By Gina W. Jurch
Have you ever considered your financial success a liability or a target for personal lawsuits? Unfortunately, personal wealth increases an individual’s risk of being sued. While anyone in today’s environment can be sued, families face a higher likelihood of lawsuits because the lifestyle they can afford puts them at greater risk.
Even though most families insure against typical automobile accidents or slips and falls, few recognize the perils arising from less obvious liability exposures. Consider if an employee suffers debilitating injuries while in a family automobile or in your home, never able to work again. Or, what if that employee claims a misdeed by a family member? What if a guest endures lifelong injuries while swimming in your pool or driving the family boat, golf cart or ATV? Few individuals consider risk when asked to serve in a fiduciary role as an officer or director of a nonprofit organization. All of these scenarios pose potential threats to your finances and reputation.
A 2012 survey by ACE Private Risk Services highlights the nature of personal liability risk for high-wealth families. Even as they become increasingly concerned about potential lawsuits, many underestimate the financial consequences involved, but overestimate the cost of proper umbrella protection.
As reports of wealthy individuals being identified and pursued by plaintiffs’ attorneys increase (they are often singled out from multiple defendants as a result of their ability to pay), ACE’s survey indicates respondents fear the stress and reputational damage of a lawsuit over the meaningful loss of savings, investments or other assets.
More than ever, broad-form umbrella liability protection is an undervalued element of a sound financial plan.
Protect your wealth by seeking out an experienced personal insurance advisor skilled at implementing liability protection. Invite them to coordinate all of your underlying liability components. While cost is always a consideration, the value of carefully tailored, comprehensive umbrella coverage can only be assessed after the right contract and limit are identified – and always before the loss.
Finally, consider participating in an employee-sponsored group umbrella program for more inclusive, broad-form coverage at reduced rates. Your BB&T Wealth advisor can refer you to a BB&T Insurance Services agent who can help you consider the best options available to you.
About the Author
Gina W. Jurch, CIC, CRM, CPIW
Vice President BB&T Insurance Services - Family Risk Management
As a family risk manager, Gina provides expertise in the design, implementation and management of comprehensive personal insurance portfolios. She attended the University of South Carolina and has been a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) since 1992. Gina achieved the Certified Professional Insurance Woman (CPIW) designation in 1995 and completed her Certified Risk Manager (CRM) designation in 2009. Council.