Homeowners Insurance Exclusions

Does your homeowner’s insurance policy include comprehensive perils? Do you know what that means? Nearly every insurance policy has exclusions (perils that the policy excludes against). The exclusions can include earthquakes, flooding, and sump pump failure.

The short video below will help you with your understanding of what your homeowners insurance policy may or may not cover.

As always consult with your agent if you have specific questions about your homeowners insurance

Does your auto insurance extend coverage to a rental car?

A common auto insurance question this time of year is about purchasing rental car insurance from the rental car company.   While this varies, depending upon your carrier and your coverages, for some people there may be no need to purchase the rental car insurance from the rental car company.

DSCN0126For most of our carriers (including Erie, Allied, Allstate, Safeco, and Progressive) the coverages on a personal auto insurance policy extends to a rental car.  These coverage extensions include Liability, Un-Insured & Under-Insured Motorist, along with Comprehensive & Collision Coverages.

To be properly insured on a rental car you will need all of these coverages (many people refer to this as “Full Coverage”).   If you only have liability coverage on your auto (many people refer this to as PLPD) you will need to either increase your personal auto coverages to include comprehensive and collision coverage or purchase the rental car insurance from the rental car company.

The Deductibles Still Apply

Remember that if there is any type of damages to  the rental car that you’re deductible would still apply.   If the deductibles are $500 and there is any damage to the rental car, you may be out $500.  For this reason, we advise our clients to lower their deductibles while they are renting a car.Car Accident

It also a good practice when renting a car to do a complete inspection (inside and out) of the vehicle before driving away from the rental car company’s parking lot.  If you do find damage, quickly report the damage to one of their representative and document the damage by a picture, and then email that picture to yourself so that it is date stamped.

One Coverage Gap

If you elect to not purchase the rental car insurance from the rental car company and instead use your personal auto insurance coverages, there is one potential gap that you need to be aware of, “Loss of Use”.  Loss of Use would come into effect if the car is damaged and has to go to the shop to be repaired, and the rental car company has lost earnings by not having that car on the road being rented out.   It’s the rental car company’s “loss of use”, or lost income.

For example if the rental car company normally rents out your damaged car for $50 per day and it is in the shop for 10 days, they could say that they lost $500 in income ($50 x 10 days).  They will want you to pay that $500, and your personal auto insurance policy does not cover this.

If you have questions or doubts about what kind of coverages you have, call your agent and have the do a full policy review that includes how your personal auto coverage extends to rental cars.

Surviving the Polar Vortex

imagesR5MFAI7EAs we take the polar bear plunge into the depths of winter, not only do we have to be concerned about keeping our bodies warm, but we also need to take precautions for our homes.  Indiana homes are especially susceptible to the cold weather with snowfalls along with periods of melting and then freezing, and then melting and then freezing….etc.  This freezing and thawing can inflict considerable damage to our homes.

So, here are some tips and steps that you can take to protect your home from these periods of freezing and melting temperatures.

  • Keep sidewalks and entrances to your home free from snow and ice.
  • Watch for ice dams near gutter downspouts. Keep gutters free of leaves and debris so melting snow and ice can flow freely. Ice dams can cause water to build up and seep into your house.
  • Keep the house heated to a minimum of 65 degrees. The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. A temperature lower than 65 degrees will not keep the inside walls from freezing.
  • Identify the location for the main water shutoff in your home. Find out how it works in case you have to use it.
  • Open hot and cold faucets enough to let them drip slowly. Keeping water moving within the pipes will prevent freezing.untitled
  • If you own a swimming pool and temperatures are expected to dip below freezing, run the pool pump at night to keep the water flowing through the pipes.
  • If you haven’t already, make sure all hoses are disconnected from outside spigots.
  • If your garage is attached to your house, keep the garage doors closed. The door leading to the house is probably not as well-insulated as an exterior door.
  • If ice forms on tree limbs, watch for dead, damaged or dangerous branches that could break and fall because of ice, snow or wind and damage your house, a car, or injure someone walking near your property.
  • If you use fireplaces, wood stoves and electric heaters, watch them closely and make sure they are working properly.
  • Remember to close the flue in your fireplace when you’re not using it.
  • If you have to leave your home on a trip, ask a neighbor to check the house regularly. If there is a problem with frozen pipes or water leakage, attending to it quickly could mean far less damage.
  • If you plan to be away for an extended period of time (or if temperatures are expected to remain below freezing), have the water system, including pool plumbing, have the water system drained by a professional to keep pipes from freezing or bursting.

imagesY2XG7Y0UIf the worst has occurred and you have a problem with your home related to the winter weather, here are some other helpful suggestions.

  • If you discover that pipes are frozen, don’t wait for them to burst. Take measures to thaw them immediately, or call a plumber for assistance.
  • If your pipes burst, first turn off the water and then mop up spills. You don’t want the water to do more damage than it already has.
  • Call your agent or company as soon as you can. An insurance adjuster doesn’t need to see the spill before you take action. However, he or she will want to inspect any damaged items.
  • Make temporary repairs and take other steps to protect your property from further damage. Remove any carpet or furniture that can be further damaged from seepage.
  • Make a list of the damaged articles.
  • Save the receipts for what you spend—including additional living expenses if you must leave your home until repairs are completed—and submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.

A standard homeowner’s policies will cover most of the kinds of damage that result from a freeze. For example, if house pipes freeze and burst or if ice forms in gutters and causes water to back up under roof shingles and seep into the house. You would also be covered if the weight of snow or ice damages your house.

However, most policies do not cover backups in sewers and drains or flood damage, which can also happen in winter. To be covered for flooding, you need a policy from the National Flood Insurance Program, while coverage for sewers and drains is generally offered as an endorsement to a standard homeowner’s insurance policy.

If your home suffers water damage, it is important to make sure that it is properly dried and repaired to prevent any potential problem with mold. Remember, mold cannot survive without moisture.

Check with your agent or company so you’ll be sure what your policy covers.

Source Insurance Information Institute

The Power of Life Insurance

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month.

There are very few things in this life that will have such a profound effect on the future of others then life insurance.  No other financial vehicle in the world has such power!

Here are my top five reasons why I believe that life insurance is the most powerful purchase that you will ever make.088

  1. The Power to Change Lives! What would your family be able to do with a tax free check of $1 Million?  Your family history could be changed forever by a wise investment into your future generations.  It’s a great idea to invest into your own retirement and future, but don’t forget that your descendants will eventually be standing on your shoulders as they try to provide for their families.
  2. The Power of a Lasting Legacy! Make a statement that will help your name to live on by donating the proceeds of a life insurance policy to the charity that you are passionate about.  Are you passionate about the future of your town, your church, your school, your organization?  Let the future generations know about your passion by using the proceeds of a life insurance policy to fund an endowment or scholarship.
  3. The Power of Education! Ensure that your children and grandchildren will be able to attend college even if you die.  College tuitions continue to rise while the importance of a post high school education grows even faster.  Your children and grandchildren will want to accomplish something great in this life!  Help them with their future (which is your future) by leaving money behind to help pay for their post high school education.
  4. The Power of Living Debt Free! Wow, what a gift that would be!  When you pass away, your family will be good-credit-vs-bad-creditdealing with the stress and heart ache of losing you.  Don’t leave them with the more burdensome task of figuring out how to pay your debts!  Have enough life insurance to pay off the mortgage and all of your other obligations.
  5. The Power to Replace your Income! What a blessing it would be for your family to be able to continue at their same lifestyle even without your income.  In my own family I have seen the devastation left behind by someone passing away without life insurance, as households were torn apart and financial futures wrecked.  While no person is ever replaceable, you can replace your income to help lessen the financial effect your death has on your family.

The Growing Problem of Identity Theft, Part 2

Part 2, How we can protect ourselves

As discussed in Part 1 the terms data breach and identity theft are relatively new terms that can have devastating effects on our personal lives. Billions of personal records have been stolen and it seems that data breaches are in the news every day.ID Theft

In today’s world your credit rating is very important. It’s a determining factor in the amount of interest that you pay; it affects your insurance rates; it can affect your employment, and your children’s future. Therefore it is vitally important that we do everything that we can to protect our good name.

What can we do to protect ourselves? There are both preventative and reactionary measures that we can take to protect both our credit and our identity.

For the individual, insurance companies offer a type of reactionary identity theft protection. If your Identity is stolen they will then step in to try and help bring your name back to where it was before the incident. There are limitations to this coverage but these coverages do help to alleviate some of the expenses in regaining your identity.

LifelockAlso for the individual there are credit monitoring companies like Lifelock that will monitor your credit for you and notify you of any activity on your credit report. Lifelock will also monitor individual credit accounts as well as bank accounts.

For business owners that are concerned about their client records many insurance companies now offer data breach coverage with the Business Owner Policy. The amount of the coverage can be customized to the size of business and the exposure associated with the business. If an incident did happen the coverage would kick in to help out with the expenses associated with the notices that must be sent to potentially affected clients. These notices are required by law. In most cases the policy would also help with expenses in offering additional services to the affected clients and with any legal fees associated with the breach.

Both Insurance companies and credit monitoring companies are a good start to protecting you identity, but there is more that you can do.images8AMQY7Z5

While there is no 100% bullet proof way to keep a criminal from stealing your identity there are some things that you can do to protect yourself. Here is a list of 10 things that will help you to protect you identity.

1. Shred your personal documents instead of just throwing them in the trash. Thieves are not too proud to go dumpster diving.

2. Check your credit report once per year. You can get a free credit report at http://www.annualcreditreport.com. You can dispute inaccuracies at the credit reporting agencies.

3. Carefully read your credit card statements each month to make sure that there are no unauthorized charges. Even small unauthorized charges could be an indication that a thief is getting ready to make a big purchase on your card.

4. Don’t leave your mail in the mailbox for too long. A lot of personal identifying information comes to us in our daily mail via USPS.

5. Don’t give out your personal information over the phone, or in an email. In recent times it’s become clear that phone conversations can be monitored and emails can be hacked.

6. Protect your Social Security Number. We take it for granted, but people entering into the country illegally are in search for good Social Security numbers.

7. Keep your computer secure with antivirus software and firewalls. Sometimes that pesky virus on your computer is looking for your personal information.

8. Don’t let your credit card out of sight. A big scam that was going on in the Chicago area a few years back involved waiters taking the clients credit card to the back of the restaurant and stealing the information to use later on. Have the waiter bring you the card machine instead.

9. Avoid doing business online with companies that you don’t know anything about.

10. Don’t open attachments or click on links from people that you don’t know.

For more information on how you can protect your identity theft contact Brian Bragg at Bragg Insurance Agency at 317-758-5828, or by email at brian@bragginsurance.com. For related information visit http://www.bragginsuranceblog.com

When Optimisim is a Negative

“It won’t happen to me is not a good insurance program”

It’s quite amazing how many optimistsglass-half-full-233x300 that I run into on a daily basis. I too am a “glass half full” person, so I truly understand the optimistic mindset. While I consider myself to be a positive person I cannot hold a candle to some of the idealistic thinkers that cross my path. Recently I’ve been putting these Utopian-minded folks into 3 categories.

The Immortals – This group is the most sanguine. They are a confident group that thinks that they cannot die. They are usually young and believe that their youth and positive buoyant attitude will keep death at bay. They go about their day to day activities on cloud nine ignoring pessimistic thoughts such as death, and responsibilities.

Unfortunately “The Immortals” do die, and many times way too young. Sometimes they leave behind a family with both emotional and financial voids. They leave behind mortgages, motorcycle payments, car payments, children, spouses, and extra expenses related to their funeral.

The Conscientious Optimist – This group of optimists are so meticulous that an accident could never happen to them. They are superb drivers, their homes are danger free zones and they never take risks –Never! When they drive they are able to look 3 and 4 moves ahead of everyone else and they can actually read the minds of other drivers. These clairvoyant powers keep them out of the path of drunk drivers and they are able to spot deer before they look into the headlights.

Unfortunately just as Superman’s weakness was kryptonite, even The Conscientious Optimist is susceptible to accidents. A car sometimes appears out of nowhere, someone hits their vehicle when it’s parked in a parking lot, or they only looked away for a second and that’s when the accident happened.

The Optimistic Procrastinator – Normally procrastination is associated as a negative word, but I’ve come to realize that Procrastinators are actually very positive people. They believe beat_procrastinationthat they can wait until the very last minute to take care of a duty or a task. Some of their most often used words are, “I meant to”, or “I was just getting ready to do that”, or “there’s plenty of time to do that later”

Unfortunately for the procrastinator his optimistic view of time often times runs out. His “meant to” turns into never did, and his “I was just getting ready to do that” turns into never got it done. The thing the optimistic procrastinator doesn’t realize is that when time runs out, his good intentions aren’t worth a hill of beans. He was derelict in his duties and responsibilities in spite of his good intentions.

pic-lhb-familyWe optimists are funny people. We really do see the glass as half full. But we also need to be aware of a balancing truth. We are not immortal, we do not have a magic force field around us protecting us from accidents, and we are not promised tomorrow.

So why not rather be an optimist that is prepared for the future? Live life to the fullest, but be prepared in case it’s your last day. Be a conscientious person that avoids all accidents, but have a plan in case the unexpected happens. Today, stop putting off those “meant to do” items and get them done today.

Brian Bragg owns and operates Bragg Insurance Agency and can be emailed at brian@bragginsurance.com

Spring Storms Can Bring Scam Artists

Watch for Scams after a Storm

Concerned WomanAs winter winds down and we draw closer to Spring you will begin to hear the importance of being prepared for the Springtime storms. As everyone knows we are at a greater risk for Tornados and serious wind and hail storms in the Spring and Fall.

These storms can turn your home and your life upside down. If your home is damaged in a storm you are eager to get your home repaired as quickly as possible so that you can get your life back to normal. It’s during this time of eagerness that you can become victim to another “natural disaster”, a scam artist.

Most contractors are reputable business people. But each year, there are a few dishonest ones who chase storms from state to state. They will try to convince you that you have hail or other damage and that you need a new roof when in fact you really don’t. They’ll ask to be hired for the work, explaining that your insurance company will pay for the repairs.th7JGJ1NLC

Most homeowner’s insurance policies will cover damage caused by hail and windstorms, but they will not cover the cost to replace a roof or siding when no damage has occurred. It is always recommended that you obtain a second and even a third opinion before starting any contract work.

What you can do?

If you’re beginning to repair or rebuild after a storm, or even if you are just planning a home improvement project, keep these tips, recommended by the Federal FEMAEmergency Management Agency, in mind for choosing contractors wisely:
• Get more than one estimate.
• Don’t be pushed into signing a contract right away.
• Get everything in writing. Cost, work to be done, time schedules, guarantees, payment schedules and other expectations should be detailed.
• Check references before deciding which contractor to choose.
• Never sign a contract with blanks.
• Don’t pay a contractor in full until the work is complete.
• Check with county or city licensing authorities to see if the contractor is licensed in your jurisdiction, as well as checking for complaints with their regional Better Business Bureau.

Contact your local independent agent.

If you need suggestions about who to hire or how to repair your home after a storm, your local independent agent can help you contact an insurance claims adjuster. Most insurance carriers have professional claims adjusters who are trained to assess your property, identify storm damage and prepare an estimate for proper repair. They can also provide recommendations for reliable, licensed contractors in your area—although the final choice of contractor is always yours.