We understand that “one size fits all” does not apply to your personal insurance needs, so we customize each portfolio based on your unique needs.
Hoffman Brown Company provides personal insurance coverage to both individuals and their families. While we cannot control all of life’s emergencies, you can be better prepared for them through a comprehensive personal insurance portfolio. Our approach to personal protection is that one size does not fit all. Hoffman Brown Company represents many of the finest carriers in the industry and we can customize insurance programs based on each individual’s personal needs and risk exposures.
Our team of experienced professionals is equipped with the knowledge to help you navigate through various coverage options, limitations and exclusions, so that an informed decision can be made on how to protect personal assets and liabilities. We assist our clients with many lines of protection including:
For most people, their home is their most important asset and investment. Adequately insuring a home is critical. Hoffman Brown takes pride in being able to provide a variety of insurance carriers with broad, comprehensive coverages to protect your home.
Insuring a home is more than buying a limit of insurance to protect the structure. A broad homeowners policy includes coverage for other structures on the premises, domestic employees, contents, loss of use, personal liability insurance, workers compensation and more. All these topics should be discussed so that you are provided the coverages you need.
Additional coverages may also be required to properly protect your personal assets: earthquake insurance, excess liability (umbrella), jewelry floater, fine art floater, flood insurance, etcetera are all additional options to explore.
General types of auto insurance coverage includes property, liability, medical, uninsured and underinsured motorists, comprehensive and collision coverage. Automobile insurance is designed to protect you against financial loss if you are involved in an accident or if your car is stolen. In addition, you are protected if you cause injuries to others or damage their property.
Premiums will vary depending on the insureds age, years of driving experience, the make and model of your car, accident and moving violation history as well as other factors. Most states mandate that all vehicle owners purchase a minimum amount of auto insurance however, many people purchase additional insurance to further protect themselves.
Insurance carriers offer various coverage limits and additional coverage that you may value. If the car is being financed or leased, there may be specific requirements that need to be met. The standard Automobile policy is comprised of a variety of coverage as outlined below:
Those who own valuable, rare or irreplaceable items, such as jewelry, art, collectibles or antiques may need broader coverage than that included in a standard homeowner policy. While most homeowner policies have limits on the dollar amount and type of loss that can be recovered, Personal Articles Floater insurance will provide the protection you need for your most valuable possessions in the event of loss through theft, accident or natural disaster. A Personal Articles Floater builds upon your homeowner policy in order to provide a more comprehensive approach to covering all of your personal property. A Floater policy offers separate coverage for your high value assets.
Many different types of possessions can be included in a Personal Articles Floater policy. Here’s a quick listing of some of the items typically covered. Please note that if you own something that is not listed below, it may still be eligible for coverage:
In addition to an expanded list of coverable categories, a Personal Article Floater may offer broader coverage than the typical Homeowner policy. This may include additional causes of loss such as earthquake, protection against mysterious disappearance and loss due to breakage. Coverage can be written either on a Blanket or Scheduled basis. Generally coverage is provided on a worldwide basis, often with no deductible and you may be automatically insured for most newly purchased items up to a percentage of the total amount of insurance already in place (this varies by carrier) for up to 30 days from the date of acquisition.
No matter how your property is insured, the best precaution is loss mitigation and prevention. A few tips for protecting your special property include:
Unpredictable and random are only two of the words that describe an earthquake. We don’t know when it will happen, where it will happen or how big it will be, but based upon recent history; we do know that eventually it will occur. Many of the world’s biggest earthquakes have taken place along the U.S. Pacific Coast, stretching from Southern California to Alaska. Although California has one of the highest earthquake risks in the country, the California Department of Insurance recently estimated that only about 12% of the state’s homeowners have included earthquake insurance as part of their protective planning.
A homeowner, condo owner, or renters insurance policy does not automatically cover earthquake damage to real and personal property. In fact the hazard of earthquake is specifically excluded. Federal and State financial assistance after an earthquake will likely not cover all of your damages even if your neighborhood is declared a disaster area. In the past, we have seen that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can only offer limited assistance through loans and grants and will only provide this benefit to those who qualify.
In order to be protected, a property owner is required to purchase additional coverage to respond to an earthquake risk. This coverage is written either as an endorsement to a standard homeowners policy or as a separate policy. In California, insurance carriers who offer homeowner insurance are required to offer earthquake coverage when a homeowner insurance policy is first purchased and again at renewal every other year. A homeowner then has the option to accept or reject the coverage.
The annual cost of earthquake insurance depends on a number of factors. First, the premium will vary from carrier to carrier. Second, the location plays an important role. If the area is especially prone to earthquakes, then the premium will be higher. Third, the age and construction type of the home also plays a major role. Older houses will usually have higher premiums while houses made of more quake resistive materials (such as wood versus brick) will have a lower premium because they withstand earthquakes better. Fourth, having a home that is earthquake retrofitted; bolted to the foundation and having an automatic earthquake gas shut off valve installed on your gas meter, is a critical factor.
Earthquake insurance coverage varies. Consumers have the option to cover their home, their personal property and their additional living expenses. All policies offer differing amounts of each so it is critical that you thoroughly understand the scope of the insurance being offered. Unlike other insurance, the earthquake deductible (that portion of a claim not covered by the insurance policy) is calculated differently than that of a standard claim. Under most homeowner policies, a loss is subject to a flat deductible. However, the earthquake deductible is generally calculated as a percentage of the coverage amount for each line covered and it tends to be quite high. Today an optional Earthquake Deductible Buy-back program is available which can effectively lower your deductible exposure through a separate policy. Lastly, the deductible can be applied multiple times depending on the timing between aftershocks which is outlined in the policy.
How to prepare for an earthquake
If you live in an area considered a seismic hot spot, what can you do to protect yourself and your belongings from an earthquake? Remember, you can’t prevent an earthquake, but you can plan for one. Be prepared, and be safe!
Here are a few recommendations to consider:
Flood insurance covers property loss from flooding, whether it’s a few inches of water in the basement or a total loss. More specifically, flooding is defined by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) as a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties, at least one of which is your own. The flooding must come from an overflow of inland or tidal waters, or an unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source, or mudflows that can be brought on by a number of natural events. (Please see the actual policy for a more complete definition of coverage).
Flood losses are not covered automatically by a standard homeowner insurance policy. Coverage can be provided as either an endorsement to some homeowner policies or through a separate policy often underwritten by the NFIP. The NFIP has built-in maximum coverage limits so if high limits are needed Excess Flood Coverage will be required. Flood insurance is very specific (and limited) as to what it covers. It is important to have a thorough understanding of the policy.
The cost of flood insurance depends on the location of your property and the proximity to a flood exposure. High risk areas where flooding occurs regularly will cause an increase in the annual premiums. Lower rates will apply when your property is positioned in a lower risk area. To determine risk factors for a specific property, insurers will often refer to topographical maps that denote lowlands, floodplains and floodways that are susceptible to flooding. Generally, flood policies do not take effect until 30 days after you purchase flood insurance. Therefore, it is necessary to purchase the flood coverage well in advance of any announced flood alert for your area.
We live in a highly litigious and volatile time where personal liability issues are ever present. These days, lawsuits can be common and judgments substantial. The greater your assets, the more vulnerable you are. Personal Excess Liability insurance is designed to provide you with additional liability coverage. The liability protection included within your homeowner and automobile policies is considered primary insurance; it responds first in the event of a claim. Excess Liability insurance comes into play after the minimum required primary limits are exceeded.
With Personal Excess Liability insurance, which is similar to “Umbrella insurance,” you can add additional layers of liability protection. Most liability claims occur when you own a home, a dog or a pool or you are involved in an automobile or boating accident.
In many instances, coverage may include:
When unforeseen events occur, a personal excess liability policy can be a critical risk management tool. That is why this relatively low cost additional coverage can provide a real financial value, as well as priceless peace of mind.
Like any major investment, boats and yachts need to be covered by the right insurance protection. Today, the expansive choice of watercraft comes in many different shapes and sizes and there is not just one type of boat insurance policy that will protect all of your potential boating needs. Whether you are the owner of a small weekend run-about or a large private yacht, you need to have a policy designed to respond to a vast array of issues.
Proper boat and watercraft insurance will respond to many areas of exposure. The following will outline a few coverage features which should be considered for a comprehensive risk management plan:
Owning and flying your own aircraft can be one of life’s greatest joys. Learning to be a skilled and talented pilot is one aspect of ownership while protecting this valuable asset is another. Aviation insurance is a coverage written by a relatively small number of insurers that are specialists in the field. A few of the basic areas of coverage that should be considered follow:
Builders Risk Insurance Coverage protects owners against damage to structures that are in the course of construction; either new or renovation. This insurance is designed to provide project-specific insurance for a single-family dwelling and to afford protection for losses from a variety of causes. The extent of coverage should be suited to the insured’s needs in terms of coverage, limits and premium. Coverage under a Builders Risk policy typically ends when the construction is completed and the Certificate of Occupancy is received from the city.
In addition to covering physical structures, a homeowner will need to secure coverage for both personal and premises liability. This coverage should augment the insurance provided by both the general and sub-contractors.
California law mandates that Workers Compensation coverage be provided for any residential employee. The definition of residential employees includes domestic help, cooks, drivers, gardeners, nannies, personal assistants etc. In most instances, covering part-time employees (less than 20 hours per week) is automatically included in a homeowner, condominium or renters insurance policy. However, coverage for a full-time employee needs to be specifically added to the policy and a premium is charged. Generally, the premium is determined based upon the number of residential employees on staff.
In most cases, coverage can be included for employees in other states on the same policy. However, a few States, such as New York, require that a separate policy be issued.
“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are nearly one million people employed in private residences across the United States. At the same time, new laws have been enacted protecting the rights of the employee, and employment-related complaints and jury awards have dramatically increased.”
Over the last decade there has been tremendous activity surrounding the shaping of workplace law and the rights of employees. In addition, through news reports and social media employees have become increasingly aware of their protection with a cadre of law firms. As a result, employers now face a rising tide of employment practices litigation with a variety of assertions.
Employment Practices Liability Insurance is designed to protect individual employers against allegations of sexual harassment, wrongful termination and discrimination made by nannies, housekeepers, gardeners, personal assistants and other domestic help.
This coverage can be added to selective Umbrella Liability policies or through the purchase of a separate policy.
Here are just a few scenarios that EPLI coverage can address:
A Non-Owned Auto Liability insurance policy covers liability claims made against you if your household employee has an accident while using their own vehicle on your behalf. Examples of this include your housekeeper driving to the dry cleaners to pick-up the laundry; the chef stopping at the grocery store for supplies or the nanny picking the kids after a play date.
This policy does not pay for the direct physical damage to the vehicle itself as this coverage is designed to protect you and not your employee. Damage to the employee’s auto and their personal liability is covered by the vehicle owner’s personal auto insurance policy. The employer’s primary exposure is facing a legal defense if they are included in a lawsuit whether it is groundless or not.
Serving on the Board of a not-for-profit organization can be a fulfilling way to give back to their community, for many Americans. While commendable, volunteering to participate on one of these Boards can create a personal liability issue as non-profit organizations don’t always carry enough Directors & Officers liability coverage. This may be a result of budget constraints or a lack of understanding of the ultimate exposures. In the unfortunate event that a lawsuit depletes the primary layer of coverage carried by the organization, the personal assets of board members could be at risk.
To guard against this threat, volunteer Board members may want to consider carrying excess not-for-profit Directors & Officers insurance. This coverage provides an added layer of protection for individuals above the organization’s underlying Directors & Officers insurance. This coverage is typically sold as an optional endorsement to a Personal umbrella policy. Qualifying non-profit boards include civic groups, condos or co-ops, religious organizations, country clubs, cultural and performing arts institutions, alumni, sports organizations and youth associations. (A review of the specific policy language should clarify the types of qualifying Boards). To determine if a specific organization holds a “not-for-profit” status, you can look them up on websites such as www.charitywatch.org, www.charitynavigator.org or www.guidestar.com.
Typical types of lawsuits filed against directors and officers of nonprofit organizations relate to issues involving management of the organization’s financial affairs and the establishment of policies and procedures. Here are a few examples of lawsuits filed against a not-for-profit board, resulting in claims for:
Health Insurance Individual health insurance has become a confusing and often times daunting subject. The continual changes in the medical insurance world have left many of us unprepared to make informed and well thought out decisions. With access to a multitude of health insurance carriers, we will assist you in obtaining a logical protective program that meets your financial needs.
Senior Citizens have several alternatives for medical care. Medicare, which most Seniors qualify for at age 65, has three parts of coverage referred to as Part A (Hospital Insurance), Part B (Medical Insurance) and Part D (Prescription Drug Insurance). Part D is administered by private insurance companies and the annual open enrollment time to make changes to Part D is October 15th through December 7th each year.
Medigap Insurance is available and is a supplemental insurance plan which is sold by private insurance companies. It helps to pay for things not covered by Medicare Parts A & B.
In today’s ever changing world of personal benefits coverage, it is clear that many people are seeking protection outside of the traditional employer-based programs. Individual coverages can include Life, Health, Disability Income and Long-Term Care Insurance. Each area of protection plays an integral role in an overall protective plan and the different coverages become more impactful at different times in our lives. In addition, each area offers a variety of options depending on an individual’s life situation.
Understanding life insurance needs requires a thorough review of a person’s overall goals. This includes a discussion of why the coverage is being purchased and who the proceeds are intending to safeguard. Whether it is the protection of a young family, the funding of tax obligations or the long term protection of a business, life insurance provides an answer.
It can be difficult to know just how much life insurance you need; too little coverage could result in future financial shortfall and too much coverage can generate premium payments that compromise today’s cash flow. The overall goal is to assist you in determining that you have the right policy for today – and for the future.
If you are unable to work due to illness or injury, your life can be turned upside down. As a result, you could have a cash flow challenge that impacts your ability to meet your expenses. Disability Income insurance is designed to replace your regular income during the period that you are unable to perform your normal work functions. The ultimate goal is to secure a disability program that offers replacement for all or part of your regular income during the time you are unable to work.
Long-Term Care Insurance
As life expectancy continues to extend, many of us eventually face the reality of an injury or illness that prevents us from being able to perform simple activities of daily living. A Long-Term Care policy can provide the financial means to properly care for us if an illness or medical condition arises and to offer the peace of mind that the resources for our care will be available.
It takes just seconds for a thief to steal your personal information, such as your driver’s license, social security or credit card numbers. With this data a criminal can use this information to make purchases, apply for a new mortgage, open a line of credit or obtain additional credit cards. As the perpetrators of identity theft gain sophistication, the threat to potential victims continues to grow leaving more and more people to face the uphill battle of restoring their good name and credit.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, the number of identity theft incidents has reached 9.9 million a year and identity theft is becoming the fastest growing crime in America. Every minute about 19 people fall victim and recent statistics indicate that only 28% of identity theft cases involve credit or financial fraud. Phone, utility, bank and employment fraud make up another 50% of cases.
Knowing the facts may be interesting but the most important step is protecting your personal information. In most cases, the issues can be resolved if caught early. To correct the damage that a thief has done normally takes the average victim hours of research and the possible assistance of their accountant and lawyer to resolve the crime.
Identity Theft insurance provides reimbursement to crime victims for the cost of restoring their identity and repairing credit. Identity Theft insurance often provides reimbursement for expenses such as phone bills, lost wages, notary and certified mailing costs and sometimes attorney fees with the prior consent of the insurer. This coverage can be added to your homeowner’s insurance policy or purchased as a stand-alone policy.
Prevention is critical to protecting yourself from Identity Theft!
5 Basic Tips to Protect Your Identity
Shred it – Identity thieves love recycling your trash, but you can break their hearts by buying a quality crosscut shredder. Shred everything with your name and address, such as statements and invoices, receipts, return address stickers, envelopes, catalogs and—especially—pre-approved credit offers, credit card checks and insurance-related materials.
Guard it. Encrypt emails and computer files that contain personal or account information. Use firewalls, antivirus and anti-spyware programs. Protect your smartphone as you would a computer. Keep all your technology current with the latest security updates. Always employ “strong” passwords that contain numbers, symbols and characters. Don’t use obvious passwords, such as your date of birth, child’s or pet’s name or mother’s maiden name. Change passwords often, and don’t use the same one for online banking that you use for shopping or social networking sites.
Lock it up. Keep doors and drawers secure. Identity thieves can’t steal your information if they can’t get to it. Keep computers, paper files such as bank or credit card statements, passports, Social Security cards, earnings statements, birth certificates and any other documents with personal identifying information behind closed and locked doors or in locked drawers. Be aware of who has access, such as household employees or work crews—and even family members.
Check your credit reports early and often. Review your credit reports from the three reporting agencies—TransUnion, Experian and Equifax—twice a year. Investigate suspicious activity and stay on top of it until the matter is resolved.
Keep your Social Security number to yourself. It takes surprisingly little to set up fraudulent accounts and establish false credit in someone else’s name—sometimes only a Social Security number (SSN) and address will do. Never carry your SSN or card in your wallet or purse unless absolutely necessary and never give out your number to anyone you don’t know and trust. Provide your SSN only when required, and, if any organization, company or medical provider attempts to use your SSN as an identifier, ask them not to.
Our world, domestically or internationally, is becoming a more dangerous place and the number of kidnappings seems to be increasing. The primary motivations for abductions can be split into two categories: kidnapping for political reasons and kidnapping for money. The typical Kidnap and Ransom insurance policy may include coverage for monies paid to kidnappers or extortionists, loss of ransom in transit, repatriation, loss of wages, rehabilitation of the victim and other expenses incurred as a result of a kidnapping. In addition, most policies include the services of a crisis response team of experienced consultants to help evaluate the situation, work with and support the family and to participate in the negotiations needed to secure a release.
Tips for Kidnap Avoidance When Traveling Alone
While nothing can ever completely eliminate your risk of being kidnapped, there are ways to protect yourself against it.