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We offer personal and commercial umbrella policies to our clients. A personal umbrella is designed for the individual, whereas the commercial umbrella is designed for a business exposure. In both cases, the umbrella adds an extra layer of financial protection over and above your underlying (primary) limits of liability. For an individual, primary liability is included on their homeowner policy. For the business owner, primary liability is included on their business general liability policy.
Many times we’ve heard clients wonder if they should buy an umbrella policy so “everything” will be covered. Unfortunately, that is not the purpose or intent of the umbrella liability policy. Instead, an umbrella offers a higher financial payout in the event you are sued for a loss exceeding the limits on your underlying (primary) policy. If your underlying (primary) policy refuses to pay a claim, it’s most likely your umbrella carrier will also refuse to pay the claim. The umbrella acts more like an excess policy, paying additional money only after the primary (underlying) policy limits are exhausted.
Most applicants can and do qualify for personal umbrella coverage. Yet, qualifying for coverage depends on several rating factors such as the driving record of the applicant, their profession and certain other liability concerns. Someone who has a terrible driving record, owns a pit bull and works in a risky profession would find it difficult to secure coverage. If you choose to pursue this relatively affordable coverage, you must maintain higher limits of liability on your primary (underlying) policies. Recall the umbrella policy “follows” your primary policies. So, if you own a condo in ski country, a cottage on Cape Cod or a boat at the marina, you need first to insure those exposure under a primary policy, then list that “exposure” on your umbrella policy in order for coverage to apply. Failure to do either will result in a denial of coverage.
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