Skip to main content

Personal Perspective

Why You Need Extra Coverage for Natural Disasters

By Personal Perspective

You rely on your homeowners’ insurance in the event of a theft, vandalism or damage. It might not cover your home and possessions during a natural disaster, though. Learn more about natural disasters and why you need extra coverage.

What is a Natural Disaster?

Several types of weather events are considered natural disasters. They include floods, hurricanes, tornados and earthquakes.

Does Homeowners’ Insurance Cover Natural Disasters?

Your standard homeowners’ insurance policy may cover natural disasters. This is especially true if you live in an area prone to a severe weather event. However, most standard homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover natural disasters.

Read your policy carefully to discover what coverage you have. In certain cases, your policy may cover flooding caused by a severe rain storm, for example, but not from tidal surges. You may also talk to your insurance agent for details.

Why You Need Extra Coverage for Natural Disasters

Natural disaster insurance supplements your homeowners’ insurance policy. It goes into effect if a natural disaster strikes. Not only does it give you peace of mind, but it can save you thousands of dollars.

How to Purchase Natural Disaster Coverage

Before you buy supplemental disaster coverage, check the policy and answer these four questions.

    1. Are you eligible?

      A natural disaster insurance policy may only be available to at-risk home owners who live in areas that are affected by natural disasters. For example, you might only be eligible for flood insurance if you live in a flood plain. Contact your state’s insurance commissioner, the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) or the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for information on the most common natural disasters in your area. That information helps you determine if you’re eligible for natural disaster coverage.

    1. Is the timing right?

      The best time to buy natural disaster insurance is before a disaster strikes. Most policies have a waiting period, and they will not cover any damages, repairs or replacements if a disaster happens within that time frame.

    1. Does the premium fit your budget?

      The cost of a natural disaster policy varies based on your home, where you live and the disaster against which you insure your home. That policy could save you thousands of dollars if a natural disaster strikes, though. Evaluate your budget and your needs then compare several different policies to find the right one for your budget.

    1. Is the company reputable?

      When choosing extra coverage for natural disasters, evaluate the insurance company. A.M Best is one website that gives insurance companies a rating. A higher rating signals greater financial stability.

When you understand natural disasters and why you need extra coverage, you’re ready to start shopping. Contact your insurance agent to buy the policy that’s right for you.

Benefits of a Personal Umbrella Policy

By Personal Perspective
Personal Umbrella Insurance provides extra liability coverage. It supplements your auto and homeowners insurance as it protects your assets and gives you peace of mind.

What is Personal Umbrella Insurance?

If you’re in an auto accident or someone is injured on your property, your auto insurance or homeowners insurance will cover your liability. However, liability claims can exceed tens of thousands of dollars depending on the damage. Your auto or homeowners policy may not cover the full amount of damages.

That’s why you need personal umbrella insurance. It kicks in when your auto and homeowners insurance policy limit are met. With it, you can cover your liability costs and protect your home, personal or retirement savings, college fund, future earnings and other assets. Your current lifestyle remains secure thanks to the added protection of your personal umbrella insurance policy.

Additional Benefits of Personal Umbrella Insurance

In addition to covering any liability after an accident, your personal umbrella insurance policy covers several other incidents. Consider these additional benefits as you decide if this extra coverage is a wise investment for you.

  • Personal injury coverage if someone files a libel, defamation of character, slander or related claim against you
  • Worldwide coverage if you cause an accident while traveling abroad
  • Vacation rental liability for rental equipment like scooters, boats, jet skis or other rentals
  • Defense coverage associated with attorney fees and related legal costs

Who Needs Personal Umbrella Insurance?

Maybe you think that personal umbrella insurance is only for the wealthy. Actually, it’s recommended coverage for anyone. You may not own $1 million in assets, but a single lawsuit can be expensive. Use your personal umbrella to pay the claim and associated legal fees as you protect your assets and lifestyle.

How Much Personal Umbrella Insurance Should You Buy?

Personal umbrella insurance policies are usually available in million-dollar increments. Take stock of your assets, and then select a policy of $1 to $5 million. In general, you’ll want a $1 million policy if you earn more than $100,000 annually and up $3 to $5 million if you own rental property.

How Much Does Personal Umbrella Insurance Cost?

Your risk affects the cost of your personal umbrella insurance policy. On average, expect to pay $200 per year for a $1 million policy or $300 per year for a $2 million policy if you own a home and two cars.

A personal umbrella insurance gives you peace of mind as it protects your assets. For assistance choosing the right personal umbrella insurance policy for your needs, talk to your insurance agent.

You Need to Consider Flood Insurance

By Personal Perspective

Don’t wait until the weather forecast calls for prolonged heavy rains before buying flood insurance. While this practical insurance can be purchased anytime, the policy does not take effect for 30 days. As the most common natural disaster in the country, flooding ruins millions of dollars of homes and property every year. Even so, flooding is not commonly covered in your typical homeowner’s insurance policy, making it necessary to purchase additional coverage for this costly, devastating disaster.

If you are in a high-risk flood zone, a federally regulated lender will require a would-be borrower to buy flood insurance in order to qualify for a mortgage loan. To satisfy the lender, flood insurance must be purchased in an amount that sufficiently covers the loan.

A homeowner should also buy flood insurance if he or she resides in a flood plain with no failsafe controls, such as a dam. Flood policies even pay off if the President does not declare the area a federal disaster area, which can prove to be invaluable. Because the nation’s Chief Executive Officer rarely issues such a declaration, protecting yourself is extremely important.

Besides, you have to repay the federal aid you receive for home repairs related to a natural disaster so providing your own protection is the only way to ensure financial recovery suffered from flooding. Not all homes qualify for flood coverage. For instance, flood insurance for beachfront or ocean-side property may not be available for the obvious reasons.

The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) reports that more than 20,000 communities have agreed to tighter zoning and building measures to control floods. Residents of these communities can buy flood coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which FEMA oversees. As of 2009, NFIP had 5.7 million flood policies inforce nationwide.

Premiums for flood insurance vary widely, depending primarily on individual risk. In determining price, flood insurance underwriters consider several factors including the property’s elevation, proximity to bodies of water, and whether the dwelling has a basement. Flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters, condo owners/renters, and commercial owners/renters. Call our office today! We’d be happy to assist you through the murky waters.

Creating Curb Appeal Can Sell Your Home Faster

By Personal Perspective

It’s become increasingly difficult to sell homes. Because buyers generally decide whether or not to purchase a home in the first five minutes after arriving on a property, curb appeal can make or break a sale. Fortunately, increasing your home’s curb appeal to potential buyers is simple and inexpensive.

One of the first things potential buyers notice when they arrive at your home is your landscaping. Landscaping can tell a lot about a home, as poor landscaping often leads buyers to believe the property and home have not been maintained properly. Well-designed landscaping can be an invitation to visitors and can create a good first impression. Fortunately, you need not spend a great deal of money to tidy up your yard. Simply removing any clutter, trimming any existing trees and bushes, and adding a few well-placed flowerbeds will go a long way toward increasing your home’s curb appeal.

Fenced yards can often be a selling point, but sagging fences or chipping paint can turn away potential buyers. If your yard is fenced, look at your fence and gates objectively from a buyer’s point of view the next time you drive up to your house. In some cases, when fencing is badly damaged, it is probably a wise move to remove the fence completely. In most cases, however, a coat of paint or a quick repair job is all you need to turn an eyesore into a positive feature.

Walkways are another area you can improve easily with little time or money. Replace loose stones, trim and tidy any borders, and fill visible cracks with builder’s sand. Remove badly damaged walkways or replace them with inexpensive paths. Trim bushes growing alongside any walkway that leads from the driveway or road to your front door to allow for a comfortable walking space.

One often-overlooked feature that can help tremendously with curb appeal is lighting. Lighting, when done correctly, can highlight the positive areas of your yard while camouflaging unattractive areas. Landscape lighting does not need to be expensive, and solar lights will be attractive to eco-conscious buyers. Typically, a light should be placed in or near an area of landscaping, and lights should adequately illuminate the entry way and any walkways leading to the front door.

Potential buyers will overlook all of the above improvements if your home is badly in need of new paint. You can improve curb appeal drastically by adding a fresh coat of paint to the exterior of your home. Choose warm, neutral colors to create a relaxing impression, but be sure to check with your homeowners association before changing your current color scheme.

Curb appeal is an important part of bringing potential buyers to your front door. An attractive and inviting exterior can create the good first impression needed to bring in an offer on your home, while a poorly maintained yard can send buyers away before they even have a look inside. Improving your home’s curb appeal is easy, inexpensive, and essential in today’s market.

Insure Your Fine Art and Collectibles

By Personal Perspective

Your fine art or collectibles could include rare treasures you’ve accumulated over time, inherited from a grandparent or purchased at an auction. In many cases, fine arts and collectibles hold sentimental value, serve as an investment for your future or provide educational value. Learn about fine art/collectibles insurance as you protect your valuables.

What is Fine Art/Collectibles Insurance?

Fine art/collectibles insurance is an important investment for the fine art/collectibles you wish to enjoy, share with others, bequeath to a family member, save as a future investment or preserve.

There are usually two types of fine art/collectibles insurance coverage. For both types, you’ll need an appraisal or bill of service for your valuables.

Scheduled – List and insure each piece individually. Each piece is insured for the stated amount, and you may add or delete pieces as needed.

Blanket – Cover your entire collection as one item rather than insuring each piece. This option makes adding, selling, donating or giving away pieces easier, but you’ll need to determine the market value of each piece if you must file a claim.

What Does Fine Art/Collectibles Insurance Cover?

Use your fine art/collectibles insurance for a variety of objects. Here’s a partial list, but ask your insurance agent for specific details about your rare treasures.

  • Toys, including  model autos or trains and dolls
  • Rare books and comics
  • Stamps
  • Sports cards or memorabilia
  • Guns
  • Knives
  • Art, including prints and sculptures
  • Silver, gold or other fine metals
  • Jewelry
  • Historical artifacts
  • Archaeological specimens
  • Furniture
  • Textiles
  • Antiques

What Claims Does Fine Art/Collectibles Insurance Cover?

A typical fine art/collectibles insurance policy provides all risk coverage for a variety of perils. In general, it includes damages caused by accidents, theft, vandalism, fire, flood, hurricane, earthquake or other perils. Your insurance policy will include coverage details.

Why Buy Fine Art/Collectibles Insurance Cover?

Traditional homeowners insurance policies cover your home and possessions. It might not include adequate coverage for expensive rare treasures, though, since coverage for your home’s contents is usually limited to between 50 and 70 percent of your home’s value. Also, this policy may not cover your fine art/collectibles if you loan them to a museum, transport them in a vehicle or display them somewhere besides your home.

Additionally, an insurance policy can give you peace of mind. It won’t protect your fine art/collectibles from burglars, thieves, storms or accidents, but if something happens to your treasures, you may file an insurance claim and replace or repair your collection.

You value your fine arts/collectibles, so insure them. Fine arts/collectibles insurance gives you peace of mind and protects your investment. For more details, talk to your insurance agent.

Protect Your Pets

By Personal Perspective

Your four-legged friend is part of your family, and when your pet gets sick, it needs medical care. Veterinary services can be expensive, though. Pet insurance helps you afford the treatments your pet needs.

How Does Pet Insurance Work?

Every pet insurance policy is a little different, but in general you may visit any licensed veterinarian you want, including your preferred vet, emergency vets and specialists.

You’ll pay any bills for treatment at the time of service. Then, you may invoice the insurance company. The reimbursement procedure depends on the policy. Your policy may include a schedule of benefits that assigns a specific value to each procedure, or it may pay you a percentage of each invoice. Check your policy for reimbursement details.

What Does Pet Insurance Cover?

Read your pet insurance policy for details on what it covers. Usually, you can pay for several different types of pet care, including:

  • Accidents – broken bones, bite wounds, toxic exposure, swallowed object
  • Illnesses – stomach issues, ear infections, cancer
  • Hereditary and congenital conditions
  • Behavioral and alternative therapies
  • End of life treatment and care
  • Preventative care – wellness visits, vaccines, dental cleanings, health screenings, tests

Keep in mind that most pet insurance policies will not cover everyday expenses such as grooming or boarding costs. They may not cover pre-existing conditions, either.

Also, your pet insurance policy cannot be cancelled unless you stop paying premiums. Purchase a policy before your pet turns 10, and the coverage should be in effect for the rest of your pet’s life.

Where Can You Buy Pet Insurance?

Numerous insurance companies sell pet insurance. The policy options normally include:

  • Whole pet care – covers everything from wellness visits to prescription medication to surgery and hospitalization
  • Major medical – covers common medical costs including those related to accidents, illnesses and certain hereditary conditions
  • Wellness – covers your pet’s annual essentials such as wellness exams, vaccinations and flea and heartworm prevention

Compare several options and talk to your insurance agent about your needs as you choose the best policy option for your pet and family.

What Does Pet Insurance Cost?

Pet insurance policy premiums depend on several factors. The type of insurance you choose, where you live and even your pet’s age and breed affect pet insurance costs. Compare all your options and discuss details with your insurance agent as you ensure you have the right pet insurance for your furry friend and budget.

Pet insurance helps you provide your pet with the health and wellness services it needs. Consider investing in this insurance for your four-legged friend.

Houseplants Work Better than HVAC Systems

By Personal Perspective

The focus on energy conservation has been making our buildings get tighter and tighter, allowing less and less air exchange. This can result in “Sick Building Syndrome,” with pollutants trapped inside the building causing such symptoms as sensory irritation of the eyes, nose, throat; neurotoxic or general health problems; skin irritation; nonspecific hypersensitivity reactions; and odor and taste sensations.

Causes include flaws in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. contaminants produced by out gassing some types of building materials, volatile organic compounds (VOC), molds, improper exhaust ventilation of ozone, light industrial chemicals used within, or fresh-air intake location /inadequate air filtration).

Three major pollutants –formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene – are used in building materials, cleaning products, paint, adhesives, varnishes, and oils found in homes and workplaces throughout the nation.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive and easy way to improve indoor air quality, look no further than the common houseplant, says a study by NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) on improving indoor air quality. NASA was looking for ways to purify the air in space stations. However, the study turned out to have some down-to-earth applications: houseplants not only brighten the environment in homes and workplaces, but also have the ability to cleanse indoor air and remove harmful pollutants.

So how could a little houseplant get rid of these nasty, dangerous air contaminants when sophisticated, powerful HVAC systems can’t seem to manage the job?

The answer: To survive, houseplants use a process called photosynthesis that produces food from carbon dioxide and hydrogen, converting energy from light absorbed by chlorophyll in the plant’s leaves. Carbon dioxide and hydrogen, of course, are readily available in air. Because houseplants are so good at absorbing these gases, at the same time they also absorb other gases – including harmful indoor air pollutants!

Plant photosynthesis does us another big favor by releasing a waste product that we need to survive – oxygen. So having plants around not only removes pollutants, but refreshes indoor air with regular infusions of oxygen.

The NASA/ALCA study also found that some houseplants were better than others at removing specific pollutants. For example, bamboo palm, peace lily, golden pathos, red-edged dracaena, and spider plant were good at filtering out formaldehyde. Peace lily, English ivy, and bamboo palm worked best for removing benzene from indoor air, while peace lily and bamboo palm worked well for filtering trichloroethylene.

Insuring Your Prized Flatware

By Personal Perspective

When you sit down to dinner, your eating utensils probably include a fork, spoon and knife. The fork is only a few centuries old, but knives were used by Stone Age diners, and the first man-made spoons were fashioned from horns, bones and wood. Today’s silverware has come a long way from its early predecessors, and it’s a popular wedding gifts. Protect your priceless silverware with an insurance policy.

Why Purchase Silverware Insurance?

Your homeowners insurance policy covers most of your possessions. However, it may not cover silverware, including the pieces passed down from generation to generation. If your policy does cover silverware, it may limit the amount of money it pays for valuables and antiques, limit coverage to $500 or less or not cover your silverware if carry it out of your home and with you on vacation, to an appraisal or to a family gathering.

Purchase silverware insurance to protect your collection and give you peace of mind. The coverage is typically an endorsement or rider on your homeowners insurance policy and can cover your entire collection or your most valuable pieces.

What Does Silverware Insurance Cover?

Insurance cannot prevent theft, loss, fire, or weather or other physical damage, but it can give you peace of mind. Your insurance company may reimburse your for the value of your insured silverware, whether it’s new or antique.

How to Determine the Value of Your Silverware

You can easily determine the value of household items like furniture and electronics. Silverware can be trickier to valuate, though, especially if you’re not sure of its age, value or authenticity.

Contact an antique or silver dealer for an accurate appraisal of your collection. You may try to find the value online, but you’ll need a written appraisal for insurance purposes.

Once you have that appraisal, take pictures of your collection. Include the appraisal and pictures with your policy in a fireproof safe or lock box.

How to Purchase Silverware Insurance

While you may be lucky enough to own an entire collection of rare silverware, you can also insure a single item such as a valuable piece you purchased at an estate sale or a special spoon your grandmother owned. Many insurance companies suggest you insure each piece individually. That way, each piece is appraised and listed on your policy, allowing you to receive the item’s full value if you must file a claim.

Your insurance agent will assist you in understanding the coverage options and in finding the best coverage for your needs.

Silverware insurance is valuable coverage for your precious flatware. Purchase a policy today to give yourself peace of mind and protect your valuable silverware collection.

Planning a Home Party? Get Covered!

By Personal Perspective

If your Super Bowl Sunday plans include throwing a party, you’d better be sure you have adequate insurance in the event of an injury claim by one of your guests. This advice stems from a new study sponsored by Trusted Choice, the independent agent’s branding campaign launched by the Alexandria, Virginia-based Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America.

The study was conducted by TRC, an independent research company in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. The researchers polled 1,009 adults in a telephone survey about their plans for a social gathering. Their research revealed that of 28.5 million Americans who plan to have parties in their home, 21 million do not have a Personal Umbrella insurance policy, making them vulnerable to lawsuits, which could result in financial ruin. The remaining seven million didn’t know what coverage they currently carried.

The importance of proper coverage cannot be underestimated because in 30 states, hosts can be held legally responsible for guests who drink, drive and cause an accident. Interestingly enough, 53% of those surveyed said the host should be held responsible; however, most of those who responded in this manner have not taken any steps to protect themselves.

The researchers concluded that people don’t buy Umbrella policies because they think enough coverage is offered by their Homeowner and Auto policies. Nothing could be further from the truth. Large jury awards coupled with substantial health care costs make it commonplace for lawsuits to exceed the liability limits on the average Homeowner/Auto policy.

The researchers made the following recommendations:

  • Discuss your insurance coverage with one of our agents before hosting a party to familiarize yourself with your state’s host liability laws, and to make sure you are insured properly.
  • Limit invited guests to people you know.
  • Host the party at a restaurant or bar that has a liquor license, rather than in a home or office.
  • Be sure that you provide filling food for guests and alternative nonalcoholic beverages.
  • Schedule entertainment or activities that draw partygoers away from drinking.
  • Arrange transportation or overnight accommodations for those who should not drive.
  • Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party is scheduled to end.
  • Do not serve guests who are visibly intoxicated.
  • Consider hiring an off-duty police officer to monitor guests’ sobriety discreetly or handle any alcohol-related problems as guests leave.

How Points, Tickets and Traffic School Affects Your Auto Policy

By Personal Perspective

So the police pulled you over and you got a speeding ticket? Don’t despair. Along with the chunk of change you’re required to send the state or city, you might be eligible to take a traffic class that will keep the points off your record — and your Auto premiums from rising.

In 41 states, the DMV transfers these points to your driving record. Insurance companies generally check this record when you take out or renew an Auto policy, change coverage, or drop or add cars and/or drivers.

Garner a few points and your premium will increase at renewal, especially if you have more than one violation in three years. For instance, according to, a speeding ticket will raise your premium by 11% to13%.

To keep your record clean and avoid a surcharge if you’re cited for a minor violation, you might be able to complete an in-person or online traffic course. Laws, deadlines, and limitations vary by state. Most states also allow drivers who have accumulated points to have them removed by taking a safe driving class.

If you have a clean driving record and go to traffic school, most insurance companies will offer a 5% to 15% discount on Liability and Collision coverage when you renew your policy.

As a rule, taking a driver safety class will either remove points from your record for minor violations or give you a discount, but not both. There might be some variations, depending on state laws and insurance company. For example, only drivers over age 25 might be eligible for the discount, or all drivers of the insured vehicle must take the course to qualify.

For more information, just give us a call.