Umbrella liability insurance (ULI) provides liability protection above and beyond the basic coverage that homeowners and auto insurance policies offer. ULI can protect you against the catastrophic losses that can occur if you are sued.
Although ULI can be purchased as a separate policy, your insurer will require that you have basic liability coverage (i.e., homeowners insurance, auto insurance, or both) before you can purchase an umbrella liability policy. ULI is often referred to as excess coverage. If you are found to be legally responsible for injuring someone or damaging someone’s property, the umbrella policy will either pay for the part of the claim in excess of the limits of your basic liability policy, or pay for certain losses that are not covered.
These days, it’s not unusual to hear of $2 million, $10 million, and even $20 million court judgments against individuals. If someone is injured in your home, or if you cause a serious auto accident, you could have to pay such a judgment. If you don’t have an umbrella liability policy at the time of the accident, anything above the limits of your homeowners/renters or auto insurance policy will have to come out of your pocket.
A typical umbrella liability policy provides the following protection, up to the coverage limits specified in the policy:
- Protection for claims of bodily injuries or property damage caused by you, members of your household, or hazards on your property, for which you are found legally liable
- Personal liability coverage for incidents that occur on or off your property
- Additional protection above your basic auto policy for auto-related liabilities
- Protection against non-business-related personal injury claims, such as slander, libel, wrongful eviction, and false arrest
- Legal defense costs for a covered loss, including lawyers’ fees and associated court costs
What’s not covered?
Umbrella liability insurance typically provides extremely broad coverage. Furthermore, if something is not expressly excluded from coverage, it is covered. Exclusions vary from one insurer to another and from one policy to another, but the following are some items typically excluded from coverage:
- Intentional damage caused by you or a member of your family or household
- Damages arising out of business or professional pursuits
- Liability that you accept under the terms of a contract or agreement
- Liability related to the ownership, maintenance, and use of aircraft, nontraditional watercraft (e.g., jet skis, air boats), and most recreational vehicles
- Damage to property owned, used, or maintained by you (the insured)
- Damage covered under a workers’ compensation policy
- Liability arising as a result of war or insurrection
How big of an umbrella are we talking about?
Determining how much liability coverage you need is not an exact science. You might think that you need only enough liability insurance to protect your assets, but a large judgment against you could easily wipe out your assets and put your future earnings in jeopardy. That’s why you should also consider factors such as how often you have guests in your home, whether you operate a home-based business, how much you drive, whether you have teenage drivers in your home, and whether your lifestyle gives the impression that you have “deep pockets.”
Coverage limits vary, but a typical policy will provide liability coverage worth $1 million to $10 million. Of course, as your coverage limit increases, the premium will also increase. You need to decide both how much insurance you need and how much insurance you can afford. You’ll want to have enough protection, but not too much.
Where can I buy an umbrella liability policy?
Almost any insurer who writes auto and home insurance policies will also sell umbrella liability policies. Of course, it’s important to shop around and make sure that you’re getting the right coverage for your needs and the most coverage for your money.
To learn more about umbrella liability policies, request a complimentary consultation with Retirement Advisors of America using the button below.
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