An example of a real life large liability claim

One of my stand alone personal umbrella liability carriers has a real life case study of a large liability claim.

Here is the story:

“Zack couldn’t believe his luck: Discovering leftover Fourth of July fireworks in the garage just in time for Halloween. He couldn’t wait to tell his best friend, Fletcher.

While their parents were soundly asleep on Halloween night, the inseparable pair snuck out to give the neighborhood a midnight treat.

Suppressing giggles, Zack lit the inaugural bottle rocket —  it zoomed off-course and landed underneath their neighbor’s car.

The friends rushed over to try to kick it out, but they were too slow — the car caught on fire in moments and as they looked on in disbelief, the tree in the yard and the home followed.

By the time firefighters were at the scene, extensive damage was already done.

Because of “vicarious parental liability,” Zack’s parents were on the hook for his actions, even though they weren’t present and didn’t know what he was up to.

After their homeowners liability limit was exhausted, their standalone personal umbrella policy covered the rest of the damage.

Claim: $620,000″

What is “Class 4” rated roofing shingles and why should you have them?

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is a company that tests the impact resistance of roofing shingles to simulate how the roofing would stand up to hail. The test is called UL 2218 and is the standard test in the roofing industry. A roofing shingle tested under UL 2218 is given a rating from Class 1 to Class 4 – Class 4 representing the most impact-resistant roofing shingles.

Insurance companies are starting to realize the benefits of these Class 4 rated shingles and they are starting to give “hail resistive” discounts on policies where the home has Class 4 rated roofing. This discount could be 20% or more depending on factors. If you are replacing your roof, you should consider upgrading to Class 4 roofing shingles. The insurance savings on your homeowner’s policy will pay for the upgrade in about two years. Not all insurance companies offer this discount so check with your agent to see if your insurance company offers this discount.

Elkstone Insurance Group, Inc. is an independent insurance agency that can quote homeowner’s insurance from several insurance companies in Colorado. The hail resistive discount is available through our agency for homes with Class 4 rated roofing shingles. Call 303-716-0970 for an insurance quote.

What time of day does an auto or homeowners policy start or end?

Typically “most” insurance companies, start and stop, there polices at 12:01 AM (one minute after midnight). With that, the first day of your policy period you have coverage all that day. The last day of your policy period, you do not have coverage because it ended a minuet after that day started.

Emergency Vehicle Checklist

First Aid Kit, toilet paper stored in a zip-lock bag

Flashlight (preferable a forehead mounted flashlight) with
extra batteries

Jumper Cables, tire chains/cables, and a tarp, extra
old/cheap sunglasses

Road flares or roadside lights or reflectors

Pen, Pencil and paper, vehicle cell phone charger, and a “printed”
out list of important phone numbers.

Extra old warm coat, hats and leather work gloves (a set for
each family member)

Energy Snack Bars, Drinking Water, mints, gum, floss and
small travel tooth brush and paste

Blanket, Umbrella, Kleenex, Ice Scraper/brush

Swiss Army or Leatherman utility knife

Supply of wet baby-wipes stored in a strong freezer zip-lock

Duct tape, Rope, String, Trash bags, twisty and a few extra gallon
size freezer zip-lock bags.

Small handle shovel, zip-ties, tow rope/chain, bungees.

Mace ,Pepper Spray or some other appropriate self-defense
you feel comfortable storing/using.

Red-rag-flag needed if transporting something sticking out
back of your vehicle 4 feet or more.

A Chilton repair manual for your specific vehicle.

Purchase tools that would be commonly used to repair your
vehicle and keep them in your vehicle. Be sure to purchase the size for your
vehicle (metric tools for foreign made vehicles.)

Engine oil, brake fluid (type used for your vehicle) and windshield
wiper fluid.

Accident Check List

Get Help for the injured

Call the police. Remain at the scene of the

Warn oncoming traffic. Set hazard lights and

Try to remain calm.

Do not admit fault.

Get names, addresses and phone numbers of all
passengers and witnesses.

Exchange names, address, phone numbers, makes of
vehicles, driver’s license, vehicle license numbers and insurance
company/policy numbers information with all drivers.

Sketch the accident.

Examine and record damage to other vehicles and

If you are carrying a camera, or camera phone, take
pictures of the scene and damage. Do not discuss the accident or sign any
documents. Only answer questions asked by police and your insurance company’s
claims representative.

Call your insurance company’s claims department


How much liability coverage should I have?

Liability coverage is the coverage on your policy that would pay toward a third party, on your behalf, if you were liable for their damage, injury or death as a result of an accident. Proper liability coverage will preserve all that you have worked for and future earnings via your wages being garnished if coverage and assets aren’t enough to indemnify the third party. Because of this, I believe, your liability coverage is the most important coverage on your policy. This is especially important if you are financially successful and have lots to lose.

The good news is liability coverage is relatively inexpensive. The more the cost is for liability, chances are, the more you need it. For example, adding a youthful driver to your policy can be costly, even with the limit of liability remaining the same. This is because the likelihood of being sued as a result of your inexperienced youthful driver getting into a serious accident causing injuries and possibly death to a third party has been dramatically increased.

What you can do to protect yourself from being sued is increase your liability limit (Bodily Injury, Property Damage) on your auto, home and any other policies (Boat, ATV, landlord policy) to more than your net worth. Some say you should have more liability coverage than your asset base. This might involve purchasing a “personal umbrella liability policy”. These umbrella polices are sold in increments of a million dollars and will usually cost around $200 a year for a one million dollar policy for a typical family with one home and two vehicles.

This umbrella liability policy will provide a blanket of extra liability coverage over and above all your other polices covered under the umbrella. If you own insurance on a boat, ATV, rental properties and more, they would all be protected under this umbrella and that would add a little more cost to the umbrella’s annual premium. There are also added cost for each vehicle you own and household driver under age 25. I usually recommend you purchase an umbrella policy if your net worth is over $250,000. Your net worth is all that you and your spouse own (your asset base) minus loans outstanding. This includes your retirement savings, home, vehicle values and all your personal property including rental properties and a business you own. Just because your rental property or business you own is an LLC or corporation with insurance on it, doesn’t escape you including it in your personal net worth calculation.

If you own it, and can sell it, its value needs to be included in your personal net worth. That can be hard to grasp, but trust me, it is better to be safe than sorry.

One of the added benefits of having higher liability limits on your auto insurance is that you can also have higher limits for UMBI (uninsured/underinsured bodily injury) for a low premium. Having higher UMBI coverage helps to indemnify you and passages if someone else hits you and has little or no liability insurance to pay for your injuries, pain and suffering, loss of wages or even death of a loved one.

If you have questions or concerns about how much liability coverage you need, contact Independent Insurance Agent Martin Sajbel for a free consultation.