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Posts Tagged ‘New York Home Insurance’

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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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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Insurance is a highly competitive business and the price you pay for your home insurance can vary by hundreds of dollars, depending on the insurance company you buy your policy from. Companies offer several types of discounts, but they don’t offer the same discount or the same amount of discount in all states. For this reason, you should ask your insurance agent about any discounts available to you. Here are some things to consider when buying home insurance.

1. Raise your deductible.
Deductibles are the amount of money you have to pay toward a loss before your insurance company starts to pay according to the terms of your policy. Deductibles on homeowners policies typically start at $500. By increasing your deductible to $1000 or greater, you could save a significant amount of money.

2. Buy your home and auto insurance policies from the same insurer.
Some companies that sell homeowners, auto and life insurance, such as State Farm Insurance, will take 5 to 15 percent off your premium if you buy two or more policies from them.

3. Consider these Factors when buying a Home
Consider how much insuring it will cost. Because a new home’s electrical, heating and plumbing systems and overall structure are likely to be in better shape than those of an older house, insurers may offer you a discount if your house is new. Check its construction, too. Brick, because of its resistance to wind damage is better in the East; frame, because of its resistance to earthquake damage, better in the West. Choosing wisely could cut your premium by 5 to 15 percent. Avoiding areas that are prone to floods can save you money because you may not need a flood insurance policy. Home insurance does not cover flood-related damage. If you do buy a house in a flood-prone area, you’ll have to buy a flood insurance policy, too.

And is your house close to a hydrant or fire station? The closer your house is to firefighters and their equipment, the lower your premium will be.

4. Insure your house, not the land.
The land under you house isn’t at risk from theft, windstorm, fire and other perils covered in your homeowners policy. So don’t include its value in deciding how much home insurance to buy. If you do, you’ll pay a higher premium than you should.

5. Compare the limits in your policy and the value of your possessions at least once a year.
You want your policy to cover any major purchases or additions to your home. But you don’t want to spend money for coverage you don’t need. Check over your policy and make sure your home insurance policy and your personal articles policy are covering items that you actually still own, i.e.., watch, ring, fur coat.

6. Look for private insurance first and always ask questions.
If you live in a high-risk area — say, one that is especially vulnerable to coastal storms, and have been buying your home insurance through a government/state plan, you should check with an insurance agent. You may find that there are steps you can take that would allow you to buy insurance at a lower price in the private market.

If you have questions about insurance for any of your possessions, be sure to ask your agent when you’re shopping around for a policy. For example, if you have a small business in your home, be sure to discuss coverage for that business. Most home insurance policies cover business equipment/property in the home but only for a small amount and they offer no business liability insurance.

Although you want to lower your home insurance cost, you also want to make certain you have all the coverage you need. So don’t be afraid to ask questions, before you have a loss.

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