NO ONE SAW IT COMING:
The families met when their children were in the same preschool class. Both families were new to the area and were delighted to find friends. The mothers served on various PTAs throughout the years, the fathers golfed on weekends. Summers were spent around the BBQ and in the pool. Winters they enjoyed the ski slopes and local restaurants. The parents sat in the bleachers cheering on each other’s kids at sporting events.
One day, when the parents went out for the night, the kids hit the liquor cabinet and had a party. After a few drinks, they grabbed the car keys and got behind the wheel of a car. The neighbors child was driving, the teenager who hosted the party was in passenger seat.
A pedestrian crossing the street was hit in the crosswalk.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT:
The Police and ambulance arrived while medics tended to the accident victim and police dealt with the driver and passengers. A trip to the police station for the kids while the parents were called. What begins with hugs and happiness that the kids are alright and safe, can turn to quickly to blame and finger-pointing once lawsuits are filed and hospital bills begin to arrive. Friendships that have lasted years can unravel under the stress of financial obligations and blame.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THIS SCENARIO:
Sadly, I see and hear about a lot of these types of stories in my day to-day in Warwick:
- A child tools around a neighbor’s yard on a bike, hits a fence and falls smashing his head.
- A couple of hot sweaty kids jump over a fence to take a dip in the pool, sip and fall and break a jaw.
- I have even heard of a preschooler who was playing with a rambunctious dog and accidentally got swiped in the mouth and needed stitches and surgery to fix the scarring.
Thirty years ago, when I begin my career in the insurance industry, if an accident occurred, families handled the repercussions differently. But with skyrocketing medical bills, shrinking medical insurance coverage and people have been forced to look for compensation. You hear scenarios of families practically going bankrupt because of out-of- pocket expenses and lawsuits. People are quick to lawyer up and litigate.
What happens next, is the defendants rely on their homeowners or auto insurance policies to cover the cost. But those insurance policies often have a predetermined cap of anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000. Settlements and awards often exceed 1 million dollars. Suddenly the situation the family finds itself in is dire. College savings disappear. Nest eggs vanish. Wages are garnished.
IF THEY HAD TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN…
One of the most important insurance policies you can ever invest in is an “Umbrella Policy.” Anyone who has any type of assets should have at least a $1-million Umbrella Policy to provide liability coverage beyond the limits of their auto- and homeowners-insurance policies. If you are sued, you could be forced to pay a legal judgment from your current assets and future earnings. An Umbrella Policy can also be used to pay for defense costs from lawyers, which can quickly add up even if you win your case. Umbrella Policies are an inexpensive way (policies can be found for a few hundred dollars a year) to protect your finances from devastating lawsuits. Anyone who is concerned about losing income or assets in one large lawsuit needs an Umbrella Policy. It is the absolute best buy in the insurance business.
For more information on Umbrella Insurance Policies, click: HERE
Information from the Insurance Information Institute, click: HERE