Why Wear and Tear Isn’t Covered by Your Homeowners Insurance

You purchase homeowners insurance to protect your greatest investment against damages that are out of your control. Most often, this means emergencies or acts of nature – forces you cannot control. What can you control? How you maintain your own home. This is why homeowners insurance is unlikely to cover claims you make that turn out to be due to wear and tear.

What Constitutes Wear and Tear?

Wear and tear is generally considered to be gradual damage that happens to a home over time, as the years and the elements take their toll. In some situations, wear and tear is unavoidable as a home ages. However to most insurers, there are certain failures and property damage that can be avoided if a homeowner performs the proper routine maintenance to their home. Common instances of wear and tear include roof leaks, slow leaking pipes, and mechanical breakdowns of appliances, among others.

Why Isn’t Wear and Tear Covered?

When homeowners adopt an insurance policy on their home, it is understood that there is an agreement between the homeowner and the insurer. This agreement asks that the homeowner keep up with regular, expected maintenance and repairs on their home, and the insurance will be there if an unexpected loss occurs. The insurer expects the homeowner to prevent any negligence that could cause property damage. The wear and tear exclusions arise from an understanding of the basic responsibilities of all homeowners. The exclusions keep insurers from being liable in situations where the damage is actually due to the insured’s failure to repair, replace, or maintain the aspects of their property that need work.

How to Avoid Claims That Get Denied

As far as wear and tear goes, it is pretty simple: maintain your home and do not delay if you notice an issue. If you notice a leak, do not wait a few months to report it to your insurance agent. This is the first thing you should do, and in the event that it’s not covered, get right to fixing the issue. Do not wait to tackle anything that needs repairing or replacing. Small fixes can seem like a large financial burden in the moment, but in the event of a large scale failure, you could be left responsible for a large bill of repairs if your insurance claim is denied due to evidence of wear and tear. In the case of mechanical breakdowns of appliances, you would be better off seeking coverage through a home warranty rather than home insurance, which will often exclude these appliances from coverage.

Utilize Your Resources

Your agent is available to answer any of your questions or concerns regarding coverage on your home and property. Give us a call as soon as possible if you notice a concern in your home!

What Happens if Your Business Loses its Leader?

If you go unprotected, the death of your company’s leader could well mean the death of your company itself. There is a type of insurance that can help protect against the consequences of a tragedy like this. It is called key person insurance.

Key Person Insurance

Key person insurance is a type of life insurance that is designed not to protect your family, but to protect your business operation in the event of its leader’s – or a top employee’s – death. The company is the beneficiary on the policy, and the benefits can provide funds to help hire an individual or individuals to perform the duties that the key employee once did. It can also help in the event that your business does need to cease operations.

Crucial Operations Stop

Especially in small businesses, much of the work that keeps the company running is performed by the owner or another leader. This includes tasks such as keeping the books, payroll, handling important accounts or customers, and more. If your business leader were to die suddenly, there might not be anyone who can step in to perform these duties. As the owner or leader, the individual often does the job of several people. For that reason, the remaining employees may feel the need to hire several new people to perform the jobs that the business owner used to do. But where will you find the funds for this? That is where the benefits from the key person policy come in.

Your Business Closes

The business could also face closure after its leader dies. Sometimes this is unavoidable. If your business relied heavily on the work of it leader, and the leader not only did things no one else could, but also knew information no one else did, it is possible that your best option is to close the business. In these situations, the death benefits from the key person insurance can be used to pay off debts, give severance to employees, and perform any other financial matters that are needed to close the company. This kind of policy can help your business to avoid declaring bankruptcy in the face of a sudden key person death.

If you care about your business, you want to make sure it either goes on after you or is able to close down with minimal losses. Speak to your agent about whether your business has the coverage it needs.

This Is How Your Insurance Can Cover You During a Vacation

School’s out, the sun’s out, and pretty soon you might be out of town! As you’re packing for your summer vacation, insurance is probably the last thing on your mind. You’re probably thinking about what clothes to bring, whether you need both your phone and tablet, or trying to dig out the snowboard you haven’t used in months. However as with every big moment in life, there are always insurance considerations to keep in mind. 

Property Damage 

This can come in two forms – damage or loss of your own property or damage to others property. In the first instance, the same homeowners or renters insurance that covers your personal property against theft, vandalism, or some acts of nature when you’re at home also covers your possessions you take with you on vacation. This is especially important for more expensive items such as electronics, jewelry, or even sporting equipment you take on vacation. On the flip side, this coverage also ensures you are safeguarded against any loss that happens to the property you left behind when you’re away from home. The important thing to note for this kind of coverage is that your policy must have certain limits of coverage in order to protect everything you want protected. 

The other way in which your insurance can protect you in the case of property damage while you’re on vacation applies to the property of others. This is especially important if you’re renting a house or condo and end up breaking or damaging the property itself or something inside it. This type of coverage is called your personal liability policy, and if you cause damage in the place you’re vacationing, you may be covered by it. 

Medical Emergencies

This one depends on where you are vacationing. In the case of medical emergencies inside the U.S., you should not encounter many obstacles regarding your insurance coverage extending to other in-network hospitals. You should expect to pay rates similar to what you’d pay at home. However, depending on your policy you may not be covered if you visit an out-of-network hospital in another city or state. It is best to know up front before you embark on your journey – for this you will speak to your insurance agent. You should also put “insurance card” on your packing list, if you don’t already carry it with you at all times (which you should!). Your home doctor may also offer “tele” services – meaning he or she can diagnose you over phone or video chat, and you get to stay in network no matter where you are in the country. 

If you’re traveling out of the country, you may be surprised to learn that your coverage is more than you expected. Again, this is an instance in which it is most appropriate to speak to your agent before your trip to find out exactly what the out-of-pocket expenses would be for medical care abroad. Keep in mind this only applies to medical emergencies, not elective procedures. 

The most important thing is to notify your insurance agent that you’ll be traveling, and to ask them if there are any updates needed to your policies. With an independent insurance agent on your side, you’ll have a friend to help you properly prepare for this exciting upcoming trip. 

How Technology Can Protect Your Home

According to a study by the Insurance Information Institute, around one in 250 insured homes files a theft claim each year. Although this is not the most common claim, it is significant enough that insured homeowners should be looking into their options for getting the best home security. Technology is constantly changing and improving, and there are now some rather impressive and very effective systems available to protect your home and help you avoid property damage theft claims.

Smart Doorbells

This is not your average doorbell. A smart system features a camera that can show you who is outside your door – even if you are not home. Many smart doorbells also allow the homeowner to speak to doorbell-users via intercom. Since thieves will often ring doorbells to check if a home is occupied, being able to see and speak to any visitor, threatening or not, is an attractive security advantage. If you are able to respond to the potential thief, making them think you are home, they may well leave your house alone.

Smart Locks

In our modern age, no one should be leaving a spare key under a doormat or plant. These common hiding spots are the first place a burglar will look, and unless you check the spot every day your key could be stolen, copied, and returned without you ever knowing. A smart lock system gives you the ability to lock and unlock your exterior doors from anywhere at any time. Many systems allow you to check the status of your locks remotely, and some will alert you to any attempt to tamper with the lock. You can also create codes for people you need to let into your home. It is important to note that your smart lock system will need strong encryption and two-factor authentication (such as a passcode and a fingerprint) in order to be safe from hackers.

Video Monitor Systems

Similar to smart doorbells, a video monitoring system allows you to check up on your home even when you’re far away. However, these systems take the surveillance a step farther since they can monitor any areas of your home that you wish – your only limitation is where you can set up a camera! If you want to install cameras that will cover the entire perimeter of your home, you can do so, and you’ll be safer for it. Some video monitoring systems even allow users to set up virtual boundaries and the system will alert you if the boundary is breached.

Full-Service Security Companies

There are many companies, large and small, that offer full-service security systems. These companies will often install the system for you and take care of most of the monitoring themselves. If you don’t feel comfortable with the DIY approach to home security or are not able to access something like a smart doorbell camera from your cell phone, a full-service company may be a good option for you.

A Final Note

Oftentimes, insurance carriers will offer discounts on your monthly premium for a home that has security systems. You will need to make sure that the system you have or intend to purchase is eligible for a discount from your carrier. Speak to your agent about this, and get on your way to saving money and staying safer.

Ride Safe: May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

It can be a glorious feeling to ride with the wind in your face and the sun on your back, but the fun can turn deadly in an instant if riders do not take the proper precautions. Motorcycle riders are overrepresented in traffic accident fatalities. Take the right precautions every time you ride your bike in order to protect yourself, your passengers, and your fellow drivers. Since May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, we put together some guidelines to help riders stay safe every time you start up your engines.

Check Your Bike Before Every Ride

Before you get on the road, it is important to check that every aspect of your bike is safe and operational. This is especially vital for those who only use their motorcycle occasionally, but full time riders would do well to follow a strict safety routine as well. Always be sure to check for gas or oil leaks, test headlights and turn signals, brakes and fluid levels, and examine tires before you ride off. If you have a passenger, remind them to keep their feet on the foot rests at all times and to keep a tight hold on your hips, waist, or belt.

Protect Your Body Properly

You must always – ALWAYS – wear a helmet when you ride your motorcycle. There are no exceptions to this rule! NHTSA recommends wearing a helmet that meets DOT, Snell, or ANSI standards – these have been tested and certified to ensure maximum protection. There should be a label indicating certification on either the exterior or interior of the helmet. It is most important to protect your head, but the rest of your body needs protection as well. Cover your arms and legs with a tough material such as leather or heavy denim, and wear the right gloves and boots.

Don’t Take Risks on the Road

Many crashes involving motorcycles happen because a vehicle driver simply did not see the bike on the road. Pay attention to your surroundings at all times, leave ample room between your bike and other vehicles, and remain on the defensive when there are other drivers around you. Always obey traffic laws. Just because your bike is small and can move differently than a standard passenger vehicle, it does not mean you have an excuse to do whatever you please on the road. Following speed limits and traffic laws helps keep not only you, but also your fellow citizens safe.

Don’t Drink and Ride

It is never safe to use alcohol or drugs before driving a motorcycle. Just like driving a car, boat, or other craft, driving a motorcycle while impaired will seriously impact your ability to operate the bike, make decisions, and react to dangers. According to a 2017 study by NHTSA, 28% of motorcycle drivers who were involved in fatal accidents were under the influence of alcohol. Do not ride your bike if you know you’re going to be drinking. It is never worth it to risk your life.

Having the right insurance also protects you as a motorcycle driver. Speak to your agent about motorcycle coverage and stay safe every time you ride.

What to Do If An Employee Gets Hurt on the Job

No matter what sort of business you run, accidents can always happen. Even in a “safe” office environment, an employee could be badly burned from a pot of coffee or slip on a wet floor. Since an accident could happen at any time, you’ll want to already have a worker’s compensation plan in place before rather than after an incident. To make sure you have all your bases covered, here are the steps you should take when an employee gets injured at the workplace.

Seek Immediate Medical Attention

Regardless of if you think the injury is minor or not, medical attention must be provided to the employee to assess the damage. Remember that safety always comes first and the faster you get professional help, the more likely your employee is to recover faster from their injury. Having it on record that you sought medical help immediately will also benefit you in case of a lawsuit.

Keep a Record of the Accident

Accidents usually happen so fast that no one remembers the story correctly, but as soon as the excitement dies down, talk to everyone who witnessed it. Even if a coworker wasn’t watching the injured employee specifically, they may remember some detail that will be of use later. You will need to write down their statements of what happened, from the accident to the aftermath, as well as take pictures of the scene that caused the accident to happen. File these records away in case the employee ever tries to come back and sue you over the incident.

File the Workers Comp Report

If the injury is bad enough, your employee will likely claim workers compensation for the doctor bills. If they choose to file, as is their right, you are legally required to provide them with a form and report their claim to your insurance agent. This claim is the most important reason your business should have workers comp in place, because it will save you financially from any fees and costs that come from the injury claim.

Stay On Top of the Claim

Once your employee files for workers comp, your insurance agent will request some documentation and evidence of the accident (this is where your record-taking and pictures of the scene will come in handy). During this time, you should be open with your agency about all the details of the situation as well as check in on your employee to make sure they are recovering well.

Prevent Future Accidents

If an accident happened once, it will likely happen again. Prevent a repeat incident by looking at what caused the first injury and making adjustments. If the building was responsible, preventative measures may include a simple repair. If the injury was a result of lack of training, a company-wide education class may be in order. You could also take this time to ask your employees about other possible dangers around the workplace. For instance, maybe they need better equipment or more safety items such as gloves or masks. By taking proper precautions, you can eliminate future workers comp claims and injuries, thereby making your workplace a happier environment for your employees.

Welcome Back Your Employee

Once your employee has recovered from their work-related injury, you are legally required to allow them to return to work at your business, regardless of whether their claim was successful or not. The injury was likely not their fault and they shouldn’t be punished for something they couldn’t control.

 

By having workers compensation in place, you can protect both your employees and your business. And since your employees are essential for your business to keep running smoothly, you should want to protect them as best as you can. If your business is operating without workers comp or you need help deciding which policy to choose, give your insurance agent a call today and they will discuss the best options for your industry and amount of employees.

 

Risks of Operating Your Business Without Insurance

When running a business is already expensive, one of the last things you may want to do is add on expenses for insurance. Every business owner hopes they won’t need it because hopefully nothing would ever go wrong. However, there are several reasons why having business insurance is helpful as well as reasons why not having insurance can hurt you. Check out these risks you run below when you try to put off having your business insured.

Breaking Laws

Most of the country has laws stating that businesses must have certain types of insurance or a certain amount of coverage. If you have at least one employee, you must have at least general liability insurance for your business. You may even be required to have additional protection for things such as workers compensation, property insurance if you are located in an area prone to natural disasters, or even coverage against lawsuits.

Not Protecting Your Employees

You shouldn’t have insurance for your workers just because you are required to. Workers compensation coverage helps both you and your employees by taking care of them if an accident happens and making sure you are able to afford any medical bills they have from the incident. If you don’t have a workers compensation policy in place, you could be liable for a lawsuit and be out a lot of money. In addition to workers compensation, you will also need unemployment insurance for if your employees are unable to continue work for a while.

Business Interruptions

If anything were to happen to your uninsured business such as a fire or flood, you won’t have any means to recover and you will be left with the financial consequences of repairs and interrupted business operations. So while you won’t be making any profit, you’ll also be losing money if you plan to reopen your business. Insurance can help protect you by covering any losses as well as any lost income during the period that your business will be paused.

Property Loss

Buying property insurance for your business helps you hold onto your most important asset in the event of a disaster: the property you exist on. Without that insurance, you will end up losing possession of your property and be unable to continue operation if anything were to happen to your building.

 

The risks you take of not having adequate insurance coverage for your business just isn’t worth taking. Call one of our agents today to make sure your business is protected against the unexpected.

 

How to Save Money on Business Insurance

The last thing you want to focus on when starting or running your business is what could go wrong. While you aren’t necessarily going to face struggles right away, if you aren’t covered with a good insurance policy, you’ll likely experience some issues down the road. Since running a business is risky, you should plan on being prepared to handle anything that comes up with the proper business insurance policy. But how do you avoid spending too much? Here are some tips that could save you some money on your insurance plan.

Know What You Need

Not every business needs the same amount of coverage. It all depends on what your business does and the risks involved. At the minimum, most businesses are required by law to have policies for workers’ compensation, unemployment, and disability insurance. But that’s just the minimum. When looking at how much coverage you need, you can start by looking at general liability insurance which will cover your business for any third-party damages, legal defense costs, and reputation damage from libel, slander, or copyright infringement. In addition, also consider a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP) to cover your business’s property and typically cover more for less money that a general liability policy. Other coverages will depend on the nature of your business, which your insurance agent can discuss with you your options in more detail related to your situation.

Increase Your Deductible

For most insurance policies, not just business insurance, you can lower your premium by increasing your deductible. Paying a higher deductible means less money the insurance company will have to pay after you make a claim on your policy. Because of this, insurance companies are willing to offer coverage at a lower price. Your agent will be able to discuss with you whether or not this would be a favorable decision for your business and the pros and cons of each choice.

Bundle Your Policies

Bundling your policies means that instead of buying separate policies for every type of coverage you need, you can purchase a package that will offer the same coverage for a lower price. Think of it like going to a restaurant. If you order an entree, side, and drink separately, you’ll end up paying a bit more than if you had ordered the combo that includes those items at a lesser cost. Bundled policies are the “restaurant combos” of insurance.

Be Safety-Minded

The higher the risk of injury at your business, the higher your insurance premiums will be.The safer your work environment is, the better deal you’ll get with your insurance. To get a better price, follow all safety recommendations from your insurance company such as enforcing safety precautions to avoid having your premiums raised to cover the extra risk.

Review and Update Your Coverage Every Year

As your business changes, so will your coverage needs, which means you should review your policies each year around the time of renewal to see if there are better options for either coverage or price. Also, by reviewing your policy with your agent, they will be able to make sure you aren’t paying for any policies that you may have needed for the previous year but not the upcoming year.

Consult with Your Independent Agent

Remember when you are reviewing your policies or looking at what kind of coverage to get for your business, consult with your insurance agent to help you shop for the best deals. They know insurance policies inside and out and will be able to guide you through making the best decisions for your business. If you have any questions or think you could be spending less on insurance for your business, give us a call today.