Should I Drop My Home Insurance if My Home is Paid Off?

If you are like most Americans, your home is one of your most valuable assets. A home with a paid off mortgage contributes significantly to your net worth and provides added financial security. It only makes sense to protect your investment with homeowner’s insurance. You should not eliminate your homeowner’s policy just because you no longer have a mortgage that requires insurance coverage. Furthermore, a paid mortgage doesn’t necessarily mean you are not required to carry insurance on your property anymore. For example, if you have a home equity loan or line of credit, your lender likely requires you to insure your home, which serves as collateral to secure your debt.

Some homeowners opt to downgrade home insurance after paying off a mortgage rather than eliminate it altogether. Though this is a better option than cancelling your homeowner’s policy, it still provides you with limited protection against unforeseen circumstances. Before making the decision to downgrade your policy, consider your financial ability to recover your losses should your home catch on fire, fall victim to a burglary or suffer other damages. After all, homeowner’s insurance doesn’t just cover your structure; it also provides compensation for your personal possessions, such as furniture and electronics.

If your goal is to save money by cancelling or lowering the value of your insurance policy, consider alternative ways of reducing your annual premiums. For instance, many insurers provide discounts to homeowners who are claim-free for an extended period of time. A monitored home security system could also lower premiums as will a high policy deductible. You may also be able to get a discount if you carry automotive insurance through the same insurer that you have your homeowner’s policy through. When in doubt, ask your insurance agent for advice on achieving a lower premium without affecting your coverage.

The Most Overlooked Insurance Discounts

If you need insurance, one thing you want to get are discounts. If you don’t take advantage of the discounts that are offered to you, you may end up spending a lot more money for your insurance policy. No one likes to spend money that they could have saved for something else and you shouldn’t have to. Unfortunately, a lot of people overlook a discount or two (or more) that they could have gotten if they’d been aware of them.

Discounts on your vehicle are related to your VIN, or vehicle identification number. Your VIN gives your insurance carrier great information, regarding what your car is equipped with. If you have airbags and antilock brakes, for example, most insurers will offer discounts for those items. Customers who only purchase liability coverage won’t see these kinds of discounts, though. They are only for people who have other coverage options such as medical payment, unisured/underinsured motorists, and personal injury protection. The same is true for a car alarm. You can get a discount for that, but only if you’re carrying theft coverage – which is part of comprehensive.

Each insurance company is different. Some even provide a discount for membership in a particular group, but this is relatively rare. By changing companies, you may be able to get your insurance for a lot less. Just make sure that you’re not giving up any coverage in order to get your discount. If that’s the case you have to consider whether it’s really a discount at all. You should always choose good coverage over getting a discount, so keep that in mind when you’re shopping for an insurance company that will meet your needs. The best choice is to work with an independent agent or broker who can find the right insurance policy for you and help you get the discounts to which you are entitled.

Price versus Coverage When Buying an Auto Insurance Policy

When you’re spending money for auto insurance, you want to strike a good balance between price and coverage. It’s not a good idea to buy the cheapest thing you can find, but it’s also not necessary to always choose the option with the highest cost. There are many options that can help you find some middle ground. Of course, you’ll want to err on the side of caution when it comes to your coverage because you can’t afford not to do so. Find out what your current insurance policy offers you, and break down your coverage for each auto if you have more than one vehicle. Then, take a look at the price (total and for each car) that you’re paying so you can get a realistic picture of your insurer’s charges.

To strike a balance that you can be happy with and that will still keep you well-protected, it’s a good idea to go over your policy every year and make sure that it still meets your needs. If you change vehicles, you should also consider what policy adjustments you might need to make (such as adding collision coverage if the vehicle is financed) so that you can keep yourself and your vehicles properly protected.

When it comes to making a decision about your insurance policy, talk with your agent and consider shopping around with other companies to see what they are offering. Avoid companies that have poor reputations and companies whose names you don’t recognize. These companies will often have lower prices than their larger competitors, but they may not have a good balance of price and quality. In order to provide the best protection for your auto, shop carefully and make sure you’re comfortable with your policy and company choice before you sign on the dotted line.

Home Insurance Tailored for New Homeowners

No matter what type of home you live in, you need home insurance tailored for your unique home. You may wonder how insurance providers are able to give a homeowner a policy tailored for his or her specific needs, but it is actually quite easy. When you are looking for the best homeowner insurance, make sure you shop around and find the best policy for your situation.

People who live in multifamily homes like apartment or condos need different protection than people who live in a single family home. If you live in a condo, you will need to be aware of what the condo association is responsible for and whey you will need to insure on you own. Living in apartment is a little more risky than living in a single family home. You depend on your neighbors to be responsible homeowners and prevent fires or floods that could damage your unit. To find the right insurance for your home, make sure you know your unique coverage needs.

A homeowner who lives in a rural area has different needs than a person who lives in a neighborhood. If you have a barn, garage or even a swimming pool, you will have different insurance options. Check out all of the different types of coverage available and you will be able to find a policy that is tailored to your needs and your home.

Before you purchase a insurance policy, think about anything unique that you may need to insure. If you have an expensive gun collection, you will want to take this into consideration when choosing your homeowner insurance. If you have a specific breed of dog, this may need to be noted on your policy also. You do not have to pay a lot for insurance, but you want to make sure you have the exact coverage you need.

How will an accident or claim affect my coverage/monthly premium?

If you have been in a car accident recently and you are waiting to find out what type of impact it will have on your insurance policy coverage, it can certainly be a nerve wracking time. Fortunately, the impact of an accident upon your monthly premium is often not nearly as bad as one might imagine. The best course of action is always to have a frank and honest discussion with your auto insurance provider, so that you can get the specifics about your policy and your situation.

However, even though you can’t find out exactly the degree of impact on your premium just by searching online, you can get a good idea of how your claim or accident could affect your policy even prior to speaking with your insurance agent. Here are some of the basics on how an insurance policy is generally impacted by an accident or a claim.

The Percentage Raise in Your Premiums

Most of the time you will see a small specified percentage raise in your monthly premium following an auto accident that resulted in a claim. Although this is standard for any accident which was caused by you or mainly caused by you, it will not apply in cases where another driver was at fault. In cases where there is a small amount of contributory negligence, it may not affect your policy premiums either. Contributory negligence essentially means that you have contributed to the accident circumstances in some way — but nearly all accidents are alleged to have some degree of contributory negligence, so you need not worry about a premium raise if the other driver was almost totally at fault. The percentage rate can really vary quite widely between insurance providers, so it very helpful to discuss such specifics with your agent. An average percentage for a first at fault accident violation is a 10 percent raise in liability, comprehensive, and collision coverage types.

Keeping Your Coverage

You won’t need to worry about losing your insurance coverage unless you have multiple at fault at fault accidents in a relatively short period. Your insurance provider will always be there to let you know if a situation like this is developing.

Insurance Guide for First Time Homeowners

It’s very exciting to own a home for the first time, but it also comes with added responsibility. If you learn about that beforehand, you won’t have any trouble navigating the waters of issues like insurance and taxes. Your homeowners policy will protect your home and the financial investment you’ve made in it, so you’ll want to be sure that you’ve got the coverage you need. Your insurance agent can help guide you, but it’s also possible to learn a lot on your own.

One of the things you should carefully consider is how much coverage you need. Many people try to insure their homes for the amount they owe on their mortgage, but the home might be worth much more than that. You should insure it for what’s called "replacement cost." That way the insurance company would pay to completely rebuild your home if it were to be destroyed. Periodically, you’ll want to review the level of insurance you have with your agent to make sure it’s adequate – particularly if home prices are on the rise and the value of your home may have jumped significantly.

Another issue to consider is that homeowner’s policies don’t always cover everything. If you live in an area where there are hurricanes, floods, or other types of natural disasters, these often require riders on the insurance policy or a special type of policy altogether. Learning about these other types of coverage can help you avoid serious financial problems in the future should your house become damaged.

It’s good to follow your agent’s lead, but it’s also good to arm yourself with knowledge and ask questions. If you do that, you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes to getting the right insurance policy for your needs. Homeowners want and need to be protected, because buying a home is a huge investment. If you insure that investment correctly, you shouldn’t have any serious worries about your financial future when it comes to your home. That’s a great feeling, and the peace of mind that comes with it can be very valuable – especially when it’s your first home.

How do I Report Hail Damage?

Major storms can happen almost any time of the year. If the storm is severe, you may experience hail that could damage your home or your vehicle. If you find hail damage on your property, you will want to check your insurance policy and make sure you are covered for this type of incident. When comparing quotes for insurance, you need to make sure you have adequate coverage and not just a cheap policy.

First you want to complete an inspection of your property. Make sure you have a camera handy or plan to take video with your cell phone. Often the roof is the most likely place you will receive hail damage on your home. This can severely damage the shingles and you will need to have repairs made quickly. You may also have hail damage to windows or other buildings on your property. If you have a metal shed where you store lawn or garden supplies, hail can cause a lot of damage. Make sure you take pictures of all of the damage as soon as possible.

Next, you will want to call your insurance company to make a claim. This usually needs to be done within the first 24 – 48 hours after the storm. You can explain the situation and more than likely, if the storm was severe, the company has received other calls for damage in your area. Your insurance company will probably need to send an adjuster to your home to inspect the damage. You can include pictures you have taken, but the insurance company will probably take pictures also.

The next step to report hail damage is calling a contractor to give estimates to fix the damage. Just like you have to get 2-3 estimates when making repairs to your auto, you will also need estimates for your home. You do not have to go with the lowest estimate. Your insurance company will compare the price and the reputation of the contractor and help you make a decision about who to hire.

Finally, your insurance company will give you a claim number and will settle on an amount to pay for the damage. Depending on your deductible, you should get a check in the mail that will cover the cost of the repairs. Now that you know how to report hail damage, hopefully you will never need the information.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Local Independent Agent to Purchase an Insurance Policy?

Using an independent agent to purchase any insurance policy is a good idea. An independent agent is an individual or a company that works with various insurance companies. Rather than representing just one provider, this agent works with numerous organizations. From the prospective of the customer, this is a very good thing. It provides a wide range of benefits to you.

Comparative Quotes Are Easy

The key benefit of working with this type of agent when you need to purchase a policy is that he or she works for you, not for the insurance company. This means he or she will help you to get quotes from numerous companies so you can easily compare them. You can get a quote from three, four, or even more national and local insurance companies all within the same amount of time. Even better, you do not have to deal with pushy sales agents. Your independent agent handles that for you.

Policy Right for You

The benefits of using an independent agent to buy insurance also include the fact that you can get all types of insurance you need at one time. This may include:

  • Homeowner’s insurance policies including add-ons
  • Auto insurance policies
  • Business property insurance
  • Recreational vehicle insurance
  • Business liability insurance
  • Renter’s insurance

If there is any other type of insurance that you need, your independent agent will help you to find it. Then, the agent will work with you to find discounts you may qualify for including bundle discounts. This means you end up paying far less for the coverage you need.

Why Local Matters Too

Hiring a local independent agent is even better. This allows you the ability to have someone on your side all the time. If you need to file a claim, you know whom to call. You can expect your agent to arrive at your home quickly. You know his or her first name and feel comfortable discussing your situation. Instead of working with a big name company, you get individualized attention.

Instead of working with the no-name person on the phone or the company website for a non-local provider, work with your local independent agent. He or she will ensure you get the best policy for you no matter which company you want to work with to get insurance protection. You can purchase with the confidence you need.

Who Needs Short Term Car Insurance?

The typical driver purchases an auto insurance policy that lasts for six months at a time between renewals. However, there are times when a driver may need to buy insurance for a shorter time, usually anywhere from a day to a month. In these situations, it’s much better to purchase short term car insurance, which adjusts the cost of the policy to make it more affordable to keep for just a short time. You should get quotes on a short term auto insurance policy if you fall into any of these categories.

Borrowing a Vehicle: If you’re borrowing the vehicle of someone who does not live in the same household as you, that person’s insurance policy may not extend to cover you. In this situation, you should purchase your own short term insurance on that car. This insurance will not only keep you from the awkward situation of crashing your friend’s vehicle and not having money to pay for repairs, but it also protects you from financially liability for the injuries of others and damage to personal property of other parties in the accident.

Renting a Car: Purchasing a rental car policy from the agency is notoriously expensive, so it’s best to come to the rental desk with your own policy already in effect. If you have a policy on your personal vehicle, that same coverage usually extends to a rental as well. However, if you don’t carry comprehensive and collision coverage on your vehicle, this means that you won’t have this coverage on the rental car. In this situation, buying a short term policy with comprehensive and collision can protect you from being financially liable for damage to the rental car.

Driving Seasonally: Auto collectors often have vehicles they don’t spend much time actually driving. In this situation, you may have a basic policy you keep on the car for the year to meet the minimum requirements in your state, but you want to get a more extensive policy during the season when your vehicle is actually on the road. Therefore, if you’re planning to use a vehicle that has minimal insurance coverage, a short term policy can cover it for that short time. The policy is perfect for when you’re driving a special car to an auto show, taking it on a road trip, or another similar situation.

Who Is Liable if a Neighbor’s Dead Tree Fell on Your Property?

When a dead tree falls on your property, you likely will clean it up and deal with any damage on your own. But, what if it is not your tree? What if, instead, it is your neighbor’s tree that fell? Perhaps he or she did not take care of it. In that situation, you may be wondering what to do about the damage to your property. Your home or car could have been struck. Your fence may be flat. What insurance is going to pay for this? Who is liable?

Was Negligence a Factor?

In most situations, your insurance policy will provide coverage for this type of incident for the damage to your property. However, if you can prove your neighbor was negligent in caring for the dead or dying tree, it could easily become their insurance company’s problem. Homeowners are responsible for acting reasonably in caring for their trees and other property.

What to Do

If a tree falls on your property, it is a good idea to call your insurance company to discuss the options. In fact, your insurance provider may handle any negligent claims on your behalf (so they do not have to pay for the costs in the long term.) However, if you believe your neighbors were in fact negligent in caring for their property, you may want to file a policy report about the incident right away. This works as a form of documentation to back up your claims.

Keep in mind that if a tree falls on your house or other property and it was an act of nature, there’s simply no control over this. Your insurance company, though, will likely provide coverage for damage as well as cleanup costs related to the incident.

Dealing with Your Neighbor’s Insurance

If there is a claim of negligence, you may need to file the claim with your neighbor’s insurance company. If this is the case, be sure to include all losses including costs related to repairs, cleanup and replacement of any lost valuables. If there is any dispute in the situation, you may have to go to court over the matter. However, in most cases, this is not necessary.

Liability in a dead tree falling on your property is likely a simple claim to file with your insurance company. If you are working with an independent agent, he or she will help you to file the claim or give you advice on making a claim with your neighbor’s insurance if necessary.