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Personal Perspective


By Personal Perspective

Parents have always been concerned about their teenagers driving on the weekend, especially at night. However, a new AAA study of crash data reveals that after school hours can be as deadly for teenage drivers as weekend nights. The researchers advise parents that they need to be just as vigilant about monitoring their teens’ driving on weekday afternoons as they are on weekend nights.

The researchers studied the number of fatal crashes involving teenage drivers between 2002 and 2005. What they discovered is that almost as many 16 and 17-year-old drivers were involved in fatal crashes between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday as were on Friday and Saturday nights between 9:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. There were 1,100 weekday crashes and 1,237 weekend crashes.

To combat this growing problem, the AAA recommends that parents do the following:

  • Establish specific driving rules with your teen. If they follow the rules, they will be permitted to increase their amount of driving time. Breaking the rules leads to fewer liberties. Parents can find a parent-teen driver agreement at
  • Don’t allow a new teen driver to carry passengers during the first three months of driving. Allow them to carry no more than one passenger for the rest of the first year of independent driving. Crash rates increase drastically for 16 and 17-year-old drivers as you add more teenage passengers to a car. Thirty-five states limit passengers for new teen drivers. Every parent should do the same, regardless of state law.
  • Don’t permit your teen to ride with a new teen driver. Carpooling seems like a sensible way for teens to ride to school, home and activities, but it can promote risky passenger behavior. Research shows that it is more dangerous for several teens to ride in one car than for them to drive individually.
  • Ban cell phone usage while driving. Teens have trouble managing distractions, especially while driving.
  • Require your teen to wear a seat belt every time s/he rides in a car. Teens have the lowest belt usage rate of any age group, even though new teen drivers have the highest crash rates.
  • Make your rules known to other adults in your teen’s life. A parent-to-parent agreement with your teen driver’s friends will standardize rules among a group of teenagers. Letting your neighbors know your teen’s driving rules can provide you extra sets of eyes when you’re not around.


By Personal Perspective

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released data showing that from 2001-2005, an average of 36 fatalities occurred per day on America’s roadways as a result of crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver. It’s this kind of statistic that has spurred all 50 states and the District of Columbia to pass laws making it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher.

Although you might not be a fatality if you drive while under the influence, don’t think that means you’re home free. If you’re ticketed for a DUI, you’ll face a financial toll that you probably never considered. The following list is an example of some of the expenses you can expect:

  • Bail – It can cost anywhere from $250 to $2,500 for a first time DUI offender to be released from jail after an arrest depending on the jurisdiction.
  • Towing – When you’re arrested, your car is automatically towed. The cost starts at $100. In Chicago, for example, the typical charge is $1,200 for the first 24 hours and $50 for each additional day of storage. If you can’t afford to get your car after 30 days, the city auctions it. Other cities are beginning to follow Chicago’s lead.
  • Insurance premiums – If you are convicted, your insurance rates will increase substantially for the next three to five years. This could mean anywhere from two to four times more than you are currently paying. You could even face losing coverage all together. In that case, you would be forced to find a company specializing in higher risks that will insure you, or see whether your state has an assigned-risk pool for insurance. Either way, you’ll pay considerably more for coverage.
  • Legal fees – Expect anywhere from $2,500 to $25,000 depending on how much time an attorney has to invest in your case to defend you. In addition to what you pay your lawyer, you may also find yourself paying for an investigator to examine the arrest scene, and expert witnesses who can testify about the inaccuracy of field sobriety tests.
  • Fines – The fines and court fees for breaking the law vary from state to state, However, you can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $1200.
  • Alcohol Evaluation – This is required of anyone sentenced by the court for drunk driving. The cost for these evaluations starts at about $100 depending on the jurisdiction.
  • Treatment/Education Program – A conviction means you will be required to undergo treatment or education in order to get your driver’s license re-issued. The extent of these programs differs greatly, and the costs can range from $300 to $2,000.


By Personal Perspective

When hiring a contractor to add value to your home investment, it makes dollars and sense to verify the contractor’s Workers Compensation coverage. Otherwise, you might be responsible for injuries incurred by the workers while they are remodeling or repairing your home.

With this in mind, take a look at some important insurance issues before you select a contractor. To start, verify that the contractor you want to hire carries Workers Compensation coverage. If a contractor does not have this coverage, workers who are injured while working on your home could sue you. You might also want to see a copy of the contractor’s Workers Compensation policy and ask the same of subcontractors such as electricians and plumbers. It is important to make sure all of the contractor’s employees are covered — full and part time. It is advisable to get insurance policy numbers and to take that extra minute to call and verify that the insurance is still in effect.

You can also check the contractor or remodeler’s credentials, including whether the contractor or remodeler is licensed and/or a member of an applicable trade group. Of course, you will want to compare costs and solicit bids from more than one contractor or remodeler. When doing so, get all bids in writing and make sure each bid includes building specifications (what is being worked on and to what extent), labor costs, material costs, and time needed to complete the project. This will protect you from unforeseen costs while further protecting you from future misunderstandings and project mishaps.

You can call Better Business Bureau (BBB) to quickly and easily verify local references. The local BBB office will also be a good source for letting you know if there have been complaints made against the contractor or remodeler.

Lastly, most contractors and remodelers will gladly show you work done at other nearby homes. Take them up on this offer and see for yourself their workmanship and check customer satisfaction. Talk to former clients and see what they think of the contractor’s ability to meet their needs while staying on schedule and within the projected budget.


By Personal Perspective

If you wanted to, you could build a panic room for protection from robbers or kidnappers. But what about protecting your belongings when you’re not home? Perhaps you really don’t want to install an alarm system — or maybe you do. Either way, here are some no-cost and low-cost tricks to make your protection more complete, and help keep your belongings away from thieves.

Outside Areas
Begin with the landscaping, which is the first thing a burglar sees and the first thing he will assess. To make it harder for a burglar to hide and gain entry:

  • Prune lower limbs from any big trees.
  • Trim bushes so a man could not use one for cover.
  • Move any decorative trellises away from windows or porch roofs so they cannot be climbed for second-floor access.
  • Consider planting thorny bushes below first-floor windows, and be sure they are close enough to the house so that an adult could not wedge behind one to jimmy a window without getting scratched up.
  • Remove any trees or bushes beside exterior doors. They can hide a burglar from passing cars and they can also hide intruders from your sight when you answer the door.
  • Make sure all ladders and tools are secure inside the house, not inside a garden shed.
  • If your yard is dim at night, install the brightest, biggest lights you can afford for all entries to your house. Use them. Turn them on when you leave the house at night; set up motion detectors to turn them on when you are away.

Inside the Home
Windows generally provide easier access for criminals than doors. Here are some window tactics:

  • Buy special window locks at your hardware store for all first-floor windows and any second-floor windows accessible from a porch or garage roof. DO NOT hang the keys on clever little hooks or nails beside the window. Crooks know that one and will simply break a pane and reach around until they find the key. (But be sure the whole family knows where the keys are in case of emergency.)
  • Don’t demonstrate the easiest window to enter by climbing in it. If a family member regularly forgets his or her key, consider leaving keys with a trustworthy neighbor for emergency use. DON’T CLIMB IN THE WINDOW EVER. Even amateur burglars can figure that one out, especially if they’ve seen you do it and figure the neighbors won’t notice.
  • For sliding windows, use the same techniques as for sliding doors, below.
    Some burglars like to enter like a guest, through the door. Here are some ways to discourage that sort of burglar:
  • Make every entry door solid core wood or metal; hollow-core doors are easily kicked in. The door should fit the frame snugly, with no more than 1/8 inch between door and jamb. If the gap is larger, replace the door, or install a heavy-gauge metal strip available at the hardware store.
  • Replace doors with decorative glass windows or panels. If that’s too expensive, install break-resistant plastic panes, or install a decorative grille over the glass.
  • It’s unlikely, but if an entry door has hinges on the outside, rehang it with hinges inside. If that’s impossible, reinstall it with pinless hinges. Burglars can pop pins and take off the door to enter.
  • Make sure locks on all sliding glass doors are sturdy. Then use a solid stick of wood or broom handle in the track of the closed door.
  • Adjust door rollers so the door cannot be lifted out of its track.

A Few More Hints

  • Close your garage door when you’re away, whether or not it also leads into the house. An empty garage equals “no one’s home.” Cover garage windows completely with shades or curtains so no one will know if there’s a car in there or not.
  • Don’t leave notes on entries; if you were home, you wouldn’t leave a note. Not even for FedEx.
  • Don’t hide keys in the yard; burglars know all the usual places, even those cute little garden toads with hollow bellies.


By Personal Perspective

Property insurance policies often give policyholder’s the option of insuring to replacement cost value (RCV) or actual cash value (ACV). Which option should you consider?

In short, the difference between ACV and RCV is depreciation, or wear and tear.

ACV says that the property that was lost has probably depreciated by some amount over time, and attempts to inject depreciation into the equation. For example, say the property destroyed was a sofa that would cost $500 to replace. However, the sofa was 10 years old and although it might have been in good shape for a 10-year-old sofa, it was not brand new. Some wear and tear inevitably occurred.

Under ACV, the insurance company determines that $25 of depreciation occurred each year since the purchase so that the old sofa was only worth $250 at the time of the loss. They would then pay you $250 minus any applicable deductible and you would in a sense be paying an increased deductible in the form of the $250 depreciation. More precisely, you would be paying the difference between the replacement cost, the amount the old sofa depreciated by, and any deductible. You would be “co-insuring” that amount. That’s ACV.

RCV is, simply put, the cost of replacement of the lost property with an identical or similar piece of property. In our sofa example, if it costs $500 to replace the sofa, the insurance company will pay you the $500 less any applicable deductible. Case closed. It does not matter the sofa was showing the effects of age and you couldn’t possibly get $500 for it.

The question of which option to take cuts to the heart of what insurance is all about — making the insured whole again. ACV sometimes falls short. RCV, on the other hand, can create a beneficial state for the insured in some cases.

For example, forgetting any sentimental value the original sofa may have, if it is old and worn, but the insurance covers RCV, obviously the insured will benefit by receiving funds for a brand new sofa to replace the old one.

A more dramatic example might involve the loss of an old house in a fire. The house might have only been worth $200,000, because the components of the house, i.e., roof, HVAC, etc., were approaching the end of their life expectancy. Obviously, replacing the house with one containing similar features might result in a higher property value due to the new features.

Some insurers require that, in order to obtain the full replacement cost of the property, repairs must first be completed. They might pay the ACV up front and hinge the remaining payment of the difference between RCV and ACV on the actual repair or replacement being completed. This prevents the insured from pocketing the money and gaining financially from the loss, but the result of replacement at RCV is still beneficial and therefore, seems worth the small additional cost of coverage.

There is at least one caveat regarding the benefits of RCV, however.

David Patterson, CEO of Medici Insurance Services notes:

“Given the irrational real estate market, replacement cost may in many cases be less than actual cash value. Although depreciation has theoretically occurred,” according to David, “the run up in home values in recent years may have created a situation wherein the actual cash value of the existing home may exceed the cost of replacing the home with one that has similar features and qualities. Thus the extra cost of purchasing RCV may be inappropriate.”

As always, consult with your agent to determine which option to go with.


By Personal Perspective

Hopefully, you will never be served with legal papers and involved in a costly lawsuit. But in the event you are, it will be imperative that you have the insurance to cover your legal liability. That’s where a Personal Liability Umbrella policy can help.

Umbrella policies supplement the liability coverage you have through Home and Auto insurance and provide an extra layer of security by protecting your assets that might be at risk in a liability lawsuit.

If you don’t have enough liability coverage from your Homeowners and Auto policies to adequately resolve a claim, the person suing you can go after your home and your other assets to pay for damages. Umbrella policies cover damage claims that you, your dependents, or even your pets might cause.

Umbrella policies kick in after, and pay in addition to, your Auto and Homeowners insurance liability limits. The bulk of the risk is assumed under the primary Auto or Home policy, which enables insurers to offer Umbrella policies at very reasonable costs.

However, most insurance companies will not sell an Umbrella policy unless both your Auto and Homeowners insurance is with them. In addition, your insurer may stipulate that your Auto or Homeowners liability limits be at least a certain amount, such as $200,000 to $300,000. Umbrella policies are generally sold with a deductible that might run anywhere from $250 to $1,000, pocket change if you’re being sued for millions!

Umbrella policies provide much broader coverage in case you are sued, covering you if you cause bodily injury, property damage, or personal injury. Certain Umbrella policies also cover you if you face liability arising from your service on the board of a civic, charitable, or religious organization.

Umbrella policies typically do not cover claims from business endeavors. If you own a business, even a small one, you’ll need to purchase Business insurance to protect yourself from business-related liability claims.

To determine if you need an Umbrella policy, analyze your risk of being sued and the assets you have at risk. Do you have a swimming pool or trampoline that could pose a threat to visitors? Of course, you might decide that your personal situation makes lawsuits very unlikely.

Before making any decision, compare the umbrella premium with the cost of raising the liability limits on your Auto and Homeowners policies. It may work to your advantage to raise these current limits by several hundred thousand dollars, and you might come out spending less than you would on Umbrella policy premiums.


By Personal Perspective

When you think of winter, do you immediately think of snow tires and protecting yourself from wet and icy roads? Most people do. But what about your home? Most people take great care winterizing their cars — tires, anti-freeze, wiper fluid, flashlights and blankets. How many give the same consideration to their houses? Poorly winterized homes can be a source of both property and liability claims unless they are brought up to par before the first snowflake falls.

Follow the winterizing hints below to make sure your coverage is adequate — just in case — and to minimize the risk of a wintertime claim:


  • Is your Homeowners coverage sufficient? If your house was recently upgraded, maybe not.
  • What about your vacation property? What if someone visits it in your absence and is injured? Do you have enough coverage for damage that might result while it is unattended all winter?
  • What about your snowmobile? Some very powerful snowmobiles require insurance above and beyond what most homeowners think about.
  • Taking a winter vacation that requires expensive items — jewelry for that trip to Europe, skis for Aspen? Be sure your personal property endorsements measure up.
  • What about your college student? If he or she is renting off-campus, think about Liability insurance for that dwelling also, as well as all the winter hazards that apply to the family home.

Once you’ve got your insurance needs squared away, think about minimizing wintertime hassles, and avoiding needless claims that are easily prevented.


  • Remember your vacation home! Make sure all pipes are drained and the toilet empty so expanding ice cannot crack the porcelain.
  • Check for dirty filters in all your heating systems; clean or replace filters before turning the systems on. Make sure your units have been professionally serviced. Consider installing both smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Check your storm windows and doors before installing them. Cracked gaskets? Get them fixed. Cracked glass? Ditto.
  • Remove or cover and seal window or through-the-wall air conditioners until spring.
  • Check the sidewalk in front of your house and all walkways and handrails to make sure they are in good repair; maneuvering through winter is difficult enough without having to step gingerly on broken pavement or to remember not to grasp shaky handrails. Plus, having everything in good repair might help limit your liability in the event of a mishap.
  • Make sure your snow blower and other snow removal equipment is in working order. Line up neighborhood help to clean your walks if you are unable to clear public sidewalks as soon as snow hits. Having cleared walkways will help ensure no one is seriously injured on your property by winter weather conditions.
  • Check around windows and doors for cracks. Have a contractor repair cracks and gaps, or, if they’re small, fill them in with caulk.
  • Before the first freeze, remove leaves, acorns, sticks and debris from gutters so heavy winter rains and snow melt off can flow freely and not damage your roof or walls. While you’re at it, you might install gutter guards to keep all that garbage from getting into the gutters next year.
  • Survey your plantings. Trim trees if ice- or snow-covered branches would endanger any part of your house or cars. Consider the walkway, too, so pedestrians will not risk injury walking in front of your house during or after a storm.
  • Check the insulation in attics, basements and crawl spaces. Too much heat escaping can cause ice and snow to melt too fast to be carried away efficiently. If the melt off seeps into the roofing, it can cause damage or collapse. If the insulation in your basement or crawl space is sufficient for your climate, you can also avoid the inconvenience and damage of frozen or burst pipes. In unfinished spaces with pipes running through them, such as garages, wrap the pipes with heating tape.
  • During the winter, keep interiors at 65 degrees or more. Pipes run though the walls, which can be a lot colder than the air in the rooms. Letting indoor temperatures drop below 65 degrees could risk pipes freezing behind those walls.
  • Learn where shut-off valves are for all plumbing. Include both the valves within each room and the main valve. If your pipes do freeze, the more quickly you turn off the water, the less chance of pipes bursting.


By Personal Perspective

If you’re renting a house or apartment, Renters insurance can be one of the best investments you ever make. No one likes to think about it, but burglars might break in while you’re away and steal your computer, entertainment system, jewelry, and other items. Without Renters insurance, you will have thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs to replace the stolen items. By contrast, if you have Renters insurance, you will promptly receive a check that covers either the replacement costs for the stolen items or the current value of the items — depending on what type of insurance policy you’ve bought.

Perhaps you believe there is little risk of a burglary where you live. But what about fire? Fires strike randomly and can begin in electrical wiring over which you have no control. It’s horrifying to contemplate, but you could come home to find that everything you own has been destroyed. With Renters insurance you would have a check in hand quite soon to begin refurnishing your life.

Yet another scenario for which Renters insurance can be of enormous benefit is personal liability. If a guest is injured in your home, for example, by slipping on a throw rug, you could be liable for her medical bills. Renters insurance would cover this liability.

Sometimes renters mistakenly think their possessions are covered by their landlord’s insurance. This is seldom true. Usually, the landlord’s insurance covers loss or damage to his property, not yours. Your landlord’s insurance also covers his liability in case anyone is injured on the property, though not always injuries inside your apartment.

Most renters can get comprehensive coverage for $200 or less a year, depending on where they live. Considering the risks covered by Renters policies, this is a low cost for the potential benefits.

Before talking to an agent about Renters insurance, look around your house or apartment and take an inventory of items you would need to replace in the event of a catastrophe. Take note of high value or difficult to replace items such as antiques, furs, jewelry, or expensive art. Before you get a policy or immediately thereafter, you should record information on all your high value items, including details about the make, model, serial number, age, and costs (both purchase and current replacement). It might also help to have photos of these items for identification purposes.

A basic policy usually pays only for the actual cash value of your items at the time they were lost. In other words, they would be valued not at what you paid for them originally or what it would cost to replace them, but at their actual value as used items. So a three-year-old computer would be covered for its initial cost minus depreciation. Since computers depreciate quickly, yours may be worth little by the time it’s three years old, so your insurance proceeds will be limited.

If you have expensive items like electronics that are subject to depreciation, you probably should consider Replacement Cost coverage. With this type of policy, you would be reimbursed for the current cost of buying a new equivalent item. Thus, in our example of the $2,000 computer at 3-years-old, you would receive a check that would enable you to buy a new computer. Of course, replacement cost coverage is more expensive. It’s up to you to decide which type of coverage — Actual Value or Replacement Cost — best fits your needs and budget.

Like most other insurance policies, your Renters policy will have deductibles, that is, an amount of loss you will have to absorb yourself before receiving any money from the insurance company. For example, let’s say you have a policy with a $500 deductible. You have cameras you bought for $2,000 several years ago. If you have replacement cost coverage and the cameras are lost in a fire, you would receive a check for $1,500 from the insurance company. Of course, you can lower your insurance premium by accepting a higher deductible, but this means if there is a loss, you must absorb more of it from your own pocket.

Renters insurance usually doesn’t cover damage from floods or earthquakes, but you might be able to get endorsements for these and other “acts of God.” An endorsement extends the perils covered by your policy. Obviously, you must pay an extra premium for the extra coverage.

Be sure to discuss any special high value items, such as furs, antiques, or jewelry, with your insurance agent, since you might need extra coverage for these.

As mentioned, a basic Renters policy includes liability coverage should someone be injured in your rented home or apartment. As with Auto insurance, there is a per-incident limit on this coverage, and you should make sure this is high enough to protect your assets.


By Personal Perspective

Do you have enough Liability insurance? If there were a vehicle accident for which you were at fault, and a child were permanently disabled, would your Auto Liability policy offer enough coverage to pay for the skilled care the child would need for years to come? If a young parent were killed in a freak fall on your property, would your insurance cover the support he would have provided his children as they grow up? We’d all like to believe that such catastrophic losses would happen only to other people. But there is nothing we can do to totally eliminate the risk of this type of event in our own lives.

Consider what would happen if there were a settlement (or judgment, if it goes to court) of $800,000 as a result of an auto accident for which you were liable. Let’s say you have insurance with a limit of $300,000 per accident. What would happen? The auto insurer would pay its $300,000. Then virtually everything you own would be fair game for seizure to pay off the additional $500,000, except for assets that might be protected in some states, such as your home. Furthermore, your earnings could be garnished for years to come. With stakes this high, and considering the relatively modest cost of additional liability coverage, it just makes sense for many people to purchase the added protection of an Umbrella policy.

An Umbrella policy is insurance that provides additional coverage once the liability limits on your Homeowners or Auto insurance policy are exhausted. Umbrella policies are typically sold with limits of $1 million to $10 million. In the example above, if you had a $1 million Umbrella policy, once you satisfied the deductible, the auto insurer would pay the auto policy limit of $300,000, and your Umbrella insurance would pay the other $500,000 of the $800,000 settlement or verdict. Your assets would not be at risk.

One myth about an Umbrella policy is that it’s only needed by the wealthy. These days the cumulative value of homes, vacation homes, rental property, cars, boats, savings, investments, and so on, owned by many people, who don’t consider themselves wealthy, make them vulnerable to liability beyond their Auto or Homeowners insurance limits. A good question to ask yourself is whether you have assets that you don’t want to put at risk in the event of a catastrophic liability.

Lifestyle also plays a role in determining liability risk. Do you have a swimming pool, trampoline, swing set, or other recreational equipment that can lead to accidents? Are there frequent guests on your property? Do you engage in sports that could injure others? Do you live in a wealthy town where you might be more of a target for a liability lawsuit?

How Much Do You Need?

People often reason that the amount of umbrella coverage they need should be the value of their assets, but this might not be adequate. If, for example, you have assets of $1 million and buy $1 million of coverage, what happens if you’re found liable for a $2 million judgment? Insurance would pay the first $1 million, plus the limit of the underlying Homeowners or Auto policy, but you could lose a significant amount of your assets for the second million. If you were found liable for $3 million, you could lose not only a significant portion of your assets, but you’d still owe $1 million. Both your future income and any inheritance you might receive would be jeopardized. Just how much coverage you need depends on all your risk factors, your own financial planning, and your tolerance for risk.

There is usually a substantial premium discount if you buy your Auto, Homeowners, and Umbrella policy all from the same company. Additionally, if you have a claim, you eliminate the potential problems of dealing with different insurance companies where each might be trying to shift payment responsibility to the other, leaving you caught in the middle.

The cost of an Umbrella policy depends on such criteria as the amount of coverage, the insurance company issuing the policy, and your own “personal risk factors” (such as the number of traffic tickets you’ve gotten in the past few years, and possibly your credit report). A $1 million policy often costs less than a dollar a day.

For some people another attractive feature of an Umbrella policy is that it provides coverages not found in their Homeowners or Auto policies. You are covered if you cause bodily injury, property damage, or personal injury. Generally, the types of personal injury covered include false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, defamation, invasion of privacy, wrongful entry, or eviction. Some Umbrella policies also provide coverage if you face liability arising from your service on the board of a civic, charitable, or religious organization.

Your insurance agent can help you decide whether an Umbrella policy makes sense for your life style and financial needs.


By Personal Perspective

Trees are a wonderful addition to your home’s landscape, but they can also cause real problems if a heavy wind topples one, and it lands on your neighbor’s property and damages their home. Who is legally responsible for paying to repair that damage?

If you answered, “I am,” you would be wrong.

Your neighbor would have to submit a claim to their Homeowners policy insurer to pay for any necessary repairs. Wind and lightning are generally covered perils in a standard HO3 Homeowners policy, or they are included in a Homeowners All-Risk policy.

Since your carrier doesn’t have to pay, your policy won’t be impacted, which means your insurance premiums won’t increase. However, you still might not be off the hook for liability, because your neighbor might decide to sue you to cover their deductible.

Negligence Hurts
The only instance in which you would be required to pay for the damage to your neighbor’s property caused by your fallen tree is when the damage resulted from your negligence. You could be held liable if your tree was dying or already dead before it fell on your neighbor’s property, and you did nothing to prevent property damage.

In this case, your insurance carrier would have to cover the repairs. In addition, if your neighbor files a lawsuit against you alleging negligence, your insurer would be required to defend you and investigate the claim.

If you are found to be legally responsible for the damage to your neighbor’s house, your carrier will pay up to your policy limits. Your neighbor can also submit a liability claim against your Homeowners insurance policy.

Prevention Is Key
Of course, the best way to avoid a situation like this is to prevent it from happening. If you have a tree on your property that looks unhealthy, consider having it checked by an arborist and, if necessary, removed before it falls. It might seem like a large expense, but it could actually save you money in the long run by helping you avoid increased insurance premiums.

Equally as important, removing the possible risk of damage will help you maintain a good relationship with your neighbors. And as any homeowner knows, that is worth its weight in gold, especially if you plan to stay in your home for a while.