From boating on Puget Sound to whitewater rafting and from climbing the Space Needle to climbing in the Cascades, there is a lot to do and see in Washington. Along with all there is to do and see, there is also the possibility of risk to your home, your business and yourself. So, you should not go anywhere or do anything until you have a Washington insurance plan that will properly protect you.
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Buying Auto Insurance in Washington
The state of Washington requires all operators to carry minimum liability limits of $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident for bodily injury and $10,000 for property damage. These are only minimum limits. Most drivers will choose to carry much higher limits. In addition to liability coverage, a typical automobile insurance policy will provide the following benefits:
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in case you are struck by someone with no insurance or with inadequate limits
- Medical payments coverage, which pays medical bills of persons injured in your vehicle even if you are not at fault
- Comprehensive and collision coverage to protect you against damage to your vehicle
- Optional coverages like towing, roadside assistance and the cost to rent a replacement vehicle if you are in an accident
Getting Homeowners Insurance in Washington
One of the little known benefits of a homeowners policy is that it will pay for the full replacement cost of your home if your home becomes a total insurance loss. Unfortunately, many homeowners do not carry enough insurance to take advantage of this feature. A standard homeowners policy will do the following:
- Cover the home itself, including any attached garages and storage sheds
- Cover detached outbuildings on the same premises
- Provide limited coverage on trees, shrubs and plants
- Cover your personal property in the home and on the premises
- Provide for limited coverage on personal property off the premises
- Pay for additional living expenses due to an insured loss
- Provide liability protection for damage arising in the home or arising from your activities that you may be responsible for
All policies have restrictions and exclusions. It is always a good idea to read the policy. The following are exclusions in a homeowners policy of which you should be aware:
- The policy will not cover you for losses caused by flood or earthquake.
- Certain items such as jewelry, furs, fine art, silverware and stamp and coin collections are subject to coverage restrictions.
Some companies put restrictions on things like swimming pools, trampolines and the breeds of dog they will not cover. If you have exposures in these areas or if you have other unusual property or risks, you may need to buy separate coverage or have a rider added to your basic homeowners policy.
Obtaining Washington Business Insurance
It takes knowledge and experience to put together a business insurance plan. There are some basic coverages that you should consider for your business:
- Coverage on your real property
- Coverage on the contents of that property
- Coverage on property off premises like mobile equipment, goods in transit and property stored elsewhere
- Coverage for any extra expenses or lost income you might have following an insured loss
- Liability coverage for damage or bodily injury to others while they are on your premises or in your vehicles
- Professional liability if you have an exposure in the area of errors or omissions
- Umbrella liability coverage to increase your total limits
- Workers compensation coverage to cover your liability to employees injured on the job
- Life, health and disability coverages if you want to add these items to your employee benefits program
- Life insurance on key employees
- Life insurance to fund a business perpetuation plan
These are just some of the basic Washington insurance coverage options that almost every business needs. Beyond this, there are a number of specialized policies for various other exposures.
Acquiring Washington Life Insurance
There are a few primary reasons you may want to acquire life insurance protection:
- You might want to buy personal insurance to protect your family if something happens to you.
- You might want to add life insurance as an option on your employee benefits package.
- You might want the business to insure the life of a key employee.
- You might want company-owned coverage to fund a buy-sell agreement among the owners.
Life insurance is a complicated area. You may need an individual policy or a group policy. In addition, there are many different types of policies, such as term, whole life, universal life and others.
Buying Washington Health Insurance
With the advent of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the U.S. health insurance market is changing. If you are seeking health insurance today, you have three basic choices:
- If you have health insurance through your employer, you can probably keep that plan. But your rates or coverage may change in 2014.
- If you do not have employer-supplied coverage, you can access a health insurance plan on the Washington insurance exchange starting on October 1, 2013. Go to www.wahbexchange.org.
- Your third option is to shop for Washington insurance on the open market.
If you have no coverage as of January 1, 2014 or if your plan does not meet the requirements of the ACA, you will be subject to a fine.
Obtaining Boat Insurance in Washington
Washington does not require boat insurance, but it has some very strict and detailed laws regarding registration, usage and heavy fines for pollution. Go to http://boat.wa.gov/regulations.asp for a summary. Even though insurance is not required, you would want to get the proper protection before going on the water. A typical boat insurance policy will provide this coverage:
- Bodily injury and property damage liability protection in case you are involved in an at-fault accident
- Medical payments to cover the medical costs of someone injured on your boat even though you are not at fault
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in case you are struck by someone with no insurance or with inadequate coverage
- Hull coverage on your watercraft
- Optional coverage to cover towing, emergency assistance or special equipment
- Pollution coverage, which is very important as Washington has heavy fines for anyone caught polluting its waters
There are several things you can do to lower your rates and improve your safety:
- Take an approved water safety course.
- Be sure everyone on the boat wears a life jacket at all times.
- Do not let inexperienced persons operate the boat.
- Have your boat inspected regularly for mechanical problems.
- Know how to properly launch and retrieve your boat and how to properly secure it to a trailer.
Be aware that some boat insurance policies have usage or territorial restrictions. For example, some policies might limit usage to inland lakes and waters.
Obtaining Washington Insurance
Everyone buys insurance, but not everyone buys the best insurance. You will improve your odds of getting the right insurance at the lowest cost if you work with an independent agent who can access multiple Washington insurance quotes on your behalf.
Contact an insurance agent from the Trusted Choice network today for professional help finding affordable insurance and getting you the insurance you need.