A Brief Guide To Condo Insurance

The ownership structure of a condominium unit is different from that of a single family house. Here’s what you need to know when purchasing insurance for your condo.1

1. Understand the Master Policy

Since the ownership of all common areas is shared with other condo owners, the association of owners typically purchases insurance coverage (a master policy) for the common areas, e.g., hallways, exterior walls, etc. The condo association’s policy will outline what is covered and what is not.

2. Three Types of Coverage

There are three basic types of coverage under a master policy.

  • Primary buildings and common areas
  • Your unit and any items within your unit, other than personal belongings
  • Building, unit, and any fixtures

The individual coverage you may consider depends upon the scope of coverage of the master policy. Start by determining what is and isn’t covered under the master policy – this can influence the coverage you may need.

3. Know the Master Policy Deductible

Generally, an association’s master policy has a deductible that is charged pro-rata among unit owners in the event of a claim. Determining that obligation is important because while it may never materialize, it could represent a meaningful financial commitment.

4. Consider Additional Coverage

Similar to any homeowner, you will need to make decisions about other coverage options, such as cash value or replacement coverage, adding personal liability coverage, and whether flood insurance may be appropriate.

1. Several factors will affect the cost of condo insurance, including the insurance coverage provided by the homeowners association. You should consider the amount of your deductible and level of coverage before purchasing a condo insurance policy. Any guarantees associated with a policy are dependent on the ability of the issuing insurance company to continue making claim payments.

The Eight Types of Home Insurance

The Eight Types of Home Insurance

When you purchase a home, whether an apartment, condo, townhouse, or house, if you take out a mortgage, the bank will require you to purchase homeowners insurance. At CG Insurance Agency serving Williamston, MI, we want you to understand your options when choosing coverage for your home.

Your humble adobe might not be very humble nor made of adobe, but it needs insurance. Until you completely pay off your mortgage, the bank actually owns your home. They kindly let you live there since you pay them a house payment each month and expect you to assume the risk to the home. You do that by purchasing home insurance.

The coverage your home gets depends on the type of home. For example, a historical home requires an HO-8 policy, while a recently built home purchased by a homeowner with no or few policy claims typically gets covered under a standard home policy, an HO-3.

A homeowner who has made many claims to their insurance policy typically won’t qualify for an HO-3 policy, so their home gets insured with an HO-1 policy, called dwelling insurance. This policy doesn’t cover as many perils, or natural hazards, as an HO-3 policy.

HO-2 covers more perils than the HO-1 policy. It adds perils such as accidental discharge of water and the weight of snow or ice on the roof. If you want open-peril coverage, meaning your home obtains coverage from any and every potential problem except flooding, you buy an HO-5 policy.

An HO-6 policy gets your condo or purchased apartment all the coverage it could need. While your landlord covers the public areas of the home or apartment building, your condo policy takes care of the interior of your home and your personal items. It also covers the liability you incur when others visit your home.

If you’ve been counting, you noticed HO-4 and HO-7 have yet to appear in the list. That’s because an HO-4 policy is renter’s insurance, so a homeowner won’t need it. You’ll only need an HO-7 policy if you purchase an RV or a trailer.

Contact CG Insurance Agency serving Williamston, MI, for more information on home insurance. Let us help you find the right insurance for your home.

Dog Bites Neighbor. Now What?

In 2020, there were 16,991 dog bite claims nationwide totaling aggregate damages of about $854 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute.1

For most homeowners (and renters), a standard policy generally covers any legal liability that may result from their dog biting or harming another individual. Typically, this coverage is designed to extend to places outside the home (e.g., a walk in the park), but may not include what happens inside a car.2

However, this coverage is not unlimited. There is a cap to liability coverage (check your policy for the limits of your coverage), and your policy may limit such coverage to one bite.

Canine Considerations

Many insurers may either cancel the policy or add a canine exclusion after paying such a claim, which means that you will be responsible for all damages in the event of a second bite.

Some policies exclude certain dog breeds from the outset, so be sure to review your coverage to ensure that your dog is not among the excluded breeds.

Also be aware of a business exclusion that may not pay on claims arising from a dog bite that occurs while you are conducting business in your place of residence.

Finally, it is important to let your insurer know if your dog bites someone or is declared dangerous under local law. Failure to inform them may affect liability coverage for subsequent injuries caused by your dog.

Auto insurance FAQs

In Williamston, MI, CG Insurance Agency has been bringing residents the benefits of an independent insurance agency since 2015. When it comes to auto insurance, you need to make sure that you have the right coverage. Not every person or even every vehicle needs to have the same auto insurance. Sitting down with your agent can end up saving you money while making sure that the coverage you have is correct. Independent agents are able to provide their customers with more choices and you should take advantage of that. 

Do I need to have auto insurance if I don’t have a loan on my vehicle?

In the state of Michigan, yes you do. You need to have a basic auto insurance policy, which means having liability coverage. The required amount in Michigan is 50/100/10. 

What type of auto insurance will cover my vehicle if it is stolen?

If you carry comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, it will be covered in the event that it is stolen. 

How many vehicles can I have on one auto policy?

Most auto policies are good for 4 or 5 vehicles. That is not a hard and fast rule, a lot will depend on the size of your family and the number of drivers. 

I need to rent a car. Will my auto insurance cover me?

Maybe. Whether or not your auto policy covers a rental car depends on exactly what type of auto policy you have. If you have a basic policy, then no, you won’t have the necessary coverage for the vehicle. If you have complete coverage, you will likely be covered in a rental vehicle. If in doubt, give your insurance agent a call. 

When you are in the market for auto insurance or need to review your coverage, call CG Insurance Agency in Williamston, MI. 

How Insurance Deductibles Work

An insurance deductible is an amount you, the insured, pay before any claim is paid by your insurance carrier. Depending upon the type of insurance, a policy may set the amount of deductible, or offer you the ability to select a deductible amount.

Deductibles serve a dual purpose: they save the insurance company money (including the administrative cost of processing small claims) and may help keep your premium costs lower.

Choosing the Right Deductible Amount

Generally speaking, the trade-off between deductible levels and insurance premiums is simple: The higher the deductible, the lower the cost of insurance. Conversely, the lower the deductible, the higher the cost of insurance.

Deciding how to make that trade-off is a function of math and your own comfort level with higher out-of-pocket costs if you choose a higher deductible.

Only you can decide if saving $65 a year in premiums for a deductible that is $500 rather than $200 is worth it to you. You may find that the relationship between deductible amount and premium cost is different depending upon the type of insurance. For instance, the savings with a higher deductible may be significant with auto insurance, but much less so with homeowners insurance.1

Not only will this relationship between deductibles and premiums differ based on insurance type, but it may differ based upon other factors, such as your age and the value of your car, for example.

When you consider the appropriate deductible level for health insurance coverage, remember that deductibles may be on each member of the family.

When shopping for insurance, you should always ask your insurance agent what the premium costs are at each of the available deductible levels. Knowing that information may help you make a sound decision regarding your coverage.

Protection Against Uninsured Drivers

About 12.6 percent of all motorists, or one-in-eight drivers, do not have automobile insurance, according to the Insurance Research Council.¹

Having the misfortune to get into an accident with an uninsured motorist may have serious financial consequences, depending upon the state in which you reside and whether it is a “no-fault” or “tort” state.

In no-fault states, the law does not assign blame for an accident. As a result, each driver is reimbursed by his or her insurance company for any damages. In a “tort” state, insurance companies pay out claims based upon the percentage of fault assigned to each driver.²

Any accident with an uninsured driver means no insurance reimbursement payment for his or her apportioned share of the damage. This can leave you holding the financial bag.

How to Protect Against Uninsured Drivers

Some states require drivers to take out insurance for uninsured (and underinsured) motorists. Where not required, it may be a good idea to add that coverage to your auto policy.

You can buy protection against uninsured (and underinsured) drivers for both bodily injury and property damage. This coverage may also be valuable in cases where an insured motorist flees the scene of an accident without trading insurance information.

The first step to protecting yourself against this potential financial risk is to contact your insurance agent to discuss your current coverage, applicable state insurance laws, and what you need to do to obtain protection against uninsured motorists.

Does Your Credit Score Affect Your Insurance Rates?

One landmark study found that credit-based insurance scores are used by about 95 percent of all auto and home insurers in calculating the cost of insurance to individuals.¹

While the vast majority of insurance companies use credit-based insurance scores to help determine the price of insurance, it is banned in the states of Massachusetts, Hawaii, and California. Some states only allow it as a factor for property insurance like auto and homeowners insurance. Other states allow it to be used with any type of insurance.

Several Factors

Generally, an insurance company will use a credit-based insurance score as just one factor in its underwriting process. Other factors may be considered, depending upon the type of insurance. For example, with auto insurance, other factors could include your zip code, the age of the drivers, the make, model and age of the car, and the number of miles you drive annually.

The use of credit scores to determine insurance rates is rooted in research that has shown individuals with lower credit scores had higher car insurance losses and higher claims payouts.

You can ask your insurance company if a credit-based insurance score was used to underwrite and rate your policy, and in which risk category you were placed.

If you want to improve your credit-based insurance score, you should consider taking the same steps you would to improve your credit rating: make timely debt payments, clear up past disputes and keep credit card balances low.

Gun Ownership and Your Homeowners Policy

If you own a gun, you need to consider whether you are covered in the event the gun is stolen or destroyed and protected against any potential liability should your firearm cause an injury.

Gun ownership is a big responsibility and having the proper insurance coverage is an important element in meeting that responsibility.¹

Personal Property

For most standard homeowners policies, guns are considered personal property and are covered as such. However, they may be subject to sub-limits that are lower than the overall property limit, primarily due to the fact that they are small, usually valuable and easily transportable.

You should check with your insurance agent to determine the extent of your coverage. If you need additional coverage, you can obtain it through a rider if your current provider offers it. If such a rider is not offered, you may want to ask about a separate policy for your firearm.

The liability risk that gun owners face is a complicated issue since it turns on the circumstances of any injury and the prevailing state laws and court decisions. Having said that, you may want to consider higher levels of liability coverage to protect yourself from this unique risk.

Speak with your agent to discuss how to raise the personal liability protection on your policy, including asking him or her if an umbrella policy may be an appropriate solution.

Keep Your Umbrella Handy

In 2020, the U.S. had a record 22 million millionaires, up from 20.2 million in the previous year. An increase in personal wealth may bring greater financial flexibility; it may also bring greater liability. Individuals with high net worth, or those who are perceived to have high net worth, may be more likely to be sued. And personal injury claims can reach into the millions.1

Umbrella liability insurance is designed to put an extra layer of protection between your assets and a potential lawsuit. It provides coverage over and above existing automobile and homeowners insurance limits.

For example, imagine your teenage son borrows your car and gets in an accident, seriously injuring the other driver. The accident results in a lawsuit and a $1 million judgment against you. If your car insurance policy has a liability limit of $500,000, that much should be covered. If you have additional umbrella liability coverage, your policy can be designed to kick in and cover the rest. Without umbrella coverage, you may be responsible for paying out of pocket for the other $500,000, which could mean liquidating assets, losing the equity in your home, or even having your wages garnished.

Umbrella liability insurance is usually sold in increments of $1 million and generally costs just a few hundred dollars a year. It typically covers a broad range of scenarios, including bodily injuries, property damage caused by you or a member of your household, libel, slander, false arrest, and defamation of character.

Deciding whether liability coverage is right for you may be a question of lifestyle. You might consider buying a policy if you:

  • Entertain frequently and serve your guests alcohol
  • Operate a business out of your home
  • Give interviews that may be published
  • Drive a lot of miles or have teenage drivers
  • Live in a manner that gives the appearance of wealth
  • Have a dog, especially if the breed is known to be aggressive
  • Own jet skis, a boat, motorcycles, or snowmobiles

Even if you don’t yet have a tent in the millionaire camp, you may want to consider the benefits of liability insurance. You don’t have to be a millionaire to be sued for a million dollars. Anyone who is carefully building a financial portfolio may want to limit their exposure to risk. Umbrella liability can be a fairly inexpensive way to help shelter current assets and future income from the unexpected.

This is a simplified description of coverage. All statements made are subject to the provisions, exclusions, conditions, and limitations of applicable insurance policies. Please refer to actual policy documents for complete details regarding coverage.

Need Umbrella Coverage? Check Out These Common Liabilities

Also referred to as personal liability insurance, umbrella insurance cover is designed to help safeguard your assets and savings. If you’re sued for damages exceeding your boat insurance, homeowner’s insurance, or car insurance liability limits, umbrella insurance can cover what you owe. Unlike excess liability insurance that offers higher limits on your current liability coverage, an umbrella cover offers coverage that isn’t included in your insurance policy, like a false written statement or legal fees if you’re accused of slander.

Umbrella Insurance Coverage Options in Williamston, MI

If you take umbrella insurance from CG Insurance Agency, you and your family members can benefit from defamation, dog bite, and slander. Here’s a detailed overview of the umbrella insurance coverage options.

Accidents Caused By a Teenager

In the United States, motor vehicle accident is the second leading cause of death among teenagers (13 to 19 years). The liability costs caused by your car accident can rise significantly, especially if people with huge income sue for last wages or there are multiple cars involved. By taking umbrella insurance, it can increase your liability protection against such risks.

An Intoxicated Party Attendee

If you host a party in your home, you’re likely to have a guest who drinks too much and drives home intoxicated. If such an individual is involved in an accident, you may have to pay part of their expenses. The driver’s lawyer may argue that you could have taken their key or shouldn’t have overserved them alcohol. When you take umbrella insurance, it can help protect you against such issues.

Dog Bites

If you take your dog for a walk and another dog accidentally spooks him, and they end up in a fight, the other dog owner could be bitten as they try to separate the dogs. In cases where your dog bit first, you could be liable for pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical expenses. These are costs that your homeowner’s insurance cannot cover.

Get Your Umbrella Coverage Today!

As a Williamston, MI resident, you should get umbrella insurance coverage to protect yourself against expenses above your usual insurance policy limits. At CG Insurance Agency, we can help you get umbrella insurance coverage within a short time; contact us today to discuss further.