Homes are empty when the homeowners go on vacation or to work, and many homeowners do not know that thieves are watching their moves for the best opportunity to break in. Law enforcement experts say that home invasions are crimes of opportunity, and thieves strike when they know it is a good time to do so. Although home invasions happen at all times during the year, the highest rate of these crimes is during the summer months. Nearly 30 percent of burglaries happen simply because there is an unlocked door or window. However, locking the doors and windows is not sufficient for total protection. Since many Americans are victims of home invasions and theft, American Modern recently released a set of tips for homeowners to use to prevent these problems. It is important for homeowners and renters alike to follow these tips to keep themselves, their families and their belongings safe.
American Modern recommends that all Americans take as many of these steps as possible to be safer:
- Reinforce strike plates and doorjambs to prevent structural failures from break-in attempts.
- Install durable deadbolts and locks on all doors that open to the outdoors.
- Always make sure windows are locked when the home is vacant and at night.
- Put security film on all windows and door windows that do not have treatments.
- Keep all sheds, garages and outbuildings locked at night and while away.
- Install motion-activated lights outdoors.
- Collaborate with neighbors to set up a neighborhood watch.
- Make sure vehicles, lawn equipment and any other sizable items are secure at night.
- Adopt a good guard dog from a shelter if possible.
- Make sure vacation homes and temporary homes are secured properly while away.
- Place temporary holds on mail while away for more than one day.
- While the home is vacant, set timed lights to come on at random times.
- If a television turns on for scheduled records, set it to record several shows while away on vacation.
Although homes are common targets, vehicles are also targets for criminals. If they see something of interest in the vehicle, they are more likely to make a break-in attempt. Keep cell phones, purses, money and other valuable items out of the car whenever it is not in use. Do not leave these items sitting in plain view while out running errands or doing other tasks. Put these items under seats or in the trunk whenever possible. People who have garages at home should use them for parking at all times. Many break-ins happen on the street and even in driveways. Make sure the driveway is properly lit, and it is a good idea to install a motion-activated light that shines directly on the driveway or the front of the garage.
Keep in mind that many thieves are after items that they can resell quickly. This includes recyclable materials, gold, copper wire and anything of value. Always be mindful about where items are placed in the home or in a vehicle. Do not leave valuable items sitting within view of a home's front windows or doors. Close the blinds or curtains at night. When leaving the home, be aware of who is in the neighborhood watching. If there are suspicious vehicles with people sitting in them and not moving, call the police to let them know. To learn how to properly insure homes and vehicles against burglaries, discuss concerns with our office 214-275-8372.
Many renters mistakenly believe that they don't need renter's insurance or view it as an expensive luxury. However, insurance needs aren't negated just because one happens to be renting their home. For those not familiar with renter's insurance, it's an insurance coverage that protects the renter from property losses from damages like water and fire. It also provides protection for liability risks, such as lawsuits brought by the landlord of the property, pet attacks, falls and slips, and guest accidents. This type of coverage is available in most areas and has an average $20 monthly premium rate for around $500,000 dollars worth of liability coverage and $20,000 dollars worth of property coverage.
Trusted Choice, a network of financial and insurance service firms, recently found in a survey that almost 25 million American home renters didn't have any insurance coverage to protect themselves from losses and that most renters have limited, if any, knowledge of renter's insurance. Eight percent of the respondents without renter's insurance had never heard about renter's insurance before. Meanwhile, 17% said they weren't aware that they needed renter's insurance and 26% percent felt that renter's insurance was too costly.
According to the study, some renters also mistakenly believed that their insurance needs were covered under the insurance policy held by their landlord. In reality, landlords don't typically insure anything other than the building and infrastructural elements like HVAC systems and elevators. Other losses incurred will be directly on the renter's shoulders. Even negligent actions caused by one tenant, such as a fire, that affects other innocent tenants in the building aren't typically covered by the landlord's insurance. Other key findings of the study included:
* Fifty percent of the surveyed renters owned pets. Thirty-two percent of the non-pet owners had renter's insurance. Although renters that own pets have a higher liability exposure than renters without pets, a mere 26% of the pet owners had renter's insurance.
* Eighty-nine percent of the surveyed renters owned at least one expensive electronic device, such as a computer, camera, digital recorder, or home theater system. This group was more likely to have a renter's insurance policy than those that didn't own such devices.
* Fifty-three percent of the surveyed renters owned at least one form of exercise or sports equipment, such as a skis, bicycles, or a home gym system. This group was more likely to own renter's insurance than those that didn't own such equipment.
* Only thirty-one percent of the renters operating a home business from their apartment, condo, or other type of rental unit had renter's insurance.
Give us a call to find out how affordable renters insurance is at 214-275-8372.
If you're currently renting a house or apartment, you should strongly consider an investment in renter's insurance. No one likes to think about the possibility of a fire or a burglary, but these are real possibilities.
Burglars can break in while you're away and steal your computer, entertainment system, jewelry, and other valuable items. Without renter's insurance, you will have thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs to replace the stolen items. By contrast, if you have renter's insurance, you will promptly receive a check that covers either the replacement costs for the stolen items or the current value of the items-depending upon which type of insurance policy you've purchased.
Maybe you believe there is little risk of a burglary in your geographic area, but what about the risk of fire? Fires strike randomly and can begin in electrical wiring over which you have no control. It's unpleasant to contemplate, but you could come home to find that everything you own has been destroyed. With renter's insurance, you would have a check in hand quite soon to begin refurnishing your life.
Yet another scenario for which renter's insurance can be of enormous benefit is personal liability. If a visitor is injured in your home, for example, by falling down the steps, you could be liable for her medical bills. Renter's insurance would cover this liability.
Some renters are under the impression that their possessions are covered by their landlord's insurance. This is rarely true. Typically, the landlord's insurance covers loss or damage to his property, not yours. Your landlord's insurance also covers his liability in case anyone is injured on the property, though not always injuries inside your apartment.
Most renters can get comprehensive coverage for a few hundred dollars per year, depending on where they live. Considering the risks covered by renter's policies, this is a low cost for the potential benefits. Before speaking with an agent about renter's insurance, look around your house or apartment and take an inventory of items you would need to replace in the event of a catastrophe. Take note of high value or difficult to replace items such as antiques, furs, jewelry, or expensive art. Before you get a policy or immediately thereafter, you should record information on all your high value items, including details about the make, model, serial number, age, and costs (both purchase and current replacement). It may also help to have photos of these items for identification purposes.
A basic policy usually pays only for the actual cash value of your items at the time they were lost. In other words, they would be valued not at what you paid for them originally or what it would cost to replace them, but at their actual value as used items. So a 3-year-old computer would be covered for its initial cost minus depreciation. Since computers depreciate quickly, yours may be worth little by the time it's 3-years-old, so your insurance proceeds will be limited.
If you have expensive items like electronics that are subject to depreciation, you should consider replacement cost coverage. With this type of policy, you would be reimbursed for the current cost of buying a new equivalent item. Thus, in our example of the $2,000 computer at 3-years-old, you would receive a check that would enable you to buy a new computer. Of course, replacement cost coverage is more expensive. It's up to you to decide which type of coverage-actual value or replacement cost-best fits your needs and budget.
Like most other insurance policies, your renter's policy will have deductibles. A deductible is an amount of loss you will have to absorb yourself before receiving any money from the insurance company. For example, let's say you have a policy with a $500 deductible. You have cameras you bought for $2,000 several years ago. If you have replacement cost coverage and the cameras are lost in a fire, you would receive a check for $1,500 from the insurance company. Of course, you can lower your insurance premium by accepting a higher deductible, but this means if there is a loss, you must absorb more of it from your own pocket.
Renter's insurance usually does not cover damage from floods or earthquakes, but you may be able to get endorsements for these and other "acts of God." An endorsement extends the perils covered by your policy. Obviously, you must pay an extra premium for the extra coverage. Be sure to discuss any special high value items, such as antiques, furs, and jewelry with your insurance agent, since you may need extra coverage for these.
As mentioned, a basic renter's policy includes liability coverage should someone be injured in your rented home or apartment. As with car insurance, there is a per-incident limit on this coverage, and you should make sure this is high enough to protect your assets.
In a recent study, researchers discovered that millenials are renting in larger numbers than ever before. In addition to discovering that more millenials were renting, they also found that most did not have insurance for the properties they occupied. Experts said that about 75 percent of the people surveyed did not know they could obtain renters insurance for about the same cost as a pair of movie tickets.
They concluded that there was a clear misconception with this group of young people about how important it is to have renters insurance and the true cost of coverage. Leaving belongings at risk when about $20 per month can buy adequate coverage is an unwise move. Renters often live in properties with multiple units, and they may not always realize how high the risk of fires and other disasters are in these places. Although property owners are responsible for repairs to the structure in the event of most disasters, they are not responsible for tenants' belongings. It is up to renters to make sure their possessions are protected.
In their research, experts also found that about 40 percent of people who did not have renters coverage did not think it was necessary. They said nearly 70 percent of all young adult renters replied that the cost to replace all of their belongings would exceed $5,000. Renters who had coverage said they bought policies because they wanted the peace of mind to know they were protected.
There were some other observations researchers noted about renters coverage. Two of respondents' biggest fears included theft and fires. About 40 percent said their biggest fear was fire damage, and about 30 percent said their biggest fear was theft. Less than five percent responded that their biggest fear was a zombie apocalypse. Nearly 25 percent of the renters surveyed said they would rescue their laptops first. This included comparisons with mobile phones, hidden cash and heirlooms. About 40 percent of respondents said they did not know stolen property was covered in a renters insurance policy. About 30 percent of participants said they did not believe party mishaps would be covered, but they were surprised to find that many types of damages to personal property or the structure that are typical at parties were covered.
About 70 percent of survey participants said they had rented for more than three years, but nearly 50 percent had rented for more than five years. More than 55 percent of those respondents did not have coverage. Since 2008, one of the nation's top insurers paid more than $180 million in renters insurance claims. The average claim that year was about $4,000. In an effort to raise awareness of how valuable renters insurance is, one major company launched an advertisement to target millenials. At more than 85 million, this is the world's largest demographic. The advertisement illustrated a fire and the damage sustained from it, and it outlined the importance of renters coverage. Renters insurance is quick and easy to buy, and millenials everywhere should make sure they always have it. To learn more about this type of coverage and how affordable it is, give us a call at 214-275-8372.
About 90 percent of natural disasters in the United States include flooding. However, less than 20 percent of homeowners and renters buy flood insurance according to a research conducted for the Insurance Information Institute. According to the research, homeowners and renters underestimate their flood risks, and some people may not know if their area of residence is in a high-risk flood zone. Being in an area with a moderate or low risk is still an issue. According to III, about 20 percent of claims come from individuals who live in areas with a moderate or low flood risk.
Many homeowners and renters do not know that their personal insurance policies do not cover flooding as the water damage provision is often confused with flooding. However, there is a major difference. Water damage is less severe and is often due to leaky pipes, cracks in the roof or similar issues related to the home or components of it. Flooding happens when there is heavy rainfall that causes water to collect and rise or nearby bodies of water to swell past their banks. Damages that happen because of those floods are not covered in a typical renter's policy or a home insurance policy.
It is important to be vigilant when buying flood insurance because there are some companies offering fake flood coverage. FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program is commonly known as one of the few reputable carriers, plus there are a few private companies as well. Most people purchase flood insurance through the NFIP. For those who wish to purchase more than $250,000 in coverage, a separate private policy is essential. The NFIP limits its policies to $250,000. Some communities are not part of the NFIP, and that insurance is not available to buy in such communities. To learn more about the NFIP's availability and local options, discuss concerns with an agent.
When buying a supplemental policy, there is a waiting period of 30 days between the time of buying the NFIP policy and the supplemental one. People who live in areas that are prone to floods or hurricanes should keep this in mind when buying their insurance. Residents of Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana are especially encouraged to seek flood insurance if they have not yet purchased it, and communities along major river basins should also buy it. To learn more about risk areas and what options are available, discuss concerns with our knowledgeable agents. Call our office for a quote on flood insurance today at 214-275-8372.
Don't wait until the weather forecast calls for prolonged heavy rains before buying flood insurance. While this practical insurance can be purchased anytime, the policy does not take effect for 30 days. As the most common natural disaster in the country, flooding ruins millions of dollars of homes and property every year. Even so, flooding is not commonly covered in your typical homeowner's insurance policy, making it necessary to purchase additional coverage for this costly, devastating disaster.
If you are in a high-risk flood zone, a federally regulated lender will require a would-be borrower to buy flood insurance in order to qualify for a mortgage loan. To satisfy the lender, flood insurance must be purchased in an amount that sufficiently covers the loan.
A homeowner should also buy flood insurance if he or she resides in a flood plain with no failsafe controls, such as a dam. Flood policies even pay off if the President does not declare the area a federal disaster area, which can prove to be invaluable. Because the nation's Chief Executive Officer rarely issues such a declaration, protecting yourself is extremely important. Besides, you have to repay the federal aid you receive for home repairs related to a natural disaster so providing your own protection is the only way to ensure financial recovery suffered from flooding.
Not all homes qualify for flood coverage. For instance, flood insurance for beachfront or ocean-side property may not be available for the obvious reasons.
The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) reports that more than 20,000 communities have agreed to tighter zoning and building measures to control floods. Residents of these communities can buy flood coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which FEMA oversees. As of 2009, NFIP had 5.7 million flood policies inforce nationwide.
Premiums for flood insurance vary widely, depending primarily on individual risk. In determining price, flood insurance underwriters consider several factors including the property's elevation, proximity to bodies of water, and whether the dwelling has a basement. If you are NOT in a flood zone you may qualify for preferred rates that can be as low as $200 per year. Flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters, condo owners/renters, and commercial owners/renters. Call our office for a quote on flood insurance today at 214-275-8372.
FEMA points that out that everyone needs flood insurance. Unfortunately, too many families assume that they don’t need flood insurance because the government will give them the financial support they need if they lose their home in a major flood. This is simply not the case.
The government only provides disaster assistance if the area where the flood occurs is officially deemed a disaster area. Even when the government does provide financial assistance to families in a disaster area, it’s not a payout—it’s a loan that must be paid back, interest included.
Read on for a few important facts everyone should know about floods and flood insurance.
Think you’ll probably never be affected by a flood? Think again. According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), floods are the #1 natural disaster in the U.S. Here are a few more enlightening flood statistics from the NFIP:
Homeowner's insurance doesn’t cover flood damage
Damage to your home resulting from a flood is not covered by homeowner's insurance. Why not? Basically, it’s a way for insurance companies to protect themselves. In the 1960’s, a handful of waterfront communities, all covered by the same insurance companies, were slammed with major floods. The deluge of insurance claims resulted in cataclysmic losses for the insurance industry.
Consequently, in 1968, the federal government created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is administered by FEMA. According to FEMA, the NFIP was formed to "reduce future flood damage through community floodplain management ordinances, and provide protection for property owners against potential losses through an insurance mechanism that requires a premium to be paid for the protection.”
It’s not available everywhere
Flood insurance is only available in communities where “the appropriate public body has adopted adequate floodplain management regulations for its flood-prone areas.” Unfortunately, communities are not required to follow proper floodplain management techniques. So, before you start shopping around for flood insurance, you’ll want to makes sure that your community is covered.
Coverage is delayed
If a major storm is about to hit your town and local meteorologists are predicting potential floods, you can’t run out and buy flood insurance and expect to be covered. Generally, your policy must be in place for 30 days before it takes effect.
Not all floods are created equal
Flood insurance only covers damage caused by waters rising from the ground. According to FEMA, the official definition of a flood is “a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is your property).” FEMA specifies that floods are caused by:
· Overflow of inland or tidal waters
· Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source
· A mudflow
· The collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or another body of water, caused by erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water
If your home is damaged by a rush of water from broken pipes or a main break, FEMA says your flood insurance will not cover it unless “there is a general condition of flooding in the area and flood is the proximate cause of sewer or drain backup, sump pump discharge or overflow, or seepage of water.”
The price varies
The price tag on flood insurance varies, costing anywhere from $200 to $3,000 a year. The price you pay depends on where you live and what type of coverage you want.
Through the NFIP, $250,000 is the maximum amount of money you can receive to rebuild the structure of your home. However, private flood insurance companies can cover far beyond that amount—for a higher premium, of course. You’ll have to pay extra if you want to cover personal items within your home. Contents damaged by a flood are covered only up to $100,000. If you are renting a home, you can purchase flood insurance to cover your belongings for up to $100,000.
Call our office for a quote on flood insurance today at 214-275-8372.
You buy homeowner's insurance to protect your biggest asset, so it’s important to purchase enough coverage to suit your needs. By looking at a few key factors, you could end up saving yourself a lot of money and heartache should you ever have to make a major homeowner's insurance claim. Be smart and ask yourself the following four questions when considering how much coverage to purchase.
How much will it cost to rebuild?
When you’re figuring out the cost to rebuild your home, use current construction prices. Don’t add in the cost of the land, and don’t base your cost estimates on how much you originally paid for the house.
Even though your mortgage lender may require you to have homeowner's insurance, you still may not be adequately protected. In most cases, the policy limit is the amount owed on your mortgage, which may not be enough to rebuild at current prices. To estimate the amount of insurance you need, multiply the total square footage of your home by the building costs per square foot. You can get information about local building costs by calling your real estate agent or home builders association.
You should select an extended replacement cost policy for several reasons:
Most homeowner's insurance policies cover your personal possessions for 50 to 70 percent of the total coverage amount on your home. Conducting a home inventory will help you determine if this is enough. Create a detailed list of everything you own and how much it will cost to replace these items should they be stolen or destroyed. If you feel you are underinsured, ask you agent about increasing the coverage limits for your possessions.
Will I have any additional living expenses as a result of an insured disaster that damages my home?
When a disaster strikes, you may be forced to live somewhere else while your home is being repaired. Standard homeowner's policies covers hotel bills, restaurant meals and other living expenses incurred while you are living away from home. In addition, if you rent out the property that was damaged, this coverage will reimburse you for any rent you would have received from tenants while the home is being repaired.
Additional living expenses coverage varies among companies. The standard is 20 percent of the total amount of coverage on your house. There are also policies that cover unlimited additional living expenses for a specific period of time.
Ask your insurance agent to tell you how much coverage you have and how long the coverage stays in effect. If you don’t feel you have sufficient coverage for additional living expenses, consider increasing it.
How much coverage do I have in the event I am named in a lawsuit for bodily injury or property damage caused to others?
The standard homeowner's policy covers you, your family members, and your pets in the event of injury caused to others. The coverage extends to both the cost of defending the case in court and any damages you are required to pay. The majority of homeowner's insurance policies provide $100,000 worth of liability insurance; however, you can get higher amounts. Conventional wisdom says that homeowners should carry at least $300,000 to $500,000 worth of liability protection.
Experts say that repair people who offer to pay insurance deductibles with the intention of enticing consumers to sign contracts for damaged homes and cars open the door to fraud. In addition to this, the practice makes insurance premiums rise. These inducements will eventually result in poor business practices, and they will hurt most of the country's insurance consumers. In some states, there are bills being considered that would classify inducements as insurance fraud. Many insurance companies, lawmakers and consumers encourage the passage of these bills in all states. Since rebating deductibles has become such a major problem in so many different areas, more than five states have already passed these types of bills in recent years.
Dishonest repair providers in home contracting businesses and auto body shops have often told unwary customers that signing contracts with the offer to pay insurance deductibles is acceptable. In most cases, this claim is an attempt to obtain new business and also bill the insurance company with a fraudulent request. Since the individuals who typically do these things are known for shoddy work, consumers also come out on the losing end of the bargain. In many cases, a repair person will exaggerate the cost of a project to cover the deductible. Insurers pass these inflated and fraudulent costs along to policyholders through higher premiums, so consumers are ultimately the ones who are hit the hardest.
Premium rebates can put a person's safety on the line in many other ways. For example, a repair person who completes shoddy repairs on a consumer's car could cause more than financial problems. If the shoddy repairs affect vital functions of the vehicle, the consumer and his or her family will be driving in an unsafe car. Serious accidents could happen, and some accidents have resulted in fatalities. Even if a consumer lived through an accident, he or she might still have to pay for medical expenses, lost time at work, vehicle damages and other costs associated with such an incident.
Honest repair businesses that refuse to offer inducements still face the competition of working against providers who offer more enticing prices. While they are not even similar in the quality of work provided, many consumers do not know this. For this reason, it is in the best interest of every small business specializing in contracting or auto repair to alert consumers about dishonest providers. As a rule, consumers should always remember that businesses performing quality work do not need to offer incentives for insurance-related work. Word of mouth is an excellent source of advertisement for these companies or individuals, so consumers should do their homework before selecting providers. For answers to any questions on these topics, discuss concerns with an agent.
Although many homeowners think their insurance policies cover sewer backups, they are disappointed when they find out the hard way that sewer backups are not covered. However, there is separate coverage available for this type of problem. When compared to the cost of dealing with a major sewer backup, the cost of additional coverage is very small. Homeowners must maintain and repair the part of the pipeline that connects pipes in their homes to main sewer lines. The parts that connect them are also included. Since a backup can be very costly and messy to deal with, it is important for homeowners to know how to prevent a sewer backup and to understand what causes them.
Tree Roots Interfering With Pipelines
Since trees live on water, their roots typically move toward water sources such as sewer lines. The growth may only start as a few small roots penetrating the pipeline. However, the end result is the roots growing thicker and expanding over time. When a tree root grows so much it spans the inside of the pipeline, it may cause a major blockage or a total clog. If the roots causing the problems are from trees owned by the city, it is important to contact the city's cleanup department promptly. In most cases, they sample the roots to determine who owns the tree and who is responsible for the cleanup bill. If multiple trees owned by the homeowner and the city are both involved, the two parties must split the cleanup bill.
In the sanitary main, there are many different types of possible blockages. The blockages cause sewage to back up into the home. Since the occurrence is gradual, there is still time to call a plumbing specialist before the house is completely flooded with sewage. There may be water coming in through the basement when this happens. If water is coming in, call the public works office promptly.
Rain Clogging Storm Sewers
If a storm sewer cannot contain the falling rain, a sanitary sewer backup can happen. When this happens, water usually comes into the home through bathtubs, toilets and sump wells located in the basement. Damage is typically confined to the basement but can also be located in other parts of the home. Making sure there is a sump pump and generator available will help prevent the problem.
All of these sewer problems can be very expensive to deal with. Standing water and sewage are health hazards and can destroy almost everything they come into contact with in the home. By calculating the cost to replace items that are damaged and comparing that number to the cost of purchasing additional insurance, it is easy to see what a great investment insurance is. To learn more about this valuable form of coverage and what it entails, discuss concerns with an agent.
Rod has owned The Hanks Group, a Leading Nationwide Insurance agency since 1999. We help families and business owners protect their most valuable assets with a broad range of insurance products. We believe that finding the right auto, home, life and commercial insurance for our clients Starting out with 1 employee in a small office in East Dallas, The Hanks Group has grown to be one of the largest Nationwide Insurance Agencies in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex, with offices in Dallas and Fort Worth. Rod is always available to answer any questions about insurance or business at 214-275-8372