What is Umbrella Insurance and Who Needs It
Umbrella insurance is a type of personal liability coverage that goes above and beyond the amount that regular home or vehicle insurance offers. It can protect you from being sued for damages that exceed your primary insurance limits, as well as provide coverage for situations that are not covered by your standard policies, such as libel, slander, false imprisonment, and invasion of privacy.
In this article, we will explain how umbrella insurance works, what it covers, how much it costs, and who should consider buying it. We will also provide some examples and case studies to illustrate the benefits of having umbrella insurance in different scenarios.
How Umbrella Insurance Works
Umbrella insurance is also known as excess liability insurance, because it kicks in after your base liability coverage has been exhausted. For example, if you cause a car accident that results in $500,000 worth of medical bills and property damage, but your auto insurance policy only covers up to $300,000, your umbrella policy will pay the remaining $200,000.
To buy umbrella insurance, you need to have a minimum level of liability coverage in your existing home and auto policies. This is usually between $250,000 and $300,000 per occurrence1. The umbrella policy will then provide an additional layer of protection, typically starting from $1 million and going up to $10 million or more2.
Umbrella insurance covers you and your family members who live with you, as well as anyone else who drives your car with your permission. It also covers you anywhere in the world, regardless of where the incident occurs3.
What Umbrella Insurance Covers
Umbrella insurance covers a wide range of situations that could expose you to legal liability. Some of the common scenarios where umbrella insurance can come in handy are:
- You cause a serious auto or boating accident that injures multiple people or damages expensive property.
- Your dog bites someone and causes severe injury or infection.
- You accidentally injure someone while playing sports or engaging in recreational activities.
- You drive your car into a building or a utility pole and cause extensive damage.
- You are sued for defamation, invasion of privacy, false arrest, malicious prosecution, or wrongful eviction by someone you interact with online or offline.
- You serve on the board of directors of a nonprofit organization or volunteer for a charity and are sued for negligence or breach of fiduciary duty.
In addition to paying for the legal fees and settlement costs associated with these claims, umbrella insurance can also cover other expenses that are not covered by your primary policies, such as:
- Lost wages if you have to miss work due to a court appearance.
- Bail bonds if you are arrested as a result of a covered incident.
- Psychological counseling if you suffer emotional distress due to a covered incident.
What Umbrella Insurance Does Not Cover
While umbrella insurance covers a lot of situations that could put you at risk of being sued, it does not cover everything. Some of the exclusions that are typically found in umbrella policies are:
- Intentional or criminal acts that cause harm to others, such as assault, battery, fraud, or theft.
- Damage to your own property or injuries to yourself or your family members.
- Liability arising from your business or professional activities, such as malpractice, product liability, or workers’ compensation claims.
- Liability arising from contracts or agreements that you sign, such as leases, loans, or warranties.
- Liability arising from war, terrorism, nuclear radiation, or pollution.
To cover some of these situations, you may need to buy separate policies or endorsements that are specific to your needs. For example, if you own a business or work as an independent contractor, you may need to buy commercial liability insurance or professional liability insurance. If you own a rental property or a vacation home, you may need to buy landlord liability insurance or vacation rental insurance.
How Much Umbrella Insurance Costs
The cost of umbrella insurance depends on several factors, such as the amount of coverage you choose, the level of liability coverage you have in your primary policies, your personal risk profile, and the insurance company you buy from. However, umbrella insurance is generally considered to be a relatively affordable type of insurance, especially compared to the amount of protection it provides.
According to Forbes Advisor, you can buy a $1 million umbrella policy for about $32 per month2. The cost per million dollars of coverage decreases as you increase your coverage limit. For example, a $2 million policy may cost around $50 per month, and a $5 million policy may cost around $100 per month2. Of course, these are only average estimates, and your actual premium may vary depending on your individual circumstances.
To get the best deal on umbrella insurance, you should shop around and compare quotes from different insurers. You should also look for discounts that may apply to you, such as bundling your umbrella policy with your home and auto policies, having a good driving record, installing security systems in your home or car, or taking a defensive driving course.
Who Needs Umbrella Insurance
Umbrella insurance is not mandatory, but it is highly recommended for anyone who has assets or income that could be at risk of being seized or garnished in a lawsuit. This includes people who:
- Have a high net worth or a high income.
- Own expensive or multiple properties or vehicles.
- Own potentially hazardous items or engage in risky activities, such as swimming pools, trampolines, dogs, skiing, surfing, hunting, etc.
- Frequently interact with the public or post online reviews or comments.
- Serve on the board of directors of a nonprofit organization or volunteer for a charity.
A general rule of thumb is to buy enough umbrella insurance to cover your net worth and your future income potential. For example, if you have $500,000 in assets and earn $100,000 per year, you may want to buy at least a $1 million umbrella policy. However, this is only a rough guideline, and you should consult with an insurance agent or a financial planner to determine the optimal amount of coverage for your situation.
Umbrella insurance is a type of personal liability coverage that provides extra protection beyond your standard home and auto policies. It can cover you for damages that exceed your primary insurance limits, as well as for situations that are not covered by your regular policies, such as libel, slander, false imprisonment, and invasion of privacy.
Umbrella insurance can protect you from losing your assets or income in a lawsuit, especially if you have a high net worth or a high risk profile. It is relatively inexpensive compared to the amount of coverage it provides, and it can be customized to suit your needs and preferences.
If you are interested in buying umbrella insurance, you should shop around and compare quotes from different insurers. You should also check the exclusions and limitations of your policy to make sure you understand what it covers and what it does not. Finally, you should review your policy periodically and update it as your circumstances change.
Umbrella insurance can give you peace of mind and financial security in case of an unexpected or unfortunate event. It can also help you avoid the stress and hassle of dealing with a legal dispute. By investing in umbrella insurance, you can protect yourself and your family from the potential consequences of being sued.