Why does my homeowners insurance company ask about my dog?

There are dog people, and cat people, and animal lovers, and non-animal lovers. I am a dog person. I do love all animals however dogs are my thing. Ever since I was a little kid I’ve always had a dog. My family tried the cat thing but our orange tabby cat Pumpkin had a mind of his own and decided he hated us and went to live with our neighbor. Come to find out our elderly neighbor had been feeding him table scraps, so excuse us, Pumpkin for giving you kibble. (I’m not upset about it still or anything)

T&D Anyways, I’m a dog person. Currently I have five of them, yes five. Before I met my husband, Mike, I had gotten two Bullnese puppies. For those of you who do not know what that is I’ll tell you. It is a mix of a French Bulldog and a Pekinese. Their names are Tank and Drama and they are awesome! Then a few short years later I met my husband who is also a dog person. When we met he had three dogs! Two Pocket Pit Bulls, Bella and Meatball (Meaty for short) and a French Mastiff Cavali, who were all girls. bella and meaty Luckily mine were boys so we didn’t have that territorial alpha dog situation – well kinda. However, the Mastiff was the Mama and all of the doggies didn’t mess with Mama! See she was HUUUGGEE!

four doggies Sadly we lost our beloved Cavali as she was 9 years old, which is really old for the French Mastiff breed. Man, what a heartbreak that is! I only knew her for a little portion of her life but you become attached. And then there were four. Remember I told you I had five dogs?

One chilly November evening Mike and I had an appointment to go check out a new house. This particular house was right by his job and he fought me on going to this appointment because he didn’t want to be THAT close to his work. Me wanting to keep the appointment to at least check it out convinced him to go. As we approached the house we noticed that the tenant is still in the process of moving out, NBD (No Big Deal). However we were told by the owner that they hadn’t been to the house in a few weeks to finish moving out. As we walked in the house was covered in filth and we instantly thought “Let’s get the heck out of here!” Mike was right, I should have cancelled!” I kept thinking to myself as we both exchanged those glances of the I told you so smirks. Now we were in the thick of it and had to go through with this appointment. We walked all through the house pretending we were interested and were so grossed out that all we wanted to do was leave. Ok, I understand they were moving but this was different.

This house was laid out where the garage was towards the back of the house by the backyard. We had peaked out into the yard and saw more filth and piles of garbage, gross. As we were just about to wrap up and leave something inside me made me think about the garage. I thought, “Oh let’s just check out the garage, ya know just to be polite.” So I walked to the back of the house and outside through the filthy yard and up to the garage. My husband followed and I got to the door on the side of the garage and opened it.

Out sprinted this tiny little alien! Mind you it was dark and I got my phone out to turn my light on. What I saw upset me more than the filthy house we had just walked through. A tiny Chihuahua who looked like a furry skeleton was jumping at my feet. My first instinct was to pick it up, Val what are you thinking! This dog could have rabies, or some other sort of illness! I honestly forgot all of those things my mother taught me because the state of this little animal was so disturbing. I took off my jacket and wrapped the little dog into it and began to inspect her. I didn’t see any signs of disease other than extreme malnutrition. Mike checked out the garage and he saw no food or water, just empty bowls and stool everywhere. This poor little thing had been left to die, in the cold of November. She maybe had a few days left, which is sad but the truth. While I held her in my jacket we walked around the house looking for food or anything she could eat but there was nothing. My husband and I could not and would not leave her there. The owner of this house had no idea that the tenants had a dog. He was reluctant for us to take the dog because of the worry of a lawsuit but clearly this dog was unwanted. We were able to get the phone number of the tenant and as expected they didn’t want her. So we again have five dogs. Our first initial thought was to find her a good home because we already had the four, but as dog people we feel in love and couldn’t let her go. Not to mention our son was super attached by day 1. IMG_2442

Here she is on night one, and then exactly one week later. Her name is Little Bee and we’ve had her for about seven months and she is already a healthy and feisty little Chihuahua. Our vet told us she was about 8 months when we found her and extremely malnourished. Oh and she doesn’t have rabies or any other disease, Thank God! We have finally gotten her fat enough for her to be spayed and she gets along great with her brothers Tank and Drama. We haven’t yet introduced her to the bigger girls. She is a bundle of energy and hardly never settles down. littles nappingShe still has major food issues, but her anxieties are starting to fade away. One lazy Sunday I had the three little ones with me watching TV, and it happened. She crawled onto my lap and onto my chest and laid down to nap.  I couldn’t believe it. Seeing the healing process for her has been so rewarding, because getting her acclimated was not easy!

So, what does this story have to do with insurance? Well I’ll tell ya! Just like in our own lives dogs play a huge roll in homeowners insurance. In fact they play a huge roll, so huge as in they may or may not deny coverage. Have you ever called in for a quote and been asked if you have any pets? Why would this matter?

It matters because Insurance Carriers may not insure you if you have a dog on their excluded dog breed list. Yes, there is such a thing. Not all carriers are the same too. Some will insure your home and provide you liability but they will exclude your dog(s) meaning they will not provide coverage for a loss caused by your dog. Other insurance companies will straight up deny coverage. For instance, Pit Bulls are on that list.

Remember I have two! For me, finding a homeowners company is a bit more challenging and ultimately more expensive because I have two dogs that are at the top of the excluded list. The policy will be more expensive for me because I am no longer eligible in their preferred products. You see insurance companies offer homeowners products (or policies) that are either for preferred markets, or non-standard markets. Just like for auto policies, a preferred policy if you are a good driver and non-standard policy if you aren’t such a good driver. Companies can offer just one type or they could offer both. We have a carrier that offers both preferred and non-standard and in the non-standard all animals are automatically excluded. The non-standard policies are more expensive because of the higher exposure to risk.

Let’s take a look at the most common breeds that are on the excluded lists:

  • Pitt Bull Terriers
  • Rottweilers
  • Presa Canarios
  • Chow Chows
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Akitas

Some carriers may have more breeds or less breeds on that list, so you’ll have to check with your specific company if you aren’t sure. If you have one of these dogs I am not here to debate how good, sweet, lazy or calm your dog is. I get it, I have two and I do love them, they are part of my family. I will just be spending more money on homeowners insurance.

Statistically insurance carriers have spent hundreds, thousands and even millions of dollars on dog related claims. So the stats are unfortunately against them. According to an article in Psychology Today, In 2013, dog bite related claims accounted for more than 1/3 of all homeowners liability claims totaling to about $490 million. They continued to state that the average payout was $30k and that was four years ago! If you’d like to read the whole article click here.

Any kind of attack can happen at any time. You cannot plan it. The attack could also be towards another dog not just a person. If your neighbor is walking by with their dog and your dog gets loose and a fight breaks out you are liable and could be sued for any injuries your dog may have given to the other dog. Or at the dog park, suddenly the fur kids aren’t getting a long and then boom, fight, then boom, lawsuit. This could happen with any breed of dog, even those not on the excluded dog list.

val's pack If you are thinking about getting a puppy in one of those breeds and you already have homeowners insurance, the company may end up non-renewing your policy. Occasionally the company will do an inspection upon your renewals and they will notate if you have a dog on the excluded list. It’s always best to be smart and contact your agent to discuss options if you want to get a dog on that list.

Mike and I continue to work daily on training and taking care of our pack. little bee Again, we are dog people. We will probably always have dogs. They bring such joy to you and become part of your family. They are our fur kids. Even if you aren’t a dog person you cannot deny that animals are helpless and shouldn’t be dumped in an abandoned garage. They don’t deserve that, Little Bee didn’t deserve it. If you have an animal that you cannot take care of please take it to the SPCA, or call the animal shelters or foster homes in your area. I knew there was a reason I fought to keep that home appointment. A life was saved, and I am thankful for that. My wallet isn’t that happy but it’s worth it! Besides, who doesn’t love this face!

 

Please follow me! I’ll share with you my life stories with little nuggets of Insurance Knowledge! Click the “Follow Me” Button today!

 

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

AD Logo CMKY

What does “Full Coverage” Really Mean?

Val at Desk Before I began my career in the Insurance Industry I knew nothing about car insurance except you had to have it. Growing up I had heard a few vocabulary terms which basically sounded like gibberish and I just thought, my parents are responsible they have it covered. I’m good, I’m sure I have full coverage. I just assumed I had full coverage, because when you are a young driver why wouldn’t your parents have full coverage on an expensive vehicle? And because I have full coverage I am covered for anything, right?

It wasn’t until I was an adult and working in the industry that I learned that full coverage wasn’t a real term to the insurance companies. Before I was licensed as an agent I would answer the phones and take down information for quotes, questions, changes etc. to pass onto the agents.  The most common change I received was to add on or substitute a vehicle. When I would scroll through the list of questions I would hear 8 or 9 times out of 10 “I want full coverage”. Well on my list of items to ask, there was no full coverage check box.

Full coverage is not a true term in the insurance world. When we add your vehicle onto your policy there isn’t a button to click called “Full Coverage”. What does exist are the different coverage options that could make up that term. You see, each and every one of us will have a different definition of what we each think full coverage means. Many of us may say, “Ok I’ve purchased a vehicle and now I have full coverage on it. If anything happens my insurance company will take care of it.”

When you ask for full coverage, what you are really asking for is Physical Damage coverage aka Comprehensive and Collision Coverage. These two coverage options provide coverage towards the actual physical damage to your vehicle.comprehensive-coverage (1) Each coverage has a separate deductible and they do cover different things.

Comprehensive coverage is what will give your vehicle protection for any loss other than a collision. Some companies will list on your policy “Other than Collision” instead of Comprehensive. So when would I use comprehensive coverage? This coverage is for theft, fire, vandalism, a tree branch falling onto your parked vehicle or a rock hitting your windshield. Like the definition and the info graphic – anything other than an actual collision.

So, what does collision coverage mean?  This cocollision cartoonverage is when you are at fault in an accident and your vehicle is damaged. You would pay your deductible and the company would be responsible for the rest. These two coverage limits can be optional however they are required if you have a financed or a leased vehicle. The finance company may require a specific deductible so be sure to check with them just to be sure.

If you own your vehicle outright you have the option to decline these coverage options. This would mean your vehicle is covered just with liability which only provides bodily injury and property damage to the other party, up to your policy limits, when you are at fault in an accident. Woah! That was a lot of info let me try and break it down a little more. If you were at fault and your vehicle was damaged and you do not have collision coverage, then you would be responsible for making any repairs or replacements to your vehicle. However, if you are not at fault in an accident and your vehicle is damaged the other party would be responsible for paying for the damages and/or repairs.

Some of you ask us what our opinion is on vehicles that are older. “If my vehicle is a 1995 Toyota Camry should I have the physical damage coverage, it’s so old it may not be worth it!”  If this is the case, where you have an older vehicle and it isn’t financed you may not want to have comprehensive and collision coverage. In this situation, you would need to consider a few things. What the value of the vehicle is; would it cost more to have those coverage options added to that vehicle than it would to replace the vehicle entirely; and could you replace this vehicle without the assistance of the insurance company if you have a total loss? cry face emojiRemember, I mentioned in my last post about how Insurance exists to protect you from financial hardship.  Will you be in a state of financial hardship like this emoji if you had to replace a vehicle unexpectedly? These are the questions we will ask our customers because the decision is ultimately up to them.  They also need to factor in the cost and if they can afford it, again “Will it be a financial hardship to replace a vehicle right now”? Luckily companies offer a range in deductible options to help even out the cost. Quick tip: The higher deductible you have, the lower the premium will be!

There are additional endorsements you can add onto the policy in addition to the comprehensive and collision such as rental, towing, glass, GAP etc. Every company offers different additional coverages so be sure to check with your specific company on all the additional endorsements you could add on. IMG_2800So, if you are one of those people who thinks “I have full coverage so everything is covered” you may want to look at your policy, or ASK YOUR AGENT.  Check to make sure you have comprehensive and collision and see if you have any additional endorsements.  Because if there is a loss and you assume you are covered, you’ll be wishing you checked your policy. Assumptions in your insurance are never a good thing. They can lead to you paying out of pocket for a loss that could have been covered. Don’t assume that your definition of full coverage is going to cover you, always look at your policy and call us to be sure. Winky face emoji.

 

American Diversified Insurance Services, Inc

A: 201 Natoma St Folsom, CA

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

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

AD Logo CMKY

 

How to Insure your New (or old) Boat!

My husband and I just got a boat. “Got”, being the key word here in that sentence. Let me start from the beginning. My husband is a boat person. He has always had a boat since he was old enough to own and operate one. When I met him a few years ago, he did have a boat. The picture below is of us on one of our first boat trips together on that boat! You can’t really see the boat but you get the idea. This boat was a 75′ and it worked, however there were several issues. salty dog He ended up selling it to a buddy because it was becoming more of a hassle than anything else. Months passed and then, we got another boat, a jet boat. This one was given to us from another buddy who had just the hull of the boat, NO engine and it needed massive amounts of interior work. But, my husband the champ mechanic said “I’ll take it and work on it!” Well, it sat in our driveway, untouched for months. Finally, before we moved out of that particular house we got rid of it. I was happy to have my full driveway back because parking on the street in front of your own home stinks.

Fast forward a few months and he again has the itch. He tells me, “Babe, we need to buy another boat! I’ve always been a boat guy and this summer will not be fun without one.” So, the hunt began, and each night for the past two months he was religiously searching on the internet for boats. Some were awesome, but the price wasn’t there for us; or some were just going to be too much work for what we wanted.

One night we had just finished eating dinner. I had moseyed into the family room and left him at the table. Our son had retreated into his room, because that’s what 13-year-old boys do, and I had just sat down on the couch to catch up on my DVR. Then, I hear him going nuts in the kitchen. “Oh, my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh…Hello Sir,” He was so excited he just started talking on the phone and I had no clue what the heck he was doing. He had been looking on Craigslist, a popular website for people to post things for sale. Someone had posted in the for-sale section “Free boat to anyone that wants it”. IMG_4569 The post was only online for 8 minutes before my husband called. Ok, now if you remember our jet boat experience from above I was extremely weary of someone posting “free boat.” However, this one seemed for real.

My husband spoke with this man on the phone for at least a half an hour and scheduled a meeting for the very next day. He met with this man, who simply didn’t want it anymore. He had other plans for his side yard and didn’t want the hassle of trying to sell it. He wanted to give the boat to someone who would simply enjoy it, and someone who also knew a lot about boats so they would know what they are doing. He quizzed my husband and son about boats and said, “Ok now follow me to my house and it’s yours.”

I know what you’re thinking right now, something must be wrong with it. I’m a huge skeptic when it comes to things like this too, and I find it hard to believe that someone just gave away for free a perfectly good boat. Well, we only had to order two parts on Amazon and put a new battery in it, total cost $160.00. You know what, she runs like a dream. Here is our first test drive on Folsom Lake! Mind you when we took her out it was not summer yet so it was stinking cold! IMG_4558It is not a brand-new boat, a 1989, but it had barely been used. There are a few minor tears in the interior but that isn’t anything a little love couldn’t fix. The boat was just taking up space in his yard. Wow! I still cannot believe it! We got a boat! For Free!

So now what? Time to insure it and get some boat insurance. The funny thing is my husband already asked me to add it to our auto insurance. Unfortunately, we cannot add a boat onto our auto policy, but we can purchase a separate boat policy that will cover it. “Make sure you add on the additional coverage if the propeller scrapes against a rock!” he said. I kind of chuckled in my head a bit because I thought, shouldn’t he just know there isn’t an additional coverage just for that. When you have a boat policy and hit anything, meaning if you scrape a rock on your outboard, hull, etc. that goes under your collision coverage (if you have collision coverage). Because it is considered a collision, or most commonly referred to as an at fault accident. “Well, I want collision so make sure it is on there!” he said.

When you are insuring a boat, there are a few things to know when you call in for a quote. First, other than the year make and model you need to know what the value of the boat is. Why do we need the value? Because the company will need to know how much coverage to provide to you should you have a loss. How much should I insure my boat for? Because we didn’t purchase this boat, I now need to do some research on what the value is for this boat I have. I could also go and get an appraisal, which would be the best option so I know exactly how much the boat is worth.

We will also ask you for the Hull ID. What’s this? The Hull ID is like the VIN for vehicles. This is the identification number for that specific vessel. It is usually found on the registration and also on the boat in the rear upper right corner. You’ll have to take a look on your boat for yourself, and boats older than a 1972 may not have the Hull ID physically on the boat.

Next, we need to know where the boat will be stored, what the length, top speed and horse power is, and whether the motor is inboard or outboard. IMG_4868Why do we need these items? Because the rate you get is based off certain factors including the ones above and not just the age and value. You also want to make sure you have the trailer information i.e. the value and the VIN if you want to insure the trailer. This is something that is added onto your boat policy, not your auto policy. If you have an outboard motor on the boat you may want to list the value of the outboard motor for your policy. This way if there is a loss the insurance company will know the specifics and value of your motor. There may be an additional endorsement for more coverage so check with your insurance carrier.

One of the coverage questions we’ll ask you is if you want comprehensive coverage and collision coverage. Do I really need this? Well, no you don’t, these are optional coverage items you do not have to purchase. However, if you choose to purchase only liability and have a physical damage or theft loss you’d be on your own for replacing or repairing your boat. Insurance exists to protect you from financial hardship. So, if you are fully able to pay for another boat on your own without the assistance of insurance, then just purchasing liability is what you can do. When you have comprehensive and collision and have a covered loss, all you would have to pay is your deductible and let the carrier do the rest. Now, if another boater hit you their insurance would be responsible for any repairs/replacements; unless they didn’t have coverage then the loss may go under your uninsured motorist coverage (if you choose to purchase that coverage). Check with your specific carrier about additional coverage options you can purchase such as on water towing, fishing equipment, personal effects etc. You can also ask your agent if the company offers additional add-ons, aka endorsements.

Just like my husband wanted, we’ll have coverage for the boat should it scrape a huge rock.  Unfortunately, it would count as an at fault accident but we won’t have to pay to replace a $5000-ish part out of pocket, just our deductible of $500. Considering we got our boat for free, I’d say that’s a pretty good deal. Also, I hope we don’t run into a hidden rock!

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

AD Logo CMKY

 

 

 

First blog post

Val Welcome to The Lovely Insurance Lady. This is where I will blog about your personal lines insurance. Insurance is something we all are required to have but HATE talking about it or learning about it. Here I will use my personal stories that somehow always lead back to insurance. My hope is that you will be educated about the insurance you are required to have, and maybe even entertained a bit! Feel free to send me your questions, but remember if you have policy specific questions, changes or billing questions please contact your agent.