spring cleaning

Spring Has Sprung: 6 Springtime Maintenance Must-Dos That Will Save You Money

Spring is an exciting time of year where everything comes alive. As the temperature starts to rise plants, flowers, and grass will start to turn green and will begin growing. Plants aren’t the only things that wake up, so does the bugs and even the weather.

Springtime in the midwest can be a bit rough. One minute it is cold and the next it is hot. The phrase “April showers brings May flowers” also feels very real. The first warm sunny day, you’ll notice that everyone is outside playing, exercising, and working in the yard. Spring is the perfect time to inspect your home and take care of a little spring cleaning.

Let’s take a look at a few things that should be on top of your to-do list. Many of these will even help you save money.

Clean and Inspect Your Windows

Your windows take a beating all year from the elements so as soon as it warms up, its a great time to inspect and clean your windows. Cleaning your windows is great for obvious reasons. Clean windows are pretty windows. Inspecting your windows will help you save money because you will be looking for any leaks that will cause you to lose air. Re-caulk any window that has damaged caulking.

Invest in Pest Control

Bugs and insects are coming out of hibernation and spring is the perfect time to take pest control measures before they are a problem. Fighting a pest infestation is much harder and more expensive than preventing it.

If you have landscaped around your home with mulch, think again. Mulch near the foundation attracts termites. Average termite damage costs homeowner’s $3,000, but that can cost much more than that. Termite damage isn’t typically covered by homeowners insurance. Be sure to ask your insurance agent to learn more about your policy coverage. Pest control for termites is inexpensive and can save you thousands. If you have been using mulch, try replacing it with rock or rubber mulch.

Besides causing structural damage, many pests pose a health risk. Here is a list of common pests and the risks they present:

Mice- Hantavirus (can be deadly)

Mosquitos- Malaria, Dengue, West Nile Virus

Roaches- Salmonellosis from salmonella, Dysentery

Ticks- Lyme disease, tick bite fever, and even allergy to meat

Clean Your Gutters

Gutters play such a big role in the health of your home. Your foundation is one of the most important and expensive structures on your home. Gutters are meant to funnel water down and away from your foundation. Without properly functioning gutters, rainwater will funnel straight to your foundation and can become eroded over time. That can be an expensive repair.

Clean Your Vents

Dryer vents are often forgotten but can cause quite the problem if not properly cleaned. Every year around 16,000 fires are caused from dryer vents. If caught quickly, the damage can cost around $5,000, but if missed it can destroy the entire home and can even be deadly. Cleaning your dryer vents is something that should be done every spring and every fall.

This is a good time to clean your heating and air ducts as well. This typically takes a professional to do the job. All year your vents suck in everything from hair, clothing fabrics, dust, dirt. Over time those build up and can affect air quality especially allergens.

Get Your Roof Inspected

A roof is the most expensive part of your home. A roof can easily cost tens of thousands, which is why it is important to stay on top of the maintenance. Throughout the year, your roof will endure all of the elements. Hail damage is a common problem which can cause leaks. Most roofing companies will do free inspections. This inspection should be done every year. If caught early, you may only need a few shingles replaced, which is easy and inexpensive.

Spring is a great time to make a fresh start and enjoy the weather. This is the time to tackle your to-do list. Hopefully, this will help you stay on top of your home’s maintenance and will save you money.

home insurance

Winter Weather: Why It’s So Important to Have Homeowner’s Insurance

Winter is such a great time of year. It can be picturesque when fresh snow has fallen. There are a lot of fun things to do like skiing, sledding, and ice skating. Another aspect people like is that you can splurge a bit during the holidays because winter fashion tends to be a bit bulky and can easily cover a few extra pounds.

But apart from all these, winter weather can easily be destructive and dangerous. According to statistics, around $1.2 billion worth of property damage was due to winter weather in 2017, which is significantly bigger that flooding and flash floods that accumulated property damage worth USD $100 million in the same year.

The amount of property damage caused by winter weather highlights the need for home insurance for the season. About one in 15 insured homes file a claim every winter. Here are a few reasons why it’s important to have not only have homeowner’s insurance but the right amount of coverage.

Frozen Pipes

Plumbing problems can quickly pile up and it can be expensive. It may sound and look like an easy fix, but in actuality, it can be a much bigger job. The damage that you have may require expertise and even special equipment. All of those things add up. Plumbers, tradesmen, contractors, you should protect yourself with something like handyman insurance from Tradesman Saver.

When the temperature drops below freezing temperatures, there is a potential for your pipes to burst due to freezing water. The repair amount can cost between $900 and up to $4,000 depending on the severity of your plumbing problem.

Imagine you are on vacation when a cold front moves in and freezes the pipes. A few days later, while you’re still gone, the temp rises and the pipes thaw. Now you have a bigger problem because the water is flowing. You can end up with thousands of dollars in damage. Insurance may be your only form of protection.

If this happens, coverage is key. Most policies will cover this type of damage. Be sure to talk to your agent before this happens.

Roof and Gutter Damage From Ice

Winter storms or even cold snaps can cause ice dams on your roof and gutters, hence, they are capable of causing damage once they reached substantial weight. It can take less weight than you think. Those beautiful, delicate icicles hanging on your roof and gutter can cause damage.

As snow and ice melts, it can cause water to leak through your roof and ruin your drywall and even your furniture. Imagine a damaged roof, with water leaking from your ceiling and pouring down your furnishing. It can be devastating. It can leave you in financial ruins if you aren’t insured. A homeowner’s insurance policy, even the standard one, can cover the necessary repair expenses for these types of property damage. You will need to work with your agent to make sure you are covered.

Roof Collapse From Ice and Snow

All the ice, snow and sleet on top of your roof can be quite heavy. There are different types of snow. One type is the lightweight snow that doesn’t pack. That is the kind of snow that doesn’t really make a snowball. The other type of snow, the kind that makes great snowballs, is the type that can cause damage. It is much heavier.

A roof in good condition can safely support a few feet of snow or about 20 pounds. Anything more than that can potentially cause the structure to fall apart and cave-in. A roof collapse is probably the most expensive damage because the cost to build a new roof is very expensive but you also will have to repair everything in the house that the roof landed on. Not to mention the water damage that can happen.

Apart from the accumulation of snow, fallen trees can easily damage your roof and other attached structures. The snow that has collected on tree branches near your house can snap and fall on your home. It can damage your deck, break your window or worst collapse your roof.

There are a few preventative measures you can take, like trimming your trees, but you can’t change the amount of snow that falls. Insurance is the best thing you can have. Insurance can cover damages, loss, repair, or replacement. It all depends on the coverage of your policy.

Personal Injury From Slips on Ice

In the winter season, not only is the air cold but the ground becomes slippery and it can be dangerous. One wrong step can lead you to the emergency room for a head injury or broken bones. And we all know that a visit to the hospital means money.

Also, don’t forget the danger brought by the icicles hanging on your gutter. Any form of vibration can easily make them fall and unfortunately hurt someone. Having homeowner’s insurance can mitigate these kind of expenses from people visiting your home. They usually fall in the liability coverage of your policy.

A standard homeowner’s policy, once you are proven legally responsible for someone’s injury that happened in your property, can help cover medical bills, lost wages or even legal fees. If a lawsuit is filed the attorney fees alone can be in the thousands.

Sometimes in the winter damage can occur that isn’t preventable. You’re best bet is to have an adequate policy that fits your needs. You should talk to your agent to discuss your needs and options.

pet insurance

Are My Dogs Covered by Homeowner’s Policy?

Not to be mistaken for pet insurance, which covers many medical expenses for your four-legged companions, most homeowner policies do provide coverage for pets and any damage they may cause. This is not all-encompassing however, and there are exclusions involved in any policy. Keep these exclusions in mind when shopping for a policy that covers them, especially when it comes to dogs. Dogs present more of a challenge that other pets such as cats or birds. When an incident occurs involving a dog, it receives attention from the media that could escalate the situation beyond the truth, blaming the breed for the aggressive action rather than the individual dog or the dog’s owner. The influence of social media also affects a breed’s appearance in society, which in turn affects the breed’s standing with insurance companies.

Dwellings

Your house and any additional structures attached to your home such as a garage, sunroom,  or porch should be covered if they are damaged from an incident involving your dog. This would include replacing a window if your dog crashed into it while chasing a ball or if they accidentally started a fire by knocking over a lamp. What would not be covered would be anything on the property that is not connected to the house. Fences, storage sheds, and a separated garage would not be included should your pet cause damage to your home.

Personal Property

What exactly is covered in a homeowner’s policy will depend on the insurer. Most policies will not cover damage to your personal property that is expected from dogs, or they will provide options for supplemental coverage at an additional expense. While damage to select pieces or parts of furniture and equipment tend to be covered by insurance, chewing and scratching of walls, floors, and rugs are typically not. To know exactly what personal property is protected by a policy, consult your local agent.

Liability

This is the one that concerns the majority of pet owners and insurance companies alike. Approximately 65% of American households own a dog. At the same time, over 4.5 million Americans experience dog bites each year. This is a concern for insurance companies because this correlates to the majority of dog bites are happening in and around the home. Dog bites are usually covered by a homeowner’s policy. The breed of dog you own can increase your premiums, however. Insurers will look at a dog’s breed to determine eligibility. Some may refuse you coverage if you own a particular breed of dog, some may require you to sign a liability waiver to protect themselves from damages caused by a dog bite. Others still will require you to purchase additional coverage for your pet. Some of the breeds insurers are typically concerned with are Rottweilers,Pit Bulls, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Akitas, and Mastiffs. To determine if your pet is covered under a homeowner’s policy, your local agent will be able to assist you.

Insurers use information based on a variety of studies to compile their lists of breeds they are unable to cover. Not all insurers discriminate against the breed. Many will take into account your pet’s bite history. They understand that any dog under certain stimuli can bite, no matter what the breed is.

trampoline covered by insurance?

Is Your Pool, Trampoline, and Playground Equipment Covered?

Summer is the perfect time to spend time outside. Memorial Day and the 4th of July are huge celebrations for Americans. They are usually spent outside grilling and playing. Are you protected by your insurance company if an accident occurs? Let’s take a look at some fun, but potentially risky toys.

Pools, trampolines, and playground equipment are staples in many backyards. During the summer, kids will spend a majority of their time playing in or on them. They may even have friends over to enjoy them. Pools, trampolines, and playgrounds are fun, but can be very dangerous. One missed landing on a trampoline can result in broken bones. One slip off the monkey bars can cause a broken arm. A mishap in a pool can be deadly. These accidents are common. What happens if this happens in your backyard? You may be surprised.

Swimming Pool Insurance Coverage

Let’s start with toughest one, the pool. Pools can be a nightmare. Besides the risk of injury, the risk to your yard and home are another aspect that make owning a pool difficult. If your pool gets a leak, it can ruin your yard. If it leaks to your home it can cause flooding in your basement, damage to your foundation, and can damage drywall. If your pool is located near your neighbors house and their home is damaged from your leaky pool, it can create a huge problem.

So, the big question if the pool is covered or not depends on your insurance company and the coverage. Many companies cover pools, but the type of pool, either above ground or in ground, changes the type of coverage. Pools are called an “attractive nuisance”. You are responsible for anyone who enters your pool even if you DID NOT GIVE PERMISSION. To avoid injury put a locked gate around your pool. Before installing a pool or buying a home with a pool, speak to your insurance agent about coverage. Adding a pool to your home can increase your policy.

Trampoline Insurance Coverage

A trampoline is also an “attractive nuisance”. People will flock to a trampoline. Trampoline injuries are one of the most common injuries in children. You are responsible for injuries, like pools, even if you did not give permission for a jumper to be on them. Another interesting aspect of a trampoline is that they can fly. During storms, trampolines that aren’t securely tied down are know leave the backyard. This can cause damage to neighbors homes, cars, landscaping and fences. Before your assemble one in your backyard, learn about the coverage you need and can have. You do not want to be on the hook for trampoline damage. Many policies DO NOT cover trampolines.

Playground Equipment Insurance Coverage

Playground equipment are usually much less risky to insurance companies. Most companies offer coverage for these without a huge change in policy.The sturdy wooden sets are heavy and don’t fly, as well as, a trampoline will, so damage is less likely. There isn’t water for someone to drown in and people aren’t typically jumping off them. Most sets have a slide and swings. Even though an injury can happen, it is typically less severe. Always check your policy before adding a playground to your yard.

Don’t Risk It, Call Your Agent!

Before you have family and friends over to enjoy your outdoor toys, call your insurance agent to discuss coverage and what is and isn’t covered. You don’t want your fun toys to ruin you financially if an accident occurs.

home insurance

5 Tips for Saving Money on Your Homeowners Insurance Policy

Home insurance is a must. If you need to reduce your policy without downgrading coverage, there are a few ways to do this. Many of these improvements will reduce your risk and the cost of the policy.

Before you make any upgrades or changes, it is always a good idea to speak with your insurance agent so that you fully understand how the change may impact your premiums.

 

1.Remove older structures

Homeowner’s policies cover all structures on the property. If you have an old shed or building that is not being used and is in bad shape, remove it. Older, dilapidated structures are a safety risk. Removing it decreases the risk. After it is removed, be sure to let your agent know so that they can review your policy for savings. If you can’t remove it, make repairs.

 

2.Home alarms

Smoke detectors are a must. Many insurance companies won’t even insure a home without having working smoke detectors. Another alarm is for burglaries. Many insurance companies will give a discount for having a burglar alarm. This will decrease the risk of a large theft claim.

 

3.Trampolines and Pools

Trampolines and pools can get expensive. They are responsible for a high number of accidents and claims every year. Most companies will want to know that you have a fence around them, while others may not cover accidents related to those items. It may be best to remove them. If you want to keep them, call your agent for tips regarding insuring them.

 

4.New roof

One of the most expensive aspects of your home is the roof. A poorly built roof can cause so much damage from leaking. A leaky roof can cause damage to walls, electronics, furniture, and so much more. It can even cause mold. Having mold in your home can cause a huge problem and claim. A new roof, while very expensive, can protect your home while saving on your insurance policy. All you need to do to start the process of getting a new roof is get in touch with a good Roofing Company, who in turn can arrange for a new roof to be installed in your home.

Obviously, if your roof is leaking you should get it repaired even if it doesn’t lower your insurance premiums!

 

5.New electric

If you have a dated electrical system, it may be time to upgrade. Thousands of house fires every year are caused by faulty electrical systems. GFCI outlets are recommended to add protection. They will kick off; saving you from shock and fire.

Before doing any home improvements to lower your bill, call your agent to see if those improvements will save you money. Not every improvement will get you a discount.

You should also consider the cost of savings vs the cost of updating your home. As tax season is in full swing, you should also talk with your tax advisor to see if any potential home updates can be written off on your taxes, so that you save more than once.

 

Aside from your homeowner’s policy, there are likely ways you could be saving on all of your insurance plans. The best way to know is to consult with your local agent so that they understand your needs, situation, and can uncover ways to help you save.

jewelry

Lost Jewelry: Does Your Homeowners Policy Cover That?

A homeowner’s insurance policy usually covers fires and storm damage, but does it cover lost or stolen jewelry. What happens if you come home and find that your home has been robbed? What if your rings slips off while swimming in the lake? Are you covered? Let’s take a look at common coverage.

Remember, all policies are different. Be sure to check with your local agent to see what is covered and what is not. This is a good time to increase your coverage, if possible.

Damage & Theft

There are many restrictions that can cause your claim to be denied. Common reasons that jewelry could be lost or damaged, but is most likely covered includes: fire, storms, and damage from a vehicle. Most homeowners policies only cover jewelry for $1,000-$2,000. That means that if theft occurs and your $30,000 wedding ring is stolen, you will only receive $1,000-$2,000. That is an industry standard. The same goes for fire and storm damage.

Loss

Losing a ring, necklace, or watch is very common. Articles like https://www.watchshopping.com/blog/common-watch-problems-and-how-to-fix-them/ describe some of the problems faced by watch owners, and losing your watch is certainly a big problem. Imagine this, you’ve just got back from a trip and realize that your necklace is gone. You don’t know where you lost it, but it is gone. It could be at the hotel, beach, or the airport. Say you were swimming in the lake, and you feel your watch slip off. You frantically try to grab it, but it’s gone. What now? In most cases your homeowner’s policy will not cover this.

How to cover lost jewelry or expensive jewelry

Insurance companies usually offer inland marine policies or endorsements you can add for extra coverage. If you’ve lost your engagement ring or your valuable watch, this policy will have it covered. You will need to talk with your agent for the specific details of this policy. For the insurance company to approve this coverage, you will mostly like need an appraisal. If you say you have a $15,000 watch, they will want proof that it is valued at $15,000. This policy also covers theft. As we discussed earlier, if your $30,000 wedding ring is stolen, your homeowner’s policy will only reimburse you $1,000-$2,000. This added policy or endorsement will cover the actual value of the ring, not capping you at $1,000-$2,000.

If you have jewelry that is valued higher than $2,000, it is time to talk to your agent. Tell your agent what jewelry you have and learn what coverage you have. This is the time to talk about theft and lost jewelry. Your agent will be able to give you options. You may need a new policy or an extra endorsement. Find out the criteria you will need for this coverage to start, such as, an appraisal. Loss and theft are very common, so act quickly to get your jewelry adequately covered.

Is Your Home Insured And Ready For The Harsh Winter Months?

There is a chance of snow in the forecast for Marion, IL. Snow can be so beautiful, and oh so damaging. While this round of snow may not be destructive, we are still mid-winter and another round of ice or snow can be damaging. We have already seen freezing temperatures that can cause water lines to freeze. What happens if your pipes do freeze or if next month we have an ice storm? Are you covered?

First, call your agent. All homeowner’s policies are different. It’s important to understand what your policy covers and what it does not. You may find that you need to change your policy to better fit your needs.

Here are a few things that are typically covered (Be sure to check your policy).

  • Roof collapse
    • A roof can collapse because of the weight of ice or snow.
  • Damage to walls and ceiling due to ice damming
    • Ice damming causes damage to walls and ceilings because the water from melting snow or ice cant drain off the roof and leaks into the home.
  • Damaged shingles
    • Just like storms in the Spring and Summer, winds from a Winter storm can damage shingles also.
  • Frozen pipes
    • Burst pipes is a very common claim. When the pipes freeze, it can cause them to burst.

Although these are commonly covered, there are some stipulations that can result in denial

Negligence is a good reason to get your claim denied. Here are a few scenarios that could cause a claim to be denied.

  • Not having trimmed tree limbs
  • Not acting reasonably to protect your property from an impending storm. Leaving windows and doors open and allowing the elements in, either intentionally or unintentionally, could be grounds for denial.
  • Intentionally turning the heat off or too low which caused pipes to freeze and burst
  • Things like not making repairs to a leaky roof, not trimming trees, not removing snow from sidewalks, and not insulating pipes are all things that can result in denial of a claim.

Winter weather comes with many challenges. The best thing you can do is have a conversation with your insurance agent. Your agent can educate you on your coverage and maintenance that needs to be done to keep you from getting a denial. Being prepared is important. During your discussion with your agent, it is good to talk about coverage you have during Spring and Summer. Those seasons are full of nasty, damaging storms. Now is the time to increase coverage if you are not adequately covered.

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.