Personal Consumer Insurance Tips (Insurance 101)

You should always check first with your own personal insurance agent for your insuring and purchasing solutions, but here are some tips on certain insurance topics. Remember the old saying applies “you insure that which you cannot afford to lose”.

Automobile Insurance

When you purchase or acquire a vehicle, there are certain key basics to consider:

1. Physical Damage Insurance Coverage – This includes both the categories of collision and comprehensive coverage. If you can not afford to retain the risk or the ability to absorb the financial cost of repair or total loss to your vehicle, then you should consider buying physical damage insurance.

Collision coverage is, as it sounds, coverage to your vehicle from collision with another object, vehicle overturn, or upset. Don’t underestimate the importance of comprehensive coverage which includes coverage for loss to your vehicle from perils such as windstorm, falling objects, flooding, deer impact, and one peril that is often not respected – hailstorm. You can control your premium costs by opting for higher deductibles.

2. Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance Coverage – For insuring your personal vehicle, you should be cautious about  just purchasing the minimum statutory limits of coverage. Here are a couple of good reasons why you should consider higher limits of motor vehicle liability insurance coverage:

(2a)You can be held legally liable for the uninsured damage or injury to others if solely at fault in an accident - if you exhaust your minimum coverage limits. The minimum statutory limits of coverage known as per “Financial Responsibility Laws” in North Carolina are:

  • $30,000 bodily injury for one person per accident
  • $60,000 bodily injury for all persons in one accident
  • $25,000 property damage per accident (this will exhaust easily if you damage a valuable vehicle of another or cause a business interruption to a business or businesses resulting from your at-fault accident.)

(2b) There are more and more uninsured and underinsured drivers out there. Usually, the amount of automobile liability coverage that you choose to purchase (also known as coverage limits) will also be the same amount of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage that you are underwriting yourself for. It is essential these days that you personally carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

3. Medical Payments Insurance Coverage - Always have this coverage, whether automobile medical payments coverage or the Homeowners’ version of Medical Payments coverage. This is known as the “good neighbor’s coverage”. While a lesser amount of coverage, the coverage is solely triggered by an accident and does not assign blame to the insured who may be your or was your “best friend”.

4. Personal Rental Car Insurance - When personally renting a car, before purchasing additional coverage options through the rental car dealership, you may want to check to see if you have a travel or other credit card that may afford some rental car coverage, especially damage to the rental car itself, and for the loss of use by the rental car company while that rental car is being repaired. Also check with your own personal insurance agent to see which coverages you may have under your own automobile insurance policy. If you personally lease a rental vehicle, remember you may be held contractually liable for any damages to the rental car while in your custody, regardless of circumstances. Be sure that you have the proper insurance coverages in place to manage your risk.

Key Property Insurance Considerations

1. Property Insurance - For those of you who rent or lease a residence, you should consider evaluate whether to carry property insurance coverage for your contents as assets. How often have you read about apartment fires and uninsured tenants. You can also check with your local agent as to an HO-4 policy which can also afford you some general liability coverage as a package. You should at least check for your personal decision on affordability.

2. Flooding – Before renting or purchasing a residence at first floor grade or below grade level, check to see if there has been flooding from natural rising waters in the past. Remember, most property insurance polices do not cover flooding from rising waters such as during a tropical storm event . If you are living in a flood-prone residential area, then you need to consider Flood Insurance.

Health Insurance

Remember, that you should be a wise consumer and not shop for premium cost alone. It is important that you compare covered benefits, co-payments, coverage limits, and, of course, deductibles. One key consideration is to research how broad and extensive a Preferred Provider Network does your prospective health insurer have. This can have a very important impact on the net cost of your healthcare to you. Preferred Provider Networks provide cost discounts to insurers and ultimately this can impact your own costs. Also, it is important to see if your own preferred medical provider is on such a network for provider care decisions.

The above is solely intended as some tips, and as always, you should check with your own insurance agent for purchasing guidance. We just hope that these tips have increased your awareness level.

THREE REMINDERS !!!
  1. Buckle your seatbelts when in a motor vehicle .
  2. Be a defensive driver and watch out for the other driver.
  3. Check and test your residential smoke detectors. Detectors should be audible from anywhere that you may be sleeping.

Be a safe Wolfpacker !!!!!!!!!!!!!!