BUSINESS INCOME COVERAGES
What Business Income Loss Coverages Are Out There? Learn the Endorsements That Can Help with Lost Business Income
Businesses face risks every day, and insurance is one of the most common ways to manage them. An important coverage for companies is business income loss insurance, also known as business interruption coverage. This provides coverage for lost income when a business is forced to close. Often this is due to property damage or physical damage resulting in loss of use to the insured premises.
Coverage may be included as part of a business owners policy, commercial property coverage, or commercial multiple-peril package policy. It may also be included in the base policy or offered through endorsement. Businesses should speak with their agent to find the right coverages for them. As always, be sure to read the policy to learn about exclusions and how coverage may apply.
Things You Should Know
When buying business income coverage, it is essential to know some common policy language.
Business interruption insurance coverage replaces income lost when business operations are disrupted because of a covered physical loss like a fire. Direct physical damage caused by riot or civil commotion also triggers business interruption coverage. Expenses like rent for a temporary location, payroll, taxes, and loan payments while the business property is unable to be used are typically covered.
Extra expense coverage would provide repayment for additional expenses incurred during the period of repairs. This often serves to offset the lost income while the business gets back up and running. For example, it may pay rent while the original facility is under repairs. This helps to offset lost income because the business is operating at a different location instead of just closing. This coverage may be included or added to the base business policy.
Service interruption clauses cover insured losses as a result of direct physical loss, damage, or destruction to utilities and other services. This includes transmission lines and equipment of suppliers of such services. There can be limitations when it comes to distances between where the actual loss occurs and the utility's property. Most often, certain perils aren’t covered, such as an earthquake.
Contingent business interruption (CBI) coverage is for business income losses resulting from damage or destruction of a direct supplier's or customer's property. To be covered, the property damage needs to be the same type covered by the insured's policy.
Civil authority coverage is often available when there is a direct physical loss due to a named public safety threat and direct government order. These clauses usually have time limits and waiting periods.
Top Things You Should Know
Know your risks. To effectively select the coverages you’ll need, you should have a good understanding of the risks you’re trying to mitigate.
Know your finances. To buy business income coverage, you’ll need to know what your income is and how it changes seasonally.
Know your operations. You need to understand what parts of your business are essential and the people and processes that can’t be removed. You should also think about other methods of operating or locations to continue operations.
Know your suppliers and vendors. Are they prepared for the risks they face or are there other companies you could rely on if your primary suppliers had to stop operating?
Read your policy carefully to make sure that you understand what risks are excluded. Be sure it gives the correct protection for your needs. Agents and brokers are available to assist with this process.
CREDIT BASED INSURANCE SCORES
Credit-Based Insurance Scores Aren’t the Same as a Credit Score.
Understand How Credit and Other Factors Determine Your Premiums
In most states, insurers can use your credit-based insurance score to determine your premiums. Your credit-based insurance score is not the same as your regular credit score.
According to FICO, a data and analytics company that measures credit risks, many insurers use credit-based insurance scores in states where it is legally allowed.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
Know how an insurance company uses your credit-based insurance score. An insurance company can only use your credit-based insurance score as one factor in its underwriting process. It will be considered with several other factors that vary by insurance type.
For example, with auto insurance, other factors could be: your ZIP code; the age of the operators; the make, model and age of your car; and even the miles you drive annually. You can ask your insurance company if a credit-based insurance score was used to underwrite and rate your policy and which risk category you were placed in after you receive a quote.
Know what’s in a credit-based insurance score. There are several different companies that create credit-based insurance score reports for insurers to use. FICO looks at five general areas that it believes will best determine how you manage risk. This is the breakdown of what it considers and how much the information generally weighs in figuring your credit-based insurance score:
Payment history (40%) — How well you have made payments on your outstanding debt in the past.
Outstanding debt (30%) — How much debt you currently have.
Credit history length (15%) — How long you have had a line of credit.
Pursuit of new credit (10%) — If you have applied for new lines of credit recently.
Credit mix (5%) — The types of credit you have (credit card, mortgage, auto loans, etc.).
A credit-based insurance score cannot use any personal information to determine your score. Information that is not in your credit report and cannot be used includes the following:
Race, color, national origin
Income, occupation or employment history
Location of residence
Any interest rate being charged
Child/family support obligations or rental agreements
Certain types of inquiries on your credit report like account review inquiries, employment inquiries, promotional inquiries from credit companies, etc.
Whether a consumer is participating in credit counseling of any kind
Know how to check your credit report and how to get information about improving your credit-based insurance score. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003 (FACT Act)* allows consumers to obtain a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies (Equifax >, Experian > and TransUnion >). You can go to www.annualcreditreport.com to check all three reports annually without paying a fee or being asked to buy other products. If you find errors on your credit report, contact the credit reporting company to have them corrected; errors could affect your credit-based insurance score.
Many insurers will reconsider a change in premium if a policyholder experienced an extraordinary life circumstance like a catastrophic event, job loss or serious illness.
TOP THREE THINGS TO REMEMBER
Not all states allow the use of credit-based insurance scores in determining premiums. Some states only allow it as one factor for property insurance like auto and homeowners insurance. Other states allow it to be used with any type of insurance.
Generally, five different factors are used to determine your credit-based insurance score: payment history, outstanding debt, credit history length, pursuit of new credit and credit mix.
You can improve your credit-based insurance score. Make payments on time. Pay bills, taxes and fines/fees as agreed. If you are behind on payments, catch up and stay current. Keep balances on credit cards as low as possible.
DOES YOUR VEHICLE HAVE THE RIGHT PROTECTIONS?
Best practices for buying auto insurance
From cavemen to geckos, you have probably seen dozens of ads for auto insurance, but do you know what to consider when buying a policy? It’s important to understand what your insurance will cover and how to protect yourself.
Who needs auto insurance? Everyone who owns a car should purchase auto insurance so they are covered for property damage, medical bills, and legal costs. Most states require the owner of a vehicle to purchase insurance or provide proof of financial responsibility.
Components of an auto policy: It’s important to understand your policy.
Declarations/information page includes all information about your policy such as the policy number, effective dates, the cars covered, any loans, coverages, limits and deductibles, your premium, risks and discounts, as well as contact details for your company and agent.
Personal auto policy or policy form features specifics about what is covered, the conditions of the policy and any exclusions.
Coverage options for your car: When it comes to protecting your own vehicle and occupants, here are some basics.
Collision coverage pays for physical damage to your car as a result of your auto colliding with an object, such as another car or a tree.
Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your auto from almost all other losses other than collision. These may include theft, fire, vandalism, falling objects or animal damage.
Optional coverages include anything from rental car coverage to towing services. AAA or other memberships may already include some of these coverages.
Medical Payment Coverage (MPC) pays for the medical and/or funeral expenses for you or others injured or killed in an accident while riding in or driving your automobile. This coverage also often extends to pedestrians.
Rental reimbursement coverage or transportation expenses pays for a rental car if your vehicle is damaged by a covered loss. This coverage is usually purchased with a daily and total maximum. For example, $20 per day up to a total of $600.
Towing or emergency road service coverage pays the cost of towing your car to a repair shop.
Liability coverage: Most policies contain three major parts related to liability to other vehicles and people.
Bodily injury liability insurance does not protect you or your car directly. If you cause an accident in which other people are injured due to your negligence, this insurance protects you against their claims for damages.
Property damage liability insurance pays for any damage you cause to the property of others, like another vehicle, fence, or tree caused by a collision.
Uninsured motorist coverage provides coverage for injury or property damage if you are injured by a hit-and-run driver or a driver who does not have auto liability insurance.
Determine your deductible: A deductible is the amount of money you agree to pay prior to the insurance company making any payment on a loss. Typical deductible amounts are $250, $500 and $1000. Generally, the higher the deductible, the lower the policy premium.
Shopping for auto insurance online: It can be confusing to shop for insurance online. Some websites will send the information to an agent in your area to quote and write the policy. Not all websites provide immediate quotes. In some cases, a company representative will call to confirm the information before providing a rate. In this case ask to have the information emailed for your records. When shopping online, keep in mind:
All quotes may not have matching coverages/limits—if so, contact the companies and ask for a revised estimate using matching coverages/limits.
Some websites are authorized to make coverage available immediately, while others cannot, even if you have made a premium payment.
Once you have made a payment for the policy, you should have access to a temporary identification card to keep in your car. Permanent cards and a copy of the policy should come in the mail within 60 days.
Information to disclose to the insurer:
Drivers/Operators. Include all drivers. If you fail to include household drivers and they are behind the wheel in an accident, the company could cancel, decide not to renew your coverage or charge additional premiums. If you drive commercially, such as for a ride-sharing service, you should disclose this to your insurer to make sure you are properly covered.
Driving Record. Generally, insurance companies ask for three years of driving history and will use a Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) to check the driving records of all named drivers. Some companies rate your premium by measuring at-fault accidents and traffic violations (often called risk classification factors). Check all quotes for discounts or surcharges based on driving history and risk classification factors.
Credit Rating. In most states it is legal for insurers to use credit-based insurance scores as a risk classification factor in pricing a policy. Review your credit reports for errors before getting a quote.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
Do your research: The lowest quote may not always be the best choice. Before making a payment, do your homework. Talk with friends and family about their auto insurance experiences. Check with the Wyoming Department of Insurance to verify that the company and agent (if you are dealing with one) are licensed in your state. You should also inquire about complaints made against the company.
Carefully review the information on the declaration page:
Personal Information. Verify all information on the policy is correct. Parking your car in a garage, or even parking it off the street can mean lower premiums.
Year, Make, Model, Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). How much you pay is based on the car you drive, so make sure this information is accurate. If not, it could cause problems if you file a claim.
Lienholder Information. If you obtained a loan to purchase your car, the lienholder should be listed on the policy. If you have paid off the loan, call to have the lienholder removed.
Collision. The higher your deductible, the lower your premium. Since this is the amount you have to pay if the car is damaged in an accident, make sure you will be comfortable paying the amount.
Comprehensive. It is possible that removing the comprehensive and/or collision coverage from a policy could save some money. Before you decide to cancel comprehensive coverage weigh the value of the car and the cost to replace or repair it against what you would save.
Discounts. Check the list of discounts to see what is included in your overall premium.
THREE THINGS TO REMEMBER
1. Research the types of coverage offered and what is required in your state.
2. Regularly review your auto policy and make any updates when your circumstances change.
3. Weigh premium vs. deductible to make the right financial decisions for the coverage you need.
Do you know how to use an insurance rider or endorsement?
You’ve just purchased a beautiful, expensive piece of jewelry that you want to protect if lost, damaged or stolen. So, you ask your insurance agent to add a condition to your home insurance policy. As a small business owner, you make an addition to your insurance policy that would exclude or eliminate coverage for your company’s particular type of risk. These examples require changing your current, existing insurance policy; you can do that with an endorsement. An endorsement, also known as a rider, adds, deletes, excludes or changes insurance coverage to increase coverage by way of an endorsement/rider. The endorsement/rider takes precedence over the standard limits of coverage over the original agreement or policy.
How an insurance endorsement/rider works. An insurance endorsement/rider is an amendment to an existing insurance contract that changes the original policy’s terms. An endorsement/rider can be issued at the time of purchase, mid-term or at renewal time. An endorsement may affect insurance premiums, and premiums may change as a result.
You can have an endorsement/rider on your homeowners and renter’s policy, life insurance, and auto insurance policies. Endorsements/riders may include adding or deleting people and locations to your current insurance policy. Endorsements/riders are important because they address issues or items not included in the original contract or policy.
Additional Coverage - An endorsement that adds or includes coverage that would otherwise be excluded.
Exclusions - Some endorsements exclude coverage for certain types of claims.
Modification of Coverage – An endorsement can expand the scope of existing coverage.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
Be informed of any insurance policy changes. An endorsement can vary depending on the insurance company and the type of insurance to which the endorsement applies. If you receive a document stating there is an endorsement to your policy, be sure to compare it to your original policy, and talk with your insurance agent or representative about the changes to make sure you understand them.
Educate yourself on how an endorsement can protect your belongings. If you have expensive jewelry, like a diamond engagement ring or vintage necklace, you might want to consider an endorsement/rider. It will take over and protect these items, where a traditional home insurance policy might end. Other things worthy of an endorsement/rider may include antiques, fine art, and priceless stamp or coin collections, to name a few.
For instance, many home insurance policies exclude coverage for mold or sump pump overflow. An endorsement to your insurance policy could give you that added protection. Many home insurance policies exclude coverage for mold or sump pump overflow. An endorsement to your insurance policy could give you that added protection.
An optional endorsement that protects the rebuild cost of your home is an inflation guard endorsement. These endorsements are common and automatically increase the amount of insurance on your home by a certain percentage each year to account for the disparity caused by inflation.
THREE THINGS TO REMEMBER
An endorsement/rider alters the policy and becomes part of your legal insurance agreement, and it remains in force until the contract expires. An exception exists if the endorsement/rider has a specific or limited-term to which the endorsement is valid. The endorsement/rider may renew under the same terms and conditions of the rest of your policy.
Always keep a copy of the new document after making the policy change that specifies the new endorsement.
When an endorsement reduces or increases coverage, that can have an impact on your premium.
NAVIGATING THE CLAIMS PROCESS
Navigating the Claims Process: Recover and Rebuild
Knowing how to navigate the claims process can help ease you through the recovery and rebuilding process with your insurance company. This is an overview of handling a claim following a disaster.
Immediately after the disaster
Your first impulse may be to begin making repairs and cleaning up debris, but there are steps you should take first.
Before removing any debris or belongings:
Document all losses.
Take photos or videos, and make a list of the damages and lost items.
If possible, save damaged items so your insurer can inspect.
Talk to your insurance company or insurance agent, and let them know you have a loss.
After documenting your damage, make temporary repairs, such as covering holes in your roof or boarding up broken windows. Insurance will typically reimburse the cost of these repairs as part of your claim if your insurance policy covers the loss. Ask your agent or insurance company what your policy covers. Keep a record of all receipts.
Starting your claim
Most insurance companies have deadlines for reporting claims, so contact your agent or company as soon as possible.
Insurance companies often send response teams to disaster areas. Members of these teams can explain what damages are covered. They can also help you start the claims process and issue a check to begin the recovery process.
When reporting losses, you'll need insurance information, current contact information, and a list of damaged and lost property. Download the NAIC’s Home Inventory App to keep track of your belongings.
Auto insurance covers a loss to your vehicle due to a disaster, even if the vehicle is parked in your garage. If you have different home and auto insurance companies, you will need to report a claim with each insurance company.
The claims process
After you report a loss, your insurance provider will send a claims adjuster to assess the damage. Your insurance company will have an adjuster estimate the damage to your property. The adjuster will document the loss with your insurer to determine your claim settlement amount.
Beware of fraud
Home repair fraud is common after a disaster. Aggressive contractors often come into disaster-struck regions looking to make quick money by taking advantage of victims. Do not be pressured into quickly signing a contract or paying up front. Never pay cash or write a check before services are complete.
While contractors may not be required to be licensed, you should check references to ensure that you are using a reputable contractor. Your insurer may also have a list of suggested contractors. You should always get more than one bid on repair projects.
Top Three Things to Remember
Document your losses. Make a list of damaged items. Take photos and videos of the items and save any damaged items for inspection by your adjuster, if possible.
Make temporary repairs. If you have damage to the exterior of the home allowing the elements in, use tarps or boards to make temporary repairs and prevent further damage.
Beware of fraud. Don't be pressured into signing documents you don’t understand, and don’t pay for work upfront or in full until you are satisfied with the repairs.
Coronavirus Have You Worried about Pet Insurance? Learn the Most Current Facts and Find the Coverage Options That Are Best for You.
Veterinary technology is more advanced than ever before. Today's pets receive complex medical treatment like chemotherapy, physical therapy, and heart surgery. While these services can help extend or even save a pet's life, they often come at a steep price. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), Americans spent $16.62 billion on veterinary care in 2017. As such, many families are faced with making life-or-death decisions based on how much care they can afford. To help ease the financial burden of caring for a sick or injured pet, some families decide to invest in pet insurance.
PET INSURANCE OPTIONS
There are several types of pet insurance policies:
A pet health insurance policy reimburses the pet owner for specified veterinary care. These policies typically itemize covered treatments, deductibles (the amount you're responsible to pay) and lifetime or per illness maximums. The cost of the policy may vary based on the amount and type of coverage, as well as the breed or species.
Pet injury coverage may be part of your auto insurance policy. It covers the treatment of a pet injured in a car accident up to a set limit. Check with your insurance agent or company to determine if your auto policy includes coverage for a pet traveling in your car.
A pet life insurance policy covers end-of-life costs for your animal. This can include burial or cremation expenses and even bereavement counseling for you and your family.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A POLICY
Covered Conditions: Some pet health insurance policies may reimburse covered medical expenses for accidents, illnesses, surgeries, X-rays, prescriptions, hospitalizations, emergencies or cancer treatments. Other plans may only cover accident and illness after a waiting period.
Pre-existing Conditions: Hereditary conditions and certain medical conditions are considered pre-existing. For pre-existing conditions considered curable, the company may choose to enforce a waiting period before coverage can begin. Conditions considered incurable such as diabetes or cancer may be excluded or may be covered on a limited basis. A veterinarian may need to conduct an examination to certify your pet's health.
Renewable Benefits: If your pet is treated for a covered condition during the policy term, some companies may consider the condition to be pre-existing and will exclude coverage for the condition when the policy is renewed.
Exclusions: Treatments not covered by pet insurance can vary by type of pet or breed. Not all pet insurance plans cover preventative care, dental care not associated with an accident or injury, treatment of behavioral problems, breed-specific hereditary conditions or elective procedures. Treatment of conditions your pet is born with or hereditary conditions may have a limited benefit.
Reimbursement: What the insurance company will pay per treatment is explained in a benefits schedule. This list outlines how much — by percentage of cost or dollar amount — the company will pay for treatments. You may be responsible for co-pays or deductibles. Some companies will pay the veterinarian for services, but often you'll be responsible for the full amount at the time of treatment and then be reimbursed by the insurer for covered expenses.
Veterinarian Networks: Some pet health insurance policies will require you to use a specific network of veterinarians. Check to see which providers are in your network.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Make sure the agent selling pet insurance is licensed in your state, or if you have questions about pet insurance, contact the Wyoming Department of Insurance at 307-777-7401 or http://doi.wyo.gov.
Estimate the health costs for your animal's expected life. Take into consideration how much you could afford for emergency treatment or a long illness.
Shop around! Compare policy benefits, deductibles, limits and exclusions. If you choose to purchase pet insurance, make time to read the terms and conditions including co-pays, deductibles, limits and exclusions. Double-check the amount of coverage shown in your insurance policy.
Familiarize yourself with pet risk management tools that are not pet insurance. Some veterinary offices offer wellness programs for vaccinations and exams. There are some national discount programs that offer veterinary service discounts for a monthly fee. Typically, you must use veterinarians who are part of the network to receive the discount. Many pharmacies, like those at discount stores, carry pet prescriptions.
Homeowners and renter's policies can sometimes assist with covering pet-related expenses on your property. If pets are harmed at home when owners are following the laws of their jurisdiction (such as leash laws), offending parties may be liable for your pets' medical bills. Additionally, arrangements such as boarding may be covered for pets when a homeowner incurs additional living expenses while the home is being repaired for a covered loss. However, homeowners need to know whether their animal is excluded by their insurance carrier due to the animal breed or aggressive history. There may be an option for additional or specific liability coverage to cover these risks.
Make a checklist of questions to ask your insurance agent or company.
Can I choose any veterinarian?
What is the deductible and copay?
Does the policy cover annual wellness exams?
Is there a dollar limit for office fees?
Are prescription drugs covered?
What about spaying or neutering charges?
Does the policy have renewable benefits?
Is there a waiting period before coverage becomes effective?
Does my pet need a health exam to qualify for the policy?
If my pet has a pre-existing condition or chronic condition, how is it covered or excluded?
How long do you take to pay claims?
Does this plan cover advertising costs and rewards if my pet is lost or stolen?
Does this plan have end-of-life benefits?
Pet Insurance and COVID-19
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. The novel Coronavirus that causes COVID-19 spreads mostly from person to person through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, and talking. In the United States, a tiger with a respiratory illness at the Bronx Zoo, was the first instance of an animal testing positive for the virus. At this time, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.
The CDC and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) do not recommend routine testing of animals currently. If you suspect your pet has the virus, call your veterinarian. If the veterinarian thinks a pet or animal should be tested, they will contact state animal health officials to decide whether samples should be collected and tested.
Some pet insurance policies may cover testing and/or treatment if clinically necessary. However, it is unlikely pet insurance policies would cover elective testing of domestic pets for COVID-19 if the pet does not have symptoms.
Review your specific policy or contact your pet insurance company to determine what coverage your policy may provide. For additional information, review the USDA’s FAQ on Companion Animal Coronavirus Testing.
If a pet or animal owner is sick with COVID-19, they should follow the CDC recommendations about limiting contact with pets.
Top Three Things to Consider
Consider whether you need pet insurance. Estimate the health costs for your animal's expected life. Take into consideration how much you could afford for emergency treatment or a long illness.
Know your options. Compare policy benefits, deductibles, limits and exclusions. Take time to read the terms and conditions including co-pays, deductibles, amount of coverage, and limits and exclusions.
Know which questions to ask. Before you buy a policy, know what is and is not covered. Is there a waiting period? Will you get to choose your pet’s veterinarian?
Whether it's a mini-break or an international tour, taking a trip requires planning and can cost a lot of money. Unexpected circumstances like injury, illness, flight delays or natural disasters could cut a trip short, leaving you with unforeseen costs. There are insurance options to help keep you financially protected
Cost of travel insurance: Travel insurance usually costs between 4-10% of a trip's price. For example, for a trip that costs $5,000, travel insurance could range from $200 to $500 depending on the coverage.
Types of travel insurance: There are several types of categories of travel insurance including:
Trip cancellation. Reimburses pre-paid travel expenses if you are prevented from taking your trip for a reason covered by your policy. It is typically included in every comprehensive policy. You will usually receive reimbursement if your trip is cancelled for: unexpected illness or injury of you or a traveling companion that deems you unfit to travel; hospitalization or death of non-traveling family member; weather or common carrier issues; unforeseen natural disaster at home or the destination; a legal obligation such as being called for jury duty or serving as a witness in court.
Travel medical and major medical. Provides protection if you become ill or injured while traveling. Travel medical insurance provides short-term medical coverage.
Emergency medical evacuation. Provides coverage for services such as air evacuation and medical transportation to the nearest adequate medical facility then home if warranted. This type of coverage is useful if you're traveling to a rural area without easy access to medical facilities. In the event a person passes away during travel, repatriation coverage will cover for the insurer to handle the necessary transportation.
Accidental death and dismemberment. Provides coverage to beneficiaries if you die in an accident on the trip or pays a sum to you if you lose a hand, foot, limb or eyesight from an accident. Some plans only apply to an accident that occurs on an aircraft.
Baggage loss. Reimburses for loss of baggage or personal items.
Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) policies. These policies are more expensive and typically only reimburse you a percentage of your travel costs. The reason for cancellation is not relevant. There is usually a time frame for when cancellations are allowed, and you must insure all of your pre-paid and non-refundable expenses. CFAR policies are usually added as an extra option in addition to trip cancellation coverage.
EPIDEMICS AND PANDEMICS
Travel insurance policies typically exclude epidemics and pandemics. According to Allianz Global Assistance, a travel insurance provider, "Trip cancellations and trip interruptions due to known, foreseeable, or expected events, epidemics, or fear of travel are generally not covered."
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a known event, meaning it is not likely that travel insurance policies will cover changes in plans or cancellations for that reason. Review your travel policy to find out which exclusions apply.
There may be coverage if a specific country imposes travel restrictions. Some airlines and tour companies will allow cancellations outside of an insurance policy. Additionally, travel policies with medical coverage may cover any illnesses or hospitalizations that occur during a trip, but you need to review your policy to see if your policy is one of them. Check the language in your policy to find out what is and is not covered.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
Determine if travel insurance is right for you. Ask yourself:
What are the chances you'll be impacted by severe weather or another event?
How willing are you to take risks?
How much are you willing to pay for a back-up plan?
Do you have questionable health or is a loved one ill?
If you cannot afford to cancel and rebook your trip or your health insurance doesn't cover you abroad, you should consider travel insurance. You typically don't need travel insurance for short trips close to home.
Know the coverage limitations, exclusions, and fine print: Each type of insurance has its coverage limitations and exclusions.
Travel cancellation: Exclusions might include canceling your trip due to being detained by customs or having to cancel due to a work obligation. If your flight is delayed, you may or may not be covered. Some policies only cover trip cancellation claim if you lose more than 50% of your scheduled trip length due to a covered delay. You also must make a good faith effort to continue your travels using alternative means. A "Cancel for Any Reason" policy is an option for broader coverage but reimbursement is usually for less than the full cost of the trip.
Travel medical and major medical insurance. Find out if your policy requires you to obtain prior approval before seeking medical care. Also check if any pre-existing medical conditions will exclude you from coverage.
Emergency medical evacuation/repatriation: Coverage may not cover you if you're participating in an activity your insurer considers dangerous such as sky diving. There are specialty insurance products for some activities, such as SCUBA diving. Be sure to ask about coverage limitations or exclusions before you commit to buying an insurance product.
Don't wait until the last minute: Travel insurance is intended to protect travelers against sudden and unforeseen events. If, for example, you are heading to Florida in two days amid hurricane predictions, purchasing travel insurance at the last moment isn't likely to help you. Typically, if you buy travel insurance after a winter or tropical storm is named, your plan won't provide coverage for claims related to that event.
Homeowners will cover your possessions during a trip: Most homeowners insurance policies cover personal property lost or stolen during a trip. Check with your home insurer to see what they cover while you are traveling. If you have expensive items, you might want to purchase a to add to your current homeowners policy to cover those items.
TOP THREE THINGS TO REMEMBER
Read your policy to determine if travel insurance covers the types of events that you want to cover.
Review the policy thoroughly. Ask about any coverage limitations or exclusions.
Remember, your homeowners policy should protect your possessions while traveling. But if you have expensive items, consider purchasing additional coverage.
WIRE FRAUD AND TITLE INSURANCE
Wire fraud is one of the fastest growing cybercrimes in the country. According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumers reported losing $1.48 billion to fraud in 2018; that's an increase of 38% over 2017. Wire fraud is any event where an individual is tricked into sending money via wire transfer to a fraudster. Wire fraud includes imposter scams, debt collection schemes and identity theft.
Real estate transactions can also be a target for wire transfer fraud. These transactions often include multiple parties, buyer, seller, real estate agents, mortgage lenders, and title, closing and settlement agents. Fraudsters can use online real estate shopping tools to seek out transactions getting ready to close, hack into an unsecure email account for one of the individuals involved in the transaction and use that information to send wire transfer details to unsuspecting buyers. When obtaining title insurance, be sure you are aware of your transactions. Consumers and professionals in the industry need to be privy to these types of schemes so they don't fall victim.
Tips to Help Keep You Protected
At the beginning of your transaction make sure to obtain contact name, e-mail and phone numbers for your real estate agent, lender, title insurer and closing and settlement agent, if separate. Only use these numbers and email addresses when communicating with the individuals during the transaction.
Make sure you use two-factor authentication on your own email account and encourage other individuals included in the transaction to do so as well.
Wire instructions will come from your title/closing agent before your transaction is set to close.
As a buyer, be sure to verify the wire instructions with the title/closing agent by calling them directly or discussing it in person. Email accounts can be compromised so be sure to verify the information you receive through direct communication.
Be aware of any email or correspondence that asks you to respond IMMEDIATELY or RUSH. Title companies will not ask for a wire transfer in that way. Be VERY suspicious of any communication saying that wire transfer details have been updated.
Always confirm receipt of the wire transfer a few hours after the wire was transmitted to ensure it successfully went through to the right parties.
To determine if your title insurer is licensed and in good standing, check with the Wyoming Department of Insurance.
Becoming a victim to fraud can be a financially devastating blow to consumers and agents. Be vigilant when it comes to wire transfers; verify and re-verify the information from trusted sources.