Fireworks and celebrations go hand-in-hand, especially during the Fourth of July. However, fireworks can be dangerous and may jeopardize your insurance coverage if someone is injured or if property is damaged because of your actions.
“Nearly all summertime outdoor activities come with increased risks. A call to your insurance agent is always a good first step in making sure you are protecting yourself and your family,” says New York State Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo.
Dinallo urges consumers to review the following tips:
The personal property coverage of your homeowner’s policy might cover a small boat for $1,500 or less in physical damage. However, coverage for your liability risk is limited. Insurers generally provide liability insurance on small sailboats (26 feet or less) and powerboats with small motors (50 HP for inboard and inboard/outboard and 25 HP for outboard motors).
However, a boat of any significant size will be excluded from your homeowner’s policy for both property and liability coverage. If you own a larger boat, ask your insurance agent or company about a separate policy that covers physical damage to the boat and any liability that might result from its use.
Personal watercraft, such as a Jet Ski, will also likely require a separate boat insurance policy. Again, you might be able to purchase this policy from your homeowner’s insurer or you might wish to use an insurer that specializes in boat insurance. These are some of the questions to ask your agent before putting your boat in the water:
Does my policy have adequate liability limits?
Are there special discounts for taking safety courses?
Who does the policy cover to operate the boat or personal watercraft?
Is the towing of skiers or tubes covered by my policy?
Motorcycles, Mopeds and Scooters
Motorcycles and mopeds (limited use motorcycles) are not covered by your standard auto insurance policy. You must have a separate policy that covers liability, no-fault personal injury protection for pedestrians, and depending on the value of the motorcycle, comprehensive and collision coverage. If your motorcycle is financed, your lender will likely require you carry physical damage coverage.
The premium for your policy will partially depend on the motorcycle’s engine size, its age and how often you ride. When you are getting a quote, be sure to ask your insurance agent or company if they offer discounts to members of associations or for taking safety courses.
Although they are not subject to New York registration and are not legally permitted on streets or other areas that allow for public motor vehicle traffic, motorized scooters for yourself or your teenager may require insurance. Talk with your insurance agent or company about necessary coverage and who will be operating the scooter. Some insurance companies might offer a discount for safety courses.
All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are also not covered by standard automobile insurance policies. However, your homeowner’s policy might partially cover your liability. Ask your insurance agent or company if this coverage is enough protection. You may need to consider a separate ATV policy to make sure you are properly insured, especially if driving an ATV on public roads. Some questions to ask:
Are there age restrictions on who may operate the ATV?
Does my policy cover friends or family who are operating the ATV?
Is there a discount for taking an operator safety course or for riding with a helmet?
Backyard Fun – Pools and Trampolines
Pools and trampolines, while fun for the family may be dangerous and will increase your insurance risk. It is important to check with your insurance agent or company to make sure you are properly insured. You might want to consider purchasing an umbrella policy to provide liability coverage above what your homeowner’s policy offers. Be sure to ask if your homeowner’s policy specifies any safety measures you are required to install, such as a certain height fence or locked gate.
Some companies might not insure your property if you have a trampoline, or they might have policy exclusions for any liability related to trampoline injuries. Be sure to understand exactly what damages and injuries your homeowner’s policy covers before you allow anyone on the trampoline.
An insurance company can deny coverage or cancel your policy if you do not follow the policy safety guidelines or do not inform the company when you install a pool or purchase a trampoline. Check with your insurance agent or company for rates and safety guidelines before making your purchase.
Additional information about consumer insurance protection can be found on the New York State Insurance Department web site, www.ins.state.ny.us, or by calling the Department’s Consumer Services Bureau between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday toll-free at 800-342-3736. Specific requirements on the use of all motor vehicles and similar devices may be obtained on the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Web site, www.nysdmv.com.