This article appears on Investopedia
Reviewed by Julia Kagan
What is Umbrella Insurance Policy
An umbrella insurance policy is extra liability insurance coverage that goes beyond the limits of the insured’s home, auto or watercraft insurance. It provides an additional layer of security to those who are at risk for being sued for damages to other people’s property or injuries caused to others in an accident. It also protects against libel, vandalism, slander and invasion of privacy. An umbrella insurance policy is very helpful when the insurance owner is sued and the dollar limit of the original policy has been exhausted. The added coverage provided by liability insurance is most useful to individuals who own a lot of assets or very expensive assets and are at significant risk for being sued.
BREAKING DOWN Umbrella Insurance Policy
The premium for an umbrella insurance policy may be less expensive if the policy is purchased from the same insurer that provided the original auto, home or watercraft insurance. Depending on the provider, the policyholder who wants to add an umbrella insurance policy is required to have a base insurance coverage of $150,000 to $250,000 for auto insurance and $250,000 to $300,000 for homeowners insurance.
Umbrella insurance is often referred to as excess liability insurance. It acts as a fail-safe for your savings and other assets. If a policyholder is sued for damages that exceed the liability limits of car insurance, homeowners insurance or other coverage types, an umbrella policy helps pay what they owe. It may also provide coverage not included in a base insurance policy.
People who regularly purchase umbrella insurance will usually own property, have significant savings or they may own dangerous things that can cause injury (pools, trampolines, dogs, etc.). They might also engage in activities that increase their chances of lawsuits, such as:
- Being a landlord.
- Coaching kids’ sports.
- Serving on the board of a nonprofit.
- Regularly posting reviews of products and businesses.
- Participating in sports where you could easily injure others (skiing, surfing, hunting, etc.).
How Umbrella Insurance Works
To understand how umbrella insurance can help, consider the following scenario. If a driver runs a red light and accidentally hits another car, there might be significant damage to the vehicle and several people might be injured. With car repairs totaling $50,000 and the treatment of the injuries eclipsing $500,000, the driver at fault may be liable for expenses that go far beyond the coverage limits of their insurance. An umbrella insurance policy will pick up the additional liability costs beyond the limits of car insurance coverage.