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.

A Pool and ts Impact on Homeowners’ Insurance

There are a lot of factors that impact the cost of your homeowners’ insurance. These include your home’s location, its size, the materials it is constructed of and its age. It also can include amenities your home may have like a fireplace or even a pool. According to the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, about 4% of American homes have a pool. That translates into about 10 million of these backyard kid magnets. The most popular states for pools (per capita) are not surprising, warm weather states. The top three are Arizona, Florida and Nevada. How and why do pools impact homeowners’ insurance rates?

If you are considering installing a pool or purchasing a home with a pool, be aware that insurance companies consider backyard pools an “attractive nuisance”. Homeowners are responsible for the safety of those who use the pools, including those who may use them without permission. This places homeowners with a pool at a higher risk than those without, resulting in a higher average premium. You should also be aware that even if an insurance company covers a home with a pool, most will require that a pool be in a locked fenced yard. Others may flat out deny homes as ineligible.

Another factor to consider is that homeowners’ insurance also provides coverage for an in-ground pool itself. This could add to the replacement cost of a home, also increasing premiums. An above ground pool is treated differently under a homeowners’ insurance policy in that it is “portable”. For that reason, it is treated more like a possession like a personal watercraft.

One final aspect to ponder when considering a home with a pool is if the traditional $100,000 homeowners’ insurance liability limit is sufficient. Since a pool increases liability risks, many homeowners with pools will choose to expand that coverage to $500,000 or more. This can provide greater peace of mind and protect against potential lawsuits from pool-related injuries.

In short, pools can increase homeowners’ insurance premiums because:

  • They are considered an attractive nuisance, increasing liability risks
  • They can increase the replacement value of a home
  • Homeowners’ with pools often choose higher liability limits

A pool can be a great way to turn a home into an oasis. It does have its consequences. If you own a home with a pool, contact us and let our independent insurance agents do some caparison shopping for you. They have access to multiple insurance companies; some who may offer more attractive rates for pool homes. Contact us today and put the power of our independent insurance agents to work for you!

What is Condo Insurance?

It is estimated that some 5 million American families live in condominiums. Condos can make living easier because much of the maintenance is handled by the community or homeowner association.

While a single-family homeowner owns the property, structure and contents of their home, a condo owner owns the space in which they live and its contents, but is not responsible for exterior maintenance. This distinction creates some important differences between insuring a condo and a single-family home or even an apartment.

A Brief Definition

Condominium insurance is an insurance policy that is taken out by the condo owner to protect his investment in a condo unit.

What It Covers

Generally, condo insurance covers the unit and its movable contents including furniture, electronics, clothing, housewares, bedding and more from covered perils. The condo unit is usually considered from the walls inward. Perils may include fire, theft, vandalism and natural disasters. It also provides liability protection in the event a visitor is injured while on the property under the control of the owner.

What is a Master Policy?

Condo owners are, to some degree, protected by an association’s Master Policy. The coverage on a Master Policy and consequentially on the unit owners’ policy are dictated by the By-Laws of the Association.This coverage generally only covers a condo from the brick or concrete outward along with common areas of the condo community. It may not cover drywall, plumbing, furnishings or anything in the interior of a unit. It also provides no protection from any liability claims made against a condo owner.

Loss Assessment Coverage

Many condo owners may falsely believe they don’t have any worries when it comes to external damage to their condo or if their association is sued by someone sustaining an injury. The problem is, the association may not have sufficient coverage to cover full damage or a liability claim may exceed the association’s limits. In some instances, where hurricanes caused severe damage to condominium communities, individual owners were assessed for the damages not covered by insurance. This can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Condo Loss Assessment Insurance can provide additional coverage for owners against these additional charges that may be assessed.

Like homeowners’ insurance, condo insurance will likely be required by any bank or mortgage company that has financed a condominium. The homeowners’ association itself will frequently require it to protect the interest of other owners. If you currently live in, or are considering purchasing a condo, contact us for your no-cost, no-obligation condominium insurance quote. Our independent insurance agents will search multiple companies to find the coverage you deserve at a price you can afford. Contact us today.

Why You May Be Required to Carry Homeowners’ Insurance

We appreciate the freedoms we have in this country but we are also a nation of laws. These laws are generally in place for the greater good. Driving a car, for example, states require drivers to be a certain age, have a certain amount of experience and secure a valid driver’s license. Each state also has in place financial responsibility laws, usually requiring insurance coverage to drive legally.

There are situations, when you will also be required to carry homeowners’ insurance. Here are a few such examples.

When You Have a Mortgage

If you’ve borrowed money to purchase a home, you are no longer the only entity at risk should the property sustain damage. The financial organization that lent you the money also has an interest. They know that if a borrower sustains a devastating loss to a property, they are far less likely to continue making payments. The odds of them defaulting on a loan escalate considerably. That is why your bank or mortgage company requires you to carry sufficient homeowners’ insurance coverage. In the event of a near or total loss, the financial institution is assured that the property will be repaired or they will receive the proceeds.

If You Carry a Second Mortgage

Like a first mortgage, carrying a second mortgage will usually require the acquisition and timely payments on a homeowners’ insurance policy. This may not be the case if the second mortgage is small enough.

When Living in a HOA Managed Community

If you live in a community managed by a Homeowners’ Association, it is very likely the HOA covenants require owners to carry and provide proof of, individual homeowners’ insurance. This is to prevent the community as a whole, suffering loss of value from the presence of a home that has been damaged by fire or some other calamity, and the owners don’t have the funding to make timely repairs. This individual homeowners’ insurance is beyond the coverage the HOA may carry for common areas and structures.

You should also know that if you rent out your home, short or long-term, homeowners’ insurance may not be sufficient to cover damage from renters or liability claims they may create. If you are renting your home, you will need a dwelling policy or landlord policy.

While homeowners insurance may not be required by law, like auto insurance, there are circumstances where you may still have to carry it. The reality is, unless you own your home outright and do not live in an HOA managed community, you probably are required to carry it.

To get your homeowners’ policy reviewed to make sure you have adequate coverage, contact one of our independent insurance professionals. We’ll scour multiple companies looking for the best homeowners’ insurance coverage at a price you can live with. Contact us today.

Proving Losses in a Homeowners’ Insurance Claim

Most homeowner’s realize the value of homeowners’ insurance. For many, their home is their largest single investment and protecting its value and the value of its contents is critical. What some may not realize however, is that in the event of a loss, especially a devastating one, losses must be proven. This may not be as simple as it first sounds. After all, if your home is destroyed by fire, the results will be quite obvious, especially when it comes to the structure. Proving what contents were lost, may not be as simple.

Here are several ways you can help prove the value of the contents of your home in case of a loss from a covered calamity.

A Written Inventory

Either a handwritten or digitally written inventory of your property is a solid start to documenting the property you own. Adding more detailed descriptions, date the item was purchased and purchase price can add to the credibility and validity of any claim. Of course, receipts from your purchases are best.

Photographic or Video Evidence

Smartphones have made documenting a home’s contents easier than ever. Going room by room and taking pictures or video of the contents of each can be extremely helpful in the event of a loss. Be sure to open all closets and drawers to better show the full contents of the space.

Documentation of Collections

If you have a collection of specific items you will want to pay particular attention to 1.) Documenting your collection, 2.) Having your collection appraised, and 3.) Contacting your independent insurance agent to make sure the full value of your collection is covered. A basic homeowners’ insurance policy may be inadequate to fully insure the value of an extensive collection. The time to find out is prior to a loss.

Notes About Documenting Property Loss

When documenting your property either on a computer, on paper or through images, it is important to keep the inventory updated and to keep a copy off-premises.  This helps ensure a copy of your inventory will survive any disaster. There are free, online services that will store personal household inventories for just such purposes.

If it has been years since you’ve thought about your homeowners’ insurance, it is time for a review. Contact us to verify your coverage and if it is sufficient for today’s needs. We can even search out quotes from multiple insurance companies to find you home insurance at a price you can be comfortable with. Contact us to get started today!

My Neighbor’s Tree Fell on My House. Who is Responsible?

Trees and large limbs can fall on a neighbors house due to a variety of circumstances, the vast majority of which involve wind. But trees and limbs can also cause damage if they fall due to ice, heavy wet snow, poor maintenance, extremely wet ground conditions or even disease. Trees have even fallen on homes when they were being cut down, either by an amateur or a professional.

Most underestimate the weight of a fallen tree or even large limbs. They can cause severe damage, serious injury and even death. So if a neighbor’s tree falls on your house and causes damage, who is responsible?

Trees Fallen by High Winds

If a neighbors tree falls on your home due to the high winds of a storm like a thunderstorm, hurricane or tornado, your insurance company is responsible for the damage. You should contact them to file a claim. This is what is generally referred to as “an act of God”.

Trees Known to Be Unhealthy

Homeowners’ have a responsibility to keep their property in safe repair. This includes their trees. If a neighbor has a tree on their property that is known to be unhealthy, they have a responsibility to manage it properly. If that tree should fall by light winds or in a storm that could be considered mild, they could be held responsible. You should still file a claim with your insurance company and let them proceed from there.

Trees Intentionally Cut Down

What happens when a neighbor is having a tree cut down and it accidentally falls on your home? This will depend on who is cutting down the tree. If it is being cut professionally, the tree removal company would likely be held responsible. On the other hand, if an inexperienced neighbor is cutting down a tree on his own or trimming large limbs that damage your home, he will be held responsible.

In any of the above situations, it is always best to notify your insurance company of any damage to your home and how it occurred. If you were not responsible, it will not likely result in any major increase to your homeowners’ insurance rates.

Cutting down a large tree on your own, in your own yard, is seldom a good idea. Keeping your homeowners’ insurance up-to-date, however, is always a good one. When you contact one of our independent insurance professionals, they can review your present policy and make you aware of any gaps in coverage. You can then decide whether your coverage is sufficient or not. If you decide to make changes, they can get quotes from multiple companies, where again, the choice is yours. Contact us today to get your free homeowners’ insurance review and quote.

Is “Bundling” Your Homeowners’ Insurance a Good Idea?

Let’s be clear here. There is a difference between the questions “Is bundling your homeowners’ insurance a good idea?” and “Can bundling homeowners’ insurance save me money?” For most, the answer to the latter is yes. Bundling insurance can save you money, in some cases, as much as 25% on your homeowners’ insurance premiums. Is it a good idea? Well, not if the insurance company offers substandard products or services or if bundling creates insurance amnesia, where you simply forget about it.

Bundling is when a consumer purchases two or more policies from the same company. Insurance companies like it because it allows them to expand their customer base. Consumers like it because it can generally save them money and is convenient.

Bundling is also another reason to choose an independent insurance agency. Here’s why.

All Bundles Are Not Created Equal

Some insurance companies tend to offer lower rates on auto insurance, while others may be more affordable on homeowners’ insurance policies. When you work with an independent insurance agent, they have the ability to “shop” these various companies, helping to determine who offers the best rates for each, and if “bundling” with one company makes sense. In other words, they do the work. In some cases, bundling may make sense. In other words, bundling may not be the best way to be cost effective while securing maximum coverage.

So What’s Your Next Step?

If you truly want to determine if bundling your insurance is best for you, gather your insurance policies and contact one of our independent insurance professionals. Let them know about the various policies you have and what you are currently paying. Allow them to go to work and put together a comprehensive insurance plan. It may involve bundling and it may not. In some cases, our customers get better coverage while also saving money, and that is probably your real goal anyway.

Put our independent agents to work for you. You can decide whether bundling is your best option or not. Contact us today for a no-obligation insurance review and quote on multiple policies.