California is a vast and beautiful state with a Pacific coastline that stretches more than 650 miles. With all the benefits this state has to offer, it is little wonder that one in eight Americans, nearly 40 million in all, make their homes here. Unfortunately, residents also face risks that have the potential to destroy their property and financial health. Earthquakes, wildfires, mudslides and flooding are just a few examples of hazards that affect this part of the country. Fortunately, you can protect your property, health and finances with a variety of California insurance products.
Independent agents in the Trusted Choice® network can help you find affordable policies to meet all of your insurance coverage needs. There are currently 469 Trusted Choice member agents with offices in this state, so it should be easy to find a member agent near your home or business. Find a local agent now to begin your search for the right insurance policies, and to start reviewing a variety of California insurance quotes.
Independent Agents Give You an Advantage
There are two different kinds of insurance agents. When you seek help finding the right California insurance, you can choose to work with either a captive or an independent agent. The differences between the two are noteworthy.
- Captive insurance agents: These agents are typically very restricted in what they can offer you because they work only for one big-name insurance company. You will therefore need to obtain policies and rate quotes from other insurers if you want to be sure that you are getting your policy at a reasonable rate. Because they only work with one insurance company, captive agents have a limited ability to customize policies to meet your unique coverage needs.
- Independent insurance agents: These agents, on the other hand, work for you instead of a specific insurance company. Most have relationships with several different top-rated providers, and they can use these associations to find you appropriate policies at competitive rates. They are able to build customized coverage packages in a way that captive agents cannot, and this enables them to create policies that that are well suited to your particular coverage needs. When you get your California insurance through an independent agent, you can have all your policies conveniently handled through one office and one agent.
All agents in the Trusted Choice network are independent, and can shop several insurance carriers to find the best policy for you at the best price.
Find the Right California Car Insurance
When it comes to auto insurance, every state imposes minimum liability insurance coverage requirements on its residents. These minimums are designed to protect motorists from the potentially devastating financial losses that can result from a motor vehicle accident. In California, the liability minimums are 15/30/5. This means that your auto insurance must cover a minimum of:
- $15,000 of bodily injury or death coverage for one person in an accident
- $30,000 of bodily injury or death coverage in total for two or more people in an accident
- $5,000 in property damage coverage per accident
While these minimums may seem high, they are actually significantly lower than the requirements in many states. An accident that results in serious injuries or death can easily exceed these coverage limits, so many California financial advisors recommend that you either purchase as much liability coverage as you can comfortably afford, or an umbrella insurance policy. Agents in the Trusted Choice network can provide you with advice about liability coverage and help you get the insurance you need at a price you can afford.
In addition to California’s required liability coverage, vehicle owners have the opportunity to purchase additional coverage for their vehicles. Optional coverage includes:
- Collision coverage: This provides compensation for damages to your vehicle that result from an accident, regardless of fault. This coverage may be required by your lender if you have financed the purchase of your vehicle.
- Comprehensive coverage: This provides compensation for loss or damage to your vehicle that is not collision-related. Covered damages include those caused by fire, severe weather, falling objects, flooding, vandalism and theft. This coverage is often required by lenders if you have financed the purchase of your vehicle.
- Uninsured / Underinsured motorist coverage: This provides compensation for damages to your vehicle, and injuries to you and your passengers, if you are involved in a collision in which the responsible party lacks the necessary insurance coverage to fully handle the costs. This optional coverage also provides compensation for damages caused by hit-and-run drivers.
- Personal injury coverage: This provides compensation for any medical care necessary to treat injuries sustained by you and your passengers in a collision, regardless of fault.
Cover Your Home
As a California homeowner, you are vulnerable to forces that may damage or destroy your home. Situated in an area of the country that is notorious for its earthquake activity, buildings in this area are particularly at risk. Other potential catastrophes such as wildfires, residential fires and mudslides have the potential to cause a total loss to your home. Fortunately, you can protect your finances and investments with a suitable California homeowners insurance policy.
Whether you need traditional homeowners insurance or a mobile home, condo or even a renters insurance policy, you will want to be sure that you are purchasing coverage that is sufficient to fully cover you in in the event of a disaster. The three main coverage components that make up a home insurance policy are:
- Liability coverage: This coverage provides compensation if you are sued for personal injury or property damage that is experienced by a third-party while on your property. Liability coverage will include any associated court costs and legal fees that you accrue as a result. This insurance also covers you against charges of libel and slander, and some policies will even cover damages and injuries caused by children and pets, whether it occurs on or off your property.
- Contents coverage: This coverage provides compensation if the contents within your home are lost or damaged by an event such as a fire or burglary. It includes coverage for everything you own, including such things as furniture, clothing, appliances, flooring and light fixutres. You will want to be sure to have sufficient coverage to allow you to replace all necessary property in the event of a total loss. Some items, such as antiques, jewelry, and family heirlooms, may require an additional rider in order to be fully covered.
- Structural coverage: This coverage provides compensation if the structure of your home or any outlying structures, such as detached garages, are damaged. Heavy winds, hail, lightning, and residential fires are all examples of covered events that can cause expensive damage or even a total loss to your home. Be sure to purchase structural coverage in an amount sufficient to completely rebuild your home if it is destroyed in a catastrophe.
California residents should be aware that most home insurance companies require you to purchase an additional earthquake insurance rider or even a separate earthquake insurance policy in order to be covered. Earthquake damage compensation does not come standard with a home insurance policy. Also, flood insurance is nearly always excluded from home insurance policies so, if you live in an area that is prone to flooding, you will want to be sure to purchase an NFIP-backed flood insurance policy as well.
A local agent will be able to help you find a policy that meets all of your home coverage needs.
Are You a Business Owner in California?
As of 2010, there were more than 3.5 million small businesses based in California, nearly 700,000 of which included employees. If you are one of California’s many entrepreneurs, you will want to be sure to protect your business with a suitable California commercial insurance policy. Agents in the Trusted Choice network write more business insurance policies than any other brand, so you can feel comfortable turning to a local member agent for assistance with building a policy that is right for you.
A California business insurance policy can protect your small company in a number of ways. Some of the many available policy options include:
- Building coverage: This is necessary only if you own the building in which your business is housed. If you operate a home-based business, your homeowners insurance may require you to cover the business portion of your home with a business policy or by purchasing an additional rider on your home insurance policy. Building coverage can protect your business from damages caused by such things as severe weather and fires.
- Property coverage: This provides compensation for the cost of repairing or replacing your business property such as computer equipment, production materials and office furnishings if they are lost or damaged because of a covered event.
- Lost income coverage: This provides your company with a continuation of income if you are forced to halt sales or production for an extended period of time as the result of a covered event. This continued income can enable your company to pay its monthly bills and expenses as well as employee salaries during the period during which it is inoperable so that the business may stay afloat.
- Liability coverage: When you set up your business as an LLC or a corporation, you protect your personal finances from any liability charges that are filed against your business. Business liability insurance protects your business itself and includes any necessary court costs and legal fees. There are several different types of liability coverage, the most common of which are general, product and professional liability. An agent in the Trusted Choice network can help you secure the appropriate liability coverage for your small business.
Be aware that flood damage is nearly always excluded from business insurance coverage, so you may also want to consider supplementing your policy with a business flood insurance plan through the National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP.
Protect Your Loved Ones with California Life Insurance
On average, Californians live 80.8 years. This ranks the state 4th in the nation in terms of life expectancy. Statistically speaking, chances are very high that you will live well into your retirement age. However, an unexpected accident or medical diagnosis can sometimes cut a life short. If this happens to you, you will want to be sure that your family is left with financial security sufficient to protect them for years to come. A California life insurance policy can make this possible.
In addition to providing death benefits, some policies also accrue a cash value that you can collect at any time if the need arises. There are two basic types of life insurance you can choose from when you purchase a policy:
- Term life insurance policies: These policies remain in effect for a given amount of time, or term. The less expensive of the two insurance types, these policies have no cash value and expire at the end of the term, but they have the benefit of providing a high amount of coverage at a very low rate, and the coverage is there during the years that you need it most.
- Permanent life insurance policies: These include whole life and universal life policies. While the rates are significantly higher, these policies do not expire and they accrue a cash value that can be cashed in or borrowed against at any time. These policies have the benefit of lasting for as long as you remain current on your premiums and allow you to lock in low rates while you are young and in good health.
California Health Insurance
With the passing of the Affordable Healthcare Act, California residents who do not receive health insurance benefits through their employers will need to purchase policies on their own. There are tax incentives to do so and newly-created exchanges and marketplaces allow you to take advantage of group-rate discounts.
Prior to the passing of this Act, many people, including older residents and those who suffered from pre-existing conditions, were turned down for health insurance when they tried to buy it on the private market. If these people could find an insurance company willing to take them, the costs were often prohibitively high. This forced many Californians into bankruptcy when they found themselves facing medical bills they could not afford to pay on their own. The good news is that now, nobody can be turned away by health insurance companies, regardless of their health status.
If you are currently shopping for a California healthcare policy for yourself and your family, you probably have a lot of questions. Agents in the Trusted Choice network have answers. These agents can help you find an affordable policy that provides you with the coverage you need and can help you understand:
- How you can benefit from tax incentives when you purchase your health insurance policy
- The differences between an HMO, PPO, and EPO
- The tax benefits of setting up a health savings account (HSA)
- What coverage is included with different health insurance tiers within the insurance exchange
- Whether or not you can benefit financially by choosing a high-deductible policy
Do You Have Sufficient Coverage Against Earthquake Damage?
California experiences high seismic activity and is renowned for its many earthquakes. It is not uncommon to hear people mentioning the inevitable “Big One” that is bound to happen one day. Earthquakes can be extremely damaging, and a high-caliber quake can destroy homes, cars, businesses and other property. As a resident of the state that is home to the San Andreas Fault, you need to be sure that you have sufficient earthquake insurance.
Most homeowners insurance policies exclude coverage for earthquakes as part of their standard package. Some will enable you to purchase this coverage through an additional endorsement, but others will require you to purchase this coverage as a completely separate policy. If you are unsure about the coverage offered by your current home policy, an agent in the Trusted Choice network can help you review the fine print and determine your coverage. If you are not covered, a member agent can help you find and review a variety of California earthquake insurance policies.
Before purchasing California earthquake insurance, you should be aware that:
- No area in California is considered low-risk for earthquakes. All areas are designated as either medium or high-risk.
- If your home is destroyed by an earthquake, and you do not have earthquake insurance, you may receive assistance from FEMA, but this comes only in the form of low-interest loans that must be repaid to the government.
- California offers earthquake insurance to all its residents through the California Earthquake Authority (CEA). These policies can be purchased through participating insurance companies. An agent in the Trusted Choice network can provide more information about CEA earthquake insurance.
- Mini-policies are available in California. These will enable you to purchase coverage at a greatly reduced rate, but the offered coverage is very limited. At the very least, a mini policy will enable you to keep a roof over your head if your home is destroyed.
- Traditional earthquake insurance policies come with very high deductibles. They are therefore very useful if your home is destroyed by a quake, but not so much if you experience a small crack in your home’s foundation.
You can also get coverage for other property, such as cars, trucks, boats and RVs, by including comprehensive coverage in your insurance policies.
Find a Variety of California Insurance Quotes
Independent insurance agents in the Trusted Choice network can help you with all of your California insurance coverage needs, whether they are personal or commercial in nature.
Member agents understand local risks and issues, are dedicated to providing you with exceptional and personalized service. Contact one of the 469 member agents in the state to learn more and start saving on California insurance today.