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Archive for March, 2008

When asked this common question: “how much liability insurance do I really need?” I respond with another question: “how much might you be sued for?”  Everyone knows that protecting the asset base from the threat of lawsuits, however unlikely, is simply prudent risk management. Deciding how much protection is needed is a little trickier. I have yet to meet someone who was named in a lawsuit who was not immediately concerned with whether they had “enough” coverage.

Deciding “how much do I really need?” requires a close examination of a number of issues, which we can help you address. Among those issues: what is happening in the real worldThis link offers a quick reminder that when it comes to what and how much you can be sued for, you never know….

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I was recently asked by Private Asset Manager, published by Institutional Investor, to review the risks that can threaten the personal assets of those who volunteer their time serving non-profit organizations in a directorship capacity. Taking the time to understand the risks of voluntarism is important and often overlooked. Developing strategies to manage and transfer those risks is essential. Click here for a brief review of this topic, or contact me for more information. 

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It is alarming, but true: depending upon where your home is located, your local fire department may not have much of a chance of extinguishing a fire in your home. 

Having worked for many years as a residential appraiser with Chubb, my colleague, Melissa Apostle, provided The Robb Report with several great suggestions on how vacation homeowners can work to improve the response time they can hope to receive from their local fire departments. The article – “A little preplanning can save your home if a fire strikes” – appears in the March 2008 Vacation Homes edition of The Robb Report.

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Or so it was written in a fortune cookie. 

For those with significant liquid assets stored in a wine cellar, careful consideration should be given to the risks that can threaten a valued collection.

In addition to arranging insurance solutions to protect against such risks, we can also assist those with significant wine collections by providing a vulnerability assessment to identify and address the risks that can threaten even well cared for cellars.  Click here for a link to review a series of thoughtful solutions and services designed to help protect wine collections.  

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It is alarming how many people confuse the purchase price or appraised value of a residence with the cost to rebuild it.

The common thinking: My house is worth X, the land is probably worth 30 – 40% of that, so I will insure it for 70% of X, since the property won’t burn. Realtors, mortgage lenders, and tax assessors confuse the issue by inserting their own valuation methods. Since you will want your insurance policy to provide the coverage to rebuild your home after a loss, you need to insure it for the cost to rebuild it, and not some other unrelated value. You should also want your insurance carrier to guarantee that they will provide the full costs to rebuild should those costs escalate.

This excellent New York Times article  explains that ariving at the proper cost to rebuild a home (and securing coverage that actually guarantees to do so) is much easier said than done.

Essentially, the insurance industry takes what can be categorized as two very different approaches to valuing and insuring homes (and cooperative apartments and condominiums). Using the most common approach, you and your agent guesstimate the cost to rebuild your home, and the insurance carrier either accepts or modestly adjusts the result. The downside?  Since this is only a guesstimate, your receive no contractual guarantee that the carrier will pay the full costs to rebuild your home after a covered loss. (often referred to as”the fine print”). The article shares the plight of the many who proceeded using this approach.

The second approach is the one we recommend: have the cost to rebuild calculated by a trained professional, and place coverage with a carrier who will provide a contractual guarantee to rebuild, regardless of any future cost surges. Contact me to learn more about how this can be accomplished.

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Among the common problems I hear from others about their insurance program: “no one ever explained that to me”. The response offered by too many insurance agents: “you never asked”.  Clearly, what you don’t know can hurt you…

Trusted advisors and consumers need to either work with a risk advisor who can help them by providing the right answers to the right questions (me, for example), or know where to find the right questions to ask.

Through the internet I have met an “insurance consultant” in Maine who does a good job helping consumers (mostly business owners) better understand how to make intelligent decisions on managing the risks they face. To generate interest in his fee based consulting services, he offers some of his information for free. With the author’s permission, click this link: “126 Questions to Ask Your Insurance Agent” for your copy of that article

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