Auto and Homeowners Insurance
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Auto and Homeowners Insurance Information
If you drive, you need auto insurance coverage.
But just exactly which type of coverage should you have, and which ones are you required to have?
Following are the key features of auto insurance (depending on your unique circumstances, you may or may not need all these features):
Collision: If you’re in an automobile accident, regardless of who is at fault, collision insurance provides protection to replace or repair your vehicle, subject to a deductible.
Comprehensive: In the event of hail damage or a tree limb falling on your car (risks not involving an automobile collision), this coverage insures you. Comprehensive coverage pays to repair your vehicle, subject to a separate deductible.
Personal injury protection: This type of insurance coverage is for medical and other expenses resulting from an automobile accident for the people specified in the policy, regardless of who is at fault in the accident.
Medical payments: This feature provides a limited amount of coverage for you and your passengers’ medical expenses as a result of an accident. The coverage pays regardless of who is at fault.
Bodily injury and property damage liability coverage: The insurer agrees to pay damages if you injure someone or his property in an auto accident.
Uninsured and under-insured motorists liability coverage: If you’re in an accident with another driver who doesn’t carry any or enough liability coverage, uninsured or under-insured motorists liability coverage allows you to collect damages that you personally experience from the accident.
Missouri Motor Vehicle Insurance (Financial Responsibility)
Missouri law requires that all motor vehicle drivers and owners maintain some type of motor vehicle liability insurance coverage. Unfortunately, each year thousands of Missouri citizens are involved in automobile accidents with drivers who have not maintained the required automobile insurance. This results in unpaid damage claims and higher insurance premium rates for all Missourians.
Missouri motor vehicle owners are required to show proof of insurance when registering a vehicle and renewing their license plates. Liability insurance covers your legal liability when injuries or property damage happen as a result of your actions. The minimum level of coverage required by state law is:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury
- $50,000 per accident for bodily injury
- $25,000 per accident for property
The law also requires you to have uninsured motorist coverage of $25,000 for bodily injury per person and $50,000 for bodily injury per accident.
Nonresidents must maintain insurance that conforms to the requirements of the laws of their state.
You must keep some proof of insurance in your vehicle at all times. If a law enforcement officer asks for proof of insurance and you cannot show it, the officer may issue you a ticket.
The Department of Revenue will be notified that you do NOT have insurance on your vehicle or the vehicle you drive if you are in an accident or a police officer asks you to show proof of insurance. At any time, the Department of Revenue may also ask you to prove you have insurance.
The following table lists commonly recommended limits and deductibles for various coverage involved in basic auto policies.
Suggested Deductibles and Limits
||$500 to $1,000
||$500 to $1,000
|Personal injury protection
||Deductible doesn’t apply. This coverage may be required in your
||Deductible doesn’t apply. This feature is optional. If you and
all your passengers have comprehensive health insurance, you
shouldn’t need this additional coverage.
||$100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident
||$100,000 per accident
||$100,000 (This coverage may be required in your state; however,
the limit is likely less.)
Because states’ regulations differ and because you may have unique circumstances, you may need more or less coverage than shown.
Increasing your liability limits and your deductibles may be appropriate for you if you have cash reserves. The additional liability coverage raises your premium; however, increasing your deductibles helps offset those additional costs. In fact, increasing your deductible from $250 to $500 could reduce your collision and comprehensive coverage premium by 15 to 30 percent. Going up to a $1,000 deductible could save you about 40 percent.
You buy insurance to cover big financial risks. If you’re involved in a major accident and cars are totaled, people are injured or killed, and property is damaged, the total financial impact could be hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. The liability benefits on your automobile policy help to protect you from this financial devastation. You can’t afford to skimp on liability coverage.
If you have a much older vehicle or drive your vehicles until they drop, a time will come when maintaining collision and comprehensive insurance coverage isn’t financially worthwhile. A general guideline is to drop collision and comprehensive coverage on vehicles worth less than ten times the cost for that portion of your auto policy
Don’t drop your liability coverage under any circumstance — your old clunker can still wreak havoc in an accident. Besides, your state law probably requires that you maintain liability insurance. And like the money-savvy person you are, you wouldn’t want to put yourself and your family in this kind of financial jeopardy.
Your home is more than just a roof over your head.
Chances are it’s your most valuable investment, and one you likely can’t afford to replace if disaster strikes.
Why you need homeowners insurance
Buying homeowners insurance isn’t required by law, but if you have a mortgage, your lender will likely require you to insure the home so it can protect its investment.
Even if you don’t have a mortgage, homeowners insurance is almost always a wise purchase that can safeguard your finances in a variety of ways.
Here are the main functions of home insurance:
- Repair your home, yard and other structures: If your home were leveled by a severe storm or burned to the ground, could you afford to rebuild out of pocket? Homeowners insurance helps cover reconstruction to restore your place and property to its former glory.
- Repair or replace personal belongings: Many policies cover your belongings not only inside the home, but also on the go. So whether your furniture is destroyed in a fire or your wedding ring goes missing from a hotel nightstand, your coverage can help repair or replace them.
- Cover personal liability issues: If a guest trips and falls on your walkway and sues you, your dog bites a visitor, or you accidentally hurt someone away from home, homeowners insurance can help cover others’ injuries and your legal costs.
Basic parts of a homeowners insurance policy
A homeowners policy is made up of several distinct coverage — some that are included automatically and others that you can choose to add.
- Dwelling protection: Covers damage to the home and attached structures, such as a garage.
- Other structures protection: Covers stand-alone structures on your property, such as a fence, carport or tool shed.
- Additional living expenses coverage: Also called “loss of use,” this helps pay for temporary relocation and basic living expenses such as meals if a covered loss forces you to vacate your home during repairs.
- Personal property coverage: Pays to repair or replace belongings that are stolen or damaged in a covered loss — everything from your furniture to your curtains to your dishes.
- Liability coverage: Pays out if you’re found responsible for others’ injuries on your property or away from home.
- Medical payments coverage: Covers injury treatment costs for guests who get hurt on your property, or individuals you or your family members accidentally injure while away from home.This coverage kicks in regardless of who’s at fault.
Common optional coverage
- Water backup coverage: Covers damage caused by a burst pipe or other issues related to your abode’s plumbing. Note that this coverage does not cover flash floods, only water that comes from the ground up. Depending on the insurer, this coverage may be included automatically.
- Enhanced dwelling protection: Most insurers offer extra coverage for your house’s structure. In case your original coverage limits aren’t enough or there is a spike in the cost of construction, having enhanced dwelling coverage helps ensure you don’t have to dip into your savings to rebuild your home.
- Identity theft expense coverage: Helps reimburse you for expenses you incur while recovering from identity theft. Depending on the insurer, this coverage may also include help from an identity theft adviser, who can deal with creditors and bill collectors and possibly restore your credit.
- Scheduled personal property endorsement: Covers high-end items that exceed your regular personal property limits, such as jewelry or fine art.
Replacement cost vs. actual cash value
When deciding how much homeowners insurance to buy, you’ll need to choose between replacement cost or actual cash value.
- Replacement cost coverage — the more expensive option — does not factor in depreciation when reimbursing you for stolen or damaged personal items. It pays to replace your belongings with new, similar items, up to your coverage limit.
- Actual cash value, on the other hand, bases claims payments on the depreciated value of your belongings. In other words, you get back the amount your valuables were worth at the time of the loss. Actual cash value is cheaper but offers less coverage.
Homeowners insurance includes a deductible for property damage, which is the amount that’s deducted from claims payments. Instead of selecting a deductible for every type of claim, you can choose an all-peril deductible that applies to several incidents, whether it’s a stolen laptop or a burst pipe.
Each time you receive a claims check, your insurer subtracts your deductible amount. For instance, if you have a $1,000 deductible and file a claim for roof repairs to the tune of $10,000, your insurer would issue a payment of $9,000 and you would be responsible for the remaining $1,000.
Depending on the insurer, you may have a separate deductible for claims involving wind and hail. Liability claims generally don’t have a deductible.
How high should you set your deductible?
The typical home insurance deductible is between $500 and $1,000. Choosing a higher amount will usually reduce your premium. However, you’d have to shoulder more of the financial burden if an incident occurs. Going lower with your deductible, on the other hand, means you might have a higher premium but your insurer would pick up nearly the whole tab after an incident.
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