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What is Umbrella Insurance?

Updated: May 2017

Protecting your family and assets is a top priority, which is why people have insurance. Personal umbrella insurance is a type of insurance designed to add extra liability coverage over and above another insurance policy, such as auto or homeowners insurance.

What does Umbrella Insurance Cover

Umbrella insurance is meant to help protect you from large and potentially devastating liability claims or judgments. Personal umbrella coverage comes into play when your underlying liability limits (such as from a homeowners or auto insurance policy) have been reached.

What is Typically Covered by Umbrella Insurance? What is Typically Not Covered by Umbrella Insurance?

Bodily injury

Personal belongings

Personal injury

What's Covered

Property damage

Intentional or criminal acts or omissions

Landlord liability

Written or oral contracts

Personal Umbrella Insurance Policy in Action

To better understand how a personal umbrella policy works, here's an example: If you're at fault in a car accident that injures another driver, your regular automobile insurance may cover the other driver up to the limit you selected, say $250,000. But what happens if that limit is not enough to cover the other driver's resulting medical bills?

If the other driver's injuries are severe, you may be legally responsible for damages beyond the $250,000 your car insurance policy covers. And, if he sues you, your personal assets could be at stake. Imagine if that injured driver were a surgeon or another highly paid professional. What if the accident you caused resulted in an injury that kept him from doing his job for six months? Suddenly, he's suing you for $1 million to cover the six months he's away from work.

Your automobile policy's liability coverage may pay for up to $250,000, but where would you come up with the remaining $750,000? A personal umbrella policy can help cover the additional costs when your standard insurance policy isn't enough. An umbrella policy could provide the additional coverage you need so that you don't get stuck trying to pay the remaining balance yourself. This extra policy could help protect your bank account, home and other personal property.

In most cases, personal umbrella policies are available in million-dollar increments, from $1 to $5 million. While an umbrella policy is not required, it may offer increased protection in the unfortunate event of an accident.

Need more liability coverage? Talk to an agent about a personal umbrella policy.

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What is Generally Not Covered By a Personal Umbrella Policy?

Your personal property. While personal umbrella insurance is designed to help cover expenses if you are held responsible for damages to someone else's property, that coverage typically won't apply if you cause damage to your own property. Suppose your bathtub overflows, destroying drywall in your home. Your own damages would be excluded from coverage. But if the overflow destroys the property of your downstairs neighbor, your personal umbrella insurance may cover the damages caused by your negligence, preventing you from paying out of pocket for the loss. It's important to note, though, that any umbrella insurance benefits would kick in only after the underlying policy limits have been exhausted.

Business losses. Losses related to the operation of your business or damage to your business property would generally not be covered by a personal umbrella policy, says the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The exclusion applies even if the business is home-based. For example, if you earn money providing day care in your home, any liabilities that result from that arrangement would likely not be covered.

Personal umbrella insurance typically doesn't cover other business-related liabilities such as a malpractice lawsuit, or losses in connection with your paid position as an officer or member of a governing board of a for-profit organization.

Criminal or intentional actions. A personal umbrella policy usually won't protect you from the consequences of your own intentionally harmful or illegal behavior; for example, restitution you owe if you are convicted of a crime or damages you intended to cause through your actions.

Contracts. Personal umbrella insurance typically won't protect you from any liability that arises in connection with an oral or written contract you've entered. So if you find yourself facing a lawsuit from someone you've hired to work on your home, for example, it's unlikely that your umbrella insurance would provide protection.

A local agent can answer questions about personal umbrella policies so you can decide whether having additional liability coverage makes sense for you.

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    CHARLOTTE GONZALES
Coverage subject to terms, conditions, and availability. Policy issuance is subject to qualifications. Allstate Insurance Company, Allstate Indemnity Company, Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company, Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company, Northbrook, IL. © 2017 Allstate Insurance Company, Northbrook, IL.
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