It pays to keep track of what your insurance policy covers

It pays to keep track of what your insurance policy covers

If you’re like most consumers, your eyes glaze over when someone asks you what your insurance policy covers. And we’re not just talking homeowners insurance – we’re talking auto policies, renter policies … virtually any kind of insurance policy you might have that’s currently in effect. Let’s take auto insurance as an example: Most of us know about the many benefits of having auto insurance and how it will help protect our assets. But sometimes we learn too late that we’re under-insured when a major situation comes up. 4AutoInsuranceQuote.com offered up a horror story about a 20-year-old lady from Richmond, Va. named Kathy. She was sideswiped by another motorist on her way home from work. The collision drove her into a light post on the side of the road and left her with a severely wrenched neck. She went to the hospital to have it checked out and reported the incident to her insurance company the next morning. She assumed she would be reimbursed for her medical bills. But since the other guy didn’t have insurance and her policy didn’t have under-insured motorist bodily injury coverage, she was out of luck. She ended up having to pay $800 out of pocket. Another policyholder made an ever sillier mistake. He switched his auto coverage to another company. But six months down the road he received two bills, one from his old company and another from the new one. Seems he forget to cancel his previous policy, figuring it would automatically cancel. Wrong! You always have to cancel your old policy once you’ve switched companies. Otherwise, you may be paying for coverage you...
Do I Alert my Homeowners Insurance Company if My Dog Bites Someone?

Do I Alert my Homeowners Insurance Company if My Dog Bites Someone?

Dog bites are extremely common. According to the CDC, about 4.5 million dog bites occur every year in the US, and most of the time the dogs bite little kids. Aside from bites, dogs can inadvertently injure someone by knocking them down – especially if they’re riding by unawares on a bicycle. Dog-related injuries, whether bites or otherwise, account for hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance payments every year. As a matter of fact, in 2016, that number was around $600 million. That being said, making sure your homeowners insurance protects you when you’re liable for dog-related injuries is a must. The big question though, is not whether you should make sure you’re covered, but when you should choose to tap into that coverage. When it comes to minor incidents, it might be easier and cheaper to leave your insurance company out of the loop and just pay out-of-pocket for any medical care needed for someone who was injured by your dog. A trip to the urgent care, if necessary, will cost far less than an increase in your homeowners insurance premiums. However, you need to be careful that not reporting a dog bite to your insurance company doesn’t violate the policy. If your dog bites someone, and then does so again later and your insurance company finds out, you may be denied insurance coverage for not reporting the first incident. Ultimately, if you’re ever unsure as to whether or not you should file a claim, your independent insurance agent can always help you out. Knowing the ins-and-outs of your homeowners insurance policy, as well as filing claims,...
Here are the most common home insurance liability claims

Here are the most common home insurance liability claims

There are plenty of things that could merit a home insurance liability claim, but some tend to occur more regularly than others. Here are the Top 5 most common ones, according to NetQuote: Dog bites: A typical home insurance policy includes liability coverage for damages and injuries caused by you or other members of your household — including pets. But you should note that insurers often exclude some dog breeds, like pit bulls, Akitas and German shepherds from their policies because they represent higher risks.  Home accidents: Injury accident claims are frequently filed against homeowners. If a door-to-door salesperson stops by, trips over a broken step on your front porch and falls down, you can be held liable for any injuries he or she sustains. Or maybe a guest trips over a loose piece of carpeting in your living room. The same principles apply — your could be held liable. Falling trees: If a tree on your property falls and damages your neighbor’s house or car, you can be held liable for a home liability claim. So if you own a tree that poses a hazard, it’s best to get that taken care of before something bad happens. It’s not unusual for tree damage claims to cost tens of thousands of dollars. Intoxicated guests: If you have a party at your house and someone gets intoxicated and falls into a bookcase, knocking it on top of another guest, you can be held liable. Fortunately, those kinds of situations are typically are covered by a standard homeowner’s policy. Homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies include host liquor liability coverage. Injured domestic workers: If you hire someone to clean your...
Mudslide coverage is sometimes linked to prior brushfires

Mudslide coverage is sometimes linked to prior brushfires

The mudslides that swept through Montecito in Santa Barbara County earlier this year were chaotic — and devastating. They resulted in more than 20 deaths and scores of injuries. They destroyed more than 110 homes and 1,415 insurance claims were filed listing nearly $388 million in residential property losses, according to a recent Los Angeles Times article. Many of those homeowners didn’t have flood insurance, but California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones issued a formal notice in January to all property and casualty insurance companies reminding them of their duty to cover damages if it was determined that the ravaging of hillsides and vegetation by the Thomas and other fires ultimately caused the mudslides. “Californians have suffered greatly with all of the devastating losses from wildfires that struck the state in the last three months of 2017,” Jones said in a statement issued in January. “If the evidence shows the Thomas Fire or another peril covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy was the efficient proximate cause of mudflow damage, I expect insurance companies to step up and cover these financial losses.” Homeowners insurance policies don’t cover floods, earthquakes, mudslides, sinkholes, war or nuclear accidents. But a separate flood insurance policy may cover mudslide damage as long as the mud is carried by a river or stream of water. However, if it’s a landslide caused by a saturated hillside coming down it wouldn’t be covered by flood insurance. Most Mendicino homeowners did not carry flood insurance since there was was very little chance of flooding so something had to be done. If you’re looking to buy a home you should check to see what...
Real estate agents and insurance agents can be a great resource

Real estate agents and insurance agents can be a great resource

Real estate agents are some of the best resources available for clients to learn the ins and outs of home ownership. Whether they’re looking for a new home to buy, or are in need of information regarding inspectors, appraisers, and interior-decorators to help them sell, working with a well-informed real estate agent is a must. Being a client’s go-to-guy or gal for home shopping means that it may be a good idea to have some homeowners insurance knowledge under your belt for when your clients inevitably ask about it. Luckily, a real estate agent doesn’t need to be an expert in homeowners insurance to be able to help out. Simply knowing enough to help a client find their own expert can be enough. Know the Home’s Location Intimately The location of a home will have a tremendous impact when it comes to the buying or selling of that home, but it also plays a significant role when someone wants to buy homeowners insurance to protect it. It’s always a good idea to know if the home rests in an area that may put it at additional risk. For example, homes that are located at the bottom of a hill or basin tend to carry higher risk if that area is prone to flooding. Also, some homes (especially those in Santa Clarita) are located in areas that are at risk of brush fires. Check for Exclusions Check with an insurance agent to find out if there are any exclusions related to insuring a home in a given area. For example, many homeowners insurance policies include water damage protections in the...
Homeowners Insurance – Replacement Coverage vs. Market Value

Homeowners Insurance – Replacement Coverage vs. Market Value

No single homeowners insurance plan is going to work for everyone. Depending on your income and the amount of protection you’re looking for, insurance companies prefer to offer a variety of homeowners insurance policies designed to fit the lifestyles of a diverse population. Some of the choices are relatively minor, such as whether or not you want to purchase additional protection for items of exceptional value – should you own any. Other choices have more far-reaching consequences and require that you understand exactly what you’re deciding on. One of those choices has to do with the distinction between replacement cost and market value. If your homeowners insurance policy includes remuneration in the form of replacement cost, it refers to the cost of repairing or replacing your home. If your policy provides market value coverage, it refers to the amount someone would pay for your home in its current condition (including any damage that may have recently been incurred). The other option you have to choose from is replacement coverage. This type of coverage is intended to completely cover the replacement cost of your home – which can be much higher than it’s current market value. A homeowners insurance policy that provides market value for your home in the event of a disaster is less expensive, but will end up paying out less if your house is seriously damaged. A policy that provides replacement cost for your home will likely have a larger premium, but will go much further in regards to getting you into a new home if yours is unlivable in its current state. Generally speaking, market value...