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Umbrella Insurance

Your auto insurance policy has a limit. So does your home insurance policy. Limits may sound confining because they limit the insurance company’s liability in claims that affect your car or home, but they also benefit you because they limit your premium. After all, if you had unlimited liability from the insurance company, the premiums they would have to charge in order to stay in business would be outrageous. But some individuals want a little extra insurance – more than their regular insurance policies offer. Those individuals can choose to add an umbrella policy to their insurance arsenal.

What is an umbrella insurance policy?

An umbrella policy is not like a different kind of insurance plan, but simply a liability policy that stretches out over the limits of your existing home insurance or auto insurance policy. And like an umbrella protects its carrier from the coming rainfall, an umbrella insurance policy protects policyholders from the claims of individuals that exceed the limits of their underlying home insurance or auto insurance policies. You don’t need a separate umbrella insurance policy for both home and auto coverage – one umbrella policy extends protection for claims under each policy.

How does it work?

Having a pool can be a lot of fun, but it can also bring a lot of liability to a home owner’s doorstep. If one of your friends or neighbors is visiting your home and is injured while swimming in or walking around your pool, it could result in a very large claim against your home insurance policy (depending on the nature and extent of the damages suffered). For the sake of this example, let’s say that you have a home insurance policy with limits of $250,000. Your children’s friends come over one afternoon to enjoy the pool and one of them slips and falls in, resulting in a neck injury and partial temporary disability that creates a need for several years’ worth of physical therapy and surgery in order for that person to walk again. This could result in a liability claim of $1 million or more – but your home insurance will only pay up to $250,000. The rest of the claim is your responsibility to pay – unless you have an umbrella policy. If you did, the umbrella policy would pay the remaining $750,000 due and you would not have to sell your home or dip into your personal assets to pay the claim. The example would work the same way if your automobile was the cause of the injury rather than the pool.

Because umbrella policies are not required by law, it is up to you whether or not you have one. When you consider the damage to your finances and your future that a single liability claim could have, you might find that the additional protection of an umbrella policy covering your home and auto is just enough to help you sleep easier at night.

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