Archive for the ‘Personal Protection’ Category
This year, hurricane season struck in full force. Homeowner’s in many states are beginning the long process of rebuilding after the effects of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. For many, this is the first time filing a claim for flood insurance. Often, after a flood homeowners are surprised to find they lack sufficient insurance coverage. Flood insurance is separate from home yet in some Gulf states, only 20% of homes have flood insurance protection.
For homeowners protected by flood insurance, there may yet be gaps in coverage. Protection through the FEMA-controlled National Flood Insurance Program is limited, leaving some homeowner’s holding the bill. Under the National Flood Insurance Program homeowner’s balance coverage and gaps.
Insurance Coverage Under the National Flood Insurance Plan
- Life Essentials. Systems such as electrical and plumbing, HVAC, sump pumps and similar. This includes covering water and fuel supplies, and solar energy.
- Home appliances. Integrated appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, and dishwashers are protected, as well as portable AC and refrigeration.
- Carpeting and window coverings. Installed carpeting, blinds, and drapes are generally covered.
- Permanently installed additions. Installed cabinets, bookcases, and wall paneling are covered.
- Foundation support. Walls which anchor the home in place, and structural staircases.
- Separate garages. Up to 10% of coverage can be directed toward the garage, leaving 90% for the home.
- Personal effects. Clothing, furniture, and electronics stored above ground. Additional protection for valuables, up to $2500.
Mudslides and other water damage may be covered, depending on the cause. The program covers above-ground pool leaks and burst pipes, yet neglects other damages such as sewage-backups.
Gaps in the National Flood Insurance Program
Gaps in the program mean some things slip through the insurance safety net. Covered areas on the previous list, when underground, in a crawlspace, or in any other excluded area will be left unprotected. The National Flood Insurance Program caps coverage at $250,000 per house. Prepare for different deductible rates for the home and the possessions within.
Obtaining Flood Insurance
Flood insurance policies take effect 30 days after purchase. The same carries for plans through the government or through an insurance agency. Rates for the FEMA program are set by the government, regardless of location. This means homeowner’s in low-risk areas may be paying geographically above-average rates.
A local flood insurance agent will explain the differences in FEMA and private insurance protection as they apply to your area and home. Home elevation, local weather, proximity to water, home age and more all matter when designing a flood insurance policy.
The Right Comprehensive Flood Insurance
More homeowners are turning to private flood insurance through a local agency. Private flood insurance generally has higher coverage amounts with rates matched to the local area. Often, flood insurance comes as a rider with homeowner’s insurance. Depending on location, private flood insurance may be more affordable than insurance through FEMA. Private plans often cover more than government policies, including damage estimation costs and living expenses, during the claims process.
To learn more about flood insurance protection and the policy options available, contact a local agent. Compare all the options based on your specific needs to find the right flood insurance policy fit. 30-day activation periods mean planning ahead makes all the difference. Protect home and property today with flood insurance.
Have a question about flood insurance, or another insurance topic? Contact an agent for more information. Please send in any article topics you’d like to see featured!
Car accidents happen to new and old drivers alike. Knowing the steps to take following an accident can ease the insurance process and protect drivers from liability. The correct immediate actions can save insurance and personal worries later. These are the steps to take following an auto accident:
1. Be Safe
Before anything, secure the scene. Safety is the top priority. Exiting vehicles, placing flares or cones, or moving off the roadway may be necessary. Exercise judgment. Remain on the shoulder and away from traffic.
2. Assess for Injuries
Following an auto accident, people may be in shock, unaware of injuries. Check the persons involved. Persons with suspected back injuries should remain in place. For those comfortable doing so, apply first aid where necessary. Any medical staff present may be able to assist.
3. Call 911
As soon as possible, call 911. If performing first aid, direct another person to call emergency services. This is also true for car accidents without any injury, as police records may be important. If alone, call 911 quickly.
4. Gather Information
After completing the preliminary steps, gather information for later insurance purposes later. Collect driver information including insurance carriers. Take photos of the scene, vehicles involved, and license plates. Any information regarding first responders may help. These experiences are harrowing; important details may be lost to memory. Write all information down.
Accidents may trigger intense emotional responses. Working together with first responders and other drivers helps accomplish more. Medical personnel train for this.
6: Remain Neutral
Discussing the accident, the time period leading up to it, or personal involvement would be a poor decision. The moments immediately following may be the worst time for discussion. Inform police a statement will be available at a later time. For drivers concerned about involvement, a lawyer may be helpful.
7. Stay Silent on Social Media
The urge for talking about a car accident on social media may be strong, yet this is strongly inadvisable. Detectives and lawyers count on this, scouring social media accounts for incriminating information.
Once things settle, contact an insurance agent. The unexpected happens. Prepare with a plan and comprehensive auto insurance. Always a source for great information about auto insurance and other insurance-related topics, contact an agent for insurance questions.
Drive it like a rental, right? Only if you have insurance coverage! Renting a car the question comes always up: buy extra insurance with a rental car or pass? Adding insurance to rental cars adds up – up to over $200.00 a week on top of other costs.
Rental car companies are charging for rental damages and repairs using complex agreements. The good news is: you may already have rental car insurance coverage. Before renting a car, check insurance coverage using these three steps:
1. Read Insurance Policy Documents
Owned insurance coverage is the first place to start. Auto insurance policies may include basic coverage for rental car damage. Even without one, short-term policies are available.
When reading an existing auto policy, ask the following questions:
- Is there rental car coverage? The first thing to know before moving on.
- What is my deductible? Often the same as your personal vehicle, but good check.
- Does my policy cover accidents, fire, theft, and vandalism? Agencies typically require this coverage.
- Does my policy include rental cars for business travel? If you’re at work or on vacation matters – make sure you’re covered. Your company policy may cover you in event of business travel.
- Does my auto policy cover extra fees and charges by the rental agency? Towing costs, mileage, decreased value and others add up!
- Does my car insurance plan pay for the actual value of a rental car? There’s coverage and there’s adequate coverage. Make sure you aren’t going to be left holding a bill.
After reviewing your policy you may find you’re covered, or you might still have gaps to fill. Oftentimes, credit card companies include rental coverage with cardholder benefits. The next place to check for rental car coverage is a credit card issuer.
2. Check Your Credit Card Benefits
Major credit card issuers cover rental car insurance costs within benefits programs. Coverage varies depending on the issuing agency. Some cover varies expenses and fees issued by the rental car company.
Before checking this box, confirm with the credit card company. The largest issuing companies are available using the following toll-free numbers:
- American Express: 800-338-1670
- Discover: 800-347-2683;
- MasterCard: 800-622-7747
- Visa: 800-847-2911
Rental car insurance coverage through a credit card agency works along with auto insurance coverage, covering the leftovers. The credit card must be used to pay for the rental, for benefits to be available. The cardholder must be the person driving the rental. Credit card companies do not cover all losses, and exotic or luxury rental cars are usually excluded.
After reviewing options through credit card agencies the process is near complete. Before accepting or declining the rental agency insurance, the last step is to read the fine print.
3. Review the Car Rental Agreement
Rental car companies train their staff to make their auto insurance coverage feel mandatory. When reviewing your agreement, take the time to review the fine print. The agreement will state your liability, and where the company takes responsibility. States require rental agencies to provide coverage of differing levels. If using a credit card to rent your vehicle you may already have adequate coverage.
If planning on taking a rental across any state or international borders, be sure to check coverage. State requirements mean coverage changes when crossing over. Personal coverage is not valid in Mexico or other countries (except Canada, usually).
All this considered coverage may leave gaps. Unlicensed drivers, driving on unpaved roads or off-road, racing, DUI and more can all complicate car rental insurance coverage. Vacation is supposed to be fun. Take the worry away with affordable insurance coverage. Contact an agent today about car rental insurance for the next road trip!
Always on the lookout for great information about insurance topics that may impact health and wallet! For any insurance-related questions be sure to call.
Nearly every homeowner insures their home against fire, burglary, and the usual risks. The catch? Often, their insurance only covers completed structures. Home construction and remodels aren’t typically covered under standard home insurance policies. If you’re planning to build or renovate on your property, consider builders risk insurance.
What is builders risk insurance
Builders risk insurance policies extend property insurance coverage to include renovations and new builds. Builders risk policies are available for both commercial and residential insurance customers. Your new build faces many of the same risks as your home or business. Insuring against physical loss protects your investment.
What it covers
Builders risk plan coverage ranges depending on the business or home. Typical plans include protection against weather damage, vandalism, and theft. Plans general include all protections but can be tailored to provide specific types of coverage. Faulty workmanship by a licensed contractor may be an example of extra insurance coverage desired.
Why you need it
If you’re planning to build on your property you may need builders risk insurance. Oftentimes city and county codes require you obtain coverage prior to construction. Contractors will not always foot the bill. Homeowners can suffer delays if contractors do not carry builders risk. In many cases, construction cannot begin until the project is insured. Homeowners may wish to carry their own policy regardless to exercise more control over any potential claims.
What you need to know
In some situations, builders insurance may be your only protection. In Texas, for example, builders are not forced to back their work financially – but insurance will. In areas prone to flooding, earthquakes, or other natural disasters ensure contractors are familiar local FEMA regulations.
Protect your property
Construction authorization is required in most Texas cities. The Texas floodplain includes areas unfit for construction. It is imperative contractors check FEMA maps before construction permits are sought. It is recommended homeowners and business owners check maps as well. The best guarantee is always seeking the services of a reputable contractor. No agreement is strong enough to fix poor work.
Contact an agent
Discover whether your construction project has insurance coverage. Plans can be created for to cover many aspects of your build – including loan payback. Talk to your insurance provider today to learn more.
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Many homeowners are making extra income renting their homes out short-term. Most don’t know the increased insurance risks this carries – until it’s too late. If you’re planning to rent out your home, make sure you know you don’t risk a lawsuit.
More than 60% of homeowners do not know if their insurance covers renters. This is the claim made by Assurant, surveying over 1000 New York homeowners on their home insurance coverage. This survey also found a whopping 40% of homeowners were not sure if they would liable should a visitor injure themselves on their property.
Homeowners, this may come as a shock: You are likely liable if someone hurts themselves on your property. Most home insurance policies exclude claims made by guests on your property. Vice President of Technology at Assurant, Kunal Malhotra, said minor problems (like breaking a television) and large problems (such as falling off a deck) are very different from an insurance standpoint.
Limited Coverage for Rentals
Before you decide to rent your home short-term, make sure you’re actually allowed to. Many properties and home-owners associations bar short-term rentals. Some providers allow policyholders to rent out their house for short stays (a week, for example) when informed ahead of time. You may need to add a rider or extra coverage to your current plan, covering any losses or liability that may occur from renters.
For homeowners renting out their homes often, a policy update may be necessary. If you find your rental is popular, you may want to consider hotel insurance coverage. Conventional homeowner policies do not cover business activities, such as operating a rental. Renting to a single guest for long periods of time requires a landlord plan be included.
Increasing Your Coverage
No one wants to pay the high costs of a lawsuit. Contact your insurance provider to see which policy options best suit your needs.
Some short-term rental websites provide insurance coverage to homeowners. For example, homeowners listing with Airbnb have access to coverage up to $1 million per rental.
Vacasa is another holiday rental website that will provide up to $1 million in home liability coverage, and also up to $10,000 in property insurance if you have coverage with Assurant. You must have the right coverage to avoid paying high costs in case of a lawsuit.
If you plan on renting out your home, make sure you have the insurance coverage you need. Homeowners insurance policy coverage varies – you may not be covered for vacation rentals. Talk to an agent today to see what options will suit you best.
Have a topic you think we should look into? We are always looking for ways to help your health and your wallet. If you have any insurance-related questions contact us today.
Recent findings by experts in the insurance industry show that the cost of including a teen on a car insurance policy is decreasing.
A few years ago, including a teen driver on one’s auto insurance would have added about 85% to one’s policy only 5 years ago. Currently, the rate change is about 78%.
While an improvement it is still a substantial amount. So why is the inclusion of the teen driver seen as an added risk? The main reason is that the adolescent driver is more likely to be involved in accidents than more experienced drivers are.
Indeed, reports by the National Highway Traffic Safety and Security Administration indicate that auto accidents are the main cause of death among teen drivers. About 2000 of youthful drivers died in auto related accidents in 2015, which was a significant rise of about 10% from the previous year.
The premium paid for adding a teen driver can be particularly painful when the teen involved is male. There is a major discrepancy between the insurance cost for male teens and their female counterparts. (On average adding a male driver increases costs by 89%, compared to only 66% for female teens. This cost also varies depending on the state.
Why are rates Falling?
- There are fewer teen drivers getting drivers licenses.
- Technology has made cars safer to drive. This is especially true for newer vehicles with advanced collision prevention systems.
- Graduated driving programs impose greater restrictions on young drivers until they have more experience behind the wheel.
It is important when adding a teen to your car insurance that you work to prevent accidents so your rates don’t go even higher.
- Have a strong commitment from your teen that they will not touch their mobile device while driving. (There is new technology on the way that can disable mobile phone apps while a vehicle is in motion.)
- Instead of purchasing a “personal” car for a teenager, purchase a “family” car that they are allowed to use. It belongs to the house, not to them. Install monitoring devices to ensure speed limits are adhered to and that the car is being properly driven. Have a firm understanding that the care may be used with permission and if the rules are followed. This can also be tied to maintaining excellent grades, etc. Upon graduation, the car could be gifted to the teen as they move to college.
- Be sure the car has plenty of automated safety features to protect your teen, their passengers, and others on the road. Airbags are a good start. Yet more modern cars are so much more capable of keeping drivers safe.
What can you do to reduce teen auto insurance costs?
- The first year is a teen driver’s most important. A parent/guardian needs to take an active role in helping to establish good driving habits. These include how to handle a vehicle, show respect & courtesy to other drivers, and how to stay safe on the road.
- Many Insurance companies offer classes for teens. Successfully completing these can reduce rates. In addition, insurance carriers often offer discounts on insurance if teens maintain good grades.
- Many states have graduated driving programs. These limit the driving capabilities of younger drivers, particularly night time driving. Be sure your teen abides by these programs.
Naturally, we’re here to help answer your insurance questions and to make certain you and your teen always have the best insurance at the most affordable rate possible.
Fewer than 22% of homeowners see changes in the environment or natural disasters as being an important factor to consider when updating their homeowner’s insurance coverage.
This information was found in a new study done by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). With the increase in natural disasters, the NAIC encourages homeowners to think about their risks and take the time to understand what coverages are included in their existing insurance policies.
For example, recent climate changes in the northern area of Nevada have been determined as the underlying cause of a catastrophic flood. State officials warn that the worst may not be over as they are preparing for additional flooding.
Another example: There is an increased risk for mud and rock slides because of erosion in the areas that have been affected by increasing wildfires.
Damage to your house or property caused by such disasters may not be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy. Instead, you’ll need a special policy that offers specific coverage for things like flood insurance coverage.
Between 2005 to 2015 natural disasters caused roughly $24 billion in insurance claims. However, the study performed by the NAIC found that 56% of homeowners have not read through their homeowner insurance policies in over a year. Additionally, 14% are not sure if they have ever evaluated their plan.
It is important you review your policy with your agent to be sure you have the coverage you need.
Prior to Natural Disasters
We recommend asking yourself these questions each year:
Is my home in increased danger of:
Next ask yourself:
* Has anything changed in my house?
* Has there been any change in the total number of people living in my house or the value of the personal belongings in the house?
* Have I added any major acquisitions such as art or other valuable belongings?
* Have I had any updates to the house such as renovations, an updated security system, or any other major changes to the home?
* Are there any new fire prevention or protection solutions offered in my area?
* Do I have a fire safety zone around my home? Has it been adequately maintained?
And remember, our team of insurance professionals is at the ready to help you. Please reach out if you have questions.
Many motorists feel car insurance costs are higher than they want to pay. Rates are indeed on the rise. But some folks have taken to telling “white lies” to mislead insurance companies and get lower car insurance rates.
A nationwide survey conducted by a leading online financial firm showed that almost 85% of survey participants had given misleading information to keep the cost of their car insurance as low as possible. This figure is far higher than the estimates previously thought.
Drivers have come up with all sorts of creative story-telling. According to the survey quoted above, the following ranked as the basis for the top five “white” lies that drivers used to lower insurance costs:
1. Failure to accurately report on accident history and previous insurance claims.
2. Falsification of details regarding where the car is parked overnight.
3. The use or purpose of the motor vehicle – family, social, business, traveling, etc.
4. Falsification of the estimated annual mile driven.
5. Failure to properly identify who the primary driver of the vehicle is.
Why mislead on the above?
The main motivation for these little white lies is monetary. The insured knows very well that tinkering with the truth can save money on premium costs.
However, this is a risky move. Carriers are on the lookout for these and if they catch you, your insurance policy can be nullified. That can be especially problematic if you make a claim and the carrier determines you didn’t tell the truth on your insurance application. They will not honor your claim and you’ll be unprotected.
And remember, you’ll be on the hook for more than the damages to your car. You could be responsible for medical expenses of everyone involved in an accident found to be your fault.
A “little white lie” to save a few bucks simply isn’t worth the risk.
And that is not all. That little white lie could very well get you into trouble with the law. It is a criminal offense to falsify the details required by an insurance underwriter as you are seeking for a car insurance policy. Insurance fraud is a thing best avoided.
And remember, this applies to who is driving the car the most as well. Many parents think they should list themselves as the primary driver on a car that their teen mostly drives. This again is the kind of “white lie” that can result in all the previously mentioned problems.
What are the Long Term Effects of Non-disclosure?
As discussed above, failure to give all the necessary details on an insurance application can result in a claim not being honored as well as potentially being taken to court for fraud. YIKES!
And if you’re “found out”, such non-disclosures can have a negative impact on your ability to get a great rate on future policies.
The good news is that our team of specialists strive to help you find the best rates on auto insurance by obtaining multiple quotes from different carriers. We make insurance companies compete for your business and that helps you pick the best mix of budget sensitive features to fit your exact needs.
If you need to review your auto insurance, please reach out to us. We’re here to help!
Many motorists have noted, with justifiable concern, that car insurance costs went up by a significant margin in 2016. A closer look at the market trends gives the indication that auto insurance costs have been steadily rising for the last 5 years across the U.S.
And the reason for this is quite understandable: there are more accidents happening on our roads every year. This is directly because there are more cars on the road combined with an increase in accidents caused by driver inattention.
Insurance underwriters have had to raise the premiums on insurance as a result. Unfortunately, this increase in the cost of insurance has affected all auto owners – even those who have a clean, accident-free history. Many auto insurance policyholders are quite perplexed by this.
Why Has There Been a Rise in Cost of Auto Insurance?
a. Increase in auto accidents
Certainly, everyone understands that insurance firms are for-profit business entities. They need to ensure that they are giving profits to shareholders. But insurance firms primarily exist to protect clients from risk.
Insurance counts on the precise understanding of costs and risk and then creates rates based on that understanding. The goal is to ensure that an Insurance company can always meet its obligations to its insureds.
So a dramatic increase in claims related to auto accidents will translate into massive unexpected payouts. As a result, insurance companies have to raise rates to be sure they will always have the funds available to meet their obligations.
b. Medical Costs
The good news is that cars are getting safer. However, there are still many older vehicles on the road that lack the advanced safety features found in the latest automobiles. Injuries and death arising from motor vehicle accidents have been noted to be some of the biggest contributors to the increased auto insurance premiums.
People often assume that their medical costs are covered by their health insurance but the laws that govern this vary state by state. In many states, health insurance is specifically excluded from being responsible for covering the costs of auto accidents and medical costs are resolved through auto insurance.
c. Expensive Repairs and Replacements
Auto insurance costs are also guided by the cost of repair of the car or truck involved in the accident. As cars have become safer they have also become more expensive. The average cost for a family sedan today is what individuals paid for luxury cars not too many years ago.
Additionally, the “crumple zones” that are necessitated by safe car design mean more cars will likely end up being totaled. While this saves lives and reduces injuries, it also results in more vehicles that are unable to be repaired after an accident.
d. Government Policy
The government requires that every auto insurance company must have adequate reserves of funds to cover claims in case of unprecedented level of accidents resulting from disasters. Government agencies are always on the look-out to enforce this rule, and where they find the funds are too low they will advise the company to look for ways to raise it. Often, auto insurance companies realize the dangerously low level of their reserves when they conduct their own internal audits. Under such circumstances, the insurer has no alternative but to raise the level of reserves by adjusting the cost of auto insurance.
e. Unusual Weather
Nature can also negatively impact on the cost of insurance. In states that are prone to catastrophic climatic conditions and other freaks of nature, the cost of auto insurance is bound to be high. For example, American states that are to the South and South-East of the country are prone to tornadoes, hurricanes, and hailstorms. Customers in the states that are disadvantaged by nature will pay more auto insurance premiums… and will see rates climb in their markets if insurance carriers have had to make a significant number of payments resulting from recent, unanticipated bad weather.
f. Poor Credit Rating
Insurers have found that poor credit is a leading indicator of people making claims. In fact, 77% of individuals with poor or low credit will invariably make claims. If a carrier discovers your credit rating is low or has declined your rates may go up regardless of your driving history. Some states such as Massachusetts, Hawaii, and California restrict auto insurance providers from using the credit rating to profile customers.
What’s The Best Way to Handle to A Rise in Auto Insurance Premiums?
Even though insurance firms have every legal right to increase auto insurance premiums, there are two things you can do to ease the situation:
a. Seek an Explanation
If you see an unrealistic rise in your cost of auto insurance, call and talk with your independent insurance agent to review your specific situation. Sometimes insurance companies make computing errors as they factor in credit histories. Sometimes there are other computer glitches that fail to give you credit for the discounts you deserve.
Also, remember that not all insurance carriers are the same. What really matters is how you are treated during a claim process. Switching to a “cheaper” carrier to save 15% off the cost of your auto insurance isn’t helpful if they are notorious for bad claims processes.
b. Hunt for the Best Deal
Remember that your independent insurance agency is able to shop around to compare the auto insurance costs offered by different insurance carriers for packages that are similar. They may be able to help you find a better deal for your particular situation.
c. Adjust Your Policy
You may have coverages on your vehicle that you are paying extra for that may no longer be needed. For example, some policies have added riders in case you are underwater in your vehicle. (In case it is worth less than you paid for it.) But if your car isn’t underwater, you needn’t pay for that protection. Likewise, if your finances can afford a larger deductible, this can reduce your costs. Finally, if you are driving your car less than before, or if the car is no longer being used for a long commute into the city, all of these elements can be taken into consideration by your carrier when determining your rates.
d. Always Talk With Us
We’re here for you to serve your auto insurance needs. Our team of highly skilled insurance professionals is here to help you get the right insurance for your needs and budget. If you ever have questions about your policy or need money saving tips, let us know. We love helping our clients!
Imagine for a minute that you run quite a bit as a part of your daily routine. You think you’re healthy. Because you value your time and independence you are self-employed. You’ve bought life insurance and health insurance but have never considered disability insurance…
You turn another year older and are suddenly diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a condition which is often called Lou Gehrig’s disease and eventually leads to paralysis. Some of the common symptoms of ALS include difficulty in performing daily activities and walking, tripping and then falling, hand weakness, clumsiness, trouble in swallowing, slurred speech, weakness in the ankles, feet, and/or legs, twitching of tongue, shoulders, and arms, muscle cramps, difficulty in holding the head up, difficulty in maintaining a healthy posture, etc.
What would you do? How would you cope?
Many individuals are offered a long-term disability benefit by their employer. But if self-employed, you may not have given much thought to this important coverage. Likewise, even if an employer offers a disability insurance program, sometimes the best benefits are achieved by purchasing a disability insurance policy of your own.
One advantage of this strategy is that you remain properly covered even after leaving a job. Buying a policy early in life is a good decision as older people usually pay bigger premiums for coverage. Another advantage of buying disability insurance is that if you ever need to submit a claim, all benefits earned through the policy will be tax-free.
It’s important to remember that once you are over 50, you may spend up to around 4% of your annual income for coverage. For instance, if you are a 50-year-old individual and have an annual income of $100,000, you could end up paying $4,000+ per year.
But for many, this is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that their income will be protected in case of a disability.
And like other forms of insurance, the best strategy is to talk with your insurance advisor for tips on how to address this topic.