Auto insurance protects you against financial loss if you have an accident. It is a contract between you and the insurance company. You agree to pay the premium and the insurance company agrees to pay your losses as defined in your policy. Auto insurance provides property, liability and medical coverage:
Property coverage pays for damage to or theft of your car.
Liability coverage pays for your legal responsibility to others for bodily injury or property damage.
Medical coverage pays for the cost of treating injuries, rehabilitation and sometimes lost wages and funeral expenses.
An auto insurance policy is comprised of six different kinds of coverage. Most states require you to buy some, but not all, of these coverages. If you're financing a car, your lender may also have requirements. Most auto policies are for six months to a year. Your insurance company should notify you by mail when it’s time to renew the policy and to pay your premium.
Protect yourself and your lender with homeowner's insurance!
Insurance is your seat belt as you make your way through life. It cannot stop unforeseen circumstances, but it can keep you from being flung from the car. Homeowner's insurance protects you and your mortgage lender from loss in the event your home is damaged or destroyed by such things as windstorms, fires and lightning strikes.
Basic homeowner's insurance provides a minimal level of coverage for your home and your belongings. This type of coverage is in your best interest, as it will help you recoup your losses in the event of damage to your property. Additionally, it may protect you from the loss of assets in the event a guest is injured in your home. What's more, it often is mandatory. Mortgage lenders typically require borrowers to obtain this type of coverage as a home-financing condition.
An HO-1 homeowner's insurance policy provides the most basic coverage. It typically covers damage caused by about 10 different events, including fire, lightning, windstorms, hail and explosions. An HO-1 policy usually covers smoke damage, explosions, damage caused by civil unrest and volcanic eruptions as well. This type of policy is very limited, and many states no longer offer it.
An HO-2 policy is a basic type of homeowner's policy that provides somewhat broader coverage. This policy will cover you against about 16 different types of events, including not only fire and lightning but also damage from theft, vandalism and riots. It covers damage from hail, windstorms and breaking glass as well as smoke damage and damage that is caused by a car, truck or airplane. In the event you're unlucky enough to have pipes that burst, a heating unit that ruptures or a roof that collapses under the weight of snow, this type of basic policy will cover it.
Many homeowners prefer to purchase an HO-3 policy because it covers all possible causes of damage to your property and possession loss, with the exception of those specifically listed as excluded. The exclusions will vary from policy to policy, and you should read yours carefully to understand what is left out.
Basic homeowner's policies typically cover not only the costs to repair damaged property but also replacement costs in the event that your entire home is destroyed. Usually, a basic homeowner's policy will also cover your belongings, including furniture and appliances. Typically, however, the contents of your household are only covered for up to 40 percent of the home's insured value.
Basic homeowner's insurance policies usually don't cover things like earthquakes and floods. Some may only provide limited coverage for the loss of personal property like jewelry, computers and cameras. To make sure you have enough coverage for this type of property, you can purchase additional insurance.
Life insurance is an agreement between you (the policy owner) and an insurer. Under the terms of a life insurance policy, the insurer promises to pay a certain sum to a person you choose (your beneficiary) upon your death, in exchange for your premium payments. Proper life insurance coverage should provide you with peace of mind, since you know that those you care about will be financially protected after you die.
The many uses of life insurance
One of the most common reasons for buying life insurance is to replace the loss of income that would occur in the event of your death. When you die and your paychecks stop, your family may be left with limited resources. Proceeds from a life insurance policy make cash available to support your family almost immediately upon your death. Life insurance is also commonly used to pay any debts that you may leave behind. Life insurance can be used to pay off mortgages, car loans, and credit card debts, leaving other remaining assets intact for your family. Life insurance proceeds can also be used to pay for final expenses and estate taxes. Finally, life insurance can create an estate for your heirs.
How much life insurance do you need?
Your life insurance needs will depend on a number of factors, including whether you're married, the size of your family, the nature of your financial obligations, your career stage, and your goals. For example, when you're young, you may not have a great need for life insurance. However, as you take on more responsibilities and your family grows, your need for life insurance increases.
There are plenty of tools to help you determine how much coverage you should have. Your best resource may be a financial professional. At the most basic level, the amount of life insurance coverage that you need corresponds directly to your answers to these questions:
What immediate financial expenses (e.g., debt repayment, funeral expenses) would your family face upon your death?
How much of your salary is devoted to current expenses and future needs?
How long would your dependents need support if you were to die tomorrow?
How much money would you want to leave for special situations upon your death, such as funding your children's education, gifts to charities, or an inheritance for your children?
Since your needs will change over time, you'll need to continually re-evaluate your need for coverage.
How much life insurance can you afford?
How do you balance the cost of insurance coverage with the amount of coverage that your family needs? Just as several variables determine the amount of coverage that you need, many factors determine the cost of coverage. The type of policy that you choose, the amount of coverage, your age, and your health all play a part. The amount of coverage you can afford is tied to your current and expected future financial situation, as well. A financial professional or insurance agent can be invaluable in helping you select the right insurance plan.
What's in a life insurance contract?
A life insurance contract is made up of legal provisions, your application (which identifies who you are and your medical declarations), and a policy specifications page that describes the policy you have selected, including any options and riders that you have purchased in return for an additional premium.
Provisions describe the conditions, rights, and obligations of the parties to the contract (e.g., the grace period for payment of premiums, suicide and incontestability clauses).
The policy specifications page describes the amount to be paid upon your death and the amount of premiums required to keep the policy in effect. Also stated are any riders and options added to the standard policy. Some riders include the waiver of premium rider, which allows you to skip premium payments during periods of disability; the guaranteed insurability rider, which permits you to raise the amount of your insurance without a further medical exam; and accidental death benefits.
The insurer may add an endorsement to the policy at the time of issue to amend a provision of the standard contract.
Types of life insurance policies
The two basic types of life insurance are term life and permanent (cash value) life. Term policies provide life insurance protection for a specific period of time. If you die during the coverage period, your beneficiary receives the policy death benefit. If you live to the end of the term, the policy simply terminates, unless it automatically renews for a new period. Term policies are available for periods of 1 to 30 years or more and may, in some cases, be renewed until you reach age 95. Premium payments may be increasing, as with annually renewable 1-year (period) term, or level (equal) for up to 30-year term periods.
Permanent insurance policies provide protection for your entire life, provided you pay the premium to keep the policy in force. Premium payments are greater than necessary to provide the life insurance benefit in the early years of the policy, so that a reserve can be accumulated to make up the shortfall in premiums necessary to provide the insurance in the later years. Should the policyholder discontinue the policy, this reserve, known as the cash value, is returned to the policyholder. Permanent life insurance can be further broken down into the following basic categories:
Whole life: You generally make level (equal) premium payments for life. The death benefit and cash value are predetermined and guaranteed. The policy-owner's only action after purchase of the policy is to pay the fixed premium.
Universal life: You may pay premiums at any time, in any amount (subject to certain limits), as long as policy expenses and the cost of insurance coverage are met. The amount of insurance coverage can be decreased, and the cash value will grow at a declared interest rate, which may vary over time.
Variable life: As with whole life, you pay a level premium for life. However, the death benefit and cash value fluctuate depending on the performance of investments in what are known as subaccounts. A subaccount is a pool of investor funds professionally managed to pursue a stated investment objective. The policyholder selects the subaccounts in which the cash value should be invested.
Universal variable life: A combination of universal and variable life. You may pay premiums at any time, in any amount (subject to limits), as long as policy expenses and the cost of insurance coverage are met. The amount of insurance coverage can be decreased, and the cash value goes up or down based on the performance of investments in the subaccounts.
Choosing and changing your beneficiaries
You must name a primary beneficiary to receive the proceeds of your insurance policy. Your beneficiary may be a person, corporation, or other legal entity. You may name multiple beneficiaries and specify what percentage of the net death benefit each is to receive. If you name your minor child as a beneficiary, be sure to designate an adult as the child's guardian in your will.
Generally, you can change your beneficiary at any time. Changing your beneficiary usually requires nothing more than signing a new designation form and sending it to your insurance company. If you have named someone as an irrevocable (permanent) beneficiary, however, you will need that person's permission to adjust any of the policy's provisions.
Where can you buy life insurance?
You can often get insurance coverage from your employer (i.e., through a group life insurance plan offered by your employer) or through an association to which you belong (which may also offer group life insurance). You can also buy insurance through a licensed life insurance agent or broker, or directly from an insurance company.
Any policy that you buy is only as good as the company that issues it, so investigate the company offering you the insurance. Ratings services, such as A. M. Best, Moody's, and Standard & Poor's, evaluate an insurer's financial strength. The company offering you coverage should provide you with this information.
Get the right coverage for your small business
From minimum coverage to specialized protection, our flexible options allow you to get your business insured accurately for each stage of your business's development.
Basic business insurance
Accidents, illnesses, lawsuits… If you're in business, you're exposed. While the number of risks you're exposed to is almost unlimited, you might only need a few basic coverages to start out. For example:
General liability insurance - All small businesses, old and new, need general liability insurance. It's basic liability protection that guards against things like accidents, injuries, property damage and lawsuits.
Commercial auto insurance - If you use vehicles for work, you'll need commercial auto insurance to be fully covered. Personal policies don't usually cover work related incidents. You'll save up to 5% if you combine this with General Liability! Do you need a commercial auto policy? Find out here.
As your business grows
Most small businesses insurance needs quickly extend beyond basic liability and commercial auto insurance. Certain jobs require specific coverages, employees need protection, and a number of risks fall outside the protection of basic liability coverage.
When insurance coverages are packaged together, it's often referred to as a Business Owners Policy, or BOP. Additional coverages in a BOP might include:
Property - This can protect your commercial buildings and most of your personal property. Both of which are not covered by liability insurance. Liability normally covers other people's assets, not yours.
Business income interruption - If your policy includes coverage for property, you also have protection in the event of business interruption. For example, if you have a property claim that prevents you from operating your business, business income interruption coverage could help pay you for your lost income, employee salaries and rent expenses.
Professional liability - Do you give professional advice or provide a professional service? If so, you should probably carry professional liability insurance. This can be endorsed to your BOP.
While technically not part of a BOP, we also offer workers' compensation insurance to help pay for things like medical costs and lost wages of employees who become ill or injured on the job.
Business insurance for contractors
We cater to the special needs of contractors by offering general liability as a stand-alone coverage for contractors who don't need a full BOP. Learn more about what we offer contractors.
Business insurance cost
Multiple factors influence the cost of your business insurance. These typically include:
Your business type
How many years you've been in business