How to Avoid Under-Insuring Your Home

Avoiding Home Under-Insurance

Avoiding Home Under-Insurance

For most people, the family home is the most expensive asset they will own in their lifetime.  It usually takes decades of mortgage repayments and hard work to pay off the family home.  Unfortunately there is also a risk that your home will be damaged or destroyed by accident, fire or natural disaster.  That’s why most people insure their property.  But what if your level of insurance was inadequate and you couldn’t afford to rebuild?  That is called under-insurance.  Here are some simple tips to make sure your policy will cover the cost of rebuilding or repairing your home, if it is damaged.

Update Your Policy When you Renovate

Many people spend thousands of dollars updating their property, including expensive new bathrooms, kitchens, decks and pools.  However, many of them forget to increase the value of their insurance policy.  What happens if there is an earthquake and the pool you just spent $25’000 on develops a massive crack?  It is very important to remember to include any changes in the value of your property in the insurance policy.

Get an Evaluation

One way to ensure your property is fully insured, is to hire a property evaluator to examine it.  A property evaluator is knowledgeable about construction techniques, materials and the costs of rebuilding.  You might have built your property 25 years ago when materials were cheaper and the quality of the construction may be to a higher standard.  A property evaluator understands the cost of materials in today’s money and can price in any higher quality construction used within your home.

Think About Additional Costs

Many people think about the costs of rebuilding without considering the additional costs involved.  If your house burns down, there may be additional costs to remove the wreck of the house.  There may be damage to the utilities going into the house, which require more money.  An earthquake could destroy long water pipes, gas lines and sewerage which run on your property.  If the house contains asbestos, there may be expense associated with removing it.  There may be substantial groundworks required before rebuilding.

If your house was built with poor quality foundations that conformed to the building requirements 50 years ago, that may no longer be the case.  If that house is destroyed, the new house may have to comply to an array of new building requirements.  If your house is built using materials that are now expensive, ensure the policy will cover buying those materials again.

Think About Site Problems

Some properties have tricky issues involved with building on the site.  These issues can increase the cost of rebuilding a home.  Is your land severely sloped?  Are there issues with sinkholes in the area?  Is the site geologically stable for a modern house to be built upon?

Are There Additional Structures?

Think about the expense of attached structures.  If you have recently built a very expensive garage, garden shed or workshop, make sure it is covered in your insurance policy.  If you have an expensive stone wall, make sure your insurance policy also covers that.  An earthquake could destroy everything on your property, not just your house.

Understand Exactly What is Covered

It is crucial to understand that only certain risks will be covered by an insurance policy.  Not all policies cover flood damage in the same way, with water run off being treated differently than flooding from a river.  Many people have been caught out by insurance companies in the past for that.  Read the fine print and understand what natural disasters and criminal acts your property is covered against.

Get Quotes

One way to ensure you are sufficiently insured, is to get a qualified builder to estimate the costs of rebuilding your home.  He will have access to the actual prices of the materials used and will understand the quality required.

Ask Questions

If you are unsure about what is covered in your policy, ask questions!  The insurance company must be upfront about your policy and inform you about what is covered.  If you are talking to them on the phone about a specific point, ask for a reference to the terms and conditions which demonstrate it is covered.



Renters Insurance for College Students

Student Dorm Renters Insurance

Student Dorm Renters Insurance

Leaving for college is an exciting time for young people and there are many things to consider as they leave the family home. One of the things that is often forgotten about is renters insurance.

When a student moves out of the family home, they also leave the protection of various forms of insurance. So if a student has their rental property broken into, or even has some things stolen from their dorm — it can cost them thousands of dollars and set their studies back. Students also have many more expensive items now, compared to a few decades ago. Most students have a laptop, a smart phone, possibly an iPad, a television, a stereo system, and possibly a musical instrument with them. That quickly adds up to thousands of dollars. Many of these items are small in nature so they can easily be pocketed.

Some parents may consider their child safe from burglaries while on campus. However according to 2012 statistics there were almost 20’000 burglaries on campus for the year. With a room full of expensive electronic gear and a busy dorm floor, there are plenty of opportunities for burglaries.

A student also needs to consider the impact on their study of losing their laptop and being unable to afford a new one. It could set back a student’s studies and impact their grades.

The good news is that this type of contents insurance is relatively cheap. A student can obtain $5000 worth of coverage for around $150 per year. Most renters insurance policies also cover you for a few eventualities:

1. You are covered against theft of your personal property
2. You are covered for liability if someone injures themselves on your property. A dorm usually covers this type of insurance, but if you are living outside of a dorm it comes in handy.
3. The policy will provide some living expenses if you cannot live in the property while it is being repaired

Your property is also insured for a number of potential hazards including: smoke damage, fire, riot, ivil unrest, hail, rain, vehicle damage, vandalism, theft, snow damage, plumbing malfunction and many more.

It is also important to note that your renters insurance policy can be piggy backed onto your parents insurance policy in some cases. Contact the insurance provider to see if the policy can be extended to cover the renting student.

Homeowners Insurance Costs Exploding

Hurricanes and Homeowners Insurance

Hurricanes and Homeowners Insurance

The cost of homeowners insurance in the United States has exploded, up by 36% between 2003 and 2010 alone, outstripping inflation according to insurance analysts. Homeowners in some parts of the country have seen even greater rises due to the catastrophic weather events in their area. Citizens in Florida have seen their insurance premiums rise by over 90% in the same period, Rhode Island have seen a 62% increase and Louisiana a 58% increase.

The Tampa Tribune reports that one home owner saw their premiums rise from $1000 in 1996, to over $5000 in 2013. A substantial expense for retirees, who now face the prospect of not having insurance on their house and risking everything if an extreme weather event occurs and destroys their house.

Many consumers are being forced to accept higher deductibles just to afford the insurance. Meanwhile the Insurance companies are recording record profits, leading to some angry homeowners asking for more regulation of the industry. Some insurance companies also report greater profits in the areas with extreme weather events – so they make more money from Florida than they do from Ohio. The coastal states pay about $4 billion more than inland residents because of that extreme weather event risk.

The insurance companies suggest that the increases have been necessary because of increased risks associated with climate change weather events. With even more expensive hurricanes wreaking destruction this year, many householders fear that another round of dramatic increases in premiums may be on the way.

On top of that many households are seeing increases in the cost of premiums in the National Flood Insurance Program which many coastal property owners must buy. Their homeowners policy usually covers wind damage from hurricanes only, while the flood insurance is handled separately.

For real estate agents in coastal areas, the increasing insurance costs for coastal properties are a worrying sign, particularly when the market is still recovery mode. Hurricane Sandy caused a massive $19 billion in insurance costs, and we have to see what effect that will have on insurance premiums. If there is another large hurricane this season the 2014 premiums will be even worse.

Insurance agencies actually suggest that in previous years, properties in hurricane affected areas actually had premiums that were too low. This increase is just bringing premiums up to sustainable levels for the insurance companies. However the record breaking profits of many insurance companies tells a different story according to home owners.

Changes to Flood Insurance

Flood Insurance Rates Increase

Flood Insurance Rates Increase

In the United States, hurricane season is about to begin and many homeowners in South Florida are about to see the impact of changes to the National Flood Insurance program.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was first created by congress in 1968 and enables communities to purchase flood insurance from the government. The insurance program was designed o provide an alternative source of insurance for communities who have difficulty obtaining insurance from other sources. The program insures over 5.5 million homes in the United States against flood damage.

After Hurricane Sandy caused so much damage in 2012, congress was forced to lend FEMA $30 billion dollars so they could keep the flood insurance program afloat. It is estimated that Hurricane Sandy was the 2nd most expensive hurricane to hit the USA, causing over $70 billion in damage, second only to Hurricane Katrina which created $108 billion in total damage.

The FEMA boss, Craig Fugate commented on the loan recently: “They gave FEMA borrowing authority, not only for Sandy but also to make sure we had funds available to pay claims for future events,”. Which should insure that the program continues in the forseeable future.

Congress approved the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 which increases flood insurance rates for some areas, but also provides some discounts. Most of those affected by changes in the legislation are those in Florida, where the hurricanes frequently create a great deal of damage.

Some of the changes tha are going to occur include the removal of a discount for 2nd homes, which will raise those rates by 25%, and the average rate will increase by 10%. Homes that have had numerous flood insurance claims will also be paying more and flood prone commercially zoned buildings will also pay about 25% more. Politicians claim that these increases are required so the program can be sustainable and with climate change increasing extreme weather events like Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, rate increase were the only way to keep the program alive.

Not all home owners are required to have flood insurance, so it is worth talking with an insurance agent to discover if it is compulsory in your area. However if you live in a flood prone area in Florida it is a significant risk. Some home owners have observed from past hurricanes that it is not flood damage that damages their properties, but the hurricane itself. If you did not flood from past hurricanes, you might be able to remove the payment from your insurance expenses.

Home Maintenance Tips

Home Maintenance

Home Maintenance

At this time of year many people perform their “spring clean”, when they go through the house and make sure everything is clean from roof to floor. Now is a great time to also perform some basic preventative maintenance on you house, and address any issues which may damage your home and cause you to eventually make an insurance claim.

There are actually many insurance claims that can be avoided by using preventative measures, thinking ahead and identifying potential problems early on. Here is a list of the easiest preventative measures that you could incorporate into your spring clean to save you a lot of money!

Check your yard for any trees or shrubs that are getting out of control
Anything that might knock against the wall or windows should be trimmed back. This will also help prevent mold problems in your home and prevent damage to the building during storms.

Check the batteries in your smoke alarms
Make sure all of your smoke alarms are functioning correctly and change the batteries if you need to. Use this time to consider buying more smoke alarms, which can not only save your home from destruction, but can save your life.

Wash the outside of your house
Hire or buy a pressure washer and wash the exterior of your home to remove dirt and mold. Check for any damage to the house while you do it and check the condition of the paint. If you have a timber home, look for any split timber or water damage to the exterior which can grow to be a problem.

Wash the inside of you house
Wash the walls, paying close attention to any indications of mold or dry rot. If you notice a mold problem, chances are there is an issue with your roof, drainage or cracks in your concrete, letting water into the structure of the house. The sooner you spot that, the better.

Clean your gutters
Clean out any leaf litter in your gutters and make sure the guttering is still in good condition. Make sure there is no evidence of water building up in the gutters, or corrosion. Check that the downpipes are draining correctly and that the water isn’t winding up in the basement.

Check the condition of the roof
Look for cracked tiles, loose tiles or damage of any kind to the roof. Eventually your roof might have to be replace, but with some simple maintenance you can avoid a common insurance claim that people make when their roof leaks.

Check the concrete around the house and in the basement
Look for any cracks or damage that indicates the house is moving. These cracks could be responsible for water damage and any issues need to be detected as early as possible. Check the basement for any problems and fill them with a concrete or silicon crack filler.

Clean your carpets
Hire an industrial strength steam cleaner and clean the carpets. It can help reduce any mold problems and make your house much healthier, reducing the chance of health insurance claims.

Clean ceiling fans
Check the condition of your ceiling fans. Again, removing mold and dust is beneficial for your families health and can reduce the risk of health or household insurance claims.

Umbrella Insurance Explained

Umbrella Insurance

Umbrella Insurance

Umbrella Insurance is a form of liability insurance that will protect your assets and income in addition to any primary insurance policies you may have. That means that it provides cover additional to any property, automobile or watercraft policies you might have. Liability insurance is the portion of the insurance policy that covers for expenses associated with any injured parties and pays for their medical bills, rehabilitation and lost wages.

The term umbrella refers to the fact that the insurance covers all of your assets and income where other policies alone might not provide enough cover – it provides additional cover to all of the policies underneath it. It is different to “excess” insurance because it does not require that all other policies be exhausted before coming into effect.

Usually umbrella insurance is sold in increments of 1 million dollars. As an example of how other insurance policies with with it, if you had an automobile insurance policies which had a liability limit of $300’000, with the umbrella insurance, your total coverage is $1’300’000. If you had a home insurance policy with limits of $500’000, with the umbrella insurance policy it would become $1’500’000.

With some insurance policies, you might not be entirely covered if you acted in a way that voided the policy, but umbrella insurance will often provide coverage. So if you are involved in a automobile accident, and for some reason your primary insurance provider refuses to pay out, you still have $1 million of coverage from the umbrella policy.

In addition, umbrella insurance is particularly useful because our society is so litigious now, and any automobile accident or incident involving your home can turn into a large lawsuit. If you are sued for $1 million dollars and your automobile policy will only payout $300’000, then umbrella insurance can be used to cover the remainder.

The umbrella insurance coverage will provide for legal representation if the matter goes to court. Once you combine an injured person’s medical bills and any legal action they might take, it’s quickly apparent that the standard automobile insurance or household insurance does not include enough liability insurance.

In nearly every state of the United States, there are laws that hold drivers responsible for all bodily injury and property damage should they be at fault, so the risk is very real that you could lose everything without sufficient insurance.

Cheaper Home Insurance Premiums

Home Insurance

Home Insurance

In recent years the number of natural catastrophes that have occurred world wide has increased. Some scientists suggest that this is due to increasing global temperatures and related climate change. Whatever the cause, it has had a dramatic effect on the cost of insurance premiums as more natural disasters occur.

Everyone wants to make sure that their home is covered by insurance that handles natural disaster incidents but it is increasingly difficult to do so with high premiums. Fortunately there are a number of ways to obtain insurance for natural disasters and lower the cost of premiums.

A lot of people simply choose an insurance policy from the Internet and hope that it covers all of the natural disasters appropriately. Others just walk into an insurance agency and hope that the insurance agent gives them the right insurance at a good price. Unfortunately you may not get the best deal and may not have the most comprehensive cover against natural disasters. You need to scrutinize the policy in it’s entirety and look at ways you can lower the premium.

One way to save on premiums is prepare your home for natural disasters. If your local area experiences a lot of storms, you could install measures which prevent damage, like storm shutters. Then you could find an insurer that gives you a discount on your premium for having those shutters installed. In the long run the money saved is substantial. You can also install security devices or get a dog to save money on your home insurance as it reduces the chances that your home will be burgled.

You can also combine, or consolidate your insurance policies. You can obtain a discount on your insurance costs if you combine policies, so get you car insurance, home insurance and life insurance through the same company. Discuss a discount with the insurance company directly or ask your insurance agent to negotiate on your behalf.

It’s also a great idea to exclude the value of your land from any insurance policies. Natural disasters won’t affect the land (unless you have a property built very close to the coastline). So if the insurance company asks you for the value of your property, just include the price of rebuilding the home and the value of the contents of the home.

By using these three simple tips, you can save a great deal of money on the cost of insurance in the long term. With the increase in natural disasters it’s more important than ever to have sufficient insurance.

Jewellery Insurance

Jewellery Insurance

Jewellery Insurance

For many people, their jewellery is one of the most expensive assets they own, so finding the right insurance that sufficiently covers your pieces is a must. However it is often difficult to estimate the real value of the pieces yourself because some may be old, inherited and of unknown quality.

So many of us just include the pieces in with the home and contents policy with a rough guess of how much we think they are worth. Unfortunately many people have only realised they have under insured their pieces after they have been stolen!

This article will look at the best practices for making sure you insure your jewellery sufficiently and will go over some things you shouldn’t do as well.

The first thing you should do is get your jewellery professional valued. You need to demonstrate the accurate value of the jewellery and shouldn’t rely upon a rough estimate by yourself or family members. Jewellery valuers should be registered with the National Association of Goldsmiths (NAG) or the Guild of Valuers and Jewellers (GVJ).

You should make sure the valuer gives you highly detailed descriptions of the pieces for your records. This won’t just help negotiate with the insurance company, but can also help you recover any stolen pieces. Store all related records off site, so they aren’t stolen with the pieces.

You can also get the valuer to inspect the pieces for any damage. There isn’t nothing worse than losing a precious gemstone from a ring because the claw had become damaged and the gemstone fell out. The valuer can check the condition of the pieces fully and make sure they are in good order. If the jewellery is particularly expensive, many insurers will require that you do this.

If you have a large collection, you should have it valued every few years to make sure that you have an accurate estimate of it’s value.

Now for the things you shouldn’t do! Don’t keep valuation documents in the same location as the jewellery – thieves will steal it as well, so they have an easier time understanding the value of the pieces themselves. Also store the proof of purchase separately. Store your jewellery in a quality safe, a good safe is a long term investment that can protect your valuables for many years. In some cases, owning a safe will lower your insurance premiums.

Don’t get your items valued overseas. Regardless of where you bought the pieces, get them valued where you live, so you know that they are insured for the real replacement cost. Their value might be substantially different in your local market compared to one overseas.

Never assume your common home and contents policy will cover the value of your jewellery. Many policies will only have a small allowance for jewellery. If you have a large collection you will have to negotiate the value with your insurers, as well as provide valuations. You might even need a separate policy to cover your jewellery because many home & contents policies have a hard limit on what they pay out for jewellery.

Remember that it’s easy to underestimate the value of your jewellery and that the value of jewellery fluctuates. Gold and gems are worth much more in 2013 than they were in 1963. So if you have older family pieces, you should get them correctly valued and ensure they are insured for what they are worth!

Getting Cheap Home Insurance

Cheap Home Insurance

Cheap Home Insurance

Regardless whether you will be insuring a home or a apartment, if you don’t do some cost comparisons on your home insurance coverage you will be shelling out too much. Fees from different insurance firms could differ by several hundred dollars a year for the same insurance policies, so taking a couple of minutes comparing homeowners insurance estimates is going to be well worth your while.

The fastest and most convenient way to generate property insurance quotes is to pay a visit to an insurance policy comparison web site, as these internet sites offer you instant price quotes from a range of insurance agencies all in one place.

Initially you fill in a simple on-line web form with your insurance specifics, including the price of your residence, the place your property is situated, and what insurance deductible you would like.

As soon as you send in the form, your data is sent to a group of top rated insurance agencies that might suit your specifications. These companies work up personalized estimates and deliver those to you.

Once you have your estimates in hand it is possible to review all of them and pick the supplier with the best fee along with the greatest coverage.

There are alternative methods to lower your insurance policy expenses. In addition to price comparisons, here are a few different options that will help you reduce your homeowners premium even more:

Raise your insurance deductible. By just increasing your insurance deductible you’ll save up to 35% to 40% on your monthly premiums. This may also prevent you from filing lots of minor insurance claims which could cause your insurance corporation to cancel your insurance policy.

Try to find savings. Special discounts immediately lessen your premiums. A few of these special discounts include:

1. A multi-policy discount when you’ve got both your property and your vehicle covered by the same supplier.

2. A security discount if you’ve got precautionary features which include dead-bolt locks, window locks, and a security alarm installed.

3. A safe practices price reduction when you have safety features like smoke detectors along with fire extinguishers.

4. A no smokers discount if you don’t smoke in your house.

5. A aged persons price cut when you’re Fifty five years or older and are retired.

6. A discount for paying annually as opposed to quarterly or once a month.

Providers don’t always let you know about all the rate reductions they have, which means you must ask your broker to offer you all of the special discounts you can get.

To put it simply, if you do not evaluate costs the odds are you will likely spend way too much for homeowners insurance. The good thing is it will take less than 20 minutes to submit an insurance questionnaire, receive your insurance rates, appraise them, and select the provider that could offer the absolute best rate.

Homeowner Insurance And Dog Bites

Dog Bite Insurance

Dog Bite Insurance

For those who own a dog, you realize there are large expenses involved. You will pay for the expense of pet food, veterinary bills, boarding costs if you travel, and other items like toys and dog grooming gear. You might also have a dog health care insurance policy to help you cover the price of dealing with severe illness, yet it’s vital to have a policy that defends you and your dog in the eventuality of a biting incident. Certain homeowners insurance plans feature liability for family dog bites, however, you should shop carefully to make sure you are very well covered.

How necessary is getting a plan to cover liability when somebody is bitten and injured? It is estimated that nearly 5 million people in America suffer a dog attack annually. Not all of those injured are attacked by strange stray dogs, either – most of the time the injured person is a good friend or relative of the pet’s owner. The actual levels of seriousness will vary, as well, and not everyone will document claims.

USA Today says that dog bites comprise over a third of the entire liability claims paid out in 2011. With roughly $500 million settled to affected individuals because of this, it comes as no great surprise that canine owners may be most likely to fork out for larger premiums, which might put you off from having the correct insurance policy. This is dangerous – you may well insist your dog might not hurt a fly, but are you willing to take chances?

Are pet dog bites covered under property insurance? It mostly depends upon the following variables:

1) The insurer. Does the provider of your choosing feature dog bite liability inside their coverage? If that’s so, for how much money can you cover your pet should it attack? Speak with your insurance agent with regards to your possibilities.

2) Your pet dog. You might be refused certain coverage thanks to your canine’s breed. Pit bulls, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers are some of the dog breeds that a number of providers won’t include.

If you encounter hurdles in finding insurance coverage because of your dog’s particular breed or the price of the premium, please do not feel disheartened. There are strategies you can work toward having the safeguards you require.

1) Sign up your pet dog in a licensed obedience training plan. Taking the initiative to condition your pet dog so he/she reacts well around people could help your circumstance when you look for insurance protection. A firm may be ready to provide you with a policy if you can demonstrate your pet dog has gotten the correct coaching.

2) Checkout umbrella insurance policies. As the title indicates, “umbrella” insurance is developed to include a broader range of liability than provided by other insurance policies. In the event your home insurance does not feature dog bites, your umbrella insurance policy takes over.

Depending on kind of pet you have as well as other factors, it is possible to enroll in property insurance that insures dog attacks, and shield your family dog and house. Should you not have insurance available, contact brokers and get the ideal policy for your household.