What You Should Know About College Living Spaces

What You Should Know About College Living Spaces

It is the best of times and the worst of times. You are sending your “child” off to college, another if life’s little mileposts reminding you the clock is ticking. That sadness, however, can quickly be replaced with pride and just a bit more time of your own at home.

Life at college just may not be the same experience you had, however. Here are some things to consider before Johnny or Jane heads out the door.

Your Choice May Be Limited

If your student is a freshman, or in some cases, even if they are a sophomore, they may be required to live on-campus in a traditional dorm. Check with your college or university to see if off-campus living may be an option.

Choosing Between Furnished or Unfurnished

You probably will have the option of some furnished or non-furnished apartment options. Choosing furnished living spaces may be worth considering, especially if the distance between home and campus is significant. If the difference in costs between furnished and unfurnished is doable, moving less furniture can be enticing. Keep in mind, it will also reduce work during a move-out.

The Joys of Modern Living

Most major campus areas feature at least one new or nearly new housing student living option filled with amenities. These may include game rooms, fitness centers, study areas, pools, basketball courts and more. These facilities can help to keep your student involved and active while “at home”, which could ultimately save you money and keep them close to their apartment.

Sharing a Large Home

Sharing a large home with roommates is still an option for many, but be sure to fully understand the lease to realize who is responsible for the lease and for how much.

Sharing Spaces with Individual Leases

The best option in reducing expenses is sharing a common space with individual leases for the rooms that each roommate inhabits. This limits your exposure on the lease to your student. If another individual doesn’t live up to the terms of their lease, it is on them.

Consider Renters’ Insurance

Check with your independent insurance agent to see how renters’ insurance can help protect the belongings of your student while limiting their liability should someone get injured while in a rented property. Renters’ insurance is inexpensive and provides valuable coverage and peace of mind.

Like homeowners’ insurance, renters insurance provides multiple benefits, but you need to contact one of our professionals to fully understand the benefits and limitations. We can help. Connect with us to talk about if renters’ insurance and your options. We look forward to assisting you.

Five Surprisingly Easy Home DIY Projects

Five Surprisingly Easy Home DIY Projects

We’ve all been there. That point when you need to make a decision on whether to pay someone to fix, replace or repair something around the house or attempt to take on the project yourself. Here are five projects around the house, however, you should never have to pay someone else to do.

Changing Your Furnace Filter

Furnace filters are inexpensive, easy to change and virtually foolproof. In fact, dollar for dollar, it is one of the most cost-effective things you can do in your home. It is simply a matter of pulling out your old filter, buying one of the same size and replacing the old one with the new one. It can be done in minutes and for just a few dollars.

Fixing or Replacing a Sink Garbage Disposal

If your garbage disposal has stopped working, it may be a simple jam. With the power off, use a 1/4” Allen wrench inserted into the center bottom of the disposal to attempt to free the jam by moving it in both directions. If that doesn’t free up the jam, replacement is surprising easy. With the power off, disconnect the electrical wiring and disconnect the plumbing. Use the universal wrench (usually included) to remove the old disposal from under the sink. Reverse the process. The biggest challenge may be in supporting the weight of the new disposal while you are installing it.

Replacing a Light Switch or Replacing it With a Dimmer

With the breaker off, remove the wall plate and two mounting screws for the switch. Make note of where the wires are connected and compare it to the new switch. They should be similar or the same. Remove the wires from the old switch and connect the wires to the new one. Make sure wires are securely connected with the connector nuts or otherwise connected without bare wiring showing. Carefully replace the switch in the wall box and replace the cover. Turn on the breaker and your new switch should be good to go!

Plumbing Jams

Unless drainage issues are caused by root or physical damage to the drainage pipes, you should be able to handle the problem yourself. For sinks and bathtubs, problems are frequently the result of hair/soap clogs. These can be removed with an inexpensive small drain snake. Larger hand crank snakes are available for toilets for about $25. Insert the snake into the drain, “screwing” it up and down until the drain flows free again.

Fixing a “Running” Toilet

A toilet that constantly has water flowing can be annoying and expensive on the water bill. It is likely a toilet tank repair kit will fix it. These universal kits are available at a big box or hardware store for under $20. Shut of the water supply line and flush the toilet until the tank is empty. You may want to use an old towel to soak up any remaining water in the tank. Remove the water supply line from underneath the tank and remove and replace the old components with the new kit. Make sure all pieces are put in place securely, reattach the water supply line and turn on the water supply line checking for leaks. If you have no leaks, you are in business.

Taking care of your home is important in preserving its value. So is making sure you have sufficient homeowners’ insurance. We can help. Contact one of our independent homeowners’ insurance agents for a no obligation review and quote. It may be time to familiarize yourself with your home insurance coverage again. Contact us today.

3 Easy Ways to Save on Your Home Insurance

3 Easy Ways to Save on Your Home Insurance

Few of us want to pay more than we have to for any product or service we use. This should include homeowners’ insurance. Yet many go through life not even knowing what they are paying since payments may be included with their mortgage and tax payments. So months and years may go by paying higher than necessary premiums.

Saving on your home insurance is not particularly difficult. In fact, here’s five easy ways you can save on your homeowners insurance.

Get a Review and Price Quote

This may sound like a pitch, but it is the best way to save money. By getting a home insurance review and price quote, you are better prepared to compare coverage and pricing. When you contact one of our independent agents, we can even do the comparing for you, working with our network of insurance companies. The bottom line is you can’t possibly know if you are overpaying or not unless you compare.

Bundle

When you bundle your home insurance with car insurance, the insurance company can save on administration fees, which in turn, can save you on your premiums. Make sure to tell your insurance agent you are willing to bundle policies if it results in savings.

Proactively Protect Your Property

Some home insurance companies will reward you for taking steps to make your property safer and more secure. This may include adding smoke alarms, a security system, fencing, or even upgrading windows and locks.

In certain parts of the country, home insurance companies are being very cautious about the homes and properties they insure. This is, in part, due to excessive fraud in particular areas, and a variety of circumstances that have led to a major surge in claims. There are some home insurance companies who are even getting out of the home insurance business. If you have received a notice from your home insurance provider, it is not time to panic. It is time to contact our independent insurance professionals to review your options. We look forward to assisting you.

A Yard, A White Picket Fence, a Dog and a Pool

A Yard, A White Picket Fence, a Dog and a Pool

It has been referred to as “The American Dream”. It is homeownership, and it used to be described as a place in the suburbs with a yard, white picket fence and children playing on a swing set. But time marches on. That white picket fence may now be a homeowners’ association approved privacy plastic fence made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC). That metal swing set may now have to be made of “natural materials” and the pool may be a block away. It is still the American Dream though, and you need to know how to protect it.

For generations, families have done that with the help of homeowners insurance.

That pool that the community maintains? It is likely saving you time and money on upkeep and maintenance and probably is saving money on your homeowners insurance.

That white standard PVC fence is also likely covered under your homeowners insurance. What about that neighbor, visitor or delivery person who injures themselves while on your property? Likely covered under your homeowners’ liability protection.

So, while you may live in a neighborhood with easy-to-maintain yards with shorter driveways with rules on the type of fencing you can use, the premise is the same. Homeowners insurance protects your investment. It protects it from fire, vandalism, theft, storm damage and other calamities. But you should also know that not EVERYTHING is covered.

Flooding is not covered, for example, unless you seek specific flood insurance. Depending on where you live, you may not be covered from wildfires, earthquakes or sinkholes. This is where your independent insurance agent plays an important role. You start with your basic homeowners insurance plan, and they can show you where there may be gaps or risks in your coverage. Plus, they can show you how to save through bundling and other available discounts.

Contact us for a homeowners’ insurance policy review and free price quote today. Insure and protect your American Dream, no matter what form it may take.

Things Around Your Home Are Multiplying!

Things Around Your Home Are Multiplying!

Have you noticed? Are you paying attention? There are things around your home that are multiplying. They sometimes multiply slowly and at other times alarmingly fast. No, it is not time to call an exterminator, but you should become more aware. Here are some of the things that are likely multiplying around your household.

Packets of Condiments

Where does the madness stop? It’s not just ketchup either. It is hot sauce, taco sauce, mayonnaise, relish, wing sauce, onion ring sauce, roast beef sauce, ranch dressing, barbecue sauce and more. Add in salt, pepper, sugar and other seasonings and there is suddenly a drawer full of “stuff”.

Plastic Shopping Bags

OMG, throwing them in the trash is like killing the planet and nobody really takes them back to the store for recycling, do they? IKEA has a handy little holder that you can put them in next to the garage door. We’ve already filled up our first one.

Hotel Soap and Lotions

They are too tempting not to take and too small to use, so many of us have a collection building that we’ll use someday. Or for company. Or when we run out. Or when we travel….wait a minute, now!

Power Cords

Face it. Somewhere in your house there is a box, bin of power cords. Not only that, but odds are you don’t even know what device they were intended for! That old printer? Monitor? Flip-phone? We keep hoping someday we will come across the right device for them, but alas, they just seem to continue to grow in numbers.

Pens

If we even just got rid of the cheap ones from Bob’s Bail Bonds and the Starlight Motel we would feel better. But no, we think someday we will host a trivia party for 187 people, and we will be prepared.

Sometimes enough is enough. Like with your homeowners’ insurance rates. You don’t have to pay that increase your insurance company is asking for without at least a fight. Contact our independent home insurance experts and ask about your options. You may just be pleasantly surprised!

Things Around Your Home Are Disappearing!

Things Around Your Home Are Disappearing!

It happens so slowly, many homeowners don’t even realize it is happening. Before they know it they are saying “Whatever happened to?” or “Where did the ____ go?” or “Don’t we have any ___ anymore?” Yes, things around your house are disappearing. Here are some of them. Keep your eyes out for them.

Regular Light Bulbs

Energy efficient light bulbs were once expensive and uncomfortably bright. Some are still uncomfortably bright but most of us have at least started to change to higher energy bulbs and even LEDs. Those olds light bulbs? There are a few stubborn ones left behind, but they are a dying breed.

Bread Makers

If you purchased and still use a bread maker, congratulations. Your club is shrinking, however. Bread makers are near the top of the list of items found at a garage sale.

Electric Can Openers

Yes, there was a time when we were so lazy opening a can we needed a better way. Then we discovered electric can openers were disgusting to clean and looked horrible on a kitchen counter. Bye-bye.

Bar Soap

That happened quick. Liquid soaps in pumps took over the world in just a few years. Yet there are a few holdouts. Carry on bar soap soldiers.

Metal Wire Hangers

Wire hangers were a mainstay of homes through the 80s. Dry cleaners handed them out like peanuts and then people slowly stopped going to dry cleaners as frequently. Plastic hangers did a better job and were inexpensive. Now the only time they are missed is when you need a long metal thing/piece to get something out of the thing-a-ma-bob. If you still have a wire hanger or two, cherish it.

Socks

Socks have been missing for generations. There is simply no logical answer.

Mops

Sure, why not slop the floor with soap and water with a heavy cloth at the end of a stick. Mops should have disappeared long ago. Swiffer? Yes please.

Wash Cloths

Call ’em loofas, poofy balls or whatever, they have largely replaced wash cloths in America’s showers. Their demise will be paired with that of bar soap.

Popcorn Seeds

Popcorn seeds begat Jiffy Pop which begat the Air Popper which begat microwave popcorn. There’s no going back.

Shoelaces

Kids are wearing Velcro shoes until they are teens. Adults are wearing Velcro shoes in their fifties. In between, there are Sandals, Sketchers, UGGs, Vans Mocs and Crocs. Who needs shoelaces?

Stapler’s, Staples and Paperclips

Seriously, when was the last time you needed to connect multiple pieces of paper together at home? Odds are you needed a paper clip more recently to remove the memory card from your phone than to attached papers. You may still have some, but they too, will soon disappear.

Your ability to protect your family and assets will never go out of style. Isn’t it about time you had a home insurance review? We can help you discover where your current homeowners insurance may be lacking, and we may even be able to save you some money. Contact us today.

Why Renters Insurance Is Important

Why Renters Insurance Is Important

Many choose to rent the place where they live because it is more convenient or less expensive, or perhaps they just need more time to save to purchase a home. In many cases, renting is a lifestyle choice. In others situations, renters just don’t want the responsibility of ownership. Some older Americans rent to downsize when retiring.

Whatever the reason you have chosen to rent, you should know that you are still at risk of some of the same unfortunate circumstances that homeowners are. You could have property stolen or lose your belongings in a fire. A delivery person or friend could injure themselves while at your home making you potentially liable for a liability claim.

If you rent, you should understand, in many cases, you are at higher risk of a loss than a homeowner. Often times rental properties are in less secure neighborhoods where neighbors transition in an out. They may not look out for each other as homeowners may.

Yet, even with higher risks, renters still have visitors, deliveries made, and they own valuables. All of which can carry a risk of financial loss.
The good news is that renters’ insurance is very affordable, much more so than homeowners insurance. Renters insurance can also come with additional benefits like covering your belongings while you travel.

The bottom line is pretty simple. If you rent, you should look into renters insurance. If you think your landlord’s insurance will cover your expenses in a loss, you may be making a big mistake. Sure, your landlord likely has insurance, but only to cover his property and interests, not yours. In fact, many landlords now require their tenants to have renters insurance.

Look, if you rent because it is easier, less expensive, or you don’t want the hassles of homeownership, we get it. But at least take a few minutes to learn how renters insurance can help protect you.

Contact one of our independent insurance today for a no obligation price quote. We think you’ll be pleased with how affordable renters’ insurance can be.

The Growing Popularity of HOAs

The Growing Popularity of HOAs

For some, Homeowners Associations (HOA’s) represent oppression and restrictions of personal freedoms when it comes to their housing. It seems not a week passes when we don’t read a story about an HOA that appears to be over-reaching in its control of a community. They have forced residents to take down flags, mow their lawns to certain lengths, and have even stopped children from selling lemonade from front yard stands. There is even a popular commercial poking fun at how meticulous some associations can be.

The reality is, however, that HOA’s and community associations are an increasing part of the way we live in America. It is estimated that about 25% of homeowners live in an association managed community. Perhaps more significantly, in 2019, about 75% of new construction was occurring in managed communities. The trend is clear. Homeowners and community associations are becoming more common.

Why the popularity?

Well, in spite of the negative press and perhaps over-reaching by some HOA’s, most residents like living in communities that ensure property owners keep their properties well maintained. It protects property values and aesthetics of a neighborhood. It appears residents enjoy having a resource to address neighbor and neighborhood issues like unruly parties, large commercial vehicles parked in driveways, purple or pink painted houses or dogs roaming the streets.

HOA’s are also a bit more flexible and varied than in the past. While many HOA’s charge fees into the hundreds of dollars per month and provide a variety of amenities with almost unlimited power, some communities have smaller, less expensive HOA’s with limited restrictions.

Perhaps, HOA’s are a passive/aggressive way to handle potential problems with neighbors. They sometimes serve as the adults in the room.

No matter the reason, HOA’s are not only here to stay but are growing in acceptance and even popularity. They can provide protection for a homeowner’s investment, maintenance services and consistency through a community. They also provide an outlet to call should a neighbor paint his garage door day-glo lime.

Many HOA’s have guidelines and even regulations regarding the amount of homeowners’ insurance a resident should carry. Are you in compliance? Contact one of our independent home insurance agents today to review your HOA covenants and your policy. Make sure you have the necessary coverage for your home and your community.

The Rising Costs of Building Materials

The Rising Costs of Building Materials

Most areas of the country are not just experiencing rising costs in building materials, but prices that are skyrocketing. Everything from plywood to windows to roofing are rapidly increasing in price, and it may impact your ability to get your home restored in case of a storm or other damage. Here are some of the reasons for the rising prices.

Supply Chain Issues

The world is experiencing supply chain issues ranging from a stuck cargo ship in the Suez Canal, factory closings due to the pandemic to a shortage of truck drivers. This is making it challenging to get materials from one place to another. Truck drivers are apparently retiring faster than new ones are entering the field to replace them.

Western Fires

Recent fires in the Western United States have destroyed millions of trees and impacted the lumber industry. This is causing a dramatic rise in the prices of everything from 2×4’s to plywood.

Oil Prices

The petroleum supply and prices impacts us all in almost uncountable ways. Petroleum and petrochemicals are not just used to power the trucks that ship materials, they are used in plastics, fabrics and roofing materials for construction projects. Weather problems, pipeline issues and political issues have all contributed to an uncertainty in the oil industry.

Inflation

Inflation seems to be rearing its head after decades of relative stability. A strong economy, rising employee pay, money injected into the economy and a strong demand for products all contributing to rising prices.

Strong Housing Market

In some areas of the country, homes, condos and apartments buildings can’t seem to be built quickly enough. This demand is creating rising prices in the overall construction industry. The strong housing market is good for employment and growing communities, but it is creating a squeeze on building materials which is contributing to increasing prices.

Make sure your homeowners’ insurance is keeping up with all of these moving pieces. Contact one of our independent homeowners’ insurance agents to review your policy and ensure your home is properly protected. A quick review now could prevent some painful discoveries later. Contact us today!

Summertime Safety Tips

Summertime Safety Tips

We can become so enchanted by summer weather, we forget some of the hazards we need to look out for to keep our families safe. Whether the season has you staying home or traveling, here are some summer safety basics to keep in mind.

Sun Protection

The summer sun can be brutal, especially after a long period of hibernation. It’s time to break out the sun hats, sunglasses and an appropriate level of sunscreen. Keep a small tube in the car for those unexpected stops.

Auto Safety

Summer not only brings heat and sun, but also torrential downpours. Now is a good time to have your tires checked for sufficient tread and to make sure wipers are working properly. New windshield wipers are an inexpensive and easy way to improve your driving experience in the rain. Many auto parts stores will even install them free with purchase.

Grilling Out

Cooking out creates the potential for more problems than most people realize. There are food safety issues and possible fire and ventilation problems. Keep your grill in good serviceable condition and grilling tools clean. Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Only grill in well-ventilated areas outside and never leave a lit grill unattended.

Yard Safety

Check your yard for rocks and debris prior to mowing. Fill in any dips, holes or uneven areas of your yard. Check outdoor furniture and swing sets to make sure everything is still well-connected and safe for use.

Pool Safety

If you have a pool, make sure it is secure from pets and children. Have safety equipment nearby and discourage running and diving. Keep your pool and deck area clean and well-maintained.

Summer means more traveling and outdoor activities. It may also mean more at-home entertaining with family gatherings and barbecues. As a homeowner, you carry responsibility for the safety of your guests whether they are friends, family, neighbors or even delivery and service workers. Along with making sure your home is safe, it is also a good idea to review your homeowners’ insurance to verify you have the coverage you think you do. Our independent insurance agents can help with a no obligation homeowners insurance review and price quote. Contact us today to learn more.