How to prepare for Boating Season

It wasn’t until I got married that I started to become a “boater”. My husband grew up on the water. He would fish with his Dad on local rivers and lakes in their fishing boat and as an adult, he has owned and operated a few different types of boats. When we met he had a ski boat which to me is the best kind! There were times growing up when we would get to go out on the water in friend’s boats and I remember LOVING it each time! My sisters and I always begged my Dad to get a boat and his response was always, “We have a pool, we don’t need a boat!” Little did I know that when he gave us the kid-friendly answer what he probably meant was we are too busy with sports on the weekends and maintaining and operating a boat is a ton of work!

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Boy have I learned now that boating is a lot of work but oh so worth it. Ok, it’s not that bad but, as a boat owner, you do have to maintain your boat and also know how to operate it in the water and navigate the marina to get it in and out of the water. As a diesel and marine mechanic, he knows how to work on boats and how to maintain them so we are lucky in that department. But for many other boat owners, you would need to make sure you take your boat in for service just like your vehicles. This way they operate smoothly and you don’t have to worry about problems on the water. Hubby’s word of advice, don’t wait until you are at the boat launch to turn your boat on for the first time. Check it before you leave the house.

Every day on my way to work I drive by this boat that is parked in front of this property, which looks creepily abandoned by the way. I’ve had my eye on it for the past couple of months because it has remained in the same spot with the cover blown halfway off in the exact same position for months! Now, if you are in the Sacramento area you know we have had a longer rainy season with a ton of storms this year so leaving your boat outside with the cover off to let in rain and debris is bad news. I always hope that when I turn the corner I’ll see something different. I can’t imagine the damage on the inside of that boat.

IMG_4569 Last week we spent the majority of our free time prepping our boat to get it water ready. First, we had to get it out of the backyard which was slightly complicated because it was behind our Cabover Camper. After playing “Shuffle the Toys” our boat was hooked up to the truck. We then took inventory of the things we needed to get for the new season and my husband fired her up for her seaworthy inspection.

What other things do you do to make sure you are going to be safe on the water? Also, what can you do to give you peace of mind during your boating adventure? First is getting your boat prepped and checked. Make sure your motor runs properly and she fires up. Second, you need to make sure you have life vests for everyone on board. Any child 13 and under must wear a life vest at all times when you are in the water. Inspect them to make sure they are still in good condition and still fit. Lastly, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got your insurance policy for your boat up to date.

When you own a boat you are not required to have insurance like you are when you purchase a vehicle. Yes, you have to register it but you aren’t required to provide proof of insurance. Unless it is required by a finance company. But let me tell you why having boat insurance is necessary. If you’ve read some of my other posts you maybe remember me stating why insurance exists. Insurance exists to protect against financial hardship. So if your boat were to be stolen, vandalized, damaged, etc and you didn’t have insurance you would be responsible for the full replacement and repairs on your own. Yes, a boat is a recreational extra, unless you live on your boat…which would be so cool, so having the additional money to make repairs and replacements may not be first on your financial to-do list and you may be ok not having the assistance of insurance to replace or repair it. Maybe boating isn’t your way to spend the whole summer so it wouldn’t be a hardship. But for others, it might be.

Not only would the insurance help protect against the repair/replacement hardship but it will provide bodily injury coverage should you be at fault in a boating accident. If you didn’t have coverage and you drove your boat into another boat and caused injuries you could be held liable for those injuries or possibly sued and may have to pay out of pocket. Boat policies can provide coverage for towing services, along with additional coverage towards personal property while on the boat. Maybe you are an avid fisherman and have all kinds of gear and equipment attached to the boat. Those things are expensive!

Boat policies can be relatively inexpensive compared to auto policies so they are worth checking out. They are also annual policies. Many of our customers want coverage only for the few months they take their boat out so they will activate a policy for only a few months then cancel it. When you cancel it you lose the coverage for theft and vandalism, if you purchased that coverage of course. You also want to make sure the value of your boat is accurate. Boats depreciate in value just like everything else so if you have restored it, added to it, updated it you need to provide your agent with those updates and correct value amounts. If you don’t and have a loss the insurance company may only give you a blue book value for your boat based off of the year make and model. Word of advice here is to read your policy to make sure you have the right coverage for YOUR boat and your needs.

As always, every carrier and every policy is different. If you have questions ask your agent if you want to make sure you have coverage. If you don’t have coverage and want to know what it would cost for you, call and get one. You may gain some knowledge and peace of mind for a summer full of boating! To sum up these tips I’ll give you bullet points. The best way to prepare for boating season is:

  • Inspect, inspect, inspect your boat and check your motor!
  • Make sure you have usable life vests for all onboard
  • Check your Insurance policy
  • Stay safe, have fun, oh and wear sunscreen!

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Finally, when boating you also need to have a certain amount of Etiquette! Dealing with a crowded marina can and will test your patience so be patient and wait your turn and follow the rules and flow of the marina. Manners people! Remember boating is supposed to be fun!

 

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Why did my Auto Insurance Increase?

Nowadays the world is at our fingertips. Pretty much anything can be ordered online or through an app. When I found out that I could order take-out or pizza without leaving the house or talking to someone then paying for it, tip included, at the push of a button I was in heaven! Let me just state, that I rarely order takeout or pizza because both my husband and I like to cook. But when I do it’s usually because I’m dirt tired and haven’t gone to the grocery store and don’t want to cook. Sound familiar?!?! Plus we get annoyed that when we do go out we can make something just as good for less money at home. But this is another story for another day…

mobile carphone Technology has come a very long way. Computers are literally in everything, I mean everything. Having a phone in the car used to be a big deal! The very first models had to be installed in the vehicle and were mostly for commercial vehicles or limos. I remember my Mom getting her flip phone and we were NOT ALLOWED to touch it or use it. It was for emergencies only!

Cars have come a long way too. Today our vehicles are so high tech! It blows my mind to watch or read news stories on flying vehicles (aren’t they just airplanes) or self-driving vehicles because it doesn’t feel like real life. It makes me feel we are living in Tomorrow Land or living with The Jetsons! The newer vehicle models have everything in them why would you want to leave your car? The newer vehicles pretty much can do everything for you, read text messages, find music, pull up GPS, alert you when vehicles are too close, or alert you if your too close, heat or cool your seats, cruise control, LLOOTTSSSS of safety features and safety alert systems, parking assistance, backup cameras, side cameras etc, etc, etc.

I’m still rocking my 2009 model that doesn’t even have Bluetooth. I love my car however I have begun to research my next vehicle. My car is only 10 years old and still runs great however we have outgrown it as a family. My family has nicknames such as “The Talls” and “Team Tall” so I’m pretty sure you can guess why we need a bigger vehicle. I’m excited to have all of these super new techy features available for my next car but I’m not excited about how much my insurance bill is going to increase. Unfortunately, auto increases are not going away any time soon, and for me taking off a 10-year-old vehicle and adding a newer one isn’t going to decrease my rate because it’s newer and safer.

whyOne of the most common questions we get is “Why did my auto policy increase? I haven’t changed anything on my policy!” Or, “How come my newer vehicle is so much more expensive than my older ones?” These are loaded questions because so many factors go into your auto premium and it’s not just the age of your vehicle. Of course, the biggest change in premium could be from any oncoming tickets or accidents, a change of address, the loss of discounts or if you’ve added a newly licensed driver or any driver for that matter. But if none of those things ring true for you, your rate has likely increased due to a rate change by the company. So why are all these companies taking rate increases all the time?

Auto Technology = More Expensive Repairs

With the increase in all of the auto technology vehicles are becoming much more expensive to repair. The amount of labor it takes to repair not only the vehicle but the technology (computers) all over these vehicles takes additional time and effort. For example, a bumper is no longer just a bumper and a windshield is no longer just a windshield. Bumpers now have sensors and cameras etc so if you have a “minor” fender bender it could end up more costly than you think.

Increase in Claims

Another reason your insurance rate may have increased is due to an increased amount of losses due to distracted driving, uninsured motorist losses, and even natural disasters. Natural disasters still affect auto policies. If your vehicle is burned by fire it would be covered under your comprehensive coverage if you have it and subject to your deductible. The same is if your vehicle was flooded during a storm, this falls under comprehensive if you have it on your policy and again subject to your deductible. The statistics on the increase in accidents due to distracted driving is insane! All you have to do is see for yourself when you come to a stoplight, everyone is on their phones! All it takes is seconds and an accident can happen, and it happens much more frequently than it used to.

Insurance companies are also having to pay for those losses for their customers who have been hit by people driving around without insurance. When you are hit by someone who doesn’t have insurance your insurance company ends up footing the bill, if you have uninsured motorist coverage on your policy for bodily injury, property damage and/or comprehensive and collision. This just happened to one of my co-workers! It also happened to my mother! I’m sure we all know someone else it’s happened to which means it happens a lot.

Injuries 

Medical costs are also going up. If you are injured in an accident and have to go to the hospital via ambulance or stay in the hospital that adds up, and real quick! Even if you don’t go to the hospital see a doctor a few days later those costs add up too.

How Much you Drive

Annual mileage is another big factor in your premium increasing. Companies are now getting very tight on making sure you are being rated correctly when it comes to how much you are driving. Many carriers are now running odometer reports to verify how much you drive. If you are driving more, you and your vehicle have a higher risk of a claim so the rate will be higher if you are driving more.

There are still many other reasons why your auto policy could have gone up. The best way to know on your own policy for sure is to call your agent and ask. Because every policy and every company is different.

So until I take the plunge and trade in my 10-year-old vehicle I’m going to enjoy the simplicity of my older car sans Bluetooth and techy upgrades, and also enjoy the cheapness of my insurance! Besides shouldn’t we all be trying to unplug every once in a while? But before I unplug…what to order for dinner?

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What do you do if you come across a Rattlesnake?

i-hate-snakes I hate snakes, all of them! The good and the bad, well obviously the bad. My feet got sweaty just typing “Rattlesnakes” into Google to research this blog! Instantly I felt like there was one under my desk and my feet were in danger. Snakes just give me the heebie jeebies plain and simple.

Living in the foothills of California certainly has its perks. We have the gorgeous Lake Tahoe within a two hour drive and also the beach within a two hour drive. One thing that isn’t a perk is the population of rattlesnakes in late spring to early fall. I feel like every year I have my eyes peeled everywhere on trails, sidewalks, parks, roads and around my house. Rattlesnakes are extremely common where I live. My house is close to the American River so we are constantly getting emails from our neighborhood watch regarding how many rattlesnakes have already been sighted and exposed of. So far the count is almost 10 not to mention the photos of my friends posting pictures of them in their yards and under trash cans on Instagram!

So what do you do when you come across a rattlesnake? I feel like I would scream and run. My 16 year old son was hiking down to the river to go fishing with his buddy last week. Hours later they returned to tell me the story of how they came across a rattlesnake. They said the snake was atleast 8 feet long (I’m pretty sure this was an exaggeration…kids lol). They heard the rattle and low and behold a rattler! My son’s friend screamed like a girl, according to my son, and then ran for it. As I was listening to this I thought would I know what to do if that happened to me? Did they do the right thing? I probably would do the same thing.

After doing some light research here are the few most important things to know when you encounter a rattlesnake.beware-of-rattlesnakes-sign-k-0311

1) Freeze if you hear the rattling, or see the snake. I also learned that the snake will bite even if it isn’t rattling so you also want to keep your eyes open.

2) SLOWLY back away from the snake as it will feel threatened with any sudden movement and could strike.

* Lets note here that I would have done neither of those things!

So what happens if you or your dog gets bit by a rattlesnake? I have doggies and a yard close to the river so the snakes could very well be on my turf! Again, everything I read I would have done the opposite.

If you are bitten by a rattlesnake you should try to:

1) Remain as calm as possible and try not to increase your heartrate but act quickly. By increasing your heartrate you will increase your bloodflow and that will make the venom travel throughout your body faster.

2) If you can, wash the bite with soap and water or anticeptic from a first aid kit.

3) Call 911 and get medical help immediately, this I feel like should be number 1?

4) Keep the wound below your heart, and if your dog is bitten carry the dog to safety and get medical attention from your vet immediately and again keep the wound below your dogs heart.

What NOT to do?

  1. Do not apply a tourniquet
  2. Do not put ice on the wound
  3. Do not cut the wound or try to suck out the venom

im-not-an-expert I am not an expert here at all. But I can tell you from the research I’ve done these are the most common tips for dealing with rattlesnake bites and what to do when you come accross one.

If you see a snake in your yard do not mess with it. Don’t be a hero! Go indoors and make sure children and animals are inside. You can call your local animal control or fire department to come and take the snake away. Statistics tell us that 85% of snake bites around here are from people trying to dispose of a snake themselves.

You can also do some Homeowner Maintenance that will help deter rattlesnakes from your yard. Tips to try and keep rattlesnakes out of your yard are:

1) Getting a Rattlesnake proof fence! Yes they have those and my sister and brother-in-law installed one recently!

2) Make your yard less attractive by removing hiding places i.e. piles of rocks, wood or other debris.

3) Keep your grass mowed.

4) Make sure you don’t have a rodent problem, the rodents will attract the snakes. Going further into this one, make sure you don’t have dog food or any other type of food in your garage to attract the rodents.

5) Avoid any sheds with space under the floor and making sure all cracks in porches or sidewalks are filled.

6) Snake repellant. This does exist, my Husband and I found it while purchasing rodent control items because of this research!

wink winkI hope that you don’t have an encounter with a rattler, but if you do I would hope that you know what to do. Who knew that just a little bit of Homeowner Maintenance could not only reduce a risk of a homeowners claim, but also keep rattlers out! Ahhh haaa see what I did there…everything always comes back to insurance!

Sources:

1) The Humane Society of the United States 

2) California Department of Fish and Wildlife 

3) Washington Trails Association (Hey…Rattlesnakes are the same in CA too)

4) CBS Sacramento

 

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How much damage can a little water do?

Am I covered for a flood?

rain is confetti Did somebody tell Mother Nature to bring on the rain this year? It sure feels like it! So far 2019 has been a series of storms which have brought California some much-needed pain, oops, I mean rain. Isn’t rain supposed to be good for our mental health and have healing powers? Who doesn’t love falling asleep to the sound of rain? Some say the rain is calming and can wash away your worries. The sound of rain actually sends a signal to our brain, similar to the signal it gets when you hear white noise, decreasing our need for sensory input which calms us down. It’s supposed to be like confetti from the sky, beautiful and light and fun, but I hate cleaning up confetti. Ironically cleaning up after a rain storm is just as annoying as cleaning up confetti. Instead of being wonderful and calming the rain has created more worry and has brought on some serious problems.

I know for me, the water just pudannoyed facedles in my backyard so the backyard is pretty much off-limits to everyone, and our dogs. Thankfully we have a gated courtyard to let them out in the front which will do for now, but man we cannot wait to have our backyard back! These are the looks I get when I don’t let them out there…

Our agency gets many questions about water losses. What’s covered versus what isn’t covered and flood is often a question of concern. Many people don’t know that a flood is not covered under your homeowners policy….did you gasp? Some people do. It is true, and that is why there is a specific type of policy for the loss of a flood.

Lately, the rainy weather has given us some pretty “swollen” creeks and rivers which has caused some significant flooding in the Sacramento area and beyond. Last month I had sent out our regular “Insurance Informational Email” to our customers with details on the cost of damage to a 1,000 square foot home from an inch of water, that I would like to share again. So if you received this post already, you’re welcome, it’s just another refresher!

Do you know how much damage one inch of standing water can do to your home? Just ONE INCH!?

I’m Covered for Flood…Aren’t I?                                                             January 4th 2019

A new season brings new weather, and this means a review of your insurance portfolio or making a conscious decision to obtain more coverage. Flood insurance is one of those special policies that you may not think you need, but will always come in handy when you least expect it.

As your Independent Agency, we’d like to give you a few things to consider:

  • Flood insurance is NOT covered by home policies.
  • Flood insurance covers your building and personal contents but does have some restrictions.
  • Flood insurance is affordable.
  • A Flood policy has a 30 day wait period.
  • A Flood doesn’t always come from a storm.

We live in an area that isn’t prone to mass flooding like other parts of the country, however that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen and it doesn’t mean it isn’t just as costly. The Hartford National Flood has put together an example of how much damage just an inch of water can do based off of a 1,000 sqft home.

 

Just one inch of water can cost over $10k of damage in a 1,000 sqft home, imagine those figures compared to the size of your home!

For more information on getting a policy that will work for you, contact us to speak with one of our agents today!

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P: (916)985-7500 F: (916)985-7302 T: (916)970-9349

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Toto, we’re not in Kansas Anymore!

Does my home insurance cover a fallen fence after a storm?

Have you ever been in a Tornado? I haven’t, but it sure feels like I have with all of this strong wind lately! I don’t know about everyone else, but where I live the storms so far this year have brought rain/snow and some super gusty wind! Last night the wind was so violent sounding I felt like I was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz flying through the air and landing in Oz.

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No, I did not wake up in Munchkin Land like Dorothy, although my French Bulldogs could pass as Munchkins, I did wake up to a fallen down fence. You can only do so much prep work to make sure your home is safe but when Mother Nature decides to drop a house on you she’ll do it. I noticed it as I was leaving for work, the front fence was down and had knocked down our trash and recycling cans. I was able to pick it up and prop it up but that’s about all I could do quickly on my own, and in the rain.

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Now our fence needs to be rebuilt, and it’s a task that has been put off for about three years now since we moved in. It has been maintained with several new boards here and there but repairs like that are really just a bandaid. We live in an older well-established neighborhood which means that things like the fence are older and will need to be replaced, not repaired.

Thankfully, my husband knows how to fix it…wink, wink…but it is a task that requires time and effort…AND of course, I will help! The fence is also something that is shared between you and your neighbors. Occasionally this doesn’t apply, for instance, if you don’t have any neighboring fences but for many of us it does. Figuring out fence issues can be a pain because of this situation. Maybe this is why fence replacement gets shoved under the rug?

If your fence is in need of repair or replacement talk with your neighbors about it. Put together an estimate and talk about it, split it, come up with an agreement together to repair it. Sounds easy right? Well, I do know that not all conversations or agreements will go so smoothly but the conversation will need to happen. It will either happen before the fence falls or after.

So what happens if my fence falls down after a storm? Does my homeowners’ policy cover a fallen down fence? The answer to this is sorta…what I mean by this is that insurance companies will look at the depreciated value of the fence and then split the cost with you guessed it, neighbors, if it is a neighboring fence. Finally, the repair will be subject to your deductible on your homeowners’ policy. So if your portion is under your deductible you will be responsible for making the repairs/replacement of your fence. You will also need to take into consideration the potential for your homeowners’ policy to increase. Some companies will surcharge for claims on your home, they may remove a claims-free discount or some companies may not have any impact. It never hurts to call and ask your agent what would happen to your insurance policy if you turned in a claim for your home.

tank and drama

Our fence that fell most recently is in the front, a non-neighboring fence which is ours to replace. Eventually, the rest of our fence will need to be addressed with our neighbors. Until then, we just have to make sure we are on top of the repair to keep our little Munchkins in the backyard!

 

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E: info@amerdiv.com W: www.amerdiv.com

Let’s ring in the New Year…with a Storm!

A storm could bring you home damage! Will you be covered?

thunderstormI love storms, thunderstorms specifically. I love being at home during a storm, under a cozy blanket and listening to the rain and wind on the roof. It’s even more fun if the power goes out and you have to get flashlights and candles for a bit! There was a huge storm back when I was in college that knocked the power out for hours. I remember just sitting in my apartment with candles and reading Harry Potter listening to the rain and loving every minute of it! (Yes I’m a Harry Potter nerd and proud of it) If it’s a thunder and lightning storm I like looking outside and counting the seconds between the thunder booms and the lightning strikes. Why do I do this? I don’t know? I remember hearing somewhere that the number you count between the thunder and lightning means that’s how many miles away the storm is. Who knows where I heard it, maybe from Helen Hunt in the movie Twister? And who knows if this is actually true?

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Of course, I don’t really like to be outside in a storm. My liking of them is only when I’m safe and indoors, however, I can totally walk around in a storm in Paris. You know who else hates being outside during a storm, my dogs. They refuse! Thankfully they get over it, but the mud they track in, oh and the wiping of paws and bellies…not so much!

Last weekend we had a pretty gnarly storm and it’s dubbed, by me, as the first big storm of the year. Boy was this one windy! I actually got a little bit fearful that the wind was a little too strong and thought for sure we would have damage to our home. In fact, I had gone outside a few times just to check our yard and fences to make sure everything was ok and even heaved buckets of water out of our boat. Now, my husband was out of town that weekend so I had to brave this storm on my own and prayed that I wouldn’t have major damage or a problem while he was gone. That did happen once. One of our sprinklers busted in the backyard and was flooding and I had NO CLUE how to turn it off! What to do next, call hubby…no answer, call Dad…he didn’t answer, then Grandad…he didn’t answer and then my husband called me on FaceTime who guided me on how to stop it. This instance actually made me have my husband take me around the house to show me the ins and outs of the “outside chores” so I could be prepared for something like this in the future.

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It’s very important that we heed any warnings for storms because you can save yourself a lot of work and probably money. As a homeowner, you have to do a certain amount of maintenance and upkeep to try and prevent as best you can any sort of loss. Storm prevention is crucial. I’m not talking about boarding up your house for a hurricane, I’m talking about making sure outdoor clutter is picked up, outdoor furniture is tucked away, or a fence needing to be re-vamped, gutters cleared, drains cleaned etc. If you do your best to keep your yard and exterior intact you may come out of this storm without any or minimal damage.

Many people assume that because they have insurance on their home that everything is covered, which is not the case. Your home insurance is in place to cover losses that are sudden and accidental NOT wear and tear. This includes wind/hail damage, lightning, fallen trees that have damaged your property, some water damage, and power surges etc. Claims are subject to your deductible and your policy limits and the specific carrier you have may have limitations. You may have exclusions for certain coverage or what you think may be covered on your home policy isn’t covered at all, like flood or earthquake! By the way, your home policy does not cover you for flood or earthquake, so you must purchase a separate policy for those risks if you want coverage.

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The best way to know if you have coverage for a certain loss is to call your agent and ask. If you do have a loss you can always call your agent to go over it before calling the claims department or call the claims department and put in the claim. Be mindful that for home claims some carriers will now surcharge for a loss, or if they offer a claims-free discount that could be removed at your next renewal.

As much as you prep or plan not to have a claim you never know when and if you’ll have one. The best thing you can do is have insurance and keep it up to date because if you do have a covered loss it’ll save you money and a headache.

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The second best thing to do is keep your home as maintained as you can even if that means walking outside in the rain in the middle of the storm! Hey, better late than never right? “Wink, Wink!”

 

 

American Diversified Insurance Services, Inc

201 Natoma St Folsom, CA 95630

P: (916)985-7500 F: (916)985-7302 T: (916)970-9349

E: info@amerdiv.com W: www.amerdiv.com

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Top 3 Summer Insurance Questions!

Summer doggie Ah, summer is here. I know at some point this past week we have all thought how is it June, and almost July? If you haven’t thought that yet, you’re welcome. Also, you’re welcome for the cute dog pic! Where has the year gone?! I remember being so excited for summer break as a kid. No more school. Summers for me meant being outside in the back yard at the pool, making silly home videos with my sisters, sport camps and doing a minimum of 100 free throws in the street EVERYDAY no matter how hot it was! (Thanks Dad)

But as an adult summers are a little bit different. Time off is limited and no longer a stretch of three months. It is also jam packed with vacation planning, family visits, work, BBQ’s, pool parties, boating, RV/tent camping, weddings, showers, making sure kids are entertained and home maintenance etc.

This year I have a packed summer and while it will still take some effort on me and my husband’s part to prepare for it, I’m looking forward to it. We have family coming in from out of State to visit, a family friend from Germany coming to visit, short trips to Lake Tahoe, and several birthday parties for nieces and nephews along with some out of town weddings and bridal showers, and boating…always boating!

It is easy to get distracted in the summer planning and prepping to forget about making sure you understand your insurance policy, and what your needs are. Some of the most common questions we get around the summer months are:

  1. Does my policy cover my rental car when I go out of town?
  2. I am having a wedding/party at a church/event center or park and need coverage does my policy cover that?
  3. How can I make sure my belongings are covered when I go out of town?

 

Rental Cars:

If your policy has physical damage and you are renting a vehicle while out of town, or your vehicle is in the shop your policy will transfer to that rental vehicle like you were driving your own vehicle. The policy will only transfer if you are in the U.S. if you are going out of the country you will need to purchase the coverage when you rent the vehicle.

When you want to rent a vehicle just to keep mileage off your own vehicle you will also need to purchase the coverage when renting a vehicle. A good rule of thumb is your policy will transfer to the rental vehicle if:

  1. You have physical damage
  2. If you are in the U.S.
  3. If you are away from your vehicle (i.e. out of town, or your vehicle is in the shop)

Event or Party Insurance:

Wedding Crashers It’s Wedding Season and if you are having a wedding or large event where you are renting a space that requires listing the facility/company on the policy as an Additional Insured/Interest you will need to purchase Event Insurance. All of our carriers will not allow an event vendor to be listed on a homeowner policy. Event Insurance is relatively inexpensive and can be purchased online or if you cannot find a company online ask the vendor for a recommendation.

We all have the occasional backyard shin-dig and statistics show many claims happen while at home. In order to make sure you are safe at your own get together is to check for any trip and fall hazards outside like cracks in the concrete, water hoses, chords, lawn equipment etc. If you are going to have a lot of people over make sure your party area is picked up and give your guests room to move. You also want to make sure your BBQ has some good clearence. BBQ fires are very common in the summer so keep your guests especially little ones and pets away from the BBQ. If you haven’t used it in a while a good tune up never hurts! You’ll also want to make sure that your home/renters liability is a little higher if you have a pool or pets. If someone were to have an accident and sue you you’ll want to make sure you have enough liability for any legal fees…heaven forbid!

Personal Property and Scheduled Items:

If you have a renters policy or a homeowners policy your belongings are covered anywhere in the world. So if you were to go on vacation and your luggage is lost, stolen etc your belongings are covered less your deductible.passport-with-travel-elements-around-to-travel-time-vector However, if you have more valuable items such as jewelry, silver, artwork etc you will want to have them scheduled. This means you want that item insured to value so if it is lost or stolen the company can replace the item of like and kind with a zero dollar deductible. That means you do not pay a deductible for a claim on a scheduled item. Scheduling an item will result in an additional premium and the company will require proof of value and/or a photo. Some companies will put the item on a separate policy instead of adding to your homeowners policy which is most commonly called a jewelry floater, or personal articles floater.

If the item is lost or stolen and is not insured to value you will only be given the internal policy limit to replace the item and will be subject to your deductible. The most common minimum internal limit for jewelry is $1500 for all of your jewelry as a whole. Many companies can increase this limit but just to be safe schedule your valuable items. Especially if you are taking an item on a vacation!

We want you to enjoy your summer, no matter how chaotic or relaxing it can be. Take a few minutes and make sure you know what your insurance needs are and if you have taken the steps to get the coverage! As always, call us with any questions and check in with us on Facebook!

summer love

American Diversified Insurance Services, Inc

201 Natoma St Folsom, CA 95630

P: (916)985-7500 F: (916)985-7302 T: (916)970-9349

E: info@amerdiv.com W: www.amerdiv.com

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If I turn in a Homeowners Claim will my my policy increase?

pissed val.JPG Whenever I go out of town my insurance brain comes with me. Nerd Alert! I cannot seem to turn it off. No matter where I go, or what I do I see risks right in front of me. I remember when I was a volleyball coach, see here I am mid game. We probably weren’t winning at this particular moment, I do not like to lose! Anyways, I was out of state for a tournament, and while I was en route to the gym I couldn’t help but stare at all of the homes that lined the freeway I was on. I wasn’t staring at these houses because they were gorgeous; I was staring at them because they reminded me of writing long memos to my customers about making repairs to their home.

These houses were bad. I mean, pretty bad! And it wasn’t just one! Several houses in a row, for a while, were in such poor maintenance I couldn’t believe they were livable or why people wanted to live there. Hey to each their own, right?! Each house had paint peeling, roof shingles lifting and or curling, the yard was completely overgrown and also covered with junk. All of these things and then some, are risks to an insurance company. Why? Because they could cause a loss of some sort! And as a homeowner, you’ll want to do everything in your power to NOT have a loss.

As we drove along my insurance brain kept writing memos to these homeowners. “Dear So and So, Please trim the tree branches that are overhanging and or touching the roof and provide photos….etcetera, etcetera.” The Insurance Companies aren’t asking for everyone to have a pristinely manicured yard, or require that you hire someone else to do that for you, but they do expect you to properly maintain your home. As a homeowner, you have a responsibility to make sure your home is well, maintained! That doesn’t mean you have to have a Stepford Wives house and yard, but it does mean a properly maintained home. What I mean by that is you are responsible for keeping everything working smoothly in order to prevent a loss. I mean everything! Make sure you are checking the interior and exterior of your house every so often to make sure that hazards are removed, repaired or replaced.

I mention in every post that insurance is to protect you from financial hardship. It also exists to cover “covered” losses that are sudden and accidental. For instance, the classic leaky pipe scenario. If you have had a leaky pipe for a few weeks this would be categorized as an existing condition and considered maintenance of your home and may not be covered. Now if you have a pipe burst then we have a different story.

rozen-pipeA few years ago this happened to a family member of mine who has a secondary residence in the mountains. This family member had been out of town during the holidays visiting relatives and had been away from their primary residence and secondary residence. A neighbor at their secondary residence went into to check on their home and boom, walked into a house full of really cold water. Not the best thing you want to deal with during the holidays, but it does happen. This photo isn’t the exact pipe, but it does show what can happen if your pipes freeze. Now, this wasn’t a situation of not properly maintaining the pipes, in this case, the pipes had frozen but my point is losses can happen and they can be costly. You’ll want to pay your deductible amount instead of replacing and repairing the whole thing, I know I would rather pay a $500 deductible than an out of pocket $12,000 water loss.

If you do have a homeowners claim, it will most likely be subject to your deductible. There are some additional endorsements that can be added on to your policy for an additional premium that would give you a zero dollar deductible, or a specific deductible for a specific incident should you have a loss. If you don’t know what an endorsement is click here for our video about homeowners endorsements. You’ll want to assess your damages and then get an estimate of the damages to make sure that the loss is over your deductible. For instance, if you have a $500 deductible and your loss will be $450 to repair you would be responsible for paying to repair that loss. If your loss is $550 you may choose to not to turn it in because you’ll still be paying the first $500 and the company will only pay $50. Homeowners losses tend to be more significant so if it is something minor you may not want to turn it into the company.

Some companies now are beginning to surcharge for home losses. It is kind of equivalent to an auto policy if you’ve ever had a ticket or accident and your rate increased at your following renewal. Every company is different and every policy is different so when I say “kind of” I mean “kind of” like that situation because the premium change amount will differ. It all depends on the loss, the policy, the insured and the company. If a company doesn’t have a surcharge you could lose a claims free discount so either way, your rate could change after you turn in a home claim. Depending on the carrier the loss could stay chargeable on your policy or remain without a loss free discount for up to 3-5 years. This is why I mentioned earlier if the loss is minor you may not want to turn the claim in.

home-maintenance-checklistThe best way you can avoid a loss is to properly maintain your home on a somewhat regular basis. But sometimes you just cannot avoid them. It’s almost like that saying about going to the dentist, or to the doctors for a check up. I’m pretty sure it’s no wives tale that if you go to the dentist twice a year for a cleaning along with daily self-hygiene you can prevent a major issue. Or “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, Preventative Maintenance everyone!

You’ll want to do as best you can to keep your home in working order. My husband and I are always doing something. The list never seems to end, but at the end of the day, we get to enjoy our home; which is exactly what you should do. When I think of those homes out of state in such bad shape I can only imagine the losses that could happen, and oh yeah all the memos! Maybe the homeowners don’t care, or maybe they aren’t insured who knows. I hope I just caught all of those homes on a bad day, hey homes can have a bad hair day too right? Insurance Brain – OFF!

American Diversified Insurance Services, Inc

201 Natoma St Folsom, CA 95630

P: (916)985-7500 F: (916)985-7302 T: (916)389-1820

E: info@amerdiv.com W: www.amerdiv.com 

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The Airline lost my baggage! Will my homeowners or renters policy cover my stuff?

I don’t know why but I’m on a “stuff” kick lately! Last week I wrote about how to take a home inventory of your contents for your home or renters policymom-to-do-list.jpg. I’m still in the process of taking my own home inventory so you’ll want to stay tuned about the experience I am having. It does take some time, so unless you actually dedicate one whole day to figure out what program you are using and enter it all in an app or computer program it’ll take a day or so. My problem is I’m in the middle of packing for a trip, getting a kid ready to start high school, get dinner ready for my family of giants and trying to maintain the household all at the same time. Sound familiar to anyone? I know it is extremely important to have this list so I need to step up my game and get it done. Get with it Val!

the crewThis weekend I’ll be heading out of town for a relaxing weekend with my best friends from high school! The four of us have kept in touch through the years and have gone through; out of state moves, weddings, and babies, and have seen each other at those happy occasions.  BUT, we haven’t really gotten to spend quality time together since we were home for break in college. palm springs weather.PNGWe’ve rented a house down in Palm Springs or as my husband likes to call it Palm 39, for the weekend. Which I just checked the weather by the way, and it’s going to be 109 down there!!! Why would I leave the 107 heat we had last week to go to another town that remains in triple digits??  I’m still asking myself this, but the house we rented has a pool and AC so we will be just fine. The point is to hang out with each other and continue to build on the relationships we have made through the course of our lives. I for one am pretty excited to see my friends!

Whenever us women go out of town a great deal of planning is involved. I know for me, I have to make lists for myself of what to pack, what to buy etc but also to make sure my boys are taken care of at home with food and also that my doggies have enough food so they won’t have to go to the store for any reason.The-25-Best-Travel-Memes-22 There are other things I have to plan for such as making sure my son is able to get to and from school the days that I’m gone, and then any sporting clinics, practices, tryouts etc have to be figured out too. This week also happens to be the first week of school so I’ve got to make sure he has his books, new clothes and all of the other stuff together he needs to start school. Starting high school is expensive! As you can see from the caption, men have it much easier when it comes to prepping for a trip!

After I get out of the house, the last thing that I want to deal with is lost luggage at the airport. Who wants to deal with that? Not me! I haven’t actually had this happen to me (knock on wood) but it’s happened to numerous friends and family members. What a big stink! Just the thought of getting off the plane and then not seeing your bag circle baggage claim is terrifying to me. Not just because you don’t have your stuff but because now you are stuck not knowing where it is or when you will get it back, and now you don’t have clothes or makeup, heaven forbid!girls packing problems Not that I would need makeup in Palm Springs this weekend, it would melt right off my face! But, I would feel totally helpless. I also hate flying so any other stressor on top of hating to fly would not be good. I know some of you may say, just carry on! I have never been a good packer so I have never been able to fit all of my stuff in those little suit cases to carry on the plane. I need to have clothing options people!

girls packing.jpg Hopefully the airline will recover your bag and deliver it to you in a timely manner but some times they don’t and it’s never recovered. Did you know your homeowners or renters policy may cover the cost of your lost items. Your personal property aka “your stuff” is covered anywhere in the world. So the companies may pay for your lost items. The companies do not pay for the time or man power to recover the items but they will pay for your belongings – IF you have a homeowners or renters policy and IF those policies are active and the contents lost are within your policy limits. Again, every loss is investigated and up to the insurance company, but your contents are covered anywhere in the world and the loss would be subject to your deductible. So if your homeowners deductible is $1000 and the contents that were lost total out to $500 then you would have to replace those items yourself.

If you are planning on taking some items that are higher in value you may want to make sure they are specifically listed or “scheduled” on your policy. A homeowners policy or renters policy has set limits built into your policy for jewelry as a whole which typically start at $1500 for all of the jewelry you own. If your wedding ring or a watch (for you men reading this) is $5,000 and you do not have the ring or watch listed to it’s value and your ring or watch is lost or stolen at the airport then the company will only pay out $1,500 and again it is subject to your deductible. If that $5,000 ring or watch was listed to value then many companies would replace the lost or stolen item without a deductible.

knowlege is powerPrepare yourself as much as possible, and when you do that you’ll have a lot more peace of mind when you travel. I know I do! Knowledge is Power! If you have an upcoming trip and have questions about scheduling items to value, or changing your deductible give us a call. Remember if you are scheduling a specific item there will be required documents from the company such as photos, and a current appraisal or receipt if you just purchased the item. Give yourself enough time before you leave if you are adding additional coverage.  If you have questions about a situation like this it is always a good idea to give us a call and talk about it.

The more you know, the better protected you’ll feel. You’ll have the peace of mind knowing you are protected. NEVER ASSUME! The insurance is in place to protect you from financial hardship. So if you are a constant traveler or just a weekend traveler and have worried about lost or stolen luggage give us a call and talk to us about it. You may find you’d like to lower your deductible or increase your deductible, or you may end up deciding you shouldn’t take specific items on your trip. For me, this weekend includes hanging out by the pool with my best friends so I’m just packing swim suits, sunscreen and maybe a giant flamingo floatie I got on amazon for the pool! Why not!?

American Diversified Insurance Services, Inc

A: 201 Natoma St Folsom, CA 95630

P: (916)985-7500 F: (916)985-7302 T: (916)389-1820

E: info@amerdiv.com W: www.amerdiv.com

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Do you really need to take an inventory of your stuff?

home_inventory1This summer is the first summer in our new home. That means we have a new neighborhood and new neighbors. Any time you move you never know how the neighbors will be. Luckily we have met several of our neighbors and we cannot complain at all! Not only do we have great neighbors but our little community does all kinds of cool stuff together throughout the year!

One of the events is a community wide garage sale. Apparently this garage sale has been held every June for over 20 years. Each house (and there are about 200 homes in our community) is invited to participate, and from what we were told there have been lines of cars coming in and out of our neighborhood with shoppers.

AWESOME! Now, since we had moved in a few months prior we had accumulated quite a bit of stuff and this was the perfect opportunity to get rid of it. For weeks before the sale my husband and I went through everything. We had piles of stuff for the garage sale, piles to take to Goodwill and then piles to just dump! The night before the garage sale we stayed up late organizing our things and pricing them in anticipation of the huge lines of cars and shoppers we were told would arrive.

garage sale photo The next morning we were up at the crack of dawn setting up. By 7:30 we were ready for business. About an hour later we started to get a steady flow of people, but nothing had been sold. As we sat there just looking at our things we couldn’t help but wonder what is wrong with our stuff? Customers would walk up and down our driveway with their hands behind their back just looking and walking out of our yard. We didn’t have typical junk items at our sale. Our stuff ranged from snowboards, to art and fashion an electric fireplace and more. Yes they were all gently used but in great condition. These items were things we no longer had room for, couldn’t fit into or we simply wanted to change out decorations in our bedroom, family or living room. We had expensive art work that is still in style but was too girly for my husband, the snowboard was perfectly fine but our 14 year  old “man child” had grown out of it after one season. Yes I may be biased that our stuff wasn’t junk, but it really wasn’t. It was still sell-able.

So then we started to wonder if our items were priced too high. price markdownWe took off all of the price tags and just told everyone to make us an offer on items they wanted. I had a clothes rack set up with a bunch of nice dresses and expensive jeans that I didn’t want (or couldn’t fit into) anymore. They weren’t terribly worn and when I bought them new they were worth a pretty penny. I knew I wouldn’t get full or even half price and totally low balled the figure myself but I had a lady offer my .50 for my $120 pair of jeans. I looked at her and said no, and I thought I would rather give it away to someone who needs it for free than take .50 for it. I was blown away after that, and after about three hours we had barely sold anything.

At the end of the day we had only made $46.00, and as we thought we had a horrible day our neighbor across the street only made $43.00. So we didn’t feel as terrible. Our neighbor had told us that this particular year was the worst turn out he had ever seen and no one was buying anything. For the amount of work we did I am not in a rush to participate next year. mean girlsI was annoyed that after all this work, no one wanted our stuff it wasn’t even about making money. It made me feel like my style and taste was terrible and I live in a house of junk. I felt violated almost like I was being personally attacked, and took it personally a little. It was that feeling of the “mean girls” back in high school for making fun of your outfit. I did feel better after hearing my neighbor’s story but still, so much work for nothing…OUCH!

The good news is that we did clean out our home and organize it so the Goodwill will be getting a hefty lot from our household! Keywords, “will be” the piles of unsold garage sale items still sit in our garage two months later, I guess I should work on that, but it has been way too hot to hang out in the garage and clean it! I did end up $46.00 richer than I was the day before. So it wasn’t a total loss.

Home Inventory importanceNow that my house is a little less cluttered it is a great time to take an inventory of the items we own. Why would I need to take an inventory of my personal belongings? Well because should you ever have a loss either by natural disaster, fire, theft, vandalism, poor renovations, old pipes, etc and your belongings are stolen or damaged the insurance company will want a list of those items to help repair or replace whatever was stolen or damaged. How many of us can actually say we have a home inventory list? Or what about those receipts or appraisals for higher value items? Confession – I don’t even have an inventory list yet. What I do have are appraisals for some jewelry items for my husband and I but that is about it.

If we were to have a fire and our home was damaged the insurance company will ask us what we had in our home to try and replace the items as best as possible. If I don’t have a list I can tell you at that moment after a loss my brain, or anyone else’s brain, probably won’t be working clearly to write out a detailed list for my adjuster. You also want to make those lists and total the amount of coverage you’ll need for all of the items in your home. Even if you are not a homeowner, your renters policy will still provide you personal property so you’ll want to make sure as a renter that you do have a renters policy and figure out if you have enough personal property coverage.

I am talking about going through everything people, each room from top to bottom and even in your drawers and closets. Think of it this way, if you took your house and dumped it upside down everything will fall out. This is all of your personal property. Document everything, and take photos. You can even make a video and just walk around your house with your smartphone or video camera and walk through each room and go through the closets. The more information you have the better your insurance company will be able to pay out your claim.

There are also many apps, free and paid, that you can download on your phone to help organize your inventory. If you don’t have a smartphone you can create an excel spreadsheet or just write out on a piethe cloudce of paper each room and list out each item, the approximate purchase date and the value. When you have completed your inventory you’ll want to store it in a safe place, and possibly save it on your computer, or store it in a safety deposit box at the bank. If you have an emergency kit place a copy of your home inventory inside the emergency kit so if there is an emergency the inventory will be there. Or put in in the cloud, whatever that is.

You will also want to call your agent and check your coverage options. Some companies will only pay the Actual Cash Value for those items otherwise known as ACV, but many companies will provide Replacement Cost of your personal property and may charge a small additional premium for it. But that additional premium is well worth it if you have a loss down the road.

Example: you have a couch that is 10 years old or even 5 years old and your home has a total loss from a fire like this one. total loss house Your policy is ACV so you will get what your 10 year old or 5 year old couch is worth with depreciation which probably wouldn’t be anything. This would be equivalent to garage sale or Craig’s List prices. Versus if you have replacement cost the company would look at what it would cost to purchase a new couch just like it.

Make sure that with your higher value items you save your receipts and if applicable get updated appraisals every couple of years. If you have some items that are of higher value you will want to ask your agent about specifically listing them on your home or renters policy. This is most common with jewelry and artwork and called “Scheduling” in the insurance world. We have had many customers schedule artwork, rugs, oriental carpets, signed sports memorabilia etc. This is also something you want to do if you have a collection. Our agency does work with a company that insures only collections. That is all they do so they know everything there is to know about insuring collections. Your collections may not be covered or only partially covered under your homeowners policies so you will want to check the conditions of your policy to find out.

Take a look at your garage too! If you are into cycling, bikes can get pricey so make sure you ask your agent to see if you can schedule your bike or any other expensive piece of sporting or exercise equipment. The bottom line is you want to make sure you are covered in case something were to happen. Remember, insurance exists to protect you against financial hardship. So, take an inventory and put it in a safe place so if heaven forbid, something happened you are prepared. Stay tuned for my next post about how I will complete my home inventory and find out which smartphone app I used! It’ll most likely be a free one, cause I hate spending money on apps!

American Diversified Insurance Services, Inc.

A: 201 Natoma St Folsom, CA 95630

P: (916)985-7500 F: (916)985-7302 T: (916)389-1820

E: info@amerdiv.com W: www.amerdiv.com

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