Most Common Car Insurance Discounts

The reports list a lot of different expenditure categories and average amount, yet they remain valid indicators of how expensive auto insurance can be. It gets worse when driver falls under high-risk category. A high-risk driver is one who has tendency to file claims more often than an average person due to history of recurrent involvement in accidents, lack of experience behind the wheel, vision impairment, and bad credit score. Auto insurance companies see high-risk drivers as undesirable customers. More claims translate to more payout, and this is bad for businesses. However, there are many different ways to reduce car insurance premium whether a driver is high-risk or low-risk.

Understand Auto Coverage Necessity

Auto insurance provides financial protections through coverage. There is specific type of coverage for a different set of perils for examples Bodily Injury and Property Damage, Collision, Comprehensive, Personal Injury Protection, and Roadside Assistance. Some of them are mandatory by law, while others are optional. Mandatory coverage is unavoidable because all drivers must be able to produce valid proof of insurance when a police officer asks for it. Failure to produce the proof is punishable by fines, driver license suspension, and jail time.

Optional coverage is omissible from auto insurance policy. It is best to understand what each coverage type does to help make the right decision. For example, an old inexpensive car that would not cost too much to replace does not need comprehensive insurance. After some thorough calculations, the premium and deductible for the coverage can cost more than the value of the car. In contrast, a new car that is worth more than ten times of the premium can always use both Comprehensive and Collision.

Regardless of the car model, please make sure that all coverage types in the policy are necessary because omission of useless coverage can save a lot of money. A discussion with an independent agent can help anyone determines the right insurance for their needs.

Cut the Premium but Not the Coverage

Not all drivers can afford the most complete insurance policy or need the same types of coverage. An insurance policy that consists of only the state’s minimum coverage requirement costs less than those with some optional protections indeed, but it does not mean that everyone should cut the coverage to save money. One of the easiest ways to reduce premium without omission of coverage is to take advantage of insurance discounts. Auto insurance premium can look expensive, but reduction from several discounts cut good amount of the cost. There are three basic types of insurance discounts: Vehicle Discounts, Driver Discounts, and Policy Discounts.

1. Vehicle Discounts

Premium reduction is available for those whose vehicles meet and exceed the requirement for safety standards. Vehicles with anti-theft and passive restraint system are the bare minimum requirements for eligibility. Some new vehicles come with these safety features as standard options, so there is no need to purchase and install aftermarket parts. Other safety features include VIN, anti-lock brakes, and stability control. All those additions prevent injuries and accidents on the road; auto insurance companies appreciate and reward drivers’ efforts to stay safe. In case the provider does not offer the discounts, consumers should ask for this.

2. Driver Discounts

Eligibility fort driver discounts depend on the drivers’ profiles. It has nothing to do with vehicle safety features. Some requirements for driver discounts are as follows:

· Completion of Defensive Driving Course: the course teaches drivers to drive safe and avoid involvement in accidents all the time regardless of the road conditions.

· Safe Driver: after a period of ticket-free or accident-free, some insurance providers reward the drivers with discounts. The period can be different from provider to provider.

· Low Mileage: in case the consumer allows, an insurance carrier can install mileage detector on the vehicle. Drivers with low mileage means they spend less time on the road, hence low risk of accidents.

· Loyal Customer: a policyholder who stays with the same carrier for several periods can be eligible for this discount.

· Good Student: teenage driver who achieves good grades at school or college is eligible for premium reduction as well.

When life circumstances change, a driver who previously was ineligible for discounts can ask for reductions as long as he/she can show valid proof of eligibility.

3. Policy Discounts

Unlike driver and vehicle discounts, the eligibility for policy discounts depends on how a customer purchases the insurance. Common eligibility requirements include:

· Full Payment: some companies offer multiple payment options. A customer who pays the entire cost upfront deserves a price reduction.

· Multi-Car: a customer who has two or more cars in the same policy is eligible for lower price, too.

Qualified Tax Attorney – Some Simple Steps

Thinking about your future? Or are you in college and thinking about your major? Law studies are a popular choice as it has a vast range of areas to practice in all of which are professional, challenging and financially prosperous. To become tax attorney qualified a general degree in law is firstly required. There are a multitude of law schools available with college programmes providing both on campus, off campus, fulltime and part time courses. However, it is not enough to just complete a college degree in law; following is the five essential steps to ensure you can become qualified and employed in less than 5 years.

1. Choose useful Tax orientated electives.

Electives are the college courses that are apart from the core subjects of your chosen degree. Most college degrees require electives to boost the study content and allow graduation. Being smart and aware of your future decision to become tax attorney qualified means that the electives chosen can be tailored for that specific career, for example subjects such as accounting and politics, both required for tax law.

2. Check if the college has package courses pre-designed for Tax law.

Some colleges will have a pre-set course outline to help you become qualified, saving you the research and choice of subject requirements. If you can enrol in a selected career path, it enables you to focus on studying without having to worry about whether your choices are going to be applicable in the end. Also there is every chance that an attorney orientated degree will have on the job training which can be applied to your resume to help with employment once your degree is complete.

3. Search for tax attorney internships.

An internship is a job that is a traineeship in a specific field. An internship can be undertaken in unison with college studies, allowing you to earn money whilst you become qualified. The experience gained will not only help with future tax attorney employment but also can help you pass your degree with honours.

4. Be avidly interested in all current events pertaining to taxation and law.

Tax and politics are two subjects that are always in flux. This means that it can change and does change regularly. Being well informed of any changes and current issues will help your standing to become tax attorney qualified and will set you apart from your tax attorney hopeful peers.

5. Be Vocal about your career ambitions.

Nothing worth achieving happens by chance or without effort. If your goal is to become tax attorney qualified and employed then at all possible opportunities you should express it. Opportunity to show enthusiasm is worthwhile even whilst studying such as college excursions or in-class guest speaking days; the main point is to be noticed and show that you have clear determination and a set goal to achieve, which will be viewed as impressive.

What To Look For When You Hire A Criminal Defense Attorney

There are many crucial aspects that a person should consider when they are looking to hire a criminal defense attorney. This article will focus on some of the most important aspects a person should always consider before they make a crucial decision that will have a huge impact on their future. This article will give you things to consider and help you understand what to look for when you hire a criminal defense attorney.

Does the attorney only practice criminal defense?

There is a common saying, “Jack of all trades master of none.” This wise saying applies to attorneys. When a person gets admitted to practice law by a state bar, this attorney can practice any area of law they want. The attorney may practice tort law, business law, commercial law, family law, federal law, criminal law. Each area of law is complex and requires many years of training and hard work to master. If an attorney has a practice where they are practicing all the above mentioned areas of law at once, how could the attorney possibly be an expert in criminal law?

Will the attorney provide you with good customer service?

I am amazed at how many times I get told by my clients or potential clients that they could never get a hold of their previous attorney. These people bitterly complain about how they left voice mail after voice mail and never had their calls returned and if they did get a call return it was days later. If the attorney you are going to consider using to defend your freedom won’t give you a direct number to contact them 24/7, ask yourself why?

Does the attorney bill by the hour or bill a flat rate for criminal defense cases?

If your attorney bills you by the hour, make sure the hourly rate is very clear in the retainer. Even if the hourly rate is clear beware! I have heard many people bitterly complain about how they get hit with huge bills that they weren’t expecting from their attorney for what appears to be a little amount of work. If you hire an attorney who charges a flat fee, you understand exactly what you will pay and when it is due. There will be no surprises!

Does your attorney have bad reviews?

While this isn’t a fire safe method to know if your attorney does good work, several bad reviews or a lot of good reviews says a lot about the attorney you are researching. Visit sites like AVVO.com and yelp.com to see what other people have to say about the lawyer you are about to trust your freedom with.

Does you attorney have ethical problems?

You can visit the state bar web page of the attorney you may hire to check up on their ethical or lack of ethical behavior. In Michigan, type in the name of the attorney at the state bar web page and it will tell you if the attorney is in good standing or not. At AVVO.com, you can type in the name of the attorney and it will let you know if the attorney has been disciplined.

Finally, trust your gut!

If you don’t feel you can get along with the attorney you are about to give your hard earned money to, do not hire them! You need to have a good professional relationship with your attorney and if you feel an attorney isn’t someone you can professionally get along with, don’t hire them!

Insurance Claim – What Are They?

Your insurance company provides this application to you so you can apply for benefits on your insurance policy whether it is a life, auto, or health insurance. You must file a claim before any money can be paid to any contracted service like a hospital or repair shop for your car. When you file insurance claims the company, based on their evaluation of the situation, may pay the claim or they may not.

When you take out an insurance policy, you must continue making monthly payments to the insurance company. These are called premiums. Generally, these premiums are used to increase the available assets of the company or to settle another person’s claim. Occasionally an accident will happen that can cause financial damage like a tornado, automobile wreck, or work-related accident. When this happens, the injured policyholder can file an insurance claim to receive money from that company.

When filing an insurance claim you will file it with a local agent that works for the company and they have the responsibility to instigate the specific details of the claim. Then the agent negotiates the payment from the main insurance company. Many times a recognized authority such as a repair shop, building contractor, or medical professional can file the necessary forms with the insurance company directly. If another party has agreed to pay for their mistake out-of-pocket or the damage is minor, the policyholder may not want to file an insurance claim.

Once an insurance claim is filed the insurance company usually has an appraiser or adjustor without bias evaluate the damage and determine if the estimates for repair the policy holder got are realistic. This can help prevent fraud by companies who inflate their estimates so they can get additional compensation. Most insurance companies will accept the appraiser or adjustor’s valuation as the last word. There are some insurance claims may not be paid for many reasons. Some of these reasons can include:

• The claimant’s premiums have not been paid each month and they are behind

• Policy may be inactive

• Another insurance company may have agreed to pay for the damages that were listed in the insurance claim. This happens often in car accidents where one of the parties is held responsible for the accident.

• Failure to not be under the conditions that are covered because most insurance policies specify specific areas that qualify for benefits

• If the damage or accident claim was an unavoidable “Act of God” or caused by carelessness your insurance company has the right to withhold payment.

The only way to apply officially for benefits is to file a claim. Until your insurance company has assessed the claim, it will remain as that and not a payout.

How to Choose a Lawyer for a Personal Injury Case

Whether you’ve been wrongfully injured by someone or you inadvertently injured someone else, a lawsuit isn’t an enjoyable experience. It can be physically, emotionally and financially draining. Lawsuits also can take a long time to conclude.

With all the stress that goes into a personal injury case, you shouldn’t just hire any lawyer. Choosing a lawyer to represent you in your personal injury case is a big decision that requires substantial research.

See Who’s Out There

First, do some online research on the lawyers who are in the city where the injury took place. Other than location, look for lawyers who have a specialized field of practice that most closely resembles your personal injury case. In this case, you’ll look for personal injury lawyers.

Personal injury attorneys will have trial experience, negotiation experience, a deep understanding of negligence law as well as a thorough understanding of medical diagnosis’s.

What Makes a Good Medical Lawyer

After you find a list of personal injury lawyers in your city, make a list of what would make your ideal lawyer. Some things you may want to note include:

· Area of Specialty

· Reputation

· Years of Experience

· Trial Experience

· Trial Record

Armed with an idea of how many personal injury lawyers are in your city and your checklist of lawyer must haves, you’re almost ready for more research. Before you start with further research, ask for recommendations from family, friends and coworkers. This can help lessen the workload for your upcoming research by shortening the list of candidates to choose from.

Referrals

Ask for personal referrals. Once you have a checklist of what makes a good personal injury lawyer, you will want to ask friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers if they know any good attorneys. You should start the process by looking for personal referrals because these are the attorneys who usually have the best reputations and are trustworthy.

You should not simply take a personal referral and immediately hire them. Go through the rest of the process and do more research on the referrals you do get.

Begin researching lawyers. Start with a Google search of the recommendations you received and then expand the search to more lawyers you noted are practicing in your city.

When researching, try to use as many and as specific as possible keywords. Typing in _____ personal injury attorney in (city) will retrieve more accurate results than “lawyer in New York City.”

It is a good idea to thoroughly examine each lawyer’s website. You’ll get an idea of what their practice areas are. You can also read about the lawyer’s background and level of expertise on their about page.

If you don’t want to do a Google search, there are many online lawyer directories and databases available. Lawyers.com, find law, and nolo are great places to find high-quality lawyers near you.

If you come up with additional questions, it doesn’t hurt to call the law office and speak to a lawyer directly. You can also call your state’s bar association. For a directory of qualified lawyers in your area.

After thorough research, you should have short list of lawyers left. Set up in-person meetings with each of them.

Set Up Meetings

Before your meetings with the lawyers, come up with questions to ask. If you don’t know which ones to ask, here are some suggestions:

· What are your areas of specialization?

· Have you taken on cases like mine before? How many? What were their outcomes?

· Are you the only attorney that would be working on my case? If not, who else will be working with you?

· How long do you expect this case to take before it is resolved?

· What is your fee structure? Will you take my case on a contingent fee basis? If so, what is your percentage? If not, what is your hourly rate?

· How will you keep me informed of my case’s progress?

· How often do you go to trial in similar cases?

· Have you ever been disciplined, suspended, or disbarred by any ethics committee or state bar association?

· Does your law firm carry insurance?

· Will you follow my wishes as to how I want the case to proceed?

· How confident are you in my case? Do you think I have a good case?

After writing down your questions, gather all the documentation and papers related to your case. You’ll want to take these to your meetings. These can include:

· Medical documents, including bills, diagnoses, and test results.

· Arrest records, issued citations, and toxicology reports.

· Professional opinions from experts in fields such as crash site reconstruction.

· Pictures you or someone else took of anything from the scene of the accident.

· Written statements of anyone that witnessed anything at the scene.

After you’ve met with each lawyer, be sure to follow-up with them. You can ask additional questions that you may have come up with.

After your research and meeting with each lawyer, you’re ready to make your decision.

The Insurance Agency Elevator Pitch

An insurance agency elevator pitch is a succinct summary used to quickly describe your insurance agency, products and services. It should include your unique agency value proposition, and must be delivered within the time span of an elevator ride, in about 30 to 60 seconds. This can be much harder than many agents might initially think, and should be scripted, vetted, rehearsed, and timed. The elevator pitch is a truly important and fundamental component of your insurance agency marketing and insurance agency prospecting efforts.

A great exercise for agents or agency executives is to ask a variety of people in your agency to tell you their version of the agency elevator pitch. Don’t be surprised if the pitch varies dramatically from person to person. Does the pitch adequately describe your value proposition? Does it highlight the products, services and solutions which best showcase your agency expertise? Did the litany of pitches even sound remotely alike?

Some years ago, I met with the executive team and senior managers of a small company, which at that time employed less than 100 people. I asked each of the dozen people I met to provide me with an elevator pitch about their organization. Some people were taken completely by surprise. Others sat and thought, and struggled to articulate an elevator pitch, or even describe their value proposition. The pitches I heard varied drastically.

Elevator pitches are an important digital asset for every agency. They should be vetted, scripted, practiced, and preached. I call it an asset, as it is a fundamental component in the marketing of any agency. And every member of an insurance agency, from agent to receptionist, to customer service representative to executive team should be able to promptly and professionally deliver their insurance agency elevator pitch.

Your sales and marketing efforts are built upon a well articulated and easily repeatable value proposition, which should be a microcosm of your elevator pitch. If you cannot communicate your value proposition in less than 30 seconds, or stumble when trying to express it, it’s time to write it down, rehearse it and communicate your value proposition with everyone in your agency. Once that is done, turn it into a 30 to 60 second elevator pitch. Practice makes perfect, try repeating both of these in monthly management meetings and sales meetings, and it’s important to note that your elevator pitch might vary based on your target niches (P&C versus Group Benefits for example).

Here are a few best practices when it comes to your insurance elevator pitch:

  • Be succinct – 30 seconds is much better than 60 seconds (you may not have 60 seconds!)
  • Create empathy – For example, “We work exclusively with New York contractors” or “we work with trucking companies with 5 to 50 power units” or we specialize in groups between 50 and 150 participating employees”
  • Verticalize – a vertical pitch is easier to differentiate, allowing you to better articulate your unique pitch. “We insure restaurants addressing their unique risks.”
  • Be different – “save money” and “great service’ is something everyone says. What are your top 3, unique differentiators?
  • Transfer enthusiasm! You have to believe it for them to believe it.
  • Close with a call to action – what’s the next step for your prospect

Let’s review a sample pitch, which would run 30 to 40 seconds depending upon cadence:

We’ve been helping trucking companies with their insurance and risk related needs for over 50 years. Everyone at our agency is a trucking fleet expert, in areas including hazmat, specialty cargo, certificate fulfillment, HOS, group health, and owner operator services. Because of our access to extensive markets and deep industry expertise, we provide creative coverages at the best possible rates, and help protect our clients’ bottom line. We know trucking insurance is one of your most important expenditures, and our creative coverage approach will help meet your unique requirements. Can we set up a 15 minute meeting to discuss your specific needs?

Your elevator pitch might be designed to include industry jargon to convince prospects of your deep expertise, it might highlight your most important products and services, your top differentiators, or your service centric approach. Regardless of what your final elevator pitch includes, practice makes perfect, it should roll off your tongue effortlessly. Remember, 30 to 60 seconds is all you get before your most important prospect walks out of the elevator, and your opportunity may be gone forever.

5 Fundraising Ideas for Mission Trips

Here’s the very unfortunate fact – over 1.4 billion people suffer from neglected tropical diseases all over the world. You want to know what’s more unfortunate? Majority of them are not getting the assistance that they need because they’re located in far-flung areas. In a perfect world, non-profit organizations that aim to help them will have unlimited funds so they can go to these people in order to offer their assistance. Obviously, we don’t live in a perfect world. This is why these organizations are scrambling to put together the funds that they need for their mission trips.

These organizations rely a lot on fundraisers. This is why they’re always on the lookout for new fundraising ideas. Fortunately for these organizations, there are specific fundraising ideas for mission trips. But before you use these ideas, it’s important that you calculate how much you’re going to need. The last thing that you’d want to happen is to run out of funds while in the middle of the mission trip.

Here are some of the most effective ideas that you can use:

1. Be specific when you ask.

If you’re fighting for a good cause, you can bet that a lot of people would love to help. They have two options – they can go on the trip with you or they can just donate the funds needed. Most people will choose the latter so they can help and they don’t need to leave home.

When you ask for financial assistance, be specific. Don’t tell them that it’s up to them to decide how much they’re going to donate. For example, tell them that you need 10 people to donate $10, 10 people to donate $50, 10 people to donate $100 and so on and so forth. This way, you’re giving them an option but you can set a minimum donation. This can help you save a lot of time and effort and in the process; you can raise the funds that you need.

2. Get a lot of press!

Try to involve as many people as possible. Write a press release showing what your organization is doing and what you’re up against. Submit the press release to your local newspaper and news channel. This can help give your cause a lot of exposure. Information is power. Be empowered.

3. Use the power of the Internet.

Don’t limit yourself to people located in your area. There are websites that allow you to set up a page for your cause and they’ll even allow you to receive donations online. For a problem as big as neglected tropical diseases, people all over the world will be willing to help. Make it easy for them to help.

4. Encourage people to donate old cars.

There’s a good chance that there are a lot of people in your area who will be more than willing to donate their old cars for your cause. These people have long wanted to discard their old cars so help them get their garage space back. Sell the donated cars for cheap. These can add up to a lot of funds.

5. Throw a party!

Everybody loves a good party. Sell tickets to the party. Politicians do it all the time. Surely, an organization that’s trying to raise funds for a good cause has every right to do it as well.

With these fundraising ideas for mission trips, you can raise the funds that you need. Your trip is off to a great start!

How Can A Criminal Defense Lawyer Help You?

Hiring a criminal defense lawyer for your case is very important. There are no two cases that will be the same. Moreover, it is absolutely important to understand the smallest of details of your case. Your lawyer will know how to take your case forward with precision and how to present certain facts to the court. This is why you must have a defense lawyer if you have been charged with something along those lines.

Why you require a lawyer?

Your defense lawyer can also be helpful to you in a number of ways. Some of the ways as to how your criminal defense lawyer can help you are discussed below.

• Get a plea bargain for you – One of the most important things that your lawyer can do is get a plea bargain for you by making ends meet with the prosecutor. A plea bargain is extremely important as it can reduce the sentence and also remove some of the charges that are against you. Thus, you must urge your lawyer to get a good plea bargain, should the occasion arise.

• Plan out the sentencing program – Your lawyer might be able to work out a sentencing program for you depending upon the charges that are against you. They can do a great deal in structuring your sentencing program in a way that will work to your benefit. For this, you must hire a good and experienced lawyer.

• Show you the reality – They will know how things work in a court, much better than you do. He will be aware of how to deal with certain situations in the courtroom and will be better equipped at handling them. He will inform you of the happenings in the court in a much better way than anyone else. So, you must hire a good criminal defense lawyer for yourself.

• Inform you about the various rules and regulations – Law is a very difficult and complex field. Thus, it might be that a regular layman may not be able to understand all the rules pertaining to the court room. Thus, it is highly recommended that you hire a lawyer who is well versed in the laws and processes of the courts. In this way, he might be able to help you out with any problems that you might face in the court.

So, now that you have read about how a defense lawyer can help your case, you must consider hiring them, should such a need arise.

Six Reasons to Hire a Lawyer

An attorney is required in every legal matter. Two very minor examples, in this case, are – going to small claim courts for claims and fighting a speeding ticket. In many situations, like legal challenges, deals or disputes, nobody wishes to take the risk of going into the courtroom alone. Everyone needs the advice of an experienced lawyer, in order to win such legal battles.

If you are opting for a good legal representative, it should be remembered that it will likely cost you good bucks. But, they assure to help you out of a bad situation, whether it is a divorce, DUI violation, and a lost job.

Here is a list of top six reasons of hiring a lawyer. They are as follows:

• The law is complicated – If you are not a legal person then you may hardly have any idea about how to act in certain instances. Sometimes experienced lawyers do not present themselves before the court. A trained attorney is needed for any legal issue.

• Not having a one may cost you more – A civil case requires a good amount of monetary strength. Sometimes fees are not accepted by many civil attorneys until they win your legal case. Hiring a lawyer can help you to save money as you may also claim legal fees as plaintiff with the help of your lawyer.

• They know how to challenge evidence – Generally, common people do not have any idea that key evidence against the opponent may be obtained by foul means or even sometimes the testimony of a witness contradicts the statements that were given earlier. Your attorney will help you to get rid of these situations.

• They know how to handle legal procedures – Your attorney will help you to file court documents properly. An attorney knows every detail of protocol and deadline for filing any legal document in an authentic way. One incorrect filing might delay or stop your case forever.

• You don’t know any private detective or expert witness – An extended network of professionals is required by attorneys to solve the cases of their clients. Most of the people do not know this type of professionals, in order to fight against the opposing party.

• You do not know what pleading is – An attorney understands the law and can help you to avoid severe penalties before the beginning of a criminal trial. All the details of pleading are well known by them.

It is always a good option to hire a lawyer before starting any legal procedure. There are several kinds of them and you can make your choice as per the nature of the case.

How Much Liability Insurance Do You Need?

When most people consider their insurance needs, only certain types of coverage typically come to mind. Health insurance and life (or sometimes disability) insurance protect you and your loved ones; car and homeowner’s or renter’s insurance protect your major tangible assets.

Personal liability insurance, frequently called an “umbrella” policy, seldom makes this list. But when a rainy day – or an expensive lawsuit – turns up, sometimes nothing but an umbrella will do.

As the name suggests, personal liability coverage mainly exists to protect against claims of liability. In most cases, that means finding yourself, and your assets, the target of a civil lawsuit. A personal liability policy may seem like overkill for individuals who already hold three or four insurance policies. It is true that not everyone needs such protection. But an umbrella policy effectively defends your assets and future income against damage claims that can arise from a wide variety of scenarios. Much like flood insurance for beachfront property, liability insurance is a product you hope you never need to use, but one which can create substantial peace of mind in the meantime.

Who Needs Liability Insurance?

Some level of personal liability coverage is built into homeowner’s (or renter’s) insurance and auto insurance. For many people, this may be sufficient. In part, this is because some types of assets are shielded by state and federal law. For instance, a court cannot force you to use qualified retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s, to pay a legal judgment, and most states have laws protecting traditional IRAs. Some states protect Roth IRAs and other retirement accounts, too. Many states also protect your primary residence, though the precise rules vary; Florida, for instance, offers very strong protections in this area, while other states may only shield a certain level of home equity.

You can also protect certain assets from lawsuits through estate planning tools, such as properly structured and funded irrevocable trusts. However, be wary of setting up such trusts directly after an incident you fear may trigger a lawsuit. If it looks as if you are simply trying to dodge future creditors, the courts could determine that the asset transfer is fraudulent, rendering these assets available to pay a judgment.

If you don’t have many assets outside your retirement savings and your primary residence, then your existing liability coverage may be sufficient. But second homes and nonretirement investment accounts are vulnerable. High income earners, and their spouses, may also want to consider their coverage options, since courts have been known to garnish wages to satisfy judgments.

While the amounts vary by geography and insurance policy, homeowner’s insurance usually includes up to $300,000 of personal liability coverage. Auto insurance typically covers up to $250,000 for each person and $500,000 per accident involving bodily harm, and less for incidents that involve property damage only. Yet lawsuits for serious accidents can sometimes result in judgments or settlements for millions of dollars. This is where umbrella policies kick in.

Most people think of car accidents as the main trigger for such lawsuits, and with good reason, since car accidents are relatively common and can cause a lot of damage. But there are a wide variety of situations in which you can find yourself liable for an accident. You may host a party at your home where one of the guests is seriously injured. Your dog may bite a stranger or acquaintance. If you employ household staff, such as a nanny or home health aide, the employee could sue not only because of physical harm, but also for wrongful termination or harassment.

There are other liability risks that may not spring to mind so easily. For instance, the hyperconnected world of social media creates many more opportunities to libel or defame someone, even without deliberately setting out to do so. Your teenage or preteen children could also create such problems; in a worst case scenario, they could end up involved with a cyberbullying incident or harassment that takes a tragic turn. Teenagers also increase your liability when they get behind the wheel. Even adult children can trigger “vicarious liability” statutes that may leave you personally liable in certain circumstances, such as if they borrow your car and are then involved in an accident.

Another area some people overlook is the risk of sitting on a board for a nonprofit organization. Many nonprofits are too small to offer much, if any, protection for board members’ personal assets in cases where the organization and its board of directors are sued. Board members may wish to consider directors and officers insurance specifically, as well as or in lieu of an umbrella policy. People whose charitable work – or whose professional activities – put them in the public eye may also want to consider increased liability coverage due to the potential damage a lawsuit could do to their reputations as well as their financial health.

When considering the need for personal liability insurance, it is also worth considering the common law concept of “joint and several” liability. In many jurisdictions, a plaintiff can recover all the damages from any of multiple defendants, regardless of fault. In other words, if four defendants are all found equally liable, the plaintiff can recover 100 percent of damages from one of them and nothing from the other three. Many lawyers thus concentrate on the defendant with the highest net worth in such cases, under the theory that this method is the most likely to secure the largest payout for their client.

How Much Liability Insurance Should You Carry?

As you can see, individuals with a high net worth, high income potential or both have reason to worry about their liability exposure. Once you have decided to purchase an umbrella policy, the next logical question is how much insurance you should buy.

Unfortunately, there is no specific formula to determine the correct amount of coverage. A good rule of thumb is to carry at least enough insurance to cover your net worth and the present value of your future income stream. A Certified Financial Planner™ or an insurance agent can help you with such calculations, and there are also a variety of tools online designed to help you calculate a figure. Bear in mind that tools and advice from insurance companies will tend to want to sell you more insurance than you may need, but it can still be useful to see what factors will affect your coverage. Some of these are intuitive, such as your current net worth and assets you own. Others are more immediately concerned with the potential for accidents; for instance, you might want more insurance if you own a trampoline or a pool, and you can expect slightly higher premiums as well.

As with any insurance decision, shopping around is a good idea. But there are real benefits to purchasing the majority or the entirety of your insurance products with one provider. Consolidating your coverage will not only ease the administrative burden, but it will also make it easier to spot potential gaps. For instance, if your homeowner’s insurance covers $300,000 in personal liability insurance but your umbrella policy does not kick in until $500,000, you will be responsible for the $200,000 in between. To avoid this, most companies that sell umbrella insurance require customers to increase their base liability coverage to eliminate such holes. Sticking to one company can also make the process simpler in the case of a lawsuit, since you will not have two separate companies handling two portions of your coverage. And bundling can secure discounts on premiums for your various policies.

The good news is that, in most cases, umbrella policies offer a good value. Since catastrophically large lawsuits are relatively rare, companies can afford to spread the risk widely among their customer pool. While the exact rates vary, $300 to $500 annually can often secure $1 million in coverage. This figure may rise or fall depending on the number of homes, cars and drivers in a policyholder’s household, as well as the part of the country in which he or she lives. However, it is almost always the case that whatever you pay for the first $1 million of coverage, the second million will cost less. If $1 million in coverage costs $500 per year, $5 million will almost certainly be less than $2,500.

For such relatively low premiums, personal liability insurance offers substantial peace of mind. In addition to the product’s basic function, some policies go above and beyond. Extras you may encounter include not counting legal defense costs against the coverage limit or offering reimbursement for public relations firm fees to manage the incident’s fallout. Depending on your needs and your lifestyle, it may be worth comparing features, as well as cost, when choosing a policy.

We in the United States live in a highly litigious society. Some of these lawsuits are frivolous; many are not. The reality is that civil suits can, and often do, result in judgments or settlements that run into the millions of dollars, and judges and juries have no obligation to limit awarded damages to an amount the party being sued can comfortably afford. Personal liability insurance protects you in such worst-case scenarios, even if the court finds you entirely liable.

So while adding one more insurance policy may seem unnecessary at first, for people with assets vulnerable to creditors’ claims, an umbrella policy is an economically sensible way to protect against a rainy day in court.