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Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Carjacking Can Happen to Anyone

 By Catherine Powell

Image courtesy Pixabay

It's every driver's worst nightmare: You're stopped at a traffic light or parked at the mall when a gunman points a pistol at you and demands you turn over your vehicle or face the consequences.  What you do in the next few seconds could alter your life irrevocably.  For one Jacksonville sailor, the incident which was captured on his car's dashcam told a frightening tale of escape and near death as he jumped on the accelerator to evade the carjacker only to learn later that a bullet missed his head by inches.  Before you wind up having to make a life or death decision, there are some things you need to know about carjackings that could save your life.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Should You Rent Out Your RV?

 By Catherine Powell

Image courtesy Pixabay

If you own an RV, you realize that while it’s a great way to enjoy the great outdoors, your camper spends most of its time parked in the driveway.  Since the cost of financing, maintaining, and storing an RV adds up, perhaps you have been toying with the idea of renting it out to help recover some of what you spend on it.  There's an entire industry that has sprung up to help RV owners rent out their drivable and towable campers.  If you’ve been thinking about renting out your RV, there are a few things you need to know before you sign up.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Have a Great Idea? Insure It.

 By Catherine Powell

Image courtesy Pixabay

If you haven’t noticed, the economy is booming.  While the post-pandemic recovery has put many businesses that were hanging on by a thread back in the black, what’s really been the driving factor behind the upturn has been innovation.  It appears that while the country was in lockdown, the homebound workforce wasn’t just punching the clock in their jammies. Many were exploring other avenues of gainful employment.  Sometimes this meant developing revolutionary products that are now ready to market.  If you’ve got an idea for a better mousetrap and you don’t want someone to steal your cheese, then you may wish to look into what’s called Intellectual Property Insurance.  

What is intellectual property? – In general terms, intellectual property is defined as a product of the mind that’s protected from unauthorized use by others.  As such there are four types of intellectual property that are recognized in this country, including copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and patents.  Once an individual has established ownership of intellectual property, he or she has what amounts to a monopoly over that particular concept.  This is essential if the inventor hopes to capitalize on a product, process, or idea in the marketplace.  Without protection, competitors would be free to use and/or sell similar concepts or products for commercial gain.

What happens if a person or identity infringes on your intellectual property? – Having a virtual monopoly on a concept or idea and protecting one are two different things.  If a copyright, trademark, trade secret, or patent is breached, the only way to seek redress is often through the courts.  This can prove to be a protracted and expensive process, particularly if the cost of legal fees is coming out of the inventor’s pocket.  That’s why intellectual property insurance was created to help inventors defend their rights.  

IP insurance needs to be tuned to fit the inventor’s needs. – Just as there are four kinds of IP protection offered by law, there are four ways in which IP coverage can be provided: offensive, defensive, contingent, or a combination of all three.  Offensive coverage helps an inventor enforce their IP rights. Defensive coverage indemnifies a company or individual against suits from other parties.  Contingent coverage protects against catastrophic monetary losses in any ongoing IP cases.  Since IP rights can affect everything from profits to financing, securing protection to defend a product or idea in court may mean the difference between success or failure in the marketplace. 

What does IP coverage include? – Will the policyholder of defensive IP insurance be able to count on having the cost of defending a claim in court be paid by the insurer?  It all depends on how the IP policy was constructed. Likewise, if the holder of an offensive IP policy wishes to be able to recover costs associated with an entity that has infringed on their rights this needs to be stipulated in writing.  It’s vital that a policyholder understand all the variables involved in pursuing or defending themselves in either an offensive or defensive lawsuit that can involve much more than simple legal expenses.  Fine-tuning IP coverage to meet your needs could prove vital to the survival of your business.  Below are some of the variables you need to consider before purchasing IP insurance?

1. What’s excluded on an IP policy? – Does a policy include or exclude coverage for such things as cross-claims or counterclaims that could crop up during litigation?  

2. Are subsidiary expenses such as storage, transportation, labor, and public relations included or excluded? - Since a judge can force a defendant to remove their products from store shelves while a case is pending, the cost of compliance could be substantial.  

3. What happens if you lose your lawsuit? - How high are the damage limits on your policy? Does your policy include or exclude legal fees should they be awarded to a claimant or plaintiff?  

4. Is bodily injury coverage included or excluded? – Should someone be injured or killed by your product or process, are you covered?  Since personal injury lawsuits involve some of the highest jury awards in the nation, you may wish to make sure you and your company are adequately protected if lawsuits are ever filed against you.

5. Does your coverage extend to you alone, or does it apply to your agents, licensees, and distributors who handle your products or processes?  Additionally, are you protected should your agents, licensees, or distributors breach your contract or try to sue you?

6. Does the policy include or exclude coverage for any alleged bad conduct on your part? – Any such exclusion could leave you and your company toothless should an agent, licensee, or distributor sue you for breach of contract or an individual sue you for product liability.

Just as not all intellectual property is the same, no two IP insurance policies are written the same.  To make sure you're adequately protected,  you should speak to your partners, legal counsel, and other experts before obtaining coverage for the concept you’ve labored long and hard to create.

Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida.  To find out more about saving money on all your insurance needs, check out her website at http://aplusallfloridainsuranceinc.com/


Wednesday, April 6, 2022

How Do Insurance Endorsements Work?

 By Catherine Powell

Image courtesy Pixabay

If you’ve ever endorsed a check, then you know that it gives you the right to either cash or deposit a financial instrument.  In the insurance business, an endorsement provides the policyholder the right to either extend or add to their coverage without having to initiate a new policy.  Endorsements can be used to activate insurance options that aren’t included with basic coverage.  Once activated, endorsements are in effect as long as your policy is in force, unless the insurer stipulates a limited-term or decides to no longer offer the endorsement when it comes time to renew your policy.  In today’s blog, I’ll show you ten ways that you can enhance your coverage by adding endorsements to existing policies.

1. Personal Property Coverage – In typical homeowner and renter policies, personal property coverage is limited at best.  Not only do basic policies limit your ability to get compensated for personal possessions, some property, such as jewelry, collectibles, or art objects are specifically excluded from coverage.  By adding an endorsement, not only will you be able to get reimbursed for losses on such items, but the limit for the maximum amount of available personal property protection can be increased substantially.  You may even be able to choose a lower deductible or no deductible at all in certain situations.  

2. Add to or amend existing insurance coverage. – If you’ve recently married or gotten divorced, there are endorsements that allow you to add a person to or remove a person from your existing coverage.  If you own multiple properties or multiple insurance policies, there are endorsements that can save you money by bundling policies under one insurance provider.

3. Turn off coverage you don’t need. – If you own a condo or townhouse where you pay a fee to the homeowner’s association that provides group coverage for exterior damage, an endorsement may make it possible for you to opt-out of such coverage that’s currently specified on your policy.  

4. An endorsement can turn a no into a yes. – If you live in an area that’s earthquake-prone and you noticed that your policy excludes earthquake protection, an endorsement is all it takes to get covered.  The same goes for flood coverage or coverage for any part of your property that is currently excluded from coverage.  If you want to turn a no to a yes when it comes to having your gazebo, fence, or detached garage covered when your policy lists any or all of them as exclusions, all it takes to add them to your policy is an endorsement.

5. Do you own a home-based business? – If you work from home, your homeowner’s policy provides little or no coverage for your home-based business.  Even if you’re covered for liability and property losses on your current policy, this coverage doesn’t extend to your business.  That means if a delivery driver slips and falls while loading your orders into the truck or your $5,000 3D printer is stolen or destroyed, you’ll soon learn that your homeowner’s insurance isn’t going to pay you one red cent unless you acquired a home-based business endorsement. 

6. Can you afford to replace your car? – Maybe you can and maybe you can’t, depending on the age of your vehicle and your auto insurance policy.  Especially during the first year or two of ownership, a car’s replacement value may exceed what an insurer is prepared to pay should your vehicle be stolen or totaled in a wreck.  That’s why gap coverage was invented, so you could add an endorsement that can make up the difference, so you won’t be stuck paying more than the depreciated value to buy a replacement.

7. Afraid of being hacked or having your identity stolen? – There are a number of endorsements that address cybercrimes and identity theft.  Everything from cyber fraud, cyberextortion, and even cyberbullying can be covered by adding an endorsement designed to protect you from online predators.

8. Do you want your home to smell like a landfill? – Of course not.  But it will if your sewer should ever back up into your home.  Sewer backups are typically excluded from coverage on most homeowners’ policies.  That’s the bad news. The good news is you can add an endorsement to make the problem (and the smell) go away should it ever happen to you.

9. Do you own a small boat? – Adding a watercraft endorsement to your existing homeowner’s policy can cover a small boat for damage and liability whether it’s sitting at the dock, in the water, or on a trailer.  A yacht on the other hand will require a separate policy.

10. Do you own a big dog? – Many homeowners’ policies exclude some breeds of dogs from coverage should they bite anyone or damage someone else’s property.  This can leave the homeowner holding the bag should their dog misbehave.  If your homeowner’s policy currently excludes your dog from being covered, ask your agent about obtaining a canine liability exclusion endorsement.

Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida.  To find out more about saving money on all your insurance needs, check out her website at http://aplusallfloridainsuranceinc.com/


The Real Cost of a DUI Charge

 By Catherine Powell Image courtesy of Pixabay Last month I covered the costs incurred when a driver gets a traffic citation.  This month I ...