Thinking of a side hustle? Check with your insurance agent


man working at home to illustrate a side hustle

Today, it seems like everybody’s got a side hustle, which is essentially just a fancy rebranding of what used to be called moonlighting. But today’s moonlighting often comes with a twist …. these gigs often involve using your personal car or home to generate extra income. Whether it’s driving for Lyft, dropping off packages for Amazon, delivering meals through DoorDash, renting your home through Airbnb or just taking advantage of a tourist influx during a big local event by renting out your home, five words of advice: check with your insurance agent.

If your goal is earning some extra cash, make sure you understand and are covered for potential risks. You might think you are covered by working for a third-party service, but if you injure yourself or someone else while working, if you damage or lose someone’s property or if you suffer a loss to your own property, you may be on your own. Here are just two examples:

Home rental – If you want to start renting out all or a portion of your home through a peer-to-peer rental service, what happens if a guest is injured on your property? Or if a guest burns the whole place down in a cooking fire, will your rental service cover your home replacement?

Some services, such as Airbnb and VRBO, offer programs such as host guarantees or host liability insurance. On first glance, these may look adequate – $1 million liability coverage should be enough, right? But like most things, you need to read the fine print because there are conditions, limitations and exclusions that could leave you exposed to serious loss. You also should not assume that your own homeowners policy will provide coverage in a home rental scenario. Insurance Information Institute says:

Standard homeowners and renters insurance policies are designed for personal risks, not commercial risks. Some insurers now offer a home-sharing liability insurance policy that can be purchased on a month-to-month basis, but there may be exclusions and limitations, so read the policy carefully. If you plan to rent out all or part of your home on a regular basis, many companies will consider this a business use and you may need to purchase a business policy—specifically either a hotel or a bed-and-breakfast policy.

Ridesharing – Check with the service you are contracting with about any coverage that they might offer – states are increasingly mandating that third-party services provide some coverage, but again – there could be conditions, limitations and exclusions that leave dangerous gaps in your coverage. And it’s a mistake to assume that your own personal auto insurance will cover you. Insurance Information Institute says:

Generally a standard personal auto policy will not provide coverage for ride-sharing. A standard personal auto insurance policy stops providing coverage from the moment a driver logs into a TNC ride-sharing app to the moment the customer has exited the car and the transaction is closed.

They also advise:

Prospective drivers should ask the TNC what level of coverage it provides. Drivers should also contact their own auto insurer to address gaps, if any, in their liability protection. It is also recommended that TNC drivers review a copy of their TNC’s insurance contracts so they know the exact terms and conditions of the coverage.

Learn more: Ride-sharing and insurance: Q&A

These are just two common examples of so-called side-hustles, but other income-generating activities might call for other types of coverage, such as product liability or home business coverage. Your agent can also help you assess the adequacy of coverage offered by a third-party.  If you are considering a side-hustle, give your independent insurance agent a call to talk things over.

Another reason why local insurance agents are a good bet


On more than one occasion, we’ve touted the many ways that buying insurance through a local insurance agency is a good bet – personal service, expertise, advocacy, risk mitigation and more. But here’s another reason — local agents give back to the communities in which they do business. They live locally, they hire locally, they buy locally – and they give back to the community.

Here’s a case in point – and it’s only one example among many: Mariela’s Miles.

Every year in May, Renaissance Alliance employees participate in a program started by a true rock star in our accounting department, Mariela. The program is called “Mariela’s Miles” in her honor.

The program raises $1.00 for charity for every mile walked by staff members during the month of May. Last year, the charitable recipient was the Veteran’s Associate Medical Center of West Roxbury, MA in loving memory of Mariela’s husband. This year, staff is raising money for Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to raising awareness and improving the lives of individuals with autism and related conditions.

We are pleased to announce that between the Renaissance Alliance corporate office in Wellesley, MA and the Bakker Insurance Agency in Avon, CT we walked a total of 1,062.12 miles, raising $1,062.12 for a great cause.

We think that programs like Mariela’s Miles are an excellent way to support important causes that make the world a better place while having a secondary benefit of giving employees that extra little motivation to engage in a healthy activity.

We challenge other agencies to launch a charitable walking program. The American Heart Association offers a toolkit on how to set up a workplace walking program. Charity driven, employer-sponsored health initiatives are a great-win-win opportunity for your agency. Connect with a local charity and have your staff drum up some fitness challenges that your agency supports with a donation. Or if you’d prefer, you can connect with organized charity events.

Here are some events that you and your staff could get involved in:

 

The value of working with a local, independent insurance agent


Check out this short video clip on the value of working with an independent insurance agent. We spied it on Twitter the other day, posted by one of our great insurance company partners, Safety Insurance. It talks about the value, expertise and advocacy services that agents provide 24/7.

Joe Harrington of Markham Group, one of our Renaissance Alliance agency members,
made a good case for why you should use an independent agent in a blog post a few years ago. We think he said it well, so we reprint it here:

For some people it does not matter where they buy their insurance. That decision could be costing them money, service and proper protection. Buying insurance is not like buying gasoline at a gas station. It is an important financial decision in protecting those things that are important to you such as your family, home, autos and business.
Independent agencies differ greatly from direct insurance carriers or the internet based insurance companies. In brief, here are the three ways to buy insurance:

Captive Agents: Insurance agents that sell you the insurance policy of one (1) direct carrier.

Internet Based Agents: Agents who potentially represent multiple insurance carriers, but are unable to provide the best customer service and personal knowledge to properly protect you with your changing needs.

Independent Insurance Agents: Agents who represent an average of six – eight insurance carriers. Independent agents are able to research these carriers to find you the best combination of price, coverage and services to properly protect your assets.
Your Independent Insurance Agent:

  • Is a licensed professional with strong customer and community ties
  • Provides excellent customer service and competitive premiums because your agent can access coverage from multiple insurance carriers
  • Because an independent agency represents multiple carriers, the agent can provide flexibility as your insurance needs change. If your insurance needs no longer match your present insurance carrier, the independent agent can easily transition you to another carrier
  • Assists you when you have a claim
  • Is your consultant, working with you to determine your proper insurance needs
  • Saves you premium by looking at the best combination of price, coverage and service
  • Provides full service by offering a full range of insurance products such as home, renters, condo, auto, business, life and health
  • Knows you by name and not by a policy number. An independent agent treats you like a person

We’ve also compiled some articles from other insurance partners and other financial experts who offer more testimony about the benefits of working with your local independent insurance agent.

Don’t have an agent? Find a local, independent insurance agency near you.

 

 

A fresh look for 2017: Re-assess your insurance needs


financial planning

Insurance isn’t a once-and-done thing – it requires a periodic assessment of the changing circumstances in your life and a thoughtful evaluation of whether you should add  protection against any new risks. As you budget for the new year and prep for tax season, it’s the perfect timing to think about these things.

With the start of a new year and the emphasis on resolutions, there have been a few good articles on insurance that caught our attention. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners issued a handy Insurance Checklist for the New Year. It offers some considerations about common forms of insurance – life, home/rental, health, auto.

When new life events occur, you should review of insurance coverage. You may need to add a new type of coverage, you may want to raise or lower deductibles on an existing policy, or there may be opportunities for savings or discounts. Your independent insurance agent will be able to inform you about various coverage options – but can only advise you based upon what he or she knows.

Here’s a list of life events that should trigger a call to your independent insurance agent:

  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Birth or adoption of a child
  • Death of an immediate family member
  • Military deployment
  • Purchasing a new home, condo, or a second home
  • Home renovation
  • Adding buildings to your property
  • Renting out your home
  • Moving to a new geographic area
  • Renting an apartment
  • A teen child getting an auto license
  • Getting a new car
  • Joining a carpool
  • Acquiring expensive electronics, antiques, jewelry, furs, or specialty collections
  • Acquiring a recreational vehicle – boat, motorcycle, snowmobile
  • Getting a recreational drone
  • Changing jobs and job benefits
  • Retiring
  • Starting a small business
  • Joining the sharing economy, such as renting property through Airbnb or driving for Uber

Lacie Glover at Nerd Wallet, USA Today offers good risk limiting advice for us all with her 10 smart insurance resolutions for 2017.  We particularly like #1 – making an inventory – and #9 – informing beneficiaries about your policy. We’d go one step further and suggest that you look at any insurance policies and financial accounts and make sure your contact information and beneficiaries are updated. People often forget to keep those things up to date – unfortunate consequences can ensue: you might not intend to leave your home, your 401K or your life insurance to an ex-spouse, but it could happen if you forget to update your beneficiaries when circumstances change. See our best practices for updating your beneficiaries for insurance policies and retirement plans.

 

The benefits of working with your local independent insurance agent


Whether you’re seeking commercial or personal insurance, an agent can bring a lot of value to the table. There are plenty of online price comparison tools, but getting the right coverage to protect your business, your personal assets and your family involves more consideration than just price. Explore some of the other advantages to working with an independent agent in the links below. And we invite you to check our expert list of independent Renaissance Alliance members in the sidebar or find a New England insurance agent near you.

4 Advantages of an Independent Insurance Agent
FinancialWeb summarizes a few key benefits of working with professional independent insurance agents.

Why Use an Independent Insurance Agency?
Our own Renaissance Alliance member Joe Harrington of Markham Priest Insurance talks about 3 ways to buy insurance and lists some of the benefits of an independent agent.

Insurance: An easier way to comparison shop
At the personal finance blog Get Rich Slowly, April Dykman talks about the experiences that led her to use an independent agent instead of flying solo.

Benefits of an Independent Insurance Agent
Safeco, one of our partner insurers, talks about what to look for in a good insurance agent.

Benefit from the personal attention of a Travelers independent agent
Another of our partner insurers offers a testimony to the benefits of buying insurance through an independent agent.