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The Royersford Insurance Agent

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!

 

 

Pools and Homeowners Insurance. What you need to know.

Congratulations to you on your decision to get a pool.  You are going to have a blast!  Before you get too crazy, there are a few things you need to consider regarding your insurance policies.

 

Dog and boy swimming in a pool. Make sure you are covered by liability insurance. Chris Richmond via Compfight

 

Homeowners Policy

Other Structures (Coverage B)

Your Homeowners policy comes with automatic coverage for Other Structures.  This can be rather annoying if you live in a townhouse, like me.  We have NO other structures! Why do they automatically give us this coverage!!

Relax, the coverage is included.  Meaning you could reduce the coverage to zero and your rate would not decrease.  Usually the Other Structures coverage is adequate for what you have.  Most of us don’t have a $50,000 barn on our property.

Sometimes though, we do have a detached garage, a deck and a pool.  If this is the case for you then you absolutely need to let your agent know that you are adding on a pool.  In fact, a good rule of thumb is to let your agent know anytime you are adding anything onto the house, detached or not.

So if the pool you are building is costing you $20,000, make sure you make your agent aware so that your policy limits for Other Structures can be increased if need be.

 

What does your pool need?

The pool itself will require a few things in order for the insurance company to stay off your back.  Most insurance companies will require a fence around the pool.  This is a good idea anyway as you don’t want stray animals or neighborhood children wandering into the pool.

Another thing most insurance companies will require is a locked gate leading into the pool.  This can just be a Master Lock.  Anything that shows you need a combination in order to get through the gate on the fence that surrounds your pool.

 

Umbrella Policy

This is the big one.  Everything mentioned in this article is important but this is absolutely essential.  Pools put you at risk.  Kids running around on wet ground tend to slip and fall, adults enjoying themselves a bit too much could get hurt, and God forbid the worst case scenarios which you can imagine but I won’t mention.  I’m not trying to instill fear in you, but you need to be aware of some of the possible risks that are associated with adding a pool to your property.

Umbrella policies cost anywhere between $200 and $500.  Sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less.  There are many factors that go into the cost.  They provide an additional $1 Million of liability coverage.  They protect you if an injury occurs to someone at your house and you are found to be responsible.

At our agency, we believe if you own a house you should have a $1 Million Dollar Umbrella policy.  If you have a pool at your house, you should consider a $2 Million policy.

Have a great time with your new pool.  Be safe but more importantly, be covered!

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!

 

 

Local Woman’s Car is Crushed by Fallen Tree. Who Pays?

Marshmallow man

 

Imagine you are sitting at a red light waiting patiently for the light to turn green.  Maybe fiddling with the radio, probably messing with your phone.  Definitely NOT playing Pokemon!!

BOOM!!!!!  A tree crashes onto your car and destroys your windshield.

 

SB_2012_002 6 x 9 = 42 via Compfight

 

Who Pays?

This happened to an unlucky local driver earlier this week.  The tree fell due to an error by the homeowner as he was cutting the tree down.  The tree was supposed to go one way but instead went another.  Luckily no one was injured.

In this case the homeowners liability coverage on his Homeowners Policy will provide coverage for the accident.  There is no deductible involved by either party.  Just a payment to be made by the Homeowners insurance carrier.  The driver does have the option of going through her Auto policy.  This would be a comprehensive claim.  Her auto insurance carrier would then subrogate against the Homeowners insurance carrier for reimbursement.

 

What if the Homeowners did not have Insurance?

This is very uncommon.  Most homeowners have insurance.  But if this was the case then the auto driver would need to go through their auto insurance.  As a reminder, keep your comprehensive deductible low!  Comp coverage is very inexpensive, there is no need to have a high deductible.

I recommend $100.  Some companies, like Travelers, are now offering special $50 Glass deductibles in the event that a stone (or tree) hits your windshield and cracks it.  Also, as long as you have comprehensive coverage, there is no deductible if the windshield crack can be repaired.

 

What if the tree fell on the car due to wind?

The only reason the Homeowners liability coverage would pay for this claim is because the homeowner was at fault for the tree falling.  Had the tree fallen due to high winds than the driver would NOT be able to go through the homeowner’s policy.  She would need to go through her auto policy.

This is why it’s important to keep comprehensive coverage on your car even if you remove collision.  Again, it’s inexpensive and it provides coverage for vandalism, damage caused by animals as well as damage due to fallen trees.

Also on trees, if your neighbor’s tree falls on your house, your Homeowners policy will pay for the damage.  If your tree falls on your neighbor’s house, their policy will pay for the damages.  The only way around this is if you see their tree is dead and at risk of falling and you send them a certified letter expressing your concern.

If you can prove that they are negligent (with proof of a certified letter) it’s possible their Homeowners liability coverage would pay for damages to your house as a result of a dead fallen tree.

You can read more about trees on this post.

 

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!

Condo Insurance – Do You Have the Right PA Homeowners Policy?

We bought a new house in December of 2015.  It was torture.  If you have ever sold one house and bought another you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.  Very stressful times.

One thing that I thought I had under control was the insurance policy.  After all, I’m an insurance agent.  Buying a policy and showing proof of the policy was simple!

So I set myself up with a great policy from Travelers, paid it before settlement and sent the proof of insurance to our loan processor.  A few months later, one of our new neighbors asked if I could look at her home and auto policies.  Absolutely!

I looked at her homeowners policy and noticed it was a condo policy, not a normal homeowners policy.  There’s no way, I thought.  Could I have purchased the wrong type of policy??

I called the Homeowners Association and sure enough, I did.  I never thought for a second that we needed a condo policy.  Look at the picture below, do these homes look like they need a condo or a homeowners policy?

 

Condo policy or Homeowners Policy?

Condo policy or Homeowners Policy?

 

We lived in a townhouse development prior to this and we had a homeowners policy.  I cannot explain why this house is different.  My advice to you, if you are moving into a townhouse development, check with the homeowners association and ask what type of policy you need.  I would not check with your neighbors as they may also have the wrong type of policy.

 

What is a Condo Policy?

A condo policy is a type of Homeowners insurance policy.  The policy provides coverage for damage to a home up to the Homeowners Association deductible.  It also provides coverage for any improvements and betterments done to the house as well as Personal Property, Other Structures, Loss of Use, Medical Payments and Liability.  And usually, only for the interior of the home.  The exterior (roof, siding, garage door…) is covered under the Homeowners Association’s Insurance Policy.  However, a deck or any other exterior addition that you add on after construction would need to be covered under your Condo policy.

 

Common Improvements and Betterments

An improvement or betterment is any construction or reconstruction done to the house that is considered an improvement.

For example,

  • You replace your carpet with hardwood or tile
  • You add a bathroom to your basement
  • You build a deck or a sunroom
  • You cut out drywall and add a French door or sliding glass door
  • You finish your basement

You get the picture.

 

How much coverage do you need on a Condo Policy?

Find out how much the Association Deductible is.  Typically it’s $10,000 – $20,000.  This means that their insurance company won’t pay a thing until the claim reaches that point.  Say their deductible is $10,000.  Your Coverage A -Dwelling should be at least $10,000.  I recommend $15,000- $20,000 in that example just in case you do something to improve the home and forget to call your agent.

You will also need to decide on the amount of coverage for your Personal Property.  Your agent can help you with this.  Just remember, we always recommend getting a separate policy for any High Value items you have.  Jewelry, bikes, musical instruments and paintings are all very common items to be insured separately.

 

What is the cost?

This will obviously be different for everyone for many different reasons.  They are usually much less expensive than a Homeowners policy.  The cost can be reduced if you use the same company that has your Auto policy.  Here are some other discounts….

  • Sprinkler Discount (Most new homes have sprinklers)
  • New home discount
  • Homeowners Association Discount (Make sure you are getting this)

 

How do I increase coverage if I improve my house?

Say you finished your basement and a week later you have a claim.  The total cost to repair and replace the damaged areas will cost $20,000.  The Association’s deductible is $10,000.  You have $15,000 worth of coverage.  Your policy would pay out the first $15,000 but the Association’s policy may not pay the rest because the basement was not part of the original construction.  You may be out $5,000 in this scenario as their policy only covers what is original to the house.

Anytime you do anything to improve the house, call your agent and let them know.  The best and easiest way to do this is to tell them how much you spent on the improvement.  Finished basement cost you $15,986?  Add an additional $16,000 to the dwelling portion of your policy.

 

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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