Who Will Try to Steer Your Choice of Homeowners Insurance Companies?

Have you ever felt there are forces around you, trying to guide your decisions? If you have ever purchased a home, you probably have. You will get advice from just about everyone on where to get your mortgage, who should conduct the home’s inspection, who should do the search and insure the title, and where to get your homeowners’ insurance.

To be honest, some of these referrals can be helpful. After all, most people only go through the home buying process several times in their lives. Getting advice can be helpful. But you should also know there could be a method to this “guidance”.

In many cases, real estate professionals may get a referral incentive from a mortgage company, title company or home inspector. They may have friends or buddies in various real estate-related areas. Their cousin Billy may have just gotten his first job selling insurance.

So who may be trying to steer you to choose whom as a homeowners’ insurance company? It could be your real estate agent, your mortgage broker or anyone else involved in the process. Should you listen to these recommendations? Sure. But always remember it is your choice and you should choose a provider best for you.

We, of course, would suggest seeking out an independent insurance agent. While some agents are captive to a single company, independent agents have access to represent the products of multiple companies. This allows an independent agent to shop for you, seeking the best rates and coverage. The decision, of course, is still yours.

Getting recommendations and referrals for products and services can be a big help. This is particularly true when searching for seldom used services. But you should always remember who is steering you and why. We suggest doing what’s best for you, and we believe that is contacting one of our independent insurance agents. Their agenda is working for you.

Fencing and Homeowners’ Insurance

One of the most confusing and mis-understood aspects of home ownership is the fencing that surrounds a property. Who owns it and is responsible for its repair? What happens if it is blown down by wind? Are there regulations on the type of fencing where you live? Is fencing covered by homeowners’ insurance? Here is a look at some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to residential fencing.

Who owns the fencing around my property?

If a certain type of fencing completely surrounds your property or backyard, the odds are very good that you own it. If the fencing matches other fencing that surrounds a neighbor’s property or yard, it is a good probability the fencing is their’s. If there is no fencing, or the fencing differs from other fencing in the vicinity, the best way to determine ownership is through a survey.

What is involved in a survey?

If your property is in a newer neighborhood, your county may have a recent survey on file that shows your property lines. If not, you may have to invest a few hundred dollars in getting a survey. The surveyor will mark the corner points of your property with steel pins. Running a string or placing a chalk line between these pins will show your property line. If a fence is on your side of the line it is yours. If it is on the line it may be considered a border fence, and ownership is determined by occupancy, or the person who maintains the property up to the fence. Ownership of a fence can also be determined if the fence is attached to a structure. Whoever’s property the structure is on may be considered the owner of the fence.

Will homeowners’ insurance cover damage to my fence?

Your fencing will likely be covered under the “other structures” provisions in your homeowners’ insurance, provided the damage is from a covered peril. Wind damage or a fallen tree, for example, would likely be covered but not damage from overgrown landscaping or an errant riding mower.

Are there fencing regulations?

Many communities and particularly homeowners’ associations have regulations regarding the size and type of material of which fencing may be constructed. Before starting any fencing project check with your county or HOA.

Are you paying too much for homeowners’ insurance? How would you know? Contact one of our independent agents for a no-obligation quote today!

Can I Afford Renters Insurance?

Those who rent their living space usually do so for one of several practical reasons. Some enjoy the maintenance-free lifestyle renting often provides. Others appreciate the affordability of renting vs purchasing. Still others may find themselves in a situation that may be temporary, and renting is the best option. No matter the core reason for renting, tenants should understand how important renters’ insurance can be. They should also understand how affordable it is.

Why Renters’ Insurance is Important

Some tenants have the misperception that the property owner, or landlord, will have insurance to protect them in a loss. The fact is, a landlord will likely have insurance, but only to protect their own interests. In other words, their building or structure would be covered, but not your personal property. This puts all of your clothing, furniture, electronics, collectibles and digital devices in harms way.

What Renters’ Insurance Covers

Renters’ insurance covers your personal possessions from a variety of calamities like storm damage and fire. It also will protect you in the event of theft, which is more likely to happen to renters than homeowners. There are other valuable provisions in renters’ insurance policies as well, like liability coverage should someone get injured in your rental home or apartment. Your personal property may also be covered when traveling or in your car.

But Can You Afford It?

Renters’ insurance is one of the most inexpensive forms of insurance available today. Depending on your situation, you may be able to find renters’ insurance for as little as a dollar a day. This is terrific protection, especially for those who have expensive electronics and digital devices. You may even be able to save more by bundling auto insurance with renters’ insurance. So, can you afford renters’ insurance? The question may really be can you afford not to have it?

Contact us for your renters’ insurance quote today. Our independent agents have access to companies who specialize in providing this type of valuable coverage. No matter the reason you have chosen to rent, get the protection you deserve with renters’ insurance. We look forward to assisting you.

Renters Insurance and College

Getting prepared for college is a huge project for both parents and students. This is particularly true when students will be living on their own, potentially out of town or out of state. Not only are there school related duties to take care of but students are oftentimes setting up their own household for the first time. This alone can be a significant project.

Students will be packing up furniture, clothes, computers, electronics and other personal items and moving into their own space. For students, its an exciting time to get out on their own. For parents, there is often a strange sense of pride and worry as their child takes the next step to adulthood. Who will be there to remind them to stay away from bad influences and to take the necessary steps to stay safe? Who will remind them to lock the doors of their car and apartment?

The best thing parents can often do is make sure their students are prepared. A way in which you can do this is verify that your child will be covered while at college. If the parents currently have homeowners insurance, most insurance carriers will carry coverage to a student at school. This coverage is company dependent and has limitations. Parents should check with their agent for specific company coverage’s.

 

One way to do this is to have renters insurance to better protect them and their property.

While we may initially think students don’t own that much of value, a closer look can see how those possessions add up. There are those name-brand clothes, the expensive cellphone, laptop or notebook, flat screen television, cookware, furnishings and more. It doesn’t take long to realize even a college student likely has thousands of dollars in possessions. Renters insurance can protect it all.

Additional benefits of renters insurance includes liability coverage, in case someone would get injured in a rented property. Possessions can also be covered when traveling and in the car.

Perhaps, most of all, renters insurance can take the sting out of phone calls like “Mom, my laptop got stolen” or “We had a party and my cellphone came up missing” or even “We got robbed”.

Renters insurance is extremely affordable and offers another layer of protection as a student heads off to college. Coverage can start at as little as a dollar a day. This is a small price to pay for peace of mind. If you would like to learn more about renters insurance, and how it may be even more affordable when bundled with your homeowners or auto insurance, please contact us. See how our independent insurance professionals can help make this next step just a little bit easier and more secure.

Homeowners’ Liability Insurance: Who Would Sue You?

One of the critical components of any homeowners’ insurance policy is its liability coverage. The liability provisions of your homeowners’ insurance protects you from financial loss should someone become injured on your property. These financial losses will generally result from a lawsuit. Liability protection covers the legal costs of any claim against you as well as any settlement or judgement that may result. But who would sue you? You may be surprised.

Aunt Maggie

It may have just been an accident when she fell down three steps while carrying her famous Gelatin Surprise for dinner, but she did break her ankle. There were expenses and remember that lawyer she dated after your Uncle died?

The Pizza Delivery Person

Nobody else tripped over that uneven walkway before. Now it’s his chance to get even for that time you complained to his boss about your order being wrong. It’s probably too late to start tipping him better now.

The Guy Who Mows Your Lawn

Why is it your fault he twisted his ankle and fell? He should have seen that hole in your yard anyway and after all, it could have been worse.

The Delivery Guy

Well, if he wasn’t running with that package he would have seen my dog coming at him sooner. Now he wants how much???

Neighbor Bob

Sure my grill is old but you asked if there was anything you could do. I didn’t think it would flare up like that. I don’t know what the big deal is, those eyebrows will grow back eventually.

The Kid Next Door

I’ve told him a million times not to climb on the playhouse when we’re not at home and now I”M responsible for that cast on his arm?

The list can go on and on. No one ever thinks they could be sued until they are. You never know who has a lawyer in their ear or who may see even a small injury as an opportunity to get their fair share of the pie. The best way to protect yourself is through diligent home maintenance and sufficient liability insurance.

If it has been years since you’ve had a homeowners insurance review. We invite you to talk with one of our independent agents. As independent agents, they are experienced and qualified to review the policies from any insurance company. You can also see if we can improve your coverage at competitive prices. Protect yourself from the Aunt Maggie’s and Neighbor Bobs of the world and give us a call today!

Protecting Your Biggest Investment

If you’ve heard it once you’ve probably heard it a dozen times. “Your house is your biggest investment and you need to protect it.” Well, when it comes to homeowners’ insurance, you may not have a choice. If you have a mortgage, for example, your mortgage company likely requires you carry it. The same may be true if you live in a managed community. But beyond that, it really makes a great deal of sense to secure your home with homeowners insurance. Here are some reasons why.

It May Be Your Largest Source of Equity

The larger your down payment, the longer you have owned your home and the more improvements you have made on it all add to the equity you have in your home. This is equity that can be tapped into to take advantage of opportunities, pay for college and even potentially to buy a vacation home. This is well worth protecting through sufficient homeowners’ insurance.

It May Be a Resource for Retirement

A home is a significant part of the financial future for many, including their retirement. While you will always have the need for living space, the time may come when you may wish to downsize or even move into a more maintenance-free situation. Some homeowners’ will time out a 20 or 30 year mortgage so it will coincide with retirement age. No longer having mortgage payments can be a huge step toward retirement.

You Can Use a House as a Stepping Stone

Some families plan on upgrading living spaces every 5 to 10 years as their income and family grows and changes. Along each step, that property needs to be protected to keep advancing. If a home is underinsured and is destroyed by fire or natural disaster, it can be a huge financial setback. The same can be said should there be a liability claim against a homeowner. Keeping appropriate coverage protects you every step of the way.

The challenge with homeowners’ insurance is that it is easy to forget about, especially if it is paid for through mortgage payments. A homeowner may become disconnected with their coverage and may grow out of it without even realizing it. We can help.

Contact us for a complete and thorough homeowners’ insurance review. Our independent agents are qualified to review the home insurance policies of any issuing company. They may even be able to help you improve coverage without increasing premiums.

Yes, your home likely IS your biggest investment. We would appreciate the opportunity to help you protect it.

Roof Damage and Your Homeowners’ Insurance

Roofs are one of the largest and most important features of a home. Its coverage is also a critical part of any homeowners’ insurance policy. Roof coverage has some unique aspects to it. Homeowners’ should be aware to have the right expectations when it comes to claims and to take full advantage of the coverage they have. Here are some things you should know about roof damage and your homeowners’ insurance.

I need a new roof. Will my homeowners’ insurance pay for it?

Not if you need a new roof because your roof has outlived its lifespan. If a roof needs to be replaced due to age and simple wear and tear, the homeowner will be responsible for the cost of replacement. Now, if the roof has been damaged due to a covered peril, act of nature or through an accident, your homeowners’ insurance policy will usually cover its replacement.

My roof has a leak. Will homeowners insurance pay to repair it?

If the leak is due to wind damage or some other covered peril, leak repair should be covered. If the leak is the result of lack of maintenance repairs likely will not be covered.

What steps do I take to file a claim?

First, have a qualified roofing company provide an estimate on repairs or a full replacement if necessary. Contact your insurance representative to file a claim. Once your claim is filed you will probably be contacted by an adjuster who will validate your claim and offer a settlement.

Can I use my settlement check and make repairs myself? 

Most insurance companies don’t have an issue with this. There are risks, however. If repairs or replacement isn’t properly done, you will be responsible for any additional repairs. In some cases, the terms of the homeowners’ insurance may require use of a licensed, qualified contractor. It is best to check your policy.

You should also beware that payments for roof damage claims are sometimes adjusted by the age of the roof. In other words, the older your roof is, the less your insurance policy may pay. Contact your insurance agent for details.

If you haven’t reviewed your homeowners’ insurance policy in years, your home may have outgrown its coverage. Contact our independent agents for a no-cost, homeowners’ insurance review. We may be able to find you improved coverage at a more affordable price. We look forward to assisting you with your roof-related and other homeowners’ insurance questions.

Improving Your Home? Improve your Insurance.

There are many old adages about our homes. They are our castles and there is no place like them. Home is where the heart is and it is said homes are not bought but built. We create our homes to fit our lifestyles and to be comfortable. After all, another old saying says certain spaces should “have all the comforts of home.”

To accomplish this, some are in an almost constant state of improvement. Many homeowners have long lists of projects that they want to accomplish. They may be weekend projects or home improvements that take weeks or months to complete. They may be as simple as adding a ceiling fan, new USB wall sockets or upgrading curtains. They could be as major as adding a bathroom, sunroom or a significant kitchen remodel. In any case, these improvements are usually intended to make our homes nicer, more convenient, safer and more valuable. The good news is that every dollar you spend on your home should add some value to it. The bad news is that at some point that value may exceed the coverage provided by your homeowners insurance.

This is particularly true if you haven’t reviewed your homeowners’ insurance policy in several years. It is also true if you have made some major improvements to your home. Improvements like adding square footage through a room addition, adding a deck, a significant kitchen or bathroom remodel or adding a pool, spa or fireplace. While increasing the value of your home, they could raise the replacement value beyond coverage. Even if you haven’t made major improvements, housing values could have risen enough over the years simply due to rising home prices. If you don’t occasionally have a homeowners’ insurance review, your homeowners’ insurance may no longer be sufficient.

We encourage you to connect with one of our independent insurance agents for a no-cost, no-obligation homeowners’ insurance review. Let us take a look at your coverage limits and any improvements you may have made since your last review. We can help prevent any lapse in coverage, and perhaps find a policy with improved coverage at competitive pricing.

Improving your home? Make sure your home insurance keeps up. Contact us today for your free home insurance review.

Burglary: A Big Reason to Have Renters’ Insurance

Renters’ insurance is an unsung hero in the loss prevention industry. It is affordable and covers much more than what people may believe.  Renters’ insurance, for example, can cover belongings when traveling and defend you against liability claims. But there is even a more significant issue that renters’ insurance can help renters with. It can cover financial loss from a burglary. That is a big potential problem for those who rent.

The first thing to understand is that if you rent, your personal property will not likely be covered by your landlord’s insurance. Your landlord will have insurance to cover his own interests but will not cover the property of those who rent from them. A renter should take responsibility for their own property and actions. You must insure against the loss of your own belongings, as well as liability risks.

Burglary is also a more significant problem for renters than others. Statistics show renters are more susceptible to burglary than traditional homeowners. Many renters live in properties that may not have security systems or be as secure as a private home.

There are a few things to keep in mind with renters’ insurance. While renters insurance is relatively inexpensive, having too high of a deductible can make your renters insurance less valuable. Keep in mind that if you have a $1,000 deductible and have a $1,000 laptop or other personal electronic devices stolen, your coverage will not kick in. Purchase renters insurance with a low enough deductible to make it worthwhile in the event of a loss.

Many renters may feel that foregoing homeowners’ insurance is one of the benefits of renting. The fact is you can still be held liable for personal accidents in your rental home and are certainly responsible for your own property. Just as important is you may be at more risk of a burglary if you rent.

What you should do is contact us for a no obligation, no cost quote on renters’ insurance. Tell us about where you are renting and what your risks may be. Our independent agents will search multiple insurance companies who specialize in renters’ insurance. You will have the choice of which plan to accept.

Find out how practical and affordable renters’ insurance can be. Connect with us today. We would appreciate the opportunity to serve you.

What Should You Know About Vehicle Safety Ratings

One of the criteria used in determining the cost of your automobile insurance is your car’s vehicle safety rating. Officially known as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Safety Ratings or NHTSA Safety Ratings, these are the results of government sponsored testing to independently determine which vehicles are the safest. The ratings use a five-star system with the safest vehicles achieving a five-star rating. The safer the vehicle, the more likely it is to score well in the ratings and result in lower automobile insurance premiums. You should know that the NHTSA ratings aren’t the only ones used in determining vehicle safety, there are other independent tests as well. The NHTSA tests, however, are the benchmark for vehicle safety testing.

How do these tests work and how can you access the rating results when considering the purchase of a vehicle? Here’s a closer look at NHTSA vehicle safety ratings.

Each year, the NHTSA chooses a wide selection of vehicles for testing. For 2020, for example, about 50 vehicles were selected for testing.

Testing is in four broad areas:

  1.  Frontal Crash Test Scenario – This simulates a head on crash between two-vehicles on a two lane road. It also simulates what would happen if a vehicle crashes head-on into a fixed barrier at 35 mph.
  2. Side Barrier Crash Scenario – This simulates a scenario where, after stopping, your begin to move through a four-way stop. A car coming from your driver’s side, however, does not stop. The crash is simulated at about 38 mph.
  3. Side Pole Crash Scenario – Here, a scenario is created that is similar to a car rounding a curve on a wet street and sliding into a utility pole on the driver’s side. For testing the vehicle is angled at 75 degrees, and sliding at about 20 mph.
  4. Rollover Resistance Testing – Designed mainly for SUV’s, it helps in determining how top-heavy a vehicle is and how likely it may rollover at speeds simulating 55 mph.

The NHTSA also tests and rates modern driver assistance technology along with other safety devices like air bags, seat belts and tire-pressure monitoring systems.

The NHTSA offers a booklet and vehicle comparison tools online at their website. Along with checking vehicle safety ratings, you should verify the cost of insuring a specific vehicle you are considering buying. Doing that ahead of time may influence your choices. Contact one of our independent agents for a no-obligation quote on vehicle insurance before you make a final decision on your next vehicle. We are here to help.