What the Flood of 2017 Taught us

Southern Illinois was hit with rainfall has high as 11 inches in some areas, over a span of two days. That caused major flooding in the region. Several people were evacuated from their homes by boat in Johnston City, Illinois. Flooding impacted both homeowners and renters. Many of those people who contacted their insurance companies because of damage were shocked when they learned that flooding was NOT COVERED. If you are also surprised that flooding is not covered, it is time to see what water damage IS covered by insurance.

Water damage does not always come from flooding caused by the weather.  There are many small events that can cause water damage.

  • Toilet overflow
  • Dishwasher leaking
  • Broken hose on a washing machine

If you have water damage because you skipped doing maintenance, you may be on the hook for the bill. If you knew about a leak but didn’t get around to fixing it, your insurance may not cover it. Most insurance providers won’t pay for the source of the water damage.  If your broken washing machine caused the problem, your insurance should pay for tearing out and replacing the damaged floor, but not the washing machine.  Are you covered if the sewer backs up into your basement, probably not? If you speak with your agent, there may be something they can do to help you by adding to your policy.

Now is the time to talk with your insurance agent. Your agent will find a policy that best covers you while staying within your budget. Your agent should be able to give you tips on preventing damage too. Here are just a few tips:

  • Inspect all water hoses in and around your home. This includes the ice maker on your refrigerator. Many hoses for your washing machine and water heater need to be replaced every couple of years.
  • While moving a refrigerator, or washing machine, even if it’s just a little bit, check the hose to ensure that it is still properly attached.
  • During the winter, it is common to have frozen water pipes if your home is not properly maintained. You can easily prevent this by insulating the pipes and by also keeping a warm temperature in the home.

Call your insurance agent today to learn about your coverage. You may find that you need to make changes to your policy. Explain your situation to your agent and what concerns you have. Remember, your agent is your friend. They are there to help you.

Considerations When Buying Homeowners Insurance

homeowners insurance marion, harrisburg, eldoradoHomeowners insurance – What is really covered by your policy?

So, you are shopping for homeowners insurance to protect your home and the assets in it. When comparing policies and getting quotes, it is important to find out exactly what you are paying for. Is water or flood damage covered or is this a separate policy? Is damage to property which is ruined if a burglar breaks in covered? What about damage to the property from fire or other “acts of God”? Before you settle on a policy, make sure you ask the right questions and learn what your homeowners insurance policy truly protects.

What should you ask when getting quotes?
Far too often homeowners simply presume things are covered rather than asking the questions to find out. So, how much is truly covered by your policy and is a basic homeowners insurance policy enough? Before settling on an insurer and policy coverage, some questions to ask when getting your quotes include:

  • Is water damage covered? If not, how much water and flood coverage is required where I live?
  • Are “acts of God,” covered? Damage from fire, lightning, heavy wind gusts, etc. Make sure you find out what is and what isn’t covered, so you can buy incidental coverage or supplemental coverage.
  • What is the limit or max cap the insurer will pay out?
  • If a burglar breaks in and damages property when trying to escape, is such damage covered (in addition to the items stolen)?

This is not an inclusive list of questions you have to ask, but does give you a basic idea of what is, and what isn’t covered by your policy. And, if necessary, it allows you to purchase supplemental coverage, and additional damage coverage on your property, to avoid huge out of pocket expenses in the event something like flood damage or water damage from melted snow occurs.

Finding the right policy
It isn’t as simple as calling one or two insurers and asking a few questions when generating quotes. In addition to calling between three to five insurers, you also have to make sure you are dealing with a trusted insurer. Inquire about discounts for bundled policies, for loyalty programs, and payout limits. Further, you have to purchase a policy from a trusted insurer and one which pays out immediately in the event of damage when you actually do have to rely on your homeowners insurance policy to cover damage costs to your property. If you want to save time while getting the benefits of checking prices with several companies, an independent agent that offers coverage from several companies is the best way to go.

If you are looking to protect your home from all types of threats and damage, homeowners insurance is the way to go. Before deciding on a policy and insurer, make sure to consider these factors, and take the appropriate steps, to find the best coverage, highest  coverage levels, and the most trusted insurance providers, before you make a purchase.

Flood Insurance – Overlooked but Necessary

flood insurance coverage, marion, harrisburgAcross the nation, people are faced with disasters as a result of everything from snowstorms and thunderstorms, to hurricanes and tornadoes. They strike many areas annually, and virtually every natural weather event has its own unique set of characteristics. But the one thing they all share in common is their potential to bring significant amounts of rainfall, something that all homeowners need to be prepared for.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Weather Service formed an annual campaign known as National Flood Safety Awareness Week. During this week, safety officials throughout the country set out to inform residents about the various potential damages that can result from large amounts of water brought on by melting snow, heavy rain or poor drainage.

This campaign offered many insights by providing consumers with safety tips, as well as measures they could take to avoid the consequences that often following flooding. Obviously carrying proper amounts of flood insurance can be very helpful.

It is important to know the limits

Each year, thousands of people lose their home and their belongings to damage associated with water. From floods that were caused by rainwater washing away your home to a simple leak in your hot water heater that led to mold issues, you need to make sure you have coverage in place to protect your home or business.

If you want your home to be as protected as it possibly can be, you will need to invest in supplemental insurance to protect it from water damage. There are a variety of different types of flood insurance that you should consider taking a look at, but be sure to determine which one is right for you before you invest in a particular plan. Also, even if you think that there is no possible way that you could lose your house to water damage, think again. Just because the root cause of the destruction of your house was not caused by water, there could be some kind of water involved in some way or another (rain during a hurricane for example) and an insurance company could deny compensation if you didn’t have proper coverage.

Certain areas are certainly more prone to flooding than others, but a flood can strike anywhere at anytime. Don’t wait for a time when a disaster is imminent, since it will likely be too late to be covered by the insurance.

There are lessons to be learned from Hurricane Katrina and Super storm Sandy. Having coverage in place allows for repairs and rebuilding that won’t result in financial ruin. Schedule a call with one of our independent agents for more information about how to ensure you have the proper flood coverage.

Is Disability Insurance Right for You?

disability insurance agents, marion, harrisburg, eldoradoDisability insurance covers you for an extended period of time. Should you be injured or suffer an illness that leaves you unable to work. The two primary types of disability coverage are short term disability and long term disability insurance. Long term coverage can be for a period of up to five years or until the disabled individual turns sixty five.

This provides partial salary replacement to workers who are unable to work. Disability refers to any mental or physical condition that hinders a person from performing regular work or maintaining employment. Disability insurance is offered under some group plans and can also be purchased on an individual basis.

Disability Insurance Quotes

Several factors weigh into the cost of disability insurance policies. As with auto insurance, using an independent agent will allow you to compare the costs and coverage options of several providers while working with a single agent who understands your needs.

Making Your Final Decision

A qualified insurance agent will be able to help you understand all of your options and navigate the sometimes confusing world of insurance. When speaking with your agent be sure to ask about the track record of the companies they suggest to you. Sometimes factors such as payout time, claims process quirks, and overall client satisfaction are omitted when discussing coverage options. Taking the time to ask about these items can save you hassle and ensure you are satisfied with your decision.

Remember, many people seeking insurance coverage focus on price alone which is a mistake. If you have a policy that is next to impossible to use, your initial savings will quickly be erased.

When you are ready to compare your options and select a disability policy to protect you in the event of an injury or illness, get in touch with one of our agents today and we would be more than happy to help you navigate the process.

auto insurance, marion il, coverage options

Tips for Finding the Best Auto Insurance

auto insurance, marion il, coverage optionsEven though many vehicle owners use price as the main factor when selecting an insurance policy, price alone is not an effective tool when comparing auto insurance rates. Below are a few points you should consider when looking for a new insurance policy.

Identify Your Needs and Risk Tolerance

First identify the type of coverage you want. There are different types of insurance covers ranging from comprehensive, liability and collision insurance. The type of insurance you select will be determined by a number of factors including state requirements, type of vehicle, vehicle use and personal preference. If you are not certain about the types of coverage you need in your state, a qualified insurance agent can help you select the correct coverage levels.

Get Quotes from Multiple Insurance Companies

Once you identify the type of insurance coverage you want for your vehicle, select a few professional and reliable vehicle insurance companies and get quotes from them for you to compare. Independent agents are great for this as they can quickly give you quotes from multiple insurance companies while keeping your needs in mind.

Compare the Limit of Liability Coverage

In the event you are involved in an accident in which you are the at fault party, liability coverage is used to pay for vehicle repair, medical bills and compensation for the other driver. In many states you can elect to carry minimum coverage but it may not protect you in all situations. For this reason, we highly advise speaking with a qualified agent to make sure your coverage is up to par.

Compare the Deductibles

Insurance companies usually pay for damages to your vehicle including replacement in the event it is totaled. Deductibles are the amount you have to pay from your pocket when you a make a claim before the insurance claim are processed. When comparing auto insurance rates, it is important to compare the deductibles in each policy. Generally a lower deductible results in a higher premium and a higher deductible in a lower premium, take time to consider the pros and cons of each before selecting a policy.

Check for Savings Opportunities

Many insurance companies offer discounts for multi-car coverage, safety features, driving record, and an assortment of other qualifying criteria. Be sure to ask your agent if you could qualify for additional savings by moving all of your policies to them. Also be sure to ask about other types of discounts that may be available.

Remember, when you are choosing an insurance policy, you should look at the coverage limits, deductibles, and the overall quality of the company you are going to be covered by.

 

Winterize Motorcycle Insurance Policy & Your Bike

As the seasons begin to change, every rider in northern climates begins planning what to do with his or her motorcycle during the winter months. Actually, as experienced riders know, this is a dual job: doing some kind of mechanical prep for sitting out the snowy months, and thinking about whether to keep the motorcycle fully insured during those non-riding months.

Part One: Winterize Your Motorcycle “Winter” has an entirely different meaning if you’re spending it in northern Minnesota compared to a more mild climate state like Tennessee (not to mention states like Arizona or Florida who barely have the word “winter” in their vocabularies). In Tennessee and other relatively mild locations, you’re likely to ride your bike from time to time, weather permitting. But in truly arctic states like Minnesota, you may not get the chance for several months. Advice on what to do to “hibernate” your ride in the colder climates varies from the extreme to the casual. Conservatively, most winterizing lists include the following: • If your bike has a carburetor, drain it. • Add stabilizer to the gas tank and fill it with gas. • Change the oil (whether it’s due for a change or not) and do a general all-around lubrication. Don’t forget to lube and adjust the drive chain (if your bike has one). • Change and top off all other fluids (brake and clutch fluids, antifreeze if the bike is liquid-cooled, etc.). • If you’re storing the bike for an extended time, remove the plugs and squirt oil into the cylinders to lubricate them. Spin the motor a bit using the starter to distribute the oil, then replace the plugs. • Wash the bike thoroughly and remove bugs or road tar. Also polish all chrome and aluminum, and clean and treat any leather or vinyl surfaces. • Remove and store the battery. While you’re at it, clean the wires and terminals as well and top off the cells if necessary. • Connect the battery to a trickle charger for at least eight hours a month. A battery tender can automatically take care of this, and monitor the battery’s status as well. • Stuff some steel wool into the exhaust pipe to keep out rodents and other small wildlife. • Check tire pressures and park the bike on pieces of carpet or wood to keep the rubber off the cold concrete floor during the long period of parking. Better yet, park the bike on a stand that keeps its weight off the tires. • Cover the bike with a canvas tarp, cotton sheet or other breathable cover that will keep the dust off but not promote moisture condensation. • Store the machine indoors, away from windows.

Part Two: Winterize Your Motorcycle Insurance Policy It may seem like a smart idea. After all, for a good quarter or third of the year, your motorcycle is out of service, stored safe and sound in your garage, right? So, in theory, cancelling your insurance during the winter months could save you some money. However, when you really look at the whole picture, it starts to sound like a really bad idea. For one thing, there’s sure to be that glorious January day when the temp suddenly rises and sun shines bright, and you start feeling the powerful temptation to hop on your bike and take it out for a ride. If you cancelled your insurance for the winter, you and your bike would not be insured for this ride. This might seem like a chance worth taking (after all, it’s such a nice day!), but keep in mind that you face several accident risks that are worse during the winter than in warm weather months: You’re probably at greater risk of laying the bike down during the winter than in the summer because of all the salt and gravel on the roads. Despite a day being bright and sunny, roads can still be icy. During one recent winter, a Markel American policyholder hit a patch of ice, lost control, slid off the roadway, and fell down a 50-foot cliff. Wild animals, like deer, elk and moose, tend to be more active during hunting season/winter months, so you stand a greater chance of hitting one, or swerving to avoid an animal, losing control and crashing. Another risk is the potential of physical damage to the bike while it is parked “safe and sound” in storage. Every year, Markel American gets damage claims on motorcycles where, even though they were safely stored for the winter, something happened to damage their bike. The “comprehensive” portion of your policy covers this kind of incident, another good reason not to cancel your insurance during the winter.

Some of these claims will make you laugh out loud… and cry: • Drywall work was being done in the garage where the bike was stored, so it was moved outside. Because the garage was being heated for the work, snow and ice on the roof melted loose, slid off, landed on the motorcycle causing $2,500 in damages. • A malfunctioning propane heater set fire to house and garage, burning everything in the garage including the motorcycle. It was a total loss valued at $12,500. • An owner took his motorcycle to a shop for maintenance and winterizing. While it was parked outside the shop, it was vandalized to the tune of $2,890 in damages. • The custom motorcycle was parked safe and sound in the house for the winter. However, a fire started in the kitchen and burned the house — along with the motorcycle — to the ground. Not so surprisingly, the motorcycle was a total loss, valued at $21,250. • The motorcycle was being kept in a storage shed for the winter. However, after a big snowfall, the shed roof collapsed onto the motorcycle, causing $8,900 in damages. • While the motorcycle was stored for the winter, rodents chewed the seat and electrical wiring, and made a nest between the frame and engine causing $1,700 in damages. • A snowplow piled snow onto the top of the motorcycle when it was parked, causing collision damage when it tipped over. Damage to the handlebars, tank and chrome came to $3,400. There are some other policy implications to consider when you think about “saving money” by cancelling your coverage for the winter. Remember that great “renewal discount” you got when you established your policy? You can kiss that goodbye when you re-start your coverage in the spring and get the same rate as a brand new customer — even though you may have been with your insurance company for several years. This means that by cancelling your policy in the winter to “save money” you may actually be costing yourself money. The savings you’re getting through “diminishing deductibles” would probably be lost as well. This feature offered by some insurance companies, including Markel American, means that for each consecutive year you are “accident free,” your deductible decreases by 25 percent, bringing it down to $0 after four years. If you were to cancel your policy during the winter, you are therefore bringing an end to your consecutive “accident free” years, and would have to start from scratch when you start up your policy again in spring.

Should you choose insurance that offers a winter “lay up?” Some insurance companies advertise residents of the northern regions a “discounted” policy that provides for a “lay up” period during the winter months when the bike won’t be ridden. During the lay-up period, coverage is reduced automatically to comprehensive only — protection against theft and damage that might occur during storage — providing a perceived overall savings. The implication is that policies without the lay up feature would cost you more. Not necessarily true. You may already be getting this kind of savings. And besides, you may not be covered should you take that ride on one of those warm, sunny January days. Rules and policies vary for each insurance carrier, so if you have this kind of policy, be sure you know the answer before you pull off the cover and roll your ride out into your driveway.

Maybe your insurance already has a winter adjustment “built in.” Other companies factor your geographical location into your rates, giving you built-in savings if you live in a wintry zone. For example, Markel American knows that a motorcycle owner in Minnesota will rarely be riding from November to March, and applies this information when calculating the annual premium. Meanwhile, the bike is fully covered for the anything bad that might happen, as well as for that bright, sunny January day. By contrast, a rider with the exact same record and bike in Florida or Arizona, who has a chance to ride every day virtually 12 months of the year, would pay a higher annual premium. So if you live where the wind and snow blows cold, make sure your bike is properly maintained and prepared for going on a “winter hiatus.” And make sure you have the right kind of motorcycle insurance that will keep you and your bike fully protected, whatever you might decide to do and whatever might happen to your bike. After all, you want to be in one piece — both physically and financially — when spring beckons you back to the open road!

For more information regarding this post, please visit WomenRiderSnow.com.