat while it is being towed.

Just as Auto insurance providers offer discounts to their policyholders, discounts for watercraft policies apply in certain cases. For example, insurance companies favor diesel-powered engines over gasoline ones because diesel fuel is more stable, making the engine safer to operate.

Other discounts are related to safety equipment kept on the boat. Having items like fire extinguishers approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and ship-to-shore radio equipment could reduce the amount of the premium. Also, completing a boater’s safety course offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the American Red Cross, or the U.S. Power Squadrons can gain some favor with the insurance company.

Maintaining a clean boating record is just as important as being accident-free on the roadways, when it comes to lowering insurance rates. Premiums are usually discounted for every two years the boater goes without an accident or filing a claim. Bundling your Watercraft insurance with Homeowners and vehicle policies is another good way to save money on coverage costs.

A solid insurance policy gives boaters the peace of mind needed to set sail and enjoy the open waters. Nothing is more relaxing than knowing your investment is covered.

If you have any questions about your boat insurance, here are 4 Easy Ways to Reach Us:

  1. Call 951-600-5751 or 877-99-INSURE
  2. Fax 951-677-6265
  3. Email – insure@siaonline.com
  4. Visit www.siaonline.com

Don’t Make the Mistake of Only Looking at Cost When Evaluating New Health Plan Carriers

Over recent years, at least from a percentage standpoint, health plan costs continue to rise substantially. These hikes and the continued premium increases are simply more than many businesses are able or willing to absorb. This conundrum leaves many employers trying to decide if they should pass on part or all of the increased cost to their employees, cutback on benefits, or seek a different carrier offering a more cost-effective plan. If leaning toward the third option, remember that many factors go into evaluating and vetting potential carriers. Even when considering a health insurance carrier change due to being dissatisfied with customer service, record of claim payment, or services offered by your current carrier, employers should carefully evaluate potential new carriers before jumping aboard. Here are 10 key questions that you might want to ask when evaluating and vetting potential carriers:

  1. Is the carrier financially stable and licensed? Insurance rating services and your state insurance commission can help you determine many of these important stability issues.
  2. Does the carrier only issue coverage under the stipulation that a certain number or percentage of your employees enroll?
  3. How does the carrier set their premium rates and allocation of premium cost among claims, commissions, and administrative expenses or fees?
  4. Does the carrier have a sufficient range of providers and locations in their provider network and how many employees will have to make a provider change under the potential new carrier’s provider network? Employees often cite having to change from their current provider or usual hospital and having to pay more to continue with their current provider as the most disruptive elements of a carrier change.
  5. Does the carrier have a positive reputation when it comes to the accuracy and efficiency of claim payments? It’s important to ensure that the carrier has a positive history since employee dissatisfaction in this area can really hurt you during the renewal period. As far as overall reputation, it might be helpful to ask the carrier to provide you with references from customers with a similar sized, located, and niche business.
  6. Does the carrier offer a choice when it comes to plan options like co-payments and deductibles? Choice is important to employees and raises the likelihood of their satisfaction with the plan. It can also result in substantial cost savings, as some employees will opt for cheaper high co-payment and deductible options.
  7. Does the carrier offer plans with preventive screening and wellness programs? Services like these can be a cost saver in many areas, even extending into increased employee productivity and decreased employee absences.
  8. What technology does the carrier use to facilitate ease of access to plan information and, if that portal doesn’t provide sufficient information, is there a real person accessible to address the issue? Having such can save you money and time by cutting down on the calls participants make to your human resource department to have their coverage or claim questions answered.
  9. What steps does the carrier implement to control cost and waste and ensure appropriate care? You might use quality indicators, such as those under the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS), to determine the performance and effectiveness of a plan on issues like how the plan responds to complaints or access to medical specialists.
  10. What is the carrier’s definition of key contract provisions, such as dependents, usual and customary, coordination of benefits, and covered employees, and what are the caps, exclusions, and limitations on services? Of course, none of the above should seem extreme. It’s also important that the provisions reflect the unique needs of your work force.

As you evaluate carriers and plans, you’ll be glad that you didn’t just look at cost. The above questions will help you get started weighing cost and coverage with the carrier’s stability, reputation, and responsiveness to determine the best carrier and plan for your business.

If you have more questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to contact any of our knowledgeable protection team.  Here are 4 Easy Ways to Reach Us:

  1. CALL 951-600-5751 or 877-994-6787
  2. Fax 951-677-6265
  3. Email – insure@siaonline.com
  4. Visit www.siaonline.com

Check Insurance Coverage Before Diving Into Your New Pool

You’re having a new pool installed in your backyard, and you can’t wait to dive into a summer of swimming fun. Of course, you might be so busy buying water wings, noodles and floats that you forgot to take care of one very important detail: Your insurance. Now is the time to take a close look at your Homeowners policy to see if you have sufficient coverage for your new pool. Your first step should be to give one of our insurance agents a call right away and let us know you have a new pool. If you neglect to inform us of this important fact, it could cause problems down the road if someone is injured in your pool. Here are a few insurance facts to keep in mind as you get ready for your pool opening:

Your pool is separate from your home. Homeowners insurance generally provides coverage for damages to your home and “other structures” on the premises. As far as your insurance company is concerned, your pool is considered a separate entity from your house — which means it is covered under the “other structures” portion of your policy, together with detached garages, sheds, and gazebos.

With most Homeowners policies, the maximum amount of insurance coverage for these other structures is 10% of the amount of coverage on your home. In other words, if your insurance policy covers $100,000 on your home, the coverage you would receive for your pool and other structures would be $10,000 combined. If you spent wads of money on a fancy new pool, $10,000 might not be enough to cover serious damages to it. Plus, if you have a shed and a detached garage in addition to a new pool, keep in mind that this amount will have to cover damages to all three structures. You might decide that you need to purchase additional insurance. The type of pool damages your insurance will cover varies depending on your specific policy. Be sure to read the fine print and figure out exactly what your policy covers. Most policies do not cover damage caused by freezing, thawing, pressure or weight of ice water. Therefore, if you live in a particularly cold area, be sure to protect and “winterize” your pool properly before the colder months hit.

Protect yourself against pool liability issues. Insurance can also protect you against liability issues related to your pool. Obviously, there are serious dangers associated with pools, including injuries and drowning. As a matter of fact, about 45,000 swimmers are injured and 300 people drown in backyard swimming pools every year. Although the liability portion of your Homeowners policy will protect your assets if someone sues you, it might not be enough. Most Homeowners policies pay up to $100,000 in coverage each time a person makes a legitimate civil claim against you for an injury that occurred on your property. When you install in a pool, you are increasing the chances that someone could be seriously injured or even killed on your property. Therefore, you should consider purchasing additional liability coverage after you install your new pool. First of all, find out if you can purchase higher liability coverage limits on your existing Homeowners policy. You might be able to increase your coverage from $100,000 to as much as $300,000 for a minimal premium.

However, this still might not be enough for a pool owner. You should also consider purchasing what’s known as a Personal Umbrella policy. This type of policy offers a higher level of liability coverage and ensures that you and your family will be protected if someone sues you for damages. Umbrella policies typically pay up to a predetermined limit, which is usually $1 million, for liability claims made against you and your family.

Call our office today and discuss how you can protect yourself from liability issues relating to your pool.

Follow pool safety rules! Another way you can protect yourself from liability issues is to create a safe swimming area and make sure everyone who takes a dip follows your pool rules. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Do not install a pool diving board or slide. (Many insurers will not even cover pools with these items because they are far too risky.)
  • Install a secure fence around the pool.
  • Never leave small children unsupervised near the pool, even for a few seconds.
  • Do not allow anyone who cannot swim into your pool.
  • Keep children away from pool filters. The suction from these filters can cause injuries or trap them at the bottom of the pool.
  • Do not swim alone or allow others to swim alone.
  • Do not allow people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol to swim in the pool.
  • Check the pool regularly for glass, bottle caps and other hazards.
  • Keep a secure cover on the pool during the off-season.

If you have any questions about your protection, call the Stromsoe Insurance Agency Total Protection Team for the right answers to your questions.

Here are 4 EASY ways to reach us:

1. Call 877-994-6787 or 951-600-5751
2. Fax 951-677-6265
3. Email – insure@siaonline.com
4. Visit Exclusive New Website –  www.siaonline.com

Teen Drinking at Parties = Insurance Issues

Every spring brings with it the prom and graduation party seasons. Unfortunately, these events often become occasions for teens to drink alcohol. Teens at unsupervised parties risk harming themselves and others when they drink. Parents who host these parties might bear responsibility for what happens there and for injuries or damages occurring after the guests leave. Although their Liability insurance might cover any financial damages, the circumstances of the accident determine which policy will respond, and this will affect how much coverage the parents have.

Assume that a guest consumes several beers at the party, drives off in his car, and gets into an accident, injuring himself and a passenger. The parents of both injured teens sue the parents who hosted the party, who in turn notify their Homeowners insurance company. However, the policy’s personal liability coverage does not apply to an insured person’s legal liability for:

  • The occupancy, operation, or use of a motor vehicle by any person
  • The entrustment of a motor vehicle by the insured person to anyone else
  • The insured person’s failure to supervise or negligent supervision of any person using a motor vehicle
  • The actions of a minor involving a motor vehicle.

Because of this, the Homeowners policy will not cover the parents’ liability or defense costs. Their Personal Auto insurance policy might cover them, however. The policy’s liability insurance covers the individuals named on the policy and household residents who are their relatives for their liability for bodily injury from an accident arising out of the use of any auto. Therefore, even though the parents were not actually operating the vehicle involved in the accident, their policy will cover their liability. In addition, the auto policy that applies to the car involved in the accident (the guest’s insurance, or, more likely, his parents’) will also cover the hosts’ liability for the passenger’s injuries. The hosts’ policy will step in if the owners’ policy either does not apply or pays out its maximum limit of insurance.

Now assume that the guest consumes the beer, but a sober guest gives him a ride home. Rather than go straight to bed, the young man goes for a swim in his parents’ pool and drowns. His parents sue the hosts, alleging that his judgment was impaired because the hosts allowed him to drink. In this situation, the homeowner’s policy should pay for the hosts’ liability and legal defense. Because this accident did not involve a motor vehicle, and no other policy provisions that would remove coverage apply, the policy will cover this claim.

Although one policy or the other might apply to a liquor liability claim, there could be significant differences between the amounts of coverage the two policies provide. Most homeowner’s policies provide personal liability coverage of at least $100,000 for each occurrence; many provide limits of $300,000 or $500,000. Auto policies might provide much less coverage. Most states have laws setting the minimum amounts of liability coverage that an auto policy might provide, but those limits are relatively small. For example, New York law requires minimum limits of $25,000 for injuries to one person and $50,000 for injuries to two or more people (higher amounts apply for death claims.) Should a young person become seriously injured or killed, the damages claimed could well exceed these amounts. Parents should consider buying as much liability insurance as they can afford; they should also think about buying an umbrella policy, which pays for damages that surpass the amounts payable under homeowner’s and auto policies.

Of course, the best course of action is to properly supervise parties, so that everyone has a good time and lives to have another one someday.

April 2011 Gas Card Special!!!

We had such a great response to our March 2011 Referral Program Special, that we decided to extend it through the entire month of April too.  You got it – for EVERY referral we quote in the month of April 2011, YOU get a $25 Gas Card in addition to ALL of the normal Referral Program rewards!!!  The best part is there are NO Limits to the number of entries you may have.

So start talking… Tell Anyone and Everyone you know about Stromsoe Insurance Agency and YOU Could Be The Next Millionaire!

Here are 4 Easy Ways to Reach Our Team:

  1. Call 951-600-5751 or 877-994-6787
  2. Fax 951-677-6265
  3. Email – insure@siaonline.com
  4. Visit us at www.siaonline.com