Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Holiday parties are a tradition for many businesses, but before you start the fun make sure your business insurance is all that it should be.
It’s that festive time of the year and of course, that included the traditional holiday party at the office. There’s no better time than to say “thank you” to your staff or team and the perfect opportunity to all get together and have some fun, putting the office environment on hold for a little while.
A little thought-of fact, however, is how your business insurance works for you should a situation arise where you’re liable. Are you sure that you have enough coverage and the right coverage? Before you hang up the balloons and party streamers, give your independent insurance agent a quick call. In fact, near the end of the year is a good time to check on business insurance coverage in general.
If you’re the business owner it’s your responsibility to make sure your coverage is intact before you open the door for the company party. Of course, you want your employees to have a good time, so get all the coverage questions answered and you’ll enjoy the party even more.
It’s not unlike if you were having a party at your house. You would want to know how far your current coverage extends. Do you have enough liability insurance? Do you need more?
You might want to consider a one-day event hosting insurance policy. And will you be serving alcohol? If so, be sure you have liquor liability coverage as the host of the party.
Excess liability coverage is something you may choose to have year-round, but if not, it is a good thing to have in case a lawsuit occurs or medical bills pile up related to a holiday party accident. Commercial building coverage should be current, too, as a holiday party does have certain risks such as fire or theft. Talk with your independent agent to find out where you stand.
If you have a large, open space like a warehouse that will accommodate a party, you may have vendors coming such as bartenders, caterers or perhaps a band. Make sure all of the vendors have insurance coverage before you book them for the party. They should be able to provide proof of insurance.
Aside from the more serious things related to business insurance and possible risks, there is every reason that your holiday party can be a rousing success. Planning ahead and preventive thinking can ensure a good time for everyone!
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Do you fully understand what your insurance covers during the holidays, including Christmas tree lighting and packages left on your doorstep?
It’s the holiday season, and you have a lot on your mind. Trimming the tree, buying and wrapping the gifts, baking the goodies. Be sure your insurance is up to date so you have one less thing to be concerned about!
Stolen holiday packages
During the holiday season, package delivery is a common phenomenon. If you’re a renter, you probably receive package left at your front door, unless the shipper is requested to leave the package at the front desk. If you have renter’s insurance. your possessions from theft are covered, after you pay your deductible. Renters policies usually cover your belongings, whether your apartment is burglarized, or the items are stolen while you are traveling. If you discover a theft, also notify the shipper along with your insurance agent.
Christmas Trees and Christmas Lights
Old fashioned large bulbs, the incandescent ones do get quite hot. Even the small ones can be dangerous if placed between branches and decorations that hold in the heat. If they get hot enough to ignite, you have a big problem.
Smaller holiday bulbs and LEDs that are more common today and are much safer. They rarely get hot enough to ignite. However, it is good to remember, that all of these lights and light sets run on electricity. If one set is damaged, a few strands of wire may be overloaded. If this happens and the insulation melts, it can get hot enough to start a fire. Broken wires can arc and ignite flammables. Typically, the fuses built into light sets usually prevent short circuits and arcing.
Your homeowner’s insurance covers such damages, but it is better to be safe, not sorry, and prevent it from happening in the first place.
Holiday Parties and Your Insurance
Christmas parties are some of the most favorite, but can easily result in accidents or damages during the festivities. Here are a few scenarios that help explain what is and is not covered under your homeowner’s insurance.
- You attempt a marshmallow roasting in the fireplace and start a house fire: You’re covered.
- Your outdoor display ignites a new bush you just planted and burns it to a crisp: You’re covered.
- Your pet ferret jumps into your Christmas tree, then the cat chases it and destroys your gifts: You are NOT covered.
- You’re burglarized and thieves get away with all your Christmas gifts: You’re covered.
Remember, while the holidays are a wonderful time of the year to enjoy friends and family, consider the more serious side of protecting your belongings by understanding your renter’s or homeowners insurance.
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Sellers and current homeowners looking to sell should be aware of the need of insurance for their property. Understand more about homeowner’s insurance, liability coverage and vacant home insurance today.
When you list your home for sale, there are many moving parts involved with the process. One thing that can be easily overlooked during this is insurance. There are a few different types of insurance that should be considered and they are highlighted below.
Sellers and current homeowners looking to sell should be aware of the need of insurance for their property. Understand more about homeowner’s insurance, liability coverage and vacant home insurance today.
Insurance for Your Occupied Home
Homeowner’s insurance is a type of property insurance and helps cover potential damages and losses to both an owner’s assets and their house. Liability coverage is provided within homeowner’s insurance and protects against accidents in or around the home. Homeowner’s insurance covers four “incidents” on a property. A homeowner or seller is covered for exterior damage, interior damage, damage or loss of personal effects and injuries sustained on the property. If a claim is made to the insurance company, a homeowner will need to pay a deductible. There is a liability limit to insurance policies. Homeowners who live in areas prone to tornadoes and hurricanes may want to consider continuing with a basic homeowner’s insurance policy.
Homeowners place themselves at risk when a person steps onto their property. They are assuming responsibility for that individual’s well-being and litigious individuals may take advantage and attempt to sue for a minor injury. In addition to this issue, areas prone to strong winds, hail or extreme weather conditions may make it important for homeowner’s to maintain certain types of insurance to make it more affordable to make any necessary repairs. Roof and siding damage may reduce the price of a home and leave a structure vulnerable to additional damage if not attended to and having an insurance policy in place can usually decrease or eliminate costs associated with making repairs. Sellers want to address any obvious hazards and take steps to mitigating risks, such as taking dogs out of a home during a showing and having children stay away from the pool.
Selling a Vacated Home
Homeowners may need a different type of home insurance coverage for properties that are either unoccupied or vacant. A homeowner that is not currently residing on a property may not be able to benefit from typical homeowner’s insurance. A homeowner may need to sell the property and live at another location due to work or other obligations. It is then useful to get vacant home insurance while a home is going through the process of being sold. This protects owners against fire, liability and acts of vandalism. Hopefully, such issues do not occur to a home that is for sale and currently unoccupied. It may be more difficult to find an insurance company who will insure a vacant home. Vacant and unoccupied homes are at greater risk of damage and vandalism than occupied homes. Homeowners should realize that there are more restrictions when it comes to this type of coverage and that it will cover fire and wind as standard perils but not issues such as water damage from frozen pipes. This type of policy is generally more expensive than standard insurance options.
Learn More About Home Insurance Coverage
It can be stressful enough to maintain a home and make scheduling changes to show a home while it remains on the market. Many homeowners would rather not have to think about issues that could occur during the selling process which would require claims to an insurance company. However, homeowner’s insurance, liability coverage and vacant home insurance can protect homeowners and their assets if a problem should occur when a home is up for sale.
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Most people think of ‘great deals’ when they think of Black Friday, but ‘car accidents’ occur more often than on regular days.
Generally speaking, the holiday season is not the best time of the year to be on the road. And believe it or not, more than 30 percent of car accidents happen on Black Friday. The Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving is not much better and Thanksgiving Day is even worse.
The most common kinds of accidents on Black Friday are parking-related or backing up the car, which is no surprise with people crowding into parking lots and rushing to grab those amazing deals. If you’re shopping at the mall, try to avoid parking at the end of an aisle or cars parked at an angle. The best advice is to park as far away as your legs will allow and go ahead and get that little bit of extra exercise. It’s probably worth it to avoid an accident or a pinged door or dented fender.
Another bit of sage advice is to make sure your car insurance is up to date. Black Friday would be a terrible day to go out then find out after the fact that your car insurance had expired. If you don’t carry collision or comprehensive insurance, maybe it’s a good time to rethink that decision. It gives you peace of mind to know that your car is well protected with the best possible insurance coverage – especially if it is new and you’re still making payments on it.
Although liability car insurance is required by law, it may not cover your car if it is vandalized, stolen, damaged or destroyed. Also, make sure you have car insurance coverage to protect you if you are in an accident with someone who does not have adequate insurance.
Travel during the holiday season (and we’ll include Black Friday) can be stressful and downright dangerous, so drive safely and keep your rates low while you’re at it. And before you head out for the mall, grandma’s house or on a road trip, contact your independent insurance agent and review your car insurance coverage. It’s the smart thing to do and you can say “Happy Holidays” while you’re at it.
Thursday, November 16, 2017
Enjoy your travels during the holidays much more by making sure your home and auto insurance are what you need before you leave.
When you’re away traveling during the holidays visiting family and friends, are you confident your home and auto insurance are up to date and cover everything you need it to?
Being away from home can be worrisome if you don’t lay some groundwork first. Here are some valuable tips to put your mind at ease while you’re gone.
Lock it up -- Using secure locks on all doors and windows is a great first step. Any windows or locks that are broken should be repaired.
Good neighbor policy -- If you’re fortunate enough to have one good neighbor you trust, leave your travel schedule with them. Leave a key with them so they can check on the house and leave a telephone number to reach you in case of an emergency.
Don’t publish your plans – Avoid sharing your travel plans with all your ‘friends’ on social media. That can unfortunately be a weak link and an invitation to burglars.
Occupied house – Either have the post office hold your mail or ask a neighbor to pick it up each day. And no need to have the newspaper delivery while you’re gone. If it appears someone is at home you are safer from being burglarized. Timer switches on lights are a good idea so the house is lit up during the evening hours.
Holiday driving –If you’re driving to your holiday destination and don’t have comprehensive auto insurance, it would be a good idea to get it. With more people on the road during the holidays and not all of them driving as safely as they should, the chances of mishaps are greatly increased.
Check with your independent insurance agent to find out exactly what is covered and what is not. Sometimes only people listed on the insurance policy are covered if they are behind the wheel. If someone who isn't on the policy, such as your son’s best friend or cousin Fred are driving and a wreck occurs, you could be holding the bag for damages. Even if it just goes on your record, that could cause your rates to increase on your premium.
And if you’re considering using a rental car, before you buy insurance for it, see if you may already be covered by your auto policy. If you don’t need additional coverage, there’s no need to pay for it.
It’s great to look forward to time off with friends and family during the holidays, but it’s important to know that you will get there and back safely. On your return, your warm, inviting home will be just as you left it (just maybe a little dustier).
Thursday, November 9, 2017
Before you head out for the seasonal tailgating party, make sure your auto and homeowner’s insurance are current.
Tailgate parties are a popular way to break free of the weekly grind and have some fun with friends and family. But the fun can be cut short if the combination of fun, traffic and grilling on open flames gets out of hand.
All the more reason to have the right insurance coverage so you can avoid any mishaps.
Here are some tips about having a game plan for your insurance before the party starts.
Something besides the grill is on fire
Grilling is a big part of tailgate parties, but if the lighter fluid starts a fire in your car, you had better have comprehensive auto insurance.
Vandals take out their team’s loss on your car
Fans can get crazy when their team loses, so if one of them takes it out on your car with spray paint, be mad but also be glad. Your comprehensive auto insurance will pay for damages as a result of vandalism, riots and such, less your deductible, of course.
Someone in your part gets food poisoning
Yikes, that’s not something anyone expects to happen, but without the convenience of a kitchen, food safety can suffer. Personal liability insurance covers others’ bodily harm that you have responsibility for if you have homeowner's, condo or renter’s insurance.
Damage to a tailgater’s property parked next to you
Whoops! You and your friends didn’t mean to crash into the guy’s speakers parked next to you. This kind of unintentional damage is usually covered by your liability covers in your homeowner’s policy. Still an apology is a good idea, too.
Parking snafus happen
When the party’s over, everyone is in a rush to get home, so fender benders do happen. Your liability insurance kicks in as it would in an at-fault crash. It will pay to repair damage to the other driver’s vehicle, based on your policy’s limit. If you have collision coverage, it will pay for repairs on your car. If your car’s damage is minor and does not exceed your deductible, it would be to your advantage not to make a collision claim.
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Vehicles are twice as likely to be damaged in some way during Halloween by pranksters. Be sure your auto insurance is up to date.
Halloween is a tradition that has amassed a huge following over the years. Sure, there are lots of sweets in the offing and there’s great fun dressing up in costumes, but there are also some scary tricks that have become popular during Halloween.
Do you dare look outside the day after Halloween to see if you’ve escaped the pranksters?
Here are some of pranksters’ favorite tricks. It’s good to know that your auto insurance coverage protects you from these ghoulish acts.
Pumpkins that Fly
If your car or truck is hit by a pumpkin that causes damages to the vehicle, your comprehensive insurance coverage will take care of it. Punkin’ chunkin’ has grown in popularity among pranksters at Halloween. It’s good to know your insurance has you covered if you get hit.
If you hit a tree because you swerved to avoid hitting a black cat crossing the road, not to worry. Your collision insurance will take care it.
If a Halloween decoration somehow crashes into your car, your comprehensive insurance pays for damages. But if you crash into decorations that are in place, your collision coverage kicks in. If a ghoulish, inflatable decoration appears out of nowhere smashing into your vehicle, comprehensive insurance picks up the tab.
Considered one of the less harmless Halloween pranks, there is a chance your vehicle could get scratched during the TP wrapping process. If so, comprehensive will cover it.
Probably the worst of all Halloween pranks, egging can ruin a good paint job. The best thing to do if you’re an egging victim is wash off the egg as soon as possible. It’s good to know that your comprehensive insurance has you covered, even for such dastardly deeds.
Vehicles are two times more likely to be damaged by pranksters at Halloween, so make sure your auto insurance is everything you need it to be. Make a call to your independent agent.
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
While wildfires can happen during any season, the risks are higher during times of little or no rainfall.
Wildfires are unpredictable and not restricted to certain geographic regions. Most wildfires are unplanned fires which burn in a natural area where there are prairies, forests or grassland, and many are caused by human negligence involving cigarettes, campfires, or outdoor burning. Unfortunately, the urban interface of commercial and residential development that expands into these natural areas puts an obvious risk to people and property.
Wildfires not only cause injury and/or death to people, animals and communities that the fire originates from but are also carried miles away through hot, airborne embers and toxic smoke to do even more damage. The unimaginable loss and damages that occur each year due to wildfires is a harsh reality faced by many individuals and insurance companies.
While wildfires can happen during any season, the risks are higher during times of little or no rainfall. Check to see if your community designates a ‘wildfire season’ where you live. If so, there usually local resources for staying current on wildfire activity. It is always good to have a plan and be prepared, and to help reduce the risk to your home.
How to be prepared for a wildfire
- Be familiar with your local community’s emergency plans and evacuation protocol
- Have a wildfire emergency plan and a well-supplied emergency kit
- Construct an area about 30’ or so from your home that’s free of anything flammable
- Keep trees and bushes trimmed and away from your home
- Make a point to clean your roof and gutters
- Maintain garden hoses that will reach any area of your home
- Fill large containers with water
- Evaluate your homeowner's insurance policy including a current list of contents
After a wildfire you should only return home when local authorities deem it safe to do so.
Remember that for hours after a fire you should keep a ‘fire watch’ to check for smoke or hidden burning embers in your house and attic and on the roof. Be cautious when going into burned areas as hot spots may exist which can spark up with little warning. If you smell smoke in any area that you enter, leave immediately.
Take photos of your damaged property for insurance purposes and contact your homeowner’s insurance policy immediately. Once an insurance adjuster has seen and assessed your damaged property it’s time to start the unsavory job of cleaning up.
Thursday, October 19, 2017
When your rental or sale property is vacant, the risk of vandalism can be at its highest. Besides good property insurance, know other ways to best protect your investment.
If you’re a property owner you may find yourself with vacant property for a number of reasons ranging from renovation, a transition between tenants or rezoning issues. The fact remains that any of these can pose a risk of vandalism or property damage to your unoccupied property.
It’s fine if you’re able to rely on neighbors and friends to keep a check on things, but there are also risks from bad weather and popular events such as Halloween.
Vacant property is a target for vandalism and pranksters any time of the year, but especially at Halloween when criminal activity often escalates. All the more reason to have good property insurance in place to counteract any risk of damages.
In addition, there are some things you can do to mitigate potential damages. Following are some helpful tips.
Keeping property in good condition gives the perception that someone is living there. This is a definite deterrent to vandals. It’s also good to keep the property in tip-top shape to attract new tenants or buyers.
Any paper or cardboard debris should be removed from the property. Fires in vacant buildings and property spread rapidly and can even engulf neighboring property.
A security system is the best choice, as it alerts you to trespassers or fire. Having a security system can also help lower your insurance premium on the dwelling. If you do not have a security systems for your rental property, at least place a few yard signs that advertise a security system. This provides some crime prevention value.
Timers on lights for both inside and outside the property are good to have set at regular intervals, giving the impression of habitants inside. Street-facing rooms are important to light, but close the curtains or blinds to avoid passers-by.
If you have a For Sale or For Rent Sign at your property, that’s fine to help you with potential buyers or renters. But signage can also be a great tip-off for criminals so keep that in mind.
Insurance for vacant property should be a high priority. Ask your independent insurance agent about the many advantages and find out if there are discounts for insuring multiples properties.
Monday, October 16, 2017
Did you know you need two policies when insuring a co-op or a condo?
When it comes to buying insurance, there is a difference between a Condo and a Co-op. It’s important to understand the difference.
Condominiums, or more commonly called condos, are owned by the individual. If you are a condo owner you own everything from your walls inward. You are a property owner of your unit.
Co-ops are owned by a company or a corporation. As an owner of a co-op you do not own the building or the property, but rather a share of the corporation’s holdings.
Two insurance policies are required for insuring a co-op or a condominium. Why? Because the owners share the building structures. A master policy and an individual policy are both required to properly protect everyone.
A master policy covers the building. It protects the entire apartment structure. Your building management is responsible for it and pays premiums from your association dues. This policy covers the areas you share with others in your building such as walls, roof, sidewalks and such.
The association may be responsible for the units as they were originally built. If that’s the case, the owner would be responsible for any remodeling or alterations made. Also it may be that the association insures just the unfinished walls, floor and ceiling. If a disaster were to occur, the owner would be responsible for such things as the cabinets, wiring, built-in appliances and plumbing.
An individual policy covers the person living there. It protects personal belongings as well as any apartment elements not covered in the master policy.
Be sure to find out which parts of your home are covered by the association’s master policy. You can then get the insurance you need for an individual policy.
Ask your independent insurance agent about insurance for condos and co-ops to understand the details before making your purchase. And remember to ask about available discounts, such as special bolts on the doors or an extra fire alarm system that add value to your policy.