Flood Insurance: Should we all have it? YES!
With the recent news of devastating floods in Texas, Florida and surrounding states, the question of whether or not one should carry flood insurance is in the forefront of many people's minds. At Rand, we believe everyone should consider purchasing a flood policy, regardless of whether or not you are in a "special hazard flood zone". We are happy to provide a quote as well as a synopsis of coverage. That way you can decide, with facts, if the purchase is appropriate for you.
Some statistics show that only 12% of homeowners carry flood insurance and that only 25% of flood losses are insured by a flood policy. We must continually impress on our clients that flood damage is NOT covered by a homeowners policy. The basic flood policy can cover up to $250,000 of dwelling insurance and $100,000 of contents insurance. Excess flood insurance is also available and many times is necessary.
It is true that flood insurance can be expensive, but premium is determined by many factors. Based on the risk, the premium could be as low at $450 a year - a small price to pay to protect you. We recommend that our experts at Rand review your possible risk and let us get a quote for you.
The bottom line is that these big hurricanes keep coming so we recommend that you give flood insurance some consideration and call Rand!
Whether you’re at home or enjoying your vacation, we’re always looking for ways to make sure you’re protected from every angle and help you avoid the unexpected. Simple, proactive steps can help you minimize water damage or even prevent it from happening in the first place. Before your next vacation, use these tips to keep your home protected while you’re away.
Turn off your main water supply - Make sure everyone in your family knows where the main shut-off is located and how to use it.
Ask someone to stay or check on your home while you are away and be sure they know where the main shut-off is located too.
Check for leaks including pipes, under your sink, near your water heater, and along the water supply lines.
Inspect all water supply lines inside your home and replace those that show signs of wear or have not been replaced in the last 5 years.
Clear your gutters so any obstructions like leaves, debris, or sticks won’t clog your gutters and lead to an overflow.
Inspect your roof and repair or replace any dislodged or damaged shingles.
If you have a sensor-based water leak detection device, replace all the batteries in the sensor.
If you have a sump pump, make sure it is in good working order and schedule annual maintenance before you leave, or add a battery-powered backup for another line of defense.
If you have a back-up generator, make sure it is in good working order and schedule annual maintenance before you leave.
If you have a flow-based water shut-off device, set it to “away” mode before you leave.
And always feel free to call Rand Insurance if you have any questions.
What to do before a storm is forecasted...
Hurricane season starts in June so now is the best time to prepare for a storm is well before one is on the horizon. The following information and resources are intendedto help you reduce risk to your business, home and family well in advance of a hurricane or wind storm.
Recognize Tree Risks.
Fallen trees and tree limbs can be a major cause of damage during a storm. In fact, during Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene, more losses were attributed to trees than anything else. If you have trees near your home, consider having them examined by an arborist to make sure they are healthy and stable.
Assess Your Roof.
The older your roof, the weaker it likely is and the more exposed it may be to wind and water damage. Consider hiring a roofing specialist to do a thorough review of your roof and soffits, identify any loose or missing tiles or issues with flashing, and repair them as soon as possible.
Secure The Openings To Your Home.
If you have storm shutters for your windows, make sure that they are operating well. If your shutters need to be put up manually, be sure that your contract to have them fitted is up-to date and that your contractor will be able to put them in place at short notice.
Reduce The Potential For Flying Debris.
In advance of a storm, clear the areas around your home of fallen branches, yard ornaments, lawn furniture and other items that may become wind-borne debris. In coastal areas, if you are re-landscaping your driveway or garden, consider alternatives to gravel or stones.
Develop A Hurricane Plan.
Your employees or family may not be together when a storm or other disaster strikes. How will you find each other? How will you know if everyone is safe? You may have to evacuate or be confined to your home. What will you do if water, gas, electricity or phone services are shut off? Having a hurricane plan in place can help you answer all of these questions.
Make Use Of Today's Technology.
In an emergency situation, like a hurricane, your smartphone can be a very useful tool. In addition to providing you access to useful news and weather apps (like CNN and The Weather Channel), it can double as a flashlight, backup storage for vital documents and photos, and can help you to locate family members. Learn about the many mobile apps and tools available to help you in an mergency situation.
Make Sure Your Are Covered for Flood Damage.
Did you know that homeowners policies do not cover flood damage? Talk to your RandInsurance agent about your options for flood coverage.
What is an Insurance Score and what do you need to know?
Did you know that your credit score (the numerical ranking that is a summary of the info in your credit report) has a direct effect on your insurance score? And depending on whatyour insurance score is, that particular number will play a very big part in how much you will be charged for insurance coverage over time.
An insurance score is not the same thing as a credit score but a numerical point system used by insurance companies to predict risk. Your insurance score is essentially a rating that is computed and utilized by insurers. This number represents the likelihood of you filing an insurance claim during the time that you have coverage with that particular insurer. Part of the way your insurance score is determined is by your past insurance claim filing history.
There are two main providers of insurance scores. These include the Fair Isaac Corporation and ChoicePoint. The scores that are provided by Fair Isaac range between 300 and 900 with a good score being considered those that are above 700. ChoicePoint's scores range between 900 - 997, with better scores being those that are in the higher numbers. The type of insurance policies that can be affected by your insurance credit score include home, auto, boat, motorcycle and RV.
Here are ways to get and maintain a great insurance score:
- Pay all bills in a timely manner
- Reducing overall debt
- File fewer or no insurance claims over a certain period of time.
If you have any questions about your insurance score, ask your Rand Insurance account manager for more info. (Due to privacy laws, our account managers do no have access to our clients' credit information.)
Back to School
The months of August and September means back to school for most of us. Maybe you’re wondering what back to school has to do with insurance, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
Good Grades – Do you have a teenage driver in the house (or one on the way)? Many policies allow discounts for students with good grades. Don’t forget to talk to your kids about the importance of keeping those grades up! These discounts can apply to college students too.
Moving To The Dorm – Is your college student living in the dorm this semester? Your Homeowners Insurance may cover their belongings without additional coverage being needed. This is called Property Off Premises coverage. Remember, any claims would be subject to your deductible which is usually higher on home policies! Let us review your policy to check for the specific amounts of coverage included.
Moving To An Apartment – Let’s say your college student has graduated from the dorms and moved on to an apartment. In this case, your Homeowners Insurance may not cover their belongings and they would need their own Renters Insurance policy. Renters Insurance is very affordable and covers all of the contents of the property. It also provides liability insurance if someone were injured in the property or if the student caused a fire, etc. By making sure they are properly insured, you are also protecting yourself.
Coverage without a car at school- If your student will continue to drive while at home on school breaks, you should keep him/her listed on your auto policy. Fortunately, if your child is attending school far away from your home, over 100 miles away, you may qualify for a distant student discount.
Coverage with a car at school- Typically, a car registered to parents and listed on their policy will be covered if used by a listed student away at school. However, you should make sure that your insurance carrier writes coverage where the college is located, and understand that a change in the vehicle’s principal location could result in a change in premium.
Driving a friend’s car at school - Students will generally be covered while driving a friend’s car if the students are listed on their parents’ auto policy and do not have regular use of the vehicle.
As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.
Cold Temperatures and Pipe Breaks Go Together
One thing is for sure, our weather is crazy. Remember the Polar Vortex? With temperatures shifting from the 60's to the 20's and snow expected this week, we need to be prepared and keep a close eye on our properties.
Temperature shifts of just 10 degrees can cause contraction and expansion of pipe material, which can cause water lines to break. Also, when the air temperature is at or below freezing, the ground above a pipe freezes, causing stress on the pipe. Since the drop in water temperature lags behind air temperature changes, water pipe breaks usually occur one to two days after a cold spell. During and after freezing temperature periods, keep an eye out for pooling water near your building or for low water pressure from faucets.
Prevention of Pipe Breaks
Pipe breaks can be devastating, so anything you can do to minimize the risk is extremely helpful. As with most systems and parts of your property prevention is by far the best solution, below are several key things you can do:
What To Do If You have a Pipe Break
No matter the prevention taken sometimes burst pipes happen. What you do when you discover one will make the difference between an inconvenience or a total disaster. You cannot always see a broken pipe. Below are some tips to help you spot them:
November 2014: Well, it looks like winter has arrived early and could be here to stay. Below are some tips to prepare your home for the winter weather and help prevent unwanted losses:
•Check the seals on all windows, doors and attic spaces. Good insulation will conserve heat and prevent frozen pipes.
•Wrap pipes located on outside walls with insulation, as they are subject to freezing.
•Keep gutters clean and ask your contractor about gutter shields and snow shields. These can help prevent ice dams and water entering under the eaves.
•Keep trees near your house pruned. Wind and ice can cause them to fall on your house and power lines.
•Seasonally check heating system. Check for proper heat flow to all rooms.
•If you have a generator test it periodically and keep it maintained properly. If you don't have a generator, consider one.
•When leaving your home for a period of days do not lower the heat too much. It leaves very little margin should the heat fail before a pipe can freeze.
•Do not leave your home unattended. Have a responsible party walk through the home at least once a day.
•To limit possible frozen pipe damage or heat failure consider leak detection and water cut-off devices as well as low temperature alarms.
•Test sump pumps to avoid flooding from rapidly melting snow or heavy rains.
•In the event of power loss do not attempt to heat your home by stoves or ovens.
•Make sure all fireplaces have protective screens.
•Keep salt and sand handy for driveways and sidewalks. Have snow removed promptly for emergency vehicle access.
•Know your insurance company and policy numbers.
It's Cold Outside!
January 2014: Following is our Winter Weather Checklist to help you be proactive to avoid damage to your property during the winter months: