What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?

Broadly speaking, insurance covers you for potential loss resulting from risks such as burglary or theft, severe storms, fire and also your personal liability.

Your home liability coverage protects you in the event that someone is injured on your premises or you are responsible for damage to someone else’s property. For example, if you failed to remove a tree known to be diseased, and it fell on your neighbor’s car, you may be held liable for the damage due to negligence. Note that liability insurance will not cover acts of violence or intentional damage.

Your liability insurance policy would also typically provide coverage if:

  • Your child throws a baseball through the neighbor’s window
  • Your dog bites a visitor to your home
  • A visitor is injured on your backyard swing set or trampoline, or by falling on your icy sidewalk

If a liability claim is filed against you, it may result in your insurance paying for property repairs, medical or funeral costs, or even a lawsuit if the injured party chooses to launch a legal process.

When evaluating the amount of liability coverage that makes the most sense for you, be sure to fully discuss your limits and deductibles with your agent. Take time to understand your risks, and determine whether you will be well covered in various circumstances. In the event of a disaster, the costs of recovering can devastate household finances. Quality home insurance can make a difficult situation bearable and help you get your life back on track.

To find out how to get the best price and value on homeowners for you, call Alliances Insurance Agency, LLC at 267.614.4234


Why Do Most Homeowners Insurances Exclude Coverage for Sewer or Drain Water Backup?

  • Water backup losses are extremely common but preventable with maintenance and preventative measures by the homeowner. Water losses from plugged up toilets and clogged up drains can be prevented or minimized when home owners are observant and promptly repair sticking toilet bowls and clogged, slow running drains.
  • Water systems require periodic maintenance or reinvestment by the homeowner. Over time, every water drainage system becomes restricted with rust, deposits and accumulated debris. Drain fields become saturated and tree roots interfere with drainage. Without preventative maintenance, slow running drains won’t handle normal water flow or plug up completely.
  • Off premises sewage backups can be prevented with the installation of drain backflow preventers that are installed on your drain line. Unfortunately, many older homes did not have these preventers installed.
  • During flooding the water table rises and first causes water backup through sewers and drains. Since “flood” is an excluded coverage, the unendorsed homeowners insurance policy has this exclusion.

Am I covered if water backs-up through my sewer or drain?

Nearly all property forms, including homeowners policies, exclude or restrict water damage caused by the backup of sewers or drains. The provisions vary from company to company but usually read like this:

Section I – Property Exclusions

“Water damage is exluded if caused by water or water-borne material which backs up through sewers or drains or which overflows or is discharged from a sump, sump pump or related equipment.

This exclusion is talking about “overflows” of water from sewers (like out of toilet bowl) and “backups” from drains (like floor drains and sinks). The source of the water or sewage may be “off premises” from a plugged public sewer system or caused by water inside the home that is left on or stuck on which overwhelms a drain system that is plugged or restricted.

Note: Coverage for sewer or drain water backup can be added by endorsement for a small additional premium.


How do I know if I have Adequate Coverage?

A recent study concluded that 69% of home owners are underinsured. Unfortunately, many home owners think they are fully protected and are stunned to find out at the time of loss that their coverage is inadequate.

These records will help you to complete the claims process more efficiently and accurately if you suffer a loss:

  • Compile an inventory of what you own, room by room.
  • Take pictures of your belongings, particularly anything of high value.
  • Keep receipts for all valuable items you purchase, including appliances.
  • Record a replacement value for each item on your inventory.
  • Go over this list with your insurance agent and determine whether you need to purchase additional coverage to be protected in the event of a loss.
  • Place your inventory list, images and receipts in a secure place such as a fire safe.

Getting the right homeowners insurance coverage for your home and belongings depends on many things. Alliances Insurance Agency, LLC can help you find the right coverage at the right price. When you buy home insurance, you are protecting your financial future. Take time to seek good advice from a knowledgeable independent agent. Call us today at 267.614.4234


Is Homeowners Insurance Mandatory?

A homeowners insurance policy is not required by law. However, if you borrow money to buy a home, your lenders will most likely require you to buy a homeowners insurance policy in order for you to qualify for a home loan. In this case, your home is collateral and the lender wants the collateral maintained. The lender requires insurance so you can afford repairs if the home suffers an insurable loss. At a minimum, your lender will want your policy to cover or exceed the amount that you owe on the loan. Most homeowners, however, want enough coverage to repair or replace the home. Alliances Insurance Agency, LLC can help you find the homeowners insurance that will best meet your needs and provide the most valuable combination of tailored coverage, quality service, and fair pricing.


Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners Insurance protects homeowners against the many risks associated with owning property. Theft, weather damage, and fires are a few of the most common reasons as to why people make claims.

Theft: During 2013, law enforcement made an estimated 1,559,284 arrests for property crimes according to the latest FBI statistics.

Weather Damage: In 2014, winter storms alone caused an estimated $2.3 billion in insured losses according to the National Weather Service.

Fire: A home structure fire was reported every 85 seconds in the U.S. in 2014 according to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association).


Time to Do a Home Inventory

Posted by Andrea Chatwood January 6, 2014

How to Take Stock of Your Stuff

home inventory

Spending the holidays with friends and family is a great time to appreciate the aspects of life that come without a price tag. But now as we enter the New Year, it might just be the perfect time to take stock of your material possessions. Did you get a great gift for the holidays? Maybe a diamond ring, a new musical instrument, or a beautiful watch? All of these items should be insured, and just as importantly, added to your home inventory list.

What is a home inventory list, you ask? Once created, it will be the most valuable item in your house.

The first step is to write down every item in your house that you would want and expect to be covered by your insurance. This list should include your computers, TVs, jewelry, antiques, china, art, furniture, gardening equipment, tools and many other things. Include serial numbers if you have them, and take pictures of each item. Mark down the item’s condition, and how much you paid for it (including a receipt image would be ideal).

Another way to approach the home inventory list is to create a home inventory video. Videotape all of the valuable items in your home, making sure to zoom in on the smaller items. You should still document, whether by video or in an accompanying report, their serial numbers and other identifying markers.

The more specificity you include, the more likely you’ll be able to get a claim filed quickly, and at the right amount, should anything ever happen to your stuff.

In addition, there are several Home Inventory software programs available. However you choose to make your list, it’s important to back-up this information and store it in a secure offsite storage facility, just in case your home is severely damaged.

This is an opportunity to learn the real value of your items, especially art and jewelry, and serves as a reminder to get them appraised often. The value of these types of items can go up over time, so you should also make sure they are insured for the right amount. Be sure to check with your agent that your policy covers all your belongings, even the most personal and valuable items.

 


Preventing Identity Theft

Your Identity Belongs to You. Protect It, Too.

The best way to protect yourself against identity theft is to prevent it. If your identity is stolen, you’ll be able to lessen problems by being prepared to act quickly.

Start with Good Preventive Habits

  • Leave your Social Security card at home in a safe place.
  • Shred papers with personal information.
  • Reduce your credit card accounts, and carry only the cards you need.
  • Photocopy both sides of your credit cards and store safely.

Watch Your Accounts Closely

  • Review balances and transactions often by phone or online.
  • Make sure every transaction on your credit card statements is accurate.
  • Sign up with ExperianTransunion and Equifax. Stagger your requests to get a free credit report every four months or sign up for credit watch service that will report directly to you.

If Identity Theft Happens to You

  • Report to the police immediately and make several copies of police report.
  • Call your credit card companies and ask where to send a copy of the police report.
  • File a Federal Trade Commission ID Theft Complaint and Identity Theft Affidavit.
  • Have your bank place an alert on your driver’s license number and Social Security number, and freeze your account.
  • Call fraud units of the credit report agencies ExperianEquifax and Transunion.

Tools and Resources

Federal Trade Commission identity theft line and websites

Social Security fraud line

  • 1-800-269-0271

Credit reporting agencies

 


Do You Need Umbrella Insurance?

Posted by Safeco October 20, 2014

Umbrella Coverage Explained

umbrella

One of the most certain things in life is, certainly, uncertainty. Your dog could bite the neighbor’s kid. Yourteen driver could hit a cyclist. A guest could fall down your stairs. A rainy morning commute on worn-out tires could result in a multi-car accident. And you could be held liable to others for the cost of damages – injuries, property destruction, emotional distress, lost wages and more.

Good thing you have insurance. But, wait, your policy covers $300,000 of liability, and, in a lawsuit, you’re judged liable for $1 million. That leaves $700,000 left to pay. How will you cover it?

If you have umbrella insurance and your policy covers the incident, the additional $700,000 will come from your policy. If not, it will come from the assets you have now, such as your home and savings, and from future assets, such as your wages or inheritance.

The fact is, it only takes one serious accident and a resulting lawsuit to put everything you own – and will own – at risk. And it only takes one umbrella policy to help protect it all.

Here are a few things you should know about umbrella insurance:

  • Personal umbrella policies typically offer $1, $2, $3, $4 or $5 million of liability coverage. Consider your net worth when choosing your coverage –you could be sued for everything you have.
  • An umbrella policy is not a stand-alone policy. Your insurance carrier will typically require you to meet certain qualifications, such as having an auto policy with a certain level of liability coverage, in order to purchase umbrella insurance.
  • Even when you have umbrella insurance, your car or home insurance is your first line of defense. For example, if you are liable for $2 million in a car accident and your auto insurance covers $500,000 of liability, your auto policy covers the first $500,000. Your umbrella policy covers the remaining $1.5 million, assuming your policy covers the incident and that you purchased that much coverage. If you are liable for $250,000 in an accident on your property and your homeowners insurance covers $300,000, your umbrella policy won’t be needed.
  • If you insure a motorcycle, ATV, golf cart, snowmobile, motorhome or watercraft, your umbrella policy may provide additional liability coverage on top of those policies as well. Be sure to check with your carrier to confirm your coverage on these types of vehicles.
  • A single umbrella policy typically covers all of your family members who are residents of your household.

Essentially, an umbrella policy gives you excess liability coverage on top of what your other policies provide. If you’re at fault for a serious accident, you’ll need it.

Umbrella insurance also gives you liability coverage in instances where other policies don’t. Examples include driving in a foreign country or renting a boat.

 


6 Questions for Your Annual Insurance Review

Posted by Shaun Murphy, Pablo Beach Insurance June 18, 2015

Assess Whether Your Current Insurance Fits Your Current Life

Annual_Insurance_Review

Everyone gets busy with daily life – family, jobs, kids, school, travel, and the list goes on. Before you know it, a year or more has slipped by without you giving your insurance coverage a second thought.

You pay your premiums and phone your carrier when an accident or other need arises. Otherwise, you assume all is well with your policies. But, what if it’s not?

There are a number of life changes and events that should prompt you to pick up your phone and call your insurance agent. You may need more homeowners coverage, for example, or you may need to remove a driver from your auto policy.

Even if you adjust your coverage as some of these changes occur, you’ll likely only catch others if you catch up with your insurance agent once a year – or more often. When you do, here are six questions you should be prepared to address:

  1. What Have I Added or Updated Around My Home?
    Did you add an addition to make room for baby? Did you remodel after the youngest left the nest? How about adding a pool or finishing your basement? All of these examples and more increase the value of your home and how much it would cost to rebuild it. You should update your insurance coverage to reflect not only the new home value but also any new risks.
  2. What Has Changed With My Vehicles or Drivers?
    Are you driving a longer distance to work? Is the vehicle you previously used for commuting now sitting in your garage more often than not? It’s a good idea to reexamine your auto insurance coverage at least once a year to ensure you have the exact coverage you want – not too little, and not too much.
  3. What Significant Purchases Have I Made?
    Did you invest in a home automation system or a high-end leather couch? What about that piece of fine jewelry you picked up on the cruise ship? If the value of your personal belongings has increased significantly, you’ll want to check whether your homeowners or renters insurance still provides enough coverage. If not, you can likely purchase additional coverage for specific items or possibly groups of items. Otherwise, if a costly item is lost, damaged or stolen, you may find yourself needing to replace it with a lower-cost version.
  4. What Is New With My Family?
    Did someone leave for college? Are more people now driving your motorcycle? These are things to discuss with your independent insurance agent, too.
  5. Are There Any Discounts for Which I Now Qualify?
    Doing things such as adding a burglar alarm to your home or driving your car less may help you gain discounts you didn’t qualify for when you first purchased your policy. So, if you like to save money on your insurance as much as the rest of us, an in-depth annual discussion of recent changes in your life and around your home is a must.
  6. Should I Consider Any Coverage Options?
    More than likely, your carrier offers some coverage options that might just be a good fit for you now, even if they weren’t when you first purchased your policies. Examples can include roadside assistance for cars, motorcycles, scooters, RVs and other vehicles. You may want to add stereo coverage for the new system you put in your car or appliance coverage following a kitchen remodel. Your agent, of course, can help you explore these options and select what fits.

Some other questions you might consider before your annual insurance review include:

  • Do I need any specialized disaster coverage, such as flood insurance or earthquake insurance, that I don’t already have?
  • Is my home inventory current?
  • Can I afford to raise my deductibles, and would it lower my insurance costs?
  • Am I carrying high enough liability limits to protect myself?
  • Is an umbrella policy right for me?

Just like filing your taxes, an insurance check-up is an annual item on your to-do list that can’t be skipped. After all, there’s nothing like the headache and heartache of thinking that you’re fully covered and then finding out you’re not when a claim occurs.

Remember, your insurance policies should reflect the life you have now – not the life you had when you first signed up with your carrier. So, keep your insurance policies up to date and keep your annual appointment with your insurance agent.