Few people understand what their insurance policies cover. Even fewer people read their insurance policy.
Umbrella policies are misunderstood and often overlooked.
They shouldn’t be.
What is an Umbrella Policy?
Much like an umbrella protects us from rain, snow, sleet, and just about anything else (sun too!), an umbrella insurance policy protects us from all sorts of liability.
Your automobile liability policy will cover you for crashes for which you are partly- or completely at-fault up to the limits of liability you choose. For example, in Illinois the state minimum liability limit is $25,000 per incident per person and $50,000 per incident overall. As I have blogged about numerous times, this is simply never “enough” coverage. I suggest coverage that is at least ten times that, and strongly recommend having limits that are as high as $1 million. The cost is not significantly more than minimal coverage and it provides peace of mind for those moments of inattention, poor choices, or collisions with uninsured or underinsured drivers.
Your homeowner’s liability policy will cover you in case someone trips on your driveway, gets injured in your house, plus many other possible scenarios.
But an umbrella policy covers you for things even those policies don’t cover.
To use a horrific example, let’s say you have $500,000 liability limits on your auto policy. You reach over to pick up your purse, which has fallen between the seats. And just like that, you’ve hit two children crossing the road who were not there 2 seconds before. How far do you think that $500,000 will go if either of those kids is seriously injured, or worse?
That’s where an umbrella comes in. Most umbrella policies start at $1 million. That means, you could have that amount in addition to your liability limits to pay claims arising out of that incident.
Do I Need an Umbrella Policy?
The old saw propounded by many of our mothers is “if you bring your umbrella with you, it won’t rain.” I know my mom was correct when she told me to bring an umbrella to college. I resisted, thinking it would make me look “uncool,” as if me at 18 could ever look cool anyway! After getting soaked three days in a row, I purchased an umbrella. Sometimes, mom is right.
Same thing goes for an umbrella policy. You buy one for those “just in case” situations that, hopefully, never occur. But if they do, you are not going to lose your home, your assets, or your peace of mind. And there will be plenty of money to pay injured victims’ compensation.
You don’t “need” an umbrella policy, but if you have one, you never have to worry.
The additional cost of a personal umbrella policy is often only a few hundred dollars annually. If you own a home that is worth $300,000, and two vehicles that are worth $50,000, wouldn’t it make sense to pay $150-200 a year to protect them?
And if you have a relatively new driver or two or three in your household, it would stand to reason an umbrella is all but a must. Teen drivers make lots of costly mistakes, especially males. They just do. Plan for it. Protect yourself.
Open It Up and See How It Works
Opening an umbrella when it starts raining keeps you from getting wet. Having an umbrella policy protects you just in case there is a large claim, like those unfortunate children in our earlier example, or the family occupying the vehicle in front of yours that you rear end.
All you need to do when you are involved in a claim is contact your carrier. The insurer will evaluate the potential liability, damages, and claims. In the event your personal liability limits are exceeded, the umbrella is in play. It’s that simple.
As a lawyer who represents injured people and their families, I’ll let you in on a little secret: plaintiffs’ lawyers love umbrella policies. We love them because they provide potential recovery to fairly compensate our injured clients. For the same reason we love the fact that they exist for our clients’ benefits, we also love it when our own clients have them. That way, we don’t get calls from clients who have made a mistake (not paying attention, in a hurry, human error) fearing they will lose their houses, college funds, or retirement money.
Remember, it covers you for liability that occurs around your home as well as automobile incidents. Just like a real umbrella, it covers an awful lot of things.
Doesn’t everyone deserve the luxury of not having to worry?
How to Obtain An Umbrella
While you can always purchase insurance online, I strongly recommend using a broker. You will get someone to correctly assess your insurance needs as they relate to your assets, and you will be able to get everything explained to you so there are no surprises.
So, when your policies are up for renewal, contact a broker, price different options, and see if an umbrella is worthwhile. It really is that simple.
- Umbrella policies cover above the liability limits
- Umbrella policies are often only a few hundred dollars annually
- Umbrella policies cover incidents involving your vehicle as well as around your house
Contact Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Stephen Hoffman
As in all cases involving injury and potential liability, if you have been hit by a vehicle. immediately get medical treatment, report the crash to police and your own insurance company, and contact a lawyer with expertise in your type of case, such as bicycle accidents or pedestrians hit by cars.
If you’ve been in an accident and have questions, contact Chicago personal injury attorney Stephen L. Hoffman for a free consultation at (773) 944-9737. Stephen has over 30 years of legal experience and has collected millions of dollars for his clients. He is listed as a SuperLawyer, has a 10.0 rating on Avvo, and is BBB A+ accredited. He is also an Executive Level Member of the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.
Stephen handles personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything up front, and he only gets paid if you do. Don’t wait another day; contact Stephen now.