The Problem with Minimum Coverage
Most states require drivers to carry basic liability coverage, which pays for injury and property damages if you are found at fault following an accident. These limits vary by state but can be as low as $10,000 per person or $20,000 per accident.
If you get into an accident, there’s a chance you could be sued. When this happens, minimum liability coverage may not be sufficient to cover the damages, and you could end up paying thousands of dollars out of your own pocket.
What’s more, if you cause an accident and your liability limits are too low to cover the expenses, the other party might go after your assets in court. To protect yourself, it’s important to think critically about how much coverage you need and to secure the proper limits.
How Much Auto Insurance Should I Carry?
While it can be tempting to simply pay the lowest amount possible for auto insurance, doing so can leave you exposed to serious financial risks. In general, it’s recommended that you carry more than the minimum coverage unless you are driving an older car with little value and have no assets to protect.
Did You Know? Insurance is mandatory in order to operate a vehicle in the United States, and every state has specific coverage limits that you must meet. While meeting these minimum limits may be enough to get you on the road, they are often inadequate if you are involved in a serious accident. As such, you may want to consider raising your limits in order to secure the right protection.
The higher you set your coverage limits and the lower you set your deductibles, the less you’ll pay out of pocket after a claim. You will need to determine how much you can comfortably afford when setting your coverage limits and deductibles.
Raising your limits and paying a little more each month will allow you to get the most out of your investment.
Customize Your Policy
When it comes to auto insurance, you have many options. Contact your insurance broker today. They will be able to discuss different ways to customize auto insurance policies, including adjusting collision, comprehensive, medical expenses, uninsured motorist and no-fault coverage. They can also recommend specific policy limits given your situation.
The Insurance Research Council reports that an estimated 1 in 7 drivers in the United States are currently uninsured. As a result, many car insurance companies across the nation offer specific coverage in the event that you get into an accident with an uninsured driver, such as uninsured motorist (UM) coverage and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage.
UM coverage applies if the uninsured driver was at fault in the accident or if you were the victim of a hit-and-run accident. UIM coverage applies if the other driver is at fault and lacks a high enough level of coverage to cover the cost of the accident. This means that if the underinsured driver’s policy limit is reached before the cost is covered, your insurance company would pay the remainder of the costs until your coverage limit is reached.
While UM/UIM coverage can be helpful, often times the level of coverage isn’t enough to cover the costs of the accident. Luckily, several states allow you to “stack” your UM or UIM coverage. Read on to learn the differences between stacked and unstacked UM/UIM coverage.
If you have unstacked UM/UIM coverage, your level of coverage is the limit on your policy. For instance, if you have a set limit of $20,000, that is the maximum amount of coverage you will receive after an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. Unstacked coverage is more common than stacked coverage, seeing as it is your only option if you insure just one car.
If you insure multiple vehicles and your state allows stacking, you are permitted to increase your level of UM/UIM coverage. You can utilize stacked coverage within one policy, or across policies.
Stacking your coverage within one policy means you are combining your coverage limits for multiple vehicles on a singular policy. For example, if you own two cars on one insurance policy and your UM/UIM limit is $20,000, you can combine your coverage limits for a total of $40,000.
Using stacked coverage across policies means you are combining your coverage limits between separate policies for a singular claim. For example, if you own two vehicles, each with separate policies and your UM/UIM limit is $25,000, you could file a claim using both policies, therefore using up to $50,000.
The Advantages and Disadvantages
There are both benefits and drawbacks to utilizing stacked UM/UIM coverage. Stacking can potentially raise the amount of coverage you can use in case of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, and lets you increase your UM/UIM limits without increasing your liability coverage.
However, if you have stacked coverage, you may have higher rates, seeing as car insurance companies have to offset the risk of costly reimbursement.
In addition, while some states lack laws for stacked coverage, some states either forbid it or only allow it in specific circumstances. Aside from state laws, some car insurance companies have certain policies that disallow stacked coverage. Be sure to contact your car insurance company to discuss your options with stacked UM/UIM coverage.
5 Tips to Improve Your Mental Health
Staying healthy is about more than paying attention to your physical body—your mental health directly influences how you think, feel, react and maintain relationships. If you don’t take steps to promote your mental health, you may find that anxiety, depression and irritability can take control of your life.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 1 in 5 adults experience some form of mental illness in a given year, but less than half of them seek professional treatment. And, even if you haven’t been diagnosed with a mental illness, taking steps to improve your mental well-being can improve your physical health and help you maintain positive relationships.
Here are five tips you can use to help improve your mental health:
- Talk with those who care about you. Simply talking to friends, family members or co-workers can help you overcome a personal problem and stay connected.
- Take a break from digital distractions. Although smartphones and other modern technology make it easy to stay connected with others, focusing too much on digital media can make it easy to ignore close relationships and the world around you.
- Take care of your body. Your brain is still part of your physical body, so it’s important to exercise regularly, maintain a healthy diet and get enough restful sleep.
- Set realistic goals and focus on taking the first step. Many projects or errands can seem overwhelming when taken as a whole. Try planning out steps for large tasks and concentrate on what you need to do first.
- Get help when you need it. Although there can be negative social stigmas about seeking help for mental or emotional problems, mental health professionals are trained to help manage stress and mental illnesses with therapy or medication.
The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas that’s produced by the incomplete burning of any fuel, including gas, fire and wood. Many of the appliances in your home produce harmless amounts of CO. However, if these appliances aren’t properly maintained or ventilated it could lead to a hazardous buildup of CO. And, because the gas is colorless, odorless and tasteless, it can be easy to remain unaware of potentially dangerous levels of CO in your home.
Symptoms of mild CO poisoning can include flu-like symptoms, such as headaches, nausea and weakness. However, exposure to large amounts of CO for an extended period can be fatal. Follow these steps to prevent a buildup of CO in your home:
- Install CO detectors on every level of your home. Also, never assume that your home’s smoke alarms can also detect CO.
- Check your appliances every year to ensure that they’re in safe working order and have sufficient airflow around them. Appliances that emit CO include fireplaces, water heaters, portable generators, power tools, lawn equipment, and gas- or wood-burning cooking appliances.
- Never leave a car or other motorized vehicle running in an attached garage, even if the garage door is open.
- Never rely on ovens, gas grills or other appliances to heat your home.
- Contact a specialist to ensure that your chimneys, vents and flues are providing sufficient ventilation to your home.
For more information on protecting your home from CO and other dangerous gases, such as radon and natural gas leaks, contact us today at 831-661-5697.
Removing Distractions Before You Drive
Distracted driving is a serious and deadly problem. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving leads to over 3,000 deaths and 375,000 injuries every year. Although many conversations about distracted driving focus on cellphones, the truth is that any distraction can be enough to cause a deadly accident. The following list includes some of the ways you can remove distractions and keep yourself safe on the road:
- Get plenty of rest before you drive. Studies have shown that fatigued drivers perform just as poorly as those who drive while intoxicated.
- Know where you’re going and the road conditions before you drive. Looking at a map or having to focus on the weather can take your attention off of the road and surrounding traffic.
- Secure any items in your vehicle that may roll around. You may be tempted to reach for them while you’re driving.
- Don’t use your cellphone or a hands-free device while driving. If you absolutely must contact someone, pull over to the side of the road first.