Is an Umbrella Insurance Policy Right For You?

A personal liability policy provides added protection when other insurance is exhausted

You have car insurance. Home insurance. Renters insurance. Or, boat insurance.

Umbrella insurance, also known as a personal liability policy, can provide additional protection and peace of mind on top of these standard insurance policies. But do you need it?

What is umbrella insurance?

To answer that question, it’s important to understand exactly how umbrella insurance works. Simply put, umbrella insurance kicks in when you owe more than your standard insurance will cover.

For example, typical home and auto insurance policies pay for another party’s losses, such as medical bills, rehabilitative therapy, lost wages, or damage to property in cases where you are found legally liable. Once the dollar limits on these policies have been reached, umbrella insurance may kick in to help cover the balance owed.

Using umbrella insurance: An example

If you were found legally responsible for a car accident and your auto policy’s Liability coverage was exhausted, you would be responsible for paying the remainder of the judgment from your own assets. An umbrella policy could apply at this point, providing additional liability protection up to the level of insurance you purchased. Umbrella policy limits are typically $1 million to $5 million.

Umbrella policies have three important advantages:

  1. Provides coverage beyond your auto or home policy
  2. Extra coverage for defense costs
  3. Liability coverage for lawsuits that may not be covered by your underlying auto or home insurance — if you are sued over an incident involving a car you rented while abroad, for example

They may also provide protection against slander, libel, false arrest and invasion of privacy, including defense costs.

However, umbrella policies will not cover:

  • Intentional damage
  • Business-related damage
  • Claims made as a result of owning, maintaining and using recreational, non-traditional vehicles like airboats, jet skis and also aircraft.
  • Damage to your own property

Who buys umbrella policies?

Umbrella Insurance can help provide peace of mind to most people — whether financially affluent or those just starting to build assets.

Other common reasons people tell us why they want to buy an umbrella policy:

  • I own a swimming pool or trampoline
  • I have teenage drivers on my policy
  • My household has at least two cars
  • I regularly host parties at my home
  • I have young children who have friends over
  • I travel abroad
  • I own a waterfront home

For example, if you own a pool or a trampoline, you may buy an umbrella policy to provide additional protection in the event someone gets seriously injured while at your home.

What information will you need to provide?

If you are interested in purchasing an umbrella policy, you may need to provide the following information while requesting a quote:

  • The occupation of all drivers in your household
  • Tickets and accident details for the last five years of all drivers in your household
  • A list of property you own, including homes, cars, boats, recreational vehicles (RVs), land, and motorcycles
  • Details of insurance claims over the past five years
  • Details of any business activities carried out in your home
  • Whether you regularly lease or hire vehicles, watercraft, aircraft, or property that are not covered by insurance
  • Details of any physical or mental impairments of drivers in your household
  • Details of any farming activities at the property
  • Whether there are employees who work from your home
  • Whether you look after properties you do not own that exceed $1,000 in value
  • Whether drivers under 25 years old are covered by your auto insurance policy
  • Details of properties you own that are not covered by liability insurance

Insurers’ minimum liability requirements

Insurers often require minimum levels of Liability coverage on your auto and home policies before they will approve an umbrella policy.

For example, we require you to have:

  • An Ameriprise Auto & Home Insurance auto insurance policy with liability limits of at least $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident.
  • A home policy, regardless of the insurance company, with at least a $300,000 liability limit.

Why can’t I buy just umbrella insurance?

You cannot typically buy an umbrella insurance policy by itself since it is designed to kick in after other liability insurance has been exhausted. So to get an umbrella policy, you usually need auto, homeowners, renters or another qualifying insurance policy with a specific level of liability coverage.

Insurance policy periods

When buying an umbrella policy it’s a good idea to ensure that it begins and ends on the same dates as your standard home and auto policies. Many umbrella policies restrict coverage to injuries or damages that happen during the umbrella policy period. Matching policy dates helps avoid mishaps that would cause a gap in coverage.

How much umbrella insurance do I need?

A general rule of thumb is to purchase an umbrella insurance policy worth at least 50% more than your overall assets. That helps ensure you have more than enough protection, especially if your assets are growing. But, talk to an insurance agent to help find the right amount for you.