1119 MD Route 3 North Suite 210 Gambrills, MD 21054  •  Licensed in MD,DC, and Va

 

PH: 410-721-6000

Fax: 410-721-5985

mthomas@Lighthouse-insurance.com

Insurance FAQS

Homeowners Insurance FAQ's

Do I need a condominium policy if my condominium association has a master policy for the complex?

The association master policy is for coverage to the structure, which you don't need. However, to get protection for your own possessions and for legal liability related to your own unit, you need your own policy. Many condominium associations will assess unit owners for master policy deductibles. That's another reason why it is important to have your own policy and why it is important that the coverage in your policy match up well with the association master policy.

Does my homeowner policy cover my possessions when they are not in my house?

A standard homeowner policy provides coverage equal to 10% of the limit for Coverage C of a homeowner policy or $1,000, whichever is greater. This coverage is useful for protecting you while traveling and for other temporary situations. If you have property in excess of these amounts away from home or property that is kept away from your residence premises for extended periods, you should consider additional protection.

Will my roommate's renters policy cover me as well?

Typical policies provide coverage for you and relatives that live with you. So, if your roommate is not a relative you will not be protected under his or her policy. Renters polices are very affordable, starting at not much more than $150 a year and they provide liability protection as well as coverage for your personal possessions.

Are natural disasters such as flood, earthquakes and hurricanes covered under my homeowner policy?

Many natural disasters, such as hurricanes or tornadoes, are covered in a homeowner policy. Others, like earthquake and flood are not. Let us know if you have any concerns about your protection from loss due to natural or even man made disasters; we'll be happy to review your insurance program and let you know what, if any, changes you might want to consider.

How can I create a home inventory of my contents in case of a loss?

Having an up-to-date home inventory will help you get your insurance claim settled faster, verify losses for your income tax return and help you purchase the correct amount of insurance.

Start by making a list of your possessions, describing each item and noting where you bought it and its make and model. Clip to your list any sales receipts, purchase contracts, and appraisals you have. For clothing, count the items you own by category (pants, coats, shoes, for example), making notes about those that are especially valuable. For major appliances and electronic equipment, record the serial numbers, which are usually found on the back or bottom.

  • Don't be put off!
    If you are just setting up a household, starting an inventory list can be relatively simple. If you’ve been living in the same house for many years, however, the task of creating a list can be daunting. Still, it’s better to have an incomplete inventory than nothing at all. Start with recent purchases, then try to remember what you can about older possessions.
  • Big ticket items
    Valuable items like jewelry, art work and collectibles may have increased in value since you received them. Check with your agent to make sure that you have adequate insurance for these items. They may need to be insured separately and it is important that your insurance company know about these items before there is a loss.
  • Take a picture
    You can also take pictures of rooms and important individual items to have a visual record of your belongings. On the back of the photos, note what is shown and where you bought it or the make. Don’t forget things that are in closets or drawers. If you use your phone or a digital camera, you may also be able to add a description of the item when saving the photo.
  • Videotape it
    Walk through your house or apartment videotaping and describing the contents. Or do the same thing using a tape recorder. This can be useful for items such as clothing or kitchenware. You can simply open a kitchen shelf or closet and describe the contents. For instance, in the kitchen, it would be sufficient to state that you have a set of dishes for 12 that includes a dinner plate, salad plate, etch with when and where it was purchased
  • Create a digital record
    Use your computer or mobile device to make your inventory list. There are many software options and mobile apps that can help you create a room-by-room record of your belongings. To make creating your inventory as easy as possible, the I.I.I. offers free Web-based home inventory software, Know Your Stuff® - Home Inventory. The software includes secure online storage so you can access your inventory anywhere, anytime. You can also download the Know Your Stuff app in the iTunes App Store (or search for “iii inventory”) or from Google Play. Information about your belongings can be entered either through the mobile app or online and your data will automatically synchronize between the two. All of your information will be kept in your personal, password protected account, on Amazon secure servers. And, like the online version, the Know Your Stuff® app is free of charge. 

Auto Insurance FAQ's

Do I need to buy insurance from the rental car company if I have my own personal automobile insurance?

That depends. Liability protection that you carry for personal injury and property damage will provide some protection while you are driving the rental car. Damage to the rental car would be covered under Collision and Comprehensive Coverage, if your policy has it. The rental car company may also try to recover damages for lost income while the rental car is out of service. Your auto policy may not protect you against this claim. Credit card companies often provide protection against these kinds of rental car claims so you should check there to see what the provisions and restrictions might be. Finally, you can purchase a Collision Damage Waiver - CDW - from the rental car company. This isn't actually insurance but a release from financial liability you might otherwise be charged with as a result of damaging the rental car. The CDW is expensive at $8 to $12 a day. Still, if you do not have protection via your auto policy or credit card, paying the CDW over a few days may be preferable than being personally accountable for $15,000 or $20,000 or more to replace the rental car.

How does my automobile policy protect me when I'm driving in other states that may require different limits or types of coverage? What about when I'm driving in another country?

Your policy will normally adjust for differences in other state requirements if you have the required minimum coverage for your state. Personal automobile policy protection is only applicable in the United States, US territories and possessions and the provinces of Canada. (For Canada, you will need to get a separate insurance card from us.)

What if another driver hits my car?

In most cases the other driver’s insurance policy would respond and reimburse you for damages to your vehicle, property or injuries. In some cases, as when you or your passengers are injured and the other driver has inadequate or no insurance, coverage from your own policy may apply (Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage). Call us at Lighthouse Insurance to discuss it. You don’t want a claim on your policy if you don’t have to.

Umbrella FAQ's

I get auto insurance to cover my auto, home insurance for my home and my property, so what does an umbrella policy do for me?

Calling a policy an umbrella is a shorthand way of saying Personal Liability Umbrella Policy. Like an umbrella covers you in the rain, an umbrella insurance policy is meant to cover your personal liability above and beyond your auto and home insurance policies.

So it covers my house and my car?

Actually, umbrella insurance doesn’t cover anything tangible. Instead, it covers liability—money you need to pay if you’re found responsible for damages when someone makes a claim against you.

Am I required to buy umbrella insurance?

No, umbrella insurance is optional. But, the benefits of having it are substantial because it gives you peace of mind that you have protection if you are sued. As the number of lawsuits in our country grows, this is increasingly important. They are highly recommended especially if you have a swimming pool, young drivers, rental property, a business, significant assets that you don’t want to lose in the case of a large liability claim.

So an umbrella insurance policy covers me for any liability?

Each umbrella policy may have some limitations. For example, your policy may not cover liability involving an aircraft. Or, your umbrella insurance policy may only cover liability when you are operating a vehicle identified in the policy.

Can you explain a situation where I’d need coverage from an umbrella policy?

Auto insurance typically covers anything that may happen in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and the U.S. territories. If you had an accident while vacationing in Europe, your auto insurance policy would not provide coverage. Because umbrella insurance policies do not have a geographic limit, your umbrella insurance would provide coverage. (Of course, this varies by company, so be sure to check with your insurer.)

I don’t travel much. Do I still need umbrella insurance?

Umbrella insurance doesn’t help only in the case of travel. So, here’s another example: Let’s say you purchase a tenant policy to cover you in the apartment you rent. If you are sued for slander because you provided a bad reference, your tenant policy wouldn’t cover you if it does not include personal liability coverage. But, an umbrella policy would cover you.

Life Insurance FAQs

Who Needs Life Insurance?

Your need for life insurance varies with your age and responsibilities. It is a very important part of financial planning. There are several reasons to purchase life insurance. You may need to replace income that would be lost with the death of a wage earner. You may want to make sure your dependents do not incur significant debt when you die. Life insurance may allow them to keep assets versus selling them to pay outstanding bills or taxes.

Consumers should consider the following factors when purchasing life insurance:

  • Medical expenses previous to death, burial costs and estate taxes;
  • Support while remaining family members try to secure employment; and
  • Continued monthly bills and expenses, day-care costs, college tuition and retirement.

What is the Right Kind of Life Insurance?

All policies are not the same. Some give coverage for your lifetime and other cover you for a specific number of years. Some build up cash values and others do not. Some policies combine different kinds of insurance, and others let you change from one kind of insurance to another. Some policies may offer other benefits while you are still living. There are two basic types of life insurance: term insurance and permanent insurance.

Term Insurance
Term insurance generally has lower premiums in the early years, but does not build up cash values that you can use in the future. You may combine cash value life insurance with term insurance for the period of your greatest need for life insurance to replace income.

Term insurance covers you for a term of one or more years. It pays a death benefit only if you die in that term. Term insurance generally offers the largest insurance protection for your premium dollar. It generally does not build up cash value.

You can renew most term insurance policies for one or more terms, even if your health has changed. Each time you renew the policy for a new term, premiums may be higher. Ask what the premiums will be if you continue to renew the policy. Also ask if you will lose the right to renew the policy at a certain age. For a higher premium, some companies will give you the right to keep the policy in force for a guaranteed period at the same price each year. At the end of that time you may need to pass a physical examination to continue coverage, and premiums may increase. You may be able to trade many term insurance policies for a cash value policy during a conversion period even if you are not in good health. Premiums for the new policy will be higher than you have been paying for the term insurance.

Permanent Insurance
Permanent insurance (such as universal life, variable universal life and whole life) provides long-term financial protection. These policies include both a death benefit and, in some cases, cash savings. Because of the savings element, premiums tend to be higher.

How Much Life Insurance Do I Need?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much of the family income do I provide?
  • If I were to die, how would my survivors, especially my children, get by?
  • Does anyone else depend on me financially, such as a parent, grandparent, brother or sister?
  • Do I have children for whom I would like to set aside money to finish their education in the event of my death?
  • How will my family pay final expenses and repay debts after my death?
  • Do I have family members or organizations to whom I would like to leave money?
  • Will there be estate taxes to pay after my death?
  • How will inflation affect future needs?

Some insurance experts suggest that you purchase five to eight times your current income. However, it is better to go through the above questions to figure a more accurate amount.

Copyright 2017

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