By Ron Moore
Our life today is full of risks, which include loss of our valuable property and liability from our unintentional but legally negligent acts.
You could be biking on a local trail and hit a walker who suffers an injury disabling him for life — he sues for $500,000. Your home/personal liability insurance limit is $300,000. For a few dollars additional premium, you could have had higher limits. Now you depend on your insurance company to be diligent in defense of your exposure as well as theirs — some companies will not do this effectively. What kind of company do you have?
Avoidance is better than using insurance. Calling “on your left” to signal your pass of the walker would have alerted him so that he didn’t step left to avoid a puddle of water. In fact, a request to do this was posted on the trail head and you ignored it.
Your home could sustain a fire, damaging your structure and destroying much of your belongings. Your insurance may or may not deduct depreciation from its reimbursement of your loss — the difference could be tens of thousands of dollars. Which coverage did your insurance agent provide? And did you have a comprehensive list of all the property inside your home to prove value to the adjuster?
The average fire-loss reimbursement is only 80 percent of home contents destroyed because the claimant can’t substantiate everything destroyed.
You could hit a deer with your car — a total loss. You might have avoided hitting the deer by having your high beams on when no cars were approaching and being especially alert for deer in wooded areas. The insurance adjuster finds a repair garage that can repair it for less than the “blue book” average retail value. You don’t want a car with $15,000 of repairs and possible undetected motor damage. Will your insurance company find a way to justify a cash settlement and pay more than the policy requires? What is your insurance agent doing to assist you and is his standing with the company great enough to assist you?
If you bought your insurance through an Internet screen or by phone, you probably do not even have an agent who knows you and will advocate for you. The $3,000 you spend in annual premiums generates only $450 of commissions for your agent. Don’t expect the agent to initiate advice unless you explain your situation, properties and activities and ask for recommendations. Before buying, find out the agent’s effectiveness for clients.
Risk management in advance of an unfortunate event can prevent unnecessary grief.
Ron Moore is a risk management consultant from Cedar Rapids. Comments: email@example.com