Posts Tagged ‘insurance’

Homeowner’s Insurance Coverage

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

I’m sure that we would all call our insurance agent and present a claim if someone came onto our property, slipped and got hurt.  And we would probably call our insurance agent if a tree fell on our house or a storm blew off the shingles.

But there are other situations that might bring our homeowner’s policy into play.

I recently had a client come into my office because their 35 year old child, who was between jobs and living at home with her parents at the time, was in a bicycle accident about 15 miles away from the house and someone was hurt enough to require an ambulance.

How many people would know that the parent’s homeowner’s insurance would have covered this situation?

First of all, the child is considered a ‘Resident Relative’ if she was living in her parents’ home and she is therefore a covered person under the policy.

Also, since there is a possibility that the action of a covered person caused harm to someone else, even though the bicycle accident was 15 miles away from the home, that accident is a covered event.

The problem in this case?  The parents didn’t even think to contact the insurance company until much later when the injured person had hired an attorney and filed a lawsuit to recover for the injuries that resulted from the accident.

And the insurance policy has a clause that in any case where a claim might be filed, the insurance company must be  notified in a timely manner.

What is a timely manner?  The exact time-frame might be argued, but it is safer to always notify the insurance company on the next business day after the accident.

The lesson for the rest of us?  If you, or a  person who is living in your home, is involved in an accident of any type where there are injuries, contact your homeowner’s insurance carrier and let them know about the accident right away.

If you have questions about this or any other legal topic, please feel free to contact us at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at

Have You Checked Your Beneficiary Designation Lately?

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

I encourage my clients to review their estate planning documents on a regular basis, and an annual checkup seems like something that can be scheduled and easy to remember.

But what about things that aren’t part of the documents that I help to create?  What about your individual IRA?  or your life insurance policy?  or your company retirement plan? or your investment portfolio?

These types of plans are contractual in nature and the contract is between you and the insurance carrier or the plan administrator, or….whomever.

It is also important to make sure that these beneficiaries are up to date.  If the beneficiary is a minor child, do you have the person you want today as the trustee of these funds?  Have the children now become adults and you want them to have access to the funds immediately?  Have you created a trust and just never got around to changing the beneficiary of your insurance so that the funds will go into the trust to be distributed the way you wanted?

One of the biggest problems is selecting a beneficiary and just forgetting about it.  What happens if that person has died before you?  What happens if that person is no longer the one that you want to have access to the funds?  Maybe they got married to someone you hate.  Maybe they ran off to join a commune.  Maybe receiving the funds will make them ineligible (for just a little while) for medicaid benefits they are receiving now?  Maybe…. (fill in the blank).

I had a very personal example of this.  My mother had a life insurance policy that she got when she was working.  Her plan was that we could use her life insurance proceeds to pay for the funeral and then there would be a little left over for each of us (I’m the oldest of 7 children).  We all knew she had the life insurance and we all knew what she wanted us to do with the proceeds, but what we didn’t know was that she hadn’t really named a beneficiary at all.  I know she meant to have the beneficiary set to ‘all of my children equally’, but it never got recorded at the life insurance company.  The funeral home would have taken an assignment of the insurance proceeds, but that assignment had to be signed by all of the named beneficiaries and there were no named beneficiaries!

That meant that we needed to get a certified copy of her divorce papers, and all 7 of us had to sign affidavits that we were indeed her children before we could get access to the funds.  Of course we needed to have this done on the forms provided by the insurance company, which took time.  And somebody had to pay the funeral home right away.  So mom’s plan to use the insurance proceeds to pay for the funeral only ‘kinda’ worked.  One of us had to pay the funeral home and then each of the other 6 had to reimburse the one that paid when they got their one-seventh of the proceeds.

I have a great family and it worked out fine, but I’ve heard lots of examples of where one child has been ‘stuck’ with the entire funeral bill and the others refused to reimburse the sibling that paid the funeral home itself.

Please, take a few minutes and double check your beneficiary designations on all of those ‘contractual’ assets.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at

Do you need uninsured motorist insurance?

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Most of us think that if we are in an accident, the insurance company will cover all of our expenses.

Most of us also think that everyone is required to have insurance in order to drive a car in Virginia.

Neither of these are true.

Virginia allows drivers to pay just $500 as an ‘Uninsured Motor Vehicle fee’ and not get any type of auto insurance.  That’s a lot less than the car insurance premiums that many people pay!  In today’s economy I would imagine that more and more people are taking this less expensive route and ‘crossing their fingers’.

Virginia also allows people to get relatively low coverage limits of $25,000 for bodily injury or death for one person and $50,000 for bodily injury or death for two or more persons.  A driver can also get only $20,000 coverage for property damage.  That’s less than most cars cost today!

If you are in an accident and the responsible person has no or very limited coverage you may be left with property damage and/or medical bills and not enough money to pay them.

That’s why it’s important to talk to your insurance agent to make sure you have sufficient uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage.

After all, the person who is most interested in seeing that you will have your bills covered is YOU.

No, I’m not an insurance agent.  But as an attorney, I see a lot of clients that really needed to have more coverage when an accident happened.

I don’t want that to happen to you!