It’s Heating Up, Which Means Fire Season is Upon Us

Fire is one of the most devastating of disasters. It destroys the possessions as well as, in many cases, the memories attached to some of those possessions. That photograph of grandparents on their wedding day is irreplaceable. The risk of fire is increased during fire season, when conditions are dangerously favorable to fires.

There are many reasons why fire insurance is a good idea, but these are the basics:

  • It is your responsibility to protect what you own, regardless of the threat.
  • Standard homeowners insurance does not cover fire damage to the contents of your home or business, just the building, itself.
  • Valuables you have in your possession have both monetary and sentimental value, but many of them can be replaced if lost.

Fire insurance is additional coverage designed to incorporate the costs of replacement, reconstruction, or repair of your covered belongings, to the extent that they are not covered by a standard property insurance policy.

Ask the professionals at Stromsoe Insurance Agency about their Circle of Safety programs, or other ways to protect your valuables from fire and other dangers. Stromsoe Insurance proudly covers Murrieta and surrounding communities.

Tenant, Beware! The Perils of Leasing

If you are a tenant, you might believe that you have avoided many loss exposures, such as fire damage to the structure, associated with owning the building. However, have you read your lease lately? Really read it?

Many leases contain extensive insurance requirements that the tenant (you) must agree to meet. Although these usually include liability from your actions and responsibility for covering your property for loss, it’s easy to overlook the extent to which you might have agreed to cover exposures usually assumed to be the responsibility of the building owner.

For example, retail shopping areas often have an abundance of external glass windows. Although these are clearly the property of the building owner, many leases transfer any responsibility for damage to the windows to the tenant. The idea is that because you directly control the potential loss exposures for the glass (such as vandalism, accidental breakage, and maintenance inspections), you should provide the insurance. Similar reasoning might lead you to being held responsible under the lease for other losses not directly attributable to your own negligence.

Now is the time to pull out that copy of your lease. Review it with your legal counsel to see if there might be language or agreements that need addressing. Then let us review the document for its insurance implications (be forewarned — they won’t all be contained in a paragraph titled “insurance”). We’ll review with you, what your lease requires, how your current insurance program matches up with these requirements, and then offer guidelines for making any necessary changes to your protection.

Call us today to schedule an appointment. 877-994-6787

Protect Your Business From Fire

A recent report describes the fire-protection systems in many of the nation’s assisted living facilities are dismal. Many are missing basic safeguards such as smoke alarms and sprinklers. As a result, these facilities have suffered an average of one fatal fire per month during the past five years. In an industry this large, and with deep emotional implications, this matter will continue to receive nationwide press coverage.

This media attention should help businesses in all industries understand the importance of adequate fire protection. The cost of updating these systems pales in comparison to the huge emotional, physical, and economic damages that a single fire can cause.

As a business owner, you need to ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your structure capable of withstanding a blaze?
  • Is your staff aware of safety measures to both prevent and combat a fire?
  • What about your surroundings? Are the businesses near or next to you prepared?
  • If the worst were to happen, how long would it take your business to bounce back?

Although it might take intensive effort to protect your building against fire, carrying the proper insurance is one decision you can make immediately. Invest in comprehensive Property and Business Income coverages today!

Contact us for more information on how these policies can help your business bounce back after a fire or other disaster. Our team of knowledgeable business insurance experts for your free insurance quote at 877-994-6787, that’s 877-99-INSURE!

Five Things You Should Know About Condo Association Insurance

A condominium unit owner usually has their own insurance policy that covers for loss of personal belongings, parts of the building that the condominium agreement makes individual owners responsible for insuring, the additional cost of living elsewhere after a fire damages a unit, and legal liability for injuries or damages suffered by others. In turn, the condominium association has its own policy, which might cause some unit owners to wonder why they have to buy separate insurance. Doesn’t the association’s insurance cover the same things? Depending on the property at issue, the answer is maybe yes and maybe no. Insurance companies designed the two types of policies to complement each other in some cases and to overlap in others. Here are five things unit owners should know about their associations’ insurance.

The association’s policy covers the building. Depending on the wording in the contract between the association and the unit owner, the word “building” may mean several different things. If the contract requires the association to insure them, “building” can include fixtures, improvements and alterations that are part of the building and that are within a unit. For example, if a unit owner installs new track lighting or an attached island in the kitchen, the association’s insurance would cover the cost of repairing or replacing them after a loss. Also if the contract requires, the association’s insurance will cover various appliances such as refrigerators, stoves and dishwashers.

The association’s policy covers personal property “owned indivisibly by all unit owners.” Furniture in the building’s lobby, hand carts and other moving devices, and exercise equipment in an exercise room available to all residents are examples of the types of property that the association’s policy insures.

The association’s policy does not cover the unit owner’s personal property. A unit owner must buy their own insurance to cover furniture, electronics, clothing and other belongings. Assume, for example, that the condominium contract requires the association to insure appliances. If fire damages a unit owner’s space, the association’s insurance will cover the refrigerator but not the sofa. The unit owner’s policy will cover the sofa. The association’s policy also does not cover an individual unit owner’s legal liability for injuries or damages suffered by others. The unit owner needs their own insurance to provide for legal defense and to pay any judgments.

It is possible that both policies may apply to the same item of property. In the above example, both the association’s and unit owner’s policies may cover the refrigerator. In that situation, the association’s policy will apply first; if it does not completely pay for the repair or replacement, the unit owner’s policy will cover the balance. For example, if the cost of replacing the refrigerator is $5,000, and for some reason the association’s policy covers only $4,000, the unit owner’s policy will pay the other $1,000 (the example doesn’t include deductibles that may apply).

The association’s insurance company will not try to get its money back from a unit owner. Suppose a unit owner left a candle burning overnight and the unwatched candle caused a fire that damaged part of the building. Many types of insurance policies would allow the insurance company to pay its customer for the damage, then try to recover its payment from the person who caused the damage. However, a condominium association policy specifically states that the company waives its right to recover from a unit owner. It still has the right to seek recovery from a person who is not a unit owner and is responsible for the damage.

Although comprehensive, the association’s policy is no substitute for a unit owner’s own insurance. Work with our professional insurance agents to ensure that you have the proper coverage.

If you have any question regarding this article or if you would like to discuss your insurance program, CALL 877-994-6787, that’s 877-99-INSURE and speak with any one of our knowledgeable Protection Coaches Today!

Here are 4 EASY WAYS to Reach Us:

  1. Call 877-994-6787 or 951-600-5751
  2. Fax 951-677-6265
  3. Email – insure@siaonline.com
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Just Because You’re A Renter Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Have Insurance Needs

Many renters mistakenly believe that they don’t need Renter’s insurance or view it as an expensive luxury. However, insurance needs aren’t negated just because one happens to be renting their home.

For those not familiar with Renter’s insurance, it’s an insurance coverage that protects the renter from property losses from damages like water and fire. It also provides protection for liability risks, such as lawsuits brought by the landlord of the property, pet attacks, falls and slips, and guest accidents. This type of coverage is available in most areas and has an average $20 monthly premium rate for around $500,000 dollars worth of liability coverage and $20,000 dollars worth of property coverage.

Trusted Choice, a network of financial and insurance service firms, recently found in a survey that almost 25 million American home renters didn’t have any insurance coverage to protect themselves from losses and that most renters have limited, if any, knowledge of Renter’s insurance.

Eight percent of the respondents without Renter’s insurance had never heard about Renter’s insurance before. Meanwhile, 17% said they weren’t aware that they needed Renter’s insurance and 26% percent felt that Renter’s insurance was too costly.

According to the study, some renters also mistakenly believed that their insurance needs were covered under the insurance policy held by their landlord. In reality, landlords don’t typically insure anything other than the building and infrastructural elements like HVAC systems and elevators. Other losses incurred will be directly on the renter’s shoulders. Even negligent actions caused by one tenant, such as a fire, that affects other innocent tenants in the building aren’t typically covered by the landlord’s insurance.

Other key findings of the study included:

  • Fifty percent of the surveyed renters owned pets. Thirty-two percent of the non-pet owners had Renter’s insurance. Although renters that own pets have a higher liability exposure than renters without pets, a mere 26% of the pet owners had Renter’s insurance.
  • Eighty-nine percent of the surveyed renters owned at least one expensive electronic device, such as a computer, camera, digital recorder, or home theater system. This group was more likely to have a Renter’s insurance policy than those that didn’t own such devices.
  • Fifty-three percent of the surveyed renters owned at least one form of exercise or sports equipment, such as a skis, bicycles, or a home gym system. This group was more likely to own Renter’s insurance than those that didn’t own such equipment.
  • Only thirty-one percent of the renters operating a home business from their apartment, condo, or other type of rental unit had Renter’s insurance.

Call 877-994-6787 for your FREE price-comparison Renters Insurance Quote Today, that’s 877-99-INSURE!!!

Here are 4 Easy Ways to Reach Us:

  1. Call 877-994-6787 or 951-600-5751
  2. Fax 951-677-6265
  3. Email – insure@siaonline.com
  4. Visit – www.siaonline.com 24/7

Limit The Effects Natural Disasters Have on Your Life

As the fun and sun of summer arrives, so does the threat of many natural disasters. Happenings like earthquakes are always a threat, but floods, wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and such are more apt to strike in the warmer summer months. There are three very important steps you can take to limit the effect natural disasters have on your life and property and expedite your recovery process.

1. Planning. There are some basics that any natural disaster plan should include:
• Always have several escape routes mapped out. Each family member should know where to meet, who to call for help, and where to call to signal their safety to other family members. Your family safety plan should be posted in a central location and the escape route and emergency contact numbers should be reviewed every six months.
• If possible, store irreplaceable items and documents like birth, marriage, death, and divorce certificates; passports; deeds; social security cards; expensive jewelry; and heirlooms in a safety deposit box during high-risk seasons if you live in an area frequently hit by natural disasters. You may also put video or photo documentation, a listing of serial numbers, appraisals, and receipts for these items in your safety deposit box.
• Scan your photos to your computer. You can store your photos with an online storage service or make a CD to place in your safety deposit box.
• You should have an emergency overnight bag ready to go for every person and pet in your family and always keep a credit card, emergency cash supply, and personal identification with you during high-risk seasons.

As far as disaster-specific planning goes, here are some key points:

Earthquake planning. Follow the directions from tornado planning. You might also want to place an emergency kit in your vehicle and at your place of employment. Check to make sure your child’s school is also well-prepared.

Wildfire planning. Wildfires can begin unnoticed and spread rapidly with little forewarning. An effective evacuation plan is vital in many cases. If you do have forewarning, then stay tuned to the emergency broadcasts and follow the evacuation directions from local authorities. Remember to take your emergency evacuation bag with you.
If you’re under a warning, but haven’t been advised to evacuate yet, then you might have time to turn off your gas lines and propane tanks, soak your roof and shrubs with water, move flammable furniture to the center of rooms, and move large valuables to the safest location possible.

Flood planning. Many people live in possible flood areas and don’t realize it. For example, those living in areas that recently had a wildfire and those living downstream from a dam could have problems with flash flooding. Those living in or near a construction area could find their risk of flooding increased due to changes in water flow patterns. You can assess your risk of flooding by contacting your local building authority and your insurance agent. Since basements aren’t usually covered by typical flood insurance policies, those with a basement need a plan on moving their valuables to upper-levels. Do make sure that you have an escape plan, as discussed above, in place for your family.

Tornado planning. Unlike many other disastrous events, leaving your home during a tornado warning is seldom a wise move. Everyone in your family should know where they should go during a tornado warning. While a basement is ideal, not everyone has one. You can use a central room; preferably one that doesn’t have windows or overhead objects. Be sure your emergency kit and phone numbers are in your designated room.

Hurricane planning. Most people in areas prone to hurricanes are already on high alert during hurricane season, but do keep in mind that hurricanes and the stormy remnants are often unpredictable. The flood planning from above is applicable to hurricane planning. Additionally, you’ll want to have a supply of nails and plywood ready to go so that you can board-up your home before evacuation. Remember, if your local authorities issue an evacuation, then you need to heed it.

2. Prevention
Aside from living in an area not prone to natural disasters, there isn’t much you can do to avoid them. However, unlike most other natural disasters, wildfires can sometimes be prevented. You can personally prevent fires by being careful when using open flames, maintaining your chimney flue, and not throwing cigarettes outdoors. Of course, wildfires can happen regardless of your personal care with fire.
You can help to prevent flames from impacting your home by creating a defensible space. In fact, some insurers are now inspecting properties for defensible space before issuing or renewing policies. Your insurance agent, local agricultural organizations, and federal agencies like the American Red Cross and FEMA are valuable information sources on creating defensible spaces. The damage of flooding can also be limited by planning water diversions and landscaping as protective devices.

3. Insurance
Last, but certainly not least, you should make sure your existing insurance is providing adequate protection. For example, your regular Homeowners policy most likely won’t provide coverage if a boulder falls or rolls into your home since such would be considered an earth movement and need to be covered by Earthquake insurance. Another example would be your regular Homeowners policy not covering damage from a water or sewage system outside your home breaking, or damages from a flash flood, as these would fall under Flood insurance. If you obtain Flood insurance, keep in mind that the coverage won’t become effective for 30 days and your basement usually still won’t be covered.

Renters Insurance – A Small Price to Pay for Financial Security

If you’re currently renting a house or apartment, you should strongly consider an investment in Renters insurance. No one likes to think about the possibility of a fire or a burglary, but these are real possibilities. Burglars can break in while you’re away and steal your computer, entertainment system, jewelry, and other valuable items. Without Renters insurance, you will have thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs to replace the stolen items. By contrast, if you have Renters insurance, you will promptly receive a check that covers either the replacement costs for the stolen items or the current value of the items — depending on which type of insurance policy you’ve purchased.

Maybe you believe there is little risk of a burglary in your geographic area, but what about the risk of fire? Fires strike randomly and can begin in electrical wiring over which you have no control. It’s unpleasant to contemplate, but you could come home to find that everything you own has been destroyed. With Renters insurance, you would have a check in hand quite soon to begin refurnishing your life. Yet another scenario for which Renters insurance can be of enormous benefit is personal liability. If a visitor is injured in your home, for example, by falling down the steps, you could be liable for her medical bills. Renters insurance would cover this liability. Some renters are under the impression that their possessions are covered by their landlord’s insurance. This is rarely true. Typically, the landlord’s insurance covers loss or damage to his property, not yours. Your landlord’s insurance also covers his liability in case anyone is injured on the property, though not always injuries inside your apartment.

Most renters can get comprehensive coverage for a few hundred dollars per year, depending on where they live. Considering the risks covered by Renters policies, this is a low cost for the potential benefits. Look around your house or apartment and take an inventory of items you would need to replace in the event of a catastrophe. Take note of high value or difficult to replace items such as antiques, furs, jewelry, or expensive art. Before you get a policy or immediately thereafter, you should record information on all your high value items, including details about the make, model, serial number, age, and costs (both purchase and current replacement). It might also help to have photos of these items for identification purposes.

A basic policy usually pays only for the actual cash value of your items at the time they were lost. In other words, they would be valued not at what you paid for them originally or what it would cost to replace them, but at their actual value as used items. So a 3-year-old computer would be covered for its initial cost minus depreciation. Since computers depreciate quickly, yours might be worth little by the time it’s 3 years old, so your insurance proceeds will be limited.

If you have expensive items like electronics that are subject to depreciation, you should consider replacement cost coverage. With this type of policy, you would be reimbursed for the current cost of buying a new equivalent item. Thus, in our example of the $2,000 computer at 3 years old, you would receive a check that would enable you to buy a new computer. Of course, replacement cost coverage is more expensive. It’s up to you to decide which type of coverage — actual value or replacement cost — best fits your needs and budget. Like most other insurance policies, your Renters policy will have deductibles. A deductible is an amount of loss you will have to absorb yourself before receiving any money from the insurance company. For example, let’s say you have a policy with a $500 deductible. You have cameras you bought for $2,000 several years ago. If you have replacement cost coverage and the cameras are lost in a fire, you would receive a check for $1,500 from the insurance company. Of course, you can lower your insurance premium by accepting a higher deductible, but this means if there is a loss, you must absorb more of it from your own pocket.

Renters insurance usually does not cover damage from floods or earthquakes, but you might be able to get endorsements for these and other “acts of God.” An endorsement extends the perils covered by your policy. Obviously, you must pay an extra premium for the extra coverage. Be sure to discuss any special high value items, such as antiques, furs, and jewelry with our protection coaches®, since you might need extra coverage for these. As mentioned, a basic Renters policy includes liability coverage should someone be injured in your rented home or apartment. As with Auto insurance, there is a per-incident limit on this coverage, and you should make sure this is high enough to protect your assets.

Give us a call today for your free insurance quote at 951-600-5751 or email us at insure@siaonline.com.

Are the Fire Alarms in Your Home Functioning Properly?

A recent study from the National Fire Protection Agency, or NFPA, found that around 95% of U.S. homes have one or more smoke alarms installed throughout the house. Unfortunately, that same study revealed that the number of homes with nonfunctioning smoke alarms vastly outnumbered the amount of homes with no alarms at all. This shows that many homes are relying on broken and battery-less alarms to save their lives in the event of a fire. By following the advice of experts and maintaining a testing schedule, you can make sure your alarms will be ready when you need them the most.

Fire safety begins with purchasing the right type of smoke alarm, as dictated by your building code’s power requirements. The common types that are required vary from standard battery-operated alarms to ones that are wired into the home’s electricity. For individuals who have difficulty hearing, smoke alarms with flashing lights and devices called “bed shakers” are used together with audible alarms. Always purchase alarms that have been listed or approved by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), or a similar independent tester.

How Many?
The NFPA publishes the Life Safety Code 101 to inform people of the regulations and best practices when it comes to fire safety, and in this case, the amount of smoke alarms to install. It recommends having at least one alarm on each floor, including basements and attics, and within 15 feet of bedrooms. Place smoke alarms inside of bedrooms if family members usually sleep with the door closed. Remember, the strategic placement of smoke alarms is just as important as keeping them powered.

The building codes that govern homes built in the last few years are significantly trying to improve residential fire safety. Most require hardwired alarms that are interconnected, meaning that all alarms will sound if one detects smoke or intense heat. Also, the new codes require the installation of smoke alarms in every bedroom of the house.

Installing the usual store-bought smoke alarm is really quite simple and will require only a drill and a screwdriver. Hardwired and interconnected alarms should be installed by a qualified electrician. Battery back-up should also be used with electrically powered alarms, as well.

Fire safety experts offer more installation advice:

  • When installing a wall-mounted alarm, locate it between six to 12 inches below the ceiling.
  • Ceiling-mounted alarms should be installed more than six inches away from any wall.
  • On sloped and vaulted ceilings, located the alarm at the highest point.
  • In open stairways, alarms should be placed near the top of the staircase.
  • In closed stairways, like basement steps, the alarm should be placed at the bottom of the staircase.
  • Do not install alarms in drafty areas of the house, such as near windows, ceiling fans, or forced-air registers.

If you have any questions about installing fire alarms, call or email your local fire department. They will be happy to help you better protect your home against fires and show you the optimal places to install your smoke detectors.

If you’d like to review your coverage and find out if your home is properly protected in the event of a fire, here are 4 Easy ways to reach our Total Protection team:

1. Call 877-994-6787 or 951-600-5751
2. Fax 951-677-6265
3. Email insure@siaonline.com
4. Visit us on the web – www.SIAonline.com