Personal Lines

DID YOU KNOW? Back to School Insurance Needs

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Most parents can clearly remember their child’s first day of school and the mix of emotions as they got on the school bus. Will they like their teacher? Will they make friends? Did I remember to put everything in their backpack?

For parents of college-bound students, the emotions are a little more intense and the questions a little different. Will they be safe? Will they do something harmful to themselves or others? Will they become homesick?

Whether your child is living in a dorm, a fraternity/sorority house, or off-campus housing, you should contact your insurance agent as part of the move-in process and confirm the following:

  • Will my home insurance policy respond to a liability claim associated with my child’s college address? 

  • Are my child’s belongings covered by my home insurance policy, or do I need to secure renter’s insurance?

  • Whether or not my child has a car at school, do I need to make changes to the auto insurance?

  • Do I need to update the personal umbrella policy as well? Or if I don’t have one, should I get one?

Perhaps more importantly than coverage for your child’s belongings, you need to confirm how your home insurance policy provides liability coverage to other locations. Your child might be a model citizen, but the combination of alcohol, lack of supervision, and peer pressure can lead to some dumb decisions and your homeowner’s liability insurance will likely provide coverage. Some policies automatically cover on-campus housing, but not off-campus housing, while others provide no coverage unless the policy is endorsed. The good news is that the cost to extend liability to another location is usually less than $50 per year, plus another $50 to $100 to add the location to an umbrella policy.

Most home insurance policies also provide coverage for personal property located away from the primary residence. This amount is usually limited to 10% of your policy limit, but that may be enough.  For example, if your home insurance policy provides you with $250,000 of personal property coverage, up to $25,000 of that coverage would cover personal property at your child’s college address. Keep in mind that your policy deductible would apply, so if you have a high deductible, the amount of coverage would be reduced accordingly. Also, if your child’s location becomes uninhabitable due to a covered cause of loss, your policy would not provide funds for temporary housing expenses. If these restrictions are too onerous, a separate renter’s insurance policy might be a better solution.

Many insurance companies also provide an auto insurance discount if your child is away at school without a vehicle and the school is located more than 100 miles from home. If your child is bringing a car to school, you need to inform the insurance company as well. Some states require you to carry state-specific auto insurance if your vehicle is “garaged” in the state for more than 30, 60, or 90 days. If your child is living full-time at school in order to secure in-state tuition, you may need to register the vehicle in that state as proof of residency. 

If you have a personal umbrella policy, you should also make sure your agent updates the coverage to reflect the changes to your home and/or auto insurance policies. Umbrella policies only cover the locations, vehicles, and drivers listed in the policy itself, so there could be a coverage problem if the agent forgets to list the off-campus apartment you rented for your son or daughter. 

If you don’t have a personal umbrella policy, you may want to consider purchasing one at this time. College is not just a place to gain academic knowledge. It’s also a place to learn how to become an adult and accept people and opinions different from your own. Sometimes that leads to bad decisions that can harm other people. A personal umbrella policy can provide you with the peace of mind that if your child unintentionally causes harm to someone else, it doesn’t have to be financially ruinous.

Going away to college is both exciting and challenging for parents and students. A quick insurance check-up with an associate at Plexus Private Client Solutions can reduce some of that anxiety. We look forward to assisting you.


David Miller, who writes the monthly, DID YOU KNOW? blog is The Plexus Groupe’s Vice President, Client Executive for Private Client Solutions. Miller can be reached by calling 846-307-6141.

DID YOU KNOW? Graduation Party Hijinks Results In Sobering Consequences for Parents

High school graduation is an exciting time for young adults and overly-enthusiastic parents who want to celebrate this milestone. With about two-thirds of high school students planning to go to college after graduation, the temptation to treat them as adults or to let them “blow off some steam” at a party may be quite high for some parents.

The Plexus Groupe's Expert on Personal Lines Quoted in Reviews.Com Article

The Plexus Groupe's Expert on Personal Lines Quoted in Reviews.Com Article

In their latest "Insurance & Pop Culture" column, Reviews.com asked David Miller of The Plexus Groupe whether homeowners insurance would cover damage by Godzilla, and the results might surprise you.

DID YOU KNOW? Carfax is Your Friend AND Foe

DID YOU KNOW? Carfax is Your Friend AND Foe

Did you know that some repair facilities, including Midas and Pep Boys, share your vehicle data with Carfax?  Did you also know that Carfax sells this data to some insurance companies?  This data exchange is not a one-way street – Carfax also receives vehicle claims data from insurance companies. 

DID YOU KNOW? Beating Black Ice Could Mean A Better Insurance Rate

DID YOU KNOW? Beating Black Ice Could Mean A Better Insurance Rate

Winter is officially here and the arctic air has arrived, making it dangerous to be outside, much less on the roads. Even though we like to think we’re accustomed to tough Midwestern winters, the fact is we all tend to forget to adapt our driving styles when the season arrives. 

House Method article features The Plexus Groupe’s Personal Lines Insurance Expert David Miller

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David Miller, Vice President, Client Executive for Private Client Solutions, was quoted this week in a blog about owning and caring for upscale homes called House Method. The article is about 16 items usually not covered in a homeowner’s insurance policy. 

This is Miller’s second time this month that he has been cited in a national publication. Last week, he was featured in a Consumer Reports article.

The Plexus Groupe is stocked with experts just like Miller who work in various practice areas like employee benefits and property and casualty to technology solutions and mergers and acquisitions. Contact a strategic insurance expert in Deer Park, Illinois at 847-307-6100, Chicago at 312-606-4800, Dallas at 972-770-5010 or Oklahoma City at 405-840-3033.

DID YOU KNOW? Texting While Driving Deaths On The Rise

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Drunk driving is down by 65 percent since 1982, but deaths and injuries caused by distracted driving – like texting while driving – are on the rise. People are busier than ever, juggling home and work lives, managing kids' schedules and rushing from one thing to the next. It is no wonder that people use their time in the car to navigate their day -- making appointments, responding to email, returning a text -- when instead they should just navigate the road.

This wasn't always the most prevalent problem on the road. Alcohol was.

According to the National Institutes of Health, in the mid-1970s, alcohol was:

  • a factor in over 60 percent of traffic fatalities
  • involved in two-thirds of traffic deaths among persons 16 to 20
  • allowed to be purchased by anyone 18-years old.

Since then, a number of factors have been implemented to reduce drunk driving fatalities. Some of those reasons include:

  • the drinking age is now 21 in all 50 states.
  • The level at which a person can be arrested for drunk driving has dropped from a 0.10% blood alcohol content (BAC) to 0.08%
  • a zero tolerance law of 0% BAC for underage drinking have been adopted.
  • drunk driving has been stigmatized
  • the use of designated driving has been promoted.

 

According to Responsibility.org, these efforts have reduced alcohol-impaired driving fatalties by 65% since record keeping began in 1982.

But with the onslaught of cell-phone use -- over 330 billion Americans use one daily -- the statistics for distracted driving are going in the other direction.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 9 people are killed and 1,100 people are injured per day due to distracted driving and these statistics don’t include near-misses where an accident was avoided at the last second.

A number of years ago, Car and Driver magazine conducted a test that measured the reaction time of a drunk driver compared to a texting driver. The texting drivers took significantly longer to react to an alert than drivers who were legally drunk, yet texting and driving continues virtually unabated.

Despite these statistics, legal deterrents for distracted driving lag far behind those that have been implemented for drunk driving. In Illinois, the average fine for texting and driving is $75 for a first offense and little or no change in your insurance premium with most insurance companies.  Contrast this with a first-offense DUI in Illinois – A one-year suspension of your driver’s license, a fine of up to $2,500 (not counting attorney fees), and up to one year in jail.  From an insurance standpoint, a DUI may also result in non-renewal of your auto insurance, or astronomical increases in your premium combined with coverage restrictions or eliminations for up to seven years.

In order to fill this void, the insurance industry needs to get tougher on distracted driving. Awareness campaigns are a good first step, but meaningful financial penalties need to be implemented as a deterrent. Perhaps tripling a policyholder’s collision deductible for a distracted driving claim would work because it would have an immediate financial impact at the time of loss.

Have questions about your home and auto insurance coverage and want to make sure you are covered if a texting while driving accident occurs? David Miller has answers. Miller, who writes the monthly Did You Know blog, is The Plexus Groupe’s Vice President, Client Executive for Private Client Solutions. Miller can be reached by calling 846-307-6141.

Plexus Points: Insurance stories we're reading

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We enjoy reading about insurance. Here are seven insurance stories we're sharing, bookmarking, and highlighting as the work week rolls on:

Insurance Stories

The Economist takes a look at how insurance is working to tailor policies for the freelance workforce.

→ Fixing something and need insurance fast? One agency is offering on-demand coverage.

→ Why are major non-insurers like Walmart suddenly looking to get into the business?

→ Dog bite insurance claims totaled close to $690 million in 2017, according to one study.

→ The state of Kansas allows teachers to be armed in schools, but the state schools' insurer has made it clear it won't cover schools with armed teachers.

→ Here's a neat story from the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal on how area insurers and schools are working to attract students to careers in insurance.

→ The deadly Montecito mudslide has led to more than $400 million in insurance claims.

 

Why checking your homeowners insurance should be a rite of spring

Double-checking your homeowners insurance probably isn’t on many spring to-do lists. But it should be.

That’s the advice from David Miller, Vice President and risk management expert at Plexus Private Client Solutions, a suburban Chicagoland personal insurance agency protecting the life’s work of successful families and individuals with tailored home, auto, and umbrella coverage solutions.

In his recent article, “Eight Things That Might Surprise You About Your Home Insurance Policy,” Miller highlights some hot-button issues for homeowners, including:

Your home may be underinsured. Via Consumer Reports, which cited data from analytics firm CoreLogic, three out of every five homes are 20% underinsured on average. In the case of a total rebuild, this could leave homeowners left to pick up the pieces — while also picking up the check.

Take a look at your deductible, because it may have changed. Miller, who has more than two decades of insurance experience, cautions homeowners to be aware of wind and hail deductibles. These have been on the rise, with an uptick in roof-related claims particularly an issue. An insurance company can only change your coverage at renewal; make sure to read the fine print. Your agent can help.

Do not assume you have sump pump failure coverage. Most insurance companies will exclude this damage as a cause of loss. However, you can usually buy back a limited amount of coverage. Writes Miller: “Even if you have an unfinished basement, the costs associated with a sump pump/sewer claim might surprise you.”

For more information on the home and personal insurance expertise offered by Plexus Private Client Solutions, contact David Miller at 847-307-6100, or visit plexusgroupe.com. The firm's located at 21805 W. Field Parkway, Suite 300, in Deer Park, Illinois.

About Plexus Private Client Solutions

The personal insurance practice of national insurance brokerage The Plexus Groupe LLC, Plexus Private Client Solutions delivers a superior client experience and comprehensive personal insurance for successful individuals and families, including auto, home, and umbrella coverage. Our experienced, dedicated team takes a consultative approach to your personal risk management needs. For more information on Plexus Private Client Solutions, contact the firm at 847.307.6100 or via the Web.

Plexus Points: Insurance stories we're reading

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At Plexus, we enjoy reading about insurance. Here are a half-dozen insurance stories we are sharing, bookmarking, and highlighting as the work week rolls on:

Insurance Stories

-- A major carmarker will begin a program allowing owners to rent their cars out when they are not using them, a la Airbnb and homes.

-- In case you are wondering, Airbnb does provide some free liability coverage to users, and homeowners insurance may also cover some issues, as this Kiplinger's Personal Finance article points out.

-- Here's a look at the type of coverages home-based businesses may want to explore.

-- Will marijuana-related businesses utilize captives for insurance solutions?

-- Dental implants are effective, but will your insurance cover them?

-- On homeowners policies and firearms.