Properly Cover Your HO/Condo Association Loss Exposures

Posted on February 16, 2012. Filed under: Personal (Home & Auto) | Tags: , , , , , |

Many people are active in their condominium or home owners’ association, serving as directors, officers, and editors of association newsletters. If you are an active member of your association, consider the following risk management tips and recommendations.

Verify that the association has directors and officers (D&O) coverage in force with reasonably high limits. If the association refuses or chooses not to obtain D&O coverage, seriously reconsider your leadership activities within the group due to your unprotected liability exposure.

If D&O coverage is in place, verify that this policy provides errors and omissions coverage for the proper purchase of insurance. To do this, verify that the “failure to maintain insurance” exclusion is not attached to the D&O policy.

Ask your association to hire an independent insurance consultant to audit the association insurance program to uncover any potentially lethal coverage gaps. For example, home owners’ associations should have at least the following types of coverages: guaranteed replacement cost property coverage for common areas, commercial umbrella coverage, workers compensation insurance (even if there are no association employees) to cover claims brought by uninsured independent contractors, and D&O liability coverage.

If you don’t already have it, consider adding a personal injury (HO 24 82) or related endorsement to your homeowners policy.

Get more personal lines insurance and risk management tips and ideas from IRMI.

International Risk Management Institute, Inc. Copyright 2012

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Reduce Your Social Host Liquor Liability Exposure

Posted on November 30, 2011. Filed under: Personal (Home & Auto) | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that nearly 13,000 people per year (about 35 per day) are killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes.

Many of these tragic accidents happen after an inebriated person leaves a party—an event in which the host of that party might be held liable for injuries and deaths to innocent parties. Although there might be coverage under your personal auto policy or homeowners policy if you (as the host) are held legally responsible for such a terrible accident, a wiser risk management strategy is to avoid or reduce the chance of loss altogether. With that in mind, here are some tips to consider if you (or a resident family member) occasionally host social events involving alcohol.


  • Surveys of youth indicate that the most common source of alcohol is the young person’s own home. Thus, closely monitor social events your youth hosts to make sure there is no drinking allowed—particularly any type of illegal underage drinking. It is wise to not allow your teenager to host a party when you are out of town.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol at your event.
  • If alcohol is served at your party, make sure that there is plenty of food. The consumption of food slows down the absorption of alcohol.
  • Encourage designated drivers and provide nonalcoholic drinks for these guests.
  • Look for signs of intoxication. An intoxicated person often has trouble walking, has slurred or loud speech, or is atypically uninhibited. There is not, however, a fool-proof method of determining whether someone is intoxicated because exceptionally tolerant individuals often do not show signs of tipsiness even though they are intoxicated.
  • Restrict alcohol to any near-intoxicated or intoxicated persons by offering instead some food or alternative nonalcoholic drinks.
  • Consider hiring trained bartenders. As they are trained to recognize and deal with intoxication, using professional bartenders can significantly reduce the risk and may help in defending a claim should there be one.
  • If you have a cash bar, use tickets and issue a limited number. Don’t price alcohol too low because this encourages excessive drinking.
  • Do not allow the intoxicated guest to drive away from the event even if you have to take away his or her car keys. Instead, offer to drive them home or provide a free cab service. Soliciting the help of the guest’s spouse or a close friend may help.

Contact us for a free review of your liability coverage or for a quote. Get more personal lines insurance and risk management tips and ideas from IRMI.

Copyright 2009
International Risk Management Institute, Inc.

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Preparing for a Safe Halloween

Posted on October 21, 2011. Filed under: Fun and Games | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Halloween is just around the corner, and many people may not realize how scary this eerie night might really be for their personal safety, their property . . . or their wallets. Here are some tips to prepare for Halloween hazards that may come in disguise or under the cloak of dark.

The following safety tips are endorsed by Trusted Choice(r), the consumer branding program for independent insurance agents and brokers:

  • Prevent Accidents: Remove or move lawn furniture, or any other obstacles, to avoid accidents or damage. Ensure your home’s entry is in good condition, free of loose or broken pieces on stairwells and walkways to avoid trick-or-treaters’ injuries on your property.
  • Fire Dangers: Prevent fires by making sure pumpkins containing candles are placed at a distance where a child’s costume cannot be ignited or a curious guest may tip it over. Extinguish all candles before going to bed. Consider using battery operated lights wherever possible. A variety of Jack-O-Lantern lights are available at most stores that sell Halloween decor.
  • Costume Safety: Be careful with costumes. All disguises should be made from flame-resistant materials and shouldn’t be too long or contain sharp accessories. Try to avoid masks that may obscure vision and try to use hypo-allergenic make-up.
  • See and Be Seen: Encourage each trick-or-treater and adult chaperones to carry a flashlight. Apply light-reflecting material to costumes.
  • Don’t be a Scary Driver: Drive sober, slowly and even more carefully than usual on Halloween. Watch for children who may be running or wearing dark costumes in the road.
  • Power in Numbers: When walking, travel in groups and cross only at corners and crosswalks-never between parked cars-and stay on well-lit streets.
  • Unwelcomed Guests: Scare away potential property vandals who often use the chaos of Halloween night to strike by keeping outdoor lights on.
  • Pet Safety: Keep pets inside. Warn your children to stay away from animals as they go door-to-door. Halloween night can be stressful, even on the friendliest dog or cat or other creatures.
  • Candy Inspection: Cavities aren’t the only candy-related risks on Halloween. Inspect all children’s treats. Never eat unwrapped items, collect candy only from those you know and ask the local police department if it offers a candy x-ray and/or inspection service. Throw away any suspicious candy.

Stay safe . . . and BOO!

Printed with permission from Trusted Choice.

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Closing Your Business?

Posted on September 23, 2011. Filed under: Commercial | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

We hope you are not one of the many businesses seriously impacted by the current economy. But, if you are, take a moment to learn more about the possible risk of cancelling your insurance.

Shutting Down Your Insurance – Commercial Liability Insurance

“I’m closing down my business. Will I need to continue any kind of insurance coverage to protect myself and my employees from future lawsuits?”

That’s an excellent question and we applaud your concern for yourself, your family and your employees.

Businesses that make or build or fix things have a continuing need for special liability insurance coverage even after the business shuts down. This coverage is called “discontinued products and completed operations liability” and it protects you and your employees against lawsuits arising out of injury or damage caused by the products you made or the work you completed while you were in business.

But wait! You purchased commercial general liability insurance for years – including products and completed operations liability –while you were making or building or fixing things. If something happens after you shut down, why won’t the policy that was in effect when the product was made or the work was done cover the resulting injury or damage?

The CGL policy does not cover bodily injury and property damage unless the injury or damage occurs while the policy is in effect. It doesn’t matter when you manufactured the product or completed the work. The only thing that matters is when someone is injured or some property is damaged because of your product or your work. A liability insurance policy must be in force when that happens.

If you are closing your business, ask your insurance agent about the availability and cost of “discontinued products and completed operations liability insurance.” There are laws – called “statutes of repose” – that dictate how long you may be legally liable for injury or damage caused by your work or products, and thus how long you may need to carry such insurance.

If you operated your business as a corporation or some other form of limited-liability entity, you may want to ask your attorney about whether you or your employees can be sued personally for accidents caused by your work or products after the business shuts down and the entity is dissolved.


****This article was prepared and made available to your agent by the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas, which is solely responsible for its content. Please read your insurance policy. If there is any conflict between the information in this article and the actual terms and conditions of your policy, the terms and conditions of your policy will apply. The Independent Insurance Agents of Texas is a non-profit association of more than 1,800 insurance agencies in Texas, dedicated to helping its members succeed, in part by providing technical resources that explain insurance policies sold to their customers.

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Is Umbrella Insurance for You?

Posted on December 10, 2010. Filed under: Personal (Home & Auto) | Tags: , , , , , |

To help you answer the question above, it is important to understand what Umbrella Insurance is and the potential impact of not having this protective tool covering your life and family.

Personal Umbrella is a low-cost insurance policy that provides liability coverage beyond your home and auto policies. It includes coverages that may not be included in your home policy such as libel and slander.

Consider the following scenario. You are on a golfing outing with some friends. The weather is nice and the birds are singing. Caught up in the moment, you fall behind your pals who are marching up onto the 10th green. You are driving the cart and are hurrying to catch up when you hit a pedestrian who steps in front of you unexpectedly from the side of the cart path. The collision leaves the pedestrian paralyzed. Now you are being sued for $3,200,000 and you only have $300,000 worth of liability insurance on your homeowners policy.

Where will you come up with the money? A $5,000,000 Personal Umbrella policy can protect you. With Personal Umbrella coverage, a little money goes a long way. The answer to our question? YES, seriously consider it!

Contact us today for your FREE quote. We are located in Austin and licensed in Texas.

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