Posts Tagged ‘insurance policies’
You may have noticed an increase in your homeowner’s insurance premiums. You’re not alone – increases are happening across the country.
Why the increase? In a word: weather. Catastrophic weather events in the second quarter (April, May, and June) of 2011 exceeded $15 billion countrywide.
Consider the following:
- Hurricane Irene caused record losses in the eastern United States
- Wind and hail caused over 20,000 severe weather reports in just the first half of 2011
- Tornado outbreaks this spring, most significantly in Joplin, Missouri and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
- Wildfires in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas destroyed over 2,000 homes and losses are estimated to exceed $250 million
- Ice and snow from Texas to New England!
- Earthquakes in various places, with the most significant occurring in Virginia
These catastrophic events have also put a demand on the building industry for labor and materials, driving up reconstruction and repair costs.
So while the market value – the amount you could expect someone to pay to buy your home – may have dropped, the cost to rebuild your home at the same location with similar materials – the replacement cost – has increased.
Because you insure your home to the replacement cost, not the market value, the amount of coverage you need to be fully protected, and thus your premiums, are going up. So what can you do?
There are several ways you can lower your insurance premiums.
Ask us about…
- Increasing your deductibles. If you assume a greater part of the risk by increasing your deductible, you can lower your premiums.
- Insuring your auto and home with the same company if you don’t already.
- Don’t move your coverage from company to company. Many companies will give you loyalty credit for staying with them!
- Protecting your home. Install fire, burglar, and smoke alarms in your home – discounts are available in most states.
An insurance policy is a promise…a promise to help you recover from your losses. Part of this promise is assuring that we will have the resources available to help you when you need us. While we hope you never experience a loss, be assured we will be here for you with outstanding claims service and the financial stability to help you recover quickly.
Please contact us with your questions or comments or to learn more about the benefits your homeowners policy provides you and your family.
“About one out of every four Americans buys jewelry, spending $2,000 per year on average, and industry experts expect jewelry sales to grow by at least 5% annually through 2025,” says Ross Turner of The Turner Agency, Inc. Those who don’t buy shiny things for Valentine’s Day may prefer other types of valuables, such as electronics, artwork, antiques, wine and furs.
Whatever the purchase, American consumers should take steps to safeguard and insure their valuables. Homeowners insurance generally covers valuable and precious items such as jewelry, but they usually have limits.
Typically policies restrict the dollar amount of coverage for individual valuable items ($1,000 is a typical maximum), as well as “sub-limits” that constrain coverage for certain categories of possessions (all the jewelry in the house, for example) to a certain dollar amount (say, $10,000).
What’s more, most homeowners insurance policies cover “named perils” such as fire, lightning, and windstorm. That will exclude many events that create financial losses. Note, for example, that “my five-year-old dropping my engagement ring in the toilet and flushing” is not a named peril.
To cover such circumstances—or other situations that the insurance industry has dubbed “mysterious disappearance” —you’ll need a valuable articles personal property endorsement (also called a “floater”) on your homeowners contract. Some homeowners insurance carriers also sell stand-alone valuables policies.
Need to know what’s best to protect your beloved Valentine’s Day gift? Ask your insurance agent. He or she will need a copy of your receipt or bill of sale for jewelry, furs, electronics and other valuable items.
With valuable items, two of the biggest snags that consumers run into at the time of a claim are proving that an item is missing or stolen, and establishing a value for the item.
Proving the value (termed “proof of loss”) of items is imperative when it’s time to file a claim. Claims are simpler and faster for consumers when they have photos of valuable items and collections; receipts or appraisal reports: and a written inventory.
Most valuables “floaters” or values policies can provide:
- All-risks coverage, which covers mysterious disappearance as well as flooding or breakage.
- $0 deductible, which means that the entire replacement cost of that engagement ring is covered.
- Blanket coverage for groups of valuables such as jewelry, crystal, or fine arts.
- “Scheduled” coverage (meaning that items are individually listed) for valuables.
- Coverage for valuables purchased but not yet reported to the insurance agent or carrier.
Whatever is on your Valentine’s Day wish list or shopping list, protect it. It’ll help you love it even more.
How was your Valentine’s Day?
Of those who didn’t buy shiny things for Valentine’s Day, many purchased electronics, artwork, antiques, wine and furs. All totaled, Valentine’s Day spending equalled approximately $17.6 billion of retail sales, with $4.1 billion of that being spent on jewelry, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2012 Valentine’s Day Consumer Trends report.
Whatever the purchase, be sure to take steps to safeguard and insure your valuables. Homeowners insurance generally covers valuable and precious items such as jewelry, but usually has limits, so it’s important for you to check with us or a Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent to make sure you are covered.
While most homeowner’s insurance policies cover risks such as fire, lightning, and windstorm, they may exclude many events that create financial losses- for example, a claim that is submitted because “my three-year-old dropped my new diamond earrings into the toilet and flushed” may not be covered under a typical policy. To cover these kinds of incidents—or other situations that the insurance industry has dubbed “mysterious disappearance” —you’ll need what’s known as a valuable articles personal property endorsement on your homeowner’s contract. Some homeowner’s insurance carriers also sell stand-alone valuables policies.
Another reason to contact us or your Trusted Choice agent? Typically insurance policies restrict the dollar amount of coverage for individual valuable items in the case of theft ($1,000- $1,500), so you want to make sure that if jewelry is ever stolen, you’re not stuck with coverage that is less than the value of the item.
With valuable items, two of the biggest snags that consumers run into at the time of a claim are proving that an item is missing or stolen and establishing a value for the items. In fact, insurance carriers, when contacted for a claim, sometimes even ask consumers to get a police report for the missing item, even if the loss was not thought to be a theft.
Proving the value of items is very important when it’s time to file a claim. Claims are simpler and faster for consumers when they have photos of valuable items and collections, receipts or appraisal reports, and a written inventory.
Most additions to your homeowners policy or a separate valuables policies can provide:
Coverage for mysterious disappearance as well as flooding or breakage.
$0 deductible, which means that the entire replacement cost of that engagement ring is covered.
Blanket coverage for groups of valuables such as jewelry, crystal, or fine arts.
“Scheduled” coverage (meaning that items are individually listed) for valuables.
Coverage for valuables purchased but not yet reported to the insurance agent or carrier.
Need to know what’s best to protect your Valentine’s Day gift? Ask us.
|The holidays are a popular time of year to travel – whether it’s to visit family and friends, relax on the beach, or hit the slopes – but taking a vacation during this time of year often means hauling a lot of extra luggage, such as skis, golf clubs, and holiday gifts. The chance of your luggage getting lost or stolen isn’t high – less than one percent of travelers reported mishandled luggage, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s 2009 Air Travel Consumer Report. Yet baggage-handling accidents and thefts do happen, which is why it’s important to have the proper insurance in place before your depart for your destination.
Fortunately, if you already have a homeowner’s renter’s insurance policy in place, you’re probably covered if your luggage is lost, stolen, or damaged during travel. Most homeowner’s (and renter’s) insurance policies cover any property you own anywhere in the world. While most policies offer protection for your belongings regardless of your location, you may need to purchase additional coverage in the form of a floater or endorsement to your policy if you’re taking valuables, such as jewelry, gifts, or sporting equipment, that may have limited coverage under your policy. If you’re unsure about your policy limits, The Turner Agency or your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent can determine if you have the right coverage to protect your luggage and provide you with additional coverage options if needed.
If the worst-case scenario happens and your luggage is lost or damaged, most domestic flights do have a baggage reimbursement limit of $3,300 per person. (The limit varies for international flights based on your destination.) You may need to submit proof, such as receipts, photos, or electronic records, of the current value for the lost items in order to get reimbursed by the airline. It’s also important to remember that the airline will only pay you for the current value of a lost item, not the original price you paid for the item. Many airlines do offer “excess value” protection if your luggage is worth more than the limits, however, you probably don’t need the coverage if your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy covers your bags.
Another important consideration is that most airlines have a list of items they will not cover if lost or stolen, such as money and jewelry. So, if you’re worried about something of high monetary or sentimental value going MIA during a trip, it’s probably best to leave it at home or stow it in your carry-on.
If you’re unsure of what your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy covers, don’t hesitate to contactus or your Trusted Choice independent insurance agent who will be happy to review your policy and answer any of your questions. Safe travels!
by Ross Turner
Every day, we are exposed to risk. Our daily activities result in lawsuit exposures, and unfortunately you no longer have to be a millionaire to be sued like one.
Umbrella liability insurance “sits over” your primary insurance, providing you a higher level of coverage above your automobile, homeowner’s, boat, and recreational vehicle policies. Umbrella policies can give you higher limits, broader coverage, and worldwide liability coverage.
Your family and your daily activities result in lawsuit exposures every day, and unfortunately the frequency and cost of lawsuits have increased dramatically over the last ten years. Some reasons to consider the purchase of an umbrella policy include:
You serve on a board of directors or participate in volunteer activities
You have teenaged drivers or drive a carpool You own rental property or vacation property
You have jet-skis, a golf cart, or other recreational vehicles
You have a swimming pool in your backyard
You are financially responsible for your children
You have a small business in your home and see clients on occasion
Consider these real-life examples where lawsuits were filed and judgments awarded:
- A talented softball player filed a $700,000 lawsuit against her former coach, alleging the coach’s “incorrect teaching style” ruined her chances for an athletic scholarship.
- A student hated math class and her teacher. She made negative comments about the teacher online. The teacher found out, sued the parents, and was awarded $750,000.
- A homeowner was burning a candle in her bathroom. As her niece washed her hands, her sleeve passed over the candle and ignited. She suffered third degree burns. The homeowner was held liable and had to pay out $917,000.
A one car accident occurred when a 17 year old driver ran off the road with three friends in the car. Damages awarded were over $ 1,500,000.
Think about the value of your assets. If your home, automobiles, investments, and potential future earnings are worth $400,000 and your automobile liability insurance limit is only $250,000, then you are left with $150,000 of uninsured assets.
Contact our Personal Lines department to see how easy it is put an umbrella policy in place. One million dollars of liability coverage is much more affordable than you think, and it small price to pay for peace of mind.
623 Halton Road
Greenville, SC 29607
by Ross Turner
If your child is leaving for college, you probably have several checklists you are working through to get him or her ready. Have you thought about how insurance plays into the process? When your child moves away from home, there are a number of insurance questions to consider…. especially if your child is planning to live off campus. Remember, not all insurance policies have the same terms and conditions.
Here are our suggestions on how to make sure your college student’s insurance needs are met.
Protecting the Dorm Room and the “Toys”
When it comes to covering your child’s personal property, the coverage from your homeowners policy extends for both Property and Liability… as long as your child is a full –time student (12 hours) during regular semesters. But if something happens (for example – a laptop is stolen), you may not want to turn in a claim on your primary home. Or you may have a higher deductible and it doesn”t make sense to turn in the claim.
Our suggestion is to let the liability extend from your homeowner’s policy and consider purchasing a student property policy from a company such as National Student Services Inc. (NSSI). With this company, for example, you can purchase a $5,000 property policy with $100 deductible for only $127 a year. Then a property loss won”t affect your homeowners policy and your child will only have a $100 deductible if his laptop is stolen. To access NSSI for an application, click here.
Taking the Car to College
If your child leaves the car at home, you might be eligible for a reduced rate if the student will reside more than 100 miles away from the car. If your child takes the car to college, it is important that you notify us that the car will be garaged in another location.
Many college kids make a habit of swapping cars to keep the best parking spots. Is it possible that your child could drive someone else’s car while they are away? This could be a huge coverage gap for you if the vehicle is used on a “regular” basis. We highly recommend you purchase the extended non owned coverage endorsement to your auto policy. For approximately $15 dollars annually, you could save a bundle in the long run.
Staying Off Campus
If your child is living in an apartment and the lease is in the parent’s or parent/child’s name, then 10% towards contents automatically extends from the homeowner’s policy. If the lease is in the child’s name only, then you need to consider renter’s insurance.
Purchasing a separate renter’s policy in your child’s name will cost between $ 130 – $175 annually based on about $20,000 contents (minimum to get replacement cost with most companies and $250 deductible) and also a separate liability limit of $ 100,000 or $300,000.
A child is considered a named insured if he/she is 23 years old and a relative (21 years old if in your care and not a relative); a full time student as defined by their school (usually 12 hours); and a resident of your home before moving out (still shows the parent’s address on the student”s driver license.)
Studying abroad can provide a host of insurance issues. For example, an insurance company can suspend theft insurance at a student’s domestic residence if he/she has been studying abroad for more than 45 days. Consult us to make sure your child is covered.
Health insurance coverage is complex, at best. Problems can surface without warning, so it’s a good idea to familiarize your child with the coverages and emergency provisions of your plan and policy.
Things to consider include age cutoff, whether your child is a full time or part time student, if your plan has a network where your child is going to college, and more. Mistakes in this area can be extremely costly and plans vary widely, so check with your health-plan administrator in advance to minimize surprises.
We recommend you request an additional health insurance card for your student to keep in his/her wallet. Also if you have a Health Savings Account, request an additional card from the bank so the student can pay for services with your pre-tax contributions. Worried your student might use the H.S.A. card for meals? Never fear! These cards are coded so they cannot be used in restaurants, etc.
We also recommend increasing your existing life insurance to cover the total cost of your child’s tuition. When figuring that cost you will want to include: tuition, room and board, transportation, books, and supplies. Whether you have a college fund prepared for your child or are paying as they go, life insurance is a secure method to safeguard your child’s education.
If you have any questions at all, our Personal Lines team and our Life & Health expert are all ready to help. Contact Dede Wade at 400-3505 or Denise Long at 400-3507 for any personal insurance needs. Contact Phyllis Foster for any life and health needs at 400-3515.
by Lynn Hudson
Summer travelers may be carrying some expensive, excess baggage during their summer vacation-uneeded insurance.
Consumers who buy travel services—such as vacation packages or rental cars—are likely to encounter a plethora of insurance-related products intended for protection against vacation disaster. But are these products necessary? In many cases, they aren’t.
For the typical family, buying extra travel-specific insurance can be an unnecessary waste of vacation money. If you have standard levels of homeowners, renters, auto and life insurance, as many people do, you are already protected for a large number of travel-related incidents that may occur while vacationing in the United States.
In the case of theft, consumers with the proper insurance generally are protected, even while traveling in a foreign country. Travelers who are not protected by standard insurance may want to consider purchasing certain specialized products to guard against theft, illness or liability.
The best way for all vacationers to save money and aggravation is to leave valuables at home. Why risk an expensive loss by packing items you don’t need? Ask yourself whether you really need to take your diamond ring, Rolex watch or most expensive clothing to the beach.
If you must take your valuables with you on vacation, avoid the risk of theft by packing them in your carry-on bag instead of checking them at the airline gate. If you leave your luggage in the car, always put it in the trunk.
Some travel-related insurance you may want to avoid:
Supplemental medical coverage. Most major medical insurance policies will cover consumers for standard medical care while traveling in the U.S. Typically, supplemental health insurance is not needed, unless you plan to travel abroad.
Flight insurance. Flight insurance is a type of limited life insurance that covers you only while you’re on a plane. More comprehensive life insurance, which is intended to protect your dependents if you die, is usually a better value because it protects your family at all times. In many cases, people without dependants do not need life insurance at all.
Rental car insurance. Most rental car companies offer collision damage waivers —often directly written into your contract for an extra fee to protect you from liability for damage to the rented vehicle. Nearly 80% of car owners already have coverage—either through their personal auto policy or a credit card—that applies to rented cars, as long as the vehicle isn’t used for business.
Some travel-related insurance you should consider:
Trip cancellation insurance. For travelers who purchase costly, non-refundable travel packages—especially those with small children or elderly parents—should think about trip cancellation insurance (TCI). TCI reimburses consumers for non-refundable expenses in the event they must skip their trip due to illness, death, family or weather emergency.
At a cost of about $80 to $150 per person, TCI can be costly, but some policies will provide extras such as lost baggage and medical evacuation insurance. Consumers can buy this coverage from an independent insurance agent, rather than the tour company, which guards against excessive coverage exclusions and ensures that they are protected, even if the travel company goes out of business.
To avoid problems, some travel experts recommend booking vacations with respected travel providers. However, even well-known travel companies do not guarantee problem-free vacations.
The Turner Agency recommends that you call us before you leave home to ensure that you are protected in the event of travel-related losses. We also suggest that you review all travel insurance contracts for exclusions—such as pre-existing medical conditions or injuries received while participating in “extreme sports”—before signing on the dotted line.
by Ross Turner
If you live in a home in a developed area or subdivision, there’s a reasonable chance that you are a member of a homeowner’s association. The same is true if your pad is a condominium.
Association membership has its benefits. In return, members of the association are sometimes asked to contribute funds to help maintain the integrity/value of the common elements. Those common elements—a garage or clubhouse, for example—are those items of property commonly owned by all members. “Asked” may be too soft a word—such contributions usually are collected through mandatory assessments.
What are some things for which you as an association member can receive an assessment? Good question. The answer is typically found in association bylaws. In some states, laws will have something to say about the extent an assessment can be charged and for what it can be charged. However, such statutes do not exist everywhere.
Here’s another question: If you receive an assessment from your home or condo association, will your home or condo insurance policy help you pay for it?
The answer, well, depends.
Most home and condo insurance policies have very similar language in how they address coverage for loss assessment. There are a few things you will need to know before coverage can be determined.
What Caused the Assessment?
The home or condo policy only will kick in to pay an assessment that is charged to you for a reason that would be covered by your insurance. For example, if the assessment were charged to help cover the cost of damage to the clubhouse caused by a fire, your policy would pay due to the fact that fire is a covered loss under your policy. However, if earth movement damaged the same building, your policy would not pay if earth movement is not a covered loss under your policy.
If an assessment is charged to cover the cost of painting the exterior of the clubhouse simply because the association decided it was time to paint, your coverage would not kick in due to the fact that there has been no covered loss.
Assessments are not only charged to cover claims of damage to common elements. Members also may be assessed for claims of bodily injury or property damage against the association’s master policy. For example:
A guest suffers a permanent head injury after slipping on a damaged walkway. The bodily injury claim against the association is $1.5 million. The association’s policy will cover the injury up to its policy limit of $1 million. The association assesses its members to cover the remaining $500,000.
In this example, your insurance policy would kick in to help pay the assessment. Why? Bodily injury is covered by your policy.
Which Policy Covers the Assessment?
Your home/condo policy says that it will only pay the cost of assessments that are charged during the policy period. This is important to note because it’s possible that the actual assessment may not be charged until months after the loss causing the damage occurred. For example, say the hurricane happens in August, when Company X insures you. In September, you switch your coverage to Company Y. The assessment for the portion of the hurricane damage that isn’t covered by the association’s master policy arrives in October. Company Y’s policy would kick in as it was in effect when the assessment was charged.
How Much Will My Home or Condo Policy Pay?
Most policies are issued with a limit of $1,000 to cover loss assessments. This limit is the most your policy will pay for a single loss, regardless of how many assessments are charged for it. For example, if the clubhouse is damaged by a hurricane, it’s possible that members may be assessed first to cover the cost of the association master policy’s deductible—and again to cover the cost of the repair that exceeds that policy’s limit of insurance. Since both assessments are charged due to the same hurricane, the total paid by your insurance would not exceed $1,000.
That $1,000 Seems Too Low. Can I Increase My Assessment Coverage?
Yes. Most home and condo insurance companies offer you the opportunity to add more coverage for loss assessments. It’s important to know that while the dollar amount may be increased, the terms of the policy still apply (i.e. you will still need the assessment to be charged due to a covered loss).
If you choose to purchase additional assessment coverage, proceed with caution. Most loss assessment endorsements will still only allow you a maximum limit of $1,000 if the purpose of the assessment is to cover the master policy’s deductible.
Loss assessments can be expensive. Having the right home or condo insurance policy to help cover some of the cost could save you big bucks. For more information, call The Turner Agency today at 288-9513.