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What Is an Umbrella Policy and Why Do You Need One?

Umbrella Policy
Take a second and imagine that you’re 61-years old. Imagine that you’re well-seasoned in your career, just a few years away from retirement, and have a healthy portfolio of assets. You have two homes – one permanent and one vacation – and a car that is all fully paid off.

Suddenly, as you’re driving up to your vacation home, you, unfortunately, get into an accident. Luckily, you’re not hurt too bad and insurance will cover the damage to your car and any medical bills that you incur. However, the car you hit and the people in it were not as lucky. Everyone is okay, but there is damage and injuries to the people in the other car.

The judge concludes that you are liable for the accident, responsible for the damage to the car, for the medical bills, for the lost wages, and additional money for their pain and suffering.  Your auto policy covers much of the costs, but the total amount could exceed what your auto policy covers and is close to your entire retirement savings.

Not good.

This seems like a disaster, right?

Unless you have an umbrella policy, this disaster could, in fact, be a disaster. Yet, with an umbrella policy, most of this can be avoided. Umbrella policies take over when your other policies run up against their coverage limits – in this case, saving most of your retirement account from this ill-fated accident.

How Umbrella Insurance Works

Typically, insurance policies render one distinct coverage for one specific thing. For example, your homeowner’s insurance covers your home and everything in it.  On the other hand, an umbrella policy includes most every corner of your financial life. An umbrella policy covers:

  • Bodily Injury
  • Legal Fees
  • Legal Damages
  • Property Damage

So this means that whenever you approach your liability limit, your umbrella policy is right there to help counteract the additional expenses – saving you, your retirement account, and your peace of mind.

Give us a call today to learn how you can set up your umbrella insurance.

Why You Should Know What “Coverage Gaps” Are

Surprises are a part of life.

Month in and month out, we confront new obstacles, and no matter the size, these obstacles can be surprising and sometimes undesirable.

In the insurance world, these “undesirable surprises” are called “gaps” and they’re never enjoyable. However, if you know these policy gaps it can lessen the impact of their severity if they ever occur.

Coverage Gap: A coverage gap is an area or type of risk that an insurance policy does not cover.

How to Avoid Coverage Gaps

No matter what, coverage gaps will always continue because there is no such thing as an insurance policy that doesn’t have gaps. To learn a little more about these gaps, here are two seasonal scenarios where coverage gaps may occur:

The Roaring River

You live next to a beautiful stream that gently flows close to your backyard. It’s never been a problem until now. One weekend, after an ominous forecast by your local weather station, torrential rains came down and that quiet stream turned into a roaring river. Your backyard is now gone and your basement is under four feet of water.

Flooding is not covered by your homeowner’s policy. In order to be covered, You’ll need to obtain a separate flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program or a private insurer. This is a gap people sometimes face. Give us a call if you have questions about your homeowner’s policy and we’ll gladly go over it.

The Summertime thief

During the summer months, you decide that it’s okay to leave your windows open while you head out to your job. As you get home, your screen is broken and you realize that some of your belongings are gone. A burglar has broken in.

Chase Clarke Stewart and Fontana

Here’s where coverage gaps come into play. You have personal property coverage on your homeowners/renters policy, and your policy covers $1,000 toward jewelry in a single incident. Unfortunately,  the burglar walked away with $5,000. You’re out $4,000. There’s the gap.

In order to lessen the gap, you can “schedule” these expensive jewels. Don’t know what “scheduling” is? To learn more about scheduling, give us a call and we’ll gladly make sure your belongings are covered.

Want to learn more? Give us a call.

It’s important to understand your policy and address any coverage gaps that seem particularly concerning. That’s why we’re here to help.

“Does My Homeowners Insurance Cover That?”

If you have homeowners insurance, you know that you’re covered in the event of fire damage or if you encounter a few sticky finger thieves. Now that the holidays are right around the corner and more people will be visiting your home, it’s time to cover three potential scenarios that may happen to you this holiday season and the likely coverage that each one has:

The Thirsty College Student

Every happy holiday party has three essentials: festive lights, sweets, and a large punchbowl of spiked egg nog. Your brother’s son, a recent college freshman on winter break, dunks his moose shaped mug into the punchbowl – once…twice…three times more. As the party ends, he gets into his car, backs down your driveway and injures one of the other guests. The guest turns around and sues you.In this situation, be very careful about serving alcohol at your house.  Some carriers are excluding coverage for Host Liquor Liability.  This means that you as the homeowner, will have to defend yourself in court.  So take the time to call your agent and confirm the language within your policy before throwing that big Holiday Celebration!!

The Brightest House on the Block

You just finished watching Christmas Vacation and you turn to your wife and say, “honey, I’m going to make our house the brightest house on the block!” She rolls her eyes and you start planning the masterpiece. Two weekends pass, and you’re on the last few strands. As you reach to staple the final light you slip off the ladder and fracture your arm. Your homeowner’s policy will not cover injuries to you, only injuries to others. This accent will fall under your health insurance coverage.

Black Friday Madness

You’ve never missed a deal on black Friday and this year wasn’t going to be your first. Your daughter asked for the new what-cha-ma-call-it and she HAS to have it. The morning of Black Friday, you turn the corner of aisle 12 and see two what-cha-ma-call-its remaining on the shelf. You don’t remember throwing an elbow and breaking the person’s wrist as you clawed to grabbed for the remaining two, but witnesses claimed otherwise. Now you’re being sued. This may be considered as an intentional act and may not be covered.

As the holiday season continues to strengthen, remember to review your policy. Give us a call and we’ll gladly let you know the nuances of your coverage.

Cooking Fire Safety Tips

This time of year families are congregating in the kitchen.  Home cooked meals warm the heart.

Sadly this time of year sees the highest number of house fires.  According to FEMA, in 2014 the majority of house fires where cooking fires.

Lets avoid or limit fires this year!  Now is a good time to refresh your memory on safe cooking techniques.

Quick Tips: Cooking Fire Safety

  • Never try to extinguish grease fires with water.
  • Keep children and pets away from the stove while cooking.
  • Minor burns can be cooled by running under water for 10-15 minutes.
  • More Tips from FEMA.

cooking-fire safety

Click here for Turkey Fryer Safety tips.

 

They say if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen.  We say cook safe and enjoy the kitchen.

From the Agency that cares…

 

Energy Assessments for the Fall season

Did you feel that cool crisp air? Fall is in the air, so it’s finally sweater weather! Time for apples, pumpkins, the Big E and more fall fun!

This is also a good time to discuss your home heating habits and how you can save money during this fall and winter season! Saving money on your heating bill is always a good thing.energy assessments

Have you considered having energy assessments done by an energy auditor?

These trained professionals will help find leaks and determine if your heating units are running well.  Leaks can cost you a lot of money when you are trying to heat your home.

Click here for more information on Energy Audits

 

Once you have had the assessment, the auditor will usually tell you what needs to be done to fix any issues.

Common recommendations include…

Windows

  • Replace them with updated energy efficient products.
  • Apply weather stripping to seal leaks.

Heating Systems

  • Annual servicing by a professional.
  • Check filter for cleanliness. A clean filter helps the unit run better, longer.

 

We know how important your home is to you.  Your local agent is here to assist you with questions about your coverage options.

 

Emergency Planning for Pet Owners

pet ownersPets are so important to many of us.  For many they are a huge part of the family. This time of year we hear a lot about emergency preparedness.  How can you prepare your pets for an emergency.  Did you know Ready.gov has resources for savvy pet owners.  They even have tips for making an emergency kit.

Pet Owners, Ask yourself:

  • Do you have a current photo of your pet?
  • Is your pet up to date on vaccines?
  • Do you have copies of medical prescriptions, for your pet?
  • Does your pet have current ID Tags?
  • What local shelter are pet friendly?

Find more tips for the Pet Owner

Other things to consider.

  • Have you made renovations for your pet?
  • Have you taken an inventory of your, or your pets’ valuable belongings?

Keep your local insurance agent in the loop, so you do not miss out on coverage.

 

Is there insurance coverage for solar panels?

Solar, solar, everywhere!

Solar energy is one renewable energy that has become a hot topic among homeowners. (Pardon the pun.)

That being said, the question is, how are they insured?

Is there insurance coverage for solar panels?  Who is responsible for insuring them?

If you ownsolar panels

As of now, there is no specific insurance policy for solar panels.  If you own solar panels that are on your residence or property you would have coverage through your homeowners policy.  It’s key that you notify your local agency and update your policy as soon as you have them or better yet before you buy, or you may not have the necessary coverage.  Call us for more information.

If you lease

When leasing solar panels, usually the company you lease from is responsible for insuring them.  Be sure to have a clear understanding of your contract.  Also be aware that if you sell your home while still in a lease, the solar company could have a say in who buys your home.  Be careful whenever you have a contract.  Call you local insurance agent for more information.

For more fun facts about solar click here…

We are here to help with further question you may have.

Spring Home Maintenance Tips

Spring is officially here!  This time of year, homeowners are excited to be seeing an end to cold weather.  Winter can be a test for your home. Warmer weather lets us get outside and make needed repairs.  Arbella Insurance has a helpful infographic that you can download for spring home maintenance.

Here are some helpful spring home maintenance tips:

Roof Tips:

  • Check your roof for damage from the weight of heavy snow.spring maintenance
  • Check roof shingles for wear.
  • Clear leaves from your gutters, allowing water to drain.

Ventilation Tips:

  • Check CO detectors, to make sure they are working properly.
  • Check HVAC filters, replacing or cleaning them as needed.

Yard Tips:

  • Check your deck for wear and tear.
  • Check driveways and walkways for cracks caused by snow and ice.

 

Contact your local agent for homeowners coverage questions.

Independent Agency VS Agent

Imagine living in a world with only one flavor of Ice Cream and worse yet, only one serving size??  Sound awful? We agree!

We recognize how important choice is, and feel people should know that they also have many options when it comes to insurance.  As an independent agency we work for you, keeping you informed of your options and to providing you with a policy that best matches your needs.

While other agents are stuck representing only one company, we can shop around for you.

 

 

 

Chase Clarke Stewart & Fontana Insurance Agency would be happy to provide you with the free quotes you need…

Why is our Independent Agency right for you:

  • We work for you as opposed to one company.
  • When you have a claim we work for you, to get you the best results.
  • We are value hunters, whose priority is to bring you the best price, coverage and service.
  • We cover a wide range of products, including Home, Renters, Auto, Business, Cyber Liability and More.
  • We will review your coverage from time to time to make sure all your needs are covered.
  • Customer satisfaction is our number one focus.
  • You are a person and not a number and we are available to talk when you need us.
  • We are local, licensed professionals with a long history in this community.

Contact us today  413-788-4531

Homeowners: Inventory your belongings.

inventoryHave you taken an inventory of your belongings?

This is a reminder to take some time now to go through your home and create an inventory of your valued items.

Take this situation:

A fire breaks out in the home, causing severe interior damage.  The structure of your home remains intact but everything else is a loss.  You find yourself needing to replace everything from appliances to clothing and even your toothbrush.   Good news is, you have insurance so you are covered and will be reimbursed…  But do you remember all the contents items in your house? Now is the time you wish you’d taken pictures or had a video of the inside of the house.

Don’t let this happen to you…

Here are a few things to remember when taking an inventory…

  • Take 3 or 4 pictures of each room.
  • When taking pictures, don’t forget to open the cabinets and closets. You have more clothes than you think!
  • Make a separate list of the items that can’t be replaced
  • Your valuable items may need to be appraised.
  • Call our office with your list.  413-788-4531.

 

Being Proactive (before a loss) will save you time and energy.

 

Feel free to call us with further questions.