Category Archives: Insurance

More US Flooding – Irene and Lee

Flooding

Thanks to Lee, 10-15 inches of rain are expected to fall from the central Gulf Coast to the Tennessee Valley according to CNN.

Lee is a Tropical Storm hitting New Orleans, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle. Farther North, Vermont and surrounding states and recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

Here is flood advice from Hurricane Katrina survivors we spoke with.

Orlando Bloom, $500K Theft and Insurance

Orlando Bloom’s home was broken into and it’s reported  that he lost up to $500,000 of jewelry, cash and artwork.  We hope he has a home inventory and riders to cover these items. 

Be sure you have enough insurance coverage for a theft, fire or disaster.  Two years ago, after doing an article on insurance, we realized our home insurance policy didn’t reflect the home’s value. 

What does that mean?

Essentially, if our house had burned, we had only enough insurance coverage to rebuild 1/3 of it.  This is because we didn’t tell State Farm about remodels, updates and new items we’d purchased.  State Farm thought it was still the ‘old’ house and had it at the ‘old’ house value.

Many agents don’t do an annual ‘check-up’ to be sure home/property/belongings are properly covered. If you’ve recently added to your home, improved or remodeled, contact your agent for a check-up. Don’t know how to do this? No worries – here are some starter questions for you to ask your insurance agent.

– Susan

Real-Life: Dorm Water Damage

Lauren W., our College blogger, experienced a dorm “fire” at her university. Here’s what she learned:

About a month ago, 414 students were rudely awoken at two-thirty in the morning from their slumber to a chaotic scene. The students were pulled out of bed by loud alarms and ceiling sprinklers going berserk and had to trudge across the street to the other dorm. What caused this scene?

Three male students threw cigarettes in the bathroom’s trash bin without putting them out and the sprinklers immediately went off as soon as they sensed the smoke. They not only went off on the boy’s floor, but the other three floors of the dorm. It did not help when pipes burst and more water exploded into the hallways.

With all of this water coming into the hallways, it was unavoidable that innocent students would receive lots of water damage to their things in their dorms. One of my friends woke up to three inches of standing water, a destroyed laptop, and soaking wet clothing. Not only did he have to evacuate his room for four nights but he also had to bring his clothing to a dry cleaner and figure out the laptop dilemma.

My friend was not the only one who was put in this situation because of a group of boys who were not thinking about consequences. Thankfully, the university volunteered to reimburse all of the students who had property damage. However, it is still important to be aware that fires and other incidents can happen and how to protect your things if something were to happen.

So what can you do? Here are some steps you can take:

Plan Ahead: One of the top ways to guarantee your college belongings are safe is to talk to your insurance companies. Mine covers any damages to electronics and computers without any question for a low price every month. Most large electronic or computer companies will also offer insurance packages as well.

Keep Things Safe: When leaving the room, make sure to look around at what damage could possibly happen while you’re gone. Electronics being plugged in when they receive water damage can be harmful to the object as well as possibly letting of dangerous sparks to the rest of the room. If necessary, put you’re computer tucked away into a drawer. This way it will avoid damage and the possibility of it being stolen.

Organize: Keep as many things off the floor as possible. The floor is the first place where water damage would hit, so the less on the floor the better. Also, keep important items of clothing you wouldn’t want anything to happen in waterproof bins or dress bags.

College life brings along a lot more troubles than just school work – even other students cause a mini-disaster at any moment! When approaching college life, make sure your important belongings are safe from these unexpected twists and turns.

Thanks Lauren!! Have a tip or question for Lauren? Post it below! 

Spring Cleaning Series: Day #2

Welcome back! It’s Day 2 of our week-long spring cleaning series. (Read Day #1 here!)

Spring cleaning can be a lot more than just cleaning out closets and putting winter items away: how about “cleaning” and organizing your financial house as well!

Pick a topic below and get started!

Insurance

Having adequate coverage is key, just in case the unexpected occurs. You never know when Mother Nature might cause a slight disruption in your life, so get ready!

1. How much is your home worth? Do you have enough insurance on your home to rebuild it if it is destroyed? Do you even know how to calculate the amount of insurance you need? Learn how to estimate your home’s value.

2. Am I covered? The more you know and understand about home insurance, the better you can insure yourself and your family in case of loss. Top questions to ask your agent…

3. Get extra coverage. Did you know that most home owner’s insurance policies only cover about $1000 worth of electronics and only $1500 worth of jewelry? Look into extra riders to make sure your possessions are protected…

4. Review your policy. There are about five key events that should trigger a review. The first one is…

Finances

1. Start an emergency fund. Unexpected medical bills, disasters, even car accidents – you should have a pool of money set aside for these little speed bumps of life. Learn how to get started…

2. Do a home inventory. It’s like “found money” – it can help you make your case to the insurance companies when filing a claim after a loss, theft or natural disasters. Learn more…

3. Write a will and name beneficiaries for major policies. Take care of your finances for your loved ones before it’s too late. Start today.

That’s Day 2! Check back tomorrow for tips on how to prep your home for the spring severe weather season ahead. Have a tip? Post it in the Comments section below!

Make Sure You’re Covered

By Jacqueline Lloyd, our guest fire blogger and the author of The Thief Of Sacred

You wouldn’t take a cruise without a life boat, right? Insurance is the same idea. It protects you in the event of an emergency. Just remember, when selecting your policy, coverage, and agency, know what you’re buying and understand its limitations.

If a person buys a policy via the internet or just takes the cheapest bid, the old adage holds true: you get what you pay for. Here are a few helpful tips to be sure you’re adequately covered.

1. Do your research. Take the time to do research and develop a relationship with your agent and agency.

2. Read everything through.

  • Go through your policy very carefully and make sure you’re adequately covered in terms of replacement costs.
  • Be sure to factor inflation into your calculations, as well as the current cost of construction and materials.
  • Granted, this is just about as exciting as a visit to the dentist, but you’ll be kicking yourself eternally if the worst does happen and your coverage isn’t what you thought it was!

3. Get extra coverage for the things that matter.

  • Pay special attention to items you really treasure. Many people mourn special items they didn’t bother to insure because they never thought the worst would happen. Even if it’s irreplaceable, if it’s properly insured you can at least buy yourself a condolence prize.

As a fire victim, I learned the hard way. You don’t have to!

File Your Complaints

Bad service, late service, lost possessions…we’ve all been there. Here are two handy resources that help you share your complaints and avoid future problems:

Travel

Had a thirty-minute wait to get through airport security? Met some unpleasant security workers? Now you can let it all out and share your security gripes on TSA’s blog called the Evolution of Security.

Insurance

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, delays in the claims process was the No. 1 complaint of insurance consumers in 2007. Here are the top 5 tips from NAIC on how you can avoid lengthy claims process delays:

  • Know Your Policy: Understand what your policy says. The policy is a contract between you and your insurance company. Know what’s covered, what’s excluded and what the deductibles are.
  • File Claims as Soon as Possible: Don’t let the bills or receipts pile up. Call your agent or your company’s claims hotline as soon as possible. Your policy might require that you make the notification within a certain time frame.
  • Provide Complete, Correct Information: Be certain to give your insurance company all the information they need. Incorrect or incomplete information will only cause a delay in processing your claim.
  • Keep Copies of all Correspondence: Whenever you communicate with your insurance company, be sure to keep copies and records of all correspondence. Write down information about your telephone and in-person contacts, including the date, name and title of the person you spoke with and what was said. Also, keep a record of your time and expenses.
  • Auto and Homeowners Claims: Auto and homeowners policies might require you to make temporary repairs to protect your property from further damage. Your policy should cover the cost of these temporary repairs, so keep all receipts. Also, maintain any damaged personal property for the adjuster to inspect. If possible, take photographs or video of the damage before making temporary repairs.

Financial Wellness Month

money1.JPGAre your New Year’s resolutions focused on getting more organized and save some money? Here are a few articles and tips to help you keep that resolution going:

1. Talk to your insurance agent: Make sure you have enough coverage now so that you’re not racking up expensive credit cards bills in the wake of a natural disaster or fire:

Home 

Car

2. Keep your numbers safe: Identity theft can certainly put a dent in things financially. How to keep your information safe from thieves:

3. Carry smart: You certainly don’t want a thief spending all your hard-earned cash! Keep an eye out when shopping or running errands:

Have a tip to share? Post it in our Comments section below!!

Tackling the Costs of a Serious Illness

If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with a serious illness, you may have already discovered that dealing with actual health issues is just part of the individual puzzle you must reassess and reassemble.

One major hurdle: paying the health care bills. However, there are solutions out there. Our guest columnist and licensed insurance agent, M. Bryan Freeman, explains one often over-looked solution: life settlements.

What is a life settlement??

Basically, a life settlement is the sale of an existing life insurance policy. Although life settlements are usually undertaken by relatively healthy seniors for financial- and estate-planning reasons, people with serious illness also may qualify.

Learn more – read M. Bryan Freeman’s article here…

Part Three – Insurance Riders: Do I Need One?

This is the last part of the article “Insurance Riders: Do I Need One?” written by our guest insurance blogger, Stephen Hadhazi.

How much coverage is enough? Do I need to buy extra riders to cover the contents in my home? Stephen Hadhazi, a certified public insurance adjuster, tackles the answers to these very questions:

Policy Limits

In addition, certain items such as jewelry, firearms, coin collections, furs, fine art, computers, and electronics are subject to policy limits. To make sure you’re adequately covered, inventory your possessions and compare the value against your personal property coverage and any related limits.

The following list represents common policy limits:

  • Business personal property – $2500
  • Computer equipment and electronics – $1000
  • Firearms – $2000
  • Jewelry, furs, fine arts – $1000-$1500
  • Money (including coin collections) – $250
  • Silverware – $2500
  • Structures other than dwelling such as sidewalks, driveways, fences, permanent yard structures, and swimming pools – 10% of the dwelling limit
  • Trees and landscaping – 5% of the dwelling limit

Endorsements(riders) to consider:

  • Individual floaters for valuable items
  • Replacement Cost Value coverage (not available for personal property on flood policies)

Personal Liability Limits

Most policies offer liability limits of $100,000 to $300,000. While this sounds like a lot of money, it might not be enough especially if you have a high net worth or own expensive assets, a dog, a swimming pool, or your own business.

Most policies offer liability limits of $100,000 to $300,000. While this sounds like a lot of money, it might not be enough especially if you have a high net worth or own expensive assets, a dog, a swimming pool, or your own business.

If you have a home-based business, your liability is limited. For example, if a customer or business contact is injured in your home, your homeowners insurance won’t necessarily cover injuries, medical costs, or lawsuits.

Endorsements(riders) to consider:

  • Home business endorsement
  • Increase liability limits to match or exceed your net worth
  • Umbrella policy

Because all situations are different it’s important to understand your policy and address any shortcomings before disaster strikes. Review your policy annually and add or remove endorsements as needed to reflect any changes in your situation.

In addition, you may want to call a Public Insurance Adjusting company in your area and ask them what insurance company is writing the best policies and is which company would be easiest to deal with if you were ever faced with a claim. Then, keep that company’s number handy just in case you ever need them.