Insurance was created to offer protection and peace of mind, even when life is unpredictable. As your hometown team of trusted insurance professionals, we help you balance the realities of your budget with the need to make smart choices. At the Helwig Agency, we take the time to learn about you, your family, and your business. We want to understand your needs and priorities, so we can find the policy that’s right for you.
Everyone worries sometimes. We all ask ourselves, “What if this happens?” or “What if that happens?” Trust us to help answer those questions! It’s impossible to always know what the future may bring. But with the Helwig Agency, you’ll know you’re protected. And that peace of mind is what we want to help you create.
Here are some frequently asked questions, and the answers, to help you get started. Please keep in mind that this is general information only, and that speaking to a trusted insurance professional is vital in order to determine which insurance is the best fit for you.
What is an insurance policy?
What is personal insurance?
What are the different kinds of personal insurance, and how do I know if I need them and how much coverage I should have?
We’ve provided a list of personal insurance types and some main points about each one. Deciding which type(s) of insurance you need, and how much coverage you should have, can be confusing or even overwhelming at first. That’s why we’re here: to make sure we learn about you and ask the right questions. We’ll explain your options and help you clarify your priorities – then find you a policy that is appropriate and affordable.
Automobile – Auto insurance is designed to protect you in various situations, such as if you cause injury to others or damage their property in an auto accident. It can also provide protection if you are hurt in a collision, or if your car is stolen or damaged.
In general, when choosing your auto insurance, it’s a good idea to look at your income and net worth. How much could you lose if you are ever found liable for an accident? The greater your assets, the more coverage you may want to consider. Other considerations include how many drivers are in your family, the age and driving record of those drivers, how many vehicles you own, and how much those vehicles are worth.
Some auto insurance types may be required by law; others are optional. Please ask us about the laws and coverages where you live.
Want to learn more? Here are the most common types of automobile insurance coverage:
- Bodily injury liability is for injuries you cause to someone else; it also provides coverage to defend you if you are sued after an auto accident.
- Medical payments or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is for treatment of injuries to you (as the driver) and the passengers of your car; it also covers you as a pedestrian if you are hit by a vehicle.
- Property damage liability is for damage you cause to someone else’s property.
- Collision coverage is for damage to your car from a collision.
- Comprehensive coverage pays for damages to your vehicle resulting from a covered loss “other than collision.” These loss types include fire, theft, vandalism, or contact with persons, animals, birds, or falling objects.
- Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you’re in an accident with an at-fault driver who doesn’t carry liability insurance
- Underinsured motorist coverage steps in when you’re in an accident with an at-fault driver whose liability limits are too low to cover the damage. This is not coverage for your auto, but rather for things like unpaid medical expenses and pain and suffering.
What is an auto policy deductible and how do I choose one?
What is Limited Tort vs. Full Tort automobile insurance coverage?
What about my RV, motorcycle, boat, or other “toys”?
If you own motorized “toys” or Recreational Vehicles, you also need insurance to protect them from damage, loss, or theft. With recreational vehicle insurance, you can select your policy to include “full-timer” coverage, emergency expense coverage, and/or total loss replacement. In addition, your RV insurance policy can include vacation liability, which protects your passengers, as well as your possessions, while you are on a trip. Our wide selection of RV coverage options includes Campers, Travel Trailers, and Motor Homes. With the right coverage in place, you and your family will be all set to hit the road and enjoy the great outdoors!
Motorcycles/ATVs – More than 100,000 serious motorcycle accidents happen in the U.S. each year, and with the growing number of motorcyclists on the road, motorcycle insurance is a necessity. Before you take off to enjoy the freedom and fun of motorcycling, make sure your policy is also running in top condition! The Helwig Agency can help you select from coverages such as Bodily Injury, Property Damage Liability, Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage, Roadside Assistance, Comprehensive & Collision Coverage, Medical Payments, and more. Your insurance policy can even be customized for the specific type of bike you own. If your vehicle is an ATV, your policy may be nearly identical to that of a motorcycle. However, ATV owners may have some additional considerations, whether they are riding for fun or to get a job done, on a state trail or in the middle of nowhere. Accidents and injuries can happen, but we’ll help you be sure you’re protected before you head out.
Boats/Watercraft – Enjoying Pennsylvania’s many beautiful lakes and rivers is a unique joy for many boaters and their families. Before you embark, visit us for a “water-tight” policy so you can feel relaxed and confident on the water. Most boat insurance policies cover vandalism, malicious mischief, and liability losses; we’ll help you select the options that are right for you.
Snowmobiles – The changing seasons in our area mean plenty of time for outdoor winter activities for snowmobilers and their families. The time to select your snowmobile insurance is before the snow arrives, and we’re here to help you through the process. When you’re flying across a layer of fresh powder, you’ll know that if a breakdown (or a tree stump) gets in the way, your sled is covered and will be back out there in no time.
My home is my most valuable asset; how do I know it’s protected?
What else might a policy cover besides the house itself?
Your homeowners’ policy may cover losses occurring to your home, its contents, outbuildings or a garage for personal use, and what is called “loss of use” (additional living expenses in the event of a covered loss). Also covered may be the loss of other personal possessions.
In addition, the policy may include liability insurance for accidents that happen at the home, or at the hands of the homeowner within the policy’s scope. Common exclusions of a homeowners’ policy include flood, earthquake, and normal wear and tear, to name a few. Ask us for more details, and we can help you decide if you need to add these special coverages.
As with automobile policies, homeowners’ policies may include a deductible, or amount you must pay out of pocket before the insurance will take over and cover the loss. Homeowners’ policies are not the same from company to company! At Helwig Insurance, we will sit down with you and make an assessment that is customized for you. It’s our goal to help you build a policy that is appropriate for your lifestyle and your most valuable assets.
What if I rent, or live in a condo or mobile home?
Renters – If you rent your home, you need a policy tailored to your needs as a renter rather than an owner. Renter policies are often similar to homeowners’ policies, with the exception, of course, that they do not cover the actual building, but its contents. Many renters may underestimate the value of their belongings, but the Helwig Agency can help you be sure not to make this mistake. Renter policies can also cover you for loss of use, liability, and other situations. If fire, theft, or another unfortunate event occurs, you’ll want to be sure you can replace your possessions. We’ll help you get that coverage in place.
Condominium – Condos and townhomes combine many of the perks of home ownership with less upkeep and maintenance for you to worry about. But in order to know if you, your home and your belongings are adequately protected, you need to understand what is already covered by your condo association’s “master” policy – and these policies can vary widely. We’ll help you determine the answers, including what coverage may already exist for structures and common areas. Condo insurance may come in the form of Building Property Protection (walls of your condo unit and its interior), Personal Property Coverage (electronics, appliances, clothes, books, etc.), and Personal Liability Coverage (for example, if someone is accidentally injured while visiting your condo). Keep in mind that as with a homeowners’ policy, flood insurance for condos is typically not included and must be purchased separately. By working with the Helwig Agency, you can make sure your condo policy meets your unique needs.
Mobile Home – Looking for affordable mobile home coverage? We can help! Mobile homes and manufactured homes may require specialized coverage. Whether your home is a single-wide, double-wide, triple-wide, or two-story modular, we’ll sit down with you, take the time to understand your needs, and find a policy that will provide protection and peace of mind.
What other specialty coverages might I need for my home and property?
Home Business – According to the Small Business Administration, more than half of the businesses in the United States are based out of the owner’s home. These busy entrepreneurs may assume their homeowners’ insurance covers their business needs, but the reality is that most policies do not. For example, homeowners’ insurance may provide a limited amount of coverage for business equipment, but most standard policies exclude coverage for businesses operating in the home. In addition, most policies don’t cover lost data, lost income, or liability. The Helwig Agency can help you determine if you need extra protection; and if so, how to best tailor that coverage to fit the needs of your home-based business.
Rental Properties – As a landlord, you know that purchasing and maintaining rental properties is a significant investment. That means your rental properties need protection that is tailored to the specific concerns of landlords. Your tenants know they can call you if they have questions or need help – and the Helwig Agency is here for you in the same way.
Farm – Pennsylvania has a long and proud history of farming – a cultural legacy that continues today. Do you run a small or large farm? Do you own or rent your premises and land, or raise crops or livestock? If so, you know it’s important to look for solid protection for your animals, machinery, property, and structures. We’ll guide you through the process of expanding and customizing your coverage to fit the needs of your farm or ranch.
Flood – According to the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), flooding is the number one natural disaster in America. Just a few inches of flood water can cause serious (and expensive!) damage to your home and possessions. Flood policy options include protection against property damage incurred by flooding caused by excessive rainfall, storm surges, and even blocked storm drainage systems. Most homeowners’ policies do not include flood insurance, so if you live in an area that’s designated as a flood zone, let us help you add flood protection now.
Umbrella – Umbrella insurance is extra liability insurance. Designed to help protect your assets and future, it covers you in the event of major claims and lawsuits. Umbrella coverage provides additional liability coverage above the limits of your homeowners’, auto, and boat insurance policies. The extra protection takes over when the liability on these other policies has been exhausted. Umbrella insurance may take the form of bodily injury liability and/or property damage liability. Examples are things like a serious car accident in which you’re at fault and someone is badly hurt; your dog biting someone or destroying another person’s property; your child causing accidental damage at his or her school; or a visitor to your home falling and being hurt (just to name a few). Umbrella coverage can also provide coverage for claims that may be excluded by other liability policies, including false arrest, libel, slander, shock/mental anguish, and liability coverage on rental units you own.
Owning a business is more than your “job” – it’s a large part of your life. It takes vision, dedication, and planning. We understand the entrepreneurial spirit, because we’re an owner-led business, too! Let the Helwig Agency help you make sure all your commercial insurance needs are covered, so that you can focus your time and energy where it matters most: running and growing your business.
Whether your business is small or large, new or older, here are some commercial insurance basics to consider. Call or email us today to schedule your in-person appointment so that we can get to know you and your business. We’ll recommend the coverage that best fits your needs and budget.
I’m a business owner looking for a basic starting point for coverage. What do you recommend?
What are the most common types of coverage in a Business Owners Policy (BOP)?
Property – Your commercial property insurance is very important. This coverage compensates your business if the property used in the business is lost or damaged as the result of various types of common perils, such as fire or theft. Property insurance covers not only a building or structure, but also “personal property,” such as office furnishings, inventory, raw materials, machinery, computers, and other items. Expanded types of property coverage are also available depending on the policy.
General Liability – This is a basic policy that protects you in the event that you cause bodily injury and/or property damages during the course of your normal business operations. An example would be if your business were to be sued because a customer claimed that it caused them harm as the result of a defective product, an error in service, or disregard for another person’s property. Liability insurance pays damages for which your business is found liable, up to the policy limits, as well as attorneys’ fees and other legal defense expenses. It also pays the medical bills of any people injured by, or on the premises of, the business.
Business Auto – Does your business use any type of motor vehicle? If so, business auto coverage might be necessary. We can help you get practical coverage for anything from standard company cars to commercial vans and trucks. Business auto insurance generally pays any costs to third parties resulting from bodily injury or property damage for which the business is legally liable, up to the policy limits.
As with personal auto insurance, your business auto policy can also provide comprehensive and collision protection. Here are the most common types of automobile insurance coverage:
- Bodily injury liability protects your business (“named insured”) in the case of injuries suffered by others in an accident caused by you or your employee while driving a business vehicle; it can also provide coverage to defend your business if it is sued as a result.
- Medical payments or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is for treatment of injuries to someone employed by your business (as the driver of a business vehicle), and the passengers of the vehicle. (Note that if the injured person is an employee and operating a vehicle for business purposes, workers’ comp would be the primary coverage.)
- Property damage liability protects you from liability related to damage that you or your employee, while operating a vehicle for business purposes, cause to someone else’s property.
- Collision coverage is for damage to your business vehicle from a collision.
- Comprehensive coverage pays for damages to your business vehicle resulting from a covered loss “other than collision.” These loss types include fire, theft, vandalism, or contact with persons, animals, birds, or falling objects.
- Uninsured motorist/ Underinsured motorist coverage is insurance you can add to your commercial auto policy to protect your business, and your employees, against people who do not carry insurance or do not carry adequate limits. Essentially, uninsured/underinsured motorist is liability insurance that you purchase on behalf of that other driver. (Note: in the state of Pennsylvania you have the right to refuse coverage, but you must do so in writing).
Workers’ Compensation – This coverage, a requirement if you have any employees in the state of Pennsylvania, is generally referred to as “workers comp.” It pays for reasonable medical expenses and replaces a portion of lost wages for an employee who is injured in the course of employment, regardless of who was at fault. When a worker dies as a result of injuries sustained while working, the insurance may provide compensation to the employee’s family.
There is a great deal of confusion when choosing an “employee” classification vs. an “independent contractor.” This designation determines your workers’ comp insurance obligations as well as how you’ll handle many payroll and tax issues. If you are a business owner hiring or contracting with other individuals to provide services, you must determine whether the individuals providing these services are employees or independent contractors. If a worker is an employee, you as the employer must withhold income taxes, withhold and pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, and pay unemployment tax on wages (among other things). If a worker is an independent contractor, you generally do not have to withhold or pay any taxes on payments to that worker. You also do not need to carry workers’ comp insurance for independent contractors. Not sure how to tell the difference? We advise that you consult a trusted tax professional when making these determinations. For more information, please visit https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/independent-contractor-self-employed-or-employee.
Workers’ compensation premiums are largely based on the amount of payroll a business runs annually. The business owner will provide an estimated payroll amount to the insurance company, which is used to calculate the premium. The annual premium audit (also known as the payroll audit) determines your actual premium owed for the policy period. You then receive either a refund, or an invoice for any additional payment owed, based on how the estimate and the actual numbers compare. If you want to avoid overpaying or underpaying, many insurance carriers are now offering a “pay as you go” workers’ comp plan, with a monthly reporting form. Ask us for more information.
What other types of liability coverage does my business need?
Employment Practices Liability – This option covers (up to the policy limits) damages for which an employer is legally liable. These may include violating an employee’s civil or other legal rights. In addition to paying a judgment for which the insured is liable, it also provides legal defense costs, which can be substantial even when there has been no wrongdoing.
Bonding – When a business is marketed as “bonded,” this often means that it has purchased a type of surety bonding. Many occupations require a license, and a surety bond may be required to guarantee that the bonded business obtains the license, and then follows its rules. Should the business break these rules, a claim could be filed on the bond. In other words, surety bonds create a potential liability for your company, but are required of you by a third party (typically the government) to do business. There are thousands of surety bond requirements throughout the United States.
The Helwig Agency can help you with a variety of bonds, including Court Order Bonds, Administrator’s Bond, Estate, Public Official Bond, and more. In addition, we offer Contractor’s Bonds, such as Performance Bonds and Road Bonds. Another type of bonding is “fidelity bonding.” It provides insurance for your company against employee dishonesty and theft. Bonding can be a complex issue with many factors to consider; we’ll help guide you through the process.
Directors & Officers Liability – Directors and officers liability insurance protects directors and officers of corporations or not-for-profit organizations if there is a lawsuit claiming they managed the business or organization without proper regard for the rights of others. The policy will pay any judgment for which the insured is legally liable, up to the policy limit. It also provides for legal defense costs, even where there has been no wrongdoing.
Errors & Omissions Liability – Some businesses involve services such as giving advice, making recommendations, designing things, providing physical care or representing the needs of others. These services, unfortunately, can lead to being sued by customers, clients, or patients claiming that the business’s failure to perform a job properly has injured them. Errors and omissions, or professional liability insurance, covers these situations. The policy will pay any judgment for which the insured is legally liable, up to the policy limit. It also provides legal defense costs, even when there has been no wrongdoing.
Umbrella – As the name implies, an umbrella liability policy provides coverage over and above a business’s other liability coverages. It takes over when basic coverage has been exhausted, and is designed to protect against unusually high losses. For a typical business, the umbrella policy would provide protection beyond general liability and auto liability policies.
Are there any other specialty coverage options that I need to consider?
Depending on the industry your business is in, and where you’re located, you may also benefit from other specific types of coverage. Ask us for more information!
Flood – Natural disasters can be devastating to business. Your commercial property insurance generally covers natural events such as lightning or wind, but flood protection requires a special policy. So what constitutes an actual flood? First, it’s important to understand the general guideline that if water comes “from above” (i.e. from rain or melting snow overflowing gutters and leaking onto your inventory), you may be covered by your standard commercial property insurance.
Flood insurance is different. It generally includes losses resulting from water overflowing rivers or streams, heavy or prolonged rain, storm surge, snow melt, blocked storm drainage systems, broken dams or levees, or other similar causes. To be considered a flood, waters must cover at least two acres or affect two properties. However, flood insurance has its limits. Property outside your building (like landscaping and sewer systems, for example) generally will not be covered by your flood insurance. Keep in mind, too, that flood insurance will not cover damage to your business vehicles; however, this can be included in the optional “comprehensive” portion of your business vehicle insurance. Financial losses caused by business interruption or loss of use of insured property are also not covered by flood insurance.
The most important factor here is location. Is your business located in or near a flood zone? In what part of the building is your businesses equipment and inventory located? Anything housed on a lower floor, for instance, will be at greater risk. We can help you determine your flood risk, and then discuss with you how to obtain appropriate coverage for events related to flooding and its aftermath.
Crime – No one likes to imagine being the victim of a crime, but it’s important to be protected in the event that this happens to your business. A crime policy provides protection from losses resulting from business-related crime. This may cover merchandise, as well as losses incurred when a company is victimized by someone perpetrating embezzlement, forgery, robbery, securities theft, or another form of business-related crime.
Equipment/Inland Marine – This is commercial insurance for property in transit over land, as well as certain types of moveable property. Inland marine insurance covers products, materials, and equipment when transported over land (such as via truck or train) or while temporarily warehoused by a third party. Collisions and cargo theft are the two most frequent causes of inland marine losses. If your business frequently ships high-value products or equipment, you may want to consider purchasing inland marine insurance. High-value products or materials include computers, communications and networking equipment, construction/contracting equipment, medical/scientific equipment, and photography equipment, among others. We can help you determine if this additional coverage is a good fit for your business.
Boiler & Machinery – Don’t have a boiler? You may still need this type of commercial insurance! That’s because this longstanding type of coverage has been modernized and is now also referred to as “equipment breakdown.” It’s a policy that provides coverage for physical damage to, and financial loss from, equipment breakdown. Generally, it covers the cost of repairing or replacing the damaged equipment, as well as business losses incurred from the equipment not functioning. This type of insurance can cover a wide range of equipment types, including HVAC systems, ovens, boilers and furnaces, refrigeration units, elevators, and office equipment.