Preventing Yourself From Becoming Insurance Poor

Insurance can play a significant role in protecting your physical and financial assets. We insure our cars, health, lives, businesses and homes. In some cases, we keep policies for years and years and once in awhile we may wonder if we are paying too much for it. How can you make sure you are not becoming “insurance poor”?

One of the best ways is to stay connected with your homeowners insurance policy. Your homeowners insurance can be a culprit in escalating insurance costs for several reasons.

Many homeowners’ policies have been in place for years or even decades. Frequently, homeowners purchased their policies when buying their home initially and have not looked at it since. Through the years, coverage may become inadequate or the rates have risen to higher than average levels.

Another issue with homeowners’ insurance is that premiums may be paid through auto-payments or included in payments with their property tax and mortgage payments. Owners may not even realize their homeowners’ insurance rates are escalating.

Even through all this, there are still homeowners that don’t know where they are and aren’t covered and what their coverage limits are. In short, they are not only paying for coverage they are unsure of, but may be overpaying for it. Quite frankly, this is how some become insurance poor.

These are all reasons why, occasionally, you should have a complete insurance review that includes your homeowners’ insurance. Our independent insurance professionals can look at all of your coverage and find where you may be insufficiently covered or where you’ve outgrown coverage. They can then go to work getting quotes on all of your policies. There may be additional discounts you qualify for, like bundling, that you are not presently taking advantage of. Our experts will seek out available discounts and get competitive quotes. Of course, you make the final decision on the protection you choose.

If you are feeling just a bit overwhelmed by all the policies you may have, connect with us for a review. You will gain greater peace of mind and be assured you are not over-paying for your protection. If you can’t recall the last time you had an insurance review, it is time to call our independent agents today!

Features that are Attracting Home Buyers Today

There is an old expression about real estate that says the three most important factors when buying a house are “location, location and location.” While there is still a great deal of truth in that, if you are considering selling your house, there’s not much you can do about its location. There are, however, upgrades that you can undertake that will make your home more attractive to today’s buyers. Here are some of the features that are attracting buyers today.

Security Features

No matter where one lives, they want to feel safe and secure in their homes. That makes safety and security features a big draw for potential buyers. Here are some upgrades to consider.

  • Upgraded front door. Upgrading your front door to one made of steel or other stronger material can be a very attractive yet affordable feature. Be sure to include deadbolts and have it installed with longer screws in the hinges for added strength.
  • Extra strength windows. Stronger windows not only improve security but also improve insulation from temperatures and noise.
  • Security systems. Homes that have fire and burglar alarms have an appeal for today’s buyers, even if they are unmonitored. Even placing battery operated fire and smoke alarms in various rooms can help potential buyers feel more comfortable about your house.

Smart Features

More new home are being constructed with smart features, meaning homes that at least have a few are more appealing. Popular smart features include those involving lights, appliances and HVAC systems. Even smaller touches like upgrading electrical outlets to those that include USB charging ports can make prospective buyers feel the home has been upgraded.

Luxury Showers

Large spa-like, walk-in showers bring a certain “Wow” factor to a home. Large two-person style showers that include natural stone, rainfall shower heads and built-in seating are proving particularly attractive. Smooth-sliding glass shower doors are also a plus.

Thinking about selling your home? Invest in the upgrades buyers are looking for. Smart and security features and luxury showers may not be as critical as location, location, location but they can sure help.

When you make significant upgrades to your home, make sure you notify your homeowners’ insurance agent of the upgrades. Safety and security features may potentially qualify you for discounts. Other upgrades may upgrade the value of your home. Keep your homeowners’ insurance upgraded with a call to one of our independent insurance agents.

Boys and Grills. Cooking Safer Outside.

Some men take grilling outdoors very seriously. They are particular about the grill they use, the foods they cook and may even have their own sauces and recipes. For these professors of the propane and chiefs of the charcoal, grilling is not a chore. It is a mission. But even professional race car drivers need to be cautious on the roadways. So too must these gurus of the grill employ safe outdoor cooking practices. Here are a few to keep in mind.

Keep Your Grill Clean

Cleaning your grill after every use removes potentially harmful bits of food and charred material from transferring to your next meal. It can also limit flare-ups.

Keep Cold Food Cold

Foods, especially mayonnaise-based salads, can quickly turn bad in the summer heat. Keep salads cold and pork and chicken cool until ready to grill.

Avoid Using Marinades for Basting

It can be tempting to use the liquid that meats have been marinating in to baste them while cooking but they can carry harmful bacteria. If you do use the liquids, do so early and fully cook the meat.

Only Grill in Open Spaces

Only grill outdoors and keep the grill away from structures and flammable material. Never leave a lit grill unattended.

Use a Meat Thermometer

Purchase and use a meat thermometer to make sure foods are cooked safely. Depending on the type of meat, interior temps should range from 145-165 degrees.

Only Use Appropriate Grilling Tools

When grilling outside, only use long-handled grill tools designed for the task at hand. This can keep you from burning your hands and can help keep you a safe distance from the heat source.

Grilling season is a terrific time of the year for homeowners to enjoy and appreciate the investment they’ve made in their home. Protect that investment with sufficient homeowners insurance. Homeowners insurance can not only protect your physical assets but prevent the financial losses that can occur from liability claims.

Are you aware of the coverage you have on your home? Do you know what risks you are covered for and the limits to your coverage? If you are unsure, contact us for a no obligation homeowners insurance review. If you like, our independent agents can secure multiple quotes to see if there are money-saving options available. Contact us today to get started and enjoy your home with greater peace of mind.

 

Guns and Homeowners’ Insurance

There are an almost endless list of factors that impact your homeowners’ insurance rates. How old your home is, where it is located, what it is constructed of and the amount of coverage you decide upon are just a few. But does gun ownership impact your homeowners’ insurance rates? The answer is “perhaps”.

First of all, the vast majority of insurance companies will not ask about gun ownership on a homeowners’ insurance policy application.

Gun owners whose weapons end up being involved in a hunting accident, for example, can be held liable.  This is also frequently true of the damage a weapon can cause to another’s property. Conscientious gun owners may want to make sure they have enough coverage to cover these additional liability risks.

Many policies will also not cover injuries to family members as the results of gun incidents in the home. Homeowners’ will likely have to rely on their health insurance to cover these expenses.

Another situation to consider is that of gun owners who own multiple weapons and may be considered collectors. Like any valuable collection, homeowners will have limits to their coverage from homeowners insurance. A homeowner who has multiple valuable and collectable weapons in their possession may want to cover them through an addendum or rider in their homeowners insurance policy. This will cover these from loss in a fire or perhaps even theft. Firearm related equipment is also considered. Reloading equipment, reloading supplies, anything related to a firearm.

The bottom line is that if you are a gun owner, it will likely have little impact on your homeowners insurance. You, however, may seek out additional coverage to insure yourself against the higher liability risks of owning a gun. If you have a large collection of guns, it should be insured like any valuable collection.

If you have questions or concerns, contact us. Our independent insurance professionals can help you find an insurance company with a higher tolerance for weapons if you own multiple guns or have a collection. Connect with us today to find a solution to your particular situation.

The Difference Between Renters, Homeowners and Condo Owners’ Insurance Policies

Those who live in apartments, condos and single-family homes have different needs when it comes to protecting their assets and liability risks. There are specific loss prevention products for those who live in each. What are these differences? Here’s a quick look.

Homeowners Insurance

Designed mainly for those who own single-family homes, homeowners insurance usually covers the home’s structure, outbuildings, contents and it provides liability coverage. There are add-ons and options for homeowners insurance policies that could provide for hotel stays and meals while a home is being repaired, riders that can offer additional protection for valuable collections and more. Mortgage companies will often require homeowners’ insurance on properties they finance.

Renters Insurance

Those who rent their living space should strongly consider renters insurance. This does not insure the overall structure, but focuses on covering the personal property and liability risks of tenants. This may include furniture, clothing, electronics and other possessions. Depending on coverage, some personal electronic devices like smartphones may not be covered. Renters insurance may also cover belongings when traveling.

Condo Owners Insurance

Those who own a condominium can benefit from the protection of a condo insurance policy. Condo insurance generally provides coverage to damage for the interior space of your condo, personal belongings and liability risks. The association is responsible for insuring outside structures. In case of severe damage to the structures, the association may vote to place an assessment on property owners to cover excess damage. Since these assessments can be expensive, protection is available under a condo policy to cover the costs.

While each policy above varies, they do provide some common protection like personal property and liability. To discuss your options, we invite you to call one of our experienced, independent insurance professionals. As independent agents, they are not limited to offering the products of just one company. Instead, they can compare the rates and coverage from multiple companies. Of course, you make the final decision. Whether you rent, own a condo or a single-family home, contact us to get started today.

Tree Houses and Homeowners’ Insurance

Some have fond memories of tree houses when they were younger. Parents, and even grandparents, may be tempted to recreate those memories by constructing a tree house in their backyards for children or grandchildren. Before you put your tree house construction skills to the test, there are important safety and insurance factors to consider.

Tree Houses are Considered an “Attractive Nuisance”

Like a backyard trampoline or pool, a tree house is considered an attractive nuisance. This means it can be tempting for neighborhood children to play in, putting the homeowner at risk. Such “attractive nuisance” features may prevent you from getting homeowners insurance or cause an increase in premiums. You may want to consider discussing how a tree house may impact your homeowners insurance before starting such a project.

Along with being an attractive nuisance, tree houses may create a potential danger to neighboring properties should they be constructed poorly. Tree houses may also create a danger if they are built too close to power lines.

Making Sure Your Tree House is Safe

Should you decide to pursue your tree house construction project, there are steps you can take to make sure it is done properly and safely. It can be helpful to keep the tree house lower to the ground, only using a tree that is substantial. Make sure access is safe. Focus on a solid platform.

Check on the Need for Permits

Many communities have regulations regarding the construction of outside structures. This is also true if you live in a HOA managed community. Even if it is legal, there may restrictions on materials used or size of the structure. You may even need a permit.

Limit Access

Access to the structure should be limited to when adults are present. Access can be limited by locks or by removing the stairs or ladder to reach it.

Inspect it Frequently

Trees can obviously move in the wind and that could create weaknesses in the structure. Be sure to take a look at the structure to make sure boards haven’t loosened.

Tree houses can range from the simple to the elaborate. In either case, you want to make sure it is constructed legally, safely and without negatively impacting your homeowners’ insurance. Check with your insurance agent, your community and perhaps even seek experienced help when building a tree house on your property.

Don’t go out on a limb. For a homeowners’ insurance review and a price quote, we invite you to contact one of our independent insurance agents. They work with multiple insurance companies in search of coverage that provides you the most value.

Six Common Homeowners Insurance Mistakes

We understand that your homeowners’ insurance may not be at the top of your priority list. That is, of course, until you need it. If your home is damaged in a storm, you are burglarized or experience a kitchen fire, that policy suddenly becomes much more important. Some, however, discover that their homeowners’ insurance may not provide the protection they thought it would. To minimize the chance for any negative surprises regarding your homeowners insurance, here are six common mistakes to avoid when buying homeowners’ insurance.

  1. Assuming flood insurance is included. Flood insurance is part of a FEMA administered program that must be purchased separately. Flood insurance is not included in a basic homeowners insurance policy. If you feel you may benefit from flood insurance, ask your independent insurance agent for details and a quote.
  2. Under-insuring a home. Of course, price is always a factor but not at the expense of coverage. When acquiring homeowners’ insurance, make certain it is sufficient to meet your needs.
  3. Underestimating the value of a home’s contents. Homeowners’ insurance policies will likely limit the amount of coverage for your personal possessions and household contents. This may be a stated limit or a percentage of your home’s coverage. In either case, you will want to make sure the limit is high enough to cover replacement. This is particularly important if your have jewelry and collectibles in your home you want fully protected.
  4. Choosing a deductible that is too high. In order to save a few dollars. Some homeowners may select a deductible that is too high. This can be problematic when it comes to making a claim. Be honest about your ability to absorb that higher deductible should you incur damage to your home.
  5. Not understanding what is and isn’t covered. One of the values of having an independent insurance agent is having someone to be able to answer your questions about your policy’s coverage. They can also serve to consult you about sufficient coverage prior to making your insurance purchase.
  6. Not comparing. Some homeowners’ make the mistake of not comparing coverage and rates. It is not always about just price. You want to be assured you are getting both value and the coverage you expect. Our independent insurance agents can help.

When you contact one of our independent insurance agents, they can seek out quotes from multiple companies. They can assist in answering your questions and they can help assure your coverage meets the value of your home. There’s no need to go it alone when purchasing home owners’ insurance. Get the assistance of one of our professional agents today.

Five Quick & Easy Ways to Save on Homeowners Insurance

Odds are you wouldn’t mind saving money on your homeowners’ insurance premiums. There’s also a pretty good chance, however, that you don’t want to have to jump through some challenging hoops to do so. Here are five quick and easy ways you may be able to save on your homeowners’ insurance premiums.

  1. Bundle your insurance. You may be able to save on your homeowners’ insurance when you bundle it with other policies like your automobile insurance. One of our independent insurance agents can help determine if bundling may work to save you money.
  2. Raise deductibles. Raising your share of out of pocket expenses should a claim occur. Discuss if raising the deductible on your homeowners’ insurance policy will make a significant impact on your premiums. Our independent insurance agents can help.
  3. Improve security. Some homeowners’ insurance companies will offer discounts when homeowners upgrade the security of their homes. This can include anything from adding deadbolt locks or security windows to getting a complete security system. In some cases, the discounts can help pay for your improvements. As an added bonus, you will be improving your security and potentially add to the value of your property.
  4. Add safety features. You may become eligible for homeowners’ insurance discounts when you add safety features like fire and smoke alarms and even CO2 detectors. Ask your independent insurance agent how this not only will make your home safer for you and your family, but if there may be potential savings available on your homeowners’ insurance.
  5. Perhaps the best and easiest way to save on homeowners insurance is to have an insurance review. Once one of our independent insurance agents reviews your policy, they can seek out comparative quotes from a number of insurance companies.

Homeowners’ insurance policies can frequently be forgotten. Many may not know what coverage they have or even how much they may be paying. A review and price quote from one of our insurance agents will help. There is no-cost or obligation for a review and quote and it may be an easy way to save money. Contact us and get started today!

Are You Required to Carry Homeowners’ Insurance?

Statistics show that on average, Americans will own three homes in their life. The first, bought around age 27 will serve as their starter home. The second home purchased generally serves as the “family’ home where kids grow up and move out. The third home frequently is a downsized or retirement home.

With each of these homes it is likely carrying homeowners’ insurance is a requirement. Here’s why.

If you carry a mortgage loan on your home, it is almost certain your lender will require coverage to protect their interests. Should a home be lost to a fire or other disaster, the odds of the owner continuing payments is low. Homeowners’ insurance assures the lender will get paid back on their loan, even if a major loss would occur.

Another scenario where homeowners’ insurance could be required is if you live in a community managed by an HOA or have a condo association. Associations are charged with working in the best interest of their community and its members. They often require homeowners insurance so the community isn’t left with a damaged, uninsured property.

Of course, those who do not have a mortgage may not be required by a lender to have homeowners’ insurance, but owning a home outright is a significant investment to be left uninsured.

If you are a homeowner or considering the purchase of a home, it is important you perform your due diligence when it comes to homeowners insurance. You do not have to take the recommendations of a realtor or a mortgage broker. You can do your own research and compare your own rates. We, of course can help. Our independent insurance agents can help compare for you.

Now, if you’ve had your home for years, it can be just as important to compare. Rates may have changed to your benefit or your coverage may no longer be sufficient. Our agents again, can assist you in making sure you are getting the most for your money.

Contact us today for a no cost, no-obligation homeowners’ insurance review and quote. You may be required to carry it, but there is no reason to overpay for it.

Homeowners’ Insurance and “The Tree”

A story, or lesson if you will, in homeowners insurance is often told about “The Tree”. Now the tree can be anywhere on anyone’s property and it may be small or mighty. It may be a willow, an oak or an elm. But as the story goes, the tree falls and damages a building or a home.

The mystery is, who is responsible for the damage?

The general answer is rather simple. You are responsible for whatever may fall into your yard. If winds should cause a neighbors tree to fall into and cause damage to your property, your homeowners’ insurance likely will help cover the cost of not only the damage, but of removing the tree. This is particularly true when the tree is healthy and is toppled by high winds during a storm. This is known as an act of nature. But like most stories, there can be more to this story too.

There are a couple of examples of when the tree’s owner would be responsible. One such example is if the homeowner is trying to trim or cut down the tree himself without professional assistance. In this case, the tree owner would be held responsible for the damage.  Another example of when the tree’s owner could be held responsible is if the tree was diseased, dead or dying when it fell and caused the damage. In this case, if the tree owner knew the tree was diseased and was potentially hazardous, the damage would be the responsibility of the tree owner. Like any maintenance on a home or property, a homeowner has a responsibility to remove unstable trees from their property before they cause damage.

A couple of footnotes to this story. A property owner who sustained damage to their property from a neighbors tree could potentially sue the neighbor for the amount of the deductible they had to pay. Also, never try to touch or remove a fallen tree that is touching power lines. Trees that have fallen in the road are the responsibility of the municipality in which they fell. Finally, be extremely cautious about removing limbs from a felled tree. These limbs may be carrying weight of the tree and can cause serious injuries when not carefully and thoughtfully removed.

If you have questions about your homeowners’ insurance or can’t quite recall the last time you got a competitive quote, contact us. Our independent agents can compare the rates from multiple companies for you. It’s a great way to save money and gain more peace of mind.