Do I Really Need Commercial Auto Insurance Protection?

Understanding Commercial Auto Coverage

Commercial auto insurance is necessary for any business that that use cars, trucks, vans, or any other type of vehicle to conduct business operations. Without this essential coverage, you leave your business assets vulnerable to financial harm.

Common Commercial Auto Insurance Questions:

  • How do I know if I need a commercial auto insurance policy? There are a variety of factors that may mean it is time to obtain commercial auto insurance protection. If you deliver customers, food, goods, or anything else for a fee, it is time to seek a commercial auto insurance policy. A safe rule of thumb is to contact your commercial insurance agent once your operations require vehicles.
  • Do I need to purchase more liability coverage than a standard auto insurance policy? Most likely, yes. Generally, these policies come with more liability coverage already, but you will need to look into exactly how much liability insurance would best protect your business assets.
  • Am I going to need special coverage when using commercial vehicles to operate business? You can customize your commercial auto insurance policy to meet your unique needs. Each policy comes with standard coverage, but you and your commercial insurance agent can discuss additional coverage options that may be necessary to protect your business to the fullest.
  • Am I going to need to list each of my employees as drivers under my policy? Yes, you will need to add your employees to your policy. However, this is much more favorable than a personal auto insurance policy where there are often complications associated with listing multiple drivers under one policy.

Contact Stromsoe Insurance Agency for all of your California commercial insurance needs. You deserve to feel confident in the protection of your commercial vehicles. Allow us to help you obtain commercial auto insurance in California that optimizes your protection.

The Reality Of Renters Insurance

Do You Need This Kind Of Coverage?

When you rent, you do not have as many worries about your property as a homeowner. If your shower clogs, or your oven breaks, or your neighbors are being too noisy, all you have to do is pick up the phone and have someone else handle the issue for you. Just because you do not have to worry about maintaining the property on which you live does not mean you should not worry about the personal property you store in it, though.

As a renter, you can rest easy knowing your rental property would be rebuilt after a fire because it is covered by your landlord’s insurance coverage. If that fire crept into your unit and touched your belongings, though, your landlord’s coverage will not extend to replace or repair your possessions.

Consequently, it is important to carry renters insurance. This kind of coverage is very affordable (usually between $15 and $30 a month, depending on how much property you have to cover) and will offer protection for your personal property. That means that a thief breaking in and swiping all of your valuables will not leave you facing a financial deficit. Have you protected your possessions with renters insurance?

There is an additional benefit of this type of coverage. Renters insurance also offers liability coverage, which means that a guest getting injured in your rental will not end up being a huge legal expense for you if they decide to sue you. Protect yourself from being held responsible after an injury with renters insurance.

Do you have an insurance expert showing you how much coverage you need to protect your rental, your personal property, and your liability? To get that kind of guidance, contact Stromsoe Insurance Agency today. We are here to meet all of your California renter’s insurance needs.

Auto Liability Insurance: How Much is Enough?

Do you know what the three numbers that are usually written like this xx/yy/zz on your Auto Liability insurance?

The first number refers to the maximum amount of Bodily Injury Liability (BI) for an individual injured in an auto accident; the second is BI per coverage per accident; while the third covers Property Damage Liability (PD) per vehicle. For example a policy with 30/60/15 Liability coverage would pay up to $30,000 in BI per individual, $60,000 worth of BI per vehicle, and $15,000 in PD per vehicle.

Every state requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of Liability coverage under their Auto policy. Limits by state vary from 10/20/10 in Florida to 80/100/25 in Maine. These numbers have remained fairly stable for a number of years.

However, because a car accident can cost far more than the Liability minimums that most states require, people usually carry more coverage. The Insurance Information Institute recommends that you have at least $100,000 of BI protection per person and $300,000 per accident (known as 100/300).

If you hold the minimum coverage required by your state and you’re involved in an accident in another state that requires higher minimum coverage, the chances are that your policy limits will increase automatically to meet the other state’s minimum requirements.

We’d be happy to make sure that this feature applies under your Auto insurance– and to discuss the most cost-effective ways of protect yourself and your family from liability for accidents behind the wheel (such as increasing your Liability coverage or choosing higher deductibles).

For a complimentary review of your policy, just give us a call. 877-994-6787

What is a “Separation of Insureds” Clause?

Did you know when signing a contract to do business with another entity, you are agreeing to add them as an insured under your Liability insurance? Several months later, an accident may arise from the contracted job, and the other party sues you for damages. Can you file a claim for this suit under the policy that covers both of you? If so, isn’t this like the party suing itself, because the same policy that covers them as an insured is the one under which they’re now attempting to collect damages?

The answer to the first question is “yes, you can file that claim.” A standard Liability policy will cover a suit by one of its insureds against another unless there’s a specific endorsement prohibiting such coverage. Under such a “separation of insureds” clause, all policy provisions apply “separately to each insured against whom a claim is made or suit is brought.” So, from the policy perspective, the key issue is whether an insured is being sued — not who’s bringing the suit. As with any other claim, whether the policy pays for the damages will depend on a determination of liability and applicable coverage limitations and exclusions.

Although the insured party is attempting to collect under a policy that covers them, legally they aren’t suing themselves, but another insured; and the “separation of insureds” clause allows coverage for such situations.

Protection for “insured vs. insured” claims provides a valuable benefit under your liability coverage. However, bear in mind that any damages for such claims will drain your coverage limits. So, be careful about which and how many additional insureds you allow to be covered by — and yet still sue you and collect under — the policy you purchased just to protect yourself!

If you’d like more information, please feel free to get in touch with our Business insurance professionals. We’re here to serve you. 877-994-6787

Guns, Homeowners, and Insurance

When it comes to insuring firearms, Homeowners coverage offers some clear guidelines. We understand gun control remains a controversial issue, but we are here to help.

If you have rifles and pistols in your home, your policy will insure them against fire damage or theft, usually up to $2,500. Although a Homeowners application might not ask specifically about firearms, the higher liability risk that guns present means that failing to inform your agent or insurance company in advance about them could result in denial of a claim for loss or damage to them.

Because of this greater liability exposure, your insurer might require you to show that you’ve taken such sensible precautions as installing trigger locks, securing firearms properly in locked gun cases, and keeping them away from children. If you have a collection of guns that’s particularly valuable (for example, antique sidearms), you might need to buy a policy rider that ensures their replacement or reimbursement — much as with other big-ticket items, such as jewelry and fine art.

If you shoot someone else or yourself accidentally while in the home, your policy might pay for some or all of the damages, (medical bills, property damage, liability claims, and so forth), depending on the amount of coverage. However, to guarantee full protection, you would need additional policy riders, such as “Sporting Firearm insurance,” “Collector’s Firearm insurance,” or “Gun Club Liability insurance.”

To learn more about firearms coverage in your home, please give your Protection Coach a call 877-994-6787.

Bailee Insurance, Anyone?

Let’s face it, we live in a “service economy,” more and more businesses (such as auto body shops, dry cleaners, and parking lot owners) are taking temporary responsibility for property or equipment owned by others. Any damage or loss to any property under the care, custody, or control of your firm could cost thousands of dollars — unless you have Bailee insurance.

This Inland Marine policy covers the liability of a business (the “bailee”) for the property of customers under its care, custody, or control. Most Property policies don’t provide coverage for this type of exposure, unless it’s included specifically. You can also purchase Bailee insurance on a no-fault basis to protect customers’ property against any loss or damage and subsequent liability, regardless of negligence.

You should buy enough coverage to pay for the total value of other’s property that might be in your control at any one time. Many types of Bailee insurance are tailored to the specialized needs of a particular type of business (Jewelers Block policies, Furriers Block policies, etc.).

As an alternative to Bailee insurance, you can obtain coverage as part of a comprehensive Property policy that includes a “property of others” clause.

We’d be happy to help you evaluate your needs and find a solution to insuring property under your care, custody, and control. Just give us a call. 877-994-6787

Mobile Devices Pose Data Breach Threats

With the ever growing use of tablets and smartphones in the workplace the risk of exposing more and more businesses to liability for sensitive data being compromised if these devices are lost, stolen, or hacked. How can your company protect itself against this threat – and how much authority do you have over an employee’s personal device if it’s also used for work-related activities?

What’s more, because these gizmos are small and portable, it’s easy to misplace them. (The federal Transportation Safety Administration recently leased a warehouse just to store those misplaced or left behind at airports.)

Another emerging risk linked to these devices is a “bring your own” policy that many companies have adopted as a way to save costs by having employees spend their own money on smartphones and tablets that are constantly evolving and updated. This approach raises questions about separating company data from personal information on the device. For example, when an employee leaves, does a business have the authority to wipe the information from his or her smartphone? According to some authorities, if an employee connects a personal device to a company network, the company has inherited responsibility for the data stored on it.

To deal with this risk, you need to provide every employee who uses these devices with training, updated annually, on how to respond in case of loss or theft. To minimize potential liability for lawsuits by customers and clients, make sure that the individual responsible for the mishap informs management immediately. The compromised information might include everything from sensitive data (financial or medical) contacts, photos, call history, personal notes – you name it.

You can also use insurance to protect yourself against losses from data breaches. A policy will provide Liability coverage that deals with legal costs and third-party expertise (such as forensics firms to analyze a breach and call centers to provide information and public relations. Coverage might also include services such as access to tools to estimate costs, a checklist for your planned response to a data breach, and access to experts who can answer questions and review your company’s policies and procedures.

For more information, feel free to give us a call. (877)994-6787

Social Media as a Hiring Tool – Employer Beware!

Social media has revolutionized not only the way we stay connected in our personal lives, but also how we conduct business. However, this asset can quickly turn into a liability if misused – for example, in recruiting your company’s most valuable asset – its employees.

Many employers begin the hiring process by using social-media outlets to screen applicants. LinkedIn and Facebook can provide a wealth of information about applicants’ education, their friends, and their personal behavior. Some companies reject candidates based on the content of their social-media pages. This might include anything from inappropriate photos or comments, discriminatory or slanderous statements, and references to alcohol and substance abuse, to sharing confidential information about their previous employers(s), displaying poor communication skills, or exaggerating their qualifications.

Although all of these indicators raise red flags, you could be risking a costly and annoying discrimination lawsuit if you access social-media sites which contain protected class information that’s not privileged in the normal hiring process.

To minimize this risk, it makes sense to:

    1. When hiring, use outside third parties such as background-verification companies and/or recruiters who document content from social-media sites in selecting candidates.

 

    1. Develop and enforce a comprehensive social-media usage policy.

 

  1. Purchase an Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) policy

For more information, please feel free to get in touch with our agency (877)994-6787

‘Aggregate’ Coverage Means ‘ALL OF IT’

An important question when purchasing an insurance policy is “How much will it pay when I need it?” Most coverages, such as Property, the answer is fairly clear — the amount listed on the front page of the policy (known as the “declarations page”) for the specified property is the most you can collect for a loss to it. For damage to an auto, the policy usually sets a maximum payment equal to the current “book” value of a similar vehicle in similar condition.

Some policies have another limit — called an “aggregate” — on coverages. For example, your Liability insurance will set an aggregate limit: Basically the maximum amount the policy will pay in a given year for all damages under the policy, no matter the size or number of the claims. Depending on the nature of your business, the amount you’ll consider adequate for your aggregate can differ greatly from what’s enough to cover any single claim. Many policies automatically provide an aggregate equal to double your amount per claim (or “per occurrence”). Is this enough to meet your needs?

Let’s sit down and discuss the aggregate limits under your current policies. If they’re satisfactory, great! For those that don’t meet your needs, due to changes in valuations or business procedures, we’ll work with you to make the needed updates now, before you find yourself falling short tomorrow. Give your Protection Coach a call at your convenience.

State Minimum Auto Liability Coverage: Is It Enough?

State minimum insurance requirements are minimal. Most states demand less than $100,000 for bodily injuries and $50,000 for property damage. Some states require only $10,000 for property damage coverage.

How many cars valued at greater than $10,000 travel the highways? How many trucks carrying cargo are worth more than $10,000? $50,000? $100,000?

According to the 2010 census, the median family net worth exceeded $200,000. That amount includes houses, cars, savings, retirement funds, cash in the bank, college savings, and furniture and personal effects. Half the families are worth more, half have assets less than $200,000; all of it is hard earned.

If the family is underinsured for liability, their net worth is vulnerable to be seized in a lawsuit based on injuries or property damage caused by any family member driving a vehicle. The car owner and the car driver become parties to the suit.

Bodily injuries sustained in car wrecks devastate lives. People unable to work, the high cost of medical treatment, rehabilitation expenses, and the pain and suffering can only be compensated with money. The money comes from the insurance company or the liable party’s personal wealth.

Not convinced you need higher limits? Not all liabilities are released in bankruptcy. Many states have specific legislation disallowing debt reduction for certain accidents, most notably driving while intoxicated. Wage plans reduce take home pay by as much as 33%. Many employers do not tolerate either bankruptcy or wage garnishments.

Still not convinced? How about a selfish motivation?

Other drivers are either uninsured or underinsured. Most insurance companies will not provide uninsured motorist coverage in limits greater than the liability limits of the policy.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage from your policy pays on behalf of the driver who hits you if they are poorly insured. In a classic exercise of the golden rule, insurance companies only sell limits commensurate with the protection you offer others.

Proper limits of liability allow you to protect yourself from the improper coverage other people maintain.

So how much coverage is enough? What are reasonable limits of liability?

Call our knowledgeable Protection Team to get the right answers to your questions. And consider this:

Your assets are your excess insurance coverage. This means that when the limits of your policy are reached, your assets are at risk. Excess insurance – Umbrella policies, for example – is available in $1 million layers over your Automobile and Homeowners liability limits if those limits qualify – are high enough. Protect yourself against underinsured drivers by increasing your uninsured motorist coverage.

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