As sure as the swallows return to Capistrano, all over America the latest migration of students prepares to descend on college campuses. Depending on whether your student is facing year one or is farther along the higher education highway, their individual stress levels may range from sheer terror to borderline boredom. For you, concerns may be running the gamut from empty nest issues to “How are we going to pay for this?”
Not that we want to add any wood to the mental and emotional fires, but college-bound season is also the perfect time to schedule a session with Jon Jepsen of SentryWest Insurance, your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent.
College raises a plethora of insurance issues that are far better addressed prior to departure than after. Here are just a few questions to consider:
The good news is these are not isolated issues, but simply questions faced by every parent and student as the college years begin. The great news is they also are handled regularly by your Trusted Choice agent, and he or she will be happy to sit down with you and your student to provide answers, advice and options. You may discover your current coverages respond to all or the vast majority of your concerns, and little need be done. If action is needed to assure your current protection will be there at time of need, you and your agent can make those choices at the best possible time—now, before that need arises.
Congratulations to you and your student as you together pursue a great future! It will be a rewarding, but sometimes wild ride! Be sure to take Jon Jepsen of SentryWest Insurance, your Trusted Choice agent, along.
Sixty years ago, when the 1950 census data was released, it showed that eight in 10 households were occupied by married couples. Fifty years later, the 2000 census data showed that number had declined to just over 50%, signifying a sea change in the typical American household. Almost half of households were occupied by a single individual, roommates or unmarried couples (the 2010 census data is still in the process of being made public).
If you are in the “living together but not married” category, you should pay close attention to the language in your home and auto insurance policies that specifies which individuals are covered—in insurance terms, the “insureds.”
Most standard home insurance policies restrict coverage to a “named insured”—the individual person(s) named on the policy and his or her resident spouse. The policy then extends coverage to “resident relatives,” a term referring to individuals related to the named insured by blood, marriage or adoption (or someone under 21 in your care, such as a foster child) who are residents of the named insured’s household.
This means that a home insurance company has no obligation to cover a non-insured’s liability or to defend that person in a lawsuit alleging liability.
Consider this scenario: A girlfriend and her teenage son move in with the woman’s boyfriend. The son seriously injures another child in a tackle football game at the park down the street. That child’s parents file a suit against the mother/girlfriend.
Unless she has her own separate insurance policy (such as a “renters” insurance policy) or has been added as a named insured on the home insurance policy (which most insurance companies won’t do if she isn’t a relative), she has no coverage.
The problem doesn’t stop with liability. Chances are the girlfriend and her son will also move some of their personal property in with them, but clothes, electronics, school supplies and whatever else belongs to them may not be covered by the homeowner’s insurance policy either. Most policies exclude coverage for personal property that is owned by roomers, boarders or tenants. This personal property exclusion is another reason why a renters insurance policy is essential for non-insured roommates.
The auto policy also has a “named insured” which includes the individual listed on the policy and his or her spouse. The insured on an auto policy varies depending on the coverage. For example, liability, medical payments, and uninsured motorist coverage each have their own definitions of “insured.”
Say an adult boyfriend and girlfriend (or same-sex couple) each have a car and their own personal auto insurance policies. One has high limits of liability on their policy, maybe $100,000, and the other has lower limits, like $25,000.
Let’s look at liability coverage in this scenario. This section of the policy covers the “named insured” and “family members” for liability arising out of the use of any auto. It also considers any other person an “insured” while that person is occupying a car (with permission) that is insured under your policy.
Dig deeper, however, and you’ll see that the policy excludes coverage while the “named insured” or “family member” is operating a vehicle that is furnished or available for regular use.
If the girlfriend is driving the boyfriend’s car and gets into an accident causing injuries, his auto insurer would pay up to the policy limits—in this case, $25,000. Unfortunately this may not be enough money to cover the full liability if the injuries are severe, and the liability policy with $100,000 limit might not be available as a fallback, even though it covers the driver for the use of any auto. That’s because the driver’s insurer can argue that this car is available for the driver’s regular use since the car owner and driver live together and that, under that circumstance, coverage is excluded by the policy language.
The good news is that these scenarios have solutions that I can advise you on. Call today!
There are over 240 million registered motor vehicles in the U.S., according to the Census Bureau. At a given time, as many as a third of those clutter American roadways, and it is estimated that one-fourth of those are being used in the course of work.
Running errands, making deliveries, visiting customers. Even for those whose employment is not based on driving, it’s fair to say that your vehicle is an essential part of your employment. This presents an important question: If you are involved in an accident in the course of employment, are you covered by your personal auto policy (PAP)?
Like most insurance questions, the answer depends on circumstance. For example, what kind of car are you driving? Does the car belong to you or someone else? What type of business are you in?
Consider the language found in the typical PAP. At a glance, many policyholders are shocked to see that the PAP appears to exclude coverage for the use of any vehicle in the course of business other than farming or ranching. However, a very broad exception to this exclusion allows coverage for the business use of a vehicle provided it is one of three types: 1) a private passenger auto, 2) a pickup or van, or 3) trailer while used with the aforementioned. This exception suggests that as long as the vehicle is one of these three types, coverage remains intact after the accident.
But policyholders should proceed with caution, since some PAPs are not as generous. For example, some versions may be more restrictive towards pickups or vans, possibly including a gross vehicle weight (GVW) limitation or a clause that restricts coverage to owned pickups or vans only. Be sure to consult your policy before driving any pickup or van for work.
Further, policyholders should understand that any coverage permitted for business use of personal vehicles by the PAP is not intended for these three vehicle categories:
While in most cases the PAP will cover you for business use of a personal vehicle, there are situations where it will not. Such situations are not uncommon and, if not remedied, could result in significant financial detriment for you and your family. Consult with Jon Jepsen for advice on how to close potentially devastating gaps in your PAP today.
Jonny Jepsen, CIC