USLegal, Inc. Newsletter – June 2007

Hurricane Preparations Should Include Legal Planning

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With hurricane season upon us, most coastal residents know the drill in terms of stocking up on emergency supplies and mapping out evacuation routes.

A file containing important legal papers is not the highest priority in an exit plan for a hurricane, but as many have learned the hard way, it should be.

“Legal documents can be lost or destroyed during a storm. We saw this during Katrina. If you plan ahead and compile important papers, it can make the recovery process from natural disasters a little easier especially when it comes to filing insurance and other claims,” said USLegal CEO Frank D. Edens.

USLegal Offers the Following 5 Recommendations as part of its Hurricane Legal Planning Checklist:

1) Review your home, auto and life insurance policies and understand your coverage and policy limits. Specifically go over sections pertaining to physical damage caused by wind, flooding, rain, storms and hurricanes. Standard homeowner policies typically cover damage from wind, but not flooding or storm surge. Sometimes flood insurance can be purchased separately. Comprehensive auto insurance will likely cover physical damage to vehicles caused by storms. Make sure to review benefit amounts in life insurance policies and update beneficiaries if needed.

2) Create a life document file which is a collection of important legal papers. A life documents file can include identification records such as birth certificate and social security card, contracts, deeds, insurance policies, medical records, photos, and a financial assets inventory. Maintaining records together in one place is beneficial in the event you need to grab them and go if you receive news that a tropical storm or hurricane is headed your way.

3) Draft Will, Living Will, and Power of Attorney forms. Tragically, storms and hurricanes can cause injuries and take lives. Preparing essential legal forms ahead of time can help ensure that your wishes are carried out and lessen the burden on family members. You can prepare legal forms on your own by downloading state-specific documents from or consult an attorney in your local area to have documents prepared for you.

4) Store your important papers in a secure place such as a home safe or bank safe deposit box. Since these are vital records with lots of personal information, maintaining them in a secure location is necessary to prevent the misuse of your records.

5) Tell someone you trust about the location of your documents. It can be an attorney, relative or close friend. Situations may arise where you are unable to communicate and a least one person should know the location of your important papers. You might also keep a back up copy of important records with an attorney if you have one or a family member who does not live in a coastal region prone to hurricanes.

Featured Products of the Month

Life Documents Planning Package with Organizer

The Life Documents Personal Planning Package is one of the most essential tools you can use to take control of your legal affairs and personal planning. An important feature is that the legal forms included are “state-specific.” This means the forms have been written to comply with the laws of your State.

This package contains the following forms:

(1) Last Will
(2) General Durable Power of Attorney
(3) Statutory Designation of Standby Guardian
(4) Statutory Advance Health Care Directive
(5) Statutory Living Will
(6) Estate Planning Questionnaire and Worksheets
(7) Personal Planning Information and Document Inventory Worksheets
(8) Legal Life Documents Organizer

The large Life Documents Organizer included in this package enables you to store and maintain your legal documents and important records in one single folder for “grab it and go” convenience.

Packages start at $75.95. Order your Life Documents Planning Package with Organizer today at

Essential Documents for the Organized Traveler Package

This package contains essential legal documents to prepare and maintain on file prior to traveling such as traveler information sheet, passport application and renewal, will, living will, and power of attorney forms, pet boarding agreement, and more. It is designed to assist in travel preparations, to help minimize difficulties that may arise while traveling, and to keep important information organized. Don’t leave home unprepared.

Pricing starts at $39.95. See for more information.

In Brief

How to Create a Life Documents File

As a public service, USLegal has created a free guide on how to compile important legal papers into a Life Documents File.

We invite you to print the guide, use it, and pass it along to others who can benefit from the information.

See guide at

Law and Legal Definitions

Insurance Law

Insurance is a contract, called an insurance policy, in which the insurer, agrees to pay the insured party all or a portion of loss suffered by accident, injury, or death for a fee called an insurance premium. The losses covered by the policy may include property damage or loss from accident, fire, theft or intentional harm; medical costs and/or lost earnings due to physical injury; long-term or permanent loss of physical capacity; claims by others due to the insured’s alleged negligence, or the loss of someone’s life.

While types of insurance vary widely, their primary goal is to allocate the risks of a loss from the individual to a great number of people. Each individual pays a “premium” into a pool, from which losses are paid out. The premium is not returnable is a loss is not suffered, in that case the payment is for “peace of mind.” Thus, when a loss is suffered, the loss is spread to the people contributing to the pool. To ensure these pools are properly managed and adequately funded, the government and the courts heavily regulate the insurance industry.

In 1944, Congress enacted the McCarran-Ferguson Act (15 USCS § § 1011), which provided that the laws of the several states should control the insurance business, but that the Sherman Act, the Clayton Act, and the Federal Trade Commission Act were applicable to the insurance business to the extent that it was unregulated by state law.

The McCarran-Ferguson Act, broadly speaking, gives states the power to regulate the insurance industry. While state insurance statutes override most federal laws, some portions of federal law (like federal tax laws) are always controlling. To determine whether a particular law governs, the determining factor is whether the issue is related to the “business of insurance,” where state law governs, or whether it is related to peripherals of the industry, such as labor, tax, and securities, where federal law governs.

For more legal definitions, please visit our free online legal dictionary at

Customer Feedback would like to hear from you. If you have any thoughts, comments, or suggestions about our products or topics you’d like for us to feature in upcoming newsletters, please email them to Carrie Criado, Director of Public Relations, at