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How to Insure Your Income: Common Kinds of Liability

Vehicle-related liability is the greatest single source of personal liability. Your use of a vehicle generally causes you to be in the proximity of many other people and vehicle operators, while operating a several-thousand-pound machine moving in and around other such machine operators. It's a wonder there aren't more accidents.

Vehicle liability can arise from property damage to other peoples' cars, injury to people occupying other cars, injury to pedestrians and damage to property other than cars (such as the neighbor's brand-new fence).

Injuries and damages related to vehicle use also may be caused or aggravated by many factors, such as excessive speed, driver inexperience, disobedience of traffic laws (running a stop sign), use of intoxicants (drugs, alcohol) or simple carelessness brought on by inattention (driving a car while something major is on your mind, or watching the scenery instead of the road).

Whether you own or rent residential premises, control of the premises can result in personal liability exposures for injury or damage to others. Such situations could include:

  • trip and fall incidents occurring for any number of reasons (ice and snow, debris, stairways, etc.);
  • swimming pools or other attractive nuisances, such as jungle gyms;
  • property damage scenarios (a renter causing damage to the premises by careless smoking or a host of other causes);
  • domestic and yard workers (injuries sustained by, or injuries to others caused by, domestic workers, such as maids, gardeners, etc.).

Generally, an umbrella policy won't cover business liability. However, some business exposures may be covered by personal liability policies. An umbrella policy may cover certain home office exposures.

Intentional torts can involve infringement of property and privacy rights (for example, trespassing). Property rights also can be violated by nuisance-type activities, which interrupt the property owner's ability to use the property (the neighbor who tests the volume limit on his new 2500-watt CD player). Other intentional torts involve personal injury, which includes (besides the traditional bodily injury) damage to reputation through untrue statements, be it libel (in print) or slander (spoken).

These are not the only examples of personal liability exposures. Your children, your pets, your premises, your hobbies, your car and many of your daily activities create exposures.

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