5 Winter Home Insurance Tips Everyone Should Know

Winter is around the corner and with it, comes the challenge of protecting your home from snow-related damages. According to the Insurance Information Institute, winter-related claims accounted for 6.7% of the total number of claims in 2016.  However, most of the problems can be avoided or prevented through the following ways:

1. Check on the status of your roof
A weak or damaged roof could result in water damages within your home. Before the onset of the winter, inspect the roof for general wear and tear, missing shingles, and cracks that could cause leaks. Prevent ice dams on your roof by cleaning and repairing the gutters and downspouts. You can go a step further and install gutter guards. Having a professional inspect your roof on an annual basis is highly recommended.

2.  Protect your pipes
Frozen pipes are the biggest source of property damage. Make sure that you disconnect and drain hoses. Drain the sprinkler supply lines if you have any. Insulate the pipes that are in unheated places such as in the garage, attic, crawl spaces, and in the basement. Apply a heat tape or pre-molded foam rubber on the pipes that are most vulnerable.

3. Beware of damages from falling trees
While insurance companies will compensate you against damages caused by falling trees or branches, the coverage is against living trees. It is your responsibility to remove any dead trees near your home and low hanging tree branches. Some insurance companies will also cover the cost of repairing your landscape.

4. Test the detectors within your home
Home fires during the winter are quite common. Therefore, ensure that the smoke alarm is working. The heating appliances used to warm your home produce carbon monoxide. It is vital that you have a carbon monoxide detector to monitor the carbon monoxide levels and alert you should a certain limit be exceeded. Test the detectors and change their batteries regularly.

5. Insulate your home
Insulating your walls will help retain heat without incurring high energy bills. Insulate the sides and top of your water tank to keep it from freezing. Insulate the external faucets as some insurance policies exclude frost damage to outdoor plumbing. Ideally, the attic should be warmer than the outdoors to minimize the formation of ice dams, thus, ascertain that it is well insulated too.

While most insurance policies cover damages that could occur during winter, it would be wise to understand your type of policy.

AgentInsure gives you access to a host of independent insurance agents from whom you can get comparative rates at the comfort of your home. Log into our website and use our online rater to find a suitable insurance quote.

Getting Your Home Ready For Fall

There is no doubt that your home is one of your biggest and most treasured possessions. As such, you will want to protect your property from the severe weather and threats that characterize the fall. You will also want to ensure that your home offers you the comfort you are used to during the changing season. There are a number of tasks that you will need to do in order to prepare your home for fall. While you can do some on your own, others are better left to professionals.

Clean the gutters and downspouts
Water can cause serious and extensive damage to your home. It is important to check and clean your gutters as well as downspouts in preparation for fall. By getting rid of any leaves, dirt and debris that could have clogged the drainage system, you will keep water flowing smoothly in case it rains. This will help to avoid damage to the foundation walls as well as the exterior of your home.

Inspect your roof and chimney
You should also get a professional to inspect your roof for any damages and carry out the necessary repairs. Loose or missing shingles, broken seals and damaged metal flashing around the chimney could let in water, resulting in bigger problems. Make sure that your chimney is also inspected, swept and any dangers are addressed. Such an exercise will go a long way in helping to reduce the chances of a chimney fire.

Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
As fall approached, the winter heating season will also be drawing near. Remember to have your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors checked to make sure that they are working properly. You can also change their batteries so that you receive alerts in case of a problem with your heating system or any other life-threatening emergency.

Put up storm windows 
Depending on where you live, you should consider putting up storm windows. Storm windows will not only make your home more energy efficient but also control moisture and protect your normal windows from the ravages of rain and wind. The windows will also reduce UV exposure and sound, allowing you to enjoy more comfort while in the house.

Get the right home insurance 
There is a lot more than you can do to prepare your home for fall. However, buying the right home insurance will ensure that your home and its contents are protected in the event of a disaster that causes damage to the property. If you are to get the coverage that meets your needs, you should consider working with a local independent insurance agent.

Before buying home insurance, you should compare the products offered by different insurers. AgentInsure allows you to compare insurance quotes so that you can choose the best policy. Use our online rater today to find a quote and make an informed decision.

Why You Should Shop Around for Home Insurance

It always pays to shop around for insurance, especially when it has to do with your home. In the home insurance business, rates and coverage are all over the place. One company can be twice as expensive as another while still offering less coverage. Two companies might have the same deductible, replacement and liability coverage, but could vary in price by thousands of dollars per year. Depending on where you live can drastically alter prices as well. For instance, if you live in a natural disaster prone area, like Kansas or the Florida Panhandle, you will pay more than living in a relatively mild weather event area like Montana or Tennessee. Each state’s companies look at the data and create their rates based on risk factors, yet some companies weigh different factors at different price points which causes the rates to vary substantially. 

With all that said, when shopping for insurance, it is very important to do your research. Don’t settle on the first company you see. A great way to start your search is through a comparative quote website. These websites allow you plug in your location, the type of coverage you desire and will redirect you to a list of insurance companies in your area with their live rates. This allows you to look at all of the information in one convenient location and will save you a lot of time in your search. 

With this information in hand, it is time to start calling the agents. Be ready to ask them for as much information as you desire. Ask them what your policy will and won’t cover. You need to know exactly what you are purchasing. Ask them about their dependability. If their rates are much lower than everyone else, find out how and why. You should also find out how their claims are handled. You don’t want to have a major incident in the middle that requires you to give them a call, only to find out they are not available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Never be afraid to ask questions to a potential agent. After all, you are the customer and are making a real investment. 

So shop around, use a comparative quote site to narrow down your options, and investigate. This will help you get the right home insurance for you.

3 Ways to Find the Best Discounts on Home Insurance

Finding the most cost-effective rates on homeowners’ insurance starts with comparing quotes. Knowing what a variety of different carriers are offering as potential rates is important in making an informed decision for you and your family.

However, did you know that it also includes finding the right discounts? Here are three ways to find the best discounts on home insurance.

#1: Simply Ask

Sometimes the easiest way to find out if you qualify for a discount on your home insurance is to ask. Several carriers offer policy rate reductions to those who work in a particular industry, are employed by a certain company, or even property owners who have never had a claim. Some firms even offer special savings to current and former military service members. Each insurance company has their own set of guidelines for these types of discounts, so inquiring as to what different ones are available is the first step to finding out if they exist.

#2: Combine Your Insurance

The next way to lower your home insurance costs is to combine carriers. This means having the same auto insurance and property coverage with the same insurance company. It also includes having other policies with the same firm such as life insurance, boat insurance, recreational vehicle insurance, and others. Most firms offer a discount of up to twenty percent off your annual premium just for having other lines of business with them – which can mean big savings for you. In addition, the discount can also work to help lower your other insurance bills, making the situation great on both sides of the coverage coin.

#3: Know the Condition of Your Home and Property

Knowing the condition of your home is also essential to getting the best home insurance discounts. Having a roof that is only a few years old, installing an alarm system, and taking other security measures are all ways to lower your rates. Having a fire hydrant within a few hundred yards can also trigger a discount. If you are thinking about building a new home, there are also steps you can take that will lower your policy premium. Metal roofs and brick don’t burn, making them much less expensive to insure. By letting your insurance agent know these things, he or she can see if your carrier offers discounts for these things.

It is important to remember that many of these discounts apply to all types of property insurance even if you don’t own a home, including renters insurance and condominium insurance.

 

Life insurance security, and why you need it.

Life insurance securities provide finances for the named beneficiaries upon the policyholder's death. Most often, life insurance is viewed as a way to provide for your family should you pass away, but that is not it’s only use. Life insurance securities can serve many purposes, and almost everyone should have them. Here’s a look at some of the ways people at different stages can use life insurance to cover their end-of-life financial obligations.

Providing for Your Family

As mentioned, life insurance gives parents a way to provide for their families, should they pass away unexpectedly. Both whole and term life can be used for this purpose, but term policies are specifically designed for this. They provide coverage for a set number of years, which is presumably the time during which people are financially dependent on you.

Insurance policies that are used to provide for family members after an unexpected death are typically large policies, because they need to provide financial support for several, perhaps many, years. It’s not uncommon for these policies to be several times larger than your annual income, and they can easily reach into the six-figure range.

Paying Off Debt

Life Insurance can also be used to pay off outstanding debt. Adults who have outstanding student loans, a mortgage, credit card debt, business loans or other unsecured debt may want to pay off their loans completely. They may want to do this to leave behind a good name, or they might want to make sure their heirs inherit their assets. A lump-sum from a life insurance company can be used to pay off any outstanding debt that the policyholder wasn’t able to pay back during their lifetime.

If you’re using life insurance to pay off debt, then the policy should be for the amount of your debt.

Paying for Funeral Arrangements

Finally, life insurance can be used to pay for life insurance. Even elderly individuals who don’t have debt sometimes keep a small life insurance policy to cover their funeral costs. This way, the people left behind don’t need to worry about covering this expense in the midst of their grief.

Everyone Needs Life Insurance

Everyone needs life insurance, whether they have a family to care for, debt to pay off or just need to cover their funeral and burial expenses. If you don’t have a policy, contact one of our independent agents who can compare policies from different insurers to find an affordable one that meets your specific needs.

Rethinking your home insurance coverage for the Holidays

With the holiday season just around the corner, it is time to start thinking about plans and activities that may occur. Although the specific plans that you set may vary, there are risks that can arise during the holidays. In some cases, you may need to adjust your home insurance coverage to address the problems that may arise.

Evaluating Your Current Coverage

Your current coverage will impact the changes that may be necessary during the holiday season. Generally, you should expect that your coverage will have set limitations that are not covered. For example, you may not be covered if a pet knocks over the holiday decorations and damages the property.

Before you make any adjustments, evaluate the current coverage. Find out if you are covered for the specific concerns that may arise, especially if you plan to invite guests into your home for a party or even an overnight visit.

Making Changes

A simple way to adjust your insurance coverage is to discuss your options with an independent agent. You can also compare quotes for a new policy if you are planning to make several changes to the current plan or if you feel that the policy is too expensive.

Read the new policy completely before you finalize the purchase. You want to make sure that you are covered for the most likely mishaps that may occur. You should also be aware of the liability risks if you plan a party for the holidays. In some states, you may be liable for accidents on the road if your guests were drinking alcohol at an event that you hosted. It may be wise to purchase additional liability coverage to protect against potential accidents.

Comparing Options

The changes that are most appropriate can depend on your current policy and the plans that you have made for the holiday. Usually, a few changes to your liability coverage and adjustments for potential holiday mishaps can be appropriate for your goals. By comparing several policies with online tools or the assistance of an agent, you can find the plan that is best for your home and your holiday plans.

Enjoying the holiday season does not mean that you must take unnecessary risks. There are ways to protect your home with a few adjustments to your current homeowner’s policy. The key is recognizing the situations that may arise so that you can find the right coverage.

What Kind of Coverage Should I Consider When Looking to Insure My Condo?

When you own a condo, things are significantly different than owning a home or renting an apartment. Though a variety of factors can play a role in what types of insurance you should have, the key here is to ensure you have proper coverage to protect your home and possessions from risks. In many situations, you'll need to have several types of insurance to ensure all aspects of risk that could apply to you are minimized. The good news is that with the help of our independent insurance agents, we can help you to save money. And, you can get quotes right here online.

What Types of Coverage Are Important?

It's a good idea to first learn what your master policy says. A master policy is one type of policy you likely have that is shared among all condo owners of the complex. The condo association generally will put this in place, along with any association rules. It is likely to provide insurance in terms of protecting the building exterior and hallways as well as other common areas. That is, it protects the parts of the condo complex that are shared among all owners.

You, as the condo owner, will likely need additional coverage. The coverage you have should provide you with protection from additional losses not covered under the master policy. This may include coverage for your possessions, for example. Additionally, you'll need liability insurance. If someone were to fall and be hurt on your property, inside your condo for example, you might be found liable for his or her losses. Liability insurance may help to protect against losses like this, which are sustained by someone else.

How Can You Get the Best Policy?

The good news is that a condo insurance plan can be all inclusive and provide for all of your needs. To find one that does this, we recommend that you use our online comparative analysis tool. This tool allows you to compare insurance plans from multiple carriers right online. It's a fast and easy way to see what type of coverage is included in the plan as well as the costs. You can get a quote right way using this tool.

Don't overlook the importance of comprehensive coverage. You should speak to an independent agent from our organization if you have any questions about your coverage needs.

Useful Winter Driving Tips and Tricks for the Road.

With the freezing wintertime just around the corner, it can really be helpful to think ahead regarding ways to keep yourself and your family safe while on the road. Ice, snow, and rain can really wreak havoc with vehicles and can easily compromise the integrity of the roads that you travel on every day. Fortunately, you can take a few simple actions to keep yourself protected when you encounter the wintertime roadways.

Space is Key

Allowing enough space in between your vehicle and the cars in front of you and in back of you is especially vital during the winter. The exact amount of space required between vehicles may vary by state, so be sure that you're aware of your state's guidelines and that you strictly follow them during the winter. This is the time of year when you may have to deal with skidding and slippery roads, so adding a bit of extra space won't hurt.

Brake With Caution

When you apply the brakes on slippery roads, you have a much greater chance of vehicle skids and collisions. On a clear day with perfect road conditions, sudden braking may not be as dangerous, although it's never really desirable. However, brake suddenly on an icy road and you may trigger an out of control wreck. Remember to brake slowly and cautiously, giving the brakes plenty of time to engage, during the winter.

Vehicle Check Ups

Your vehicle can use a winterizing checkup whether you are currently experiencing car problems or not. Be sure that you have fresh windshield wiper blades to keep the ice and snow at bay. Have the brakes checked to make sure they're functioning properly. Be sure your heater is working well so you're comfortable and can focus on safe driving, too!

Want to make sure that you're properly covered by insurance before you get on the road this winter? You can easily compare online auto insurance quotes in minutes via our free quote comparison tool. As your independent agent, your safety during the winter – and every other season – is our top priority!

Appropriate space heater safety for the coming months.

There is nothing more tragic than a house fire, especially a preventable one. Even though your home insurance may reimburse you for some of the losses, nothing will bring back lost loved ones or even family photos and mementos that could be lost in a fire. One common cause of house fires that is completely preventable is the space heater. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that 19,300 fires a year involve home space heaters.

If you use a space heater, you're going to want to do everything you can to make it safe and use it properly. In fact, failure to use it properly might even make it more difficult to make a successful insurance claim. To make your space heater safer, there are some basic things to think about. It starts with purchasing your heater. First check on the legality of space heater use in your state as some states have laws preventing the sale and use of certain types of heaters. Next, look to be sure that any space heater you purchase has a label stating that it was tested by a testing company like Underwriter's Laboratories (UL).

For use, put a space heater on a level surface out of the line of traffic, at least three feet from flammable materials like curtains or furniture. Plug heaters into outlets only, not extension cords, or at least make sure that any extension cord you use is rated for as much power as the space heater is. Space heaters are not meant to be used for extended periods of time, and they should not be left unattended, nor should children or pets be allowed around them without supervision. Obviously, water and electricity don't mix, so space heaters should be kept clear of sinks and tubs, meaning that they should never be used in the bathroom.

Even if you take every precaution and use your space heater exactly right, there is still the possibility of a malfunction, and possibly a fire. To help you in that contingency, you're going to need really good home insurance. One of the best ways to find the right insurance company for you is by visiting our website, where you can get live comparative quotes on home insurance from multiple insurance companies. Visit today and enjoy your warmth with peace of mind!

 

What to Do if Flood Water Damages My Property?

Flood water can be extremely destructive. If you are a victim of a flood, there are certain things that should be done in an effort to make the insurance claims process easier.

Before understanding what to do during a flood, it is important to understand that not every insurance policy covers floods. Most homeowners and/or renters insurance policies list floods as an excluded peril. This means any property damage is most likely not covered and will have to be paid out-of-pocket.

Luckily, there is an additional insurance policy that may be purchased that can offer homeowners and renters the property protection they need in case a flood should occur. A National Flood Insurance policy will help cover expenses related to property damage that has been caused by a flood.

If you possess a policy that offers flood damage coverage, there are certain things that must be done in order to obtain compensation for that damage. The first thing to do in the event of property damage from a flood is to contact the insurance company that provides your insurance policy.

Contacting the insurance company should be the first thing that is done because coverage can be denied in the event the incident was not reported in a timely manner. Each insurance company has their own definition of ‘timely manner’, so it is best to contact them as soon as possible to avoid any potential problems with your insurance claim.

Even if you are unsure if you possess flood coverage, it may be a good idea to call your insurance company anyways. Your insurance company can provide you with guidance on whether you have a policy that will provide coverage for flood damage.

After contacting the insurance company it is best to start collecting information on the damaged property. Information that can be collected include a list of any property that has been destroyed or damaged, photos of the damage, and any pictures of the property before the damage.

If the property may need to be repaired, try and collect any estimates for repairs. These estimates will be helpful when making a claim to receive reimbursement for property damage that happened as a result of a flood.

Additional flood insurance coverage may not be as expensive as anticipated. Using our website, you can compare homeowners insurance policies with multiple companies to find the best rate and coverage for your needs.