Your home may be the largest investment you will ever make so be sure that it is adequately insured with the proper insurance coverage. Although the likelihood of a total loss is remote there are many perils that can cause significant damages and inconvenience so don’t find out after the loss occurs that you lack the proper insurance coverage. Here are a few thoughts to consider:
Be sure your home is insured for its replacement cost.
Many times this is easier said than done particularly if you have been insured with the same insurance company for many years. Most Homeowner policies have an automatic “inflation” increase each policy year. However in many cases the increase is not adequate to keep pace with rising building material prices and labor. The old school thought of $125 to $150 per square foot rebuilding cost for a typical Long Island home is not longer the rule of thumb, in fact it’s at least $200 per square foot at a minimum; if you’ve remodeled with high end kitchen and baths the replacement cost could be even more.
Initially the insurance company will perform an inspection and replacement cost appraisal however it’s up to you the homeowner to be sure the replacement cost keeps pace with construction inflation which may vary from year to year.
Understand the difference between “Market Value” and “Replacement Cost.”
Currently we are in a period where the “Market Value” may be significantly less than the “Replacement Cost.” Back in the mid 2000’s we were at the other end of the cycle where “Market Value” exceeded “Replacement Cost.”
Replacement cost IS NOT; the Market Value of the home, it is not the purchase price of the home or the outstanding amount of any mortgage loan. Replacement Cost is the cost to rebuild your home with like materials and design.
Instead of insuring the whole dwelling as with a Homeowner Policy, a Condo Policy typically insures the Walls, Floors, Ceilings, and Bath Fixtures. Be certain to review the Condo Master Policy to determine where the Master Policy ends and where yours begins.
CO – OP/RENTERS
There is no coverage for any part of the building since you do not own any part of the building. Co-Op/Renters provide the coverage’s listed below.
In addition to insurance coverage on the dwelling there are additional coverage’s included with a Homeowners/Condo/Co Op/Renters Policy:
Liability – Provides coverage in the event some one sustains an injury on your property, cover’s you in the event you damage the property of others or cause unintentional injury to some else including personal injury torts such as libel, slander among others.
Loss of Use – Provides coverage for living expenses such as a hotel when you can not live in your home during the period of restoration due to a covered loss.
Personal Property – Provides coverage for your personal property such as furniture, carpeting, window treatments, electronics, clothing, essentially the property that is not built into the dwelling. Subject to value limitations for Jewelry, Furs, Silverware, Collectibles among other specialized property.
Personal Property Floater – Provides coverage at an “agreed value” for:Jewelry, Furs, Silverware, Cameras, Musical Instruments, Golf Equipment, Fines Arts, Collectibles, Computer Equipment, and Sports Equipment.
PERSONAL UMBRELLA LIABILITY POLICY
People are suing each other today more than ever. Verdicts amounting to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars are being awarded by juries every day. If you accidentally injure some one or damage their property you could end up being sued with monumental legal defense costs. Coverage amounts are written in increments of $1,000,000 and supplement your Homeowner Policy and Personal Auto Policy. The premiums are modest and why let an accident potentially wipe out a lifetime of savings.
Whether you live near a body of water, river, stream, or lake; flood insurance can help protect your home and possessions from this source of property damage.
Virtually all Homeowner Insurance Policies exclude coverage for Flood damage which is why you should consider the purchase of a Flood Insurance Policy.
A flood is a general and temporary condition where two or more acres of normally dry land or two or more properties are inundated by water or mudflow. Many conditions can result in a flood, hurricanes, clogged drainage, rapid accumulation of rainfall, and the overflow of rivers, streams, and lakes.
Homes and businesses located in communities that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) are eligible for flood insurance at a modest cost through the federal government. Under this program insurance companies issue flood insurance policies and the federal government administers the program.
Many people think that flood insurance is just for properties on or near the water and if the mortgage company does not require a flood insurance policy then it’s not necessary. However, over the past few years there have been incidents of heavy rainfall that has caused significant damage to homes and personal property that would have been covered under a flood policy.
Whether you are situated in a flood zone or not take some time to review the benefits of a properly designed flood insurance policy.
If there was ever an insurance product that could be classified as Commodity; Automobile insurance surely would top the list. If you watch TV, listen to the radio, read email or surf the internet you are no doubt inundated with advertisements from auto insurance companies touting how much you may “save” with a brief phone call. After awhile even the gecko becomes tiring.
The pricing of Auto insurance is very competitive and very cyclical, depending on where you may be in the insurance company’s cycle can affect your premiums. While it’s prudent to shop around every few years it’s even more prudent to be certain you have adequate coverage. After all if you “save” $300 on your premium but now have a lawsuit on your hands with a potential payout of $100,000 over your insurance limit then what did you really save on?
There’s a carrier that touts “name your own price,” sounds great until you learn that naming your own price did not provide enough coverage for your costly rehabilitation expenses due injuries sustained in an accident. No one wants to pay more than necessary for their Auto insurance but understand what you are buying and why it’s important to protect your assets from lawsuits &/or medical expenses arising from an Auto accident whether it’s your fault or not. In the legal community the definition of an Automobile is: “A Lawsuit on Wheels.” If you have drivers with 5 years or less driving experience you’ve just upped the ante significantly.
SPECIAL EVENTS INSURANCE
We can insurance well over 200 Events whether it’s a small Civic Group Arts & Crafts Fair to a major Parade, Fundraising, or Theatrical Show. We can also insure Weddings, Sweet 16’s and Bar Mitzvah’s, graduations, retirement parties etc.
Many catering halls, exhibition halls, and other venues now require General Liability to cover your event; Homeowners Insurance typically does not extend coverage away from your residence so a Special Event policy makes sense for peace of mind.
The policy provides General Liability for $1,000,000. Higher limits are available.
TERM LIFE INSURANCE
The subject of purchasing Life Insurance isn’t high on most people’s lists; however it is an important part of protecting one’s family and business if you are a business owner. For most people the process of buying life insurance is not complicated and with a brief consultation we can begin to assist you in determining how much coverage you need and the best policy(s) to meet your needs.
How much coverage do I need?
Determining the amount of coverage is unique to each person and their family &/or business situation. Essentially you are seeking to replace the income earned for a period of years. In addition you may wish to pay off any loans or other forms of debt, provide for an “emergency” fund and perhaps provide college funds for your children, among other considerations.
For the business owner the planning centers on providing the business the funds necessary to continue operations as in “Key Person” Insurance, or to fund a “Buy – Sell” Agreement among partners.
Whether it’s Personal Life Insurance and/or Business Life Insurance; protect your family and business from the financial hardship of having to sell assets under duress perhaps taking pennies on the dollar and/or being forced to borrow money at high rates.
What kind of life insurance do I buy?
Essentially there are two types of life insurance to consider; Term Life and Permanent Life.
Term Life, as the name implies provides coverage for a set period of time. The most popular plans provide guaranteed coverage for 10, 20 and up to 30 years at a set guaranteed premium. Once you qualify for coverage the premium is guaranteed not to change for the entire term.
Permanent Life, unlike Term Life there is no set time period, as long as you continue paying the premiums you will have coverage up to age 100. While the premium is higher for Permanent Life there is also a cash value that accrues during the life of the policy. Permanent Life Insurance is also referred to as Whole Life, Universal Life and Variable Life.
For many people, particularly young couples with children, Term Life is the way to go to provide the most coverage for the least cost. For other situations a combination of Term Life and Permanent will provide a solution for the medium and long term concerns.
DISABILITY INCOME INSURANCE
Your most valuable asset is your ability to earn income over your working years. Disability Insurance is about helping to preserve your basic lifestyle and support your family should your income be lost due to an illness or injury. If you are self employed or work for a small business most likely there are no long term disability benefits for you so this is a very important insurance for you.
Even if you work for a large company or government employer and you do have some form of long term disability benefits there still may be a need for personal disability income insurance to supplement any employer plan.
LONG TERM CARE INSURANCE
It’s a fact; people are living longer today than ever. It’s also a fact that people’s live savings can be wiped out very quickly due to the high cost of a Nursing Home. Even if you are able to live at home but require a high level of care the burdens placed on your children can be enormous.
Some still believe that they can give away their assets and become impoverished to qualify for Medicaid however recent laws have made this scenario virtually impossible and why place yourself at the mercy of a government program?
A Long Term Care Insurance plan will help you receive the care you need and deserve on your terms with dignity. Long Term Care Insurance allows you to make your own decisions about what care is best for you. It will protect your retirement savings and help prevent the need for your kids to be your caregiver.
With a little planning now a Long Term Care Insurance Plan can help you continue to live life your way!
Did you know a Long Term Care Insurance plan may actually keep you out of a nursing home? That’s because LTC insurance allows you to get the care you need right in your own home. A LTC policy provides a variety of benefits that can help you remain at home, including personal care services to assist you with the activities of daily living.
It’s never too early to plan for LTC; you can lock in low premiums at a younger, healthier age.
CONTRACTORS LIABILITY INSURANCE
Contractor’s Liability Insurance provides coverage against lawsuits field for Bodily Injury &/or Property Damage alleged against the Contractor. Claims may arise while the contractor is in the course of construction or after the construction is completed. Claims during the course of construction could be a fire caused by the contractor drilling a screw into a gas pipe, or a piece of debris hitting the homeowner or a passer by. Once the job is completed a claim may arise months or years later due to faulty work such as a writer pipe break due to a faulty soldering, electrical fire due to faulty wiring, or water damage due to faulty roofing.
Contractors Liability Insurance is essentially categorized into three areas:
Artisans perform work primarily for residential homeowner’s and small business owners. Artisan insurance policies provide Commercial General Liability with the lowest premiums, however certain coverage is not available. Typically there is a limitation for Contractual Liability, Primary and Non Contributory is not available, and Waiver of Subrogation is not available. Since the Artisan insurance policy is designed for dealing directly with the homeowner or small business owner, these coverages are not always needed. Artisan insurance policies typically permit sub contracting up to 15% of gross sales. The sub contracting is usually for the trades that require a license such as Electrical and Plumbing. For added protection all Sub Contractors must have Commercial General Liability limits equal to yours and name you as “Additional Insured.”
Sub Contractors perform work primarily for larger General Contractor’s, Commercial Building Owners &/or Management Companies, Municipalities, Cities, Government Agencies, Hospitals, School Districts, etc. Sub Contractor Insurance policies provide Commercial General Liability and typically provide full Contractual Liability, off the Primary and Non Contributory, and Waiver of Subrogation endorsements. Sub Contracting have their own employee labor however Sub Contracting in excess of 15% of sales is acceptable providing the insurance policy includes the proper classification for Sub Contracted work. Typically Sub Contractor policies require that all Subcontractors have Commercial General Liability limits equal to yours and name you as “Additional Insured,” there must be a written contract with all subcontractors which includes an Indemnity/ Hold Harmless clause in your favor.
General Contractors perform work primarily for Commercial Building Owners &/or Management Companies, Municipalities, Cities, Government Agencies, Hospitals, School Districts, etc. Typically General Contractors do not have any employee labor and Sub Contract 100% of the work; many times General Contractor’s are referred to as “Paper GC’s.” General Contractor Insurance policies provide Commercial General Liability with full Contractor Liability, Primary and Non Contributory, and Waiver of Subrogation endorsements. Typically General Contractor policies require that all Sub Contractors have Commercial General Liability limits equal to yours and name you as “Additional Insured,” there must be a written contract with all subcontractors which includes an Indemnity/Hold Harmless clause in your favor.
TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT
Some Contractor Insurance Policies provide limited coverage for Tools and Equipment. Many contractors with few, or inexpensive tools choose not to insure them. However large contractors with expensive and extensive tools and equipment will insure them against fire, theft, and water damage among other perils under Floater Policy.
EXCESS LIABILITY/UMBRELLA LIABILITY
In many cases Sub Contractors and General Contractors are required to provide Liability Limits that are higher than the standard $1,000,000 Per Occurrence, $2,000,000 Aggregate limit provide under a Commercial General Liability Policy. Excess Liability would be used for a contractor that does not have any vehicles owned, leased, or registered to the business entity. For those contractors that own, lease and register vehicles to the business entity Umbrella Liability would also cover any bodily injury &/or property damage claims in excess of the Commercial Automobile Liability policy.
COMMERCIAL AUTOMOBILE LIABILITY
In some cases a self employed Artisan Contractor may be eligible to insure a van or pick up truck under a Personal Auto Policy. However for Contractor’s that incorporate and lease, own or register their vehicles under the business name a Commercial Auto Policy is necessary. A Commercial Auto Policy adds extra protection to the business owner when vehicles are operated by employes.
New York State requires Contractors to have a Workers Compensation Insurance Policy to cover their employee(s) whether “on the books” or “off the books.”
For the Artisan Contractor that is self employed and has no employee(s) whether “on the books” or “off the books” a Workers Compensation Policy is not required. However in some cases the Artisan Contractor may be required to have a Workers Compensation Policy as a pre requisite to work on a particular job. Artisan Contractor’s should be aware that they can be held personally responsible for medical lost wages, disability, benefits, among other expenses incurred by anyone working for them whether “on the book” or “off the books”.
Sub Contractor & General Contractor:
For the Sub Contractor and General Contractor the primary concern in to have the proper classification(s) attributed to their labor employees and to be sure all Subs hired provide evidence of having Workers Compensation Policy. Section 56 of New York State Compensation Law makes you responsible via your Workers Compensation Policy for payment of benefits to an injured employee of an uninsured subcontractor. As a result of this liability you will be charged premium for any uninsured subcontractor that works for you. Any Out of State Sub Contractors must show New York State listed in item 3A of the policy.
Builders Risk Policies:
A Builders Risk Policy cover’s the Owners structure against physical damage during the course of construction. A Builders Risk policy can be for new construction from the ground up or remodeling an existing structure.
Contractors Surety Bonds:
There are numerous Surety Bonds that may be required of the Contractor from time to time or on a permanent basis. Whether it’s License &/or Permit, Bid/Performance, Street Obstruction, Sidewalk and Curb, Maintenance, Payment, Sub Division, Site Improvement, among other bonds we offer a broad market for underwriting your Bonding needs.