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Health Insurance

How to determine if supplemental health insurance is right for you

Supplemental health insurance helps pay for costs and services that your regular healthcare plan doesn’t cover.

Healthcare costs can add up quickly and unpredictably due to an illness or injury. Regular health insurance policies do not necessarily cover all potential costs, including out-of-network charges, deductibles and copays, to name a few. In fact, a 2020 survey of insured American adults found that a third of respondents had received at least one unexpected medical bill in the previous two years.
Unanticipated medical costs can really stretch your monthly budget. Supplemental health insurance, also known as secondary health insurance, can help close those potential budget gaps.

What is supplemental health insurance?

Supplemental health insurance is an insurance policy that helps you pay unexpected medical bills that your regular health insurance plan doesn’t cover. Here are some examples:

-Unexpected child care – pay for someone to take care of your children while you are ill or in the hospital;

-Pet care – keep your pets active even if your injury or illness makes it impossible to take them for walks yourself;

-Meals – if you are unable to cook, you could use part of your benefit to have food delivered to your home;

-Home maintenance – make sure the lawn gets mowed or the snow gets shoveled when you can’t do it yourself;

-Transportation – pay for gas or even airfare and parking if you need to travel to see a specialist or make regular trips to a clinic;

-Deductibles and co-insurance amounts – help pay for deductibles not covered by your primary health insurance plan;

-Private room and private duty nurse fees;

-Outpatient surgery; and

-Emergency room visits.

Things to consider with supplemental health insurance

As you think about getting additional health insurance, begin by reviewing your current policies, including policies that cover partners/spouses and children. The key is to make sure that you’re complementing — not duplicating — your primary health insurance.

Learn more

There’s a lot to understand about supplemental health insurance, and we want to make sure you have the information you need to make informed decisions. We encourage you to learn more and discuss your unique needs with your local State Farm® agent.

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Health Insurance

Understanding health insurance exchanges

If your health insurance isn’t covered through an employer, you could get coverage through a marketplace.
As the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) went into effect, one significant change arose in the way consumers can obtain health insurance. If a worker’s employer does not offer a health care plan, he or she can buy it directly from a Health Insurance Exchange (HIX).

 

What is an insurance exchange?

These are transparent marketplaces that allow consumers in each state — as well as small businesses (those with 100 or fewer employees) — to compare and shop among affordable, quality health insurance options.

Who offers the exchanges?

HIXs are offered through state and federal government entities, and are subject to state regulation, standardization and oversight. The insurance plans offered within the exchanges will be from private insurers.

What are the advantages?

The Department of Health and Human Services lists these advantages for consumers:
 
Lower costs: Due to increased competition and pooled resources, small businesses, individuals, and families can purchase insurance at rates similar to what large businesses enjoy today.
One-stop shopping: The exchanges give consumers tools to effectively compare benefits, pricing, and quality.
Greater benefits and protection: Exchanges give families and small businesses access to plans offering high quality benefits. Tax credits and reduced cost sharing may also be possible, depending on a person’s income.
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Health Insurance

What is a group health insurance plan?

Employer provided group insurance health plans offer lower cost insurance for employees since the employer pays a portion of the premium.

Employer-paid premiums for employee medical insurance are deductible by the company whether the coverage is under a group policy or individual policies. See Reg. Sec. 1.162-10(a).

The employee need not report the amount paid by the employer as current income. See IRC Sec. 106

When an employee pays the premium and is then reimbursed by the employer, the amount received is not included in the employee’s gross income. See Reg. Sec. 1.106-1.

Benefits paid under the insurance plan, which reimburse the employee for payments made for hospital, surgical or other medical expenses, are not included in the employee’s gross income.

Group medical plans are an attractive fringe benefit because personally paid medical insurance premiums and qualified medical expenses are only deductible when they exceed 7.5% of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income. See IRC Sec. 213.

Self-insured medical reimbursement plans which favor employees who are officers, shareholders or highly-paid employees may not qualify for the above tax benefits.

The Code sets certain eligibility requirements for self-insured plans, similar to those applied in qualified retirement plans, which are designed to discourage discrimination. See IRC Sec. 105(h).

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, signed into law on August 21, 1996, expanded the availability of coverage under group health plans. Effective with plan years beginning after June 30, 1997, the Act:

-Limits exclusions for pre-existing conditions.

-Prohibits discrimination in eligibility or premiums solely on the basis of an individual’s health situation.

-Guarantees renewability for those employers with group health plans.

-Provides penalties for employers who do not comply with the law.

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Health Insurance

Types of health insurance

Understanding health insurance types can help you choose the plan that’s best for your situation.

Health insurance is not one-size-fits-all, and the number of options reflects that. But how do you narrow down what’s best for you from all the types of health insurance?
First, know what you’re looking for: There are both health insurance categories and health insurance types, and most people need to pick one of each. Health insurance categories refer to how you and your plan share costs, and health insurance types determine how you can use that coverage. Here’s a review.

Health insurance categories: Determine your insurance coverage

The key categories of health insurance are often divided into five groups. Each group is distinguished by a different ratio of financial responsibility between the insurer and the insured. The categories are:

-Bronze: Insurance pays 60 percent; you pay 40 percent.

-Silver: Insurance pays 70 percent; you pay 30 percent.

-Gold: Insurance pays 80 percent; you pay 20 percent.

-Platinum: Insurance pays 90 percent; you pay 10 percent.

-Catastrophic: Insurance pays 100 percent after you meet a high deductible. You have to be under age 30 to enroll.

The more insurance pays for medical expenses, the higher the monthly premium. Some people opt for a category such as Bronze or Catastrophic if they don’t anticipate many medical expenses. For those who frequently visit the doctor, foresee a big medical event or require a number of medications, a category such as Silver, Gold or Platinum may be a better fit.

Health insurance types: Determine your insurance use

There are also five main types of health insurance plans. They differ primarily in the doctors that you can see and the types of medical care that are covered. The health insurance types are:

1. Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)

HMOs usually limit coverage to a specific network of doctors you must use in order for the costs to be included in the plan. You establish a relationship with a primary care physician (PCP), and you must get a referral from your PCP to see a specialist in order for the costs to be included in the plan. Out-of-network emergencies are covered at networks costs, but any other out-of-network medical expenses are 100 percent your responsibility.

2. Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)

A PPO is a type of health plan where you pay less if you use providers in the plan’s network and doesn’t require a referral to see a specialist. You can use doctors, hospitals and providers outside of the network without a referral for an additional cost.

3. Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO)

Similar to an HMO, you have to pay full cost for out-of-network services (except emergencies), but you may have more in-network options and you don’t need referrals for specialists.

4. Point of Service (POS)

With a POS plan you pay less if you use doctors, hospitals and other health care providers that belong to the plan’s network. POS plans require you to get a referral from your primary care doctor in order to see a specialist.

5. High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP)

An HDHP has a higher deductible than a traditional insurance plan and higher yearly out-of-pocket expenses. HDHPs can be combined with a Health Savings Account (HSA), allowing you to pay for certain medical expenses with money free from federal taxes.

Regardless of the plan type you choose, all plans must cover 10 essential health benefits: outpatient care, emergency services, hospitalization, pregnancy and newborn care, mental health and substance abuse services, prescription drugs, rehabilitative services, lab services, preventive care and pediatric care.

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Health Insurance

Health insurance during and following COVID-19

How health insurance changes due to COVID-19 may affect you.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many of us to take a closer look at our health insurance needs and to try to figure out whether our current coverage adequately meets those needs. If you find yourself evaluating your health plan, know that there have been health insurance changes due to COVID-19.

Coverage for COVID-19 testing and vaccines

If you need care as the result of contracting COVID-19, special rules may affect what you are responsible for covering. In March of 2020, Congress passed the CARES Act, which eliminated the cost sharing of some services such as testing and vaccines. Under the law, insurance companies must generally cover the cost of testing — meaning you pay nothing. Vaccines, too, must be provided free of charge. And if you don’t have insurance, you can receive COVID-19 care for free if your provider bills the government.

Have you lost health insurance coverage because of a job loss?

The COBRA law allows you to continue on your former employer’s plan for up to 18 months (provided you cover the full premium). You may also meet requirements for Medicaid, and if you have children, they could qualify for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Additionally, affordable health insurance coverage is available through the health insurance marketplace, and financial assistance to subsidize monthly premiums may be available to those who qualify.

Assess your health insurance coverage

To make sure your health care needs are met, take a close look at how much coverage your plan would provide if you get sick with COVID-19. If you need to make changes, you can start in November during the open enrollment period when you are eligible to make changes to your health care.

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Marine Insurance

Marine Insurance

Risk management that secures marine transport 

Gallagher’s Marine team provides specialized expertise, foresight and knowledge of the current risks and future opportunities in the marine industry to manage your risk and develop alternative financing.

Maritime insurance and risk management specialists

We have extensive experience in all classes of tonnage including tanker, bulk carriers, offshore and tug and barge. We partner with you to design customized insurance and risk management programs including cost effective risk transfer systems, loss control programs and a seamless claims processing system.

Highlights of our coverages include:

-Cargo
-Hull and machinery
-Marine Liabilities
-Protection and kidnap and ransom indemnity
-Specialty Risks
-Leading industry expertise

Only Gallagher brings together a group of subject matter experts from all aspects of the marine industry. Our team includes marine underwriters, attorneys, a former contract oil analyst, and the former head of marine claims for CNA. We leverage our extensive industry experience to spot and analyze industry and market trends to bring solutions that are derived from real time market intelligence. This gives you a competitive advantage when making decisions in all matters relating to risk management.

Access to an elite network of markets

Our long-term relationships with underwriters, P & I clubs and correspondents, enable us to closely monitor products and capabilities throughout the global marine insurance market. This gives us the ability to advocate for you personally with the top marine insurance carriers negotiate more competitive pricing for your entire risk portfolio.

One contact, a whole team

At Gallagher, we build such strong relationships with you we become an extension of your team. We are located in all major U.S. maritime trading cities including Grand Rapids, MI., Houston, TX. Melville, N.Y., Miami, Fl. New Orleans, LA., New York, N.Y., San Francisco, CA., and St. Louis, MO. With leading global marine expertise in Asia, South America and Europe, we can help you. This makes us locally available while having the power to tap into Gallagher’s cross-coverage knowledge and expertise for better overall risk management solutions.
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Marine Insurance

Marine insurance and accidents in the USA – Insurance

Insurance
Mandatory coverage

What maritime risks must be covered under the law and what is the mandatory level of coverage?

The Oil Pollution Act and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act set out limits of liability and require a vessel “certificate of financial responsibility” for tank and other vessels. The certificate is issued by the USCG National Pollution Funds Centre on evidence of financial responsibility from a guarantor (ie, insurer) or a self-insured applicant.

Insurable risks and ships

What other risks are typically covered by marine insurance contracts concluded in your jurisdiction and what ships are insurable?

US insurance contracts include traditional subjects of marine coverage, including:

-hull;

-war risk;

-protection and indemnity;

-freight;

-demurrage and defence;

-charterers’ risk; and

-cargo-related coverage. 

-Oil pollution is a particular subject of coverage.

-Subrogation rights

What is the legal regime governing marine insurers’ subrogation rights?

The right to subrogation exists in the law and is generally widely allowed. Courts sitting in admiralty will resolve specific questions of subrogation by application of relevant state law.

-Marine accidents

-Collision and pollution

What rules and procedures (under both domestic and international law) apply to the prevention of, liability for and remedy of:

(a) Collision?

The United States has incorporated the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea by statute. Separate but similar rules apply to the country’s inland waters. The United States is not a party to the 1910 Brussels Collision Convention. Collision law is based on fault, including proportionate fault, but is different from international law.

Casualties – including incidents causing injury or death, grounding, bridge strike, environmental harm or property damage in excess of $25,000, – must be reported to the US Coast Guard (USCG).

(b) Oil pollution?

The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 provides the framework for liability for discharge of petroleum products into or upon navigable waters, shorelines or the US exclusive economic zone. Generally the responsible party (for vessels in particular, an owner, operator or demise charterer) is liable for damages, including costs of removal, damage to natural resources and property, lost revenues and profits. The act identifies defences to liability, including acts of god, war and acts of third parties.

Responding to oil pollution is primarily the responsibility of the USCG. Its National Response Centre is the point of contact for reporting oil spills.

The USCG aggressively enforces criminal laws against the discharge of oily waste water (‘magic pipe cases’) and related record-keeping violations, and maintains a whistle-blower bounty programme to encourage the reporting of discharge violations.

(c) Other environmental damage caused by a ship?

The United States has ratified the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL 73/78) and its annexes, excluding Annex IV. The Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships implements MARPOL and its annexes. This act applies to vessels in US waters and US-flagged ships worldwide. The USCG and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are the principal agencies involved in rulemaking and enforcement under US environmental laws. 

The United States maintains International Maritime Organisation (IMO) designated emission control areas – implementing MARPOL Annex VI – that apply sulphur fuel and engine nitrogen oxide standards to vessels operating off the United States, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

The United States is not a signatory to the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention. However, USCG regulations govern ballast water management and generally prohibit ballast water discharge into US waters. The United States has not yet approved ballast water treatment systems and is not in accord with other IMO member states on standards for such systems.

The United States is not a party to MARPOL Annex IV regulating sewage discharges. However, ocean-going vessels operating in US navigable waters which are registered in foreign countries may be subject to Annex IV requirements. The Clean Water Act and related regulations and programmes govern sewage discharge. 

Solid waste discharge is governed by the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act and federal regulations. Hazardous waste management and disposal can be subject to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Clean Water Act, as well as federal regulations. Grey-water discharge is also regulated by the EPA. 

Vessel owners and operators meeting certain requirements may elect to follow the discharge requirements of the EPA’s Vessel General Permit for Discharges Incidental to the Normal Operation of Vessels, which covers 27 types of discharge (excluding sewage, oil, garbage and certain others). The permit is subject to forthcoming updates by the EPA.

Chemical releases are reported to the National Response Centre.

Salvage

What is the legal regime governing salvage and general average?

The United States is a party to the 1910 Brussels Salvage Convention and the 1989 Salvage Convention. However, salvage cases are usually decided under principles of the general maritime law. Federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over salvage cases brought in rem. 

The law recognises two types of salvage: pure and contract. ‘Pure salvage’ is the salvage of property exposed to a marine peril, where the salvage service is voluntary and successful in whole or in part. Salvage awards are based on numerous factors, including the degree of peril. ‘Contract salvage’ is as described and courts will generally enforce a salvage contract that was fairly bargained for. Finds (ie, the salvage of abandoned vessels) may be subject to federal law protecting archaeological remains and defining ownership of shipwrecks. 

General average is recognised within the general maritime law and is not statutory. The York-Antwerp Rules are generally inserted into bills of lading and charterparties. Bills of lading and other contracts of carriage often contain a ‘Jason’ or ‘New Jason’ clause which provides that the carrier is entitled to a general average contribution even when the loss arises from its own fault, if it is absolved from liability by law or contract in the circumstances.

Wreck removal

What rules and procedures apply to the removal of wrecks in your jurisdiction?

Federal statutes and regulations, including the Wreck Removal Act of 1889 and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, apply to the removal of wrecks and associated environmental concerns. 

Under what circumstances can the authorities order removal of wreckage?

The owner, lessee or operator of a wrecked vessel located in navigable waters has strict duties under the Wreck Removal Act to mark and then promptly remove the wreck (in consultation with the USCG and the Army Corps of Engineers), and could face civil or criminal liability for failure to do so. Casualty reports must, in certain circumstances, be filed with the USCG within 72 hours. If the responsible parties fail to remove the wreck promptly, the government will assume responsibility for marking and removal, and may then seek reimbursement under the Wreck Removal Act and take other action under related statutes and regulations. The National Response Team has promulgated guidance with respect to abandoned vessels.

Places of refuge

What framework governs access to places of refuge for ships in distress?

USCG captains of the port are responsible for decision making with respect to whether a vessel needs to be moved to a place of refuge and, if so, what place of refuge to use. While place of refuge decision making is undertaken on a case-by-case basis, potential places of refuge may be identified for evaluation for use in specific incidents. In accordance with IMO Resolution A.949(23) on places of refuge, the National Response Team – a federal interagency organisation – has promulgated the “Guidelines for Places of Refuge Decision Making” which describes procedures and processes with respect to incident-specific incidents, as well as pre-incident identification of potential places of refuge.

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Home Insurance

What Does Home Insurance Cover ? -Home Insurance in USA

Your home is probably the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make, and home insurance gives you peace of mind that if something goes wrong, you’ll be able to fix it. But it’s important to understand what your policy will and won’t cover. 

There are two types of home insurance: buildings and contents cover. Naturally, buildings insurance covers the building itself: the actual structure of your home, or the roof, walls, and windows and other permanent parts of the house like your kitchen and bathroom.

Contents insurance covers the things inside your home, like your television and jewellery.

You can choose to have either type of home insurance without the other, but if you’re a homeowner, you probably have both. If you’re a tenant, buildings insurance will be your landlord’s responsibility.

What’s usually covered

Home insurance is designed to protect your house from big events like fires, storms and floods. Any damage caused by a significant event like these would be covered – however, normal wear and tear isn’t.

So, for example, imagine there’s a major storm in your area. If your home is damaged due to high winds, but your roof needed maintenance work, it’s not covered because the winds would have highlighted the existing damage.

But, if the high winds made a tree fall on your roof, then your roof repairs would be covered.

You can also cover your building for accidental damage, like putting your foot through the ceiling or drilling into a water pipe. This is typically an optional extra to your policy – meaning you may need to pay a higher premium for this cover.  

Similarly, your contents insurance would normally pay if, for example, your television was damaged by a water leak, but not if it just stopped working. This would be considered a ‘breakdown’. 

You can also cover items such as your television if you accidentally knock it over, but this would be considered accidental damage. As with buildings, this is typically an add-on to your policy – meaning you will pay a higher premium for this cover. 

Single Item Limits

While your contents insurance will include most things in your home, like a phone or painting, most policies have a Single Item Limit for items considered valuable.

A Single Item Limit is that maximum an insurer will pay for one item. If the value exceeds a set value, then you need to register the item individually.  Each insurer will have a different list of things that are considered valuable, but they usually include jewellery and watches. 

Your belongings can also be covered when you’re away from home. For example, your mobile phone and jewellery can be covered if it was damaged or stolen while you were out and about. You would normally need to select and pay extra for this cover.

There is often a Single Item Limit for these items too, so you may have to list them if they are over a certain value likely between £1,500-2,000. If you have anything more valuable than that, let your insurer know so it can be added to the policy, though this may affect your premium.

Add ons

There are a few more things you may want to include on your policy – these may be available as add-ons:

Home emergency cover

This covers all kinds of emergencies, including broken locks, a breakdown of your heating system, emergency fixes to burst pipes and roofs and clearing blocked drains. If you can’t stay in your home while the problem is fixed, there’s cover for alternative accommodation too.

Legal cover

You never know when you might need a lawyer. This cover isn’t just limited to house-related reasons – you might need a lawyer for personal injury or medical negligence, as well as property disputes. Check your policy booklet, but a range of services are generally included.

Bicycle cover

When your bike is at home, it’s probably covered under a contents insurance policy. But you didn’t buy a bike just to keep it in the shed, did you? With Aviva Home Insurance, we offer extra cover for bikes used by you and your family anywhere in the world. Just select your own level of cover between £300 and £3,500. 
What’s usually not covered
All insurance policies have exclusions, and home insurance policies are no different. In addition to general wear and tear, and the optional extras like accidental damage cover, home insurance policies have some common exclusions. Examples of these are:
Frost damage
Storm damage to gates, fences, and hedges
Any deliberate damage caused by a member of your household
Damage caused by birds, insects, and other pests
Damage caused by pets
Another expensive part of your home that may break, but isn’t covered by a standard home insurance policy, is your boiler. If you’re a homeowner, you may want to look into boiler cover.
And remember – many insurance policies are invalidated if your property is left unoccupied for more than 30 days. This is because the risk of damage and/or theft goes way up when homes are empty for that long.

Do I need home insurance?

Could you afford to rebuild your home if there were major damage from a fire? What about replacing all of your belongings if you were the victim of theft? Probably not. That’s why many people decide to get buildings and contents cover. 
Here are the most common claims 1 people make:
Accidental Damage – 107,539
Escape of Water – 61,932
Storm – 29,741
Other – 29,039
Theft – 27,801 
If you’re looking to keep your premium down, you can select a higher excess. But keep in mind the cost of whatever items you would need to replace if something was lost, broken, or stolen. A good example of this would be your mobile phone. Repairing or replacing it might cost about the same as your excess, so you may choose not to claim.
You should also check that you need the level of cover you’ve purchased – for example, you may have legal cover through your bank already, so you don’t need to purchase it again with your home insurer. However, make sure to check that the level of cover you get is enough to meet your needs.
Finally, if you are getting both buildings and contents insurance, it usually pays to get them together, as most insurers offer a discount for combined cover. You’ll also avoid paying a separate excess for two policies, and if you have a claim which affects both policies, it will be easier if you are only dealing with one policy.
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Home Insurance

Insuring your holiday Home in United States

 Home Insurance Plans

If you’re considering a second home in the UK or abroad, think carefully about how you intend to use this valuable asset. To make sure it brings you only peace of mind, you’ll need to tailor your insurance protection to cover your plans.

Will your second property be a weekend retreat, a home away from home that’s frequently empty, or a holiday let? Who will use it? You might be tempted to think that duplicating your existing home insurance will cover you, but it’s not that simple.

According to research published by the Resolution Foundation 1 in June 2019, more than 1 in 10 people across Britain now own second homes, buy-to-let and overseas properties worth £941bn. It’s highly likely, therefore, that insurers will have already developed the perfect plan for you. 

Choosing the correct holiday house insurance

You may be enjoying the view from your hot tub, but most insurers associate second properties and holiday homes with increased risk.

They can be left empty for more than 30 days a year, so are more vulnerable to theft, weather or water-related damage. And, if you let your house to paying guests, there’s a further risk of personal injury or accidents.

If you’re planning to let out your property, you’ll need specialist holiday home insurance designed to protect you, your house and any holidaymakers who rent it. 

Sarah Jarvis, the owner of holiday home business Independent Cottages, also owns and manages two holiday cottages in the Cotswolds. She says: “The risks differ to those of an average household or second home. Guests may not take as much care when using the property, so owners must protect their investment and have the appropriate insurances in place. Not just for peace of mind, but financial support should a problem arise.

“When considering a policy,” she continues, “you should know exactly what risks are being covered and determine what is and isn’t important for your specific needs. It is also important that you understand the obligations you’ll have for the policy to be valid. For example, the maximum period that the property can sit empty and the installation of certain safety and security devices.”    

What to include in your holiday rental insurance

Your holiday let insurance package will need to include more than just comprehensive contents and buildings cover. 

Hazel Garrod, holiday letting expert at FBM Holidays in Tenby, explains: “If you are letting your holiday home, public liability insurance is essential and must be included in the policy.

“Public liability insurance protects against compensation claims made by a guest staying in your property in the event of accidental injury. As health and safety are so important, we always appraise each property carefully and discuss any concerns with the owner before it can go live and receive guests.”

Add to that employers’ liability insurance for cleaners, gardeners and any staff who help you run your holiday let. Again, wood-burning stoves, swimming pools, saunas and hot tubs all pose risks, and your policy should cover the equipment and people using it. 

Inclusions give you peace of mind

To benefit from your holiday home, there are certain inclusions you should add to your policy. You’ll need protection for loss of rental income if your property can’t be let. For example, after a flood, replacement accommodation cover if your guests have to stay elsewhere. 

Insurers tend to identify different types of damage. So, make sure your holiday home contents insurance covers accidental damage, malicious damage and if you welcome animals, damage caused by pets. Unfortunately, theft can happen too, so check for exclusions. 

Water is the main threat facing holiday home-owners, so be clear on your water damage cover. In some instances, unless you comply with specific policy conditions while your home is unoccupied, escape of water claims are excluded.

Again, if your water is metered and there’s a leak, are you covered for the bill? For back-up, add 24-hour home emergency cover to include a plumber.

Why you need second home insurance

If your second home is for your use alone, you’ll need a specific policy given you won’t always be there. This will include buildings insurance to cover the cost of rebuilding your property (don’t confuse this with your home’s market value). If you have a mortgage on your second home, the lender will insist on buildings insurance. 

Your most valuable possessions may not be in your second home, but make sure your contents are adequately covered. And, with a higher risk of break-ins while the property is empty, check your theft cover.

Most importantly, be sure that any unoccupancy exclusions suit your circumstances. Are there clauses that exclude vital cover when your property is empty?

Some insurers insist the water system is drained or turned off when the home is unoccupied, or the heating left on at a specified temperature (13C) during winter. How often are you required to inspect the property? Every seven days may not be convenient.

Overseas holiday home insurance for English speakers

Your dream could be a second home overseas, in which case a UK insurance company specialising in international properties is a popular option. This means your policy documents will be in English and you’ll have access to English-speaking claims experts. We don’t offer cover for property abroad.

Insurers regard overseas homes as higher risk as they may be empty for longer, so comprehensive contents and buildings insurance is essential. In areas with extreme weather and earthquakes, cover restrictions may apply. 

Perhaps you’re tempted to join those who rent out their properties on home-sharing sites, such as Airbnb? If so, you’ll need to inform your cover provider and request specialist host insurance. The good news is that it can be bolted-on to your existing policy.

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Home Insurance

What is the difference between buildings and contents Insurance ? Home Insurance in USA

Home Insurance in United States

It may be tempting to gamble on home insurance, but is it wise to risk your house or possessions? If you do play safe, what type of cover should you choose?

There are three main types of household insurance policy. One that safeguards the structure of your home, another to look after your belongings and one that combines both, protecting you against accidents, damage, theft, natural disasters and third-party claims.

You can buy these separately with different providers or opt for a single insurer to cut down on administration and, probably, cost. Whichever policy you pick, be sure you know what it covers. Fortunately, there’s a simple rule of thumb. 

Generally speaking, things that can be carried out of your property comes under contents insurance. This includes things like curtains, white goods, furniture, gadgets and even the fish fingers in your freezer.

Buildings insurance, on the other hand, protects the fabric of your home, such as the roof, walls, windows and permanent fixtures like a fitted kitchen, garage, conservatory and outbuildings. Home insurance protects both your property’s structure and the items within it.

Home and contents insurance comparison

Your cover should reflect your lifestyle. Do you have children, own several computers, love your garden? Policies vary, so be prepared to research and compare buildings and contents insurance before you buy.

Check what’s included as standard and what optional extras are offered. Some policies appear more generous than others, so make a checklist. 

Marian Hartigan, who lives with her son in Lincolnshire, believes her research has paid off. “I intentionally looked for the most comprehensive combined buildings and contents policy. It seems you can never include everything, but I made sure that home emergency cover and alternative accommodation were standard in my policy, in case of local flooding. 

“As I travel frequently, I also opted for additional personal possessions cover away from the home for my watch, and being cynical, made sure I added legal expenses cover. Redress can be expensive and it would be difficult to estimate fees.”

Is building insurance compulsory?

No, it’s not compulsory, but most mortgage lenders insist on it as a condition of your loan. Again, if you’re in the process of buying a home you’ll need the insurance in place from the day you exchange contracts.

If you own the freehold to your property, buildings cover is recommended as the cost of repairing structural damage can be huge. If you own the freehold on a flat or maisonette, it’s a good idea to insure with other owners under a single buildings policy.

How much buildings insurance do I need?

You can work out how much insurance you need in different ways. The first is to make sure it covers the cost of rebuilding your house from scratch at today’s prices plus professional fees. This is not the same as your home’s market value.

If you’ve recently bought a property, the rebuild cost should be on your mortgage valuation or survey. Alternatively, you can use the Association of British Insurers’ (ABI’s) rebuild calculator or ask a chartered surveyor for a precise figure.

Bedroom rated insurance is another way to calculate cover and this hinges on the number of bedrooms you have. We offer an unlimited sum on our buildings, contents and home insurance policies. 

How much contents insurance do I need?

It’s important you have enough coverage to protect what you own. As with buildings insurance, your policy could be based on the number of rooms you have.

This approach avoids calculating the value of your possessions and offers around £50,000 of protection as standard. Alternatively, you may be asked to choose the specific amount of cover you need.

Your worldly goods are usually worth more than you think. As Laura Hughes, ABI’s Senior Policy Adviser, General Insurance, says: “Spend a few minutes totting up the value of all your possessions and you’ll realise they can add up to a significant sum if they all need to be replaced at once.” In fact, according to the ABI, the average UK household now owns £35,000 worth of stuff 1. 

To estimate what it would cost to replace your possessions with new, like-for-like items, organise an inventory and work out the total amount.

Make a note of your most valuable or ‘high risk’ things, such as jewellery, as many policies limit the pay-out for a single item to between £1,500 and £2,000. List these separately and consider extra cover.

Making sure you have the right cover

When shopping around for home insurance, you should make sure that your policy has everything you need and is within your budget.

The following home insurance options may be offered as standard or an add-on so choose wisely – they could save your day:

Comprehensive accidental damage cover for contents and buildings

Personal possessions (all risks) cover away from home

Home emergency cover 

Cost of alternative accommodation

Legal services 

Special events at home (Christmas, birthdays, weddings)

Away from home cover for students at college

Trace and access for water or oil leaks

It’s also worth checking you don’t already have cover elsewhere, such as with your bank account. You don’t want to pay twice for the same cover!

Another factor to consider is the excess charge. This figure represents how much you pay towards any claim and generally, the higher your voluntary excess, the lower your premium. 

When looking for the right policy, it’s worth remembering that some companies, aren’t on comparison websites. So check directly to make sure you get the best deal.