Utility Lines Insurance

Guess what! The water line that is buried in your yard just burst and it is going to cost you $5000 to fix. Should you turn it in to your home insurance company?

Did you know that most house insurance policies do not cover utility lines connected to the home?

Sewer lines and water lines, for example, are a homeowner’s responsibility to maintain provided they are part of your property, so you might think they are covered by your home insurance. It turns out this is not the case. Most insurance companies consider utility lines “features” of the property or “accessories.” Utility lines are connected to the house, but once the utility line or utility pipe leaves the house, it is no longer considered part of the dwelling, and that means no coverage.

How do you get coverage for these costly utility lines?

  • Adding a utility lines endorsement (if it is available)
  • Purchasing a separate utility lines insurance policy

 

Now, this is based on most house insurance companies. Always contact your insurance agent to clarify what coverage is afforded by your specific policy. Coverage varies by state and carrier.

Will My Insurance Go Up If I File A Claim

Are you nervous about filing an insurance claim, for fear that your rates will go up? You are not alone! This is one of the most popular questions in the insurance industry. Unfortunately the answer is not black and white. No two claims in the world of insurance are the same. Each claim is evaluated for its unique situation. Each policy and company is also unique. Not to mention, there are other factors that may come into play, for example: If you have been with a company long enough to earn a claims free discount, you may not see an increase resulting from a claim.

That being said, we USUALLY see an increase in insurance premiums after a chargeable loss. For auto insurance this typically means that you are the at fault party. For home insurance, the majority of losses will be considered chargeable.

Now the important question that you are all wondering is WHY?

Why do you pay insurance, just to have the rates increase when you need to use it?

Again, there are many factors that go into determining your rates, but we will attempt to provide you with some insight. Let’s start with the basics. Insurance is a transfer of risk. You pay insurance premiums to your insurance company and they take on the risk of you turning in a claim.  (If you do not want the insurance company to take on your risk, please see the link below.) To determine how much you should pay for insurance, insurance companies look at specific factors to determine how much of a risk they are taking on. Now when one of these factors changes, say you have an accident, the level of risk goes up and therefore, so does the premium.

Here is another way to think about it… Say Bob rents out his home to Sue. If Sue has pets, Bob may want to charge Sue a higher rent, because pets have an increased risk of causing damage/mess. Or maybe Sue has been a long term tenant and Sue now decides to get a pet or two. Bob would then consider charging a pet deposit or a monthly pet fee. In this situation a factor in the tenant profile changed, posing a greater risk and therefore a higher rate.

Here is another example… Maybe someone asks to borrow your car. If you agree, you are taking on the risk of their driving. If the personal that asks to borrow your car has had several accidents and or tickets, you may reconsider allowing them to borrow your car (they are a high risk).

If you do not want insurance and you would like to carry the risk of a claim yourself, most states offer other options.  Here is a link with additional information and details that you may find helpful.  http://www.dmv.org/insurance/alternatives-to-auto-insurance.php

In summary, we typically see rate increases when claims are filed. At Strand Insurance, we do not set the company’s rates or rules, as we are independent insurance agents, but we do want our clients to be happy and comfortable. Part of this includes being informed, so we encourage you to discuss your insurance questions and concerns with your agent or one of ours.

Strand Insurance is licensed in WA, OR, CA, and AZ.

Commercial Umbrella/Excess

If umbrella policies are good for individuals, then they are imperative for business. When a catastrophic liability loss occurs, an umbrella insurance policy can mean the difference between a business surviving, or not.

The number and cost of lawsuits is rapidly increasing in today’s society. Catastrophic liability losses can happen to any business at any time, and a commercial umbrella policy protects you when those losses exceed your basic liability coverage. Yes we have seen this happen. You have worked so hard to build your business to have something take it away in an instant. Call Strand Insurance at 800-700-8281 or email us at Arthur@strandinsurance.com today about a commercial umbrella insurance policy.

Commercial Umbrella Insurance helps you protect your assets by providing additional liability limits above and beyond your other policies. In some cases, it even broadens your protection. Due to the unpredictable nature of jury awards Strand Insurance recommends that your business insurance program include this coverage.

What is Excess Liability Coverage?

This coverage provides extra liability limits over an Umbrella policy. This coverage typically follows the terms of the first underlying insurance policy.

Who needs Excess Liability Coverage?

Higher limits may be necessary for businesses with high loss potential, high profile, sizable sales, numerous assets, large auto fleets, worldwide presence, significant public exposure.

Talk to Strand Insurance today about your business operations and we can advise you what kind of liability coverage you need to protect yourself and your company. Just give us a call at 800-700-8281 and we’ll help make sure you’re covered.

 

Teen Drivers and Insurance

 

Is A Teen Driver Making You Insurance Go Way Up?

Remember your first car? Remember your first drive after getting your license? Summertime, my dad’s blazer, windows down and music turned up, on my way to the skate park to show off my brand new license to all my friends! Now, I think back and wonder… Was I added to my parents insurance? Who was my family’s insurance carrier? Was the car I was driving covered? My response… Uhhhhh…???!!!

As parents, when we put 16 year olds behind the wheel of our vehicles, our hearts are pounding with excitement because we no longer have to drive them around and nerves because they are driving themselves around! This often brings on a strong desire to talk with an insurance agent. Let us help!

Adding a young driver to your policy, no matter the company, vehicle, or policy is going to increase your rates. Young drivers are much more prone to getting distracted by music, cell phones, etc., also more prone to accidents or tickets. Many insurance companies have realized the strong need to address teen drivers & teen driving activity in regards to the teen’s parent’s insurance policy. A few insurance companies have now put new programs into place that will help lower the rate increase and provide additional education for your teen driver in a fun and memorable way.

TeenSMART is a program designed to address teen’s VISUAL SEARCH, HAZARD DETECTION, SPEED ADJUSTMENT, SPACE MANAGEMENT, RISK PERCEPTION and LIFESTYLE ISSUES in relation to driving. Those are all specific factors that cause more than 90% of all teen accidents!! TeenSMART has said that teens who complete the program have up to 30% less accidents and claims! Not only does the TeenSMART program offer further education for your young drivers but upon completion offers a significant discount. The discount is applied the date the course is completed and will stay with the policy until the young driver turns 21. That means, if your teen gets their drivers license when they are 16 and completes the TeenSMART program, your auto policy will have a built in discount for the next 5 years!!  Not all insurance companies use TeenSMART, but they may have similar options!

A few other options for reducing the premium impact of a teen driver are:

  • Good Student Discount (typically offered with a GPA of 3.0 or higher)
  • Not buying your teen a vehicle that needs full coverage
  • Driver’s Training Courses (many companies offer a discount for the completion of drivers education courses)

Lapse of Car Insurance

Consistency is Key!

  • What happens when you sell your car and don’t have a replacement vehicle to add to your policy?
  • What if you are in an accident and your vehicle is totaled, what do you do with your car insurance?
  • Do you let your car insurance cancel?
  • Do you let your policy lapse and look for another carrier when you find a new car?
  • Why keep an active auto policy when you don’t have a vehicle?

These are all great questions, and all have a simple answer that applies in most situations. Do NOT cancel your auto insurance. Do NOT let your auto insurance lapse. Do NOT stop paying the premiums for your auto insurance.

As the title of this blog states, CONSISTENCY IS KEY!!

Although, it may seem silly or unimportant to have an active auto policy without a car, it is very important that you keep your car insurance active. Most preferred insurance carriers require prior insurance in order to insure your vehicle. If you have a gap or lapse of auto insurance, you could get stuck paying a much higher premium.

Additionally, the liability portion of your auto policy will continue to follow and protect you if, and when, you are driving someone else’s vehicle and they do not carry adequate coverage. Your auto insurance will also continue to protect you if you are in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. (In both instances, the vehicle owner’s insurance would most likely respond first, but yours would come in to play second if there was not enough coverage.)

 

What about the cost of keeping the car insurance going?

You may not want to continue paying the premium for your auto policy if you are without a vehicle, to try and save money. However, once you do have a vehicle to insure, you will be saving money by continuing to carry auto liability insurance because you will be able to remain a part of the preferred market when you add your next vehicle. To help with the expense, you can reduce your policy coverage to carry just liability limits while you are without a vehicle; deleting your comprehensive and collision coverage. Temporarily carrying less coverage than you would if you owned a vehicle could reduce your premium substantially!

 

What is the preferred market that was just mentioned?

Preferred markets are referred to as preferred or standard because they have higher standards and requirements for the insured to follow, but they also tend to have better coverage, rates, and customer service.

 

Conclusion

If something happens and leaves you without a vehicle, please contact your agent for further assistance. Your insurance agent is there for a reason; we are here to help you and have your best interests in mind.  At Strand Insurance, we will present you with facts and options in order to help you make an informed decision.

Will My Home Insurance Cover My Sports Memorabilia?

ballAre you a sports fanatic?  Do you have memorabilia on display at home or tucked away for safe keeping?  If you do, have you ever wondered how safe these treasurers really are?

What would happen if your Russell Wilson autographed football was stolen from your home?  What if your home caught fire and turned your baseball card collection to nothing more than ashes?

Does your home insurance cover your collectibles?  Are you reimbursed for their value if they cannot be replaced?

Home insurance policies include coverage for your belonging, so your memorabilia should be covered right?  Unfortunately it is not this simple and is not typically the case.  Most standard home insurance policies have specific limits in place for high valued items and collections.  In order for your sports memorabilia to be insured for its value, it should be listed on your home policy or insured separately.  If it is not, your insurance carrier may give you actual cash value for your collectibles, if they give you anything.  This means that on a standard home policy you would NOT receive the appraised value for you signed Michael Jordan jersey.

What should you do?

If you would like your sports memorabilia to be insured properly, you should take photos, make an inventory with specific descriptions of each item, and keep updated appraisals.  These documents should be brought to your insurance agent to be specifically listed on your home policy or insured on a separate policy.  Insurance premiums for these items vary.

Tornadoes and Insurance in Washington

With the recent tornado scares in Western Washington, you may be wondering if you are covered for tornado damage on your home or car. Strand Insurance would love to help you answer this question.

Is my home covered – most home insurance companies in Washington will cover tornado damage under a weather related loss such as wind damage. You will want to make sure your dwelling and contents limits are adequate in the event of a claim. You should also look at your building ordinance or law coverage. In the event that a tornado does not completely destroy your home, but creates a partial loss, you will most likely need to bring the undamaged portion of your home up to current building codes. This is where building ordinance or law coverage comes into play. Building ordinance or law is typically a percentage of your dwelling limit and is used for the expenses incurred while updating your home to meet current building codes and regulations. If you don’t have enough building ordinance or law coverage on your home insurance policy, this can be a hefty out of pocket expense.

Is my car covered – In Washington, the law requires you to carry liability coverage. Auto liability however does not cover damage to you vehicle if it is damaged by a tornado or other weather related event. In order to have coverage for a tornado, you would need to carry comprehensive coverage.

Safety Tips When Driving In The Rain

Weather is changing yet again and it is time to be prepared for wet roads.

Here are some safety tips for driving on wet roadways:Tire

  1. Make routine to check your tires – check for inflation, tread depth, and make sure they get rotated at recommended intervals.
  2. Change your windshield wipers – Putting on new windshield wipers after a dry summer will help with water streaks on your windshield, giving you better visibility on the roads.
  3. Turn on our headlights – This will allow other vehicles to see you better.
  4. It’s time to slow down – The falling rain mixes with oils and grime on the roads. This can make the roadway slicker, especially if it hasn’t rained for a while.
  5. Keep your distance – It is always a good idea to leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the car in front of you. If the road is wet, your vehicle can take longer to stop and/or slow down.

For more tips, photos, and videos please visit:

http://www.wikihow.com/Drive-Safely-in-the-Rain

Moss On Roof

Did you know that most insurance companies do not like moss?

That’s right! Moss is quite harmful especially to your roof. Insurance companies know that your roof in an important part of your home, and therefore prefer if your roof is properly maintained.

If you are thinking about switching the insurance on your home, it is important to know that most insurance companies will have a home inspection done. This is typically an exterior inspection, where an inspector will come and take photos of the outside of your home. The purpose is to make sure your home does not have an increased risk of having a claim. Inspectors typically look for moss on the roof, curling shingles, peeling paint, rot on any decking, steps without railings, other structures on the premises that may be a concern, etc…

Home insurers are particularity concerned with the condition or your roofing, because your roof is a major protector of your home and your belongings.

Why is moss on your roof so bad?

  • Moss can damage your shingles causing them to deteriorate more quickly.
  • Moss buildup can lift shingles up, allowing water to get under the shingles. Raised shingles can get caught in the wind and blow off. Water can also get trapped under raised shingles resulting in rotting and possible leaking.
  • Moss soaks up water; which keeps your roof wet and can result in rotting and leaking.

Summer is a good time of year to clear moss from your roof and create a moss prevention plan; which may include annual roof treatments or trimming trees that hang over your roof.

For cleaning techniques and prevention plans, click here.

Will your house insurance cover your septic problems?

If you live in a rural area or have land you are probably familiar with septic systems, you may even have one.  This is a system that captures and disposes of water from toilets, showers, sinks, etc.  As a homeowner, you are responsible for maintaining septic pipes and tanks on your property.  If your septic system stops working properly, this can be quite expensive.  This usually triggers a call to your insurance agent to find out if septic problems would be covered under your house insurance policy.

Unfortunately, your typical homeowner’s insurance policy would not provide you with coverage for your septic system unless a covered loss such as a fire also caused damage to the septic system.  Common home policies do not provide coverage for pipes and tanks that are considered to be outside of the home.  These are not structurally part of your home, so they can be thought of as features of the property.  Your home insurance may have a rider/endorsement that you can add on for additional coverage, but this will depend on which company you are with and what they have to offer.

It is also important to note that most home insurance policies do not cover wear and tear.  The loss must be something that is sudden and accidental on their covered perils list.  This also goes for roofing and other plumbing.