Monthly Archives: July 2011

Earthquake Insurance

Living in Washington State means that we are also sitting on the Cascadia fault line. You are probably familiar with plate tectonics. The Earth’s brittle lithosphere floats on a mantle of magma. The lithosphere is broken into pieces that slide away from and into each other on the liquid mantle. When the plates move, particularly if they are convergent plates, major Earthquakes can occur. A few months ago, CBS asserted that “perhaps the most dangerous fault line [the Cascadia] in the United States stretches from the northern part of California, up along the coast of Oregon and Washington.” 

Earthquake Insurance may be a wise addition to your Homeowner or Renters Insurance, as earthquakes are not covered by most general policies. Generally, Earthquake Insurance covers losses due to any environmental repercussions of the Earthquake such as a mudslide. Tsunamis are not usually covered under Earthquake Insurance because they have a separate coverage as well.  Check with your insurance agent to better understand your options for Earthquake Insurance in Washington State.

Renters Insurance

While I was studying in France one of my classmates was robbed and lost her money she had carefully saved for the trip as well as valuable possessions such as her computer. This was a very difficult loss for her, fortunately, her parents and friends were able to pitch in to help her. Renters Insurance is a way to protect your belongings while traveling and would have been very useful to my friend.

What is Renters Insurance?

If you live on rented property, Renters Insurance is similar but less costly than Homeowners Insurance. Just like Homeowners Insurance, Renters Insurance covers liability on your rented property. If a fire or other catastrophe damages your property Renters Insurance will usually cover the cost to replace the items you lost. This holds true for stolen property in the residence a as well.

It is very important to discuss with your insurance agent what will be covered by your Renters Insurance. In some cases, property you take with you traveling is covered by the insurance. It is unlikely that you will get mugged or robbed at most tourist destinations. However, in the event that your suitcase gets lost or an important item you brought goes missing, you could still benefit from Renters Insurance.

Traveling This Summer?

Losing a suitcase or another item while traveling is inconvenient and can’t be immediately fixed by insurance. Here are three tips to recover lost items while traveling:
1. Put your name, contact information, and home address inside your suitcase on a large sheet of paper. This will help you get your luggage back if the tags outside your luggage fall off or get damaged.
2. Write down the number and contact of every taxi you take. If you leave an item you can contact them.
3. At a hotel try to be friendly to the staff because they will remember who you are. This is important because some robbers pretend to be hotel guests, who lost their room keys. If the staff recognizes a person is not you, they will be less likely to let them in your room.

Business Interruptions Insurance

We’ve all read or watched the news where catastrophic fires, floods, and other disasters are reported daily.  You have probably donated to relief efforts, assisted members of your community, or supported people who have suffered loses. Even so, these events can seem distant if they don’t impact us directly, but we all know the truth: it can happen to anyone.  

If you run or own a business then you know how a catastrophe, like a fire, can negatively impact your business. Property Insurance covers physical damage to your property, such as your equipment or the building in which the machinery is stored.

Unfortunately, when building or maybe the production equipment is damaged, profits could go down until repaired. Even an event as common as a power outage could cause loss in profits. Your business could have to relocate temporarily, if the work place is unusable. Washington Business Interruption Insurance could cover these losses in the event of such a catastrophe. Not only could uninsured damage to your business cause you to lose revenue, but some costs will still incur, such as operating expenses. Certain employees, based on their contracts, may need to be paid as well. Again, Business Interruption Insurance is meant to cover certain expenses while business is lost.

Next time you hear a news story, have confidence that your business is safe even if a disaster impacts you.  Consult your insurance agent to better understand your options for Business Interruption Insurance. Some insurance, also covers a rental space for your business if relocation is necessary, so it is always good to know what coverage you have.

Driving in College: Auto Insurance

Do you have a child who is attending or will be attending a college or university this fall?  Does your child use a car that is owned and insured by you?  Well, the good news is students are considered members of their family in most Washington automobile insurance policies.  So any vehicles owned by the family that the student drives while at college should be covered by your Washington automobile insurance. However, your student may be borrowing a friend’s car and that could leave you responsible if he or she is in an accident.

More people of all ages are going back to school. It is important to be aware of age limits for a student to qualify as a dependent or relative. In most insurance cases a person can no longer be a dependent after he or she is twenty-six years old. There may be discounts for students who are younger than a set age, going out of state for school and/or have maintained a good GPA.

It is important to discuss the living situation that your child will be entering into at college with your insurer because you need to know what legally constitutes as a household.  If your student has a friend from whom he or she will be borrowing the car often, you may want to discuss Extended Non-Owned Coverage with your insurance agent.  This type of coverage extends to a vehicle that is not owned by the student’s family or household and is offered by us here at HSI.

Theft in College: Homeowner Insurance

Protection From Theft In College

More college dorm room thefts have been reported in recent years. Even the Ivies have their share of thefts in the dorms. Four years ago, I took a summer class at a university and my laptop computer was stolen out of my room. Fortunately, there are many steps a student can take to make their property more secure. Needless to say, theft is impossible to completely eliminate, so it is important to understand how student’s property is covered by Washington homeowner insurance. A student who is a dependent is covered by his or her family’s insurance, but there are limitations due to the fact that the student’s residence is not the main residence of the family.

How to make a dorm more secure:

Better safe than sorry when it comes to keeping your valuables safe. It is never a good idea to flaunt valuables if a student brought them to college. A lock box or small safe may be a good option for a student who needs to store something of value. Also, some roommates will still another persons property, so it is important for a student to to trust his or her roommates. If the roommates can’t be trusted, filing for a new roommate is a wise decision. Finally, although dorm rooms can be a mess, a student should monitor their valuables, so that he or she knows if something goes missing.  As for the unfortunate theft that happened to me, it might have been prevented if I had used a laptop lock.

Go Green Go!

As gas prices rise many of us are opting for more environmentally friendly vehicles. This year may in fact be the “year of the electric vehicle.”  There are many different types of electric vehicles ranging from low-speed cars that look like golf carts to fast sports cars.   Most major automakers are generating new mass-market electric car models such as the Chevy Volt and Nissans Leaf.  These companies continue to improve the efficiency of their hybrid models.  

If you are not already a proud owner of an electric or hybrid vehicle you may not know that these cars are powered by a battery that is recharged by plugging it into a charging station.   On July 14th, The Washington Post announced that “Washington state’s green highway project will install nine stations along I-5” between Northern Washington State and Southern Oregon allowing for drivers of electric cars, for the first time, to recharge without being concerned about running out of energy.  In addition, the State of Washington has exempted the state sales tax on the purchase of electric cars as well as exempted the annual emissions inspections.

You may have been deterred from purchasing an electric car because you heard that it was difficult to purchase auto insurance for an electric car.  In the past some of the very small electric cars did not meet the same safety standards required by other vehicles.  Today, hybrid and electric vehicles meet the national safety standards and thus the Washington automobile insurance for the vehicles costs about the same as a comparable gas powered car.  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests most vehicle models operating in the United States.  To find out about your car rates you can go to their website at   

For information on auto insurance in Washington, call Homer Smith Insurance at (888)433-0031.

Rental Car Coverage: What do you need?

As warm weather approaches and we plan our summer vacations, for many of us, this includes airline travel, hotels and rental cars.  I am often asked by customers if it is necessary to purchase coverage from the rental company.  Years ago the usual answer was – If you have full coverage on one of your vehicles, the additional coverage isn’t necessary.  As with most things today, exceptions to rules are no longer just exceptions.  

When renting a car, pickup or van in the U.S. or Canada, your policy will extend liability for bodily injury or property damage you are responsible for.   If you carry Comprehensive and Collision on at least one of your vehicles, your policy will pay for damages to the rental car.  You should still consider purchasing the optional Collision or Loss Damage Waiver.  Though your policy or your credit card may pay to repair the damage, Rental companies have come up with other charges not covered by your insurance.  

After one persons auto policy paid $6,000 to repair a damaged rental car, the rental company sued them for an additional $9,000 to cover the reduction in the car’s value.  Rental companies also charge you for loss of rental income while the car is being repaired.  Your policy doesn’t cover this, though your credit might.

The Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner regulates all types of insurance in Washington, including coverage sold by rental companies.  Their website includes regulations specific to rental car companies.   For travel in other states, you can visit The National Association of Insurance Commissioners website.  This site includes information about the regulatory bodies in each state as well as helpful information about different travel insurance policies.  

Washington State Auto Insurance policies are not all the same.  It is important to review your coverage before you plan your vacation.

Home Insurance: Why You Need IT?

	Natural disasters and fires are threats to your home that you probably consider every time you watch the news. You may not know this but if you have a guest at your house and they are injured on your property, you as the owner may be liable for their injury. Obviously, you would do nothing to cause harm to anyone, but think about the amount of times you’ve been injured completely by accident such as breaking your arm falling off of a step ladder. Home Insurance can help you make sure that you are protected from liability whether the damage is to person or property

Some Tips for Home Insurance

It is important to know the geography of where you live. If you live in an area that is prone to Earthquakes it is important to make sure that such disasters are covered in your policy because not all Washington home insurance policies have the same coverage.

Be aware that insurance does not compensate for bad maintenance. Wear and weathering happen to any home; consistent maintenance will prevent more pricey fixes to your home in the future.

	Finally, document your valuable possessions by taking photographs. Store the documentation safely somewhere other than your home, so that if a disaster occurs you will have proof of your assets. 

Be Protected Not Unlawful: Automobile Insurance

According to the Washington State Department of Licensing, if you are a Washington State Driver you are required to have Automobile Insurance. Driving is an important aspect of daily life for many people as their primary mode of transportation. Vehicles give us incredible freedom, but we all know they are dangerous. Protect yourself and those around you—it’s the law.

What you need to know

Washington automobile insurance policies package together forms of coverage such as collision, liability and even uninsured/under-insured motorists. Washington State does not require personal injury protection, but it is an important form of coverage to consider and is available in many insurance policies. Washington State Department of Licensing requires coverage of at least $25,000 bodily injury per person and $50,000 per accident.

Don’t forget to have written proof of your insurance in your vehicle because if you do not have your information with you law enforcement will assume you do not have insurance. If your vehicle was registered in another state you are still required to show proof of insurance for that state. Forty-seven states require automobile insurance, so it is important to have your information with you wherever you are going.  You will be fined at least 450 dollars if you are caught driving without insurance in Washington State.