Frequently Asked Insurance Questions

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Auto Insurance

Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners: Property Coverage

Homeowners: Premiums

Auto Insurance

I drive a company car. Is the insurance coverage paid by my company sufficient for me and my family?
The Business Auto policy does not extend coverage to employees and their family members if the company furnished vehicle is operated outside the scope of the employer's permission or if the employee rents or borrows a vehicle on a personal basis which is not owned, rented, or borrowed by the business. Also, even in those instances in which coverage extends to the employee under the Business Auto policy, protection is subject to the policy limits, which must be shared with the named insured (The Employer).

For example, an employer's permission for use of a company vehicle may not extend to employee vacation or other personal activities or to use of the vehicle by members of the employee's family. Even if permission is granted for personal use of the vehicle, the Business Auto policy covers only vehicles owned, rented, or borrowed by the named insured. No coverage extends to vehicles rented or borrowed by an employee on a personal basis.

Individuals who drive a company furnished vehicle must make other insurance arrangements to protect against these coverage gaps in the Business Auto policy. Four alternatives are available:

Expanding the Personal Auto Policy -- Those employees who own one or more personal vehicles in addition to operating a company-furnished car must insure the personal vehicles under a Personal Auto policy. This normally excludes liability and physical damage coverage for the operation of a vehicle furnished for the insured's regular use, but this exclusion may be eliminated by attachment of an Extended Non-Owned Liability Endorsement. This grants coverage for the insured and spouse for operation of a company furnished vehicle and for operating any non-owned vehicle.

Named Non-Owner Coverage -- Individuals who own no personal vehicles may acquire a Personal Auto policy with a Named Non-Owner Endorsement. This provides coverage for the named individual and other listed family members while operating a non-owned vehicle, including a company furnished vehicle. Most carriers prefer not to issue the Personal Auto policy with this endorsement on the presumption that the premium is inadequate; no owned vehicle exists to act as the rating basis.

How can I save on my auto insurance?
There are a variety of special discounts available to help lower your rates.
• Superior Driver Discount
• Multi-Car Discount
• Multi-Policy Discount
• Car Pool Discount
• Driving Safety Course Discounts
• Anti-Theft Device Discount
• Mature Driver Discount
• Safety Device Discount
• Good Student
• Student Away

What is the difference between Comprehensive Coverage and Collision Coverage?
Comprehensive coverage pays for any damage to your car that is caused by something other than collision. Protect your car from fire, theft, vandalism, riots, damage caused by animals, glass breakage, and many other perils.

Collision coverage pays for damage to your car no matter who causes the accident. This coverage applies if your car is hit by another car or by any other object that causes damage to your car. You always select a deductible with this coverage. The maximum amount that will be paid under Collision Coverage is the actual cash value of your car minus the deductible.

What if I get in an accident?
We know you’re looking for added value when you choose an auto insurance company. That’s why we represent A-rated companies that offer limits up to 250/500 ($250,000/$500,000) for bodily injury and $100,000 for property damage. This coverage protects you against bodily injury or property damage claims from others for which you may be found legally responsible.

What do limits of liability mean?
These limits specify the most that will be paid for the entire accident. For example, $50,000/$100,000 Bodily Injury Liability means that each injured person is covered for up to $50,000 and that the most that will be paid to all injured persons combined is $100,000, for injuries sustained in a single accident. Your Property Damage Liability is one amount, for instance $50,000 for all property damages sustained in the accident.

What happens if someone is hurt in my car?
Medical Expense Coverage protects you, your passengers and resident relatives against bodily injury caused by an automobile accident regardless of who is at fault. This coverage also pays for doctors and hospital bills.

What if the other car doesn’t have insurance?
Some drivers on the road choose not to have insurance. If you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, you have little chance of getting that driver to pay for your damages. Uninsured Motorist Coverage protects you and your passengers for bodily injury-related damages caused by an uninsured driver. Property damages may also be included.

What if the other driver doesn’t have enough insurance protection?
Underinsured Motorist Coverage protects you and your passengers when an accident is caused by someone without enough insurance to cover bodily injuries. Property damages may also be included.

Homeowners Insurance

How much insurance do I really need?
The last thing you need is to find out after your home has been damaged that you don't have enough insurance. Likewise, you don't want to be paying for insurance you really don't need either. There are ways to make sure you have the right protection - without having more than you need.

First, you need to estimate how much your house would cost to completely rebuild it. At Metro Brokers Insurance Services, Inc., we use the E.H.Boeckh Company, which has been a leading authority for more than 50 years, providing building and personal property replacement cost information to the construction and insurance industries. Next, we recommend you also purchase "inflation" protection, which adjusts your limits annually to reflect any increases in value due to inflation.

Finally, we recommend Replacement Plus (also referred to as Guaranteed Replacement Cost), which guarantees that you will have the right amount if you need to completely rebuild after a loss.

What is the difference between actual cash value and replacement cost protection?
Actual cash value is the amount your property is worth at the time of the loss. It is, essentially, the cost to replace the item minus depreciation, which takes into account the loss of value due to age and normal wear and tear. The actual cash value on a piece of property, whether it is your home, stereo or favorite chair, may be much less than the cost to replace it new. When insurance companies settle on this basis, you may receive a check for an amount much less than you need to replace the item.

Replacement Cost; is the amount to replace your house, other buildings, and personal property without any deductions for depreciation. Your agent can help you calculate what your Replacement Cost should be.

Why is it that my bank requires me to purchase my full mortgage amount, when my insurance company says I can purchase a lesser amount and still be adequately covered?
Some lien-holders require you to purchase insurance which covers the entire mortgage amount. However, your insurance company may indicate you really need a lesser amount since home insurance covers basically the house and additional structures, not the land which they sit on or the market value of your home due to its location.

I've just renovated my home. Should I tell my insurance company?
Most definitely, especially if your renovations cost more than $5,000. With all the hard work and money that went into your renovations, it's important that you are insured for the right amount so that if you have a loss, you'll get what you need to cover the damages. Most likely, the amount of insurance you now have is inadequate with your recent renovation.

I've just built an addition. Should I notify my insurance company?
Most definitely, especially if the new addition cost more than $5,000. It's important to be insured for the right amount so that if you have a loss, you'll get what you need to cover the damages. If you do not adjust your policy to cover the new addition, the amount of insurance you now have may be inadequate to cover a loss.

If I have a loss, do I need to show proof of what was in my home?
No, but you will need to provide a list of items which were destroyed or damaged. The more information you have, the better off you will be.

With all the stress when you have a loss, it is often very hard to remember everything that was damaged or stolen. To combat this, we recommend you spend a few hours videotaping the contents in your home and storing the videotape in a safety deposit box. While videotaping, discuss exactly what you are filming so you will have these records when you need them. For instance, “This is a 3-year-old oriental rug, bought at Rustigians in 1995 for $2,300. This is my mahogany Ethan Allen coffee table bought in 1993 for$550...”

We also suggest keeping receipts or credit card statements on high value items, such as furniture, jewelry, appliances, rugs, expensive clothing, etc. and also storing these in your safety deposit box.

Homeowners: Property Coverage

I have a large amount of tools in my shed. Will my insurance policy cover them if they are stolen or damaged?
Yes. Your insurance policy contains coverage for personal property, which would include your tools provided they are stolen (up to certain limits) or if the damage is caused by a covered peril. See your specific policy for details and coverage limits.

Will my policy cover me for earthquakes?
Basic homeowners insurance policies do not cover damage resulting from earthquakes. You must purchase this extra if you are concerned about your house being damaged by an earthquake.

Will my insurance company cover damage caused by flood?
Insurance policies do not cover any damage caused by floods. If you think flooding is a possibility in your area, you should consider purchasing special flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) of the U.S. Government. Insurance companies do not underwrite flood insurance and the NFIP is the primary way to protect your property from the devastation of floods.

I've got antiques and fine arts in my home. What kind of coverage would adequately protect them?
You need to list invaluable items such as these on a separate endorsement. This is known as a Scheduled Personal Property (SPP) endorsement that is added to your basic homeowners policy. SPP acts like a mini-insurance policy on the specified and listed items, provides all-risks coverage (except for a few exclusions), and there is no deductible, except for scheduled water craft.

I have a very valuable piece of jewelry. Is this covered by my basic policy?
If you own a item of specific value, you can add an endorsement, called Scheduled Personal Property (SPP), which acts like a mini-insurance policy on the specified and listed item or add Extended Coverage, which increases protection on jewelry, watches and furs (up to an aggregate limit for all of these items together which is specified on your policy). Both provide all-risks coverage (except for a few exclusions). With SPP, there is no deductible, except water craft. Many people get extra protection on jewelry, cameras, coin and stamp collections, fine arts, furs, golfing equipment, guns, musical instruments, outboard motor boats, and silverware/goldware.

I run a business from my home. What type of insurance protection does my homeowner policy provide me with?
There is no coverage for property and liability damages which arise from a business you own and operate.

I have a big freezer full of meat in my basement. If the power goes out, am I covered?
Not all policies include damage to food caused by power outage so it's best to check with your insurance company.

I have a very expensive wardrobe. Do I need additional protection?
In most cases, you won't have to do anything special. Clothing is covered under Coverage C - Personal Property. It is typically 50% of the insurance you have on your dwelling (Coverage A). You can get up to 70% if you have what is called Replacement Cost on your belongings. This coverage gives you the amount that it would cost to replace the belonging versus the actual cash value. With expensive items, such as furs, you may want to itemize them separately with a Scheduled Personal Property endorsement. It is important, however, to inventory your property to see if this amount is enough for you. This includes all your furniture, clothing, stereo equipment, rugs - in essence, everything you have inside your home.

My car has been broken into and my skis stolen! Will my homeowners insurance cover this?
Yes. Your homeowners policy includes your possessions which are temporarily away from home.

Homeowners: Premiums

I've never had an insurance claim. Shouldn't my homeowners insurance costs be going down?
If you have never had a claim, your insurance costs can keep rising, but slower than for those who do have claims. It's because premiums are also based on other factors - how much it will cost to rebuild your home in the event of a total loss, where you live, and the theft and burglary rate in your area. And sadly, increased lawsuits and fraud also contribute to rising insurance costs.

What goes into determining the cost of my insurance?
Where You Live - Insurance companies look at weather patterns in your area, how quickly a fire department can get to your home, how close the nearest hydrant is to your property, as well as loss statistics in your area. As an example, if you live in a coastal area open to hurricanes or in an area hit by tornadoes, your insurance may cost more because of higher risks due to wind damage.

The Home You Live In - Factors that impact your insurance costs are the age of your home, the type of construction used to build it, and the amount of insurance protection you need.

How can I lower my insurance cost?
Many insurance companies offer discounts for fire and theft prevention systems such as:

- Automatic sprinkler systems.
- Central burglar/fire alarms.
- Deadbolt locks, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.

If you are 55 years old or more and retired, or have both your auto and home policy with us, or own a home that's less than 8 years old, you may also be eligible for additional discounts. You can also order Nine Ways to Lower Your Insurance Costs from the Insurance Information Institute, 110 William Street, New York, NY 10038 or call 1-800-331-9146 (212-699-9200 in New York).

What is a deductible?
It's the amount you pay before your policy kicks in. In the event of a covered loss, for instance, if your homeowners policy has a $250 deductible, you must pay the first $250 to repair or replace the damage. If repairs only cost $200, you pay for everything. But if covered repairs cost $1,000, you pay $250 and your insurance company pays the rest.

Does a higher deductible make a difference in premium?
Most definitely. The higher your deductible, the lower your homeowners insurance premium. We recommend you ask us for a cost comparison based on different deductible options, or call us at 404-847-2525.