When choosing the right insurance coverage, you want it to fit your needs and lifestyle. The key to finding which coverage is best for you involves learning about all the options available.
Wedding insurance covers most everything couples need for their big day from photography to clothing to cakes. According to Travelers Wedding Insurance, the most frequent wedding insurance claims are for attire (15%); weather (15%), venue/vendor problems (62%), and other (8%). Why should you consider purchasing wedding insurance?
"Wedding venues and vendors aren't exempt from the challenges we're facing in the economy today and we have seen a higher amount of claims coming from venues and vendors that are going out of business. At Travelers," states Chantal Cyr, vice president for Travelers Wedding Insurance, "we recommend couples purchase wedding insurance when they start to put deposits down on their wedding event."
The company covers any number of situations such as when photographer takes a down payment and never shows up at the wedding. "Or," adds Cyr, "perhaps they show up, take the pictures, and the pictures are not delivered, or they are delivered and they're damaged. We also cover situations where wedding planners take a deposit and leave town or go out of business. Also," she notes, "the big thing no one can plan for is catastrophic weather. If there's flooding, or a hurricane at your wedding venue, the policy provides coverage for that. Another thing we can cover is the cancellation of a wedding due to military leave, the untimely death of a family member, or even travel delays family members may encounter going to the wedding." Cyr also says, when choosing a wedding venue, couples should ask whether or not that venue has liability coverage, in case someone is hurt or something goes horribly wrong at the wedding. "The couple should ask about that when they put the deposit down," reiterates Cyr.
"In our program, we require a minimum of a 14-day purchase of the insurance policy, so the sooner they ask the question of the venue, the better off they'll be in terms of obtaining coverage. The policy also provides coverage for wedding attire issues—whether the dress comes torn, or the bridal shop goes out of business. We provide a refund for the dress or pay the claim so [the bride] can go out and buy a new dress. A lot of these incidents occur with little or no notice. What wedding insurance does," states Cyr, "is it protects the budget for the wedding; so the couple gets reimbursed for any money spent." Cyr also suggests couples check with the Better Business Bureau about any venue or vendor they're considering hiring. Also, ask for personal references, and ask each vendor/venue how long they've been in business.
What does wedding insurance cost? "It varies by value of the wedding," notes Cyr, "but couples can get a policy for as little as $160 with no deductible. There are a lot of moving parts to a wedding and this is just a very smart consumer purchase. Consumers need to ask themselves, 'Is there another $20,000 item they own (car, home, etc.) that they don't have insurance for?' because the average cost of a wedding these days is $20,000. A wedding is a large investment," reiterates Cyr. "If they go to our website—wwww.protectmywedding.com—couples can take a quiz that will help them determine the right amount of coverage they need, plus, they can purchase it online. It's a very easy process. Obviously," concludes Cyr, "you can't plan for a disaster with your wedding, but you can provide yourself with a safety net."
Did You Know That...
- The FBI calls identity theft the fastest growing white-collar crime in America?
- An identity thief could steal your identity to obtain money and property by using and ruining your good credit?
- 1 in every 28 consumers was a victim of identity theft in 2008?**
- On average, victims spend up to 600 hours and $1,400 recovering from identity theft?***
** 2009 Identity Fraud Survey Report, released by the Better Business Bureau and Javelin Strategy & Research.
*** 2 Identity Theft: The Aftermath - 2003, released by the Identity Theft Resource Center
- Identity theft is currently the fastest growing white collar crime in America.
- In cases of identity theft, criminals obtain your personal data (such as a credit card number or Social Security number) and use the information to assume your identity. Thieves may take over your existing accounts or use your name to open new accounts, or apply for loans.
- You may not be aware that your identity has been stolen until a merchant or collection agency contacts you, seeking payment for a bill you know nothing about. Or, you may be declined for a loan or employment because your credit records show defaults on loans unknown to you.
How Do Identity Thieves Get My Personal Information?
While the more elaborate schemes are the ones that often make headlines, most identity thieves still obtain a victim's information through conventional paper means including:
- A lost or stolen wallet, check or credit card.
- "Dumpster-diving," or digging through your trash for statements and other financial information.
- Theft of mail from your mailbox.
Current findings indicate that about 11% of identity theft is traced to online, computer-based crimes. Identity thieves use fraudulent e-mails (a practice known as "phishing") and fraudulent web sites to trick you into revealing personal data online.
How Much Am I at Risk?
What Else Can I Do to Protect Myself?
Most experts agree that even if you take all the right precautions, you may not be able to prevent identity theft from happening - in part because your personal information is not always in your control. Recently, for example, consumers' personal data has been lost or stolen from companies ranging from banks to retailers to personal data vendors.
What you can do is protect yourself with coverage that helps you in the unfortunate event that you do become a victim.
Are your most valuable possessions protected from loss? Your possessions are worth a lot to you, especially certain ones that reflect your personal interests and taste.
Valuable Items insurance supplements coverage for possessions of higher monetary value, such as a diamond engagement ring, your grandfather's pocket watch, artwork, or a valuable collection. While most homeowners policies have limits on the dollar amount and type of loss that can be recovered, Valuable Item insurance will provide the protection you need for your most valuable possessions in the event of loss through theft, accident or natural disaster.
Learn more about Valuable Items coverage by reading the following:
When would a Valuable Items policy be needed?
The protection provided for personal property under the typical homeowners policy is very broad, and includes coverage for your furniture, clothing, and appliances. In addition, it provides limited coverage for such items as jewelry, silverware, furs, and firearms. However, it may not cover some types of loss that may be important to you, such as the stone falling out of your diamond ring, your antique statue that is accidentally broken, or a flooded basement that damages your personal computer. In fact, most homeowners policies set dollar limits on the amount of protection offered to cover the theft of items such as jewelry or furs ( usually only up to $1,000), firearms (up to $2,000), or silverware (up to $2,500). Optional add-on coverage to the homeowners policy (like our Valuable Items Plus endorsement) is available to enhance coverage by providing higher limits (up to as high as $50,000 in some cases, but limited to $10,000 per item) and expanded protection for special property. This usually provides most homeowners with enough coverage.
However, if you own extremely valuable items, this still may not be enough coverage. For example, if you own a diamond ring valued over $10,000 or a collection of fine arts valued over $50,000, you need more protection and should consider buying separate Valuable Items policy.
What kind of property can be covered?
Many different types of possessions can be accommodated by the Valuable Items policy. Here's a quick listing of some of the items typically covered:
- China & crystal
- Coins (rare and current)
- Firearms and other sports equipment
- Golf equipment
- Musical instruments
- Personal computers
- Stamps (rare and current)
- Works of fine art, including paintings, etchings, pictures and other bona fide works of art (such as oriental rugs, statuary, rare books, manuscripts and bric-a-brac) of rarity, historical value or artistic merit.
If you own something of value that is not listed above, it may still be eligible for coverage. You may want to discuss this with your local, independent agent.
A Valuable Items policy allows you to purchase better protection for your special property than would be available under the typical homeowners policy. In addition to being able to purchase higher limits of coverage, more perils are covered, and you receive worldwide coverage, including protection against mysterious disappearance. (Please be aware, however, that fine arts are only covered within the United States and Canada.) The policy also may be expanded to include loss due to breakage, something that is not available under the terms of a homeowners policy. That means, if you accidentally break something of a delicate or fragile nature, you're automatically covered! Although no deductibles apply to many types of losses, a $100 deductible may be applied to breakage caused by certain perils.
Scheduling your property
Once you've contacted your local agent to begin Valuable Items coverage, you will be asked to list all the items that you'd like to insure. Smaller items, in many cases, need not be listed individually and what is called "blanket" coverage may be required. This list, or "schedule," would include a detailed description of each item and the appraised value. In some instances, a copy of a current appraisal, conducted within the past three years, may also be required. This detailed schedule is attached to your policy. Your premium is then based on the total amount for which your special property is valued.
Though it isn't required for your policy, you may want to photograph each piece in your collection and store the photos in a safe place. If your entire collection is stolen or damaged, it will be easy to remember each item for your claim report.
Newly acquired property
Your Valuable Items policy automatically insures most newly purchased possessions up to 25% of the total amount of insurance already scheduled (or $10,000, whichever is less ) for up to 30 days from the date of acquisition. In the case of fine arts, you have up to 90 days to notify your agent. The benefit: you don't have to worry about insuring your new item the moment you receive it. However, because this automatic coverage is only good for a short time, don't wait too long, you might forget later!
Let's say that you purchase an expensive new lens to add to your currently insured camera collection. One day later, and before you have had a chance to ask your agent to add it to your policy, your camera and new lens is stolen. With a Valuable Items policy, both items are covered!
Since items of this nature vary so widely, losses are settled differently, depending on the type of property insured. For jewelry and fine arts, in the case of a total loss to a scheduled, appraised item, you are reimbursed for the agreed value shown on your policy.
For other classes of property on the policy (such as furs, silverware, cameras, and personal computers) the value is not already agreed upon, and the value of your property will be determined at the time of the loss. You will then be reimbursed for either the:
- Actual cash value of your property, or
- Cost to reasonably repair your property to it's previous condition, or
- Cost to replace your property with a substantially identical item, or
- The applicable amount of insurance.
- Whichever of these is less.
You should read your policy for the exact loss settlement provisions.
Loss to a pair or set coverage
Should you lose a jewelry or fine art item that belongs to a pair or set, you'll receive the full amount for the complete pair or set as long as you agree to return the remaining parts to your insurer. Slightly different options may exist for lost pairs or sets of other types of property. You should read your policy for the exact loss settlement provisions.
The best precaution is prevention
In addition to insurance and depending on the value of your property, certain security measures for your residence, such as an alarm system, may be required.
Home-based business insurance is often overlooked. Many home-based business owners own their own homes, and assume that their home insurance also covers their home-based business activities.
Not only is this not true, but your home-based business activities can void your home insurance. Home insurance covers people's homes. Using the home for other purposes that your insurer is not aware of, such as operating a home-based business, may invalidate your policy.
What kinds of home-based business insurance do you need? The answer depends very much on exactly what kind of home-based business you're operating.
While many home-based business owners rely on their home insurance to cover damage, loss and theft of property, all home-based businesses should have contents insurance in addition to the contents and or property insurance provided by the owner's home insurance. For one thing, look around your home office and make a quick estimate of how much it would cost you to replace the equipment surrounding you. Most homeowner's policies have a limit of about $2000 for claims in the event of a loss. How much of your home office equipment would you be able to replace for that amount if it was stolen?
For another, does all the business equipment you use stay in your home all the time? Business equipment will only be covered by your homeowner's policy while it is on your premises. If you have a laptop computer or a PDA that you use outside of your home, you'll need separate contents and property insurance for it.
Another type of insurance that all home-based businesses should have is additional general liability insurance. If your aunt is visiting and falls and breaks her leg, your homeowner's policy will cover it; if a client is visiting and falls and breaks her leg, it won't. General liability insurance covers injuries to clients and employees on your business premises and elsewhere.
Whether or not you need these types of home-based business insurance depends on what kind of home-based business activities you're engaged in.
For instance, do you use your vehicle for business purposes? If so, you need to have your vehicle properly insured for business use to cover any damage to your vehicle and to cover your liability to others if you're involved in an accident.
Does your home-based business involve selling a product? Then you should consider getting product liability insurance to protect your business from liability resulting from the product's nonperformance.
Does your home-based businesses provide services? If so, you will definitely want some kind of liability insurance. Professional liability insurance protects both you and your clients. If a client claims to have suffered damages through your actions as a professional, your professional liability insurance will shield your personal assets and pay for your defense against such a claim. Such coverage also ensures that a client who has suffered damages will be adequately compensated.
There are many different types of professional liability insurance that home-based business owners may need. Malpractice insurance protects you from damages caused by a treatment that goes wrong. While we immediately tend to think of professionals who provide medical and health-related services such as doctors, dentists, and physiotherapists, when we think of malpractice insurance, there are actually many other home-based practitioners who may need such insurance, ranging from hairdressers through dog groomers.
If your home-based business involves being paid to give professional advice, you need errors and omissions insurance. If a client claims that he or she has suffered damages because your advice was inadequate or incomplete or because of a negligent act on your part, error and omissions insurance will cover your defense and the damages awarded to the client if the case goes against you.
And if your home-based business involves providing services at client sites, you may need completed operations coverage to protect you from liability that could arise after you have left a client's premises, when your client starts to use whatever you were working on and injury or damage occurs.I also strongly urge all home-based business owners who depend upon their business as a source of income to consider buying disability insurance, which will cover your lost income if you're disabled and unable to carry on your business.
You may also want to consider purchasing business interruption insurance, which will cover your lost revenue if you're forced to suspend your business activities because of fire, flood or other disasters.
But if you've investigated the cost of even one of these types of insurance that you think your home-based business needs, you know that business insurance isn't cheap. How can you cut your costs on home-based business insurance? Read on...
The cost of all insurance has risen dramatically since 9-11 and home-based business insurance is no exception. How can you save money on home-based business insurance?
Prepare a home-based business insurance shopping list and prioritize your home-based business insurance needs.
For instance, business interruption insurance would be nice to have, but if you're a professional home-based business owner offering financial planning services, you have much more need of errors and omissions insurance.
Look for home-based business insurance packages.
Many insurance companies offer business insurance "packages" now that bundle types of insurance together. For instance, (just to name one), State Farm Insurance offers a Business In The Home Program which combines Property, Liability, Loss of Income and Records insurance policies. You save money by paying one premium rather than paying the premiums on different types of insurance separately.
Take advantage of group rates by purchasing your insurance through a professional or business organization.
Many different business organizations offer insurance plans and/or discounts on business insurance to their members. The bigger the group, the more diffuse the risk and the lower the insurance rates are. You will have to pay to become a member of the group or association, of course, but you could still end up saving money compared to the cost of purchasing the same kind of business insurance the group offers on your own.
There are professional organizations for every business occupation from computer consultants through veterinarians. General business organizations, such as your local Chamber of Commerce, The Better Business Bureau and SOHO, also offer business insurance discounts. Your local Home-Based Business Association may also offer members lower prices on home-based business insurance; if not, it will certainly be able to provide you with some good leads.
Talk to your home insurance agent.
Most companies that offer home insurance will provide additional insurance for home-based businesses by adding a rider to your existing home insurance policy. (If you go this route, however, be sure that the rider includes all the types of insurance your home-based business needs, because these riders generally exclude product liability, disability insurance, or professional liability insurance.)
Compare, compare, compare.
Before purchasing any business insurance, do your homework and get quotes from several different companies. The first deal you hear may not be the best deal. Start with investigating professional and/or business groups related to your home-based business activities and their insurance benefits because these groups offer other benefits as well, and then approach several different insurance agents to see how much such insurance would cost you as a "private" person.
When your research is done, bite the bullet and get the home-based business insurance you need. It will seem expensive, no matter how good a deal you get. But the cost of not having home-based business insurance could be so much higher.
To the top »