Written by Marty Agather
Written by Marty Agather

Marty Agather is the Vice President of Client Experience for He started his insurance career by filling multiple roles over a 10-year span in a mid-sized independent agency in Chicago, Illinois. Marty also writes for various insurance magazines and blogs and co-hosts a weekly podcast at


I helped my boyfriend buy a car by co-signing the note, but now that we’ve broken up I want him off my insurance. How do I unravel all this?

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that you’re in a messy situation. Even if you have your ex-boyfriend removed from your insurance policy, you are legally obligated to ensure that the car remains insured until it is paid off because your name is on the note. This is true even if you do not have possession or control of the vehicle. If your ex is a deadbeat and fails to make insurance premium payments, |  Read More >>>

How does life insurance work?

Life insurance policies work in the same way that all insurance works: the premiums of many individuals are ‘pooled’ by the insurance company to create a fund large enough to pay the losses of the individuals in the group who suffer loss.  |  Read More >>>

I let my friend borrow my car and he wrecked it. Who pays?

It is important to keep in mind that regardless of who is driving, insurance follows the car. In a vast majority of cases, if an accident is caused by someone who is borrowing your car, liability will fall on your shoulders and should be covered by your auto insurance company, up to your coverage limits.. |  Read More >>>

If my garage burns down, will my homeowners insurance cover damages to my car?

Simply put: no. Homeowners insurance policies expressly exclude motorized vehicles from their contents coverage, though exceptions are made for certain kinds of vehicles, such as lawnmowers and snow-blowers. Coverage for damages to your car, in this case, would need to be handled by your auto insurance and would require that you have comprehensive (also called “other than collision”) insurance included as part of your policy. |  Read More >>>

What kind of insurance do I need to cover my jewelry against theft?

Your homeowners insurance may automatically provide a measure of protection with the contents coverage portion of your policy. Check your policy to see if jewelry is listed for limited coverage. If it is not listed, you will not be able to receive compensation. |  Read More >>>

We recently discovered that a volunteer at our non-profit has been stealing money from us over a long period of time. Can that be covered?

Unfortunately, things like this happen more often than people realize. I’ve seen non-profit organizations almost wiped out because of employee theft and dishonesty. In this particular case, you are referring to theft by a volunteer as opposed to an employee, and that makes things a little tricky. |  Read More >>>

How is condo insurance different from homeowners insurance?

Condo insurance is actually pretty similar to homeowners insurance. In terms of contents and liability coverage, the two products are virtually identical. However, when it comes to structural coverage, also referred to as Coverage A, the differences are vast. |  Read More >>>

If a deer runs through my house wrecking furniture and bleeding on everything, is that covered by my homeowners policy?

I’ve actually seen this happen to people. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. As far as whether or not your homeowners will cover the damages, the answer is yes and no. Your homeowners property coverage is divided into two parts: structural coverage and contents coverage. |  Read More >>>

Does renters insurance cover theft?

Renters insurance, also known as tenant’s insurance, is a homeowners policy for a person or family who doesn’t actually own their home (apartment or rental house). The coverage provided in most renter's policies is practically identical to a homeowners policy, except there is no coverage for the actual building. |  Read More >>>

What is the difference between replacement cost and actual cash value? Which is the better choice?

What this comes down to is depreciation. Actual cash value coverage takes depreciation into account, and replacement cost value coverage does not. Though it costs more, replacement cost value is almost always the better choice. When you purchase home insurance, the standard policy typically offers structural coverage at replacement value and content coverage at actual cash value. |  Read More >>>

My cow got tangled in some oilfield equipment and died. Is the oil company liable for my lost cow?

The answer to this can depend on a few factors. The law, as it pertains to oil and gas protection rights, varies from state to state. Also, liability may be determined based on the wording of your contract with the oil company that is currently operating on your land. When you permitted the oil company drill on your property, you agreed to, and signed, a written lease/contract. |  Read More >>>

Is it true that my credit score can affect my insurance premiums?

In most cases, yes, your credit score will affect how much you pay for your coverage. Insurance companies will be looking at two things when you contact them for rates. First, they will want to determine whether or not you present an acceptable risk. If so, they will then determine how much they will charge for your policy. |  Read More >>>

If I hit a horse in the road, does my car insurance pay for the horse, or does the horse owner pay for my damaged car?

This actually depends on the state and the county where the accident occurred—specifically whether or not horses are permitted to be on the road in question. In some parts of the country, if a road goes through a horse owner’s property or runs adjacent to it, the property owners can allow their horses on the roadway. |  Read More >>>

How does universal life insurance work?

Universal life insurance is insurance that is designed to cover you until death, and thus is one of a number of policies known as a ‘whole life’ policy. Typically, monthly premiums for a universal life policy are higher during the early years of the policy than a similar ‘term’ life policy. |  Read More >>>

If our daughter were to cause an accident while playing in her Barbie Jeep in the street in front of our house, would that be covered by our homeowners insurance?

This is an interesting question and one that does not have a simple cut-and-dry answer. What you have here is an issue dealing with liability, which is one of the coverage types that is included with your homeowners insurance. The question here is whether or not your policy will cover liability for an accident caused by your daughter’s Barbie Jeep. |  Read More >>>

How do I choose life insurance?

Purchasing life insurance is sobering for most people. It’s not something anyone wants to contemplate, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Life insurance can be a critical financial product for a family to pay for expenses after losing a loved one, or for a family whose assets are non-liquid. Life insurance can also help wealthier individuals who want to avoid giving a big chunk of their children’s inheritance away to the government due to estate taxes. |  Read More >>>

If the anchor store in the shopping center where my business is located were to catch fire and burn down, can I be compensated by my insurance for my lost income?

This is a great question and is a good example of why it is best to sit down with an insurance agent who is experienced at dealing with commercial insurance when you are building a business policy. Business income insurance, which is an option with most commercial insurance packages, is among the most valuable coverage options you can buy as a business owner. |  Read More >>>

How much does house insurance cost?

Home insurance costs vary widely based upon a number of variables, including the structure of your home, where it is located, and the cost to rebuild the structure in the event of damage. This can make it very hard to compare costs with a friend, whose circumstances might be very different. |  Read More >>>

If my neighbor’s tree falls in my yard, will my insurance cover any damage?

The sad truth is, if the tree simply falls into your yard, no insurance is going to cover that. You will need to handle the clean-up costs on your own. You can ask your neighbor for assistance with the costs, but they are not obligated to help out in any way. As with all things, of course, there are some exceptions. |  Read More >>>

What does general liability insurance cover?

Every business or organization runs the risk of people suing them for injury or damages that arise from their business operations. General liability insurance, typically provided using a Commercial General Liability form (CGL), is an insurance contract that protects the business or organization against claims for bodily injury and property damage arising from: the premises (or property) the business operates on; the operations of the business away from their normal premises; the products the business produces; or the work the business has already completed. |  Read More >>>

The power went out and my sump pump stopped running, but there wasn't a flood. Am I covered?

Possibly. It all depends on whether or not you have coverage for backup of sewers and drains as part of your homeowners insurance policy. This is a good example of why, when people say that all insurance policies are the same, I say “Baloney!” |  Read More >>>

I live in the hip downtown area, but my auto insurance rates are sky high. Can I tell my insurance company that I still live at my parents’ house in the suburbs so my premiums are lower?

Lying to your insurance company to get lower rates is, simply put, a fool’s bargain. I absolutely advise against doing that, ever. Here’s why: Your insurance policy is a contract. It is a deal between you and your insurance company in which your insurance company agrees to pay for damages and losses for covered events, and you agree to do what you said you would do, which in this case includes living at your address of record. |  Read More >>>

What is the difference between whole life and term life insurance?

All life insurance at its most basic level is term life insurance. Term insurance is simply a year-to-year policy that charges a premium appropriate for the insured’s age, gender, and physical condition. When the insured is young and healthy, term insurance is cheap. However, when an insured is older or less healthy, term insurance is more expensive. | Read More >>>

My business is in a leased space, and the building burned. Is my landlord responsible for my damages?

No. It is a common misconception among business owners who lease their office or retail space that the building owner is responsible for covering these types of damages. Your landlord is responsible only for covering the cost of repairs to the structure of the building itself; you must cover your own business property and can do so with an appropriately-built commercial insurance policy. | Read More >>>

Is homeowner's insurance required?

In most instances, homeowners insurance is required by your mortgage lender. They require this insurance policy so that in the event of damage to your home, they know that your home will be rebuilt. That way, they continue to have an asset to support their loan. | Read More >>>

My daughter is headed off to college this fall. Is she covered on my policy for all of her stuff in the dorm?

Every home insurance policy is different, but in most cases, the answer to your question is “yes, you're already covered.” Your homeowners insurance policy includes contents coverage. Unless otherwise specified when you purchased your policy, this contents coverage amount is typically 50 percent of the amount of structural coverage you purchased. |  Read More >>>

What is catastrophic insurance?

In typical use, catastrophic insurance refers to a major medical policy or health insurance policy. It is in contrast with more traditional policies that cover a wider range of services, since it is only really intended to protect you financially in the event of a true health emergency. |  Read More >>>

I think I want to make some extra money driving for Uber or Lyft. What do I need to do?

As these ride-sharing companies continue to grow and expand, this is becoming a very hot topic. It is important to keep in mind that your personal car insurance is likely to exclude coverage when you are using your car for-hire. This means that if you get into an accident and your passenger or another driver is injured or suffers property damage, your personal auto insurance company is likely to deny coverage. |  Read More >>>

If ice falls from the roof of my home or business and hurts someone, will my homeowners or business insurance cover damages?

In the case of your home, yes. You can expect that the premises liability coverage included in your homeowners insurance policy will protect you from potential lawsuits if someone is injured by ice while on your property. Because this coverage is included with all home insurance policies, you can rest assured that as long as you are up-to-date with your premiums, you are covered. |  Read More >>>

How does auto insurance work?

It is ironic that one of the most purchased insurance products in society is such a mystery to those who buy it. Auto insurance is designed to do two things: pay for damage you do with your car, and pay for damage done to your car. |  Read More >>>

I run a business out of my house. Do I need a separate insurance policy?

The answer to this question actually depends on a few different factors, the most important of which are what your specific homeowners insurance policy offers in terms of business coverage, and what type of business you have. While on the surface, all homeowners insurance policies may seem pretty much the same, they can have a number of differences. |  Read More >>>

Will my car insurance cover injuries to my pets?

The simple answer is: most likely not. While there are some car insurance companies that will cover injuries to pets, they are the exception, not the norm. The best way to ensure that your pets are covered for treatment of potential injuries is by purchasing a pet insurance policy. |  Read More >>>

How much is earthquake insurance?

Determining the cost of earthquake insurance is highly dependent upon the area of the country where the property needing insurance is located. Based upon recent history, it is easy for most people to understand the need for earthquake insurance in Southern California or San Francisco, and that it would likely be more expensive there compared to places that rarely or never have earthquakes that cause damage. |  Read More >>>

Why is life insurance important?

Life insurance covers the income potential of the insured. This death benefit replaces income that the insured would have earned in the event that he or she dies during the policy period. For many families, if either of the wage earners were to die unexpectedly, the lifestyle of the family would change dramatically. |  Read More >>>

What is business insurance?

Business insurance, sometimes called commercial insurance, is designed to insure a business for the risks that it faces in the stream of commerce. Some common risks are the loss of business property such as an owned building, or the inventory or furnishings. |  Read More >>>

Is damage to my personal belongings covered under my home insurance policy?

Fortunately, most homeowners insurance policies do include coverage for owned property when it is off-premises. The amount of coverage available is based both on the contents coverage amounts you purchased with your policy and on the guidelines set forth by the insurance provider you are working with. |  Read More >>>

Does boat insurance cover snow/water damage that occurs during winter storage?

Whether or not you are covered depends on both the policy you have purchased and where and how you are storing your boat. First off, your policy must include comprehensive coverage if you wish to be compensated for non-collision related damages. The rest depends on the fine print in your boat insurance policy. |  Read More >>>

When I was at the appliance store to buy a washer and dryer, the guy offered me an insurance policy with it. Should I have bought it?

This is a question I hear surprisingly often, and the fact is, you were most likely right to turn it down. Let me explain. When it comes to insurance, you should never forgo the opportunity to treat an exposure if realization of your risks could ruin you financially. However, the inverse is also true: you should never purchase insurance against hazards for which, were they to happen, you can afford to handle without financial ruin. |  Read More >>>

How do I buy life insurance?

Hello, Ryan Hanley here, insurance expert for, answering another question submitted to us by a visitor to the site. Today's question is "How do I buy life insurance?" There's really a two-part answer to this question. |  Read More >>>

What is permanent life insurance?

Permanent life insurance is a phrase given to a life insurance policy that a customer buys with the intent of keeping it in place until they die, or until they reach an advanced age where life insurance is unnecessary. Term life insurance, on the other hand, is a year to year policy often used to meet an insurance need during a specific period of life, but may be discontinued after time. |  Read More >>>

What does "term life insurance" mean?

At the core of all life insurance is simple statistics. These statistics, summarized into what are known as mortality tables, predict how many people of a given gender, a given age, and within a given population will pass away in a given period of time (typically a year). These statistics allow life insurance companies to make predictions and set premiums for life insurance policies. |  Read More >>>

Who has the cheapest renter's insurance?

Renter’s insurance is a very inexpensive way to protect your belongings and personal liability. Coverage for $20,000 of your belongings (furniture, clothes, accessories and electronics) could be less than $100 per year in many areas of the country. |  Read More >>>

Does my home insurance also act as life insurance?

I’m sorry, but no, it would not. What you are seeking is life insurance, which is designed to protect the financial state of survivors and compensate them for the loss of income or the value that the deceased provided to the household. Homeowners insurance is designed only to cover damage to property and protect homeowners against certain liabilities. |  Read More >>>

What liability issues are there for me as a landlord if I rent to people with pets?

It is true that the risk of liability lawsuits does exist when renting to pet owners—dog owners in particular. However, there are ways that you can easily mitigate this and protect yourself. |  Read More >>>

Are both internal and external damages always covered by my home insurance policy?

Basic homeowners insurance policies provide a measure of coverage for both the structure of your home and the contents kept within. However, the hazards that it covers against depend on the policy itself. There is no universal answer when it comes to what home insurance covers. |  Read More >>>

If I try to remove ice dams and accidently damage my roof, will my homeowners insurance cover the cost of repairs?

I’m sorry, but it will not. Homeowners insurance policies specifically list exclusions for damages caused by defective, inadequate or faulty repairs; and in this case, your damage to the house would fall under this exclusion category. While treating ice dams is good for your house, doing so irresponsibly is not. |  Read More >>>

Do you need the car rental insurance if they offer it, if you already have car insurance?

The answer to this question is not as cut-and-dry as most people might thing. The right answer will vary from person to person and depends on what your current auto insurance policy actually covers, as well as how much you can afford to lose in the event of an accident. Let me explain. |  Read More >>>

What is liability insurance?

Hello, Ryan Hanley here, insurance expert for, answering another question submitted by visitors to the site to Ask an Agent. And today we're going to answer "what is liability insurance?" Now, an easy definition to understand is that liability insurance is a specific amount of coverage against third party claims. So let's break that down. |  Read More >>>

What is cyber liability insurance and does my business need it? Are cyber attacks covered under my business insurance?

Cyber liability insurance is an interesting new insurance coverage that has only been around for a few years. These policies are designed to protect your business from cyber crimes, including breaches of confidentiality with customer information, loss of data, electronic theft, loss of income due to temporary suspension of business practices, and other related losses. |  Read More >>>

If I hire someone to shovel the snow off my roof and they fall and get hurt, am I liable?

Unless you specifically do something negligent that causes him to get hurt, he probably wouldn’t have legal ground to stand on if he wanted to sue you. However, if he did attempt to sue, you would be protected by your homeowners insurance premises liability coverage, which would cover damages (if you are deemed liable) and any legal fees you may accrue in your defense. |  Read More >>>

What kind of snow damage will homeowners insurance cover? Is water damage from ice dams covered?

Chances are good that the damage you are referring to will be covered. Basically, when it comes to the structure of your home, your insurance will provide coverage for everything except whatever is specifically included on their list of exclusions. It is highly unlikely that snow damage will be one of the exclusions. |  Read More >>>

How will owning or adopting a pit bull impact my homeowners insurance?

Unfortunately, even if the dog you are hoping to adopt is very tame, pit bulls are considered by most insurance companies to be an aggressive breed. An attack by a pit bull can have devastating consequences; and for this reason, many insurance companies specifically exclude liability coverage for pit bulls and other aggressive breeds such as German Shepherds, Rottweilers and Siberian Huskies. |  Read More >>>

How does car insurance work? Does it vary by state?

Hello. Ryan Hanley here, insurance expert at answering another question submitted to Ask an Agent. Today's question is, "How does car insurance work?" Now, the first thing that I would say about car insurance is that every state is different. Every state mandates different coverages, whether you have to purchase insurance before you're able to get your license plates. |  Read More >>>

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