Standard insurance policies have financial limits when it comes to certain risks. A car crash and medical bills could add up to $1 million, but your auto insurance coverage may only be up to $300,000. Fortunately, an umbrella liability insurance policy can help when your claim could be more than the limits in your policy.

What is an umbrella policy?

Umbrella insurance is an add-on policy that covers the costs over the limits of other insurance policies. It covers attorney’s fees, damages, and settlements and judgments against you. For example, if you’re sued for $1 million after a car accident and your policy has a maximum liability of $500,000, umbrella insurance can help pay the other $500,000.

These policies don’t replace other kinds of coverage, but rather extend that coverage to provide more protection from high-cost events. If you have liability limits of $300,000 on your homeowners policy, for instance, purchasing a $1 million umbrella policy raises your limit to $1.3 million. Umbrella policies are generally purchased in coverage increments of $1 million, and a $1 million policy is typically the minimum amount of coverage you can buy.

Why would I need one?

To figure out if you need an umbrella policy, assess how likely it is that you could be held financially responsible for accidental injury to another person or their property. You may want to consider an umbrella policy if:

  • You own a home with a pool, ATVs or boats, or a large dog, as these factors increase the risk of causing accidental injuries to others.
  • Your family includes inexperienced drivers who have a higher crash rate.
  • You entertain often. In many states you could be held legally responsible for the actions of anyone who drinks alcohol in your home and then has an accident in your house or after leaving it.
  • You participate in activities such as snowmobiling, jet skiing, or motorcycle riding.
  • You own property or have investments and savings that are worth more than the liability limits in your homeowners and auto policies.

Life is full of surprises. But taking the time to make sure you, your family, and your assets are adequately protected will help decrease the financial impact of life’s unexpected events.

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