Frequently Asked Questions

These are some general answers to several frequently asked questions. However, they are for informational purposes only. The terms of the applicable policy determine the actual scope of the coverage. Please contact us with any additional or specific questions or concerns.

Why An Independent Insurance Agency?

An Independent Insurance Agency has an advantage! We have the freedom to select, offer and promote the best insurance products available. By representing many insurance companies and financial institutions, we can offer a variety of choices to customize a plan to meet your unique needs. We are committed to providing more than an insurance policy; we provide total risk solutions.

Where is Turner, Wood, & Smith Located?

Just off the square in downtown Gainesville, Georgia, the county seat of Hall County. Our address is:
100 Brenau Ave.
Gainesville, GA 30501


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What are the different types of auto insurance coverage?

There are three major components to most auto policies. The liability component protects you in
case you’re responsible for an accident. Medical payments coverage pays the medical and hospital
bills (up to a limit) for you and your passengers. The collision/comprehensive component
covers damage to your car if you’re in an accident, if the car is stolen, or if vandals or fire damage
the car.

What is collision coverage?

Collision covers damage caused when another car or object collides with the owner’s car.

What does comprehensive coverage cover?

This covers damage caused to the owner’s car against an array of risks, including fire, theft, falling
objects, missiles, explosion, earthquake, flood, riot and civil commotion.

Why is there medical-payments coverage under my car insurance policy?

This coverage is designed to take care of immediate medical expenses without admission of liability.

How can I reduce my auto insurance premiums?

There are several ways you can do this:

  • Boost your deductible or consider reducing your physical damage coverage for an older car
  • Combine your home and auto coverages, and the carrier may give you as much as a 15% credit
  • Ensure you’re receiving credits for safety devices like airbags, anti-lock brakes and alarm systems
  • Consult your agent before shopping. The cost of insuring otherwise similar cars can vary widely

If another person borrows my vehicle, do I have coverage?

The insurance follows the vehicle, not the person. If another person should borrow your vehicle
with your permission, but is not a regular driver, the vehicle is covered.

Is my child covered if he/she has a learner’s permit? When do I have to add my child to my policy?

Your child will be covered on your vehicle on a learner’s permit, but needs to be added once he/
she receives a driver’s license.

Do I need to purchase additional insurance when I rent a vehicle or am I covered?

The coverage and limits you currently have on your personal car applies to your rental. If you
are not carrying physical damage coverage on your car, don’t want to be responsible for your deductible,
or are renting a vehicle other than a private passenger car, pickup, van or trailer, you
should check with your credit card company or the rental agency about additional coverages.

Your insurance will not cover the loss of rental income incurred by the rental agency for their
vehicle being out of service.

Do I have coverage for a rental vehicle outside the United States?

Your automobile insurance policy extends only to the United States, its territory possessions and
Canada.

What is the rental addition on my automobile policy?

If it is necessary for you to rent a car because yours has been involved in a collision, rental coverage
will reimburse your rental expense, up to a specified dollar amount per day, up to the maximum
amount specified in your policy.

I drive a company car. How does this affect my insurance?

Your personal policy doesn’t cover you for a vehicle that’s available for your regular use unless
it is specifically stated in the policy. Your employer’s coverage would be the primary coverage
and you will receive only the coverage your employer has chosen. For example, your employer’s
coverage doesn’t protect you against liability for injuries to a fellow employee; however,
your personal auto policy can be endorsed to provide this coverage at a very reasonable
rate. Contact your agent for more details.

Am I covered if I tow a trailer?

The liability on a trailer always follows the vehicle coverage. If you would like physical damage
coverage for the trailer, you’ll need to purchase it.

I have an older car. Do I need collision and/or comprehensive coverage?

Depending on your particular car’s value, it may not be cost effective to have collision or comprehensive
coverage on an older car.

Do I have coverage for a rental vehicle outside the United States?

Your automobile insurance policy extends only to the United States, its territory possessions and
Canada.

I’m just getting my business started. Do I need insurance right away?

Yes, because the chance that you could suffer a loss begins with the first day of business. You can’t
get help after the fact. You must be prepared for the risks that are inherent in any business and the
losses, sometimes catastrophic, that they can cause.

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I don’t have any major business assets. Why do I need insurance?

Every business has some property. And, when you think about it, your business is your property. In
addition, your business is your source of income, so you need protection from the potential loss of
that income. Generally, there are two types of insurance – property and liability. Property insurance
covers damage to or loss of the policyholder’s property. And if somebody sued for damages caused
by you or your possessions, the cost of the suit – both defending it and settling it if necessary – would
be covered by your liability insurance.

What types of property do I need to insure?

Your business may not possess all the following types of property, but you can use this list to make
sure that you have considered all the property categories and any insurance coverage that may be
warranted:

  • Buildings and other structures (owned or leased)
  • Furniture, equipment and supplies
  • Inventory
  • Money and securities
  • Records of accounts receivable
  • Improvements and betterments you made to the premises
  • Machinery
  • Boilers
  • Data processing equipment and media (including computers)
  • Valuable papers, books and documents
  • Mobile property such as automobiles, trucks and construction equipment
  • Satellite dishes
  • Signs, fences, and other outdoor property no attached to a building
  • Intangible property (good will, trademarks, etc.)
  • Leased equipment

What kinds of events does business insurance cover?

Basic property insurance policies generally cover losses caused by fire or lightening and the cost of
removing property to protect it from further damage. “Extended perils” including windstorm, hail,
explosion, riot and civil commotion, and damage cause by aircraft, automobiles or vandalism, are
usually covered in the standard policy. Other important perils, often not covered, include earthquake
and flood damage, building collapse, and glass breakage.

Everybody seems to be suing everybody else these days. What if someone sues my business?

No business can afford to be unprepared for a lawsuit. Liability Insurance protects your business
assets when the business is sued for something the business did (or failed to do) that contributed to
injury or property damage to someone else. Liability coverage extends no only to paying damages
but also to the attorneys’ fees and other costs involved in defending against the lawsuit – whether
valid or not.

The standard business owners policy provides liability coverage, as does a separate policy known as
a commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policy. Generally CGL insurance, whether purchases
in a separate policy or as part of a standard business owners policy, will cover bodily injury,
property damage, personal injury or advertising injury. The medical expenses of a person or persons
(other than employees) injured at the business or as a direct result of the operations of the business
are also covered.

What about the cars and trucks that I have in my business? Is the coverage like what I have on my personal car?

Yes, but in addition to covering the vehicles you own for liability, medical payments, uninsured motorist
coverage, comprehensive and collision, it also covers you when you rent a car and when your
employees are operating their personal cars for your business.

Will I need to protect my employees in the event they are injured on the job?

Yes, and in most states there are legal requirements that must be met, and for which you may be responsible.
State laws vary, but most states require that you carry some form of workers’ compensation
insurance. This protects the employee and also offers you the business owner a degree of immunity
from lawsuit by an injured employee.

Are all homeowners’ policies the same?

Each homeowners’ policy is tailored to fit the specific needs and lifestyle of the homeowner.
There are “standard” policies, however you should talk to your agent to make sure you’ve got the
coverages you feel are necessary for your home.

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How can I reduce my insurance premiums?

There are several ways to do this:

  • Ask for a higher deductible. Deductibles represent the amount of money you pay before you make the claim. Requesting a higher deductible can lower your premium
  • Combine your home and auto coverages, and the carrier may give you as much as a 15% credit
  • Be certain you’re receiving all the discounts you’re entitled to. Homeowners are often eligible for discounts if they have smoke detectors, fire and burglar alarms, if they make updates
    to the home, and if they don’t smoke

I work from home. Does my homeowners insurance cover my computer equipment?

Generally, home office equipment isn’t covered by homeowners policies. Small business owners
can buy additional coverage with an endorsement. Large business owners need to buy separate
policies.

What is renter’s insurance?

If you rent, rather than own your home, you need renter’s insurance to protect your valuables
against fire and theft and also possibly safeguard against someone who might get hurt while on
the property. Your landlord’s homeowners policy will not cover these things.

Will my child have coverage for personal items while away at college?

So long as your child is still considered a member of your household, a certain percentage of your policy extends to other temporary household locations.

What is replacement cost on contents?

This coverage eliminates the depreciation and pays the dollar amount it will cost to replace an
item today, if needed.

What kinds of perils am I protected against?

Remember that policies vary but homeowners insurance usually covers damage to both structures
and personal property caused by:

  • Fire or lightening
  • Windstorm or hail
  • Explosions, riot or civil commotion
  • Aircraft
  • Vehicles
  • Smoke
  • Theft or vandalism
  • Falling objects
  • Weight of ice, snow or sleet
  • Freezing of plumbing, heating, air conditioning or other such household system

What about floods, earthquakes and other catastrophes?

Most catastrophes are covered; for example, wind damage from hurricanes and tornadoes come under the windstorm peril listed above and so are included. Flood and earthquake damage, however, are not covered by a standard policy.

Why do you need health insurance?

Today, health care costs are high and getting higher. Who will pay your bills if you have a serious accident or a major illness? You buy health insurance for the same reason you buy other kinds of insurance, to protect yourself financially.

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Where do people get health insurance coverage?

Most Americans get health insurance through their jobs or are covered because a family member has insurance at work. This is called group insurance. Group insurance is generally the least expensive kind. In many cases, the employer pays part or all of the cost.

If your employer does not offer group insurance, or if the insurance offered is very limited, you can buy an individual policy. Individual plans may not offer benefits as broad as those in group plans.

What are your health insurance choices?

There are many different types of health insurance. Each has pros and cons. There is no “best”
plan. Choosing a health insurance plan is like making any other major purchase: you choose the
plan that meets both your needs and your budget. Cost isn’t the only thing to consider when buying
health insurance. You also need to consider what benefits are covered. You need to compare
plans carefully for both cost and coverage.

Although there are many names for health insurance plans, the information here groups them as
three main types:

  • Fee-for-Service (or Traditional Health Insurance)
  • Health Maintenance Organizations (or HMOs)
  • Fee-For-Service

This is a traditional kind of health care policy. Insurance companies pay fees for the services
provided to the insured people covered by the policy. This type of health insurance offers the
most choices of doctors and hospitals. You can choose any doctor you wish and change doctors
at any time. You can go to any hospital in any part of the country.

With fee-for-service, the insurer only pays for part of your doctor and hospital bills. This is what
you pay:

  • A monthly fee, called a premium
  • A certain amount of money each year, known as the deductible, before the insurance payments begin
  • After you have paid your deductible amount for the year, you share the bill with the insurance company. Your portion is called coinsurance

Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO)
Health maintenance organizations are prepaid health plans. As an HMO member, you pay a
monthly premium. In exchange, the HMO provides comprehensive care for you and your family
including doctors’ visits, hospital stays, emergency care, surgery, lab tests, x-rays, and therapy.
The HMO arranges for this care either directly in its own group practice and/or through doctors
and other health care professionals under contract. Usually, your choices of doctors and hospitals
are limited to those that have agreements with the HMO to provide care.

Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO)
The preferred provider organization is a combination of traditional fee-for-service and an HMO.
Like an HMO, there are a limited number of doctors and hospitals to choose from. When you
use these providers (sometimes called “network” providers), most of your medical bills are covered.

Understanding Health Insurance Terms

Coinsurance: the amount you are required to pay for medical care in a fee-for-service plan after you have met your deductible. The coinsurance rate is usually expressed as a percentage.
Coordination of Benefits: a system to eliminate duplication of benefits when you are covered under more than one group plan. Benefits under the two plans usually are limited to no more than
100 percent of the claim.

Copayment: another way of sharing medical costs. You pay a flat fee every time you receive a
medical service. The insurance company pays the rest.

Covered Expenses: most insurance plans, whether they are fee-for-service, HMOs, or PPOs, do not pay for all services. Covered services are those medical procedures the insurer agrees to pay
for.

Deductible: the amount of money you must pay each year to cover your medical care expenses before your insurance policy starts paying.

Exclusions: specific conditions or circumstances for which the policy will not provide benefits.

Managed Care: ways to manage costs, use, and quality of the health care system.

Maximum Out-of-Pocket: the most money you will be required to pay in a year for deductibles
and coinsurance. It is a stated dollar amount set by the insurance company, in addition to regular
premiums

Preexisting Condition: a health problem that existed before the date your insurance became effective.

Premium: the amount you or your employer pays in exchange for insurance coverage

Primary Care Doctor: usually your first contact for health care. This is often a family physician
or internist. A primary care doctor monitors your health and diagnoses and treats minor health
problems, and refers you to specialists if another level of care is needed.

Provider: any person (doctor, nurse, dentist) or institution (hospital or clinic) that provides medical
care

Third-Party Payer: any payer for health care services other than you.

How much life insurance should an individual own?

Rough “rules of thumb” suggest an amount of life insurance equal to 6 to 8 times annual earnings. However, many factors should be taken into account in determining a more precise estimate of the amount of life insurance needed. Important factors include income sources (and amounts) other than salary/earnings, whether or not the individual is married and, if so, what is the spouse’s earning capacity, the number of individuals who are financially dependent on the insured, the amount of death benefits payable from Social Security and from an employersponsored life insurance, plan, whether any special life insurance needs exist (e.g., mortgage repayment, education fund, estate planning need), etc.

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What about purchasing life insurance on a spouse and on children?

In certain circumstances, it may be advisable to purchase life insurance on children; generally, however, such purchases should not be made in lieu of purchasing appropriate amount of life insurance on the family breadwinner(s). In a dual-earning household, it is important to protect the income earning capacity of both spouses. Life insurance on a non-wage earning spouse is often recommended for the purpose of paying for household services lost at this individual’s death.

Should term insurance or cash value life insurance be purchased?

Several principles should be followed in addressing this issues. It must first be recognized that in any life insurance purchasing decision, there are at least two basic considerations: how much and which type. The amount of life insurance that you need may be so large that the only way in which this can be afforded is through the purchase of term insurance with its lower premium. If your ability to pay life insurance premiums is such that you can afford the desired amount of life insurance under either type of policy, you will need to decide which type to buy. Important factors affecting this decision include your income tax bracket, whether the need for life insurance is short-term or long-term, and the rate of return on alternative investments possessing similar risk.

How does mortgage protection insurance differ from other types?

The face amount under mortgage protection term insurance decreases over time, consistent with the projected annual decreases in the outstanding balance of a mortgage loan. Mortgage protection policies are generally available to cover a range of mortgage repayment periods. Although the face amount decreases over time, the premium is usually level in amount. Further, the premium payment period often is shorter than the maximum period of insurance coverage.

Can an existing life insurance policy be used to provide for the repayment of an outstanding mortgage loan?

Yes, an existing policy, either term or cash-value life insurance, can be used for many purposes, including paying off an outstanding mortgage loan balance in the event of the insured’s death.

What is the tax treatment of life insurance cash values, dividends, and death benefits?

The “interest build-up” portion of the annual increase in the policy’s cash value is not taxed currently to the policy owner. Dividends generally are considered to be a “return of premium” and are not taxable to the policy owner. Although in the typical case, life insurance death proceeds will not be subject to income taxation, these proceeds may be subject to federal estate taxation. If the insured has any elements of ownership in the policy at the time of his/her death, the proceeds
are incredible in the insured’s gross estate for federal estate tax purposes. State inheritance taxes and federal gift taxes may also apply to life insurance policies/proceeds under specific circumstances.

How many employees must I have in order to be required to provide workers’ compensation insurance?

If you regularly employee three or more persons in your Georgia business, you are required to
provide Georgia workers’ compensation insurance benefits.

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Does this include part-time employees?

Yes, as long as they are regular.

What do you mean by “regular” part-time employee?

A regular part-time employee works regularly on a part-time basis. Such as an employee who only works on weekends.

If my business is incorporated, am I or my fellow officers considered to be employees of the business?

Yes. The corporation is considered to be the employer and all officers are considered employees of the business.

Can officers waive coverage on themselves?

Yes. As many as five officers may waive coverage on themselves. Each officer must complete and sign a form WC-10 and file it with their insurance carrier.

If one or more officers waive coverage, does this exempt them from being counted in the “three or more employees” rule?

No. Officer exemptions do not reduce the number of employees in the corporation.

What if I am operating my business as a sole proprietorship or partnership?

The Georgia law considers sole proprietors and partners to be employers not employees, just the opposite of corporations. However, they can elect to be covered as an employee by advising their insurance carrier in writing.

How can I learn more about the law regarding Workers’ Compensation in Georgia?

Consider purchasing Georgia Workers’ Compensation Laws, Rules and Regulations Annotated. This book can be ordered from Lexis-Nexis. For details, you may call them at 1-800-833-9844.

Who can I talk to at the State Board of Workers’ Compensation about insurance?

Call either Carol Griffin, 404-651-7839 or Kathy Oliver 404-656-4893

How do I become self-insured?

You need to complete an application and return it to the Board, along with required documents and a processing fee of $500.00. The application and process can be obtained by calling 404-651-7839 or on the State Board’s website. You can access additional information and forms on the website for the Georgia Self-Insurers Guaranty Trust Fund (www.gaguarnaty.com)

Does being self-insured mean that I don’t have to purchase workers’ compensation insurance, and that I put the money in the bank to pay for my employee’s workers’ compensation injuries?

No. In order to be self-insured, you must be approved as a member of the Georgia Self-Insurers Guaranty Trust Fund and certified by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. The application.

How do I get information regarding the Certified Workers’ Compensation Professional (CWCP) program?

You can contact Debbie Sanders at 770-536-0161, extension 265 or by e-mail at debbie.sanders@twsinsurance.com, or Steve Heinen by e-mail at steve.heinen@twsinsurance.com. The website is www.twsinsurance.com.