Protecting the big guy: Santa Claus & Insurance

You have to admit – jolly old St. Nicholas runs one heck of a business operation. He employees a huge number of elves and maintains a herd of reindeer. He runs a factory that operates 24/7, along with a busy warehouse and shipping operation. He has at least one specialty vehicle, although we suspect he also needs some back-ups. Like any good business person, he needs solid insurance coverage to protect the business should anything go amiss.
Gregory Boop of’s business insurance page has previously discussed the various types of insurance coverage that Santa Claus needs.
First, as an employer, he is mandated to have workers compensation overage for his elves. And to be a good employer, he should also provide health insurance, too. The elves are pretty loyal workers – to show appreciation for this, Santa should consider disability insurance and some type of retirement planning, such as 401k options.
We agree that he needs commercial general liability coverage, as well as product liability coverage. Gregory suggests that Santa needs commercial auto insurance and a specialized equipment rider … but we are not so sure we would classify Santa’s sleigh as an auto – we think it might be better for Santa to have aircraft coverage. He might also benefit by travel insurance and pet insurance for the reindeer. Gregory also suggests that Santa should have key man coverage on himself since he is so essential to the operation. Good idea.
Now apart from the needs of his business, Santa himself has some specialized insurance needs. He needs a heck of a life insurance policy and it poses some significant challenges for his insurance agent. He’s getting on in years, he’s overweight, he’s been known to smoke a pipe and drink brandy, and he’s got a lead foot when driving his sleigh. He also faces a lot of on-the-job hazards. Even before that big day of the year, he travels to thousands of shopping malls and meets millions of kids. This year, that means he is at heightened risk for the H1N1 virus. Not to mention all the other hazards that Santa faces – he can be exposed to everything from back strain while lifting kids to a wet lap caused by terrified children. It’s hard to believe, but not everyone loves Santa.
Now we know that Santa has already given some thought to his insurance coverage because we read a few years ago that he has insured his trademark beard with Lloyds of London. That’s a good start, but today, he’d do well to have insurance against identity theft, too.
Santa, we’re worried about you. Call your agent, we can help!
Homeowners & Santa Claus
And what about you as the host? Are you properly covered to entertain a V.I.P. like Santa in your home? What if your dog bites Santa or he gets stuck in your chimney – are you covered against these or any other mishaps while he’s on your property? If you have homeowners insurance or rental insurance, the personal liability and medical payments portions should cover you, but you may want to check your coverage limits and deductibles. If you are hiring a Santa stand-in for a party, there are some other things you should consider to limit your liability: Covering the Santa Clause.
If you plan to leave any sweets out for the big guy, Mrs Claus issues this plaintive plea: Please skip the cookies – Santa has a weight problem. Consider leaving a healthier snack. If you decide to leave cookies out anyway, you may want to get Santa to sign Christmas Cookie Liability and Indemnification Agreement (PDF). And something that should go without saying – don’t leave any wine or brandy out – you don’t want to be liable if a tipsy Santa leaves your house and has a DUI accident!
Happy holidays to all – we’ll see you in the new Year!

Insurance tips to protect expensive electronic gifts

Planning to get or give a flat screen TV, a new laptop, or a smart phone this holiday season? If so, you aren’t alone. For the first time in more than 25 years, electronics are virtually tied with toys as the top Christmas gift item, according to holiday shopping polls conducted by America’s Research Group. CEO Britt Beemer says, “Electronics sales, especially flat-panel TV sets, are flying out the door this Christmas season.”

The Insurance Information Institute offers good advice for protecting your expensive electronics. Among some of their suggestions and ours:

  • Contact your insurance agent to find out if your current policy will cover the new equipment or if you need additional coverage
  • Learn what your homeowners or renters policy does and doesn’t cover and what your dedutciblesare
  • Learn what your credit cards and product warranties will and won’t cover. Be sure to fill out any warranties
  • Keep a copy of your purchase receipt
  • Add the new item to your home inventory
  • Read the product manuals to learn how to properly set up, maintain, and clean your new electronic goodies
  • Invest in good surge protectors but even those won’t protect your equipment from lightning. The best protection is to unplug expensive equipment during electrical storms

See more in our post from last year: Make sure your expensive gifts are protected – insure those valuables!

If you are a basketball player, Kobe Bryant advises ankle insurance!

This is a jokey video to promote a brand of sneakers, but the idea of insuring specific body parts is not totally farfetched … celebrities have been known to insure body parts … Jimmy Durante had a $50,000 policy on his distinctive nose and Betty Grable had a million dollar policy on her famous legs. Larry Getlen has an amusing article on the topic at Bankrate: Celebrity body parts: Million-dollar thighs and smiles

ID theft spikes in bad economy – take steps to protect your credit while holiday shopping

As you embark on holiday shopping and merrymaking, make sure that you take extra steps to protect your personal information and your credit. We’ve noted before, scammers have a tendency to proliferate in a bad economy. The Insurance Information Institute (III) offers an excellent advisory on this topic, which includes concrete preventative measures to help protect your credit.
III also notes that identity theft may be covered by insurance:

“Identity theft protection and resolution services are included in some homeowners and auto policies at no additional cost. The service provides consumers with a fraud specialist to assist and guide them through the process of restoring and protecting their identity. Some companies include identity theft coverage as part of their homeowners insurance policy, selling it as either a stand-alone policy or as an endorsement to a homeowners or renters insurance policy. This coverage provides the customer reimbursement for the expenses associated with the identity and credit restoration process including phone bills, lost wages, notary and certified mailing costs, and sometimes attorney fees (with the prior consent of the insurer). Contact your insurance agent or company representative to find out what kind of coverage is available.”

Additional Resources
Don’t be a victim: be alert for insurance fraud and scams
Credit Card and ATM Skimming – a Growing Threat
Study: Identity fraud is on the upswing, but per incident rate is dropping

Are you losing out on possible discounts on your homeowners and auto insurance?

In these tough times, everyone is looking to save money where they can – yet many insurance buyers are leaving money on the table in the form of discounts that they could be realizing, but perhaps just don’t know about. Renaissance Alliance member Wayne Wiersma of Wiersma Insurance brought to our attention a recent national survey conducted for Trusted Choice and the Big “I.”
The survey revealed that more than 34% of the respondents said they were not taking advantage of homeowners discounts or didn’t know that that such discounts were available and 20% either didn’t know about or said they were not maximizing all the car insurance discounts available to them. That translates to about 53 million U.S. households. Are you one of those households?
Have you checked with your agent about what discounts might be available to you? You can often earn discounts by consolidating policies with one insurer. There are many other potential discounts available – although discounts may vary by insurer or by state. The IIABA offers a Tip Sheet on various insurance discounts that may be available. (Note that this link is to a Microsoft Word Document download.)
Don’t spend more money than you have to in 2010 – call your agent to talk about potential discounts!