Why Every Policyholder Needs Umbrella Insurance

It's Your Money and Your Future, Here's How Umbrella Liability Can Protect You

Umbrella liability insurance explained - girl standing under illuminated good weather umbrella
Wondering if umbrella liability insurance is worth the money? This umbrella protects you from a lot more than you realize, for a very reasonable cost. John Wilhelm is a photoholic / Getty Images

What is Umbrella Insurance?

Umbrella insurance is a personal excess liability insurance policy that protects you above and beyond the limits  on your homeowners or condo insurance, car insurance, watercraft or other personal insurance policies. Umbrella insurance is designed to give you added liability protection for lawsuits, and claims that rise against you. It is an inexpensive way to protect your financial future or established assets.

Umbrella insurance is a secondary form of insurance, that requires a primary policy, or an underlying liability policy to first pay out on a claim before umbrella liability coverage becomes effective. For example, a home insurance policy provides the primary liability for a loss, once the amount of money in the homeowner personal liability is exhausted or maxed out, then the umbrella insurance kicks in. Umbrella insurance may also be referred to as excess liability insurance.

Umbrella liability insurance can protect you from litigation arising from property damage, injury, and associated legal defense costs if you get sued for damages to other people's property or injuries.

Who Can Benefit from Umbrella Insurance?

People with established assets they want to protect obviously stand to lose significant amounts of money in a lawsuit. If you get sued you could lose any assets you have built up, including investments and all of your savings.

The wealthy are are risk, but so are those who have no assets.

"In a litigious society everything is up for grabs, that includes your savings, your investments, and in absence of assets, potentially your future."

If I Have No Money or Assets Why Buy Umbrella Liability?

Even though you may be just starting out, or have no established assets, don't think that a court will not award benefits to the third party if you are held liable for damages.

When you have no assets, you may be obligated to pay off the damages awarded with your future earnings! If you are a student studying for your degree, or even if you expect to eventually be promoted and work your way up to a high paying position, your future earnings can be targeted.

Do I Need Umbrella Insurance?

Today, lawsuits are everywhere. Lawyers are awarding larger amounts of money than ever. Homeowners, auto, and watercraft policies have a limit on liability insurance. Liability insurance is the portion of a homeowners or auto policy that pays for expenses such as the injured persons medical bills, rehabilitative therapy, and lost wages due to the negligence of the at fault person. The liability portion of an insurance policy also covers a legal defense representative if the negligence would happen to land the at fault person in the court room. After adding up all of the medical expenses for the injured and the legal fees of the negligent person, the standard liability in one’s homeowners or auto policy is often not enough.

Almost every state has financial responsibility laws that will hold drivers accountable for bodily injury and property damage resulting from car accidents and the at fault driver could be sued for the damage. Personal assets from the at fault driver could be seized resulting from a lawsuit. Similar laws are also in force for home and watercraft owners.

If an unfortunate accident should happen that is your fault, do you have enough liability insurance from your current policies to cover your costs for negligence? Since no one can predict how much a judge may award the injured person, umbrella insurance is not just for the wealthy anymore, but a needed protection for every policyholder.

How Much Does Umbrella Insurance or Excess Liability Cost?

A personal liability umbrella insurance policy can give you added liability protection without a large added cost. Depending on how much umbrella liability coverage you decide to purchase, it could cost as little as $100 a year for 1 million dollars of coverage, and would increase depending on how much coverage you have. Additional liability insurance is inexpensive, especially compared to the value of the coverage get, paying $100 to $150 in exchange for $1 million of protection is the cheapest million dollars you'll ever buy.

How Much Coverage Does Umbrella Insurance Come With?

You select the amount of coverage you would like to have with umbrella insurance. Umbrella policy underwriting varies from insurance company to insurance company and may provide coverage for tens of millions of dollars, or as little as just one million dollars. It all depends on you and your budget. Also note that some companies can double or triple the coverage from 1 million dollars to two or three, but the cost of the coverage does not double or triple respectively. It is worth getting quotes for a few umbrella insurance limits before you make your decision.

How Much Umbrella Insurance Do I Need?

Now that you realize how inexpensive the cost of umbrella liability insurance is, you will want to take your personal situation into consideration to decide how much umbrella insurance to get.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself About Umbrella Liability and Your Risk

  • What are the value of your assets?
  • What is your potential loss of future income?
  • What risks do you think you might face?

What Are the Conditions of an Umbrella Policy?

In order for the umbrella policy to start paying out coverages, a primary liability policy must be in place, and have maxed out on payments. For example, homeowners, condo's and renters policies will offer the  primary liability. Cars have various minimum liability requirements depending on the state. State minimum  amounts of coverage are not always sufficient to meet the minimum underlying requirements of the umbrella policy. You will want to consider increasing your liability limits on the primary policy first and then adding the umbrella policy to supplement the additional coverage you need. This strategy may also save you money.

Umbrella Insurance Policies Require Minimum Underlying Insurance

Insurance companies will set the underwriting requirements for an umbrella policy. The umbrella policy wording will clearly state the minimum amount of liability required in order to qualify for the umbrella policy.

Restrictions on Umbrella Policies

Some insurance companies will require you to insure all your properties with them before offering you an umbrella coverage. They may add the umbrella coverage as an endorsement to your existing policy. Other insurance companies may be able to offer you an umbrella policy as a seperate stand alone policy. You definitely have options when it comes to finding an umbrella policy to meet your needs.

The more assets you have, and the greater the requirements you have to protect yourself, the more you may want to look at a specialized insurer, for example, a high value home insurer like ACE (formerly CHUBB), who may even include excess or umbrella liability in their policy as an endorsement, among many other advantages.

What Information is Needed to Get Umbrella Insurance or Excess Liability?

Click here for a quick list of typical questions asked by the insurance agent when obtaining an umbrella policy.

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