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The Royersford Insurance Agent

Why Insurance won’t cover this man’s $1400 television

 

There is nothing worse than telling someone they may not have coverage for a claim.  It is seriously the worst.

But what makes it even more unbearable is when there could have been coverage.  It’s one thing if there is no way any insurance company in the world would pay for a claim.  As an agent, you know there was nothing that could be done.

Some claims are just always denied and there is very little you can do about it.

But sometimes, like in this case, coverage would have been available had our friend had the right endorsement.

 

 

Are You Ready For The Digital Transition? Oblivious Dude via Compfight

 

What is an endorsement?

An endorsement is something you add to an insurance policy that provides additional coverage.

I write a lot of Homeowners insurance policies with Travelers Insurance.  That is our agency’s number one company.   About 10-15 years ago Travelers came out with a program called Quantum.  Without getting into too much detail, Quantum is basically a new insurance product.  Within Quantum, there are different packages (Silver, Gold, Platinum and Platinum Plus).  These different packages offer different levels of coverage.

Silver and Gold are pretty basic policies with not many bells and whistles.  Platinum Plus is for homes with a Dwelling Coverage over $500,000.  This is not the market value of a home/property but the actual replacement cost of the building itself.  You can read more about that here.

We only ever write Platinum and Platinum Plus on any new Homeowners policy.  For the most part, all of the coverages and endorsements you need are found in these two packages.

 

Older Policies

Our agency has been in business since 1922.  So we have several clients who have had policies long before Travelers introduced Quantum.  Unfortunately, some of these older policies don’t have some of the endorsements that are included in the Platinum program.  This is the case with our friend with the new TV.

His policy does not have the endorsement that would cover the TV involved in this claim.

 

The Claim

Here’s what happened. Part of the client’s bedroom ceiling fell down and hit the screen of his 2 month old $1400 television.  The TV is now not turning on.  The TV is considered personal property.  Without an endorsement, Personal Property is not covered by falling objects (including objects that are part of the house).  The only exception to this is if the falling object first made an opening in the house and then caused the damage.

So if a plane crashed into his house and hit the TV, he’d be good to go!

 

How could it have been covered?

The Platinum package on the new Travelers policies come with the endorsement that provides coverage for this type of thing.  Unfortunately our client has an older policy and does not have that endorsement.  So in order to get coverage for his personal property for this type of claim he would have needed the Value Added Package Plus (or 58065) endorsement.

This endorsement basically provides coverage for causes of a Personal Property claim that are normally excluded.

 

What should you do?

You should contact your agent and ask them if you have this endorsement.  Value Added Package Plus.  Ask them if you have “All Risk Coverage” on your Personal Property.  All Risk Coverage, which is what the endorsement provides, doesn’t mean there is no chance for a denial.  There are still certain things that all policies deny; wear and tear, poor craftsmanship, etc., but All Risk basically mean that your claim is covered UNLESS there is an exclusion in the policy that takes coverage away.

It’s confusing, I know.  But you don’t need to be an expert.  Ask me or ask your agent to help you.  If you are uncomfortable with your agent or if you need help finding one, let me know.  I can help you find a fantastic agent in any state.  Just ask.

 

My name is Keith Laskey. My goal is to educate the everyday consumer and to help them make intelligent decisions with their insurance policies. Please contact me at my office, 610-948-4830 or Email Me for any insurance related questions or concerns. You can also visit the Ron Black Agency website or like us on Facebook! Thank you for stopping by, have a great day!

My granddaughter is borrowing our car for the Prom. Am I covered?

A client called the other day and said that his granddaughter is borrowing his car to go to the prom.  Was he covered?  Was she covered?

 

Volkswagen Beetle crashed through a brick wallCreative Commons License simpleinsomnia via Compfight

 

As always, check with your agent and your carrier to verify.  But here’s how it works with mostly every insurance company that I know of.

The insurance follows the car, not the person.  So if your granddaughter, your friend, your sister, even if your sister’s friend were to drive your car and you authorized them to do so (gave them the OK) and they were to be in accident, there would be coverage for your car and any other damage that occurred as a result of the accident.

I advised my client to make sure that his granddaughter was listed as a driver on her parent’s policy.  All drivers need to be listed on an insurance policy somewhere.  If they are not then this could cause some issues.  There would most likely still be coverage but it could hold up things with the claim.  Meaning it may take a little longer for you to get your payment as the claim rep and the powers that be in the claim office review everything.

Depending on how often the person you are lending your car to drives the car, your insurance company may require you to list them as a driver.  In this example, the prom example, the granddaughter will just be borrowing the vehicle once.  But if you had someone who is borrowing the car more frequently than it is a smart idea to list them as a driver.

That’s among the first questions that a claim rep will ask a person who is an accident that is not listed on the policy, “how often do you drive the car?”  If the answer is anything other than this is my first time, they will demand the driver be listed.

Especially if they are not listed on a policy somewhere else.

Keep in mind Medical Coverage on an Insurance policy follows the person.  So, in this example, if there were to be an accident and the granddaughter were injured, her parent’s policy would pay for her Medical bills.  This, obviously, is assuming that her parents have Medical coverage on their policy.  If the granddaughter has a boyfriend that is also injured, his parent’s policy would pay for his medical bills.

Most people only have a $10,000 limit listed for their Medical coverage.  We have started to recommend you go higher, even as high as $100,000.  This will help you avoid using your Primary Health Insurance and any deductibles and co-pays that are associated with it.

One last thing to consider.  You are putting your liability on the line anytime you let someone borrow your car.  If there were to be an accident in your vehicle you are at risk for being sued.  It doesn’t mean you will get sued but the possibility is certainly there.

Here is a list of the minimum coverages that I would recommend.  You should not go below these limits.

 

My name is Keith Laskey. My goal is to educate the everyday consumer and to help them make intelligent decisions with their insurance policies. Please contact me at my office, 610-948-4830 or Email Me for any insurance related questions or concerns. You can also visit the Ron Black Agency website or like us on Facebook! Thank you for stopping by, have a great day!

Does Insurance pay for a Tree that is hit by a Car?

I received a phone call from a woman earlier today.  She was a little distraught because she was getting a bill from her apartment complex for a tree that she hit with her car.  She is a slightly older woman, 87, and lives in an independent living center.

She had already had her car repaired which cost $1,700.  Now she was getting an unexpected bill for the tree as well.

Honestly, this was the first time I have been asked about a bill for a tree.  I’m sure we have had accidents in the past that involved trees but maybe our clients never asked us about it.  I had no idea as to whether or not the tree would be covered or not.

There is also a concern about whether or not it was a smart idea to file a claim.  She has a $500 deductible which means the insurance company would pay out $1200.  But our client would now have one accident on her record.  With 2 accidents on record, most insurance companies have the right to non-renew (or cancel) a policy.  With Winter weather just around the corner and accidents more common, not filing a claim was something we had to consider.

Our client then mentioned that she was going to be selling the car to her granddaughter.  Well that settled it.  She was going to be cancelling the policy anyway!  This was now a no-brainer.  File the claim.  Our client can expect to be refunded $1200 as she would only be responsible for her $500 deductible.

 

Retour d'hiver Jean-Marc Linder via Compfight

 

What about the tree?

I called a claim rep at the insurance company and asked about the tree.  Could the cost of the tree be covered under the Property Damage coverage?  I was told that yes, the tree would be covered under her Property Damage coverage.  We had nothing to worry about.

 

What is Property Damage Coverage?

Property Damage coverage is a coverage on your Auto policy that pays for damage to other people’s property that’s damaged by an accident you cause.  Cars, telephone poles, signs, and buildings are the most common.

This coverage could also extend to trees and bushes.

 

What if the tree had fallen onto the car?

This is an entirely different issue.  Your comprehensive coverage would pay for this damage.  I have written extensively about trees and comprehensive coverage on this site.  Please feel free to view any of those prior posts for more information.

 

As always, please reach out to me if I can help you with any insurance related question.  

 

My name is Keith Laskey. My goal is to educate the everyday consumer and to help them make intelligent decisions with their insurance policies. Please contact me at my office, 610-948-4830 or Email Me for any insurance related questions or concerns. You can also visit the Ron Black Agency website or like us on Facebook! Thank you for stopping by, have a great day!

 

 

Not all College Kids Need a Renter’s Policy

Marshmallow man

 

 

I was talking with a potential client last week about his Homeowner’s Policy. He gave me the basic details of his house; square footage, finished basement, fireplace and other details that I needed to figure out how much coverage needed to be on the house.

 

This, by the way, is a fantastic thing to discuss with your agent to make sure you are not paying too much for your Homeowners policy.

 

Then he said something that I had not heard before. He mentioned that his current policy has an endorsement that provides liability coverage to his son who goes to West Chester for college.

 

I was unaware of this. From what I understood, all college kids needed a Renter’s policy to make sure they had A.) Liability Coverage and B.) Coverage for their personal property.

 

I called the Travelers Underwriter and ran it by him. “Is there an endorsement that enables us to extend Liability coverage to kids away at college?” In fact there is. Turns out it’s incredibly inexpensive too!

 

With Travelers, the minimum premium on a Renter’s policy is $150. The cost of this endorsement is only about $15! On top of the extension of Liability coverage, a Homeowners policy can also extend property damage coverage.  Usually this is only 10% of the amount shown on your policy for Personal Property. But 10% is usually more than enough. So you really do not need a Renter’s policy for a college kid.

With Safeco Insurance you don’t even need the endorsement.  The coverage automatically extends over to the college kid away at school!

 

The exception.

 

Of course there may be an exception. If the landlord or apartment requires that the child have a policy in his or her name then you may have not choice. You may need to get them their own policy.  Also, if your child has any high value items, like musical instruments, jewelry, computers or an expensive bike, we would recommend a separate policy, called a Personal Articles policy.

 

These policies are also pretty inexpensive and could end up saving you a ton of money in the long run.  So although Renter’s policies are never a bad idea, especially given the low cost, they may not be necessary.

 

As always, consult your agent to make sure you are doing what’s right for you.

 

My name is Keith Laskey. My goal is to educate the everyday consumer and to help them make intelligent decisions with their insurance policies. Please contact me at my office, 610-948-4830 or Email Me for any insurance related questions or concerns. You can also visit the Ron Black Agency website or like us on Facebook! Thank you for stopping by, have a great day!

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold in Pennsylvania?

It’s very common to find mold in a house.  Don’t go crazy if you make this discovery.  In Pennsylvania, most houses are built with basements.  Below ground, dark, a lot of moisture.  Perfect breeding ground for mold.

 

IMG_7674.jpg

Example of Mold on a basement wall.

Construction Projects via Compfight

 

Home owners ask all the time, how does your Pennsylvania Homeowners Insurance Policy respond to mold?

Mold is both specifically excluded on a policy and also covered.

 

When is Mold Excluded?

 

Mold is excluded on a PA Homeowners insurance policy when it is growing without a covered cause of loss.  Say you have a damp basement.  There have been no pipe leaks or any other specific issue causing the dampness. it’s just a damp dark part of your house.  Over the course of time mold forms.  This is not going to be covered?  There was nothing that occurred to cause the mold to grow.

Another reason why mold would be excluded would be if water leaked in through a basement window.  We had a massive thunderstorm a month or two after moving into our first house in Royersford, PA.  We didn’t realize it but our gutters were clogged.  Rain could not get through the downspouts so it poured over the gutters and into our basement window well.

The window allowed water to then race into our basement and down the wall.  We did a good job cleaning it up but discovered a little bit of mold growing a short time later.  Luckily it was not in a hidden area as we spotted it and took care of it.  But if it was hidden than it could have been a major issue.

This would not be covered because ground water that enters the house is specifically exclude on a Homeowners policy.  This is not a covered cause of loss.

 

Here are a few other common denied claims. 

 

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Existence of Mold on wood in the basement.

Construction Projects via Compfight

 

When is Mold covered?

I can’t speak for every Homeowners insurance policy in the state of PA.  But I think most policies generally provide coverage for at least some similar things.  Pipe breaks, for example, are covered on every policy I have seen.

Say you have a pipe in a hidden area that allows water to leak.  You don’t notice it for a while and then when you finally do, you also discover mold.  This would be covered.

Another common example would be people that return home from a vacation to find water has been leaking.  This could be an absolutely devastating event as water that leaks constantly for a lengthy period of time can destroy entire houses.

 

Some other examples of covered causes of loss…

  • Appliance Leaks or Malfunctions (Washing machine/Dish Washer, etc.)
  • Backup of sewer or drain (MUST have an endorsement for this)
  • Water damage/existence of mold due to heavy rain
  • Bath tub overflow (You’d be surprised)

Your Homeowners Insurance Policy limits how much they will pay for mold.

Yup.  $5,000.  That’s your limit.  Not a lot.  Having said that, I have been in insurance for about 10 years and have never seen a mold claim reach it’s limit.  There have been plenty of claims for mold but rarely does it go over the limit.

 

How to prevent mold.

Be aware of the house.  Pay close attention to the areas that you can’t see.  Areas that aren’t always visible like under the sinks, behind the washing machines, all corners of your basement.  Clean your gutters so that water can drain off your roof and away from your house.  We installed glass block windows in our basement to secure that opening.  Also, don’t forget the attic.  Every so often take a look around the attic or crawl space above the top story of your house to make sure water isn’t getting in.

 

What to do if you find mold.

Call your agent.  Let them know what’s going on so they can advise.  Call a professional if you have serious mold growth.  Mold can have some nasty effects especially to young children with asthma and other breathing issues.  Unless it is a very small amount, don’t try to clean it yourself.  You want to make sure you get all of it out of the house as well as make sure the cause of the mold is determined and fixed.

 

 

Do you live in PA?

 

Fill in the form below if you would like a free proposal.

 

 

My name is Keith Laskey. My goal is to educate the everyday consumer and to help them make intelligent decisions with their insurance policies. Please contact me at my office, 610-948-4830 or Email Me for any insurance related questions or concerns. You can also visit the Ron Black Agency website or like us on Facebook! Thank you for stopping by, have a great day!

 

 

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