4 Gardening Tips to Beautify Your Garden

Love to garden, or going to do it for the first time? These tips will help you be faster, cleaner, and more efficient.

Gardening can be fun if you know the proper techniques to see your garden blossom from tiny green leaves sticking out of the ground to full flowers, herbs, fruits, and vegetables ready to impress everyone on the block. Here are four great gardening tips that are sure to help your garden be the best garden on the block.

Create a non-stick shovel

Picking dirt off shovels is something no wants to do. Spray your shovel with a silicone or Teflon lubricant to make shoveling way easier. A good coating will make any kind of soil slip right off without a hassle.

Heavy pots don’t have to be heavy

Filling half of the pot with packing peanuts will significantly reduce the weight of your big pots. Just remember to put some landscape fabric to keep the soil from sinking to the bottom.

Blemish-free roses

When you plant roses, pruning is a must to keep the roses as open and as beautiful as possible. Pruning increases the amount of light that reaches the roses which will inhibit proper growth. Careful pruning will keep the moisture out, and will prevent black spots and other blemishes from ruining the petals of the flower.

Assist root-bound plants

The problem with potted plants is that the roots will eventually run out of room to grow, so they will begin to form tight circles in the pot. This can prevent water and essential nutrients from reach all parts of the plant—especially the leaves. To fix this, gently guide roots outward using your fingers. If they are especially tough, make cautious vertical cuts in the roots with a knife.

Contact Stromsoe Insurance Agency for all of your California insurance needs. Whether you are looking to insure garden or other parts of your landscape, we will be your one stop shop for everything insurance related! Allow us to provide you with summer insurance in California that allows you to enjoy your fun in the sun without a worry in the world.

What’s The True Value of Your Home?

In regards to the value of your home, the two most commonly cited sources are usually useless for insurance purposes.

Most people base the perceived value of their home from a benchmark of the original purchase price, and then adjust it over time based on current home sales or tax assessments. However, even realtors will tell you that such values are educated “guesstimates,” subject to wide variation.

For example, “appraised value” is an estimate of the property’s worth in the current marketplace derived from an analysis of the home, the community, and the recent sales prices of similar homes in the area. The local taxing authority determines “assessed value” to levy property taxes. To confuse the issue further, state and local laws and regulations often require capping or discounting taxable assessments well below the full value assessed by the authority.

However, neither of these values might be practical for insurance purposes. If your home is severely damaged or destroyed, the true value you need will be the cost to rebuild it, not what it might sell for or its tax assessment. Too many people have made the mistake of relying on assessed or appraised values to determine if they have enough Homeowners insurance only to find, much to their chagrin, that their coverage fell far short of true construction costs.

Give us a call today; we’re ready to help you develop a solid estimate of your reconstruction costs. 877-994-6787

Loss-Proof Your House

Loss-proofing your home is the perfect way of avoiding those pesky little Homeowners claims. Here are a few helpful tips from a recent insurance trade report:

  • Fix minor roof leaks quickly and keep rain gutters clean.
  • Trim dead branches. Also, remove dying trees from your property before they fall and cause unsightly, expensive damage.
  • If you’re in a high-wind area, install windstorm shutters.
  • Improve overall drainage around the house. If your basement tends to flood, install an automatic sump pump with a battery backup, in case of a power outage during a major storm.
  • Check your roof and heating, electrical, and plumbing systems every few years. It’s best to let a professional do this.
  • If you have a fireplace, keep your chimney clean and unobstructed!

For the best Homeowners policy to meet your needs, contact our Total Protection Team.

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

 

Cover Yourself With An Umbrella

In today’s “litigation culture,” with million-dollar legal settlements all too common, anyone – including you and your family – could easily face ruin from a lawsuit, whether serious or frivolous. Even if you won, you’d be out thousands of dollars in defense costs.

A Personal Liability Umbrella can help ensure financial peace of mind by providing coverage up to an amount you’ve selected over and above the Liability limits under your Auto or Homeowners policy. Insurance companies often set minimum limits for Umbrella coverage. If you’re sued, the bulk of the settlement will come from your HO or Auto policy, with the Umbrella picking up the rest. Bear in mind that many insurers will only offer this coverage if they write both your HO and Auto insurance.

An Umbrella policy also extends coverage for you (and your family and pets) beyond basic bodily injury and property damage to personal injury, property damage, or bodily injury from a variety of exposures ranging from false arrest and defamation to invasion of privacy and wrongful entry. For example, Umbrella coverage would make sense if you own a dog that might snap or bite, or have one or more “attractive nuisances” (such as a hot tub, swimming pool, or swing set), and like to invite guests on a regular basis.

Depending on your situation, you might consider alternatives to an Umbrella policy, such as increasing Liability limits or raising your deductible under your HO or Auto policies. Also remember that Umbrella coverages vary from state to state. For example, many policies won’t cover claims for punitive damages, intentional acts, or activities related to business.

To make the best choice and make sure that you understand Umbrella coverage and any loopholes and exclusions, be sure to check with our insurance professionals.

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.

State Minimum Auto Liability Coverage: Is It Enough?

State minimum insurance requirements are minimal. Most states demand less than $100,000 for bodily injuries and $50,000 for property damage. Some states require only $10,000 for property damage coverage.

How many cars valued at greater than $10,000 travel the highways? How many trucks carrying cargo are worth more than $10,000? $50,000? $100,000?

According to the 2010 census, the median family net worth exceeded $200,000. That amount includes houses, cars, savings, retirement funds, cash in the bank, college savings, and furniture and personal effects. Half the families are worth more, half have assets less than $200,000; all of it is hard earned.

If the family is underinsured for liability, their net worth is vulnerable to be seized in a lawsuit based on injuries or property damage caused by any family member driving a vehicle. The car owner and the car driver become parties to the suit.

Bodily injuries sustained in car wrecks devastate lives. People unable to work, the high cost of medical treatment, rehabilitation expenses, and the pain and suffering can only be compensated with money. The money comes from the insurance company or the liable party’s personal wealth.

Not convinced you need higher limits? Not all liabilities are released in bankruptcy. Many states have specific legislation disallowing debt reduction for certain accidents, most notably driving while intoxicated. Wage plans reduce take home pay by as much as 33%. Many employers do not tolerate either bankruptcy or wage garnishments.

Still not convinced? How about a selfish motivation?

Other drivers are either uninsured or underinsured. Most insurance companies will not provide uninsured motorist coverage in limits greater than the liability limits of the policy.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage from your policy pays on behalf of the driver who hits you if they are poorly insured. In a classic exercise of the golden rule, insurance companies only sell limits commensurate with the protection you offer others.

Proper limits of liability allow you to protect yourself from the improper coverage other people maintain.

So how much coverage is enough? What are reasonable limits of liability?

Call our knowledgeable Protection Team to get the right answers to your questions. And consider this:

Your assets are your excess insurance coverage. This means that when the limits of your policy are reached, your assets are at risk. Excess insurance – Umbrella policies, for example – is available in $1 million layers over your Automobile and Homeowners liability limits if those limits qualify – are high enough. Protect yourself against underinsured drivers by increasing your uninsured motorist coverage.

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

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!