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Archive for the ‘Home Insurance’ Category

Does Owning a Trampoline Affect Home Insurance?

Does Owning a Trampoline Affect Home Insurance?

Many insurance companies throughout New York State region and Long Island have begun to take a hard look at the existence of trampolines in the backyard of homes that they insure. The industry has watched these backyard trampolines go from being a non-issue in underwriting to being a factor used to disqualify a risk, deny a claim or even cancel an existing policy.

 

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, trampoline injuries have tripled over the past ten years. Additionally, sales of trampolines have increased more than 350%, with an estimated 3.5 million trampolines in use.

As insurance companies react to this increase in exposure, homeowners are advised to review their home insurance policy with their agent/broker to make sure that they are properly covered. Some home insurance policies will contain a Trampoline Exclusion Clause which will exclude liability resulting from a trampoline related injury. This can be a huge financial insurance gap in coverage and may result in a devastating financial hardship should one be sued. It is therefore recommended that you obtain insurance from a carrier that does not exclude this type of liability exposure.

 

Our insurance agency, among others, is one company that will provide coverage for this. With some carriers the existence of such an exposure is an issue and they may ask you to remove the trampoline or have your insurance policy canceled. Also, in the event that an invited friend or guest is injured while jumping on your trampoline, and you are uncertain whether you have liability coverage for this, you may find out the hard way that you are responsible for some hefty medical bills and legal bills in defending a claim. It would be best to find out now, and not after the fact and take the necessary steps in order to be held financially responsible.

 

In summary, the important thing is to make sure that your home insurance policy has the necessary coverage to protect you and your family from liability that arises out of trampoline related injuries. If not, then it’s is time to start shopping again.  If you are wondering where to start, click here to obtain a free online insurance quote.

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Frozen Pipes

Frozen Pipes

Protect Your House: Avoid Damage From Frozen Pipes:

 

In New York, the winter weather can change dramatically. The temperature can fluctuate from a balmy 55 degrees one day and then plummet to sub-freezing temperatures the next day. Vulnerable pipes can burst if water in them freezes and expands. This can lead to thousands of dollars in property damage to the home and its contents. According to the Insurance Information Institute, winter storms are the third largest cause of loss, resulting in over 23 billion in insured losses over the past decade.

To prepare for the onset of cold weather BEFORE the freeze, homeowners should:

  1. Cover any vents around your home’s foundation
  2. Add extra insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces
  3. Drain water sprinkler supply lines
  4. Protect faucets, outdoor pipes, and pipes in unheated areas
  5. Learn how to shut the water off and know where your pipes are located.    In the event of a burst pipe you need to be able to locate the shut off valve and stop further damage.
  6. Set your thermostat at a minimum temperature of 55 degrees, especially when you’re gone for the day or for an extended period.
  7. Let indoor faucets drip if they are connected to pipes that run through unheated or unprotected space.

If You Have a Loss:  

Mitigate the damage by turning off the water supply and moving personal property out of harms way. At this point you should contact your insurance agent or insurance broker and he/she will advise you whether to make temporary repairs to prevent further damage. Keep all damaged property and any receipts that you have so that they are available for inspection by the adjuster.

 

Most standard home insurance  policies cover this water damage to your home and its contents, subject to your deductible. Also, most home insurance  policies will cover the cost to obtain access to the pipe.  What is not covered is the actual repair of the pipe itself-this will usually be excluded.  For more information on this important coverage you should contact your insurance agent or broker to review coverages before a loss occurs.

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In New York, particularly on Long Island in Nassau County, Suffolk County, Queens County, Brooklyn County, and Richmond County, homeowners may be faced with the prospect of trying to obtain home insurance (or having existing insurance) for a home that they own which is on or close to the water. In recent years this has become a complicated challenge.

A Flooded House on Long Island
A Flooded House on Long Island

Most insurance companies have restrictions based on the homes’ proximity to the ocean and other tidal waters, therefore, it becomes important know the obstacles you are up against BEFORE you purchase that dream house. The cut-off for most companies is 2500 feet of the ocean or tidal bay, although this may vary.

In recent years, the increased hurricane activity and the over-development along waterfront property has put more homes in harms way of wind and water damage. To limit exposure to these catastrophic storms and hurricanes, many insurance carriers have introduced wind or hurricane deductibles into their policies. This deductible typically can be 2%, 5% or 7% of your dwelling coverage, which can be a hefty amount.  For example, if your dwelling coverage is $250,000, your 5% deductible will be $12,500. You should therefore review your home insurance policy and understand this important deductible language. You must understand:

1. What % deductible your policy carries (2%, 5%, 7%) 

2. What triggers the deductible to apply (a windstorm, a category one or category two hurricane).

Another important consideration when insuring your home near any body of water should be flood insurance, as your home policy will not normally cover damages arising out of a flood. In New York, companies selling the National Flood Insurance policy can help you with this coverage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has established flood zones for your home’s location and the insurance premium will be based upon that flood zone.  For example, premiums for $250,000 of dwelling coverage will range from $338 annually in the most desirable “X” zone and could be as much as $1,000-2,000 in the more vulnerable “A” zone.   

As insurance companies re-evaluate their risk management in the New York coastal areas it is more important than ever to continually review your home insurance policy and set up a meeting with your agent to make sure you are properly covered. The cost for this “insurance check-up” should be free, and could give you some much needed peace of mind knowing that you are properly covered before disaster strikes.

A Flooded Street in NYC
A Flooded Street in NYC

If you are one of the unfortunate policyholders that have received a non-renewal notice due to your home’s location you should not panic, as you will have a couple of months to secure new coverage. First, try and get a referral from the company that is cancelling you, as they may have a relationship with a local broker that is able to write your insurance. And secondly, make sure you try and stay with a financially secure and reputable company.

 

 

 

 

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Owning a dog could affect your ability to obtain home insurance or renters insurance. You may have the sweetest, calmest dog in the world, however your insurance company MAY look at Rover differently. Some home insurance companies are not very enthusiastic about insuring certain breeds of dogs and as a result, you may pay more for your policy or they may cancel or not renew your policy. rebel-2

If you’re thinking of getting a dog, you might want to check with your home insurance provider before you make your final decision. Additionally, if you are looking for home insurance and already have a dog, you should disclose this to your agent or broker in order to make sure that you will have the proper coverage in the event of a dog bite.

Some states have existing and/or pending legislation to prohibit insurance companies from refusing to insure or discriminating against people that own certain breeds of dogs. As of December, 2008, the State of New York has 5 bills pending to restrict insurance companies from non renewing or cancelling policies as result of dog ownership. The American Kennel Club has a page on their site that lists states with pending legislation  along with a brief description of the bills:

Will owning a Dog affect your Home Insurance Policy? If you have a dog and are looking to find home or renters insurance here are a few tips:

Contact the insurance department of your state. They will provide you with a listing of all insurance companies licensed to provide home insurance in your state. Once you have the list, you can contact some of the companies to find out their guidelines on dog ownership. If you find the insurance company’s guidelines are too restrictive on the topic of dogs, you may contact the insurance department to confirm and/or report the insurance company.

If it is not against the law and you find it unfair, contact your state representative

Insurers are re-evaluating coverage’s for homeowners who share their living spaces with certain breeds. In New York State, there are a number of companies that will provide home insurance and renters insurance regardless of the type of dog you own. Your starting point on this should be State Farm Insurance and http://www.insurancelongisland.net/ which do not restrict or surcharge based on dog ownership. Above all, you should be aware of this issue if you are thinking about purchasing insurance and make sure you fully disclose this to your agent so that he/she makes sure you are properly insured.

 

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When you are in the market for home insurance or renters insurance in New York City or anywhere in New York for that matter, it’s important to not only check the price of coverage, but also to check the  insurance company ratings. Ratings give you information about a company’s financial strength, customer service record, claims records, and more valuable information that you can use when you shop for insurance.

By taking the time to check these ratings, you can select the best company with the best rates and the most affordable coverage.thumbs-up

 

How to Check Ratings

It’s very easy to check the ratings of insurance companies, especially if you go online.

 

Find out how many complaints have been lodged against insurance companies.  The New York State Department of Insurance will tell you how many complaints have been lodged against insurance companies. You will also be able to determine whether the company is actually “admitted ” in New York to do business.  To see how the companies stack up, click here.

 

Find out what consumers think of their insurance company.  J.D. Power conducts consumer surveys and then rates companies on their policy offerings, cost, billing and payment policies, and ease of contacting an agent. 

To see how they rate Home Insurance companies, click here

To see how they rate Auto Insurance companies, click here

To see how the companies rate on the customer’s buying experience, click here

To see how the companies rate when it comes to claims processing, click here.

 

Find out how financially stable your insurance company is.  A.M. Best Company, which evaluates the strength of insurance companies on a scale from AAA (extremely strong) to CC (extremely weak). They also include a rating of R for Under Regulatory Supervision.  To view their ratings, click here.

 

Standard & Poor’s, which looks at an insurance company’s ability to pay claims and meet financial obligations on a scale from AAA (very strong financial security characteristics) to BBB (good financial security characteristics). To see their ratings, click here.

 

 

Using Ratings When You Shop for Insurance


Checking home insurance and renters insurance company ratings will help you narrow down your choices when you shop for insurance, especially if you shop on the phone or online to gather information.

 

Why use a reputable company that is financially stable?


Although the answer is obvious, many people are attracted to the lowest rate that they have been quoted. This, of course, may not be the wisest decision as the company may have poor service, high complaint ratio’s and may be financially unstable. Therefore we recommend you do your research, speak to an actual agent that is accessible and knowledgeable, get a few quotes and then make a decision on which company to choose. State Farm Insurance has served policyholders for over 50 years and their service exceptional-this should be your starting point.

 

We know that ratings and customers’ opinions are valuable.  Please check out the reviews posted about our office:

Reviews written about Long Island Insurance

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If any covered peril damages or destroys your home, you will need to file a claim with your insurance company. You will need to promptly notify your insurance agent. You must be aware that an insurance policy is a contract between you and your insurance company and as such, there are rules and procedures that you and your insurer must follow. Read your insurance policy to see what your responsibilities are.

Long Island Home Insurance

Long Island Home Insurance

1. If you are the victim of a theft or your home has been vandalized or burglarized, report it to the police.

2. Before filing a claim, call your agent and ask questions: Is my loss a covered loss? Does my claim exceed my deductible? How long will it take to process my claim? Will I need to obtain estimates for repairs to structural damage?

3. Take reasonable steps to protect your property from further damage.

4. You are going to need to verify your loss. Take pictures and avoid throwing out damaged items until the adjuster has visited your home.

5. If your home is severely damaged and you need to find other accommodations while repairs are being made, keep records of all additional expenses incurred. Most home insurance policies provide coverage for the “loss of use” of their home.

6. Once your insurance company has been notified of your claim, the company is required to send the necessary claim forms to you by the end of a specified time period. (The time period varies from state to state.) Return the properly filled-out forms as soon as possible in order to avoid delays.

Staten Island Home Insurance

Staten Island Home Insurance

7. Your insurance company will usually arrange for an adjuster to come and inspect your loss. Cooperate with them as they gather information. Once you and your insurance company agree on the terms of your settlement, state laws require that you be sent payment promptly. In most cases, your claim will be processed quickly. If you have any questions about the claim filing laws in your state, call your insurance agent or your state department of insurance.

Important Final Note:
It is extremely important for you to thoroughly review and understand your home insurance policy BEFORE you have to deal with the stress of a loss/claim. You should know what perils are covered, and whether the coverage amounts are sufficient in the event of a disaster. Your insurance agent should be more than willing to discuss your specific insurance needs, as well as recommend possible ways to reduce your premiums, ease potential losses and prepare you for the proper steps to take in the event of a loss. But ultimately, the responsibility is yours.

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Does my home insurance policy cover all my valuable items?

 

A standard home insurance policy will include some coverage for your jewelry and other valuable items (such as watches or furs).  Under your home insurance policy, these will be covered if destroyed by causes that are covered in your policy.  Usually this includes fires, windstorms, vandalism, and theft.

 

The problem you will run into is that there are limitations in the standard policy as to how much you can claim for certain items.  Because of this, the insurer won’t be able to pay out more than what is specified in the policy.  This usually applies for jewelry.  Because jewelry is can be stolen easily, standard  policies usually only cover up to $1500 per item.

 manhattan with the twin towers

How do I ensure my valuable items are properly covered?

 

If you want to make sure the value of your jewelry is covered, there are 2 ways you can increase insurance coverage:

 

  1. You can raise the limit of liability on your current home insurance or renter’s insurance policy. This is usually the cheapest option.  The only problem is that there might be a limit on the amount you can claim on one specific item.  You might only be able to claim $2500 on one item of jewelry when the limit of the policy for all items is $5000.
  2. Purchasing personal article policies (sometimes referred to as floaters or riders) and “scheduling” each item.  Floaters are policies that cover specific items that have a high $ value. This is basically way of listing specific valuable items on your policy. The schedule would include a description of each item that is covered and how much it is worth.  According to this article , a State Farm Insurance spokesman said that 70% of floaters are bought to cover jewelry.  This option is more expensive but it protects the items under broader circumstances.  For example, a home insurance policy would not cover the loss of your ring if you left it in a hotel room or lost it swimming in the ocean.  These situations can be covered under a floater policy.  Before you get these items covered, it is essential to get them professionally appraised to determine their true value.

 

 

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