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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!

 

What Is Coverage B – Other Structures on a Homeowners Insurance Policy?

 

 

 

You received your Homeowners renewal in the mail.  Guess what?  The premium is up.  Up big!

 

It’s ridiculous.  Every year it goes up.  It NEVER goes down.

 

You have a few options to reduce your rate.  The two most common ways are to increase your deductible and possibly decrease your Coverage A for your Dwelling.  In order to decrease your Coverage A, your agent must provide proof to the Underwriter that the coverage can be reduced.

 

Can you save money by decreasing your Coverage B- Other Structures?

 

First, you need to know what is covered under Coverage B- Other Structures.

 

Shed at the edge of the woodsCreative Commons License John Hilliard via Compfight

 

Here are a few examples;

 

 

  • Detached Garage
  • Swimming Pool
  • Gazebo
  • Fence
  • Shed
  • Swing Set
  • Woman Cave (Yes they exist and are awesome!)
  • Barn

 

 

 

You get the idea.  Any structure that is not connected to your house is covered under Coverage B- Other Structures.

 

Most insurance polices provide 10% of your Coverage A for your Coverage B.  So if your Dwelling is insured for $200,000 then you will get $20,000 in coverage for your Other Structures.  Some companies do it differently but most insurers set up their Homeowners policies in this format.

 

So, can you save money by decreasing your coverage for Other Structures?

 

No.  Coverage for Other Structures is now an included coverage.  Meaning, you are given 10% of your Coverage A for your Other Strutures.  It is included in the premium amount.  So, for the majority of homeowners insurance policyholders, there is no opportunity to save money by decreasing your Coverage B-Other Structures.

You can increase it to as high as you want which will increase the rate.  This is common when people build detached garages or install a swimming pool.  Be sure to contact your agent if you build anything on your property.  You do not want to be Under-Insured.

 

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!

Four Common Denied Homeowners Insurance Claims

If you have the right Homeowners Insurance policy, you will find that most claims are going to be paid. Especially the newer updated policies. Claim reps are taught to pay claims. When I was a claim rep at Travelers, Rule number one was “We are here to find coverage”.20130904-164644.jpg

We weren’t claim reps. We were coverage finders! Unfortunately sometimes coverage is just not there and a claim must be denied.

 

Now that I’m an agent my job is to find coverage BEFORE you have a claim.

There are many reasons that a claim will be denied. Most of the causes of a denial will never happen. For example did you know there is no coverage on the policy for damage caused by a landslide? Although we have seen several landslides lately they are still very rare.

 

 

I found the four most common exclusions and listed them below.

 

  • Wear and Tear

It’s an insurance policy, not a maintenance policy. Say you have a 20-year roof that is 25 years old. You start to notice shingles that have cracked and are falling on your lawn. The policy will not cover your roof. Same idea with siding that’s falling apart or an old carpet. The policy covers sudden and accidental occurrences, not materials that are deteriorating. Call your agent to make sure your policy will cover any ensuing water damage that occurs as a result of your old roof or siding.

  • Settling and Cracking of pavements, foundations, walls, etc.

My house was built in the Seventies. Guess what is happening to some of the interior walls? Cracking! On some older houses you can see cracks on the exterior brick or stucco. The policy will not provide coverage for this type of damage. It’s basically the same idea as the Wear and Tear exclusion.

  • Animals

    20130904-161902.jpg

    That cat is so Guilty of causing damage!

The policy does not cover damage caused by Birds, vermin, rodents, insects. In addition, there is no coverage for damage caused by animals owned by the Insured (YOU). So if you have termites that cause damage to the wood in your attic, it’s on you. If your cat goes to the bathroom and destroys your carpet-on you. Bats? Good luck. Make frequent checks to make sure there are no insects around. Don’t ignore bizarre unexplained sounds in your attic.

  • Surface Water that enters your house

This is not water that enters your house through the roof or walls or even a window. You should be OK in those cases. This is water that enters at ground level or in your basement. There is an endorsement that will provide coverage for water that backs up from a sump pump or a drain. Call your agent TODAY to make sure you have that endorsement.

As far as I know you will not be able to find an endorsement that provides coverage for surface water. Landscapers can often build up the area around your house so water is re-directed away from your exterior walls. Also, always check that your downspouts and gutters are functioning properly.

 

I don’t know everything about insurance. So ask your agent to verify everything I just wrote. And I would still recommend that you discuss a potential claim even if you do have damage caused by one of the things I mentioned. Remember, a claim rep’s job is to find coverage. But be smart and prepare your house and limit the possibilities of the above causes of damage.

 

 

-Keith Laskey-

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