Umbrella insurance: are you covered?

For thousands of years, people across the world have been using umbrellas to protect themselves from the rain. Interestingly, the word "umbrella" is also used to refer to a type of insurance that helps protect your wealth. Here's what you need to know.

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A personal umbrella policy is a type of liability insurance designed to kick in when a liability limit on a regular auto, homeowners or renters insurance policy is met. Umbrella insurance covers personal injuries sustained either on your property or in a car accident for which you are at fault. It may also cover property damage caused by your child, your pet or yourself in a car accident. In addition, it can provide protection against libel and slander.


If you're involved in a car accident or if a guest is injured in your home, you can get sued. A settlement or penalty, as well as the costs of legal representation, can swallow up your financial assets overnight.

Of course, you have a certain amount of liability coverage in your auto, homeowners or renters insurance—but oftentimes, that' not enough. In this type of situation, an umbrella insurance policy can help protect your assets. Once the liability coverage from your other insurance policy is exhausted, the coverage from your umbrella insurance comes into play. Let's say you're involved in a car accident, and the other driver sues you for $2 million. If you reach a settlement in which you agree to pay $1 million, your auto insurance pays up to its liability limits—$250,000, for example—and then if you have a $1 million umbrella insurance policy, it covers the remaining $750,000.


When you're thinking about buying umbrella insurance, you need to consider these points to determine your needs and what you're trying to protect:

  • What types of risks do you encounter? Are you on the road a lot, or do you engage in activities that could put others around you at risk? The more risk you encounter, the more likely you are to need umbrella insurance.
  • How much are your assets worth? To determine how much coverage you need, you need to calculate the value of all of your assets, including your home, vehicles, savings, retirement funds and stocks, as well as that of any art, jewelry and other valuable possessions.
  • How much could you lose in potential income? If you're ordered to pay damages or if you agree to a settlement, your future earnings could play a role in the amount you have to pay. For this reason, you need to take your earnings into account. This is also important if you're about to embark on a well-paying career, even if you're not earning that much right now.

Umbrella insurance is surprisingly affordable, especially compared to the amount of coverage it can provide. Contact a Gallagher representative today to evaluate your needs, receive a personal umbrella quote and advise you on your options.

Preparing your home for winter

Person installing window weatherstripping

As winter fast approaches, it', snow and freezing temperatures.

Arrange for a home energy audit. This is done by a professional and can help you uncover any issues or problems with your home before the cold weather sets in.
Feel for under-door drafts. You may be surprised at how much energy we lose underneath doors that are not properly sealed. To cut down on energy loss, you can use a "draft snake" or replace the weather stripping beneath your door.
Seal around windows. You may be losing heat around your windows as well. By making sure they are properly caulked, you may cut your heating bill dramatically.
Add insulation. Many older homes have little or no insulation in the attic. Adding insulation to the attic, walls or floors can make a big difference in winter (conserving heat) and summer (keeping the cool air in).
Update your appliances. By upgrading an old furnace or purchasing more efficient appliances, you can increase your home's energy efficiency while keeping it warm during those cold weather months.
Change the direction of your ceiling fan. Did you know that rotating your fan clockwise produces warmer air, and rotating it counterclockwise produces cooler air? It's true!
Install a programmable thermostat. Keeping temperatures lower at night can save you a lot of money on heating costs. Additionally, smart thermostats or temperature monitors will wirelessly alert you to unusually low temperatures in the home, which is a possible precursor to freezing pipes.
Lower your water heater temperature. By keeping the maximum temperature of your water heater just a little lower, it will consume less energy, which can also save money.
Keep your home temperature no lower than 65 degrees. While you want to save money (especially if you're away), you also need to make sure your pipes don't freeze and expand, causing connecting faucets and pipes to freeze and break. Consider covering outside faucets with insulation kits, or installing leak detection systems to shut down the water system and alert you of any issues.
Clean your gutters regularly. Clear roof gutters and downspouts so they can drain properly and won't cause issues with ice buildup or water overflow during a storm.

Preparing your home for winter is key to reducing the risk of damage to your home and saving money on your energy bills. To make sure your home insurance policy is providing all the right coverage for your risks and saving you money with all available discounts, contact your Gallagher representative for a comprehensive review of your insurance.

Winter vs. all-season tires

According to Consumer Reports, most vehicles roll off the manufacturing line outfitted with all-season tires. Yet it can be confusing to know when it's time to swap out all-season tires for winter tires or vice versa. Here's what you need to know.


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All season tires are specifically designed to provide year-round performance and a decent tread life. They can handle wet road surfaces, as well as some light winter conditions. However, they're not designed for driving in extreme summer or winter conditions, so they won't offer the same handling and grip as winter tires in cold weather.

Winter tires and snow tires are designed to handle cold temperatures, snow and ice. Their tread rubber remains flexible even in extreme cold, so the tire can grip the road better. In addition, to improve traction, they have more biting edges—plus, their tread depth and patterns expel slush and reduce the buildup of snow.

Consumer Reports found that winter tires only need 30 feet to brake on ice, whereas all- season tires need 36 feet. Similarly, winter tires achieve snow traction at 64 feet while accelerating, whereas all-season tires need 86 feet.


To decide which type of tire is best for you, consider the following:

  • Your location: If you live in a moderate climate with mild winters, all-season tires will probably be sufficient. However, if you live in a climate with cold winters, winter tires could offer you a significant amount of protection in harsh winter conditions.
  • Mileage: If you don't drive very much during the winter, you can possibly still use your all- season tires when it gets colder.
  • Road trips: If you enjoy going on road trips, select the type of tires that are best for the climate you'll be driving in. For example, if you're driving from Rhode Island to Minnesota during Thanksgiving, winter tires would be best. But if you’re driving from Connecticut to Florida, all-season tires should be sufficient.


Popular Mechanics offers some advice on using and storing your tires:

  • Swap to summer tires at Easter and to winter tires at Thanksgiving. Pay attention to the weather reports, as winter could come early.
  • Always mount the same type of tires on all four wheels. This will offer the best grip and performance.
  • Store tires you're not using in a dry, cool area, away from sunlight. If you wrap off-season tires in black plastic bags, you can reduce oxidation.

Keep in mind that regardless of how good your tires are, you still need to practice safe driving habits. Maintain your distance from other drivers, stick to the speed limit and don't allow yourself to get distracted when you're behind the wheel.

Contact your Gallagher representative to review your auto policy for potential discounts and to ensure you have the right coverage for your needs, including roadside assistance.

Gallagher in action

Mclean Car Show crew Vintage car

Each year, McLean Insurance Agency, a recent Gallagher merger partner, organizes the Carz Cruizin to Cure Cancer event to honor the memory of its founder, Henry C. Megill Jr., who battled a rare form of lymphoma. Doug Megill founded this annual event in 2010 to continue his father';s legacy and passion for making a difference in the community.

Funds raised by Carz Cruizin to Cure Cancer were donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, whose mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families. This annual community and charity event featured classic, custom, foreign, sports, high-performance and hot-rod cars, trucks, and motorcycles in a parade and show, followed by juried entries, musical entertainment, raffles and great food!

This year, Carz Cruizin to Cure Cancer surpassed its 2019 goal of $50,000 and raised $53,000. This brings the total donations to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society up to a little over $250,000 over the past nine years.

Kudos to our team members at McLean for making a difference in their community!

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Client service spotlight

Client service team

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Pictured at Rewards Dinner from left to right: Susie Daley, Gino Bonacci, Jamie Place, Matt Stringer, Mike Pesch, Sheren Stoehr and Steve Wennerstrum.

We are excited and proud to announce that Sheren Stoehr, a client service supervisor based in Whippany, New Jersey, was recently named the recipient of Gallagher's 2019 Client Service Leader of the Year Award. This award was created to celebrate leaders who continue to innovate and drive the changes needed to deliver the best experience for our clients.

Sheren Stoehr supervises Gallagher's personal service staff in New Jersey and plays an integral role in providing our clients with excellent service. As a leader, Sheren has the respect of her team and her peers. Her calm demeanor and witty humor have a way of disarming the most stressful situations. Sheren leads by example and pushes the Personal Lines team to achieve greater results, but also understands the importance of recognizing and celebrating their success. Congrats to Sheren!

The information contained herein is offered as insurance industry guidance and provided as an overview of current market risks and available coverages and is intended for discussion purposes only. This publication is not intended to offer legal advice or client-specific risk management advice. Any description of insurance coverages is not meant to interpret specific coverages that your company may already have in place or that may be generally available. General insurance descriptions contained herein do not include complete insurance policy definitions, terms, and/or conditions, and should not be relied on for coverage interpretation. Actual insurance policies must always be consulted for full coverage details and analysis.

Insurance brokerage and related services to be provided by Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services, Inc. (License No. 0D69293) and/or its affiliate Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. Insurance Brokers of California, Inc. (License No. 0726293).