Posted by Andrea Chatwood January 6, 2014
How to Take Stock of Your Stuff
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.
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 Experian, Transunion 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 Experian, Equifax and Transunion.
Tools and Resources
Federal Trade Commission identity theft line and websites
Social Security fraud line
Credit reporting agencies
Posted by Safeco October 20, 2014
Umbrella Coverage Explained
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.
Posted by Shaun Murphy, Pablo Beach Insurance June 18, 2015
Assess Whether Your Current Insurance Fits Your Current Life
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.