Can Someone Please Give Me a Clear Explanation of Umbrella Insurance?

When you invest in insurance policies, you will at first need to decide which types of policies you need. If you are the owner of a vehicle, then you need to get an auto insurance policy. You will need to choose an insurance company, like Elliott & Associates Insurance serving Opelika, AL, to make sure you are fully covered. Another type of insurance you may want to consider buying is umbrella insurance.

What is umbrella insurance?

Many people are confused when they hear the term umbrella insurance. Either they have never heard of it before, or they don’t understand what it is. Thankfully, though, it’s not that difficult to understand once you have someone give you a simple explanation of it.

This type of insurance is a form of extra liability insurance. It does not stand as a type of insurance by itself. Instead, it serves the purpose of paying out benefits if your regular policy is exhausted. For example, if your auto policy reaches its limit of paying out $25,000 for bodily injury. If your medical bills exceed this amount, an umbrella policy could be of the utmost benefit. It can also be used with home insurance, commercial insurance, and many other policies. It can also help you with liability and lawsuits should they arise.

Many people think that umbrella insurance is really expensive. What they don’t realize is that this insurance is not just for the wealthy. If you would like to learn more about the benefits of purchasing umbrella insurance, please contact Elliott & Associates Insurance serving the Opelika, AL area today.

How Likely Is A Flood In Alabama?

Southern states do not have it easy when it comes to flooding risks. Being this close to the Gulf of Mexico means that every Summer you need to have one eye on the weather reports so that you’ll be prepared come hurricane season. In Alabama, we can even see flooding well outside of hurricane season. Parts of the state were on warning as early as February of this year. Flooding is one of our chief environmental hazards in Alabama. It’s always going to be a concern, so it’s important to be prepared.

Preparing for Hurricane Season

Being prepared means having an evacuation plan should the next hurricane season be a rough one. Having friends you can stay with should something happen is important, as is making sure that you have flood insurance. Elliott & Associates Insurance can help to make sure that you are covered in the event of flood damages, but no matter who you get covered with, make sure to get covered.

From Auburn to Opelika, AL, the humid climate, and natural surroundings can make flooding particularly disastrous. It can take weeks to dry out a home that has been hit by flooding. This is not to say that you will definitely be hit by a flood at some point or other, but you are always going to be at a higher-than-average rate of risk for flooding. Call Elliott & Associates Insurance in Opelika, AL, have a backup plan, and be ready should your home wind up a casualty of hurricane season. Our agents are standing by to talk to you about how you can start your flood insurance policy.

How to Tell if You Need Commercial Insurance for Your Business

Owning a business is something that is very exciting and exhilarating. However, it can also be very stressful. As a business owner, you want to do everything that you can in order to protect your business from anything possible. There are a lot of things that you can do to provide this kind of protection. However, the best thing you can do for your business in Auburn or Opelika, AL is get a commercial insurance policy from Elliott & Associates Insurance. If you are still not sure whether you need a policy or not, consider some of the benefits and reasons below.

Commercial Insurance for Your Business

The great thing about a commercial insurance policy is that they are all unique and made to fit the specific needs of the business. That means that a commercial policy that you get will be made for your business and provide all of the types of coverage that you need. A commercial insurance policy will also not only protect your business from things like a fire or a burglary, it can also protect you from your employees and also protect your employees in the process. It is the type of insurance policy that is multi-faceted and made to protect you from all kinds of things that can happen. You do not want to get caught without this type of coverage because without it, and there are things can destroy and/or bankrupt your company in the blink of an eye.

Now that you know how important a commercial insurance policy is for your business, you need to get one in place as soon as possible. Be sure to reach out to us here at Elliott & Associates Insurance, serving Auburn and Opelika, AL, today. We can provide you with a free quote and will make sure that your policy meets your needs and your budget.

6 Things You Must Do Immediately After an Accident

Photo by fourbyfourblazerLogistics and legal requirements are the last things anyone wants to deal with as soon as they are involved in a crash. But we’ve seen too many examples of hundreds of thousands of dollars being lost from not taking these steps.

  1. Stop and assist anyone injured. Make sure everyone is okay and out of harm’s way before any logistics are taken care of. Assessing the situation will also let you know what to tell the police when you call. However, unless you are a medical professional, do not provide medical assistance. That includes moving someone who may have injuries.
  2. Call the police. This seems like a no-brainer. But you may be tempted in minor incidents to trade information with the other driver and handle things without seeing a need for police involvement. But the position you might find yourself in is that there is no objective party involved. Facts can be misconstrued when it’s your word against someone else’s.
  3. Take pictures of the accident before moving vehicles. This will make sure facts can be backed up with visual evidence. It’s best to get shots of all vehicles involved from multiple angles as well as close-ups of the damage incurred.
  4. DO NOT admit fault (even if you are 100% sure you are guilty). The kindness that was instilled in us growing up will want us to respond to an accident with something like this: “I’m so sorry! This was completely my fault. I wasn’t paying enough attention.” The accident may be your fault, but don’t let your perception of the situation (or your abundant politeness) cloud your judgement.
  5. Get contact and insurance information from all drivers involved. Also, get tag number and make and model of the other vehicle(s). The easiest way to get most of this is to snap a picture of all licenses, tags and insurance IDs with your cell phone.
  6. Finally, call your agent. This doesn’t have to be done immediately afterwards. But don’t let it linger more than 24 hours. Of course, if you don’t have an agent, call your insurance company directly.

This is a time when we will point out the benefit of having an independent agent. Independent agents will advocate for you. We do not work for the insurance company. We can hold insurance companies accountable and follow up on your behalf. If they get something wrong, it won’t be up to you to call them to the table on it.

The No. 1 Reason for Home Insurance Cost Increases

Roof Problems
Photo by Ceridwen

Does it seem like the amount you pay for your homeowners policy continues to climb? But everything is, right? The price of food, cars, clothes. When you were a kid, everything was cheaper. But inflation and the price of oil has little to do with premium increases. It’s actually much simpler than that.

Claims drive the cost of any insurance policy.

The recent rise in accidents due to distracted driving has had a huge effect on car insurance premiums. Homes are no different. But unlike accident statistics, there may be something you can do about your home insurance premium.

Our houses are intended to protect us and our things from the elements. And no part of the house works harder to do this than the roof. Our roofs take a beating from rain, sun, wind, hail and the occasional basketball. And because of that, the majority of claims are roof related. As a result, insurance companies are very interested in what kind of roof you have, what shape it is in and how old it is.

If you haven’t had any claims, the age of your roof is probably the number one reason for your homeowners premium to go up.

A typical asphalt shingle roof that is supposed to last 25 years is considered old by insurance companies after 10 years. Some companies won’t insure the house at all if the roof is older that 15 years. If your roof is five years old or less, you’re in the best shape. The insurance company will not only take you at a lower cost, but your coverage will also be better.

That gets into completely different territory. You think price is the most important factor unless you’ve ever had a claim. Once you’ve had a claim, you understand that being able to replace your roof is what really matters. But insurance companies do not want to pay for a brand new roof on a claim where a 20 year old roof was damaged. Therefore, companies that will insure homes with older roofs will only insure the roof for actual cash value. What that means is if you have a claim, and your roof needs to be replaced, they will pay for an old roof. Not a new one. That scenario would put you in a position of not only paying your deductible but also paying the difference for a new roof.

Replacing an old roof could lower your premium around 25%.

And having architectural shingles or better yet metal roofing installed will keep that premium down longer. And best of all, you’ll be insured for replacement cost and not just cash value.

Are you unhappy with your homeowners premium? Could it be related to your roof?

Have you replaced your roof in the last few years? Have you told your agent?

What Gas Prices Tell Us About Insurance

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Love is blind. So is financial planning.

Perhaps it seemed like a good idea at the time. In 2008, gas prices were skyrocketing taking almost a daily increase moving right past the $3/gallon mark at the beginning of the year and headed to the $4/gallon by the middle of the year. One auto maker had a plan and a promotion to match the hysteria.

If you bought a new car, they would guarantee $2.99/gallon gas for up to three years. It sounds crazy now, but at the time, it looked like a huge blunder by the auto maker, not the consumer. The feeling at the time was that there was no end in sight to the gas crunch.

I remember being at a party with someone who had bought a car based on this program and listening to a friend chide him in late October about the offer. With a sly smile he quizzed, “So, are you still having to pay $2.99/gallon?” By this time, the market had stabilized and gas was well below $2.99/gallon and quickly headed below $2/gallon. Any “savings” had long since been negated due to a change in the market.

While insurance markets don’t tend to change as quickly as the gas and oil markets, it should be noted that what may have worked for you a few years ago may not be the best option for your current situation. Our job is to make sure your insurance program matches your current situation. For this very reason, we work with different companies, so we can find a company that fits your current needs and offer other solutions as your needs change.


Alex Rainey

Chipped windshield?

chipped-windshield-granadeWe receive many calls from our customers regarding chipped or cracked windshields on their vehicles. Usually this is due to a rock or some object from the road finding its way to your windshield while you are driving down the road. This is a good time to check and see if you have comprehensive coverage on that vehicle. What many people don’t know is that if you do have comprehensive coverage, many companies will repair your chipped windshield without you having to pay anything, not even a deductible. You want to make sure to call your agent as soon as you realize your windshield is damaged. If you don’t and the windshield becomes a larger crack, it may not be repairable anymore and may require a full windshield replacement. In this case, you will be responsible for paying your deductible, which in many cases is more than the cost of the entire windshield. Have you heard of ‘Full Glass‘ coverage? Your agent may have an option for this, as well.

Late last year we had a customer call that had two chips in their windshield that needed to be repaired at the same time. They did not have ‘Full Glass’ coverage at the time, so it was good that they called and got them repaired before the damage could get worse. Changes in weather may also cause a chip in your windshield to turn into a full replacement, as the chip can get worse and start to crack even more over time. Keep in mind that many chips in a windshield can be hard to see, so it is a good idea to look at your entire windshield from time to time to make sure there is no damage.

These chipped windshield occurrences happen more often than some people may think and we file claims fairly often for this. Some insurance companies offer some type of ‘Full Glass’ coverage so that whether your windshield is just chipped or even if it is severely damaged and needs to be replaced, your insurance will either pay for the full repair/replacement or may have a very small deductible so that you don’t have to pay for the entire repair. This is a good option for someone who travels a lot or someone that just wants that extra peace of mind. A windshield can be expensive to replace, so ask your agent for a quote on ‘Full Glass’ coverage.

Is Driving a Right or a Privilege?

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Right is often used as a synonym for privilege, but Webster’s Dictionary defines a privilege as a SPECIAL RIGHT. I think that is an accurate definition in regard to our right to drive.

Most teenagers consider driving a “rite” of passage. This is a milestone in their quest for freedom. However, as adults we need to be sure that they understand the responsibilities that are attached to this right/privilege. They also need to understand the long range consequences of the misuse of this privilege.

If you are a parent, you may be well aware of the expense involved with adding a teenage driver to your personal auto policy. In our office we hear and see the shock and financial anxiety associated with this addition to a policy. Motor vehicle accident records and claim experience have caused insurance companies to place a high premium on providing coverage for these young, relatively inexperienced drivers.

Unfortunately, no driver – not even an experienced driver – is free from the possibility of an accident; however, age and experience can often prevent an accident. So perhaps before turning the keys and car over to your teenage driver, you might want to discuss guidelines that might prevent trouble down the road.

Trouble such as…

Personal injury/death to your child, your family or others

Property damage to autos, fences, buildings, truck tractor cargo, etc.

Financial damage from civil litigation/lawsuits

 

 

And of course…

Incarceration that might be the outcome of a serious motor vehicle accident – especially if it involves drugs or alcohol.

 

A driver’s license is a rite of passage of a sort – a move to a more adult season in the life of your teen. Celebrate its arrival, but a serious conversation might prevent this celebration from becoming a disaster.

 

MORE TO FOLLOW IN A FUTURE ARTICLE:

Safe Driving Habits: Sound Protection Suggestions that can give you Peace of Mind

Is your loan worth more than your vehicle?

car-in-flood-ikexPop Quiz: When insuring a new vehicle, does the insurance company insure what the vehicle is worth or how much the person owes on the vehicle loan?

Not everyone associates their vehicle loan with their vehicle insurance. Have you heard of loan/lease payoff coverage? Some companies may call it ‘gap’ coverage. This coverage is intended to help pay for a portion or possibly the entire difference between what you owe on a vehicle loan and what the vehicle is actually worth at the time of a covered loss. Surprisingly, this is usually a fairly inexpensive coverage that can be added to your policy when you carry comprehensive and collision coverage on the particular vehicle.

Here’s a good example: One of our customers in the Lake Martin area had purchased a new vehicle a few years back. They opted to take the loan/lease payoff coverage, and thankfully so. During a period of heavy rain, a flash flood occurred and totaled their new vehicle. After being examined by the adjuster, it appeared their vehicle was worth about $3,700 less than what they had left to pay off on their loan. But, with their loan/lease payoff coverage, the insurance company was able to cover that additional amount so that our insured did not have to take that money out of their pocket. So when taking out a loan or a lease on a vehicle, hopefully you will consider this coverage and decide to ask your agent about it.

 

 

Why would I insure my house for more than it's worth?

tornado-damage-us-army-corps-of-engineers-savannah-districtWhy should I have to insure my home for more than it’s valued? Often we in the insurance industry will come up with an amount that we feel the property should be insured for that is greater than the amount the owner recently paid for it or the amount of the appraisal. You would think insurance companies wouldn’t want to insure something for more than was paid for it. Wouldn’t this possibly be creating a situation where the property owner could profit from his/her loss?

Let’s pause for a moment and consider what we’re trying to accomplish here. Remember, we’re trying to arrive at an adequate amount to re-construct your property. There can be a big difference between construction cost or appraised value versus what it actually costs to re-construct.

As an example let’s look at the damage the tornados caused in Alabama a few years back. Not only were homes and businesses extensively damaged or destroyed, there were mountains of debris that had to be removed and disposed of before work could begin. Once that was removed, if there was property inside that could be salvaged, that had to be removed, cleaned and stored. Then the process of removing the building/s and disposing of the materials could begin. Only at that point can the lot be prepared for the foundation and re-construction begin.

So, you can see there can possibly be a much greater cost to re-construct than there would be to initially construct. That’s what’s figured into our replacement cost calculations and the reason our figures are higher than some might think they should be. If you only insure for the appraised value, you quite possibly will come up short and have to pay thousands of dollars out of your pocket.