homeowner’s insurance claim - Spencer Insurance Agency, Inc

Why does my homeowner’s insurance premium increase every year?

We hear this question from clients so I thought some of you are probably not asking us this question but are thinking about it.  So let me answer the question.

There are many factors that will affect your homeowner’s insurance premium including making a claim and increases in replacement value coverage on your home. Weather related catastrophic losses also affect your rates even if you do not make a claim.   Also, each year the insurance company will increase your dwelling coverage to keep pace with inflation.  So you may see a 2%, 3%, or 5% increase depending on the cost of living increases for building materials in your area.  All of us know it will take more money to replace our home today than it did 20 years ago.

But these factors are not why homeowner’s insurance premiums can vary from carrier to carrier.  That is why I always ask our clients to send me a copy of any quotes they receive for a lower premium than they are paying now so I can make sure they are not losing any valuable coverage.

Think about the last time you bought a new car.  I just recently purchase a Toyota Camry.  I could have just gotten the base model but I wanted the hybrid.  I also wanted some safety features.  The one I really like is that my headlights turn when I am making a turn.  Pretty cool.  I also chose some other features that cost me extra money (a navigation system and Apple Car play for example).  I could have just gotten the basic model for less money and that would have been okay, but I wanted more features so I knew I would be paying more. So I paid the extra money and got the car I wanted.  Homeowner’s Insurance is very similar.

What I see when clients send me their quotes is that they are being quoted a basic homeowner’s policy.  Of course the premium is less because they no longer have the coverages we discussed that were important to them. If they want a basic homeowner’s policy I will sell them one IF that is all the coverage they want. But I will make sure they will know what coverage is now missing. Just like my Camry if you want more features you should expect to pay more.

As you know Spencer Insurance Agency represents several quality homeowner’s insurance companies. It seems that all our companies are coming out with new versions of their homeowner’s policy and/or new coverages. Should you switch?  Should you update to the new version? Should you add additional coverages that were not offered before?  One thing I know for sure is that you SHOULD talk to us about your policy.  Our agency tries our best to be as proactive as possible and reach out to our clients if we feel you should make changes. In a perfect world we would talk to all our clients about these updates but we are not perfect and this is not a perfect world.  We can’t get to everyone right away so feel free to call us at any time for a review.

Here are some new coverages being offered by our companies just recently:

  • Service line coverage – Now you can get the coverage you may be paying your water company for to replace a broken pipe from your house to the curb.
  • Mechanical Breakdown – Coverage for appliances, heating/air conditioning systems when they break down
  • Loss forgiveness/decreasing deductible
  • Hidden seepage coverage
  • Roof and siding matching in event of claim

Of course if you add some coverage you will be paying more premium.  You have to decide if it is worth the additional cost to have the coverage.  Just like my Camry I will pay more if I add more features/coverage. Price is important but remember the “True Cost of Insurance” includes the cost you pay out of pocket when you don’t have the proper coverage. If you want a basic homeowner’s insurance policy great, you can have it.  But if you want some better coverage you should expect to pay additional premium.  It is very hard from the policy pages to know all the coverages that are included or missing.  Let us help you.  If we can’t determine whether the quote you received or policy you have with have another agent has a certain coverage , we will tell you what to ask the other agent to make sure you do have that coverage.  Call us today for a review of any policy.

Have you read your Homeowner’s Insurance Policy lately?

home-owners

 

I ask this question because many people think that the coverage is the same from one homeowner’s policy to another.  Here is the problem.  You give the coverage page of your current homeowner’s company to another agent who gives you a “comparable” quote.  You assume the quote has the same coverage and the premium is lower so you purchase the policy without checking with your current agent.  BIG MISTAKE!

For example: The “comparable” quote has Water Back Up coverage, which you have on your current policy.  So you have the same coverage, right?  Maybe not.  As independent agents we represent 7 companies.  Our companies cover “Water Back Up and Sump Discharge or Overflow” and the policies state “Water backup is water or water-borne material, which 1. Backs up through sewers and drains; or, 2. Overflows or is discharged from a sump, sump pump or related equipment.

Most companies have similar language however “Company S” and “Company L” add a section which says “the coverage provided by this endorsement only applies to the dwelling described in Coverage A and the following Coverage C personal property items: clothes washers and dryers, food freezers and the food in them, Refrigerators, Ranges, Portable dishwashers and Dehumidifiers.” Just those items are covered… nothing else!

The companies we represent do not have this section, which means they don’t limit coverage for what personal property is damaged.  What if you have a finished basement and have a water back up claim?  “Company S” and “Company L” would not cover your furniture, electronics, toys, your guitar laying on the rug, or items you store there such as clothing and your seasonal decorations.  The “comparable” quote may have been $100 cheaper, but now your additional costs could be several thousand dollars higher because you don’t have the right coverage.

This is just one example.  I have found several differences in coverage when clients send us a copy of the “comparable” quote to review.  Check out my article The True Cost of Insurance.  Many times the “comparable” quote might be lower but is it lower because you have less coverage?  Let us check for you.  Send us copies of any quotes you receive so we can make sure you are not getting less coverage than you currently have now.

This Sunday is National No Housework Day!

life-family

It’s time to kick back and put the feet up.  This Sunday April 7th is National No Housework Day!

So put aside the laundry let the dishes pile up and leave the vacuum cleaner off.  Sit back and enjoy yourself.  Spend the day with your family or alone at the Spa, enjoying your hobby or just reading a good book.

Don’t forget the guys!  This applies to them too and put the “Honey do” list away for the day.

Let us know how you will spend the day.  Just comment below.

Reminder:  Okay, now the bad news.  This is a one day holiday.   Make sure you keep maintaining your home.  Proper maintenance and timely repairs can avoid a homeowner’s claim.  Avoiding homeowner’s claims will save you time and money.  You will not have to put out your deductible and spend your time on unnecessary clean up.  Call us if you have any questions about your Homeowner’s Policy.

What to do after a property loss.

Bad things happen to the best of people; if you suffer a loss here are a few tips
to navigate through this process and help you get on the road to recovery.

Immediately

  • Look out for the safety of your family.
  • Do not enter your home unless you’re sure it’s safe. Depending on the type of
    disaster, there may be exposed electrical wires, standing water or even structual
    damage. If you have any concerns about the structural or environmental safety of
    your home, do not enter.
  • Contact your insurance company by phone as soon as possible.  You can also follow up with us for any questions you many have regarding your claim.
  •  When reporting your claim have your policy number handy and be prepared to provide
    your contact information so your adjuster can reach you throughout the claim process.
    It’s important that you provide all your phone numbers and email info.

Once the Claims Process Has Begun

  • Take account of your loss and separate the damaged from the undamaged property.
  • If available, provide your adjuster with photos or video recordings of the loss site prior  to the event. This will assist your adjuster with the damage evaluation process.
  • If necessary, have a qualified repair service or contractor make temporary repairs to prevent additional loss. Be sure to obtain a bill or invoice for this service so you can present it to your adjuster for consideration of reimbursement.
  • If  your home is uninhabitable, check with your agent or check your policy to determine if  you have coverage for Additional Living Expenses.
  • Save all receipts to document your increase in living expenses while your home is uninhabitable.
  • Contact the utility companies to discontinue service if your home is uninhabitable or destroyed.

Financial Concerns

  • Investigate the availability of special loans and/or grants via the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Small Business Administration, the  American Red Cross, local government agencies, private lenders and philanthropic organizations.
  • Call to apply for federal disaster aid at 1-800-462-9029 (or 1-800-462-7585 for TDD Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) or online at FEMA.      You’ll be required to provide your social security number, insurance information and the extent of the damage to your property. Be sure to obtain a control number that is assigned to your application.

Starting that new home improvement project?

Time to remodel or expand the home?  Have you called your insurance agent who insures your home?

Yes, always contact your agent when you start a project.  There are several reasons to contact your agent:

  • You may need to increase your coverage to reflect the increase in replacement cost of your home.  Remember, the majority of homes are underinsured.  Don’t get caught short if you have a fire and need to rebuild your home.
  • If you purchase additional items of personal property, discuss insuring them  to see if you need additional coverage.
  • Consider Flood Insurance; Homeowner’s policies do not cover flood.
  • Check to see if the remodeling earned you any discounts on your homeowner’s insurance premium:
    • Did you add an alarm?
    • Did you upgrade your plumbing, roof, heating or electrical?

Here are a few additional tips:

  • Make sure you contractor is insured.  Ask for a Certificate of Insurance from your contractor with you listed on the certificate.
  • Ask the builder or contractor if you need a Builders’ Risk policy.  Better yet, call your agent and discuss your need for a Builders’ Risk policy.

For more information and tips from FEMA and Spencer Insurance on how to protect yourself from bad contractors, check out our website at http://spencerinsurance.com/remodeling-your-home/.  Don’t find out too late that you did not have the right coverage.  Call your agent as soon as you start planning a project.

 

I have an app for that. . .

You know you should do a household inventory in case of an emergency!  How many times have you told yourself you were going to sit down and do the inventory of your house then keep it in a safe place in case you have a house fire.  Sound familiar

You just can’t find the right time to do it.

A few years back a client’s house burned to the ground in minutes.  His family safely exited the house but all his belongings went up in smoke.  Fortunately he had the proper homeowners  insurance, however the next step was to do an inventory of all his belongings.  Think about that for a minute.  Could you list everything you owned, furniture, clothing, dishes, household supplies, toys, collectibles, etc?  With the help of other family members who had taken pictures in their house, they were able to put together a list.  The list was constantly updated as they remembered something else.

Having a house fire is bad enough.  I want to help you make the claim process easier.  There are many applications online which help you do an inventory.

Now there is an iPhone and Android app for your smart phone!

the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has developed an app which allows users to create a home inventory to make sure their contents are fully documented and protected.  The free app lets users quickly photograph and capture images, descriptions and serial numbers, and store the information electronically for safekeeping.  The app organizes everything by room and category, and creates a back-up file for e-mail sharing. The myHOME Scr.APP.book app is available through iTunes® and the Android Marketplace.  For more information on how to do a home inventory visit the NAIC Website.  Or go directly to the smart phone app of your choice, Android or iPhone.

Be prepared for emergencies.  It can make your homeowner’s Insurance claim a lot easier.

 

 

 

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