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SHORT TERM RENTAL INSURANCE

We will discuss insurance policies for short term rentals or seasonal homes.  This can commonly be referred to as Airbnb insurance, VRBO insurance, or vacation rental insurance.

Short term rental homes are not a new phenomenon, but there has been a large increase in these as of late. This is due largely to the advent of companies like Airbnb, (Airbnb.com) and VRBO (vrbo.com). These companies make the job of leasing your home out a breeze. A lot of people don’t want to turn down the opportunity to make the extra income on their seasonal or secondary homes. If you own a home that you use as a seasonal or vacation home and also rent out, then you should make sure that your insurance policy covers you accordingly.

A lot of people don’t understand that you need to have a specific policy in place to make sure short term rental properties are covered. You need to notify your home insurance company if you move out of your home and lease it to a tenant or have it unoccupied or coverage can be denied. You also need to notify your insurance company of any changes in usage of your secondary home as well.

Most home insurance policies will exclude coverage for business pursuits on your home. This makes your standard home insurance policy inadequate for covering such losses on short term rental properties. Further, if you have a commercial policy in force, but you also use your home as secondary residence for yourself, a commercial policy won’t be sufficient coverage either. This is why you need a specialized policy that acts as sort of a personal and commercial policy hybrid.

Quite frankly, most insurance companies have yet to offer coverage for such a risk. That is just one of the reasons that a large percentage of people do not have proper insurance on their short term rental properties. Another reason is consumer education. Don’t fret though. We have multiple markets that will take on this risk and we are able to close the knowledge gap on this topic.

There are many properties that can constitute a short-term rental policy. Some of the more common types are listed below.

Common Seasonal Homes and Short Term Rental Types

  1. Beach house or condo
  2. Lake house
  3. Mountain house or cabin
  4. City condo
  5. Golf course house or condo

What coverage types should you focus on when getting a policy? There are several endorsements that should be considered. The 4 most important types coverages for short term rentals are the following:

  1. Dwelling
  2. Contents
  3. Liability
  4. Business Income

DWELLING

The dwelling is the structure you want to cover. For your home or condo to be covered it is important to make known the use of the building. Like your primary home insurance, this will cover things like fire, water losses, falling objects, lightening, wind, etc. If you use it as a vacation home and a temporary rental, this should be disclosed to your agent. Insurance companies may deny coverage even on these losses if they discover you are renting your house out, even on a short-term basis.

In many cases you can also cover detatched structures such as sheds, barns, guest houses, and garages. You want to make sure to tell your agent about these to make sure they are listed on your policy. Some policies will cover up to 10% of the primary dwelling amount. Some, but not all. You may also find that these detached structures need to be covered for more than this amount.

CONTENTS OR PERSONAL PROPERTY

These items include clothing, appliances, furniture, lawn care items, etc. It is highly recommended that you add a replacement cost endorsement to your policy so these items can be replaced instead of just receiving the depreciated actual value of them today if there is a claim. That way if you had a fire loss, you could truly replace everything with like items that are brand new.

LIABILITY

This might be the most important coverage type. If you are leasing out your home and you are sued for negligence of any kind, your liability coverage will protect you. Keep in mind you don’t even have to be at fault to get sued. Lengthy court battles can get expensive and your liability will cover these expenses. They will also cover settlements if the courts rule in favor of the plaintiff.

Do yourself a favor and choose the highest liability limit the company will offer. The cost differential is not that much and the reward for having the higher limits can be huge. Many companies will offer a limit up to $1,000,000 for liability.

BUSINESS INCOME

Sometimes referred to as loss of use coverage, business income covers expenses you would incur by not being able to rent a property due to a covered loss. For example, if you had a fire and the home had to be renovated or replaced, your business income coverage would pay for loss of rental income during this time of reconstruction. This is not always standard so be sure to ask for this if you want the coverage.

Two final recommendations.

  1. If you plan to rent out a property of any kind, you may want to consider transferring that property into a business name or LLC. This will further protect you from anyone being able to access any of your assets in your personal name. Just make certain your insurance policy is in the same name as the property owner.
  2. Consider an umbrella policy that will pick up where your underlying property policy leaves off. Again, make sure you have the correct name listed as named insured on this policy as well.

For any questions on anything discussed please feel free to give us a call at 704-494-9495. Our agents can help explain these matters to you and get you a free quote on this coverage.

Commercial Auto Coverage Options

Commercial auto insurance has several coverage options that you should familiarize yourself with and determine if they are right for your business. We will discuss several of these below.

Hired Auto

Gives Liability coverage for a non-owned or unlisted vehicle that is leased, rented, hired, or borrowed by the insured for incidental operation of the business.

Owned Auto Coverage

Provides Liability coverage for vehicles owned by the named insured and any owned vehicles acquired during the policy period.

Non Owned Auto

Extends Liability coverage to any non-owned vehicle that is used by an employee in the operations of the business.

Any Auto Coverage

Extends Liability coverage to any vehicles acquired or bought during the policy term until the end of the policy term.

Pollution Liability

Covers bodily injury or property damage coverage due to the discharge of pollutants that are being transported or towed.

Trucker’s General Liability

This coverage gives bodily injury or property damage coverage sustained in the course of business while using products or services on premises.

Drive Other Car Coverage

Excess coverage for an executive of a corporation or partnership when driving a non-owned vehicle.

Step Down Liability Coverage

This coverage reduces the liability limits to state minimum requirements for drivers not listed on the policy.

Non-Trucking Liability or Bobtail Liability

This is liability coverage for policyholders who are under lease to a motor carrier which provides the primary liability coverage.

On-Hook

Provides coverage for the vehicle or vehicles being towed or hauled.

Garagekeepers Coverage

Provides Physical Damage coverage for a customer’s vehicle left in the care, custody, and control of the insured while at a covered location or in transit between covered locations.

Cargo Liability

Provides Liability coverage for the covered property in the care and control of the insured and being transported by the insured’s covered vehicle.

Trailer Interchange

Trailer Interchange covers physical damage to any non-owned trailer while in the care, custody, or control of the insured.

These are just some of the various coverage options for commercial auto insurance. Some of these may or not be available for your business type and some may or may not be required. It is important that you speak with your agent on what would be suitable for you. You can also call us at 704-494-9495 with any questions.

UBER INSURANCE

The wait is over. Uber insurance is available in NC! Uber and Lyft drivers in Charlotte and other surrounding cities in NC have waited patiently for a solution to the coverage gap for ridesharing insurance, also referred to as transportation network insurance.

As of 12/19/2016, we can now offer a personal insurance policy with an endorsement that can be added to it that will cover drivers who sometimes use their own personal vehicles to drive for Uber or Lyft. Insurance carriers on all personal lines auto insurance policies exclude coverage while driving for a transportation network. If you were driving for one of these companies up to this point, you were likely driving around without insurance for part of your trip.

Uber has taken the stance where they would cover a claim only while you had a passenger that you were transporting or when the Uber app matched you with your passenger you were to pick up. Your personal lines insurance policy would cover you only while you were using the vehicle for personal use. This left a gap in coverage while you were sitting with the app on waiting for a fare.

BEFORE:

Not Covered

*The app is turned on and you are waiting to be matched with a passenger.

Covered

*Match is made and you are on the way to pick up the passenger.

*Passenger is in your vehicle.

NOW:

No coverage Gaps on endorsed policies. Uber still covers you during the times stated above. Your endorsed policy will cover you while the app is on and you are waiting to be matched with the passenger.

Transportation networks are brand new, and we will without a doubt see changes in the future as the industry grows and changes. This sort of hybrid policy is a step in the right direction. Up to this point, drivers only had 2 choices.

  1. Purchase a true livery or taxi cab policy that was rated much higher than a personal auto policy due to a much higher exposure. You would also need to find a company that would allow you to add an endorsement to your policy that would allow you to use the policy for personal use as well.
  2. Take a chance and drive uninsured.

With a more affordable policy available in NC, there is no excuse for transportation network drivers driving for Uber, Lyft, or various other companies to drive without the proper coverage.

Anyone who has ridden in a vehicle for one of these ridesourcing companies cannot deny the ease of use of the app and, in most cases, the low fare cost. With so many users opting for Uber and Lyft over taxi cabs these days, we know that this form of transportation is here to stay.

If you have any questions or would like a quote on Uber insurance or Lyft insurance, please give us a call at 704-494-9495. There is no reason to have a gap in insurance coverage any longer. YOU MUST PURCHASE A POLICY WITH THIS ENDORSEMENT ADDED TO BE COVERED.

We will continue to update you on this exciting change with future articles regarding this subject.

MOTORCYCLE INSURANCE

If you are purchasing a motorcycle then you will likely be looking into purchasing a motorcycle insurance policy as well.

Spring is here which means you may have the fever to go out and explore the open road. We will discuss some important factors in motorcycle insurance before you buy one.  There are several things that you should be aware of when you take out one of these policies.  These policies are very similar to your auto insurance policy and cover many of the same things but there are some differences.

Motorcycle policies are written on annual basis in NC whereas auto policies can be written 6 months at a time, a full year, or both depending on the company. The reason for this is because the state of NC requires you to have liability insurance on a bike just as you are required to have one on an auto.

Many people might forget to renew their motorcycle policy if it is off-season and you aren’t riding at the time. You still must keep liability insurance on the bike unless you turn in your tags. If you are financing the bike then the bank will require you to keep comprehensive and collision coverage on the bike as well until you pay off the loan regardless of the season. In NC and SC, our seasons are longer anyways and the weather can be warm enough in any month to warrant a ride

Liability Limits

The liability limits you choose are required to be at a minimum 30/60/25 limits as required by NC law.

These split limits stand for $30,000 bodily injury per person, $60,000 bodily injury total for each accident and $25,000 property damage for each accident.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage or Under-insured Motorist Coverage

We typically recommend higher liability limits on motorcycle policies not because you are likely to do more damage while on your bike versus a car, but due to the un/underinsured motorist coverage also being higher. We are more focused here on bodily injury claims than property damage. Unfortunately when you have an accident on your bike and have bodily injury, the expenses are oftentimes very high.

If you carry higher limits of liability then you can also carry the higher matching uninsured and under-insured motorist coverage. For instance if your limits are $100,000 bodily injury per person and you carry matching uninsured and under-insured motorist coverage up to these limits then you are protecting yourself much more. If you are hit by an uninsured motorist then you will be covered up to your $100,000 limit for your injuries. If that same driver hits you and he has only the minimum $30,000 bodily injury limit required by state laws, then you will still be better covered. Where that $30,000 limit stops, your under-insured motorist coverage kicks in and pays up to your $100,000 under-insured bodily injury limit.

Comprehensive and Collision

This is the same coverage as your auto and covers damage to your bike for accidents, weather, theft, etc. Even if you have your bike paid off you should seriously consider comprehensive coverage in addition to your liability coverage at the very least. Sport bikes especially have a very high theft rate and would be covered under these comprehensive claims.

Medical Payments

It is probably important to carry higher limits for medical payments on your cycle policy which will cover you and any passengers on your bike if you are hurt. This is true for obvious reasons.

Additional Equipment

Many companies allow for coverage for additional after-market equipment and safety equipment. A lot of them give you automatic coverage up to $3,000 under their standard premium. Higher limits are typically allowed to be purchased for an increased premium amount. It is important to keep accurate records and receipts of this additional equipment so you can present it to the company in the settlement of your claim.

Cost of Motorcyle Insurance

We write through many different insurance companies that specialize in motorcycle insurance. The cost of insurance can vary greatly from company to company. It is important that you shop out this insurance to make sure you are getting the best deal. We do this for our customers and we are able to save them a great deal by shopping it out.

Typically insurance on cruisers are cheaper than those of sport bikes due to the loss likelihood so sport bike riders should be even more pro-active when comparison rate shopping.

There are many discounts that can be applied to help lower your rate. A few examples are shown below. Be sure to ask about these when shopping.

*Motorcycle Safety Training

*Prior motorcycle coverage

*Motorcycle endorsement on your drivers license

*Rider Association

*Points not being charged if charged already on your existing auto insurance policy

*Bundle discount

Please contact us at 704-494-9495 if we can answer any questions as to proper coverage on motorcycle insurance. Due to the risk level, this is a very important topic and we don’t want anyone to wait until it is too late before educating themselves.

The Insurance Bundle Myth

One of the biggest myths in shopping for insurance is the insurance bundle discount.

A lot of insurance companies use this to entice customers to put all of their insurance policies with them. It is true that a discount is being offered on each policy but the overall rate of each policy might be higher than if you put each policy with a separate company.

There are very few companies that will be competitive across the board on insurance policies for auto, home, life, health, boat, motorcycle and business insurance.

There is exactly zero companies that will offer the best rate for every customer on all of these insurance policies. It is pretty typical for an insurance company to be competitive on either auto or home insurance policies. Whichever policy they carry a higher premium on would be made up by the competitive rate on the other policy.

Customers should look at all of their policies separately to make sure that they are, in fact, getting the best overall rate on all policy types. This is the value of an independent insurance agency. An independent insurance agent can shop out all of your policies with various companies to determine the best company for you. You would still have one agent for all of your policies and only one person to call to ask any questions you may have, but you would allow them to make sure you are getting the best overall rates.

A lot of times your independent agent can offer you discounts on each policy for carrying multiple policies with the agency which is equivalent to a bundle discount but you would not be forced to have all of your policies with the exact same insurance company.

As I write this I currently have my auto insurance with National General(GMAC), my home insurance with Bankers Insurance Group, my business general liability and workers compensation policies with The Hartford, my life insurance with AIG, and my health insurance with Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The overall rate along with claims satisfaction and ease of doing business should be the most important factors in deciding where to put your insurance policies.

It is also worth mentioning that you should talk with your agent regularly to make sure that your policies are still with the best companies for you. Insurance companies change rates quite often and what may have been the best for you a couple of years ago may not be the best option for you now.

Don’t get roped into words and phrases that advertisers use to make you feel safe and that you are getting the best value. Shop for yourself and see if they are truly the best options for you. Call your independent agent today and have them work for you.

Builders Risk and Vacant Home Insurance

Certain circumstances may warrant you having a different policy for your home than a standard home insurance policy. We will focus on 2 separate kinds of insurance policies; builders risk policies and vacant home insurance policies. We will discuss the differences of each so you can make an educated decision on what is best for you and your needs.

Builders Risk Insurance:

This is a policy that is either purchased by the owner or the builder on a home that is being built from the ground up. A builders risk policy will cover the home while it is under construction. Coverage is also extended to the materials and equipment that are being used to build the home.

Once the home is completed, the policy should be canceled and replaced by either a vacant home policy or a standard home insurance policy. Claims settlement payouts on a builders risk are based on the amount of construction that has been completed. This means that if you are insuring the home at $200,000 and home is 50% complete then they will payout $100,000. This is a very simplified explanation and a true value of the amount completed would be determined on the overall payout.

Vacant Home Insurance:

This is a policy that covers vacant homes that are unoccupied either because it is listed for sale, listed for rent or lease, under construction, or the home is currently not inhabited for other reasons.

It is very important that once a home is vacated for any of the said reasons, that you notify your insurance agent immediately to avoid any possibility of a denial of future claims.

If your home is unoccupied and a claim is filed under a standard owner-occupied policy, the claim can be fully denied or payouts can be significantly reduced. Most home policies request to be notified within 30-60 days from the home being vacated.

2 Types of Vacant Home Insurance Policies

  1. Vacant with Renovations

    This type of policy will cover renovations being done to the home as long as the existing studs and foundation are being used. Some policies require there to be a distinction if there are renovations being done or not so they can rate the policy accordingly. If you are building completely from the ground up, including new studs or foundation, you should purchase a true builders risk policy.

  2. Vacant without Renovations

    This policy is what you should choose if the home is not undergoing any renovations or construction and is either up for sale or rent. These policies are typically cheaper than builders risk policies or vacant policies with renovations since the risk level is typically lower.

If you have questions regarding what policy is right for you, please contact your agent before a loss occurs. Denials of claims or reductions in the total payout can be detrimental due to the large investment value of your home. Our agents are always available for any questions you may have for home insurance policies in NC or SC regarding the above topics. Please contact us at 704-494-9495 anytime.