Friday, March 4, 2011

Have an "Umbrella" to protect you from the liability rain!

What amount of money will you be required to pay out when you are found negligent? There is no easy answer to this question, and whether for your business or your personal needs, you should have Umbrella or Excess liability coverage in addition to your standard liability policies to prepare for this possibility.

We all know that the today we live in is very litigious. Everyday we can read, hear or see a story about how someone recently won a verdict in which the defendant would be required to pay for their mistake. Often that is what it was too, a horrible, tragic mistake. Some unintentional defect in manufacture, a tool left where it shouldn't be, eye averted checking that last text while driving. We are all guilty of some type of brief lapse in judgment or sheer bad luck. Very often we catch the mistake before something bad happens, but unfortunately the odds catch up with us at the worst possible time.

When that storm happens, that is when you want to know you have an Umbrella or Excess liability insurance policy. These are in fact 2 kinds of coverage, with some of the same features, but also with some important differences. Both the Umbrellaand Excess liability polices provide an additional layer of liability protection in excess of you primary underlying insurance polices, such as your automobile, homeowners, general liability, etc. However, an Excess  policy is only that, excess over the policies named in the schedule. It does not enhance or broaden any coverage, just follows as more liability coverage over the named policies.

An Umbrella policy on the other hand, does all the same things as the Excess policy AND can drop down to be a Primary coverage under certain circumstances where there is no underlying liability coverage. For example for you liability assumed as the member of a Not for profit board, or for personal injury(libel, slander, false arrest, etc.) liability.

The distinction between the 2 types is very important and applies whether you are buying for your business or personal insurance needs. It is very important when comparing Excess or Umbrella policies. Though some standardization amongst carriers has begun, there is still significant variance between insurance carriers in their unique policy language. The most important area to look at in the policy language is the Definitions and the Exclusions. There is where you will find the meat of the coverage.

Most insurance companies today only offer the Excess form of the extra coverage. They may call it and umbrella policy, but in fact it is only an extra layer of coverage intend to "follow form" over the polices it names.

Regardless of whether or not you can get an Excess or Umbrella policy, it is important that you contact your independent insurance agent to see about securing this extra protection for you or your business. After all, if you are driving around with your assets in the front seat of your car, wouldn't you want to make sure they survive the accident?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Six Hours can give you 3 Years of Savings!

In 2005, New York State had one of the highest average car insurance rates in the country (National Association of Insurance Commissioners). Factors like area accident rates and location can affect even the perfect driver’s premium.

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) allows motorists to take a defensive driving course for not only traffic point reduction, but also a 10% car insurance discount. This rate decrease is mandatory and will last you 3 years. All you have to do is take the defensive driving course and present the certificate of completion to your insurance company.

The NY DMV, as part of its part of the New York Department of Motor Vehicle’s Internet Point and Insurance Reduction Program or (IPIRP), recently authorized the ability to complete the NY Defensive Driving course on line through authorized vendors. This course is designed to teach motorist’s driving strategies that help minimize risks associated with hazards on the road. In addition, this defensive driving courses includes applicable New York state traffic laws that help drivers use safer driving techniques to avoid and prevent accidents.

Some frequently asked questions related to the course are as follows:

  • How long is the New York Defensive Driving Course?
    This defensive driving course is a total of 6 hours. The online course, unlike the classroom course, allows you to log on and off and complete the course at your own pace.
  • Do I have to take a test at the end?
    No. This course does not require you to pass a final exam to get your certificate.
  • How do I know I can qualify for point reduction?
    You must have received the violation and points eighteen months before course completion. Points for earlier violations or future violations will not be affected.
  • How do I get my points reduced by taking this defensive driving course?
    Once you complete the course, we will notify the New York DMV. At that point, it will be entered on your driving record and it will automatically reduce your active point total by up to four points. Important: "Point reduction" means the DMV will not count up to four points on your driving record toward license revocation or suspension.
  • How do I verify my course completion has been noted on my driving record? We will be offering a service for you to pull your driving record at a nominal fee. However, if you need to verify the defensive driving course completion is on your record, you may request a copy of your driving record from the DMV. Click this link for more information and access to the New York DMV form: FORM
  • How do I qualify for insurance premium reduction by taking the defensive driving course?
    You will receive a certificate of completion when you graduate via the delivery method you choose. If you present this certificate of completion to your insurance company or agent within 90 days after course completion, your liability and collision premium reduction will begin immediately. This reduction will actually be retroactive to the date you completed the course.
    If you present your certificate more than 90 days after course completion, your insurer could issue the premium discount effective from the date presented.
  • How often can I take this defensive driving course to reduce my insurance premium?
    You may take the course once every 36 months to keep your insurance reduction benefits.
  • Can more than one person on the same insurance policy receive a discount for taking the course?
    The discount can be applied to only one driver for each covered vehicle. The insurance reduction applies to all motor vehicles principally operated by the motorist who completes the course.

The Woodoffice has recently partnered with the American Safety Council to provide an approved Online NY Defensive Driving Course. For a the low cost of just $25.00 per person you can get tremendous savings on your automobile insurance for 3 years. To access the course follow this link to the Client Tools section our our website. There you will find a banner link to the registration page for the course.

This course can not only save you money on your insurance, but is also a sound risk management strategy to help you be a better driver which can prevent an accident from occuring in the 1st place.

Happy and Safe Driving!