Many people feel that we now live in a litigious society. We hear about lawsuits being filed for injuries resulting from seemingly minor auto accidents or slip and fall injuries at residences. With this trend in filing lawsuits, we strongly recommend that our insureds consider purchasing an excess liability, or umbrella, policy to protect their assets. These would include any homes or properties owned, vehicles, boats, retirement income, etc. Coverage can be purchased starting at $1M in coverage for a relatively low premium and can often be endorsed onto the existing homeowner policy.
One might think that only well-established people would need this coverage but we have learned that even the young who may not yet own any property or have older vehicles of insignificant value should also consider this coverage. In the event of an at fault auto accident which may have caused injuries to others, a law suit may be filed against the young operator with no assets and a judgment may be assessed to garnish future wages for many years. A $1M umbrella would certainly help in such a situation as not only would the settlement amount be paid for under the umbrella but also the defense costs are built into this coverage.
It is extremely important that one protects the assets that could be made available to someone who has been successful in obtaining a judgment against you.
Another factor to consider in protecting yourself is not only to purchase this excess liability coverage, but also to try to eliminate the potential risks for injury. When driving an auto, avoid alcohol, cell phone usage, and other distractions while observing the rules of the road and maintaining safe speed limits. At residences, paths should be kept clear of ice and snow in the winter and smoke & carbon monoxide detectors should be maintained in proper working order. Power tools, weapons, and alcohol should be kept under lock and key and toys and gardening tools should not be left where visitors could trip or fall. If there is a swimming pool or pets, verify that you are complying with town ordinance requirements for the pool’s fencing and gates as well as pet restraints.
It is not our intent to alarm anyone but rather to educate people by making them aware of their ability to keep themselves and their assets protected.