Getting Serious About Energy Savings

Getting Serious About Energy Savings

Most people have at least taken some steps to save energy in their homes. It may be energy-saving light bulbs, buying Energy Star appliances or even upgrading to a smart thermostat. While these may save some energy and a few dollars, there are more significant steps you can take. If you want to vastly reduce or even eliminate your energy bill, here are some serious steps you can take.

Replace Your HVAC

Most of the energy used in a home is usually from its heating and air conditioning systems. If your HVAC system is approaching 15 years of age or older, proactively replacing it with an energy efficient system can pay for itself. A new system can save 60% or more over an old, outdated HVAC system. While you are at it, have your ducts cleaned and sealed.

Add Solar Power

Solar energy is becoming more practical, affordable, and powerful. You can use free energy when the sun shines, sell your excess energy back to your power company, and just pay for the power you use at night, or add batteries to store your own energy for use as needed. Systems start at about the cost of a good used car.

Upgrade Windows and Doors

If your home has single-pane windows and old doors, a lot of the power you are paying for is escaping. New windows can quiet your home, beautify it, add value and save energy.

Add Insulation

Adding insulation and filling gaps around windows and doors can keep treated air from escaping. You may also want to insulate the inside of your garage door.

Major investments in energy-saving upgrades can be expensive. However, consider how much you are paying in annual energy bills. These investments can pay for themselves rather quickly and add significant value to your home.

You’ll want to make sure, whether it is solar panels or a new HVAC system, you notify your independent home insurance agent of any major upgrades made to your home. It may also be a good time for a homeowner’s insurance review. We can even provide a price quote for an upgraded policy. Contact us today.

Why You May Need Renters Insurance

Why You May Need Renters Insurance

Do you question whether you need renters’ insurance or not? Here are some answers to some questions that can help you come to your own conclusion.

Do You Rent the Space Where You Live?

Are you currently renting or thinking about renting a home, duplex, apartment, or condominium? Since renters insurance doesn’t cover actual real estate, it is designed for those who rent their space, either for the short or long term.

Do You Have Personal Possessions?

Odds are you may own more items than you realize. Even if you rent a furnished space, you still likely have plenty of clothes, bedding, small appliances, cookware, and other personal items that could be covered in a loss while renting.

Do You Travel?

Renters’ insurance may be able to cover your personal possessions while you travel for fun or business.

Do You Have Visitors or Get Deliveries?

The liability portion of your renters’ insurance policy can help financially protect you should a visitor or delivery person injure themselves while on or in your rented space. It generally will not only cover legal costs but may even cover expenses associated with a judgment or settlement.

Does Your Landlord or Property Manager Require It?

More and more landlords and property managers are asking their tenants to secure renters’ insurance. By the way, you can seek out your own provider. We suggest you contact one of our independent insurance agents for a no-cost, no-obligation quote on renters’ insurance for your situation.

It is important to note that, like most loss prevention (insurance) products, renters’ insurance has its limitations and restrictions. It will not cover everything under all circumstances, and there are coverage limits. If you have valuable electronics or a valuable personal collection of jewelry or other items, discuss them with our independent insurance agent to make sure you fully understand your renters’ policy.
Renters’ insurance is surprisingly affordable, and you may even be able to get further discounts when bundling it with auto insurance. Connect with us to see your options and to protect the items you’ve worked so hard to acquire. We look forward to assisting you.

Kitchen Gadgets You’ll Love Adding to Your Arsenal

Kitchen Gadgets You’ll Love Adding to Your Arsenal

If you’ve had a household for any length of time, you likely have a drawer full of kitchen gadgets to make life easier. Here are some suggestions to add to your kitchen.

A Pineapple Corer

First of all, if you’ve never had a freshly cut pineapple, you are missing one of life’s little pleasures. The problem is, pineapples can be a challenge to cut. A pineapple corer is an ingenious device that cores and spiral cuts a pineapple, leaving the rind behind. It can even quickly cut into chunks. Yummo.

A Melon Baller

Still cutting watermelon and cantaloupes into chunks? A simple hand-held melon baller allows you to scoop out perfect little balls of melon for a more attractive appearance. It definitely raises the level of how fruit and fruit salads are presented.

A Sharp, High Quality Chef’s Knife

If you don’t feel you can invest in a superior set of knives that you can use as your go-to cutting knives, at least buy one exceptional slicing utensil. Once you have a premium quality knife, you will wonder what took you so long to get one.

Rubber Spatulas in Various Sizes

Once you are armed with a set of tiny to large rubber spatulas, you will be prepared to get every bit of goodness out of the bottom of jelly and peanut butter jars, cans, and other food containers. They are also terrific for scooping leftovers from cookware into storage containers.

Whisks

If you are using forks and spoons to stir and blend liquids, just stop. A whisk does the job much better and it makes you feel like a chef when using it and is fun to say.

There are just some items you may not appreciate the full value of until you need or use them. Home Insurance can be one of those items. Home insurance may just sort of stay in the background until there is a claim. Don’t wait until you need it before finding out whether your home insurance is sufficiently covered. Contact us today for your no-obligation home insurance review and price quote.

Five Misperceptions about Home Insurance

Five Misperceptions about Home Insurance

There are myths and misperceptions about all forms of insurance. This includes your homeowners’ insurance. Here are five of the more common ones.

It is Difficult to Change Home Insurance Companies

We understand. Changing your home insurance may mean communicating with somebody, making a decision and clicking “Yes”. But that effort can make sure you are properly covered to today’s standards and to your expectations and may even save you money. It really is pretty simple.

Home Insurance is Required by Law

No, home insurance is not required by law in any of the 50 states. It is likely to be required by your mortgage company to protect their interests, however. There are also HOAs that may require their residents to carry home insurance to protect the integrity of the neighborhood.

Flooding is Covered Under Homeowners Insurance

This is a big misperception about home insurance. Basic homeowners’ insurance does not cover flooding. Flooding can, however, be covered by FEMA-sponsored flood insurance that needs to be acquired separately. Contact one of our independent home insurance agents to learn more about how you can qualify for flood insurance. Keep in mind there is a 30-day waiting period for flood insurance to take effect. Don’t wait until it is too late.

The Amount of Homeowners Insurance on Your Home Should be Based on Its Market Value

You actually want your dwelling protection to cover replacement value. This allows insurance to replace your home as closely as possible without over-paying for coverage or it being underinsured.

Once I Get Homeowners Insurance, I can “Set it and Forget It”

Sadly, that is what many people do with their homeowners’ insurance. It is required by their mortgage company, so they buy it upon the purchase of their home and pay it in escrow with their mortgage and tax payments. Perhaps it is time you got a no-cost, no-obligation home insurance review and price quote. Getting started is as easy as contacting one of our independent insurance agents. Do it now and start feeling good about your homeowners’ insurance again.

Home Insurance and Vehicles

Home Insurance and Vehicles

When we get questions about home insurance, it is often a game of “what if’s.” This can happen a lot when damage to homes and vehicles crosses over. There are simply some confusing situations when we may not know which policy to turn to. Let’s take a look at some circumstances when home and vehicle damage can overlap and how and if damage would be covered.

My car is parked in my attached garage. My home and garage burned down. Will my homeowners’ insurance cover my car?

Not typically. Vehicles that are licensed for use on the roadways will not be covered under home insurance. It will be up to your auto insurance provider to pay that claim.

My boat is on a trailer and parked in my yard. It was vandalized. Will homeowners’ insurance cover the damage?

Generally, home insurance will provide limited coverage for a watercraft, including vandalism. Frequently, this damage is limited to $1,000. If you have a watercraft, make sure you discuss your risks with your independent insurance agent before making a claim.

Are Riding Mowers Kept in a Shed Covered by Home Insurance?

Typically, all the contents of a shed or outbuilding are covered within policy limits. This would include riding mowers.

What about my Motorcycle?

No, homeowners’ insurance does not typically cover damage or theft of a motorcycle. There are separate policies you can get for street-legal motorcycles.

There are an almost unlimited set of circumstances that can threaten your home and property. The time to get the answers about what is and isn’t covered and for how much it is when buying your homeowners insurance policy or when reviewing it. We can help. As independent insurance agents, we are qualified to review home insurance policies issued by any company. We can tell you where you are, where you may have gaps, and if we can even save you money on your premiums. Contact us today for your no-obligation home insurance policy review and price quote.

Why It May Be Time for a Home Insurance Review

Why It May Be Time for a Home Insurance Review

How often should you get a home insurance review? Many experts suggest a homeowners’ insurance policy be reviewed annually. While that may seem a bit frequent, things can change year to year and that could impact your home insurance. Here are some examples.

You Make Major Improvements to Your Home

Perhaps you’ve upgraded a kitchen or bath, added a room, built a fence, or added a deck. These can all impact the value of your home and affect your home insurance.

Added or Eliminated an Attractive Nuisance 

Did you add or eliminate a pool from your yard? What about a trampoline or hot tub? Adding or eliminating these attractive nuisances can impact your policy and what you pay.

Made an Upgrade to Electric or Plumbing

If you have upgraded your electrical system, plumbing, or put on a new roof, it could lower your home insurance premiums. Contact your independent insurance agent to discuss the details of any improvements.

Added Safety or Security Systems

Have you recently added a video camera system, smoke alarms, or secured a monitored security service? This could make you eligible for a discount.

Flooding Zones Can Change

Areas at risk of flooding change due to climate, construction, and urban development. Your property may be at risk, and you may not know it. While flood insurance is not typically included in a base homeowners insurance policy, our independent insurance agents can help you secure it.

It Has Been More Than Two Years Since Your Previous Review

If it has been more than two years since you’ve had a home insurance review, it’s time to call one of our independent agents. They can make sure your policy is keeping up with inflation. They can even provide a price quote that may be able to save you money!

Reach out to us today for your no-obligation review. Maybe your home insurance is adequate as it is. But wouldn’t it still be nice to know? Contact us today.

Neglect and Homeowners Insurance

Neglect and Homeowners Insurance

The purpose of homeowners’ insurance is to help protect homeowners from losses and property damage due to covered calamities. Home insurance is actually a series of coverages that includes the main dwelling, outbuildings, personal property, and liability. Homeowners’ insurance is not intended to cover normal wear and tear, and it certainly is not designed to cover damage due to owner neglect. Here is a quick look at some examples where claims may be denied due to neglect.

Falling Tree

It is likely that damage caused by a falling tree during a storm will be covered under a home insurance policy. If that tree, however, has been diseased and leaning over a neighbor’s home and that fact was known in advance, that could be considered neglect. Diseased or dangerous trees should be removed as a part of home maintenance.

Rotting Fencing

Sure, a wooden fence that is blown down by wind or damaged when a car drives through it may be covered. A neglected fence that is rotted, rusting, or otherwise in disrepair may not be. Again, a homeowner is responsible for normal repair and replacement of aspects of their home, and neglect is not sufficient cause for a claim.

Roofing

Roofs that have been damaged by storms are likely to be covered at least on some level. Some companies are moving to prorated coverage for roofing based on the expected lifespan of the roof and how long it has been in service. If a roof has been neglected and leaks go unattended, coverage could potentially be denied.

Home insurance is not intended as a replacement for routine home maintenance. It is important that homeowners keep properties well maintained and repaired.

If you have questions about home insurance and what is and isn’t routinely covered, please feel free to give us a call. As independent insurance agents, we are qualified to review home insurance policies issued by any company. If you like, we can then search our network of companies to find coverage to suit your situation and your budget. Reach out to us today and get started.

7 Definitions to Know Before Buying Home Insurance

7 Definitions to Know Before Buying Home Insurance

Sometimes relatively simple subjects can be made more confusing or complex by terminology. This happens frequently in law and it happens when it comes to homeowners insurance. Knowing the following ten definitions, however, can help make things a bit clearer.

Liability

As a property owner, you are responsible for providing a safe environment for guests, visitors, and vendors. Should someone sustain an injury while on your property, you could be held liable for financial damages associated with that injury. The liability coverage portion of your home insurance can cover legal costs and judgements or settlements involving such a claim.

Actual Cash Value

ACV is the value placed on an item at the time of its loss. A $2,000 sofa, for example, may only have an actual cash value of $500 after a few years of use. Using ACV, insurance would value that sofa at its depreciated value of $500.

Replacement Value

Replacement value would cover property based on what it would cost to replace it. If your home were to be destroyed by a fire, for example, the replacement value would cover the cost of replacing it.

Deductible

A policy’s deductible is the amount the insured pays out of pocket before policy benefits are paid. If you have a $10,000 claim with a $1,000 deductible, you would pay the first $1,000 and your home insurance would cover the $9,000 balance.

Exclusion or Exception

These are terms used to describe specific perils that are not covered under the homeowners’ insurance policy. It is important to note these exclusions so you are aware of areas where you are unprotected.

Policy Limits

This is the maximum amount a policy will pay under certain categories and overall.

Premiums

Premiums are simply the amount paid for homeowners’ insurance. These premiums could be paid monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.

While definitions are the same, not all home insurance policies are equal. You can discover what is and isn’t covered by your present policy and how you can best fill in the gaps by contacting one of our independent insurance agents. If it has been years since you’ve had a home insurance policy review and price quote, the time to act is now. We look forward to assisting you.

Why Paying Home Insurance with Your Tax and Mortgage Payment May Not Be a Good Idea

Why Paying Home Insurance with Your Tax and Mortgage Payment May Not Be a Good Idea

If you pay your home insurance premiums through an escrow account that includes your property taxes and mortgage payment, you are not alone. In fact, far from it. It is estimated that 80% of homeowners take care of their property insurance payments in this manner. But is it a good idea?

It certainly is for mortgage holders, the local taxing authority, and insurance companies, but what about you?

Combining your home insurance with taxes and mortgage payments in an escrow account is convenient, for sure. But there can be issues with this approach. It can disconnect you from just how much you are paying for property taxes. It can also not provide an accurate feeling of what your mortgage is costing you. But it can cause even more issues when it comes to your home insurance.

When you pay your home insurance through a combined escrow account with taxes and your mortgage, it can be easy to forget about this critical coverage. You may ignore getting your home insurance policy reviewed, and you may miss out on coverage or find yourself paying too much. It can be easy to forget what your deductible is, who your insurance company is, and even how much you are paying.

Have you ever signed up for a subscription or “free trial” that you forgot about and paid for longer than you should have? A similar issue can occur with home insurance.

How do you fix it? Contact us for a no-obligation home insurance review. We can answer all of your questions about your homeowners’ insurance. Most importantly, you can get a free quote on an updated policy to suit your needs. You may appreciate the fact that you can pay for your home insurance premiums separately or decide to pay them through escrow. Either way, you can have confidence that your policy is updated and suits your current needs.

As independent home insurance agents, we are capable of reviewing home insurance policies from any company. We can shop through our network of insurance companies to provide the best value for your situation.

When was the last time you had your home insurance policy revived? If it has been more than two years, we invite you to reach out to us. This is particularly important if you pay your home insurance with property taxes and your mortgage. We look forward to assisting you.

Six Surprising Things You May Not Know About Your Home Insurance

Six Surprising Things You May Not Know About Your Home Insurance

Homeowners’ insurance is one of the most neglected forms of insurance consumers purchase. Many times, it is secured when a home is bought, and unless a claim is made, it may never be reviewed again. This is frequently due to the fact that many pay it directly as part of their tax and mortgage payments. This has led to a remarkable situation for many. They may not even be aware of the most vital aspects of their home insurance coverage. Here are six surprising facts about homeowners’ insurance you may not know.

What It Covers

Many policyholders may believe they are covered for things like flooding, earthquakes, sinkholes, or wildfires when they are not. Are you sure you are covered?

Coverage Limits

Your coverage limits may have been adequate a decade ago when you bought your home, but are they sufficient today? Many policyholders just don’t know their coverage limits. Do you?

Are Personal Possessions and Collectibles Covered Adequately?

If you have a growing collection of antiques, art, coins, or other valuables, will they be covered in a loss? Many times, large, valuable collections may need separate additional coverage.

What is Your Deductible?

Do you remember if your homeowners insurance has a $250 deductible or perhaps a $500 or $1000 one? This is a pretty important piece of info homeowners should be well aware of.

When Was The Last Time You Had a Home Insurance Review?

Many property owners haven’t reviewed their homeowners’ insurance for years. This can mean you are paying too much or no longer have sufficient coverage. It is time to schedule a review.

How Much Are You Paying?

A surprising number of people don’t know how much they are paying for home insurance or even who insures their home. That shouldn’t be acceptable, especially when getting a home insurance review and price quote is as easy as contacting one of our independent agents.

Reach out today and let us go over your coverage with you. As independent insurance agents, they are qualified to review homeowners’ insurance policies issued by any company. They can tell you if you THINK you’re covered but aren’t, and if you’re overpaying. It is easy and can save you money and provide more peace of mind. Take the mystery out of your home insurance and contact us today.