Archive for the ‘tips’ Tag

You’re moving out of state — do you need new car insurance?   Leave a comment

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You’re moving out of state; it’s time to pack your bags, get your affairs in order and head off for new horizons. An additional consideration, one that sometimes isn’t top-of-mind, is car insurance. Specifically: do you need to get new car insurance when moving to a new state?

The answer is almost always “yes,” but with a major caveat.

When you move to a new state you usually have between 30-90 days to register your vehicle. Use those months to get your car insurance situation straightened out; do not do it before you move.

That is the major caveat: do not cancel your old car insurance policy before setting up your new one. Do not cancel your policy in one state and then move to another state before getting a new one. You should never drive — especially across state lines — without a car insurance policy. It is illegal, and potentially very costly if you get into an accident.

Indeed, your policy may change after you relocate even if you stay with the same provider. Your new state may have different laws and policies than your old one does, thereby adding or subtracting a few dollars from your monthly bill. You might also be commuting more (or less), which would also affect your premium. In your move you may have also acquired some new assets, including a new vehicle. Additionally, your car insurance provider might not be able to sell insurance in your new state — so it’s definitely best to check in.

When you register your vehicle in the new state must show proof of insurance. And the states must match; if you’ve moved to Florida, when you register your vehicle there you must have valid car insurance in Florida as well. Do not go to register your car without first getting your car insurance set after the move.

“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”

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Fire Pit Safety   Leave a comment

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A backyard fire pit is great for family gatherings or parties with friends. It is imperative that you safely build and maintain a fire pit to avoid dangers from sparks. At the same time, every homeowner must have liability insurance to assist with payments for personal injuries. Contact your local fire department to determine if fire pits are permitted on private property. If your geographic region allows the building of fire pits, then ask about particular regulations required to comply with the law. Failure to follow your local government’s restrictions could lead to fines.

Look for a place in your backyard that is away from structures such as fences, decks and outbuildings. Choose a location away from shrubs, trees and gardens that can catch on fire due to hot sparks. Do not place a fire pit near utility lines, telephone poles or a neighbor’s property. In addition, you must build the pit in an area that is unaffected by windy weather. Concrete blocks or bricks are a standard support system for a backyard fire pit built on bare dirt or other nonflammable surface. While building the fire pit ring, make sure the support system is attached firmly to hold the metal bowl used to hold logs.

Allow the fire pit ring to sit for a few days to ensure it is safe to use before starting a fire. Begin layering logs in the metal bowl stabilized by the fire pit ring. Carefully light a match to set the starter log burning. As the fire begins, you can place a screen over the flames. It is important to keep clothing and hands away from the flames to avoid burn injuries. Wearing long oven mitts or using tongs while preparing the fire is an excellent method to avoid injury. Always have a bucket of water nearby to douse flames in an emergency such as high winds and flying sparks.

Courtesy of Wiseman Insurance Agency

“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”

Posted November 7, 2013 by leecountyinsurance in Uncategorized

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Homeowners Halloween Horrors   Leave a comment

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When zombies, Snookies, and Lady Gagas storm your front door this weekend, don’t fear! Your homeowners insurance will protect you from Halloween mishaps.

Halloween is all fun and games until a trick-or-treater trips, knocks over your jack-o-lantern, and sets your front porch on fire. Fortunately, most homeowners insurance policies cover these common Halloween home mishaps:

  • Tricksters damage your home. Standard homeowners policies cover vandalism, such as dents in your siding caused by eggs thrown at your home, when repair costs exceed your deductible.
  • Candles or decorations cause a fire. A fire started by a Halloween candle or a string of holiday lights will be covered. If the fire makes your home unlivable, your homeowners policy will pay your living expenses while you wait for repairs.
  • A trick-or-treater gets hurt on your property. Injuries to trick-or-treaters or your party guests are covered by the homeowner liability portion of your policy. The injured person files a claim with your insurer.
  • You crash your car into a telephone pole to avoid hitting a trick-or-treater in your driveway. That accident would be covered by the collision portion of your auto insurance (if you have it). If you hurt anyone, the liability portion of your auto insurance would cover the cost of their treatment.

If everything on this list of Halloween home horrors occurred, your umbrella insurance would kick in to cover costs — if you have it.

To make your property safe for Halloween, the Insurance Information Institute has these recommendations:

  • Pick up anything in your front yard, sidewalk, stoop, or porch that a person could trip over.
  • Turn on your outdoor lighting so kids can see where they’re going.
  • Use battery-powered lights in your jack-o-lanterns.
  • Don’t put matches, lighters, or candles in places children can reach.
  • Pets, candles, and trick-or-treaters don’t mix. Keep pets away from the front door on Halloween.
  • Look for safety certifications, such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories), on your decorative lights.

Courtesy Houselogic.com

“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”

Posted October 30, 2013 by leecountyinsurance in Uncategorized

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Pumpkin Safety   Leave a comment

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Safety is key when you’re pumpkin carving with the kids for Halloween. These tips from Pumpkin Masters will help!
When you’re carving pumpkins, having fun is key — but the most important thing to remember is safety, especially with kids. After all, you want to carve the pumpkin, not yourself!
Here are five safety tips to ensure a safe — and fun — pumpkin-carving session with the little ones.

1. Create a safe workspace.
Set out your carving materials on a well-lit, dry surface. Make sure everyone has the tools they need right in front them, and that kids can reach the space easily.

2. Choose the right tools.
Using household kitchen knives can be dangerous, especially for children, so we recommend carving tools specifically designed for kids, which has a larger handle that makes it easier for little hands to grip and maintain control.

3. Point the blade away.
No matter which carving tool you’re using, point the blade away from you as you carve. If your hand slips, you’re less likely to get hurt.

4. Saw, don’t slice.
Instead of using a sweeping movement, like slicing, try gently sawing through the pumpkin as you carve. Go as slowly as you need to avoid slipping.

5. Watch your hands — and others’!
Be mindful of where everyone’s free hands are when carving. Whether you’re carving yourself or you’re holding a pumpkin for someone else, keep one hand on top of the pumpkin instead of on the side. That way it’s within sight, which will decrease the risk of poking or slicing through the pumpkin — and into someone’s hand.

6. Illumination:
Small battery powered LED lights are much safer than traditional candles. They won’t burn you or your pumpkin.

“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”

Posted October 17, 2013 by leecountyinsurance in General Info

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Shopping Tips for Property Insurance   Leave a comment

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The most important tip: Think rebuilding cost, not real estate value, when insuring your home. If your home is severely damaged or destroyed, it may cost more to rebuild it than its current sales price.

Shopping Tips For Property Insurance
 
  1. Insure for the rebuilding cost, not the real estate value.
    Real estate goes up and down, while building costs may not fluctuate as widely. You can check in your area for the price range per square foot of new construction or use one of the online building estimator tools. (Suggestion: Type how to estimate building costs in the search field.) You’ll want to purchase enough insurance to completely rebuild your home.
  2. Accurately estimate your home’s contents by doing a home inventory. 
    Remember to include your furniture, electronics, appliances and other contents so you can replace all your belongings if you suffer a major loss. Many people underestimate how much they own, and the Insurance Information Institute has free software to help you create an accurate home inventory. And, having an accurate inventory will help you settle claims promptly. The free software is available at http://www.knowyourstuff.org.
  3.  Don’t select an insurer on price alone. 
    Check the company’s reputation for service by asking people you know for recommendations. You’ll want to send your business to a company that is known for answering questions promptly and handling claims properly and fairly. You should also check on the company’s financial rating by checking with ratings organization. This information is often available on the company’s Website as well.
  4. To save money, take the highest deductible you can afford.
    The higher the deductible, the lower your premium. Since most people file a claim only every eight to 10 years, you will save money over time and preserve your insurance for when it’s really needed.
  5. Ask about policy exclusions, available discounts and additional coverage. Make sure you understand what is covered and what is not. Homeowner insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Some have exclusions for sinkhole coverage, and you may want to include this protection for an additional premium. There is also additional coverage you may wish to purchase to rebuild your home to the current building code, since new construction must comply with stronger codes. You earn discounts for security systems, some upgrades, wind-resistant shutters, and other improvements and safety features.
Another tip: Read your current policy before you have a conversation with your agent so you understand your coverage and make the best insurance decisions for your situation.
 
“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”

Posted July 31, 2013 by leecountyinsurance in Uncategorized

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Make Sure You’re Covered for Sewer Backups   Leave a comment

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A Little Insurance and Preventive Action Offer a Lot of Protection Against Sewer Related Damage

If you’re a homeowner, here’s one of the worst nightmares you can experience. Torrential downpours deluge your property and neighborhood with rainwater, overwhelming your home’s sewer system or your sump pump’s ability to handle the water runoff. The next thing you know, you have raw sewage backing up into your home’s drains, overflowing toilets and tubs or flooding your basement. A backed up sewer can do a real number on your home, causing thousands of dollars in damage to floors, walls, furniture carpeting and electrical systems, as well as pose a major health hazard.

No problem. You’ve got insurance, right? Not so fast. According to the Insurance Information Institute, most sewer system backups are not covered under a typical homeowners insurance policy, nor are they covered by flood insurance.

Uh-oh.

For homes that have been severely damaged by sewer backups and are uninhabitable, your basic homeowners policy may include Loss of Use coverage, which provides reimbursement for lodging, food and other living expenses you may incur if you have to vacate your home. Loss of Use coverage also reimburses you for the lost rental income if you rent out part of the house. but that’s about all you’re going to get with your average homeowner’s policy.

For most consumers, coverage for sewer-related problems must be purchased either as a separate product or as an addition to a homeowners policy. Fortunately, sewer backup coverage is available from most insurance companies for a nominal cost. We recommend that consumers in our rain-prone region of Florida err on the side of caution and purchase this additional insurance. You can typically purchase sewer backup insurance for an additional premium of $50-$75 per year; a small price to pay for significant piece of mind and protection.

What Causes Sewer Backups

Most homeowners probably don’t realize that they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their main sewer line — the pipeline that runs between their house and the municipality’s sewer main, usually located underneath the street. The main sewer line is owned and maintained by the property owner, including any part of the line that extends into the street or public right of way.

Over time, these main sewer lines can easily deteriorate, crack, collapse or become obstructed. You may not have a clue that this kind of damage is occurring. But one severe rainstorm may be all it takes to bring the problem to a head.

Some of the more common causes of damaged sewer lines and sewer line backups are:

Aging Sewer Systems: More than half of nation’s sewer lines are 30+ years old or connected to aging municipal sewage systems. After decades of wear, tear and obstruction, the sewer line and system no longer have the capability to withstand heavy demands and so they back up and overflow.

Combined Pipelines: Some newer sewage and drainage systems combine storm water and raw sewage into the same pipeline. During intense rain storms, these combined systems are exposed to more volume and debris than they can handle. With nowhere else to go, the outgoing water and sewer backs up into basements and other low lying drains.

Tree Root Infiltration: Shrubs and trees seeking moisture can make their way into cracks or through joints in your sewer line, causing extensive blockage and damage. Tree roots can travel a long way; the damage may occur from a tree on your property, a neighbor’s tree or a tree on public property. Samples of the tree roots can be obtained to identify which party is responsible for cleanup and repair.

Blocked Municipal Lines: Many times the problem has nothing to do with your property, but with a blockage in a your municipality’s sanitary main running under your street. If the blockage is not detected in time, sewage from the main can back up not only into your home but your neighbors, as well.

Usually this kind of backup happens slowly, giving you plenty of time to call a licensed plumbing company or your agent to find out who they suggest. If water and sewage back into your basement at a rapid rate, don’t delay; call your municipality’s public works office or sewer department and report the problem immediately.

How You Can Prevent Sewer Line Backups

There are several preventive measures homeowners can take to minimize the occurrence sewer line backups.

Proper Disposal of Grease and Food: Grease, fats, gravies, sauces and cooking oils should never go down your kitchen drain but should be poured into a heat-resistant container and disposed of in the garbage. Once in your drain, these substances will cool off and solidify either in the drain or in the main sewer, eventually building up to a massive clog. Food particles should never go down the drain unless run through a garbage disposal first.

Proper Disposal of Paper Products Properly: Toilet paper and human waste is the only thing that should go down your toilet. Diapers, paper towels, feminine products and food should never be flushed; these products do not deteriorate and can easily clog your main sewer line. Even facial tissue should be avoided; it does not dissolve as easily as bathroom tissue does.

Replace Your Pipes: One way to prevent collapsed sewer lines or tree root infiltration is to replace your old clay or metal sewer lines with today’s newer plastic or PVC pipe. If you have continuing problems with tree roots in your sewer line, you may have to have the roots cut or your line cleared periodically.

Install a Backwater Prevention Valve: These fixtures are installed into a sewer line in the basement of your home to prevent sewer backups. They allow sewage to go out, but not to come back in.

What to Do If You Experience a Sewer Backup

Sewer backups can produce a host of nightmares for homeowners, including disease, mold formation, destruction of valuables, foundation damage and electrical malfunctions. Prompt cleanup is necessary to restore sanitary conditions and prevent further damage. If you experience a sewer backup situation, at a minimum, your cleanup should include:

Wet-vacuuming of all floodwater
Mopping floors and wiping walls with soap, water and disinfectant
Flushing and disinfecting plumbing fixtures
Steam cleaning or removing wet carpets or drapes
Repairing/removing damaged wall and floor covering
Cleanup of ductwork

How to File a Sewer Backup Claim

Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible after your sewer backup has occurred. For insurance purposes, it’s a good idea to take before and after photos of the affected areas of your home or basement and itemize any property losses. Save all receipts related to repair, cleaning or damages related to your sewer backup. Do not dispose of any damaged items until an adjuster has seen them. You cannot recover money once the items are gone or repaired unless the adjuster has seen them first.

“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”