I have some prized botanicals in my garden that were destroyed by the winter weather. Is their replacement covered by my home insurance policy?

When a person’s home is damaged in a winter storm, his or her first thoughts are often of making a homeowners insurance claim. What if all the value isn’t in your home, though? What if you have a collection of prized botanicals on your property, maybe even rare and expensive ones, that get damaged in that same storm? The call to your insurance agent may go quite differently in that case.

Damage to plants outside your home is generally covered only for perils such as explosion, fire, lightning, theft, vandalism, malicious mischief, and damage from vehicles not owned by anyone living in the dwelling. It is not impossible that your prized garden could be ruined by a lightning strike during a winter storm, but it’s not terribly likely, either. If it does happen that your prized plants are ruined by a covered event, then the coverage is often limited to not more than 5 percent of the value of the dwelling coverage and no more than $500 per plant.

If you want special coverage for particularly rare or expensive plants in your garden, you can get special policies or riders that not only cover your plants in the event of wind, snow and hail, but also increase the maximum benefit amount for plant claims. The cost of the coverage would depend on a number of factors, including risk, location, and the value of the insured plants.

When you are looking for a homeowners insurance policy with a rider to cover expensive plants, you should start by comparing the basic policies. Working with independent agents, we offer the chance to compare quotes on our website and to find the best possible policies for you with the best possible prices. Once you’ve narrowed your policy needs to a few choices online, you can start to ask more specific questions about riders for landscaping or expensive plants, helping to select the exact policy that you need.

Do any types of home insurance enable me to receive a tax deduction or credit?

When you are choosing the homeowners insurance for your property, you may have questions about tax regulations and whether your insurance purchase can qualify you for a tax deduction. While every case is different because each policy is unique, this is definitely something to speak with your independent agency about. You may be eligible for savings on your taxes thanks to your homeowners insurance purchase.

If you are the owner of the home and you reside in the home, you will generally not be able to take tax deductions or credits to offset your home insurance purchase, according to IRS regulations. However, you can sometimes take tax credits or deductions on the home insurance for the home that you own in certain other circumstances.

If you are operating a business that is fully or partially operated out of your home, you may be able to claim a tax deduction for the home insurance premium. If your home is partially used for business, you will typically be able to deduct an appropriate percentage (a percentage corresponding to the percentage of your home used for business purposes) on your taxes. In the event that you own a home that is used only for business and you do not reside there at any time, you will typically be able to take a full tax deduction for the insurance on the home.

If you are a home owner who rents the home in question to tenants, you will typically be able to deduct your home insurance costs on taxes. If you rent the entire home to a tenant, you may deduct the full amount of the home insurance on that home. In the case that you rent only a portion of the home and reside in the rest – for example, you rent individual rooms out to tenants and your family lives in the rest of the house – you will usually be able to deduct an appropriate percentage of your home insurance costs on your taxes.

When you look for your homeowners insurance, it is essential that you know exactly what you are getting. At Agent Insure, we help you to compare policies from multiple providers at one time. Try our online tool to compare rates now!

We are leaving on a beach vacation to escape the cold. What should we do to prepare our home while we are away?

With the winter weather now in full force, we are all feeling the effects – and that includes your home! When you decide to have a vacation from the cold on a lovely sunny beach, don’t forget that your home will still be exposed to the freezing temperatures you left behind. There are several things you can do to prepare your home for winter protection while you are away.

Our independent agency always likes to remind our homeowners to take precautions for their home during the winter, especially if you know you will be away for an extended period of time. One simple measure you can take is to shut off the water at its source. This can help guard against issues like pipes bursting. If you were to have a furnace failure while away, the pipes could quickly become so cold that they could freeze and cause serious damage but when the pipes are devoid of water the risk is eliminated.

Don’t forget to drain the pipes once you have shut the water off. Even though some of the draining will occur naturally, pipes can house residual water for a very long time. Even this small amount of lingering liquid could cause a pipe to burst if it were to freeze.

Set your property thermostat to a reasonable level but don’t turn it completely off. Make sure the temperature inside is set above the freezing point. This allows you to set the thermostat in such a way that you’ll have low energy bills while away but you won’t need to worry about your home interior having freezing damage.

The interior of your home will have the best air circulation if you leave doors open, so leave all the doors ajar before you leave. Even though you won’t have a great deal of heat circulating, this will help the heat that does need to circulate to reach all areas of your home evenly.

Even the best laid plans can sometimes go awry, and that is where your homeowners insurance steps in to help. Be sure that you have adequate homeowners insurance so that your home is prepared for any type of disaster, even the ones that can happen when you’re away! You can easily compare policy quotes from all the major insurance carriers online with the help of our independent agents. Give us a call and we will give you multiple homeowners policy options to review, all in one convenient place.

What are the advantages of using an independent agent for setting up commercial insurance for my business?

As a business owner, your list of insurance needs may seem like a mile long. It can be tempting to purchase your commercial insurance policies from the insurance company you have always done business with to save time on shopping around. But you could be throwing away thousands of dollars a year. Businesses always benefit from the services of an independent agent, who works for the client rather than the insurer.

Why Choose an Independent Agent for Your Commercial Policy?

Independent insurance agents can provide quotes from several of your state’s leading commercial insurance providers. These are the same policies available directly from insurance companies — only provided alongside multiple policies for easy comparison. Put simply, access to several insurers means you get quality coverage without sacrificing affordability every time you renew.

Another reason to use an independent agent is for time-saving purposes. You could go online or visit several insurance companies to shop and compare your own rates. But a thorough comparison could take several days, not to mention hours of sales pitches and follow-up contact. By using an independent agent, you can roll all of your comparison shopping into a single search that your agent completes on your behalf.

Finally, an independent commercial insurance agent will be available to support you long after you purchase your commercial policy. Often, dealing directly with insurance companies can be an impersonal process. You may find that you appreciate having a go-to representative who can answer questions and look out for your best interests.

For more information about commercial insurance coverage in your state, contact our office today. Whether you have been in business for years or are just starting out, we will walk you through the process of securing commercial coverage as quickly and affordably as possible. Call us for your free quotes. We’ll be happy to help you find the policy that best fits your business’s ever-changing needs.

What are the benefits of using telematics, or digital tracking devices, in my car for my automobile insurance?

The goal of any insurance provider is to assess the risk that a driver presents, as well as the likelihood that he or she will eventually need to file a claim. While there is no way to predict the future, insurers are taking advantage of modern technology to better determine the driving habits of policy-holders. With telematics, some drivers are paying lower auto insurance premiums than they ever have before.

What are Telematics?

Telematics are digital tracking devices installed on a vehicle to monitor driver speed, acceleration, and sudden braking. Though these devices are optional, there are benefits to allowing insurers to track driving information.

These benefits usually translate to auto premium savings for insured drivers — especially those with a history of insurance claims or traffic violations. Drivers in high risk groups, such as teenagers and the elderly, can also benefit from telematics. Insurers receive actual data for each individual driver instead of relying solely on statistical information and driving records. For those who drive safely, this can mean significant monthly savings.

Telematics are also making it possible to pay for auto insurance on a pay-as-you-go basis. In other words, drivers who operate a vehicle only on the weekends or for leisure may find their premiums decrease as digital tracking devices report less time behind the wheel. This is advantageous for anyone with sporadic driving habits, such as a student home from college during the summer or a retired person who only goes to and from the grocery store.

I am a weekend warrior and play sports regularly. What options are available for insurance against lost wages if I get injured playing?

If you’re like many active Americans, you relish the opportunity to engage in your favorite sports activity, especially after a hard week at work. Whether you prefer the fast-paced action of a great basketball game, the serene calm that golf has to offer or you like getting hands-on on the gridiron, such recreation has proven to be a great way to mark the end of a busy week in a fun-filled manner.

Nevertheless, you’ll definitely want protection as you pursue these and other sports activities. If you are a regular sports fan and were injured while playing, you may be covered under your current health insurance policy. Of course, such coverage depends on a broad variety of factors, including age and other risk factors. A brief consultation with your independent agent can help shed some light on the details surrounding your coverage.

If your standard insurance does not cover sports injuries for some reason, you may be able to have lost wages and other medical expenses taking care of under a supplemental plan. Again, you may want to talk to your independent agent to discover the details and fine print surrounding this type of insurance and possible compensation.

Don’t forget that most sports injuries are not covered by workers compensation. This type of insurance is usually limited to injuries on the job, unless you sustain an injury during an employer-sponsored sports activity or any other recreation your employer specifically encourages you to do.

While having the right type of coverage is important, it’s also crucial to weigh your options. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with your local independent agent as soon as possible. They can help you find competitive online quotes on your next health insurance policy and also help you find other types of insurance as well, including auto and home insurance. Check out the online quote tool on this website to learn more.

Will a New York Defensive Driving Course Give Me a Discount and Keep Tickets off My Record?

Many New York drivers think that defensive driving will reduce their monthly car insurance premiums and help them avoid tickets. However, the reality is slightly different. If you know how to drive defensively, it will help you be more aware of potential collisions and how to minimize your chances of being involved in one. And of course, the less collisions you’re involved in, the lower your car insurance rates.

To get an immediate discount off your car insurance premiums, you can enroll in an approved defensive driving course through the DMV, AAA or other organization. Depending on where you live, this can result in steep discounts. In New York for example, completing a defensive driving course can result in a 10 percent rate reduction for a period of three years. And if you have points on your driving record for an incident such as a collision, you can get up to three points knocked off your record if you complete a course within 18 months of the incident. Nowadays, most courses can be completed online with 8 to 9 hours of participation and successfully earning a certificate of completion.

Before enrolling in any defensive driving course, check with your local DMV to make sure it’s approved and will result in rate reductions.

How Long Does It Take for a Driving Record to Clear?

When it comes to your driving record, keeping it clear of any ticket is a very important step in maintaining lower insurance rates. However, there are times when things happen. You were going just a bit too fast while driving or you were charged with another moving violation. When this happens, you may incur points on your license.

Understanding Points

Every state’s department of motor vehicles or the equivalent determines how many points you receive for each type of driving violation. The more serious the crime, the more points are added to your license. You can max out, at which point you could lose your driving privileges either through a suspension or permanently.

In most states, points remain on your license for a set period of time. If, for example, the state’s laws say points remain in place for 18 months, then it will take 18 months for those points to come off your record. If you get additional points after the first ones, it will take another 18 months for those points to drop off.

Finding Your State’s Laws

Visiting the department of motor vehicles’ website for your state can help you to determine how long this will take. In many states, it is 18 months, but it can be more or less. You can also check your driving record through the site or request a copy of it so that you always know where you stand.

Finding Insurance

The more points you have on your driving record, the more expensive auto insurance will be for you. That’s because you are more of a risk to the insurance company. If you have a few points, it may be a good idea to shop around for a new insurance provider. Some work specifically with those who have poor driving records and need a second chance.

When you work with an independent insurance agency, you’ll be able to navigate your options and find the best insurance provider in your area. Even when you get a ticket, you can feel protected from your policy if you have the right one.

Is it possible to register a car under a different name?

One of the questions asked often of those who work for the Department of Driver Services or auto insurance agents is: “Is it possible to register a car under a different name?” There could be any number of reasons why someone may want to do this. Perhaps you do not want to actually sell your car, but you want to allow someone else to use it for a period, and they need insurance. Alternatively, perhaps you are the parent of a teenager, and want him or her to have responsibility of the vehicle. Another possibility is that you are separated or divorcing and want to allow a former spouse to use the car. Whatever the reason, the time may come that you wonder if this is something that could be done.

The answer to this question will vary from state to state and situation to situation. It may be possible for you to register the car under one name and someone else to hold the lien on it; however, generally, the title will be under the name of the person registering it. This is something many insurance carriers require, because it is in their best interest for policy holders to have a vested interest in the car they are insuring. It may be possible in cases where there is a parent/child relationship.

The best thing you can do to have this question answered for you is to visit or contact an insurance agent. He or she can look over your particular situation and help you decide what you need to do to achieve the goal you have in mind. It could be that there are options available to you that you have never before considered.

As you can see, this tricky subject can be confusing even for those who understand titles and insurance. Before attempting any sort of registration, title or insurance switch, it is important you know the facts in your state. Learning more about the facts will help you make a smart decision—whether or not you can register the car under a different name.

The Statistics on State Cell Phone Use and Texting While Driving

It is clear to most people that texting while driving is a dangerous practice. However, just knowing the danger exists is not enough to convince some drivers to limit their cell phone use while they are behind the wheel. For some people, they will not stop this practice until they cause an accident or they are ticketed by a police officer, but others may be convinced by hearing some of the statistics on how dangerous it is to text behind the wheel.

According to the Distraction.gov website, the United States official website of information about driving while distracted, 18% of injury crashes that occurred in 2010 were related to driving while distracted—one of the biggest distracters being texting while driving. Texting is still growing too. For instance, there was a 50% growth in text messages sent in June 2011 when compared to June 2009. These statistics show that unless more is done to stop it, texting while driving can become an even more significant problem.

While there are some safety features available, such as voice to text services, this is still a distraction for many drivers. One of the only effective ways of combating this practice is for police to be more proactive with pulling over drivers that appear to be texting behind the wheel. However, this can be a difficult thing to prove. In some areas, texting while driving is illegal, but not emailing while driving, using a GPS or using the phone for other matters. There are some state laws coming into play that disallow any type of phone usage, but for the most part they have met opposition.

Learning more about the facts behind distracted driving and texting while driving makes it obvious that something must be done. As you can see, for the most part it is an area where people must be self-policing. The statistics presented here may help you decide that powering down the iPhone while you are behind the wheel is the smart thing to do to protect you and keep you out of trouble with the law.