Thursday, February 18, 2010

Are You "On Track" about Off Premises Theft?

Off premises theft coverage: (n.) coverage provided to you off the premises you reside for the act of stealing your belongings.

So now I know what your thinking…”Amy, translate this insurance jargon into something that makes send to me…PLEASE!”

Ok, so basically if someone breaks into your car and jacks your golf clubs and your IPOD, this coverage would be able to replace those for you.

Charlie Customer
: “Oh, so this is under my car insurance right?”

Me: “No, its covered under your home, condo, or renters insurance policy.”

Charlie Customer: “Wait, someone breaks into my car and steals my IPOD and that’s part of a renters policy or my homeowners?”

Me: “Yes. Because anything that isn’t attached to the car – IPOD, your Garmin GPS, your golf clubs, etc. are all considered personal property and is covered under your home insurance.”

Ok. So now that we get that part, here’s the unique to New York downstate home insurance coverage: “Off Premises Theft Exclusion” - included in all downstate New York policies

Translation - this means if you live in Bronx, Kings, Nassau, Queens, Suffolk, Putnam, Rockland, Westchester, and New York Counties this coverage is in most cases NOT automatically included in your homeowners, renters, or condo insurance policies. This means, that if you live in these counties, and do not elect to add this coverage in (yes, this is usually at a small additional cost), many insurance companies do not automatically include coverage for your stuff if you take it out of your house. This includes when you go away on vacation, golf clubs in your car, etc. If you don't have this coverage on your policy, you will not be covered. Sorry Charlie.

-> However on a side note, If you live upstate above these counties, this coverage is automatically included and you can opt-out of the coverage if you wish.

So what do I do? How do I get this coverage?
If you live in one of these downstate New York counties and do not know if you have this coverage or not, I would encourage you to look at your policy. Take a look anyways! And also call your trusted insurance professional. Ask them what it would cost to add this on – probably less than an IPOD and a set of golf clubs.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Renters Insurance…huh?

I have heard this time and time again…and it usually begins while I’m quoting an auto policy for someone.

Us: “Ok. And do you have homeowners insurance?”

Customer A: “Me? No. No. I rent.”

Us: “Oh ok, no problem. Do you have a renters policy?”

Customer A: “Renters Insurance? No, I don’t need that. I don’t need to spend anymore money.”

Us: “Ok, I can understand that. I don’t want you to spend more money either especially on things you don’t need. Do you know what renters insurance would cover you for?”

Customer A: (silent pause) “no”

Ok…so here’s the part where we usually explain all that renters insurance covers them for – and its not just for a few t-shirts and an old T.V.

Personal Property
Yes. Renters insurance DOES cover all of your belongings. This means EVERYTHING – from your dishes, your couch, your bed, your clothes, shoes (all of them), electronics, etc. Now if your like me, I have work clothes, going out clothes, workout clothes, and more. And don’t even get me started on shoes…which now occupy a closet on their own. All of this stuff can add up after a while. Now if you golf, collect coins, dolls, baseball cards, etc. this can add up even more. So, now that your head is spinning, your probably asking well how do I know how much I need to cover? My suggestion is to start with a home inventory checklist. (Email me & I can send you one for free if you need it)

Loss of Use
Ok. So now that we have all of your stuff covered, what else is there? Well in renters insurance, there is a LOT more. The next part, which most people don’t know, is that renters insurance covers “loss of use” coverage. What this means is that in the event of a claim, or worse yet in the event that your neighbor above you has a fire & the you now have water damage, smoke damage, and no power until the electric company says its ok to come back, you have coverage that pays for you to stay someplace else in the meantime! How great is that? You don’t have to move in with friends, or worse yet, back with your parents. Some policies give you a monthly limit and other policies give you a monetary amount, check the policy to be sure you have enough coverage.

Personal Liability
So, now we have your stuff that can be replaced and a place for you to stay…but wait, that’s not all. On top of that, there is also personal liability coverage, which covers you and your family in the event that someone sues you for an event that you are personally liable.

WHAT? I know what your thinking…”Amy, that makes no sense. You lost me & how much is this going to cost me?” Let me explain it in a better way. Someone gets seriously injured in your apartment or on your property and decides they are going to place a lawsuit against you. You have liability coverage to cover you. Or wait, here’s an even cooler example: You’re a golfer (a really sucky golfer). Your out on the course with your buddies and you shank a ball into the other hole. Besides killing your chances of beating your buddies despite all of your bragging before the game, you have now also hit the guy on the next hole in the head and knocked him out. Now what? The ambulance comes, checks out the guy, takes him for a CAT Scan to be sure he checks out and the worse part is…this can ALL come back to you. But here’s the best part, a renters insurance policy’s personal liability policy has coverage which covers you wherever you are! So you can get out on the golf course & really stink it up!

Medical Payments
Ok..So this part goes hand in hand with Personal Liability. Medical Payments covers you for simple slip and falls, minor accidents where there is no lawsuit. If this turns into a lawsuit, then your liability coverage would kick in here.

Great. So Now What?
So that’s it. That’s the basics of renters insurance. But here’s what most people don’t think of, if you live in a multi-family home or apartment complex and you should ALWAYS have renters insurance. Why? Because I don’t care how much you know your neighbors, accidents happen. Someone forgets to blow out a candle or cigarette. Someone toilet overflows from upstairs into your unit. The person in 2A next to you moves in and is a horrible cook. Anything can happen. I have seen it. And sometimes, it doesn’t even have to be directly your fault for a claim to affect you. Your neighbor can have a fire and now you have smoke and water damage. And now you find out your landlord only covers the building. As much as he’s a nice guy, he is not responsible for your stuff or where you stay while the building is condemned until it gets repaired.

I know this may seem excessive to write a lot about something that is so small a policy. But I'm passionate about this because I have seen families suffer from fires and have no place to stay and lose all of their belongings. I have seen water damage from a fire in the apartment above where it wasn't even the person's fault. I saw a roof collapse on an apartment in the middle of the night and they had to figure out where to stay. And I have seen a four family where only one of the four had renters insurance. The one couple was set. Their stuff was replaced or dry cleaned. They had a place to stay (not mom & dad’s) and they had nothing to worry about. The other three? Had to figure it out on their own.

Now, I know I still didn’t address the part that’s been in the back of your mind… "but Amy, how much does this cost?” Did you know, that most policies range between $10 - $30/ month depending on what your coverage is that you need.

Did you also know that a small kitchen fire can cost you upwards of $10,000 or more? And then, after the landlord’s insurance company finds that you are at fault, their insurance company will sue you for negligence & ask for damages – which can be upwards of $25,000 for damages to the building. Yes. That’s right, they can sue you. I have seen it. But guess what? Your renters policy would cover this.

So for $10-$30 a month, you can have peace of mind and loads of coverage, and in some cases a discount on your auto policy. If you don’t have one and you rent, get a renters policy today. Talk to a trusted agent about what is right for you and your family.

If you have a story, I would love to hear your experiences or your thoughts on this.