Home Insurance to fit your budget & needs
ARE YOU UNDERINSURED?
Do you have enough insurance coverage to completely rebuild your home? Have you talked with your agent recently to update your policy? Don't wait until disaster strikes to find out you're underinsured. Stay current on your policy and keep yourself protected.
It's a homeowner's nightmare, a fire or other catastrophe destroys their home and everything in it. To make matters worse, some homeowners discover too late that they did not have enough insurance coverage to rebuild their home and replace their personal property.
Homeowner's need to ask their agent if they have enough insurance to rebuild their home, replace their personal property and protect their assets if they are sued.
Make plans to meet with our agents for a no-obligation review of your policy every year to make sure your insurance is keeping up with you and your home.
Test your Insurance IQ then stop by our office for a no-obligation review of all your insurance needs.
Home Insurance Considerations for Raising Grandchildren
Take the Quiz at https://insureuonline.org/quiz_raisinggrandchildren.htm and see how much you know about insurance considerations for raising grandchildren.
A special challenge facing these grandparents is that state and local governments, communities, and schools may not formally recognize their role in raising their grandchildren. While acquiring legal custody and guardianship of a grandchild may be financially and emotionally burdensome, grandparents should be aware that many benefits, including healthcare, emergency care, financial assistance, and social security benefits, require proof of a legal relationship before they will help. Proof typically includes court guardianship papers or adoption papers.
To help grandparents raising grandchildren better understand their insurance needs, our agency offers tips and considerations regarding auto, home, health, and life insurance.
Home Insurance Considerations for Raising Grandchildren
RECOVERING FROM A TORNADO
Protecting yourself and your family
Does Your Homeowner’s Policy Cover Your Home Business?
It’s likely that you depend on your homeowner or residential insurance policy to handle losses connected to your hobby or activities. A homeowner (HO) policy usually includes a definition of “business.” A given policy may use a definition so broad that nearly any activity qualifies as a business. In such instances, a hobbyist or enthusiast should consider whether business insurance is necessary.
Let’s say you love photography, and you take pictures at weddings and other events to finance this passion. While you consider this to be a hobby, your insurer may define your activities as a business. If your camera equipment is stolen or damaged, there may be as little as $250 protection under your HO policy. HO coverage for business property differs depending on whether it is located at or away from your residence.
Imagine the photography situation again. This time, you’re at a wedding job and have just set-up a perfect shot of the bridal party. As you are snapping a few shots, a large boom stand with hot lighting equipment tips over, injuring the maid of honor and the flower girl. A homeowner policy may exclude coverage if the injured women sue you since the injury is part of a business activity.
There are numerous types of sales and service jobs. These include cosmetics, clothing, kitchen supplies, home decorator items, computer repair, web site design, photography, music lessons, auto repair and many contractors. Each job involves some type of business property that is excluded or severely limited under the homeowner policy. Therefore, each situation may need to be covered by business insurance.
Although independent consultants are in business, too often they think their HO policy will provide coverage because they don't have special equipment or leave their home office to run their business. Office furnishings such as laptops, iPads, desks, chairs, and file cabinets are subject to HO policy limitations. Without adjustments to the homeowner policy there may be little or no coverage for property used in a business.
The legal form of the business may create a need for business insurance. If a limited liability company, corporation or partnership is formed, the related activity is a business and needs business coverage. Also, most HO policies will not provide coverage for employees or for any professional liability.
What can you do? First, determine if your activities qualify as a business. Then talk to one of our insurance professionals to determine what coverage is provided by the policies you currently have and what options are available to fill-in any gaps in protection.
House Hunting Checklist
Before house hunting
Set yourself up to be a financially desirable buyer.
1. Check your credit rating
A good credit history makes it easier to get a mortgage at a competitive interest rate, and may also qualify you for a good credit discount on your insurance. Obtain a copy of one or all of your credit reports. Make sure they are accurate and report any mistakes immediately. If your credit is not as good as it could be, take steps now to improve it.
2. Protect yourself with a renter’s insurance policy
If you are currently renting a house or apartment, protect yourself financially with a renter’s insurance policy. In the event of a disaster, renters’ insurance can help protect the down payment you’re building to buy your new home, as well as provide a useful insurance history to your prospective homeowner’s insurer when you go to buy your first home.
While house hunting
As you search for your new home, remember that the physical characteristics of the house—its size, location, construction and overall condition—can affect the cost, choice and availability of home insurance. In some cases, desirable features—like ornate plasterwork or proximity to the coastline—can make insuring a home costlier or more difficult. Some factors to consider when shopping for a home are:
3. Quality and location of the fire department
Houses that are located near highly rated, permanently staffed fire departments usually cost less to insure. This also holds true for homes that have a hydrant nearby.
4. Proximity to the coastline
Houses located on or near the coast will generally cost more to insure than those further inland. They will also likely require a separate hurricane or windstorm deductible. In some coastal communities, private homeowner’s insurance coverage may not be readily available. Instead, you may need to purchase insurance through a state-run insurance program.
5. Age of the home
A stately, older home can be quite beautiful but ornate features like plaster walls, ceiling molding and wooden floors may be costly to replace and can raise the cost of insurance. And plumbing and electrical systems can become unsafe with age and lack of maintenance. If you are considering buying an older home find out how much it will cost to update these features and factor that into the cost of ownership.
6. Condition of the roof
A new roof matters to insurers and keeps you and your family safer. Make sure to check the roof's condition. Depending on the type of roof and whether or not it's made with fire and/or hail resistant materials, you may even qualify for an insurance discount.
7. Quality of construction
Find out whether the house has been updated to comply with current building codes. Homes well built by careful craftsmen and those constructed to meet modern engineering-based building codes are likely to better withstand natural disasters.
8. Risk of flooding
Damage from flooding is NOT covered by standard home insurance policies. If you are buying a home in an area at risk from flooding, you will need to purchase separate flood insurance, which is available from the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and from a few specialty insurers.
9. History of earthquakes
While earthquakes are most frequently associated with California, they occur in the majority of states and are not covered under standard home insurance policies. Earthquake insurance is available from private insurers as an endorsement to a homeowner’s policy, and in California from the California Earthquake Authority.
10. Swimming pool or other special features
If the house has a swimming pool, hot tub or other special feature, you will likely need more liability insurance. You may also want to consider purchasing an umbrella liability policy to provide added protection in the event someone gets injured on your property and decides to sue you.
Before you place a bid on the home
Take precautions and understand the house's history, current condition, potential trouble spots—and costs.
11. Check the loss history report
Ask the current homeowner to obtain a copy of the loss history report on the home. Homeowners can obtain either a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (C.L.U.E.) report, which is available from LexisNexis, or an A-PLUSTM property report from ISO®. These reports provide a record of the type of loss on the home and can provide extremely valuable information. For instance, if there was a claim for water damage on the home, it is important to find out the source of the damage (such as a burst pipe) and whether it has been properly repaired. On the other hand, a claim for wind or hail that resulted in a new roof makes the home stronger and is very attractive from an insurance perspective.
12. Get the house inspected
You’ll need to have the house inspected by a credentialed home inspector in order to get your mortgage approved. Accompany the inspector to make sure he or she is thorough and makes sure to:
13. Estimate maintenance costs
Routine maintenance is your responsibility as a homeowner so be sure to factor these costs into the overall price of owning the home. Losses caused by failing to properly care for your home are not covered by standard homeowner’s insurance policies.
14. Call our agency
Don’t wait until the last minute to think about homeowner’s insurance and don’t be shy about asking for estimates on more than one house. Ask if the house will qualify and get an estimate of the premium. The sooner you speak with one of our insurance professionals, the smoother the process will be. If you're uncomfortable with the cost of insuring a particular house, look for one that better fits your financial situation.
What About Your Deductible?
Before you can obtain compensation for the losses, you must consider the deductible. Home insurance policies nearly always have one. This is the amount you are responsible for paying before the insurance company kicks in to pay the rest.
The key here is to know what your deductible is. Then, consider the value of your patio furniture. If the value isn’t significantly below the deductible, there is no benefit in filing a claim. You will not receive funds for it.
How Much Is Your Patio Furniture Worth?
Whether you have a wicker patio set or an elegant set of Adirondack chairs, your home insurance policy usually pays out based on the value of the items before the storm occurred. This takes into consideration depreciation since you purchased them. If your policy offers replacement cost coverage, on the other hand, they may pay enough for you to purchase a new piece of furniture similar to the one you have now.
When an event like this occurs, take pictures of what happened. Then, contact our insurance agency. We will walk you through the process of determining if you have coverage, what your deductible is, and how much you could receive for the loss. Storm damage is a typical type of coverage for most policies.
Will Home Insurance Cover Damaged Patio Furniture After a Storm?
Storms can be intense, causing damage to the structure of your home. You may walk outside to find your patio table shattered into pieces or it may be in the neighbor’s backyard. When this type of damage occurs, contact your home insurance agent. Your agent will work closely with you to better understand what occurred. You may be able to file a claim for it. When does it apply?
When Does Home Insurance Cover?
Home insurance does not provide coverage for normal wear and tear on these items. If your patio table suffers a crack as a result of age, that will not have protection. It also does not apply if someone in your home causes the damage. This might include a child hitting it, for example.
Rather, it applies in unexpected events including storms. It should provide financial protection for your patio furniture if it suffers damage due to lightning, fire or wind. If large hail hit the structure of your patio table shattering the glass, your coverage applies here, too.