Renovations and Homeowner’s Insurance

Here are some home renovations that you will want to let your agent know about that can affect your policy. This is both for the occasions where premiums could be lowered and for occasions where more coverage is needed to account for taking on more liability or needing increased replacement cost value. Check these out and make sure you have figured these into your insurance policies.

Renovations that can lower premiums:

  • New Roof- This is one of the most common types  of claims for insurance companies, so if you get a new roof be sure to let them know. It can affect premiums in way of savings by 10-20 percent depending on the carrier. If the policy is on ACV (actual cash value) and not replacement cost  they will also need to know the age of the roof to determine pay out on covered roof loss.
  • Updated Wiring or Plumbing- this can also be an upgrade where you could have some money on premium. Making the updated year more recent on this can save money in risk prevention if you are living in an older home. So don’t forget to let your agent know.

Renovations that raise premiums to make sure home is insured for the right value:

  • A pool- while this may make you the most popular house on the block it can also make you the riskiest from an insurance stand point on liability. Depending on the company there could be different underwriting requirements such as fences and locks. Higher Liability limits are also required at different amounts depending on the company, normally around $500,000.
  • Home Business- This could mean you need a whole separate policy. Most policies cover up to a small limit, $2,500 for example for the equipment. It is possible that it would be added as a rider on the policy, however, depending on the complexity a separate small business policy may be required.
  • Finishing Spaces and Add-On- If you add livable square footage where there was none prior (attic, finished basements, add-ons) your insurance will need to be amended  to account for the value of the new space. You want this to be covered in the event of a total loss and accounted for in the replacement cost.
  • Kitchen and Bath Upgrades- while this may raise your premium a little. This is a common renovation that you will want reflect on your home value If your house were to burn down, you will want to make sure your counter tops are covered for granite rather than laminate for example when rebuilding.

 

Be sure to discuss some of the renovations with your agent ahead of time as well to make sure there is not coverage you will need during these renovations to cover the liability associated.

Photo Credit: www.gibbesconstruction.com

Does my Homeowners Policy Cover my In-Home Business?

Photo credit:  ‘ccPixs.com’ ( www.ccPixs.com) 

Here is a question you might be wondering.Does my homeowners policy cover my in-home business?

The answer to this is no. In fact, most policies specifically exclude coverage for the business liability and equipment out of your home. Some policies may have a very small limit for business equipment, we are talking below $5,000. In order to make sure your in-home business equipment and the associated liability coverage is afforded, there are a couple of routes you could go. With a lot of companies there is an in-home business endorsement that could be added to your homeowners policy. Another option is to buy a separate in-home business policy or business owners policy. Also, keep in mind if you are running a business out of your home, you will want to make sure you have an Umbrella policy to provide additional protection over your homeowners policy.

When considering coverage for your home business be sure to talk over the options that would be best for your business with your agent.

Replacement Cost or Actual Cash Value, Which One Should I Choose?

So you hear the terms replacement cost and actual cash value when talking about home or renters insurance, which should you choose?

Well, let’s define the terms. Also understand your agent is there to help if you need clarification.

Actual Cash Value: It is based on the market value of your home or property and considers depreciation. This is generally the less expensive policy as it considers depreciation and the claim payouts are lower. Depreciation can be calculated different ways, it is the market value of the item less depreciation and the number of years of said item.The most common way is to use expected lifetime of and subtracts the percentage of year year since it was new.

 

Replacement Cost: For homeowner’s insurance this means the amount of money it would take to replace damage or destroyed property to return you to state prior to the peril regardless of depreciation. Remember in terms of home owners insurance, this does not include the land itself. It is the value of home and items.(structure, granite, doors windows, upgrades…) So if your property is appraised and your home is worth $250,000 and the land is $50,000 of that number. You would only need to insure the home at replacement cost for $200,000.

When speaking insurance in terms of homeowners and renters policies. It is normally suggested to get replacement cost on the home and actual cash value on personal property. If you run across any questions while in the process, please contact you agent for further advise regarding. We will be happy to help anytime.

Fire Extinguisher Safety: Including Information on Huge Kidde Extinguisher Recall

 

 

Fire Extinguishers can come in many forms, types and sizes. These are important tools that can potentially save lives and property. That being said, it is also important to know how to use them, check them, how long to keep them and if it is under recall.

Kidde Extinguisher Recall 

Let’s start with the most recent event of a large recall on Kidde Extinguishers. They have recalled more that 40 million fire extinguishers as they can be clogged or fail to discharge during a fire. This recall extends to 134 models manufactured as far back at 1973 to more recently August 2017.

All of the different models are listed here by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Kidde is offering free replacements to anyone who owns one of the recall units. You can call at 855-271-0773 or go to the website and fill out a form for a new extinguisher. They will send a replacement within 10-15 days including instructions on how to return the old one. Check this out and make sure you do not have one of the affected units.

How Long can you keep an Extinguisher? 

If you have a non-rechargeable fire extinguisher it is advised that you replace it if it is older than 12 years after the date of manufacture. The chemicals that are fire retardant lose effectiveness in this amount of time. Check those dates.

When you should use a Fire Extinguisher and How:

You should use a portable fire extinguisher when the fire is contained to small area and not growing. It still should not be used until you make sure that everyone had been alerted to the fire within the area, the fire department has been called and everyone knows how to get out.

If you have done the above and you have a contained fire, here is how to use the fire extinguisher. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that you remember the word PASS to operate a fire extinguisher:

Pull the pin. Make sure you don’t point the nozzle toward you as this releases the locking mechanism.

Aim low. Do not aim to the middle but the base of the fire.

Squeeze the lever but do so slowly and with the same even amount of pressure.

Sweep the nozzle in a side-to-side motion

 

Please take a moment to check all of the above and refresh your Fire Extinguisher use and safety knowledge.

 

Online Shopping Safety

With the Holidays coming up, online retailers and shopping will be flooded. But online shopping is not limited to Black Friday, Cyber Monday or the holiday rush it is now year round. No matter when you are shopping be cautious for any scams or fake sites that are after your money.

Here are some ways you can reduce risk when shopping online.

  • Make sure you are purchasing on a secure website. Look at the top of your browser and make sure there is a “lock” icon and that the url includes an “s”(https). You can also right click on the page, click “properties”to see if the URL is encrypted.
  • Use a credit card and not a debit card you can dispute charges by credit.
  • Use your PayPal account if you have it as this is a safe way to not have to enter payment information.
  • Save the confirmation information of a purchase.
  • Check your online statements to make sure it is charges correctly or there are no suspicious charges from the site. Do this before your credit card statement comes so as to catch it quickly.
  • Keep purchase documentation (confirmation page, number or email) however it is verified to you.
  • Go directly to the retailers website and by links in email.
  • Avoid entering personal information requested by email.
  • Use an antivirus protection on your computer.
  • Use strong passwords, that are unique even if it means going and changing all of your passworsd to prevent hacking of all of your important accounts.

What Makes my Insurance Premium Increase? Contributing Factors

Want to know why insurance premiums increase? That is not a simple question. There are many contributing factors that go into this and this topic particularly demonstrates clearly the value of having an agent. Both yourself and your agent can discuss some of these factors and determine if the increase constitutes shopping and going to the market for a new policy at a market competitive premium.

Premiums increase even on claims free policies and here are some of the reasons:

  • Number of claims in the industry: Increased number of claims=increased premium. This includes fraudulent claims
  • The economy with the levels of protection and risk involved
  • Weather related events and climate change
  • High number of losses and claims in your zip code can make premiums increase even if you have not had a claims
  • Increased cost of claims in an industry that make claims handling more expensive

These are some of many reasons in a complex industry. If you have questions or want to discuss your premiums give you agent a call. If you do not have an agent, let us know and we will be happy to help.

 

 

Solar Eclipse Safety Tips and Need to Know info for August 21

Photo Credit:  Luc Viatour / https://Lucnix.be

Did you know Monday will be the first coast to coast total solar eclipse since 1918? The Eclipse will track through the following states: Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Georgia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina. You can check charts for your area but the first show will be n Oregon at 9:05am PDT and will end in South Carolina at 2:48pm EDT. The lunar shadow is expected to leave the U.S. around 4:09pm EDT. Here is a projection of when Atlanta should view the eclipse.

When you are in the path of totality, what will it look like? The sun will be blocked around 2 minutes. the sun’s hidden solar corona will become visible and create what looks to be diamond rings of light.

Now for safety and some things to keep in mind as we anxiously await this event that NASA describes as one of nature’s most awesome sights….

Observing the sun can be dangerous if you do not practice proper precautions. Because of the UV radiation and unsafe exposure to it can cause damage ranging from aging of eye layers, cataracts, development of “eclipse blindness” or retinal burns.

It is never safe to look directly at the sun in a partial eclipse nor the partial phases of a total solar eclipse without the proper equipment and safety measures.

What are safe practices for viewing?

  • Simple Card Projector- You can find diy’s for this simple trick involving Two pieces of cardstock and a pin to make a tiny hole in one of the sheets of cardstock. In this technique always keep your back away from the sun using the pinhole projection. Do not look through pinhole
  • Do not look directly at the sun without protective eye gear, even sunglasses cannot protect your eyes. Eye gear needs to be glasses with solar filters, inspect to make sure there are no tears, scratches or damage. If so you will need to discard that pair.
  • If you don’t want to risk any of those methods, NASA will be broadcasting a live stream of the solar eclipse as it passes through the United States. The live stream will run from 2-3 pm Monday and it is free to watch. You can watch the stream HERE.

Stay Safe and enjoy the event!

 

Insurance FAQ: Can an Auto Insurance Claim be Denied?

While the auto policy is very comprehensive there are a few scenarios that could cause a claim denial.

  • Filing a fraudulent claim
  • Filing a claim under coverage you do not have(For example: If you hit a deer you would need comprehensive coverage, if that is not on the policy, it would create a claim denial)
  • Increasing the value on your vehicle via upgrades without telling your insurance company may mean that the vehicle damages will not be covered at full value
  • Filing a claim for a loss not included on your policy, such as business use
  • Not paying your premium and letting your insurance lapse

Safe Travels: Staying Safe on Vacation

We tend to think about our home safety when we are leaving for vacation and who will get our mail. But what about your safety as you travel?

Here are some key things to keep in mind while you are traveling to stay safe:

  • Do not wear flashing and expensive things to make you stand out, thieves can recognize a Rolex and you risk being a target
  • Limit the information provided to customs with general terms like business or consulting rather than executive titles that may sound worth a ransom
  • Use your business rather than home address while traveling overseas and only use home address when returning to the states
  • If you are pre-arranging a driver, do not provide your full name to indicate you are American. It is suggested to use a generic last name in that country or initials
  • While large hotels may have better security, they are more likely to be a terrorist target than a small boutique hotel
  • Once in the hotel review the escape route, check for working phones in case of an emergency
  • Make sure you are vaccinated properly for the country you are visiting
  • Make an electronic copy of important documents and email them to yourself should it be lost or damaged
  • Do not carry everything together, spread it across bags or on your person so if your wallet is stolen you do not lose everything

Here’s How to Find out if Your Vehicle is Subject to a Safety Recall…

 

Did you know that according to the U.S. Vehicle Transportation Department vehicle safety recalls hit an all time high in 2016 at 53.2 million? While driving safely and keeping up with maintenance are very important another very important vehicle safety step is making sure your vehicle is not subject to any recalls. While manufacturers do reach out by mail, could your address have changed since you got your vehicle?

Like seen with the Takata airbag massive recalls it could be a danger to you as the car owner and others on the road if the safety recalls are not addressed.

How do you check and see if your vehicle is subject to a safety recall, you ask? Good question.

  • www.motorsafety.org

You can go into this site, enter your VIN, click “Check Recall Status and the information will come up. You can also be directed to a dealer to fix the problem if need be to have the repair scheduled as soon as possible.

This site can also be used to find this information for business fleet owners.