SUNDAY, JANUARY 25, 2015
Reassess your homeowner’s policy on an annual basis with these five steps.
Reviewing your homeowners policy may not rank high on your annual home-maintenance checklist. Yet following the five steps below will save you big bucks now and a lot of grief down the road. After the recent slew of natural disasters, average annual premiums are expected to surpass $1,000, with some owners likely to see double-digit rate hikes. Haven’t taken a close look at your policy lately? Then dust it off and make insurance your next project.
Measure How Much Coverage You Need
Your No. 1 priority must be the house itself. “Possessions, living expenses, and liability should all be secondary,” says Amy Bach of United Policyholders, an insurance advocate group.
Don’t base your coverage level, though, on the home’s appraised value, which includes land costs. Instead, says Kevin McCarty, president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, use the recent per-square-foot replacement costs in your area, available from your local homebuilders association. The difference can be sizable. In New York state, land makes up 9% of the average home’s value, according to the Lincoln Institute. In Hawaii, it represents more than half.
Is your area prone to natural disasters? Price out extended or guaranteed replacement policies, which protect you from inflated labor and material costs following such catastrophes.
Inspect What’s Not Covered
Don’t assume that all “perils” are covered. As homeowners learned the hard way after Hurricane Irene last August, standard policies exclude damage from flooding, not to mention earthquakes and landslides. “Most people aren’t aware of what their policy does and doesn’t cover until they file a claim,” says Deeia Beck, executive director of the Office of Public Insurance Counsel, a state consumer agency in Texas.
If you live in a high-risk area for floods, you may be required to add supplemental coverage, which can cost $1,700 to $3,300 on a $150,000 building and $50,000 worth of contents.
Also, take note of common exclusions, such as those on mold and even broken pipes owing to lack of routine maintenance. You know which nuisances your home is susceptible to. Use that knowledge to beef up coverage by adding so-called endorsements. Been a victim of sewage backups, which aren’t covered by most standard policies? Insure against them for anywhere from about $100 to $250 a year.
Recheck the Deductible
It may not be the same as it was a year ago. Many insurers are retooling deductibles from set dollar amounts to percentages, which can often represent a substantial change.
In general, you want to go for the highest deductible you can afford to lower your premiums. Beware, though, that not all insurers that are making this switch from dollars to percentages are cutting premiums at the same time. Also, be mindful that these deductibles are a percentage of the insured value of your entire home, not of what needs to be fixed. So if you have a $400,000 home, even a 5% deductible may be too steep a price to pay, and a reason to shop around.
Hammer Away at Your Premium
Insurers don’t always spell out how much your rates shot up on renewals. So dig out last year’s documents and compare for yourself. If your rates rose 5% or more, make sure to call the company for an explanation.
Knowing whether the increase resulted from changes in your risk profile or from broad-based increases in the marketplace will help you negotiate and comparison-shop—which you should do at every renewal or at least every couple of years.
In addition to bumping up your deductible, you can lower your premium by bundling together your home and auto insurance, which can shave off from 5% to 15%. Also, installing security systems, storm shutters, or a new roof can chip away another 15%. Before you make that commitment, though, check with your insurer to see if your installation qualifies, says Jeanne Salvatore of the Insurance Information Institute.
Clean Up Your Work Area
Finish your project by getting all your documents in place. If you haven’t already done so, conduct a home inventory (contact PMA Insurance Services for a worksheet). Pair that with receipts, photos, or videos and then store all your paperwork—along with a complete copy of your insurance policy—in a fireproof box.
For extra protection, scan and store all of that information digitally on a flash drive, and remember to keep that off-site, says Bach. If disaster strikes, you don’t want this critical information to be at risk too.
At PMA Insurance Services, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable.
Just give us a call at (703) 449-1327 or send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org . We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!
Content provided by This Old House.
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SATURDAY, JANUARY 17, 2015
Builders risk insurance, also called course of construction insurance, is insurance designed for buildings during the construction process.
As a builder (or property owner) you know that during construction, projects are subject to a wide variety of risks or damage. While under construction, a project could suffer from damages due to high winds, fire, or sabotage of some nature. Builders risks policies can be written specifically to cover the construction term; usually three, six, or twelve months and the policy will cover the same perils of most property polices including fire, wind, theft, vandalism, lighting, etc.
Who Should Consider Builders Risk Insurance?
There are a number of parties involved in a new construction project. Each party has an interest in the project, and might consider builders risk insurance. The contractor, project manager, and building owners all have interests that need to be protected.
Contractors, owners and project managers often mistakenly think their business insurance policy will cover building during the course of construction. There will be no coverage under a standard business policy for property loss, unless it has been added by endorsement or under a separate policy.
Excluded Property Under A Builders Risk Policy
There is a relatively short list of property that is not covered under a builders risk policy. This includes automobiles, landscaping, money, contractor’s tools, equipment and machinery.
If you have purchased a builders risk insurance policy for a project or building, make sure to read your policy carefully to become familiar with the policy language and find out whether there are any exclusions or items that will not be covered.
Our agents at PMA Insurance Services, are experts when it comes to making sure you have the coverage you need for your building project. If you are involved in (or planning) a construction project in the near future, call us today at (703) 449-1327!
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FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2014
Finding competitive rates and quality coverage is not always easy but PMA Insurance Services is not just any agency. Homeowners receive the best personal attention and customized service catered to your needs. One of the best providers available with PMA Insurance Services includes Travelers.
Travelers Insurance is a Fortune 500 company decorated with many respectable awards from Forbes, Barron, and Goldman Sachs. Travelers protects homeowners when there is damage to the home or other structure, personal belongings, liability, valuable items, and other living expenses. Extensive auto coverage is also available and offer more than just standard liability.
Travelers insurance gives customers policies to cover property, bodily injuries, medical expenses, comprehensive damage, and collision with objects or vehicles. Travelers also protect injured policyholders from high costs caused by underinsured or uninsured drivers and offer coverage options for rentals, towing, gap insurance and more. Travelers Insurance is available to customers for efficient claim reporting and customer service.
Do you want the best coverage possible in the Northern Virginia area and nearby areas? PMA Insurance Services is proud to give clients a selection including Travelers, Kemper Preferred, Metlife, Safeco, Allied (Nationwide), and Hartford Insurance.
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TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2014
PMA Insurance Services, LLC is excited to be a local partner with Safeco Insurance for many reasons.
- We have a dedicated claims specialist we can work with directly if you have questions or concerns about an automobile or homeowner’s claim.
- Safeco Insurance offers coverage for firearms without requiring serial numbers and expensive appraisals.
- Many clients appreciate Safeco’s simple and transparent billing systems after having difficulties with their prior insurance carrier.
- Safeco can package your home, rental house, boat, motorcycle, umbrella policy, as well as auto insurance for deep discounts.
- New car replacement coverage is available on auto insurance policies (for qualifying vehicles).
- To offer the best rates possible, Safeco Insurance also offers accident forgiveness (contact us for specific details).
- Safeco offers a “good student” discount – which can save you money on your monthly billing with your teenage drivers.
Give PMA Insurance Services a call at (703) 449-1327 and we can give you a no-obligation quote through Safeco Insurance. We can also be reached at email@example.com.
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MONDAY, MAY 19, 2014
The glove compartment is an often overlooked and underused component of most cars. When used to its potential, your car’s glove compartment can hold a wealth of valuable information and resources. If you are ever in an accident or your car breaks down, you want to make sure that emergency services numbers and your insurance information are close at hand.
Your cell phone is often a lifeline in times of emergency, but it will serve little purpose if the battery dies. Keep a car charger in your glove box for those times when your phone needs a battery boost. While you’re in the electronics store, look for a small GPS unit and car adapter as well. It could save you if you make a wrong turn and suddenly find yourself hours out of your way.
In terms of personal safety and protection, add a small first aid kit, an umbrella and a pair of driving gloves. Why gloves, you ask? To protect your hands if you have to use a glass breakage bar, which you should also keep in the glove box.
You should also add your insurance cards to the glove box. If you need auto insurance, contact PMA Insurance Services in Chantilly, VA at (703) 449-1327.