I am a klutz. My first sprained ankle occurred prior to the age of 4. I'm quite apt to open a cabinet door to retrieve something and then turn and ram my head into said cabinet door. I repeatedly, and I mean repeatedly, knock the hell out of my knee when I attempt to get up from the dining table. I trip over nothing and everything and walk into door frames. I always have bumps and bruises all over my body. Yet I am continually surprised to find new bumps and bruises, and marvel at how they got there.
Don't even get me started on DH's long list of injuries caused by clumsiness. And the Darlings…well, you can imagine that the apple does not fall far from the tree in this instance. In fact, last night, just minutes away from going to bed, Darling 2 bent down to pick up a toy and smacked his poor head on the corner of their little play table. He had a blue egg on his forehead within seconds. He'll be fine, but to say our family is accident-prone is an understatement.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where "accidents" rarely occur. Instead, terms like "negligent," "lawsuit," "personal injury," "liability" and "damages" are used when talking about incidents. Certainly there are times when a person is negligent in his or her actions or a company ignores reports or warnings and allows faulty or dangerous products to be sold, etc. However, there are other instances when an accident is just an accident, such as the case of the 4 year old riding her bike on a sidewalk and accidentally colliding with an elderly lady.
In our litigious society, the best defense in avoiding having to hand over your life savings should someone be injured or sustain property damage by your action or on your property is to have adequate insurance. I don't happen to have hoards of cash sitting around in case, God forbid, someone is injured by me, my family, my pets or on my property, but my insurance company has got my back in the event of such an occurrence.
If you own a home, you have a homeowner's policy which generally covers attorney fees, court costs, medical expenses and settlements should a claim be brought against you for property damage or bodily injury to another. If you rent, you could (& should) have renter's insurance, and this policy usually covers such injury related costs as well. If you own a vehicle, you have insurance covering that vehicle and the operation of that vehicle, and again, many of the costs associated with injuries to others and damage to another's property are covered in that policy. However, many times the limits on those policies are not enough to cover all of these expenses. In that case, an umbrella policy could kick in.
An aptly named umbrella policy covers the policy-holder above and beyond the limits of other policies. Umbrella policies are often misunderstood. Many people think they are too expensive; not necessary unless you are ultra-rich; too complicated or confusing; and some people simply don't know about these types of policies.
Here are examples of the types of coverages provided by an umbrella policy and how they protect you, as a policy-holder:
Bodily Injury Liability – covers the cost of damages to another person's body. Examples include the cost of medical bills and/or liability claims as a result of:
injuries to other parties due to a serious auto accident where you are at fault,
harm caused to others as a result of your dog
injuries sustained by a guest in your home due to a fall, or
injuries sustained by a neighbor's child who falls while playing in your yard.
Property Damage Liability – covers the cost of damage or loss to another person's tangible property. Examples include the cost associated with:
damage to vehicles and other property as a result of an auto accident where you are at fault,
damage claims incurred when your pet rips a friend's priceless oriental rug to shreds, or
accidental damage to school property caused by your child.
Owners of Rental Units – protects against liability that you may face as a landlord. Examples include the cost of liability claims as a result of:
someone tripping over a crack in the sidewalk of your rental property and suing you for damages, or
your tenant's dog biting someone and you being held responsible for the injuries.
Coverage is also provided should you be sued for:
slander – injurious spoken statement,
libel – injurious written statement,
false arrest, detention, or imprisonment,
shock/mental anguish, and
other personal liability situations.
Umbrella policies are sold in increments of $1 million dollars, with a maximum of $10 million, typically. So, if an insured has an auto insurance policy with liability limits of $500,000 and a homeowner's insurance policy with a limit of $300,000, then with a million dollar umbrella, the insured's limits become in effect, $1,500,000 on an auto liability claim and $1,300,000 on a homeowners liability claim. In addition, the insured won't have to worry about legal fees and court costs.
You might think that such a policy would cost an arm and a leg, but alas it's quite affordable. What's expensive is what you have to pay should you be embroiled in a lawsuit and not have an umbrella policy. Umbrella policy premiums usually start at $200 to $300 per year for $1 million in coverage.
If you are interested in purchasing an umbrella policy or finding out more information, as it pertains to you, contact your insurance agent. Your agent will be able to guide you through the process of deciding what amount is right for you.
Tips for Avoiding Injuries that Lead to Lawsuits
Once you are sufficiently covered by insurance, there are ways to try to prevent injuries from happening on your own property. Here are a few considerations:
Make sure all steps and/or stairs are clean, clear and in good condition;
Be sure to remove snow and/or ice from steps, sidewalks, driveways, etc.;
If you have pets, keep them current on vaccines and be sure to keep them on leashes and/or behind sturdy fences;
If you have a trampoline and/or pool in your yard, put up a fence and/or gate or other safety features to ensure that children do not fall into the pool or off the trampoline; and
Regularly inspect your trees for dead branches or branches that hang over into a neighbor's yard;
Keep all guns and other weapons unloaded and locked away at all times.
Click here for a list of additional ways to avoid a personal injury lawsuit .
Sometimes accidents can't be avoided, no matter how careful you are. Therefore, it's important to have appropriate coverage. The appropriate amount will be different for everyone, depending on where you live; whether you own or rent; whether you own a vehicle; how much income and other assets you have, among other things.
If you ever have any questions about your insurance policies, be sure to call your insurance agent. I happen to have an awesome agent; someone you want to hang out with; go to dinner with; go shopping with. It's like calling a friend to ask a question when I call our agent. It's easy for us to call and check on something or discuss our policies with her, and it should be for you too. An insurance agent is there to ensure that you are well represented should disaster strike.
Now go check your insurance policies. On Friday, I will post a bit of Motherly Advice. Over and out…
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