Personal injury attorneys from Kansas City to rural Missouri neighborhoods use online advertisements and late night infomercials to promise multimillion-dollar payouts for their clients. But it’s also important to protect the liable parties – with umbrella insurance. The extra insurance that umbrella policies provide can shield you from paying damages that exceed your homeowners or vehicle insurance coverage limitations. Before you start searching for umbrella insurance quotes, find out what type of coverage is right for you.
What Is Umbrella Insurance and Why Bother?
- An umbrella policy provides extra liability insurance, typically $1 million or $2 million above your auto insurance and your home insurance liability coverage.
- If the other party is responsible to some degree for causing the injuries that resulted in a claim, that party becomes responsible for a portion of the bodily injury costs. Missouri has a pure comparative fault law that determines your degree of fault and determines your level of award. The injured party may still recover some compensation, however, even if the degree of fault is 99 percent.
- Typical homeowners and car insurance provide limited coverage for personal injuries or property damage to others for which you or members of your family living with you may be legally responsible. The injuries or damages don't have to occur on your property. Your policy describes what types of claims are covered, and coverage may vary by policy type and insurer.
- Generally, personal liability provides a minimum of $100,000 of coverage per occurrence for homeowners insurance. Also, unlike other types of property coverage, there is no deductible for personal liability or medical payments coverage. Missouri motorists are required to carry a minimum of $25,000 in personal liability coverage. You might consider buying umbrella insurance that provides additional personal liability coverage in excess of your homeowners and vehicle coverage. As multimillion-dollar lawsuits become more common, increasing your protection becomes vital.
- In most incidents, Missouri residents have five years to file their injury case, leaving the liable party in a state of uncertainty. Umbrella insurance can give you peace of mind while the case is in the claims process.
Protection Beyond the Common
Dozens of Missouri law firms are dedicated to fighting for the highest settlements possible for their personal injury clients. Consider the following scenarios where umbrella insurance would have been helpful:
- Kansas City, MO, attorneys Monsees & Meyer won a case involving an inexperienced over-the-road trucker who failed to properly heed a construction zone speed limit and drove too close to construction workers laying new asphalt on a major interstate highway. The truck struck and killed a construction worker. The case settled for the sum of $1 million before going to court.
- Page Bradley, also based in Kansas City, MO, won their clients more than $30 million in C.W. and J.B. v. Eric Tolen. It was the highest injury trial award ever recorded in St. Louis County. This firm has won dozens of million-dollar lawsuits involving vehicle collisions, some in which faulty brakes or other equipment malfunctions did not protect the driver from liability.
- A wrongful death lawsuit settled for $1.9 million in Missouri in 2007. In this case, the defendant’s boat, operated by a male codefendant on a public lake, struck another boat killing a 57-year-old passenger.
Plan for the Best, Prepare for the Worst
Although a large majority of umbrella insurance claims involves car accidents, the policies offer protection against accidents that occur at your home as well. Many people opt for an umbrella policy because they have a pool or a trampoline on their property and fear injury to their child.
These policies can also offer coverage for incidents you may not have even considered, such as having an accident while you're driving in another country or on vacation and you have rented a boat or other recreational vehicle.
Another important feature of these policies is protection in a lawsuit against you for slander or defamation of character. If you regularly blog about controversial topics or rant on Facebook, an umbrella policy just might be a good idea to protect your assets from litigious individuals who believe you've damaged their reputation.
That may sound unlikely, but it's not unheard of and, in this digital age, it is becoming more common. In 2009, a high school student sued four other students and their families for $3 million because of derogatory comments the other students made about her on Facebook. While the judge eventually dismissed the lawsuit, reaching that verdict took two years and required considerable expenditures by the families. An umbrella policy can cover expenses related to such lawsuits.
Full Protection Is Easier to Find in MO than You May Think
Too many people assume that if they don't have $1 million to lose, they don't need an umbrella policy. Unfortunately, you stand to lose more than just what you have in the bank. If someone falls down the stairs in your home or you injure someone in a car accident, they could sue you.
Your retirement funds, investments, savings and even your future earnings are at risk if a Missouri judge allows someone to garnish your wages to pay off a settlement. In some states, the equity in your home can be part of the judgment, forcing you to sell your home to pay someone who sues you.
If you own a house and have a retirement account or other investments, an extra insurance umbrella policy of $1 million or more should be part of your financial plan. Most insurance companies offer these plans in increments up to $5 million, and some go up to $10 million.
Insurance companies require specific levels of liability coverage on your auto and home insurance policies before they will approve an umbrella policy – typically $300,000 per occurrence for personal liability, bodily injury and property damage liability on your homeowners insurance policy; $250,000 per person for bodily injury; and $500,000 per accident on your car insurance policy.
The average cost for a $1 million policy is $200 annually, which you might find to be a relatively low price for the peace of mind and security it offers.
How to Get Umbrella Coverage
A Trusted Choice® agent can help you find out more about how an extra insurance umbrella policy can protect you from a devastating liability claim.
Contact your Trusted Choice agent to find quotes and insurance options for all of your needs, at prices that meet your budget.