World’s Weirdest Insurance Policies

Most people are familiar with the standard insurance policies — homeowners, auto, umbrella, life, and health insurance.  What you may not realize is that there are insurance policies available for some off-the-wall risks.  Alien abduction insurance anyone?

From celebrities to the just plain bizarre, here are some of the most unusual insurance policies in the world. For your more “typical” insurance needs, you’re always welcome to contact our office.


Alien Abduction Insurance

Believe it or not, a London based firm has sold more than 30,000 alien abduction insurance policies throughout Europe. Of course, you’ll need to provide proof of the occurrence to file a claim. If you’re a believer, a little green could save you from the little green men.

Don’t Forget Werewolfs, Vampires and Ghosts

Are you a little too into the TV series True Blood? No problem. There’s an insurance policy for you, too. The Royal Falcon Hotel in Lowestoft, England, for example, insured its staff and customers against death and disability caused by ghosts, poltergeists and other abnormal phenomena.

Ransom Reimbursement

Multinational corporations have been known to secure policies for kidnapping, just in case their executives are abducted in another country while on a business trip. But individuals can also purchase this insurance if they so desire. How does it work? The insurance company will deploy a team of negotiators, and will reimburse the ransom price up to your policy limits.

Food Truck Insurance

Here’s one that’s relatively unknown, but necessary if you’re a part of the growingmobile food vendor industry. With up to 10,000 food trucks in Los Angeles County alone, you want to be sure your rolling veggie burrito business is insured. Auto accidents, fire, and food borne illness are just some of the risks they face.

Celebrities And Other Irreplaceable Talents

From rock stars to athletes, the list of over-the-top celebrity insurance policies is a long one, often with major payouts. In fact, just about any body part you can think of has been insured. Here are just a few.

A Dutch Winemaker’s Nose

After hearing about a man who lost his sense of smell in a car accident, winemaker Ilja Gort took out an $8 million policy on his nose. Under the terms of the policy, he is barred from riding a motorcycle or working as a knife thrower’s assistant or fire-breather, among other things.

Gene Simmons

You don’t always have to insure the entire body. Gene Simmons, the legendary bassist for the 70’s rock band Kiss, allegedly insured his tongue for $1 million when the band was in its prime.

Troy Polamalu’s Hair Endorsement

Policies on athletes don’t have to be about performance. For example, while he was still playing Proctor & Gamble wanted to protect their endorsement deal. As the star of their shampoo commercial, they insured his famous hair for $1 million.

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13 Most Preventable Homeowners Claims

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This statement has great relevance to the topic of loss prevention.

In fact, did you know most homeowners’ insurance claims are not caused by fires or storms? The primary cause of claims is actually neglected maintenance that grows into a larger problem.

By simply taking some time to check and replace some items in your home, you may be able to save yourself thousands of dollars, as well as the hassle of dealing with a costly claim.

To help you avoid becoming a victim of one of these accidents we have compiled a list of the top 13 most preventable homeowners’ claims along with recommendations on how to prevent them.

For further tips or to discuss how your policy may respond if you experience a claim like those mentioned above, please don’t hesitate to contact our office.
1. Frozen Pipes: Frozen pipes will often crack, which can quickly cause serious water damage to your home.

Recommendation: There are a number of things you can do to prevent your pipes from freezing:

• Insulate pipes – insulation goes a long way toward preventing freeze-ups.

• Open cabinet doors under sinks – this will allow the heat to warm the pipes.

• Maintain your home temperature at 3-4 degrees higher than normal.

• Turn on your faucets and let the water trickle constantly.

2. Burst washing machine hose: The rubber hoses attached to a washing machine will eventually dry out, crack, and leak. Water damage caused by a cracked hose will usually go undetected until there is a huge problem as it is a low-traffic area of the house.

Recommendation: Replace any rubber hoses every three years, or replace the rubber with metal mesh hoses from any hardware or home store.

3. Slow leaks around tub/shower grout and edges: Over time, the grout and caulking around the edges of your tub or shower will decay and crack, allowing water to seep into your walls and floor. What’s worse is this type of water damage is usually not covered by your homeowners policy.

Recommendation: Check and maintain seals. Make certain you keep shower doors or curtains securely shut to prevent water from spilling.

4. Electrical cord fires: Cords under throw rugs and baseboard heaters are the most likely sources of electrical fires.

Recommendation: Reroute cords around throw rugs and use certified power strips. Don’t place furniture against baseboard heaters.

5. Woodstoves and Fireplaces: Clogged chimneys and stovepipes are a leading cause of home fires.

Recommendation: Inspect and clean chimneys and stove pipes at least twice a year. Make sure to remove ashes into a noncombustible container and keep flammable materials away from the fireplace.

6. Unattended cooking, candle fires, and space heaters: Unwatched, a “contained” fire can spread and rapidly become a tragedy.

Recommendation: Carefully monitor all cooking and candle fires.

7. Electrical Outlets and Wiring: Electrical systems in older homes have a difficult time handling the energy requirements of modern appliances.

Recommendation: Have all appliances professionally installed and avoid overloading or overusing extension cords and outlets.

8. Furnaces: A furnace that is not functioning properly can cause a fire or emit carbon monoxide.

Recommendation: Regularly inspect your furnace for signs of wear and tear and have a qualified service technician inspect your furnace if it is more than five years old.

9. Roof Collapses: Large snow buildup can easily cause your roof to collapse from weight.

Recommendation: After any large snowstorm be sure to check your roof for any excessive snow buildup. Also, make sure the roof is vented properly to avoid collapse and ice dams.

10. Roof leaks: Dark spots appearing in your ceiling are a clear sign you have leak in your roof. Also, look for curled or upturned shingles along house edges.

Recommendation: Clean gutters regularly. Check for loose or missing shingles. Don’t try to make a roof last ‘just one more season’ if it’s worn out.

11. Hot water tank leaks: Often forgotten, hot water tanks are susceptible to leaks and rust. They only last so long before showing wear.

Recommendation: Inspect the flooring around your water heater for signs of leaks. A qualified technician should periodically inspect water heaters installed more than five years ago.

12. Garage door opener theft: Garage door openers stolen from cars parked outside the house can give thieves easy access to a house later.

Recommendation: If you park your car outside, make sure to take your garage door opener in with you.

13. Mold: Mold buildup within your home can be dangerous and very expensive to remove.

Recommendation: Take special precautions to clean up all water spills or leakage immediately to prevent the spread of mold, fungus, wet or dry rot or mildew. Use anti-fungal cleaners wherever possible.

Final Note:

Hopefully we have shown the importance of regular maintenance to your home. With even just periodic inspection of water pipes, electrical cords, the fireplace, and roof, you may be able to prevent a disaster that could cost you or your insurance company thousands to replace.

Cell Phone Insurance

For many of us the thought of going even a single day without our cell phones starts to make our hands shake and our eyes twitch.

When you consider that the wide range of applications for a mobile phone include everything from helping you to navigate around the city to providing appointment reminders and keeping tabs on your teen, it’s easy to see how it becomes your constant companion.

Did you know that about 60 million mobile phones are lost or damaged every year accounting for more than $30 billion in losses?

Losing or breaking your phone can really set you back. And having it stolen is even worse.  And, if you do experience a loss, do you know if your homeowners insurance will help pay for a new one?  Or is an insurance policy that specifically covers cell phones a better option?

Below we will outline the details of how (most) homeowners insurance companies respond to cell phone losses and some things to consider when looking at a cell phone insurance policy.

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to give our office a call.


The Manufacturer’s Warranty Is Not Mobile Phone Insurance
Most cell phones come with warranties from the manufacturer covering all damages from defects or mechanical failure. Manufacturer warranties usually cover defects for one year. However, a manufacturer’s warranty will not cover a replacement phone if you dropped the phone and smashed it, if you spilled your coffee on it or if your phone was stolen or lost.

Does Your Homeowner’s Policy Include Cell Phone Insurance?
Insurance for mobile phones – when it is included in your homeowner’s policy – is likely not enough to replace your phone. The typical HO-3 homeowners policy insures all direct physical losses of all personal property listed in Coverage C of the policy document. The only condition is that a covered peril needs to be the cause for loss.

Therefore, if you listed your mobile phone in Coverage C and insured it against theft, you would receive coverage for the theft of the mobile phone. If your theft coverage pays for the depreciated value of the phone, you will still pay a considerable amount to buy a brand new one.

Additionally, most homeowners insurance policies have a deductible of $500 to $2,500, which means you would need to pay that amount prior to any coverage kicking in.

What to Look for in Cell Phone Insurance
Insurance for mobile phones makes sense under certain circumstances, but you want to be sure you are getting the benefit and value you need. Here are some questions to ask when considering a policy on your cell phone:

  • What is the coverage and scope of the cellular phone insurance? For example, does the policy cover accidental damage, phone theft and loss?
  • What does the coverage cost? Multiply your monthly premiums by the length of the policy and then add the deductible. For example, if you pay $10 a month for 3 years, then $10×36 = $360 + deductible of $50 = $410. If the price of a new cell phone is less than the amount you would be paying, you may decide that buying a new phone would be a more cost-effective option.
  • How will the cell phone will be replaced in the event of a loss? Will you get a similar model or a better one? Will the replacement be a new phone or a refurbished one?
  • What will it cost to replace your phone out of pocket?
  • How much is the deductible? The deductibles for cell phone insurance usually cost around $50-$150.
  • Will the insurance cover the cost of calls a thief made after stealing your phone?

Your insurance coverage should fit your needs and give you peace of mind.  You should feel confident that your coverage has a high value and can protect your investment adequately.

Disclaimer: The above information is to be used as guidance only, and it is not to be considered as definite in any particular case.   Every policy is different and you need to read through your policy and consult with your agent to best determine how your coverage will respond.  The information provided is based on the ISO standard HO-3 homeowners insurance in force in most states. Policy provisions and laws vary from state to state and they can change at any time.  Due to the brevity of this article, we cannot analyze every possible loss exposure and exception to the general guidelines above.  

Top 5 Strangest Home Insurance Claims

Home-Claims

When real disaster occurs, insurance provides a vital and necessary lifeline that helps policyholders regain their footing and start life over.

And thankfully most of the time, home insurance claims are fairly routine affairs involving some sort of property damage (typically storm related). Weird, off-the-wall home insurance claims simply don’t seem to happen that often.

When strange home insurance claims do happen, though, they are truly bizarre.  Below we have included the stories from the top five strangest home insurance claims we’ve ever come across.

Also, please remember that you can always contact our office for any home insurance claim you encounter—no matter how strange it may be. Our office will be glad to assist.

Claim 1: But the floor was made of wood.  A woman turned her hardwood floor into a bowling alley to practice her game. She quickly found that her grand idea couldn’t spare her floors from being damaged. The owner filed a loss report with her insurance company claiming that the floor’s damage was not the result of the heavy bowling ball, but due to the hardwood not being hard enough. Like a gutter ball, zero was the result of her claim.

Claim 2:  New York man claimed that while cooking dinner, several pans on his wood stove ignited. While trying to extinguish the fire, he threw the first pan out the door, where it (conveniently) happened to land in the backseat of his convertible. While trying to throw out the second pan outside, he tripped and the pan landed on his sofa. His house and car burned to the ground. But where there’s smoke, there’s fire – suspicious of his story, law enforcement conducted an investigation and charged him with insurance fraud.  He was left with no home, car, insurance money, and five years of probation.

Claim 3: The owner of a rental property visited the home to inspect it after renting it to some college kids for a few weeks. Not expecting much more than maybe some empty beer cans and some trash, the owner was stunned when he opened the door to his home and sand poured out. The renters decided to create an indoor beach and filled the house with sand and water.  Insurance covered the claim but the moral of this story is: be careful who you rent to!

Claim 4: Dogs can do some amazing things, but painting is not one of them. One homeowner left a can of paint open on her floor while redoing her walls. Her dog stuck his tail in the can and then proceeded to drip, shake, and wag paint throughout the entire house. Her insurance company paid the claim, and her dog paid with a much-needed bath and well-deserved time out.

Claim 5: One “fishy” claim came from a man participating in a competitive billiards-type game of snooker. After taking a wild shot, the ball soared off the billiard table straight into an expensive fish tank. All fish were saved and his claim was paid.

The Basics of Flood Insurance

Flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States, causing an average of $50 billion in economic losses each year. Most U.S. natural disasters declared by the President involve flooding.

There is no coverage for flooding in standard homeowners or renters policies or in most commercial property insurance policies. Coverage is available in a separate policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and from a few private insurers. Despite efforts to publicize this, many people exposed to the risk of floods still fail to purchase flood insurance.

And, in light of the recent devastating floods experienced in the South, we thought it would be extremely important to shed some light on what flood insurance covers, how it is purchased, and provide an idea on the associated premiums.

WHAT’S COVERED

Building

  • The insured building and its foundation
  • Electrical and plumbing systems
  • Central air conditioning equipment, furnaces and water heaters
  • Refrigerators, cooking stoves and built-in appliances such as dishwashers
  • Permanently installed carpeting over unfinished flooring

Personal Property

  • Personal belongings, such as clothing, furniture and electronic equipment

WHAT’S NOT COVERED

  • Damage caused by moisture, mildew or mold that could have been avoided by the property owner
  • Currency, precious metals and valuable papers such as stock certificates
  • Property and belongings outside of an insured building such as trees, plants, wells, septic systems, walks, decks, patios, fences, seawalls, hot tubs and swimming pools
  • Living expenses such as temporary housing

FLOOD INSURANCE FOR BASEMENTS AND AREAS BELOW THE LOWEST ELEVATED FLOOR

Coverage is limited in basements regardless of zone or date of construction. It’s also limited in areas below the lowest elevated floor, depending on the flood zone and date of construction. These areas include:

  • Basements
  • Crawl spaces under an elevated building
  • Enclosed areas beneath buildings elevated on full-story foundation walls that are sometimes referred to as “walkout basements”
  • Enclosed areas under other types of elevated buildings

MANDATORY REQUIREMENTS

Homes and businesses with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders in high-risk flood areas are required to have flood insurance. While flood insurance is not federally required if you live in a moderate-to-low risk flood area, it is still available and strongly recommended.

RATES

The NFIP, a federal program, offers flood insurance, which can be purchased through most leading insurance companies. Rates are set and do not differ from company to company. These rates depend on several factors, including the date and type of construction of your home, along with your area’s level of risk. Most premiums include a Federal Policy Fee and ICC Premium. If your community participates in the Community Rating System (CRS), you may qualify for an insurance premium discount in some communities of up to 45% if you live in a high-risk area and up to 10% in moderate-to-low risk areas.

30-DAY WAITING PERIOD

Typically, there’s a 30-day waiting period from date of purchase before your policy goes into effect. Here are the only exceptions:

  • If flood insurance is being purchased in connection with the making, increasing, extending or renewing of your loan.
  • If a building has been newly designated in the SFHA and flood insurance is being purchased within the 13-month period following a map revision.
  • If flood insurance is required as a result of a lender determining that a loan that does not have flood insurance coverage should be protected by flood insurance.
  • If an additional amount of insurance is selected as an option on the renewal bill.
  • If a property is affected by flooding on burned Federal land that is a result of, or is exacerbated by, post-wildfire conditions when the policy is purchased within 60 days of the fire containment date.

Why Identity Theft Insurance is so Important

According to a report by Internet security firm Kaspersky Lab, in what could be one of the largest bank heists in history, more than 100 banks and ATMs have been rigged so that thieves could steal up to $1 billion in cash.

Hackers from Russia, Ukraine, China and Europe were involved in the organized crime ring that was just recently exposed. The hackers installed spying software on bank computers, studied bank employee workflows so they could learn how to mimic their actions and used their knowledge to transfer money into bank accounts set up in other countries.

While the report did not name specific bank institutions, it stated that financial institutions in at least 30 countries were affected, including the United States.

We all know that identity theft is the act of taking someone’s personal information and using it to impersonate a victim, steal from bank accounts, establish phony insurance policies, open unauthorized credit cards or obtain unauthorized bank loans.

What many people don’t realize, though, is that 7% of all U.S. citizens will be victims of identity theft over the next 12 month resulting in over $50 billion in costs.  Identity theft is also a long, arduous process for victims as they try to repair their credit, erase erroneous collection accounts, and restore their lives.

Did you know that many homeowners insurance policies actually offer some form of identity theft as part of the policy?  You can find out more about this coverage, its cost, and provisions within the rest of the of article below.

If you would like to see if your policy includes identity theft coverage or would like to receive quotes on this coverage, please feel free to give our office a call.

Identity Theft Insurance

What is it? 

Some insurance companies now include coverage for identity theft as part of their homeowners insurance policy.  Others sell it as either a stand-alone policy or as an endorsement to a homeowners or renters insurance policy.

What does it cover? 

Identity theft insurance provides reimbursement to crime victims for the cost of restoring their identity and repairing credit reports. It generally covers expenses such as phone bills, lost wages, notary and certified mailing costs, and sometimes attorney fees (with the prior consent of the insurer). Some companies also offer restoration or resolution services that will guide you through the process of recovering your identity.

What does it cost? 

Some insurance companies will include identity theft coverage for no additional cost.  However, most will charge anywhere from $25 to $100 annually for the additional insurance coverage.

Tips for Avoid Identity Theft

  • Keep the amount of personal information in your purse or wallet to the bare minimum. Avoid carrying additional credit cards, your social security card or passport unless absolutely necessary.
  • Always take credit card or ATM receipts. Don’t throw them into public trash containers, leave them on the counter or put them in your shopping bag where they can easily fall out or get stolen.
  • Do not give out personal information. Whether on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet, don’t give out any personal information unless you have initiated the contact or are sure you know who you are dealing with and that they have a secure line.
  • Proceed with caution when shopping online. Use only authenticated websites to conduct business online. Before submitting personal or financial information through a website, confirm the site is secure.
  • Make sure you have firewall, anti-spyware and anti-virus programs installed on your computer. These programs should always be up to date.
  • Monitor your accounts. Don’t rely on your credit card company or bank to alert you of suspicious activity.
  • Order a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus. Make sure it’s accurate and includes only those activities you’ve authorized.
  • Shred any documents containing personal information such as credit card numbers, bank statements, charge receipts or credit card applications, before disposing of them.

Personal Articles Insurance

If any of the following incidents were to happen, do you know if your homeowners insurance would pay the full claim, part of the claim, or deny it completely?

  • Your golf clubs are taken out of your car.
  • Your expensive digital camera is dropped and broken.
  • Your home-office computer is ripped off.

Unfortunately, with just a standard homeowners insurance policy, the likelihood of your full claim being paid is not great.

While your homeowners insurance policy does provide some coverage for valuable items, it is usually limited in the types of covered claims and payment amounts.

In order to have full coverage for the incidents above you would need to purchase a Personal Articles Floater. A personal articles floater provides coverage for possessions with higher monetary values like:

  • Cameras (video or still) and related equipment
  • China and crystal
  • Firearms
  • Golfer’s equipment
  • Jewelry
  • Musical instruments
  • Personal computers
  • Silverware
  • Works of fine art

It will also provide some additional coverage for things like mysterious disappearance and breakage. And the best part is that this type of policy isn’t very expensive at all.

Why should I consider a Personal Articles Floater?

Benefit 1: A personal articles floater will provide higher limits on your valuables.

Standard insurance policies limit coverage for the items listed above at anywhere from $500 to $1,500 depending upon the item. In many cases that may be sufficient; however, if the item is rare or valuable, the regular might not be enough.

One of the benefits of a personal article floater is the freedom you have in selecting your limits.  Rather than predetermined limits, insurance companies are more willing to provide higher limits (as long as you can provide proof of said value).

Benefit 2: Claim payments are facilitated in a more proficient manner.

Claims for a personal articles floater usually paid one of two ways:

  1. Replacement Cost: Your insurance will pay the necessary amount to repair or replace your item with another one of like kind and quality.
  2. Agreed Value: The insurance company will use an “Agreed Value” limit for the item. This means that, in the event of a covered claim, your insurance company will simply just pay you the amount listed on the policy.

An agreed value limit is great when you’re insuring items like jewelry, fine art, antiques, and other unique items because it means if you suffer a loss on a covered item, you will not have to negotiate a settlement price with the insurance company.

Benefit 3: A personal articles floater provides expanded coverages.

A standard homeowners policy does not include some vital coverages for rare or valuable items.  For example, a personal articles floater can provide coverage for “mysterious disappearance” or “breakage.” So if you were to lose a valuable piece of jewelry or accidentally break some fine china, your policy would pay the associated claim.

Benefit 4: Coverage can be expanded worldwide.

While most homeowners policies will typically only cover items located on the premises listed within the policy, personal articles floaters will provide coverage anywhere in the world.

For example if you lost your expensive camera while on vacation, your policy would pay for a replacement.

Benefit 5:  Most personal articles floaters do not have a deductible.

A standard homeowners insurance policy will usually include a $500 to $1,000 deductible. A personal articles floater is different; many of them actually remove the deductible removing any out-of-pocket expenses as the policy owner.

Some Tips when Adding this Coverage

  1. Make sure to keep a detailed list of the items listed on the policy, including copies of the appraisals.
  2. Photograph each piece of your collection and store the photos in a safe place. This will make it easy to list each item on you claim report if your entire collection is stolen or damaged.
  3. If you have a number of high value items, it may be in your best interest to store them in a safe deposit box or install a security system in your home. Doing so will help discount the premiums on your policy as well.

How Much Does the Coverage Cost?

Now the big question, right? How much does a policy of this type cost?

Personal article floaters are actually much cheaper than you think given the coverage they provide. The increased cost can be anywhere from $20 to $2,000 annually, depending upon the type of items insured and their associated value.

*The above information is to be used as guidance only, and should not be considered as definite in any particular case. Every policy is different and you need to read through your policy and consult with your agent to best determine how your coverage will respond.  Within this article we simply cannot analyze every possible loss exposure and exception to the general guidelines above.