Blog

30thAugust
Why a Home Inventory is Important

 

 

 

 

Let’s try a little exercise: Can you list everything you own from memory?

 

Didn’t think so.

 

The fact is most people own more things than they realize. It’s easy to remember the cars, the computer, the TV. But what about that holiday china in the garage?  Or every pair of shoes?

 

All of it is regarded as personal property for insurance purposes. And if your home is destroyed by fire or some other disaster, having a list of your possessions makes filing a claim easier — and helps you put your life back together.

 

Why should I complete a home inventory? What’s the best way?

 

 

Comparing the value of your belongings to the “contents” limit listed in your policy helps you make sure you have enough insurance to replace them if they are lost, stolen or destroyed as a result of a covered loss. The easiest way to take an inventory is to use a video camera, recording and describing items as you walk through your house. Or, you can use a regular camera and create a home inventory checklist.

 

Here are a few tips for completing and storing your inventory:

 

Add brand names and descriptions where you can, especially on large-ticket items. Serial numbers are helpful to note.

 

Keep any receipts you have with the list to make the claims process easier.

 

Store your video or photo inventory offsite so you won’t lose it if your house is damaged.

 

Update your personal property records when you purchase new furnishings and valuables.

 

Though the task may seem daunting, it’s important to try. An incomplete inventory is better than nothing at all.

 

How much insurance do I need?

 

 

We can assist you in analyzing your insurance needs and help you decide how to most effectively protect your personal property. You should consider full-value coverage, which will pay for the replacement value of your personal belongings. A standard policy typically covers personal property only up to its actual cash value, determined by taking the replacement cost and deducting depreciation, which can be substantial. (For example, a 5-year-old TV is usually worth much less than what it would cost to purchase a new one.)

 

Finally, remember your homeowners policy covers valuable items such as jewelry, furs, art and antiques, only up to set dollar amounts. If the cost of replacing them exceeds these limits, you may want to purchase scheduled personal property coverage.

 

The Insurance Information Institute has a FREE online tool that can help you create your inventory. Just visit www.knowyourstuff.org for more details.

 

We hope you’ll never need the home inventory, but preparing for the worst can prevent a lot of hassle later!

 

Copyright © 2011. All Rights Reserved. The materials herein are for informational purposes only. Nothing stated herein creates a contract.. Not available in all states. Eligibility subject to meeting applicable underwriting criteria.

 

 

 

 

23rdAugust
Back to School Advice

 

 

 

 

Every fall, college students head back to campus and the things that travel with them get more sophisticated. It’s important to understand the limits of your property coverage that will follow your student to college, whether its across the state of across the country.

 

Personal Property

 

Students find very creative ways to fill their living space with a lot of personal possessions. Often this includes higher-ticket items like laptops, smart phones, tablet computers, flat-screen TVs, DVD players, and video game systems. And depending on their academic interest, they may also have additional items to keep track of; such as photography equipment or a musical instrument.

 

Standard personal property coverage for a student away from home is 10% of their parents’ homeowners Coverage C limit, or $1,000, whichever is greater. This also applies to condo or tenant policies.

 

To ensure high-value items are fully covered, we suggest scheduling important items on your policy. They will be coverage for the full stated value with no deductible applied!

 

Auto Coverage

 

When a student’s car is part of their parents’ multi-car policy, coverage follows the car to college anywhere in the U.S. However, to accurately rate the premium, it’s important to let us know where the car will be garaged while away at school. The premium for the new location could be higher or lower than the family’s primary residence.

 

An additional coverage to always consider while a student is away at school is Roadside Assistance. This will provide you and your student peace of mind in case of an accident, breakdown, or empty gas tank while they’re traveling.

 

Not sure what type of insurance changes you need to make while your student is away at school? Feel free to call us anytime to discuss your changing insurance needs! (925) 447-2565.

 

 

 

 

 

16thAugust
If You’ve Got It, We Protect It!

 

 

 

 

 

Whether it’s escaping on your motorcycle, cruising in your boat or trekking cross-country in your RV, we can help protect whatever moves you. And since you are already a client of our agency, you could qualify for multiple-policy discounts on your insurance if you add a motorcycle, watercraft, or RV policy.

 

 

Not only can we save you money, but the ease of doing business with just one agent will make the change worth it. Contact us to learn more about your motorcycle, watercraft, or RV coverage. We are happy to answer any questions and provide our clients with no-obligation quotes showing how much you may save.

 

 

Visit our website at www.genemorganinsurance.com or give us a call at (925) 447-2565 to obtain your free quote today!

 

 

 

 

8thAugust
Kids Headed Off To College?

We know it seems like just yesterday your kids were headed off to their first day of kindergarten. But amidst the tears and sadness you feel as your children head off to college, there are some more important things to dwell on… like your insurance! Will they have property coverage inside their dorm or apartment? If they don’t take a car with them should you remove them from your auto insurance policy? College is expensive enough without finding out too late that an accident or theft isn’t covered under parents’ current policies.

Homeowners

  • Coverage for personal property: Most homeowners policies provide 10% if coverage C (personal property) for property owned by an insured while it is at a residence other than the insured residence. That means if the contents of a policyholder’s home are insured for $100,000, a student’s property up to $10,000 would be covered if living in a dormitory-provided the damage is caused by a covered peril and the student meets the definition of an insured. **Certain items, such as jewelry or expensive electronics, may require special coverage, or a “rider.” For apartments or houses off-campus, the same coverage generally applies. Of course, renters insurance is strongly recommended if a particular policy does not cover a student’s personal property.
  • Liability coverage: There usually is an exclusion for damage to property rented to an insured, so generally damage to a dorm room or apartment would not be covered.
  • Ensuring adequate coverage: You should speak to your agent and ask specific questions regarding your unique situation. Also, it is recommended to create an inventory of the items your child will be taking to school, as is keeping photos of and receipts for the items.
  • Renters Insurance: If a student’s needs can’t be met under your current policy, don’t forget renters insurance! It can be very inexpensive, as little as $10 a month!

Auto

  • Coverage without a car at school: If your student will continue to drive while at home on school breaks, they should continue to be listed on your auto policy. If they are attending school more than 100 miles from home, and are not taking a vehicle with them, the policy will qualify for a “distant-student” discount.
  • Coverage with a car at school: In most instances, a car registered to a parent and listed on their policy will be covered if used by a listed student away at school. But insureds should make sure that their insurance carrier writes coverage in the college’s state and location. It is important to let your agent know if your child is taking a car, because the principal location of the vehicle could result in a change in premium.
  • Driving a friend’s car at school: Students generally would be covered while driving a friend’s car if they are listed on their parents’ policy and do not have regular use of the vehicle. The coverage would be secondary in this case, as the carrier for the friend’s vehicle likely would be the primary coverage.
  • Coverage discounts: In addition to the possible distant-student discount mentioned above, students may qualify for a good-student discount. To quality, a student must be enrolled in at least four courses per term as a full-time student at an accredited college or university and meet certain academic qualifications. Also, drivers under the age of 21 who complete a driver education course may be eligible for a policy discount.

Hopefully now you will have some peace of mind with your child’s insurance coverage while they are away at school! Although we it will not make up for your sleepless nights and empty nest syndrome…

30thJuly
Protect Your Home While On Vacation

We recommend taking the following preventative measures to keep your home and personal belongings safe:
  • Keep your home well-lit. Mount exterior lights in your yard or on your house so that they are out of reach of would-be burglars. Put indoor lights on a timer.
  • Make it time-consuming to break into your home. Dead-bolt window and door locks can slow a burglar down. You may qualify for a discount on your insurance policy for installing these devices.
  •  Make it noisy to break into your home. Invest in a burglar alarm. The most effective systems ring at an outside service, which alerts the police, fire or other emergency service. A sophisticated alarm system could result in insurance discounts of 15 to 20%.
  • Make sure you have strong doors. Outside doors and frames should be made of metal or solid hardwood and be at least 1 3/4 inches thick and each door frame must fit its frame securely. Even the best lock with not deter a burglar if it installed in a weak door.
  • Turn off your computer and disconnect it from the internet. If you save personal information in your computer, make sure it is difficult to access. You do not want a hacker at work while you are on vacation.
  • Keep valuables in a secure location. When possible, do not leave personal documents in your home office or desk-burglars know to look for them there. Keep important documents, expensive jewelry and other items in a safety deposit box in a bank or other secure location.
  • Have mail and packages picked up, forwarded or held by the post office. Also, stop newspaper deliveries and ask a neighbor to pick-up packages for you.
  • Leave blinds or curtains open in their usual position. This will make it appear that you are at home.
  • Ask a neighbor for help. Ask a neighbor you trust to keep an eye on your home while you are away. Make arrangements for your lawn to be moved. Only tell people you know and trust that you are going away.

22ndJuly
Learn About Condo Insurance!

You’ve taken the plunge and opted for condo life. Now that the papers are signed, it seems like everything is taken care of for you-building maintenance, roof repairs, landscaping, insurance, etc. It’s time to relax because everything is covered, right?

Not quite. The insurance policy provided by the condo association covers the building structure and common areas, but what about potential structural damage to your unit and covering your belongings? Without a personal condo insurance policy, you could be left high and dry if your unit floods, is damaged in a fire, etc.

Most condos need TWO insurance policies!

Master Policy: Generally provided by your condo association, this policy covers the physical structure of the building, including basement, roof, walls, elevators, lobbies, etc. Coverage usually includes both physical damage and liability. Get a copy of the policy so you know what’s covered.

Personal Condo Policy: This will cover additional structural damage to your unit, including cabinets, appliances, personal belongings, and more. This also covers living expenses if you fall victim to a fire, theft, or other covered disaster. Many insurance carriers offer enhancements that include personal property protection in your condo insurance policy.

Other coverage to consider:

Umbrella Policy: If someone were to trip and fall inside or near your condo, they could sue both you and the condo association. Umbrella provides additional layers of liability protection and can protect against lawsuits that target both your current and future earnings.

Flood or Earthquake: Read the fine print on your policy. They often won’t cover damage due to these disasters. Additional coverage may be required if you live in a prone area.

Want to get some quotes or ask for advice? Visit our website or call us at (925) 447-2565. We are here to help!

www.genemorganinsurance.com

Or submit your information on our website for a quick quote:

www.genemorganinsurance.com/get_a_quote.html

15thJuly
Manage Your Insurance Policy On The Go!

With today’s improved technology, most major insurance companies have introduced phone applications. Companies from Progressive, Travelers, Safeco, Nationwide, Allstate, State Farm, Farmers, and many others have introcuded such apps. Not sure how to find these applications? Contact your insurance agent if you need help.

So what does this mean for you? You can pay your premium, submit a claim, take photos of a car accident, take photos of a loss on your home, get a checklist of information needed to submit a claim, get your policy summary, find a local agent, chat with customer service… all this directly from  your phone!!

Don’t delay, download your insurance company’s phone application today! It makes insurance easy (almost)!

8thJuly
Swimming Pool Safety Tips

Summer is well underway, and with the warm weather comes fun in swimming pools! Before you allow children and families to swim in the pool in your backyard, please take these pool safety tips into consideration.

General Pool Safety

  • Enclose with a 4 foot fence around all 4 sides. Enclose your pool or spa area on all 4 sides with a fence that is at least 4 feet tall. If your house makes up one side of your fence, install secure locks that are out of reach of children and install alarms. It only takes a moment for a child to wander into danger.
  • Remove covers completely. When the time comes to uncover your swimming pool, take the cover completely off. A child can easily become trapped in the portion of the cover that is not removed.
  • Install self closing gates. Make sure all gates leading to the pool area are self closing and self latching, with the latches high enough to be out of the reach of children.
  • Move tables and chairs. Keep all tables and chairs that are outside the enclosed pool area away from the fence to keep children from climbing into the pool area.
  • Have proper rescue equipment. Keep rescue equipment-a shephard’s hook and life ring-near the pool and in good condition.
  • Keep a phone close. Keep a phone near the pool whenever it is occupied. You don’t want to leave young swimmers unattended for even a few seconds while you run to answer the phone. It is also crucial to have a phone near the pool in case of emergency.
  • Never let children swim unsupervised. Knowing how to swim does NOT mean chilren are safe in the water. Even children on swim and dive teams have drowned while swimming unsupervised. Never leave chilren unattended in or near a pool or spa.
  • Know CPR. Make certain everyone who is watching over children in the pool knows CPR.
  • Educate babysitters. Go over your pool safety rules with all babysitters whether or not the children will be swimming while in their care. Also, insist that your babysitters know CPR.
  • Practice “Touch Supervision.” Practice “touch supervision” with children under five years of age. This means children are always within an arm’s reach when in or around the pool.
  • Require swimming ability. Never allow children over four years of age in your pool or spa if they don’t know how to swim unless they are occimapnied by a parent. Children under four should never be allowed in the pool without a parent.
  • Don’t use inflatable swimming aids. Never use inflatable swimming aids (water wings, float tubes, water mattreses, etc) as a substitute for a certified life vest or floatation device. Be aware that inflatable swimming aids can lead to a false sense of security.
  • Remove toys. Remove all toys from a pool or spa after swimming. Children might try to reach for toys in the water and fall in. Putting them in a closed bin or small storage unit will keep them out of sight and reduce the risk of children going into the pool area to get them.

Avoid Drain Entrapment

Drain entrapment can be powerful enough to trap an adult underwater. Keep children safe by following these drain safety tips.

  • Keep drains and drain covers in excellent condition. Loose, broken, or missing drain covers pose a serious draining threat.
  • Keep children away. Never allow children to go near drains or suction outlets. This is especially dangerous in spas and shallow pools. According to CPSC, “children’s public wading pools, other pools designed specifically for young children, in-ground spas that have flat drain gates and single main drain systems pose the greatest risk of entrapment.” Anything from hair, to body parts, to jewelry and bathing suits can become caught on a drain cover or entrapped in the chain.
  • Have your pool and/or spa inspected. The CPSC recommends that all pool and spa owners contact a licensed professional engineer to regularly inspect drains and covers to make sure they are P&SS Act Compliant. They recommend contacting state or local officials to determine who is qualified in your area.

Every year the CPSC reports that an estimated 300 children under the age of five drown in swimming pools and spas. And more than 3,000 children in that same age bracket are treated in hospital emergency rooms after sustaining submersion injuries.¹

Homeowner’s insurance policies include liability that will protect you in the even you are sued for a drowning in your swimming pool. Keep liability limits as high as possible, and even consider getting an umbrella policy.

¹Sources: US Consumer Product Safety Commission; MedicineNet.com; The Injury Prevention Program (TIPP)-A Program of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

1stJuly
Summer Fun!

It’s summer! That means it’s time to break out your boat, jet ski, RV, and ATV, and head up to the mountains or the lake and have some fun!!

Before the fun starts though, you should make sure that you have adequate coverage for all of your favorite toys. If you are concerned that you may not have enough coverage, stop by our office! We would be more than happy to go over your policy with you, whether or not it is insured through our agency, and help you decide if you have enough coverage. Insurance can be tricky and there is nothing that kills the summer fun more than finding out the hard way that you don’t have the correct coverage.

So call us today and let the fun begin!

25thJune
Protect Your Vacant Home!

Whether your home is seasonally unoccupied, your tenant recently left, or your property is vacant due to unforeseen circumstances, check out these tips on how to protect your vacant property from damage.

Residential Property Owners:

  • Keep wind and water out – make sure that tree branches are cut back 5 to 6 feet from roof and wall surfaces. Check for any signs of roof  and have any leaks fixed immediately. If the home is hurricane or storm prone, make sure that all the doors and windows are protected from damage. Be sure to secure any outdoor furniture, fences, and other objects that could become damaged from high wind and rain.
  • Shut off the water and gas – water heaters, pipes, and appliances can leak or bust, which can cause major damage in a home that is left unattended. The best protection is to have the water shut off. When the water is off, be sure to also shut off the power or gas to the water heater (or the gas company can do this for you).
  • Keep it cool – thermostats in homes should be set no higher than 85 degrees to prevent high temperatures and humidity from damaging furniture or other contents.

IMPORTANT TIP: If your house has a fire protection sprinkler system, it will be deactivated if you shut off the water. Consequently, in that case you should leave the water on to the house and concentrate on turning off water to appliances, such as automatic ice  maker or a washing machine. You may also want to turn off water to toilets to prevent water use from any toilets that may start running.

Commercial Property Owners:

  • Advise local fire and police departments that your building is unoccupied, and provide them with keys and/or contact information in the event of an emergency.
  • Advise your premises alarm company of the vacancy, create new security codes, and update contact information.
  • Install exterior and interior motion or timed lighting, to ward off potential animal infestation and criminal activity, and to give the appearance of occupancy.
  • Change locks and/or install new tapered deadbolts if copies of exiting lock keys were given to prior tenants or vendors.
  • Remove hazardous materials from the property, such as pollutants, chemicals or
  • combustible  materials to prevent explosion, leaks, seepage or contamination.
  • Change existing alarm codes.

And as always, inform your insurance agent that your property is vacant! They will be able to advise you on the best insurance protection.

Let us share with you a TRUE story of one of our clients:

Our insured left for an extended vacation out of the country. He did not shut off his water or appliances. The water line to his refrigerator failed, and flooded the house for almost 2 weeks before his sister (who was watching the home) came to check on the home. The water filled halfway to the ceiling damaging all his furniture, flooring, walls, and cabinets. So far the claim has paid out $58,064.38 and more expenses are still pending. What an unfortunate way to be welcomed home from  your European vacation!

Don’t let this happen to you!