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Umbrella insurance can provide extra protection beyond what’s covered by your basic insurance.

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You could find yourself in a tough position if you’re liable for more damages that your insurance covers. If you have a high net worth, you’re especially at risk for an unexpected lawsuit. To avoid getting into debt because of an accident, consider taking out an optional umbrella insurance policy.

What is umbrella insurance?

Umbrella insurance is a type of liability insurance that protects you by paying for what you owe beyond the coverage offered by your basic auto, home or renters insurance.

It’s especially recommended for individuals with significant assets who stand to lose a lot from getting sued and can cover you for a wide range of scenarios:

  • You’re at fault in a car accident and your costs exceed your auto insurance limits.
  • Your child gets into a fight at school, and another child’s parents sue you.
  • A worker on your property injures himself and seeks compensation for his medical bills.
  • You’re sued for libel or defamation for a social media message or review you posted.
  • Someone is hurt on your property while enjoying your playground, trampoline or pool.
  • You hurt someone while skiing or hunting and they’re seeking a settlement.

How does umbrella insurance work?

Umbrella insurance covers you over and above your existing policies. Think of it as an extra safety net.

Say you needed to make a claim on your car, home, renters, boat, RV or other insurance. Umbrella coverage kicks in if the costs for damages are above your maximum limits, or if you don’t have an existing insurance policy that would cover the damage.

Usually, you can add umbrella coverage to your existing policies, but high net worth individuals can sometimes buy a separate umbrella policy.

Do I need umbrella insurance?

Umbrella insurance isn’t mandatory. However, you’ll want to look at the terms of your current policies to determine if you’re comfortable with the maximum limits on your policy.

If you feel your limits are high enough to protect your assets, you might choose to forgo umbrella insurance. Otherwise, you might want to peace of mind that an umbrella policy can offer.

Compare car insurance with umbrella coverage

Name Product Roadside assistance New car protection Accident forgiveness Safe driver discount Available states
Progressive
Optional
30%
All 50 states
Get unlimited discounts and score a lower deductible every 6 months you don't make a claim.
Clearcover
Optional
Yes
AZ, CA, IL, LA, OH, TX, UT and WI
Find basic coverage and low rates through its easy online or app-based experience.
Assurance
Optional
Yes
All states except AK & HI
Your broker is your one-stop shop for comparing any coverage you need.
Car Insurance Finder
Optional
Optional
Yes
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Get your customized online car insurance quote from top brands near you. Answer 3 easy questions to see your top picks in seconds.
The AARP Auto Insurance Program from The Hartford
Optional
Yes
All 50 states & DC
Enjoy exclusive savings and benefits designed for experienced drivers over the age of 49.
Esurance
40%
All states except AK, DE, HI, MT, NH, VT, WY
Convenient online quotes, coverage and claims for tech-savvy drivers.
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Is umbrella insurance worth it?

Consider umbrella insurance if:

  • You have a high net worth or high-value asset.
  • You’re a target for a lawsuit, such as a CEO or public figure.
  • You hire others to work at your home, like gardeners or contractors.
  • Your dog has shown aggressive tendencies.
  • You’re a landlord or you own property on homesharing sites.
  • You volunteer or work with children or animals.
  • You’re a rideshare driver or you often carpool with others.
  • You need worldwide auto liability coverage.

You might not need umbrella coverage if:

  • You have high car or home insurance limits.
  • You don’t have a lot of assets.
  • You don’t work with, commute or hire other people.

How much umbrella insurance do I need?

Umbrella insurance policies often max out at $500,000 to $1 million limits.

The more assets you have, the more coverage you’ll need. Review your net worth, home value, retirement plans and even your interest. Consider how much coverage you have with your current policies and if you’ll need extra in the case something was to happen.

For example, say your home is worth $400,000 and your cars are worth $50,000 total. Plus you have savings and retirement of about $250,000. Your total net worth is around $700,000, minus any debts you might have. An umbrella policy of $700,000 should fully protect all your assets if you were sued, even in a worst case scenario lawsuit.

How much does umbrella insurance cost?

A $1 million umbrella insurance policy typically costs between $150 and $300 each year, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The exact cost depends on your personal profile, such as your age and where you live, plus other factors depending on your insurance company.

Those rates may seem lower than typical car or home insurance policies. That’s because umbrella coverage is usually added to existing policies, similar to how you’ll save by bundling insurance. Your risk of maxing out your policy is also lower since your other insurance will kick in first.

How do I get umbrella insurance?

Before you can buy umbrella insurance, insurers will require you to already have significant coverage under your auto or homeowner’s insurance. However, if you don’t meet the minimum coverage amounts you may be required to increase your liability limits. If you lower your limits or your policy lapses, your umbrella policy starts paying after you’ve paid the maximum liability coverage amount.

Chances are your current insurer will offer umbrella insurance. You’ll most likely need an existing insurance policy with the provider in order to take out an umbrella policy or add it to existing coverage.

Does umbrella insurance come with a deductible?

If your basic insurance policy — auto insurance, homeowners insurance — covers part of what you owe, umbrella insurance doesn’t have a deductible. However, if your basic insurance doesn’t pay for anything, you’ll pay a deductible.

Umbrella insurance in action

George’s auto insurance covers him up to $500,000 in the event of bodily injury to others in a car crash. He’s in an at-fault accident, and the resulting medical expenses and property damage total $750,000. After paying his car insurance deductible, George’s car insurance pays out $500,000.

He’s still on the hook for $250,000. His umbrella insurance covers bodily injury liability and property damage up to $500,000, so he uses his umbrella policy to cover the remaining damage. He would still have up to $250,000 to pay for legal fees or additional damage if he’s sued by any of the other drivers.

Bottom line

Umbrella insurance isn’t mandatory, but it could protect you if you’re liable for large expenses that your basic insurance doesn’t cover. Compare your options for adding umbrella coverage to your car insurance policy.

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