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The Royersford Insurance Agent

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.

 

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Example of Mold on a basement wall.

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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.

 

 

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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!

 

 

Are Musical Instruments covered under a Homeowners Policy?

Most likely, yes.

 

Musical instruments are considered personal property and therefore, have the same coverage as your other personal property.  Personal property consists of anything that you would take with you if you were to move.

Your sofa, your TV, your clothes, furniture, jewelry and musical instruments.  Just to name a few.

 

First GuitarCreative Commons License Randen Pederson via Compfight

 

The Problem with Insuring your Musical Instruments on Your Homeowners Policy.

 

For some reason, the most popular post on this blog is this post about how insurance companies handle claims for lost or stolen jewelry.  People from all over the country call me to get advice on how to handle situations like this.

That post describes the benefits of having a separate insurance policy for your valuable items such as  jewelry.  Musical instruments are very similar.  They are typically a little expensive and are very often items that you would want to replace if damaged or stolen.

There are four major issues with only having them insured on a Homeowners policy.

  1. You need to pay your deductible.  This could be as low as $250 (although that low of a deductible is extremely rare) and has high as $1,000.  In fact, many companies now have minimum deductibles of $1,000 on all new policies.
  2. You will lose your Loss Free Credit.  If your instrument is damaged or stolen and you need to put a claim in under your Homeowners policy, you will lose your Loss Free Credit.  This could be Two, Three, Four, even as high as Five hundred dollars!
  3. There may be depreciation.  Depending on the amount of the claim and the type of policy you have, your instruments may be depreciated.  In most cases the depreciation is recoverable which means you will eventually receive the entire value of the instrument (minus your deductible).  But in order to get the depreciation back you must first purchase the new instrument.
  4. There may actually be no coverage!  Depending on what policy you have, there may actually be no coverage.  Personal property doesn’t always get the same coverage as your building or Dwelling.  Most policies have what’s called All Risk coverage for your Dwelling (Dwelling coverage is for your walls, floors, roof, siding, etc.).  In some cases personal property is covered under what’s called Named Peril.  A Named Peril policy limits the causes of loss (claim) to a select few reasons.

 

One of our Insureds called in this morning inquiring about a stand up bass they have for their daughter.  The stand up bass is valued at about $2,500.  They have a $500 deductible and a Loss Free Credit of $701!!  That may be the biggest I have seen. So if they were to put a claim in their policy would increase by at least $701.  And that discount will be gone for 5 years!

They need a Personal Articles Policy.

 

What is a Personal Articles Policy?

 

A personal articles policy (PAP) is a separate policy that provides coverage for valuable items.  Often there is no deductible and there is no impact to your Homeowners policy.  This type of policy can cover items such as bicycles, jewelry, and even valuable items for kids away at school.  Contact your agent for a full list of what can be covered on a PAP.

 

What is the cost to Insure Musical Instruments on a PAP?

 

In Pennsylvania, the cost to insure a musical instrument is $0.45 per $100.  So for a $2,500 instrument, the cost would be $11.25.  Eleven dollars and twenty-five cents for the year! If he were to put a claim in under his homeowners policy for that same instrument the cost would be $1200!! ($500 deductible plus the loss of the $700 claim free discount)

 

What if I play professionally?

 

The policy is more expensive if you play professionally.  And I’m not even talking big time professionally.  The cost for Slash to insure his guitar is the same for the guy playing for beers at your local bar.  In PA, that stand up bass would cost $51.50 if it were to be played for compensation in anyway whatsoever.  Still a major bargain.

 
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!

What you need to know about Insurance and Bicycles

 

We have a sign out front of our office where we put up little messages.  For the longest time the sign read “NEED HELP WITH MEDICARE  CALL US

We had so many people call and stop in that my dad, our Healthcare guru, finally told us to change the damn thing!  Healthcare can definitely be a challenge to work with in today’s world.

So when the weather got warm in the Spring we changed it to, “WE INSURE BIKES AND BOATS TOO!  STOP IN FOR A QUOTE.”  We got crickets.  No one called.  No one stopped in.  No one cared.

 

pee wee herman bike

 

Until just the other day.  A man saw the sign few months back.  He is considering buying a bike that will cost $8,100!  That’s Eight Thousand One Hundred Dollars.  He said he got a quote to insure the bicycle from his Homeowners agent at Erie Insurance Group for around $600 for the year.  Seems like a lot.  In fact most if not all of our Motorcycle policies are less!

I did some research and found that most Homeowners policies would cover the bike without any extra premium.  I even reached out to our Travelers Insurance Underwriter and discussed it with him.  Here’s what I found out.

 

Under a Travelers Insurance Homeowners policy, the bike would be covered up to the full replacement cost.  There is NO limit!  In the event of a claim, the Insured would need to pay their deductible.  Also, the claim handler would take depreciation off of the total amount of the initial claim check.  That depreciation would be returned but only after the bike is replaced.

 

The bike could also be covered under it’s own Personal Articles Floater (PAF, sometimes called an Inland Marine Policy).  Here are some benefits of a PAF;

  • There is a low and often times a zero dollar deductible.
  • A claim on a PAF will not affect the Homeowners Policy whatsoever.
  • A PAF is an agreed value policy.  The bike would not be subject to depreciation.

 

A PAF is a great idea if you have expensive jewelry, music instruments, or other valuable items.

 

The cost of a PAF for a bike is $9.35 per $100 through Travelers.  So for a bike valued at $8,100 the cost of the PAF  would be $757.35.  This is not cheap but you need to consider a few things.

 

  1. A claim filed through your Homeowners policy could result in a loss of your “Loss Free Discount”.  This discount could be as high as $300-$400 and you would lose it for at least 3 years.
  2. You would have to pay your deductible.  Any new Homeowners policy written with Travelers has a minimum deductible of $1,000.
  3. A claim on your Homeowners Policy will make it difficult to find a lower rate if you start shopping your insurance.

 

It’s a risk you take, pay the high premium for the PAF and possibly not have a claim or just chance it and go through your Homeowners policy if you do.  In 9 years of being in the industry I have never seen a claim for a bicycle.  But I have also never seen an $8,100 bike!

In this case I advised my new biker friend to contact his agent at Erie and discuss the coverage available through his Homeowners Policy.

 

What would you do? 
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!

Protecting Your Family and Home from Fall Weather

 

 

High Winds, heavy rains, leaves, leaves and more leaves.  All of these things can cause some serious damage to your home and property.

 

For the most part, however, damage to your house because of these conditions can be prevented.

 

Here are a few of the most common causes of damage during the Autumn season and how you can prevent them from occurring.

 

 

  • High Wind and Heavy Rain.

It was right about this time in 2012 that we all started looking at the radar planning for a Superstorm named Sandy.   Hurricane season will not end until November 30th so the potential for high winds is not going away anytime soon.

Wind can cause enough damage on it’s own.  But the real trouble emerges when you add heavy soaking rain to the high winds.  The wind can very easily rip shingles off of a roof and even siding off of a house exposing the home to rain.  When this happens you can expect a significant amount of interior water damage.

 

How to Prevent the Damage

 

  1. Prepare.  Get a tarp in case your siding blows off.  If the siding blows off, hang the tarp up to prevent rain from getting in.
  2. Gather a few numbers for local roofers and emergency service providers. Don’t go up on your roof if it is still raining! Allow a professional to do it for you.  If you are person that thinks they can do anything then….
  3. Get Life Insurance.  Your family very well may need it.

 

  • Fallen Trees.

Trees fall at all times of the year but especially when the ground becomes saturated and the winds become heavier.  We seem to see more in the season of Fall than any other.  Fallen trees can cause an unbelievable amount of damage in some cases going right through your house and landing in your living room or on your car.

 

wracked_house_01

 

How to Prevent the Damage

If you see a dead tree near your house or another structure located on your property, get it cut down.  As soon as possible.  Eventually that dead tree will drop and if it’s near your house, there is a good chance it’s going to land where you don’t want it to.

If your neighbor has a dead tree located on his property but is close to your house, ask them to cut it down.  If they refuse, send a certified letter to them with a formal request.  Document everything.  When his tree does fall on your house, that documentation will help your insurance carrier prove they were negligent.  If you cannot prove your neighbor’s negligence than the damage sustained to your house due to your neighbor’s tree will all be on you and your carrier.

 

  • Leaves and Debris clogging gutters and downspouts.

About 2 months after we moved in to our house we had a crazy Fall rainstorm.  Rain was literally pouring out of our gutters, onto the ground and straight into a window well of our basement.  Water was pouring down the back wall of our basement.  We didn’t know what the heck was going on!!!

Once the storm passed we went outside and discovered that our gutter was clogged.  I took about four or five hand fulls of leaves and debris from the gutter and there has not been a problem since.

Luckily for us, this happened in the back section of our basement which is unfinished and very easy to clean.  Had it happened in the front section of the house we would have had some serious damage.

 

How to Prevent the Damage

  • Check your gutters often to make sure they are not clogged.
  • Install a glass block window to completely seal out the elements from getting in.

 

I hope this information helps you. Have you ever had a Fall weather related claim?  Leave a comment below with your experiences.

 

 

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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How Insurance Companies Handle Claims for Lost or Stolen Jewelry

Personal Property

 

 

Do you need to insure your valuable items on a separate insurance policy in PA?

In Pennsylvania, insuring valuable items on a separate policy is a relatively inexpensive way to ensure you have coverage in the event the valuable items are lost, stolen or damaged.  And if you live in the suburbs, like Royersford, it’s even less expensive.

These policies are most often called, a Personal Articles Floater or a Personal Articles Policy.  The purpose is to insure the items at an agreed value with a low deductible or no deductible at all.

A separate insurance policy is perfect for a college student bringing valuable items to school.

 

 

What is considered a valuable item?

 

Jewelry, fine arts, computers and iPads, bicycles, expensive cameras.  These are the most common items that are insured on a separate policy.

A Nervous Groom

A Nervous Groom getting ready to Tie the Knot!

 

Doesn’t your Homeowners policy provide coverage for these things?

 

Yes it does.  However, there are a few major negatives to not having a separate policy.  If you go through your Homeowners policy….

  1. You are subject to the Homeowners Deductible.  This could be as low as $250 or as high as $1,000 or in some cases even higher.  With a separate policy, in most cases the deductible is ZERO!
  2. You will lose your Loss Free Discount.  If you are receiving a Loss Free Discount and you submit a claim you will lose the discount.  I have seen the discount as high as $400.  You WILL lose that discount if you submit a claim and it is paid for any reason.
  3. There are limits on your policy.  For example, our most common Travelers Homeowners policy offers a limit of $3,000 to an insured if their jewelry is lost or stolen.  This means you can not collect any more than that amount for lost or stolen jewelry.
  4. You now have a claim on your record.  Just one claim makes it difficult to find a competitive price if you shop your policy with other carriers.

 

Story Time!

 

We had an Insured a few months back that had about $7,000 worth of jewelry stolen from her house.  The thief was a neighbor who was able to get in the house while the Insured was not at home.  By the time our Insured realized the jewelry was missing the thief had pawned all of it.

The neighbor was caught and arrested but the money or jewelry has not been recovered.  She did not have the jewelry insured on a separate policy.  Therefore, she was only able to receive $3,000 from Travelers.  She did not have to pay her deductible because the amount of jewelry stolen exceeded her policy limit.   But she did lose her loss free discount.

The Insured inherited the jewelry from her mother a few years ago.  If you inherit jewelry or if you make a big purchase, like an engagement ring or computer or something else with high value, be sure to let your agent know.

 

What is the Cost?

 

I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia.  For $5,000 worth of coverage for jewelry, the cost is $60 for the year.  $120 for ten thousand dollars worth of coverage.  In Philadelphia, the cost is $85 for the year for $5,000 worth of coverage.  That is the cost for a policy with a zero dollar deductible.  Read this post if you are looking for ways to save on your Homeowners policy.  This one may help too.

 

A separate policy for your high value items is a no-brainer.  The cost is minimal and the things you are insuring have a lot of meaning to you and will need to be replaced if they are lost, stolen or damaged.  In some cases, like electronic devices, receipts will be sufficient to prove the value.  In cases like jewelry, antiques and fine arts an appraisal may be required.

 

If you have lost a valuable piece of jewelry and you want to try and get it back, there is a company that can help you.  The Ring Finders is an online directory of metal detecting specialists that will help people find your list jewelry.  Check them out today if you have lost something you want to get back!

 

This is not something you want to put off.  Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

 

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, 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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