One of the Best Buys in Loss Prevention: Renters Insurance

Those who rent the space they live in may do so for a variety of reasons. They may appreciate the relatively maintenance-free lifestyle of renting. They may enjoy the affordability renting provides or the fact that they are not tied down for years to a specific location. Another benefit of being a tenant is fewer financial obligations. Tenants don’t have to directly be concerned with expensive repairs, property taxes or homeowners’ insurance. In fact, tenants have the ability to get needed protection through one of the best buys in loss prevention products…renters insurance.

Renters insurance provides big value in protection at generally extremely affordable rates. That is usually good news to budget-minded renters who have better things to do with their money than waste it.

Big Protection

The benefits of renters insurance starts with covering a renter’s personal possessions. These can be considerable. Along with furniture, kitchenware, textbooks, clothing and other personal possessions, renters insurance covers electronics like wide screen TVs, laptops, desktops and smartphones. Should these become damaged or stolen in a theft or covered event, the renter is protected. Please check your policy, as these Items could have certain limits for all items mentioned. Additional coverage can be purchased through most insurance companies.

Coverage is provided under a variety of circumstances. It could be a fire, water damage, storms or even theft. If lightning would damage that big screen TV, your renters insurance policy will likely be there to help. Renters insurance also includes liability protection if a friend, relative or even delivery person were to become injured while visiting.

Another added feature is that many policies will provide protection for renters while on the road. Personal property may be covered while stowed in a car or in a hotel room while traveling. Contact your independent insurance agent for details.

Affordable Protection

While costs will vary depending upon coverage and location, most are pleasantly surprised at how affordable renters insurance can be. In some cases, it may be a dollar a day or less! Setting up payments on auto-pay or bundling renters insurance with automobile insurance may even provide more value.

To get started, contact one of our independent insurance agents for a no-obligation quote. Ask if bundling can save you additionally. No matter why you have decided to rent, get the most from your insurance budget. Take advantage of the value and affordability of renters insurance.  Let us help you get started today!

Dangerous Items You Don’t See Around Homes Much Anymore

We can sometimes get frustrated with rules and regulations that seem to intrude on our rights. There are rules about smoking, driving with a seatbelt, air bags, distracted driving and how fast we can drive. There are regulations regarding fishing and hunting and many of the place we live have HOA’s that govern how we live.

We may agree with some of these rules and disagree with others but it is hard to deny they most have been very beneficial. Our roads and highways, for example, are much safer now than decades ago, thanks to regulations regarding car safety features and road construction techniques. Home building codes have made homes safer and in many areas, stronger to withstand strong winds. Our concern for safety has made some changes we probably haven’t given much thought to, right in and around our own homes. Here are some dangerous items you don’t see around homes very much anymore.

Lawn Darts

Lawn Darts were large darts made with plastic fins with a pointed metal tip. The object was to fling the lawn dart into a circle near where your opponents stood. Injuring your opponent wasn’t an object of the game but frequently became a part of it.

Diving Boards

As head, neck and back injuries soared and homeowners’ insurance rates skyrocketed, diving boards began disappearing. They aren’t necessarily illegal, just simply not worth the risk.

Two Prong Electrical Plugs

In 1969, Underwriters Laboratories mandated appliances have grounded, three prong plugs to help prevent electrical shorts and fires. At the time, only about half of the homes in America had grounded receptacles. Three-prong adapters were the solution. Although you will still see these familiar grey three-prong adapters, unless a home is older than 50 years old, they are unnecessary.

Cedar Chests

These wooden chests were constructed of cedar to keep harmful insects away from clothing and linen that was stored inside. These were items young women would begin collecting in anticipation of marriage. They were often referred to as hope or dowry chests. While they are still available today, one has to be cautious about pets or young children getting caught inside. The concept of a “hope” or “dowry” chest also is largely outdated.

Time marches on and through knowledge, the desire for safety, economics or changing customs, the things around us change with it. We may miss the thought of soaring through the air performing a perfect dive or that unique smell of a cedar chest, but generally speaking, life is better, and safer.

If you haven’t had a homeowners’ insurance quote in awhile, you may be surprised at the savings. Contact one of our independent insurance agents tody for your no-obligation quote.

Whatever Happened to Backyard Diving Boards?

View some old photo albums or 8mm home movies from the fifties and sixties and you may catch a glimpse of a rarely seen sight today. The backyard diving board. Pools back then often had a diving board, generally placed at the deep end of the pool. Over the course of time, however, these diving boards have disappeared. Why? Here’s what happened to diving boards.

  1. They Dramatically Increased the Chance for Injury.

A well executed dive may be a thing of beauty, but when one goes bad, it can be very bad. Poor dives off a diving board can create head, neck and back injuries. Most people using diving boards are self taught and have little experience in using them properly. In fact, most dives, especially those from young people, start with a shouted “Hey, watch this!”

  1. They Dramatically Increase the Cost of Homeowners’ Insurance

Pools already are considered an “attractive nuisance” by insurance companies. Diving board take the danger of that nuisance to a higher level. Premiums can skyrocket for homes with pools with diving boards, so much so that many homeowners simply removed them. Some companies will not even considering a property with a pool with a diving board.

  1. They Use Up Too Much of a Pool’s Play Area

Most homeowners find more enjoyment in swimming, playing volleyball or just relaxing in a pool. With a diving board, a full 33% of the pool is usually reserved for a deep end to facilitate dives. Most homeowners would prefer to use the full pool more often.

  1. Slides Have Become a Suitable Replacement

Many families have found slides are a more than adequate replacement for diving boards. While slides too, can add to the cost of a homeowners’ insurance policy, they are generally considered far safer than a diving board.

Even if you wanted a diving board today, you would find that they are far stiffer and less flexible than in the past. This too, is a measure that has made them less dangerous. It seems a bouncy, springing dive that takes one high into the air can have its consequences.

If you have a question about homeowners insurance or other “attractive nuisances” please feel free to contact us. We will be happy to provide a no-obligation quote that just my save you some money on your policy.

Homeowners Insurance When You Live Near Water

Living near a lake, a river or the ocean certainly has it advantages. There are more recreational activities available, nature often abounds and the air often feels fresher. Homes near water also may have some special features and aspects about them that could impact their homeowners’ insurance policies. Here are are some key elements to be mindful of.

Flood Insurance

Flood insurance is generally not included in standard homeowners’ insurance policies and must be secured separately. Flood insurance is a FEMA sponsored program and your independent insurance agent can help you in its acquisition. There are several aspects of flood insurance to keep in mind. First, flood insurance must be in place for at least 30 days before it becomes effective. Plus, flood damage doesn’t necessarily cover all water damage. Talk with your agent about the coverage best for you.

Outbuildings and Other Structures

Many homes near water may have outbuildings, fencing, a boathouse or a dock. Make sure these structures are noted, if necessary, in your policy and that there is sufficient coverage to cover their replacement should they become damaged or destroyed.

It is Your Full-Time Residence?

There is a difference in homeowners’ insurance coverage when a property is used as a full-time residence as opposed to a vacation or summer home. Let your agent know the purpose of the home and to the extent you will be occupying it.

Will It Be Rented?

Whether you are renting your home for by the week, month or even as a home-sharing space, let your homeowners’ insurance agent know of your intention. Use of the property will determine the type of coverage best in your circumstances.

Keep Up On Maintenance

Homes near water frequently require more diligent maintenance. Poor maintenance will generally not be covered in a homeowners insurance policy so it is important the property is well-cared for.

If you have a property near water, we would be pleased to provide a homeowners’ insurance quote to protect it. Our independent agents can search multiple companies to find coverage to suit your property and your budget. Contact us today for your free, no-obligation quote.

Why Maintenance is an Integral Part of Your Agreement with Your Homeowners’ Insurance Company

For some homeowners, there may be confusion when it comes to homeowners’ insurance and repairs required due to lack of maintenance. A basic homeowners insurance policy will cover the costs of repair or replacement following a covered calamity. Damage to a property as the result of poor maintenance, however, is not a covered calamity.

As part of a homeowners’ insurance policy, the policyholder agrees to take proper care of the property to help ensure damage doesn’t occur. This includes proper repair and maintenance of the roof, wiring and plumbing systems and more. Even a poorly maintained fence would likely not be covered by a homeowners’ insurance policy. It is the obligation of the homeowner to keep the home in good or reasonable repair.

Damage caused by an unfixed leak or wear and tear would not be covered under a homeowners’ insurance policy.

Homeowners Insurance is Not Home Repair Insurance

Homeowners’ insurance should not be confused with home repair insurance. Home repair insurance is a product that can be purchased to help cover the cost of repair or replacement of major appliances or home systems. It is likely your mortgage company requires that you carry homeowners’ insurance to protect both your and their interest.

Keeping Your Home in Good Repair

Under a homeowners’ insurance policy, the policyholder is obligated to maintain the property, keeping it in good repair. The insurance would cover losses due to an unexpected event such as storm damage or fire. Allowing a home to fall into disrepair and then expecting a homeowners’ insurance policy to cover those repairs is not reasonable.

Unfortunately, homeowners insurance is one of the most overlooked policies in loss prevention. People often purchase a homeowners’ insurance policy at the time they buy their home and never revisit their protection. Since many pay for their insurance bundled with their mortgage and/or property taxes, many property owners don’t even know how much they are paying for their policies. We can help.

Contact one of our independent insurance agents for a no-cost, no-obligation homeowners’ insurance policy review. You may discover you are overpaying for coverage, paying for coverage you don’t need, or have gaps in your coverage. If you decide to make a change, they can help.

If it has been longer than you can remember since you’ve looked at your homeowners’ insurance policy or if you don’t even know what it is costing you, contact us today.

When Your Hobby Turns into an Insurable Collection

Some of us have collections that may go back years, even into our childhoods. For some, they may involve Barbie Dolls or Matchbox cars. Others may have started collecting pennies, which eventually turned into more extensive coin collections. Some people have stamp collections while others may collect art, jewelry or antiques. Collections can bring us joy, especially when we find a piece to add to our collection for which we’ve been searching.

While some collections main value is in the pleasure they provide for us, many can grow significantly in value through the years. We’ve all heard stories of that rare coin or baseball card that was discovered in an attic worth tens of thousands of dollars. But collections can grow in value simply through sheer volume. What some may not realize is that there may be limits on how much a homeowners’ insurance policy will cover when it comes to collectible, and some collectibles, like art, may not be covered at all. What steps should you take to make sure you have appropriate coverage for your collection?

  1. Review your homeowners’ insurance policy. It is likely non-household items like collectibles may have limits on coverage, perhaps as little as $500. If your collection is worth more, you may want to pursue additional coverage.
  2. Take inventory of your collection. List every item of value in your collection and include pictures. Include dates it was purchased, how much you paid for it and include any receipts you may have. Keep this inventory maintained and secure outside of the home. This inventory can become invaluable in an insurance claim due to a loss.
  3. Get a professional appraisal. If your collection warrants it, have it professionally appraised and include that appraisal with your inventory list.
  4. Determine whether you may need additional insurance. If the value of your collection exceeds that provided by your homeowners’ insurance policy, you may want to consider an increase in coverage. If your collection has exceptional value, you may want to consider a separate policy to cover it against a loss.

Like the value of your home, a collection may increase over the years to outgrow its coverage. It is why an occasional homeowners’ insurance review is so valuable. Contact one of our independent homeowners’ insurance agents for a no-obligation review today. You may have years invested in your collection. Make sure it is properly protected.

The Benefits of Keeping Up With Your Home’s Value

There are homeowners’ who remain acutely aware of their home’s value and others who don’t give it much attention. There are some very good reasons to keep your fingers on the pulse of how much your home is worth, however, ranging from improvement decisions to whether its time to consider a move. Here are some of the reasons you should keep an eye on your home’s value.

  1. It has a big impact on your net worth.

The value of your home will likely have a significant impact on your overall net worth. This is especially true if you have owned your home for a while and payments are beginning to have a bigger impact on your overall mortgage balance.

  1. It can provide access to equity.

As a home’s value increases, it is likely building equity. This is equity you may be able to tap into for opportunities, improvements or even emergencies. Knowing how much equity you have built up can be reassuring and even motivating.

  1. It may help you determine what remodeling projects to undertake.

If your home is increasing in value, taking on extensive home improvements may make more sense than if your home property value is stagnant or lessening. Keeping tabs on your home’s value can help you decide if a certain home improvement project is “worth it”.

  1. It can be an indicator that it is time to move on up.

If you’ve been fortunate enough to have a home increase rapidly in value due to location or improvements, it could be time to move up into an even more valuable property. Most of us want to continue to make financial progress in our lives and our home’s value can be a powerful way to achieve that goal.

  1. It may help you from overpaying on your property taxes. 

Keeping an eye on your home’s value may prevent you from paying too much on your property taxes. If you feel your property is being valued at more than it should be, you can challenge your property tax payments.

  1. It can ensure you have sufficient homeowners’ insurance.

How would you know if you have enough homeowners’ insurance to replace your home if you don’t know what it is worth? Paying attention to your home’s value in conjunction with your homeowners’ insurance coverage can help you from having gaps in your coverage or even possibly overpaying.

You can usually keep up with general home values in your neighborhood by looking at what similar homes are being sold for in your area. A professional real estate agent may also be of help. For assistance with your homeowners’ insurance coverage, contact one of our independent insurance agents for a no-obligation insurance review and quote.

Weighing Desire For Gain vs Fear of Loss

The desire for gain can be a very powerful force in human nature. It can motivate us to go to college for years, save up for a house and even exercise daily. It can even cause us to take shortcuts, sometimes, when it comes to getting what we want. Using credit cards for example. This is where fear of loss can be helpful. It can help balance our desire for gain by keeping us from paying 18-20% interest on those credit cards or buying a more expensive car than we should.

The desire for gain and fear of loss are tug-of-war like forces that, hopefully, keep us on the path to good, solid decision making. Insurance is a good example of that. It may not always be easy making life insurance, car insurance and homeowners’ insurance payments but a healthy fear of loss makes it important to protect the things, and people, of value in our lives. If we decide, for example, that getting a jet-ski is more important than life insurance to protect our family, that decision may not prove to be the best.

It is terrific to be motivated by a desire for gain. We all want a better life with more creature comforts, nice vacations and an enjoyable retirement. But it shouldn’t come at the expense of building a solid foundation for your financial future and protecting it with loss prevention products like life, car and home insurance.

That being said, it is still important to shop for value in these products, and that’s where our independent insurance agents play a key role. They don’t just represent a single brand, but have access to multiple insurance companies. This ability to “shop and compare” for their client’s gives them a clear edge when it comes to building an efficient, affordable, insurance plan.

Let us help you manage life’s perils while helping you achieve your financial goals. We can help you make better decisions while getting the best value for your insurance dollars. Contact us and get started on building your solid financial future.

Is Your Dog Taking a Bite Out of Your Homeowners’ Insurance Premiums?

Dogs can be an expensive addition to the family. There’s the food, toys, grooming supplies, bedding, bowls and vet visits. Add in the costs of leashes, treats and even fencing and your furry friend can be quite the investment. But is it possible that your dog is also costing you higher homeowners’ insurance premiums?

Because a homeowners’ insurance company can at least be held partially responsible should a dog injure someone, some insurance companies have either chosen to deny coverage to or add a surcharge for homeowners who have what some consider to be aggressive breeds. Among breeds some consider aggressive are Pit Bulls, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Siberian Huskies and some other breeds considered to be wolf/dog hybrids. In fact, just two states forbid insurance companies from dropping or canceling homeowners’ insurance policies because homeowners have a certain breed of dog. These states are Michigan and Pennsylvania.

So how big of a bite may your dog take out of your homeowners’ insurance premium? It is likely pretty modest, perhaps 2 or 3% of your total premium. The key is making sure your insurance company knows you have a dog and the type of breed it is. This ensures you will be adequately covered just in case Fido gets himself into trouble. Keeping dog ownership from your homeowners insurance company is never a good idea and may really come back to bite you.

Whether you have a dog or not, you certainly don’t want to overpay for your homeowners’ insurance. Our independent insurance agents have access to a variety of insurance companies. Our agents know which companies may and may not charge excessively if you have a dog. This allows them to “shop” on your behalf for sufficient coverage at a price you can be comfortable with. Before you make a decision on Fido, let us see what we can do. Contact us today for a homeowners insurance review and quote to make sure you are getting the most for your money!

Summer and the Increasing Chances of an At-Home Injury

As summer approaches, it is worthwhile to note that the warmer weather can also be a factor in increasing the odds of an injury accident at home. If the injury is significant enough, it could lead to a homeowners’ insurance liability claim. So as the thermometer rises and visitors increase, here are some activities in which to take extra precautions.

Yard Work

Most of us don’t consider working in the yard or garden as a hazardous activity but it can be; especially when power tools are concerned. Riding and power mowers, weed eaters, hedge trimmers and chainsaws can cause some serious injuries rather quickly. Be cautious about wearing loose clothing and wear eye protection. You’ll also want to be careful when digging to make sure no power lines are nearby. Contact utilities companies to mark buried pipes and wiring prior to digging in your yard.

Grilling

We often forget that there are still hazards to be aware of even after the grill gets started. Only grill outdoors and away from other structures and anything flammable. Never leave a grill unattended when it is lit. Keep your grill well-maintained and clean. Grill foods thoroughly and avoid basting foods with liquids the meat was marinated in. Use long-handled tools when grilling out and keep surfaces clean. Keep a spray water bottle handy to tame flare-ups.

Sports and Outdoor Activities

If you enjoy cycling, wear a helmet and bright clothes to improve visibility. Stretch muscles before running, jogging or even playing volleyball. Be cautious around the wet surfaces surrounding a pool. When entertaining outdoors at night, make sure there is sufficient lighting to help prevent slip and falls. Be cautious not to over-serve alcohol and suggest visitors use a ride-sharing service or have a designated driver if drinking.

If you haven’t reviewed your homeowners’ insurance policy in years, now is a good time to make sure you have sufficient coverage. Maybe you’ve made some home improvements since your last review or perhaps housing values in your neighborhood have increased. Our independent agents can help, no matter which company issued your current policy. They can tell you what your policy covers and where there may be gaps. They can even secure quotes from multiple companies to ensure your rates are competitive. Contact us today to make sure you are prepared for the increasing activity the summer will likely bring.