Medical Payments Coverage Offers Homeowners Peace of Mind

Imagine your daughter is playing in the yard with friends. Suddenly she runs in, crying that her best friend fell and hurt her arm. You rush out to find the girl lying on the ground, screaming, and holding her arm that seems to be broken. Just then her mother runs up — and, as she scoops up her daughter, snaps at you angrily, “I hope you have good insurance!” She then rushes her daughter to the emergency room. Although the mother was clearly speaking in anxiety and anger arising from seeing her child hurt, she has raised a good point.

Fortunately, your Homeowners insurance comes into play in a situation like this, Every Homeowners policy includes Medical Payments (or “med pay”), which covers medical expenses from an injury to a person on your premises with your permission, regardless of who was at fault.

By stepping up immediately to help with medical expenses, admitting no more than that the child was in your yard at the time of the injury, you might well avoid a lawsuit for damages. Rather than infuriating an already angry parent, med pay allows you to show your concern and offer financial support in a stressful situation.

Note that med pay coverage does not apply to everyone injured on your property. For example, it won’t pick up the medical expenses of someone insured under the policy (such as a family member) or for an injury arising from a business conducted on your premises (such as a day care center).

Your Homeowners policy helps protect you against a wide variety of losses. Give us a call and our Protection Coaches® will be happy to fill you in!

Here are 4 Easy Ways to Reach Us:
Call 951-600-5751 or 877-994-6787
Fax 951-677-6265
Email – insure@siaonline.com
Visit www.siaonline.com

Protecting Your Jewelry

You have timeless hours making your jewelry choices — not to mention paying thousands of dollars — so why fall short when it comes to finding the right coverage for your jewels? Getting the correct protection is easy; you just need to understand what your Homeowners insurance will cover.

The standard HO-3 policy provides only $1,000 worth of coverage for a single item of jewelry and $1,500 for your entire collection. For example, if you lost your $6,500 engagement ring, a pair of $500 earrings ,and a $1,000 class ring, you would receive a reimbursement of only $1,000, not the actual value of $8,000. So be sure you’re protected by extra insurance. The cost is minimal compared to the risk of losing expensive jewelry and being unable to replace it.

You might consider a stand-alone policy that offers broader coverage than the typical Homeowners policy. For instance, it covers “mysterious disappearance” (when you lose jewelry and have no clue where it went); and “pairs and sets” (which buys you a new set of earrings even if you lost only one).

If you have highly valuable items of jewelry, you might also take out a “rider”(separate coverage) on them. Keep in mind that, to obtain additional coverage, your insurance company will require you to have a professional appraisal to set an objective value for your property, which might be significantly higher or lower than what you think it’s worth!

For more information one of our Protection Coaches® can provide advice on the types and amounts of coverage a home owner needs. Here are 4 Easy Ways to Reach Us:
Call 951-600-5751 or 877-994-6787
Fax 951-677-6265
Email – insure@siaonline.com
Visit www.siaonline.com

 

Understanding the Basics of Insurance Deductibles

To get the most out of your Homeowners insurance policy, it is important to understand the roles deductibles play. To find the verbiage concerning deductibles, consult the front page of the Homeowners policy. A deductible is the amount deducted from an insured loss. When a damage claim is filed, the deductible is the amount of money a policyholder must pay upfront. It may be a percentage of the policy’s total or a set dollar amount. Larger deductibles are associated with smaller premiums. Deductibles are subtracted from the claim amount. For example, if a person with a $1,000 deductible files a claim for $10,000, that policyholder will receive a check for $9,000. However, if that deductible is calculated using percentages, the amount may differ. With percentages, the variable is calculated from the total claim and then subtracted from the total.

In many areas of the United States, deductibles are increasing. This is especially true in states prone to hurricanes. Property damage deductibles work differently than those for other types of insurance. For example, a deductible applies each time a claim is filed for Auto or Homeowners insurance. However, a deductible applies only once each year for health insurance. There are some exceptions for damage-related insurance products. In some cases, hurricane coverage has a per-season deductible. The following points cover some of the most important deductible information.
Deductibles Do Not Apply to Liability Claims. Although there is no deductible for a liability claim with a Homeowners or Auto policy, there is a deductible for property damage. Deductibles apply to claims made to the comprehensive policy. In Homeowners insurance, deductibles also apply to damaged items inside the insured structure. However, they do not apply if a homeowner is sued or if a medical claim is filed by an injured visitor.

Higher Deductibles May Save Money. One of the easiest ways to cut expenses is to raise deductibles for Homeowners and Auto insurance policies. Increasing an Auto insurance deductible from $200 to $500 reduces collision and comprehensive premium costs up to 30%. Raising the deductible to $1,000 may result in a savings of more than 40%. Remember this is the out-of-pocket amount that must be paid regardless of the amount of the claim.

Flood Insurance Deductibles Vary. Since flooding is not covered in standard Homeowners policies, it is sold by the NFIP and private insurance companies. There are several different choices of deductible amounts for these policies. Keep in mind that some mortgage companies require homeowners to keep their deductibles under a specific dollar amount. Flood coverage for vehicles can be obtained with an optional comprehensive plan.

Various States & Companies Affect Deductible Amounts. Insurance is a state-regulated product, and insurers are required to follow their state’s rules. The laws affect how deductibles are worded in policies and how they are implemented. Since there are a wide range of deductibles found in each state, it is best to compare policies. Keep in mind that doubling the deductible may save more than 20% on the cost of a policy.

Percentage Deductibles Apply to Hurricanes, Hail & Earthquakes. Earthquake deductibles may be much less than 10% or as high as 20% of the structure’s replacement value. Insurance rates are higher in states such as Nevada, Utah and Washington. Consumers in these states may choose higher deductibles to save money. There are special earthquake policies for California residents. To learn more about areas prone to earthquakes, discuss them with one of our agents.

There are two separate types of wind damage deductibles. The first is a hurricane deductible, which applies to wind damage sustained from hurricanes. The second type is a windstorm deductible, which applies to damages sustained from any other type of windstorm. Hurricane deductibles depend on specific triggers. These are usually designated by the National Weather Service, individual states and insurers. The triggers apply when a storm is officially deemed a tropical storm or hurricane. To learn more about how these triggers work, discuss them with us. Some states allow set deductibles. However, communities in high-risk coastal areas may have mandatory percentage deductibles.

We hope this helps keep you safe. If you ever have any questions, please contact the Total Protection Team at 877-994-6787 or visit www.siaonline.com, we are happy to help. Have a great day!

Why Earthquake Insurance Is Important Everywhere

When most people think about earthquakes in the United States, California and Alaska are the two states that come to mind. However, earthquakes can happen in any part of the country. Many people move out of areas that are prone to earthquakes after experiencing one to escape the possibility of a repeat experience. The truth is that there is no place that is completely safe from earthquakes. They are a very real threat that everyone must consider and plan for. One of the most vital aspects of proper preparedness is having ample insurance coverage.

Earthquake damage isn’t covered in the majority of Homeowners policies. This is also true for business policies. Both types of policies specify that damage from earth movement is not covered. Although actual damage from a quake might not be covered, property insurance might provide coverage for fires and other incidents that occur as a result of it. Policyholders should scour their policies to understand the specific exclusions. If the policy seems difficult to read, it’s important to contact an agent with any questions.

Many people think they won’t experience a major earthquake during their lifetime. This is especially true for those who live in areas where earthquakes happen every 100 years or less. Although many people might not experience a strong earthquake like the recent Virginia incident, there are over 5,000 incidents recorded each year by the USGS. Damage from earthquakes has been recorded in all 50 states in history. There have been reports of damage in 39 states alone since 1900. This proves that although some people might not live in areas that commonly experience earthquakes; they’re still not immune to the threat.

Earthquake insurance is available as a rider, which is added to a business or personal property policy. People who have one of these types of coverage should contact their insurer to find out what coverage options are available. Since they’re unpredictable and happen suddenly, it’s best to be prepared for all types of disasters. Earthquake insurance is so important that it can’t be stressed enough. Although the majority of people assume all California homeowners have this type of coverage, research indicates that about 12% actually have this type of insurance. The nation’s average is less than 12%.

Earthquake insurance costs vary by location, building type and the age of the building. It’s much more expensive to insure older buildings. In addition to this, brick structures are more expensive to insure. Buildings with wood frames withstand the force of earthquakes better, so it’s cheaper to insure them.

To offer an example, a home with a wood frame in Washington might cost between $1 and $3 per $1,000 of coverage. The same home might be less than $.50 per $1,000 insured on the East Coast. However, a brick home might cost between $3 and $15 per $1,000 in the Pacific Northwest. In most East Coast locations, the same home might only be between $.60 and $.90 per $1,000.

Every earthquake policy also has a deductible. This means that homeowners must pay upfront for a portion of the damages before the insurer pays the remaining amount. The deductible might be up to 20% of the structure’s replacement value. The percentage depends on the insurer and the location of the structure.

There are also options for renters. There are coverage policies that protect personal property. In addition to this, they usually cover living expenses if the building becomes uninhabitable after an earthquake. It’s important for renters to keep a list of belongings and their values. Major appliances, furniture, electronics and other expensive items must all be documented properly. A new way of creating a record of belongings is making a narrated video tour of the home and focusing on belongings. Call our Total Protection Team at 877-994-6787 to learn more about earthquake insurance coverage today.

Homeowners Insurance Policies & Jewelry

After receiving valuable jewelry, it’s important to contact your insurance agent immediately. It’s important to keep in mind that most Homeowners policies place limitations on coverage for personal valuable items. This means that owners of these valuable items might not receive the full value if any of the items are stolen or lost. As a general rule, most Homeowners policies provide coverage for possessions up to 50% of the total coverage amount chosen. This means that a person who has a $600,000 policy would enjoy coverage as much as $300,000.

However, most policies place limitations on certain types of personal belongings. For example, a policy provider may offer to cover $1,500 or more for all jewelry if theft occurs or the jewelry is damaged. There are several other categories of personal belongings that have limited reimbursement terms. Firearms, stamps, furs, coins and silverware are examples of such items. Homeowners should be sure to read the section of their Homeowners policies regarding contents and additional coverage. It’s important to remember that accidental loss is not usually covered. This means that a woman who loses her engagement ring will not receive payment from the Homeowners insurance company.

Homeowners who want to raise their coverage limit to ensure protection for loss and theft cases should contact an agent immediately. It’s best to ask the agent to schedule the particular jewelry item or add a special rider to an existing policy. In some cases, a written appraisal may be required, so it’s best to ask an agent if this will be necessary. Usually a detailed receipt is sufficient proof for the value of the item. After a value schedule is assigned to the item, the owner has full protection for the total amount if the item is lost, destroyed or stolen. This makes the claims experience simpler since there isn’t a need for an investigation about the item’s value. In addition to this, there is no deductible assigned to the items.

Since additional coverage is so affordable, it’s best for all homeowners who have valuable jewelry or other special items to speak with their agent. Agents are able to make an assessment of what should be insured and provide valuable advice. As a general rule, Homeowners policies don’t assign specific limits on electronic devices aside from the overall limit for possessions. It’s best for homeowners to insure their valuable items in such a way as to ensure that replacement-value coverage is in place. To learn more about the various types of riders and affordable coverage options, contact the Insurance Doc Today!

Here are 4 Easy Ways to Reach Us:

  1. Call 877-994-6787, that’s 877-99-INSURE
  2. Fax 951-677-6265
  3. Email – insure@siaonline.com
  4. Visit – www.siaonline.com 24/7

Homeowners Insurance & Social Gatherings

Many homeowners enjoy throwing parties for holidays or special events. If a party is in the near future, be sure that individual Homeowners coverage is adequate. Guests who are injured might need to file an injury claim if their vehicle is damaged, if they fall down or if a pet bites them.

Research shows that about 75% of adult homeowners who plan social gatherings in their homes do not have a personal umbrella policy. This makes them more vulnerable to lawsuits stemming from guests who suffer injuries. The same research study showed that the remainder of the homeowners surveyed did not know what type of coverage they had. This means it is likely that the percentage of homeowners who do not have adequate coverage is more than 75%. However, they should have this extra coverage to protect themselves from lawsuits. Although dog bites and falls are common, alcohol is one liability issue that is often overlooked but is very risky.

Alcoholic drinks are viewed as a way to relax and enjoy socializing. However, there is one sobering fact that many homeowners who plan to serve these drinks should know. In 30 states, homeowners might be responsible for damages arising from any auto accidents caused by their intoxicated guests who choose to drive home. In a research survey, more than 50% of homeowners said they agreed that party hosts should be responsible for their guests’ safety. However, very few took any steps to obtain adequate insurance coverage. The research study concluded that most people avoid purchasing a Personal Umbrella policy because they are under the impression that their regular Homeowners coverage provides adequate protection for such matters. Since many lawsuits include large awards and medical costs, it is easy for one incident to exceed the homeowners liability limits.

Homeowners must take two steps to ensure they are protected. First, it is imperative for them to contact a personal agent to discuss Umbrella policy options. It is also important to take the agent’s advice to avoid facing a costly lawsuit.

The second step homeowners must take is to read the following suggestions, which are designed to reduce their risk of lawsuits from intoxicated party guests:

  • Instead of having the party at a personal residence, reserve space in a restaurant or bar that has a liquor license.
  • Ensure that there are filling food options and non-alcoholic beverage choices available.
  • To avoid trouble from party-crashing strangers, limit invitations to friends or familiar people.
  • For guests who appear drunk, provide transportation or overnight accommodations.
  • Avoid serving alcohol to guests who appear intoxicated.
  • Plan activities that draw attention away from drinking alcohol.
  • If several guests are expected at a home party, consider hiring an off-duty police officer to handle problems and discreetly monitor guests’ alcohol consumption.
  • Take away all alcoholic drinks at least one hour before the party is supposed to end.

 

If you have questions about your homeowners insurance policy or a personal umbrella policy, please give our knowledgeable Protection Coaches® a call at 877-994-6787, that’s 877-99-INSURE!

On behalf of the Insurance Doc™ and the entire Stromsoe Insurance Total Protection Team, have a SAFE and Happy St. Patrick’s Day weekend!

Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim

It’s necessary to file a claim with the insurance company if a home is destroyed by a storm or a visitor is injured. It’s important to keep in mind that a Homeowners policy is a contract held between an insurer and an individual. This means that there are specific procedures and rules to follow. It’s important to read an insurance policy thoroughly to understand individual responsibilities completely. There are a few pointers that every homeowner should remember.

Immediately report all crimes to the police. It’s important to notify the police of any vandalism, burglary or other crime. Homeowners should also obtain the names of any police officers involved in the report or investigation. It’s also important to write down the names of all law enforcement officers after speaking with them on the phone.

Make all necessary temporary repairs. Don’t shell out thousands of dollars for full repairs to a damaged property. It’s best to pay only for supplies to repair or sustain something temporarily. For example, if a window is broken, it’s best to pay for boards and nails or tape and cardboard to repair it temporarily. It would be pointless to pay for an entirely new window until after the claim is honored. Homeowners should save all receipts of items purchased for making temporary repairs.

Call your insurance agent immediately. After calling the police for any crime-related issues, it’s important to call your insurance agent. If the nature of the claim doesn’t involve a crime, phone an agent immediately after discovering the issue that will become a claim. Since there are time limits for some claims, it’s important to follow this advice. Ask your agent what steps must be taken.

List all damaged items. Don’t discard any items that are damaged before the insurance adjuster is able to survey them. Photographs and videotapes are also acceptable forms of proof in most cases. After making an inventory, make a copy for the insurance adjuster.

Obtain the necessary claim forms. After receiving notification of a claim, an insurance company must send the proper forms to an individual within a specific time period. The best way to avoid delays is to ensure that the paperwork is filled out correctly.

Keep all receipts after relocating. Not everyone has to relocate after filing a claim. However, if the dwelling is uninhabitable, it’s important to remember that Homeowners insurance has provisions for living expenses to some extent. It’s best to keep receipts in order to show written proof of expenditures.

Homeowners should follow each of these steps carefully. After filing a claim, it’s best to have an insurance adjuster come out as quickly as possible to survey the damage. Most insurance companies arrange for adjusters to visit a residence. To learn more about this process or to obtain answers to other questions, please feel free to contact one of our knowledgeable Protection Coaches® at 877-994-6787, that’s 877-99-INSURE or visit www.siaonline.com/report_claim.html. We are happy to help!

Protecting Your Home From Mold

It’s important to have a plan and routine in order to protect a home from mold. This involves constantly looking for watermarks on ceilings or walls, signs of mold growth and musty smells. If mold is caught early enough, it can be removed with a simple cleaning solution of bleach and water. However, preventing mold from growing again requires that the source of moisture be eliminated. The area where the mold started growing must also be dried properly. In some cases, the surface or area might simply need to be replaced. After cleaning the mold and attacking the source, be sure to place all rags, clothing, materials, paper and other debris affected in a plastic bag to be thrown in the garbage.

Mold is similar to insect infestations and rot in the respect that it is usually not covered under a Homeowners insurance policy. Standard policies afford coverage for sudden or accidental disasters. However, they don’t offer coverage for cleaning or maintaining a home. If the mold is a direct result of a burst pipe or other covered peril, the insurance company may cover the cost to eliminate the mold.

Since mold is also dangerous, it’s important to tackle the problem immediately if it arises. Mold can cause family members in the home to become sick. Symptoms are usually similar to allergic reactions or hay fever. The best way to avoid all of these problems is to take steps to prevent mold. The following steps can be taken to prevent mold from growing.

Reduce Humidity Level. It’s best to keep the humidity level between 30% and 60% by utilizing dehumidifiers and air conditioners. Be sure to place exhaust fans in all bathrooms and kitchens. If carpet is desired, avoid installing it in bathrooms or kitchens. It’s best to have carpet only in rooms that aren’t exposed to moisture on a regular basis. Another important thing to remember is to avoid letting water pool and collect under house plants.

Check & Replace Hoses. Be sure to regularly inspect pipes, fittings and hoses. It’s best to replace hoses to appliances that use water every five years. At about $5 or $10 per piece, the cost of replacing hoses is much less expensive than dealing with a major mold problem.

Use Mold-Reducing Products. Clean all bathrooms in the home with bleach and water regularly. There are also several other cleaning products available that are designed to kill mold. It’s a good idea to add mold inhibitors to paint before applying it to the walls or doors.

Exercise Caution after Water Damage. If at any time a large amount of water comes into contact with the home’s interior, it’s important to ensure that carpets, upholstery and any other surfaces that hold water are dried thoroughly and promptly. Everything should completely dry within 24 to 48 hours following the initial water contact. Items that can’t be dried should be discarded. If there is standing water, remove it promptly. In addition to promoting mold growth, standing water is a prime breeding ground for microorganisms. After all areas have been dried, wash and disinfect them well. This includes the surfaces of appliances, closets, walls, shelves, floors, heating systems and cooling systems.

Check the Roof & Gutters. Another way to prevent mold is to check the roof and gutters frequently. Clear the gutters of any debris. If there are any leaks in the roof, have them repaired immediately to avoid water seeping into the home.

Although mold is problematic, it can be prevented with proper care. For any questions about mold and the specific terms of an individual Homeowners insurance policy, contact one of our Protection Coaches® today.

Here are 4 Easy Ways to Reach Us:

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

Why You Should Require Liability Insurance For Those You Do Business With

Are the people you do business with insured? You might want to ask them. If a vendor, contractor, cleaning crew, gardener/arborist, or other service provider does not have insurance, you may be out of luck if they cause property damage or injury. Also, people who do not carry insurance are probably less likely responsible than those who are insured. They may not be the ideal people you would want to hire. It’s worth paying a little more to get someone who is insured.

Never just take the word of a vendor. Many who are not insured may say “yes” because it’s likely they don’t want to embarrass themselves. Instead, ask them to have their broker send a certificate of insurance. By having their broker send (fax or email) it to you, you know the policy has been paid for and has not been cancelled.

Some vendors, especially small firms, will try to convince you that they do not need insurance. Do not fall into this trap as you will be letting an amateur convince you to purchase product or service that lacks the protections an insurance policy provides. As a courtesy to existing clients, we can give you advice on any insurance certificate that is emailed or faxed to us. Suggestions on who you should request insurance certificates from:

  • Contractors who are working on a home or commercial remodel
  • Repair or installation service for your auto, home, or business
  • Service contractors, such as gardening and maids/cleaning services
  • Independent Contractors or Contract Employment
  • Professional Services, such as such as a CPA, Consultant, Mortgage Broker, Staffing Firm, Insurance Broker, Architects/Engineers, and others who provide professional services (professional liability)
  • People who rent or lease from you

Types of Insurance you should request:

  • General Liability
  • Workers Compensation – for operations that have workers on your premise
  • Commercial Auto Coverage – for those who use vehicles on the job
  • Professional Liability (Errors & Omissions Insurance) – for those who provide professional services

Should you request a certificate for every purchase? It’s your call, but if someone is entering your premise or you are purchasing a bigger ticket item, you should strongly consider asking for insurance documentation.

The Stromsoe Insurance Total Protection Team hopes this article helps. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please just let us know.

Here are 4 Easy Ways to Reach Us:

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

Dog Bite Prevention Tips

If you own a dog, you should be aware that it is not completely unlikely that your dog might bite. According to 2009 figures from the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), approximately 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year. Of these bites, about one in five result in wounds that require medical attention. Furthermore, the property/casualty industry pays out hundreds of millions of dollars to satisfy dog bite claims each year. But you can take steps to make it less likely that your dog will bite.

Prior to bringing a dog into your household:

  • Speak with a professional such as a veterinarian, animal behaviorist, or a responsible breeder to find out which breeds of dogs are the best fit for your household.
  • Dogs with aggressive natures are not appropriate for households with children.
  • Pay attention to cues that a child is apprehensive about a dog. If a child seems fearful of dogs, wait before bringing a dog into your household.
  • Before buying or adopting a dog, spend time with it. Exercise caution when bringing a dog into a household with an infant or toddler.

If you decide to adopt or purchase a dog:

  • Spay or neuter your pet since this action reduces aggressive tendencies.
  • Don’t ever leave young children or babies alone with a dog.
  • Don’t play aggressively with your dog. Avoid wrestling or tug-of-war games.
  • Teach your dog submissive behaviors such as rolling over to expose the abdomen, and giving up food without growling.
  • Seek professional advice from a veterinarian or responsible breeder if the dog develops aggressive or other unwanted behaviors.

Teach children special safety precautions to take around dogs:

  • Children should not approach an unfamiliar dog
  • Don’t run from a dog or scream
  • If an unfamiliar dog approaches, remain motionless
  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still
  • Report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
  • Avoid making eye contact with a dog.
  • Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
  • If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.

Be a responsible pet owner and protect yourself and others from dog bites, pain and suffering, as well as insurance claims! Call the Stromsoe Insurance Total Protection Team and make sure you are properly protected today.

Here are 4 Easy Ways to Reach Us:

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