1. Why should I use an independent agency to purchase insurance?
The independent agency can provide the policyholder with more personal service when compared to a direct writer. An independent agency, such as Republic of Texas Insurance Group, works with several insurance companies to provide quality insurance with competitive pricing and local service. Direct contact and a local person can be vital when purchasing an insurance product and especially when filing a claim. Without an agent you are on your own to absorb the frustration and expense of resolving your problems.
2. Is anyone who drives my car covered?
In most cases, yes, as long as they have the permission or reasonable belief from the insured that they can use the vehicle. The insured is the person named on the insurance policy and their spouse if applicable.
There are some exclusions, so you would need to look at your particular insurance policy to make sure. Remember, everyone in your household must be listed on your insurance policy if they have a license. For example, if a girlfriend you live with uses your car, she may not be covered if you did not list her on your insurance policy. On the other hand, if you live separately, she could use your car with your permission and be covered.
3. What are the best Auto Liability policy limits?
It is generally accepted among insurance agents that the state minimum policy limits are not enough. Most insurance professionals would agree for the average driver the best liability limits to have are 100/300/100. This means:
- 100,000 per person for bodily injury
- 300,000 per accident for bodily injury
- 100,000 per accident for property damage
Since in most areas medical treatment is in fairly the same range, the last limit, per accident for property damage, is the one you may want to take into account if you are not the average driver. If you live in an area where you feel that if there was an accident, that was your fault, and property damage may exceed 100,000, you may want to consider higher limits. Remember, property damage is the other person's car and any other property damaged during the accident if you are at fault. In some areas one's landscaping can cost over 100,000.
4. What differences are there between Comprehensive and Collision coverage?
Collision coverage is when you have a collision with something like another car. Comprehensive coverage is when it is anything else other than a collision such as fire or theft. Most people would have both coverages when using the car on a regular basis. Sometimes when one is just storing a car they may only keep comprehensive coverage since they are not using it on the road therefore, it is unlikely to be in a collision.
5. What does a standard Home insurance policy cover?
When shopping for home insurance, you should know about the six types of home insurance coverage offered in standard policy:
- Coverage A- Dwelling
- Coverage B- Other Structures on Your Property
- Coverage C- Personal Property/Contents
- Coverage D- Loss of Use
- Coverage E- Personal Liability Protection
- Coverage F- Medical Payments
Dwelling coverage protects against the damage and possible loss of your home's structure in the event of a covered claim such as a hurricane, hail, lightening or fire. (Separate policies are needed for flood and earthquake insurance.) This portion of your policy pays to replace the structural components of your home.
Other Structures that are protected by a standard home insurance policy are detached garages and other detached buildings on your property. The typical coverage for other structures is 10% of your dwelling coverage-although higher amounts may be purchased if necessary.
Personal Property coverage is included in a standard home insurance policy and protects your personal items and household contents in the event they are stolen or destroyed by fire, hurricane or other peril covered in your policy. These items may include, but are not limited to, furniture, clothing, and sports equipment.
Loss of Use coverage provides for your living expenses in the event that you cannot live in your home due to a covered claim. This type of coverage typically covers hotel and restaurant bills and other living expenses you may incur while your home is being repaired.
Personal Liability Protection covers you in the event that a lawsuit is presented against you or covered family members for bodily injury or property damage. Your pets are also included in this portion of your policy protecting you against bodily harm or property damage that they may cause to others.
Medical Payments coverage (often referred to as MedPay) helps cover medical expenses that you might be held responsible for due to an injury sustained on your property when there is no lawsuit
6. Who decides how much my property is worth?
The common methods of valuing property at the time of a loss are:
- Actual Cash Value—The replacement cost of the item minus depreciation. For example, a new television set may cost $500. If your 4–year–old TV set gets damaged in a fire, it might have depreciated 50 percent. Therefore, you would be paid $250 for that set.
- Replacement Coverage—The cost of replacing an item without deducting for depreciation. So today's cost for a TV set with features similar to the 4–year–old one damaged by fire would determine the amount of compensation. If it still costs $500 today, that would be the replacement coverage.
Replacement value should not be confused with market value. The market value is what your house, for example, would actually sell for and is generally more than the replacement cost. This is because replacement value does not include the land, and does not reflect the value of the location.
Check your policy. If you prefer replacement coverage and do not already have it, this coverage can be added to your policy. Typically, the difference in premiums is 10 to 15 percent to upgrade from actual cash value coverage to replacement coverage. However, it is well worth it to protect your investment in your possessions. Your Republic of Texas Insurance Group agent can advise you of the costs involved.
7. Why do I need Personal Liability coverage?
Whether you live in a house, a condo or an apartment, if someone is hurt or suffers a loss in your home you could be found personally liable. In other words, you are financially responsible for the expenses that may result.
- It may be as simple as someone slipping in your home, in the entryway or on the stairs. Even a broken leg can cost thousands of dollars in medical expenses - and potentially more if lost wages are involved.
- Have a dog? Dog bites occur all too often, and you will be responsible for pain and suffering, medical expenses, and potentially lost wages.
- If the person injured decides to sue, can you cover the legal expenses? Do you really want to put your assets at risk?
Personal liability coverage is a standard part of most home insurance policies. A few extra dollars can go a long way to preventing financial disaster down the road.
8. My landlord has insurance, so why do I need Renters insurance?
Your landlord may have insurance to cover your building, but what if there is damage to your property from fire or storms? Your landlord is not responsible for that. You are. And if repairs require you to move out, do you have the money to pay for another place to stay?
Renters insurance covers you against specific types of losses – named perils such as damage from lightning, fire, storms, vandalism or theft – so that you can replace or repair your property in the event of an incident. It even protects belongings that may be in your car.
9. What questions should I ask when buying a Medical Insurance policy?
- What is the cost of the monthly premium, deductible, co-payment amount and cap? How does changing one amount affect the others?
- What does the policy cover? What does it exclude? Are there limits on the number of days the insurance company will pay for services such as prescription drugs, maternity or out-patient services?
- Are pre-existing conditions covered?
- Does coverage begin immediately or am I subject to a waiting period?
- Is there a lifetime maximum cap the insurer will pay? This is important to know if you or someone in your family has a chronic or expensive illness or medical condition. Experts recommend that you choose a plan that has at least a $1 million maximum benefit.
- How do I obtain emergency care? Can I use urgent care facilities without pre-approval? Am I limited to using certain facilities in the plan?
- What else is covered? It is important to find out if routine services, such as preventive care, immunizations and mammograms are covered under the policy.
10. What is a High-Deductible Health Plan?
A high-deductible health insurance plan can provide affordable coverage for unexpected major health and medical expenses.
Essentially a form of catastrophic insurance, these plans charge a high annual deductible – from $1,000 to $5,000 and higher – in exchange for lower monthly premiums.
You will have to pay out-of-pocket costs for routine doctor's office visits or trips to the emergency room until you hit your deductible. The insurance covers everything after that.
To help pay these out of pocket costs, it is both wise and typical to pair your high-deductible plan with an IRS-qualified health savings account. You can make tax-free deposits into this account (even if you take the standard deductions and do not itemize), up to $3,050 annually for individuals or $6,150 for family coverage. If you are 55 or older, you can contribute an extra $1,000 a year.
This money is yours to withdraw, tax free, at any time, to pay for medical expenses that are not covered by your high-deductible policy.
High-deductible insurance is considered a consumer-driven health plan, giving the patients control over how to spend and invest their money.