Archive for the ‘Home Insurance’ Category

How To Protect Your House From Winter Weather

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Winter Home Insurance Louisville

Winter weather can wreak havoc on your home. Snow, ice, and wintery winds have the potential to damage your house in a number of ways. That’s why it’s important to take preventative steps to protect your home from “Old Man Winter.” These steps include:

  • Protecting your fireplace – Place a cap or a screen on top of your chimney. This will keep out animals, birds, and anything else that you don’t want going down your chimney like snow and fallen tree branches. Have your chimney cleaned and get a professional to check your damper to make sure that it opens and closes properly. Also have him check the mortar and brickwork and fix any problems in the masonry so it can stand up to the tough winter weather. Replace or add flashing to seal any gaps between the chimney and house structure.
  • Protecting the outside of the home – Look for any cracks around entry points to the home such as where pipes or outside wiring enters the structure. Seal them. Weather strip or caulk around the doors and windows to keep out cold air. If you have a basement, install plastic shields around the window wells. Replace your screens with storm windows if you have them, and fix any broken glass to protect your home from the winter weather. Trim any tree branches that touch the house or hang over your roof. These can be knocked down by heavy snowfall, winds, or ices storms and damage your home.
  • Protecting the roof, gutters, and downspouts – Add insulation to your attic. Add roof vents to increase airflow under the roof and maintain a constant temperature between the eaves and the rest of the roof. This will help to prevent ice dams. Check or add flashing where needed. Caulk any entry holes to seal gaps. Replace any worn shingles. Clean out your gutters and downspouts to keep them from overflowing or causing ice dams. Install leaf guards to keep debris out of your gutters that could cause water back-ups and damage your roof or cause water leaks inside your home.
  • Protecting your foundation – Rake away any debris and vegetation from around your home’s foundation. Seal up any entry points where wiring or pipes enter the home with caulk, flashing, or insulation to keep out water and ice. Seal any cracks in the foundation to keep ice from cracking it any further. Insulate and caulk any crawl space entrances. Seal around any outside doors to the basement as well.
  • Protecting your plumbing – Shut off the water main to your sprinkler system and outside faucets. Have a professional blow out the excess water from your sprinkler system with an air compressor to keep the outside plumbing from freezing and cracking. Insulate any exposed pipes with pipe insulation. Drain the air conditioner pipes and turn off the AC water valve if it has one. If your home will not be occupied for a while, leave the heat set to at least 55 degrees to keep the pipes from freezing.

Click here if you want more information about how to properly insure your home or to get a free Louisville Home Insurance Quote.

Preventing Ice Dams

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Winter weather brings with it a variety of different issues that homeowners need to be aware of. One of these is the problem of ice dams. An ice dam is basically a ridge of ice that builds up along the edge of your roof. The dam then backs up water that naturally runs down your roof and forces it up and under your roof shingles, damaging them. If the dam becomes large enough, and the water is deep enough, it can penetrate the entire roofing system and create additional water damage inside your home.

An ice dam can be identified as a bulge of ice attached to the eaves or overhang of your roof. You may notice icicles hanging from the roof edge or stains on your siding. Your rain gutters may also be overflowing with ice if you have a dam. Often, you may not be able to see the bulge, because it is covered with several inches of snow. This snow can even act as an insulator, further exacerbating the problem.

Louisville Ice Dam Home Insurance

There are several steps you can take to prevent ice dams. In principle, all you have to do is keep the entire roof the same temperature as the eaves. This can be done by increasing ventilation to the roof, adding insulation, and sealing off any air leaks that may be warming the underside of the roof.

  • Add insulation – By adding insulation to your attic, your home’s heat will remain in the lower floors or main portion of the home and not be lost through the roof. You can tell if your home is properly insulated by looking at the roof after a snowstorm. If your neighbor’s house has snow on it, but the snow on your roof has melted, you don’t have enough insulation and are losing heat through your roof.
  • Ventilate the eaves and roof ridge – Adding ridge vents and soffit vents will circulate cold air evenly under your entire roof. Both vents should have the same size openings and provide at least one square foot of opening for every 300 square feet of attic floor. Placing baffles on the eaves will maintain a clear path for the airflow from the soffit vents.
  • Cap your hatches and install sealed can lights – Seal off your attic hatch or whole-house fan opening. These holes allow heat to escape. Cover them with caps and weather stripping constructed from foil-faced foam board and aluminum tape. Old fashioned recessed lighting fixtures give off a lot of heat and cannot be insulated because they would pose a fire hazard. Replace them with sealed “IC” fixtures.
  • Check your exhaust ducts and chimney flashing – The exhaust ducts connected to the kitchen and bathroom, as well as the dryer vent should all lead to the exterior of the home via the roof or walls, never through the soffit. Spread fiber-reinforced mastic on the joints of your HVAC ducts or exhaust ducts and cover them entirely with R-5 or R-6 foil-faced fiberglass. Seal the gap between the chimney and the house framing with flashing, holding it in place with beads of fire-stop sealant.
  • Do some caulking – Seal the holes or gaps around any electrical cables, phone wires, cable TV wiring, or vent pipes protruding from your home with fire-stop sealant. Also seal up any other holes or cracks you find.

Click here if you want more information about how to properly insure your home or to get a free Louisville Home Insurance Quote.

Floods And Insurance Coverage

Monday, June 14th, 2010

floodJust a few inches of water from a flood in your home can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage. If you are ever unfortunate enough to experience a flood in your home state, town, or home, it can be a financially devastating event. Over the past 10 years, the average flood insurance claim has amounted to over $33,000. People without flood insurance would have to go out of pocket to cover these costs or go without much needed repair and restoration of their homes. This is why flood insurance is so important.

Flood insurance is available to homeowners, condo/co-op owners, and renters of homes, apartments or condos/co-ops. Policies provide coverage for buildings and their contents, and are available in a number of different plans with different costs and coverage levels. If your home is in a high-risk flood area and you obtained your mortgage through a federally regulated or insured lender, you’re required to purchase a flood insurance policy.

Most homeowners living in moderate-to-low risk areas for floods are eligible for coverage at a preferred rate. The lowest premiums are called Preferred Risk Policies which bundle home and contents coverage and are available through the National Flood Insurance Program, starting at just $119 per year. This is a small price to pay if you are faced with a flood damage repair bill of $30,000 or more. Even if you don’t qualify for a Preferred Risk Policy, a standard rate policy can still be purchased. You may think that just because you don’t live in a high risk are, you don’t need flood insurance, but statistics show that nearly 25% of all NFIP flood claims occur in moderate-to-low risk areas.

If you do live in a high risk area, you still have options. There are separate policies which will cover damage to your home and for its contents. The Dwelling Form provides insurance for buildings with one to four units, including single-family condominium units and townhouses. The General Property Form provides insurance for other types of residential and commercial buildings. Both forms provide flood insurance on contents, but you must purchase it as optional coverage.

Flood insurance premiums are calculated based on several factors:

  • Year of building construction
  • Number of floors
  • The location of its contents
  • Flood risk (Is it in a flood zone?)
  • The location of the lowest floor in relation to the elevation requirement on the flood map
  • The deductible you choose and the amount of building and contents coverage you choose

Renters can obtain flood insurance as well. Like home or condo/co-op owners, the amount of coverage and deductible you choose will determine your premiums. And like people who own their home most renters in moderate-to-low risk flood areas are eligible for coverage at a preferred rate. Preferred Risk Policy premiums available through the NFIP offer coverage for one low price starting at $39 per year for Contents Only coverage. High risk coverage is also available for those who don’t qualify, just as in homeowner’s coverage. The premiums are influenced by the same factors listed above. Whether you are a renter or an owner, if there’s a possibility that your home may flood, it’s good to know that affordable insurance is available to you. Not only does flood insurance make good financial sense in the long run, it will give you the peace of mind that you are covered in the event that disaster strikes in the form of rising water.

Find out more about protecting  your home and contents  by calling our office, or visiting  our  website for a free Louisville Home Insurance quote.

Hail Storms-Make Sure Your Insurance Will Cover You

Monday, May 31st, 2010

hailstormThe largest hailstone on record slammed into Aurora, Nebraska on June 22, 2003. At 7 inches in diameter, it beat the previous record of a 5.7 inch diameter hailstone that fell in Coffeyville, Kansas in 1970. Imagine the effect a 6 or 7 inch hailstone (or even one a fraction of that size) would have on the roof of your house or your car’s windshield. People who live in areas which are prone to hail storms know these effects all too well. Take for example, the residents of Colorado’s Front Range, located in the heart of what has become known as “Hail Alley,” because they receive the highest frequency of large hail in North America (and most of the world.)

From mid-April to mid-August, this group of Colorado residents can count on three or four catastrophic hailstorms every year. A catastrophic hailstorm is defined as one which causes at least $25 million in insured damage. Even after this amount of damage is spread across everyone in the region, it can still add up to an expensive individual repair bill for each resident to fix their homes, automobiles and businesses. And the repairs are needed year after year. In fact, over the last 10 years, hailstorms have caused more than $1 billion in insured damage in the state of Colorado. Up to one-half of a homeowner’s insurance premium for residents of that state go toward hail and wind damage costs as a result.

New Mexico is another state which is prone to hail storms and hail damage. For example, tornadoes and hail resulted in $16.5 million dollars in insured damage around Clovis, Roswell and Logan in just one day in March of 2007. The good news for residents of Colorado, New Mexico and other regions, is that hail damage is covered by almost all insurance companies if you carry comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance policy. Practically all home insurance policies cover hail damage as well.

In the event you are the victim of a hailstorm, stay indoors (obviously) until the storm has subsided before venturing out to check damage. If trees, shrubs and plants around your house are stripped of their foliage, there’s a good possibility that your roof has become damaged. Windows, vents, and awnings could also be damaged, as well as your automobile’s body and windows or windshield. If there is a possibility of additional storms coming through your area, cover broken windows on your home or car and holes in the roof to protect against further damage from rain, wind, or more hail.

You may wish to make a record of the work you do and take photos to show to your insurance agent as well. Keep receipts of any repairs you make to submit along with your insurance claim. An adjuster will be sent to your property to assess the damage done by hail to your car or home and will recommend repairs. If your roof is damaged, you may want to use a company which is an expert in hail damage to assure that the job is done properly and also to have hail resistant roofing materials installed to protect you from damage done by future hail storms. Finally, if your insurance didn’t cover enough of your hail damage to either your home or your car, speak to your agent about adjusting your policy to increase your coverage, lower your deductible, or add more comprehensive coverage.

Find out more about protecting  your home and motor vehicles by calling our office, or visiting  Your Louisville Insurance for a free quote online today.

Spring Is Here!

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Storm
With Spring comes Spring Showers and Storms! Are you being proactive to ensure your Home and Motor Vehicles can withstand a storm and heavy rains?
Here are some great ways that will help with preparing your Home and/or Motor Vehicles so they are protected against these events.

1.    Make sure your gutters are properly secured. So many times there are weak gutters and many homeowners are unaware of this. Because of this, water can seep in between the gutters and your home, ultimately causing water to leak into the house and cause damage before you may even know it. You may want to have someone to come out and check the gutters on your home, whether or not your roof is new or old. Make sure your gutters are cleaned out of debris, such as limbs and leaves. This can also cause leaking and wear down your gutters- Be Proactive!

2.    Is your roof aging? If your roof is 20 years or older, you may want to have your roof inspected. Yes, this can cost some money, but much less money if your roof begins to leak due to your roof being old and weak. Roof claims can cost anywhere between $2,000 and $20,000, these figures of course depend on how much damage is done. No one ever wants to file a claim, so taking these preventative measures can cause you less stress and headache in the long run!

3.    Check your windows! Many of us may have cracked, rotted and leaking windows and not even know it. This goes for your Home and Motor Vehicles! Make sure that your windows don’t have cracks in them of any sorts. Also if your windows are older, this could be a great time to replace those windows! Again, being proactive in this area can save you a lot of money in the long run! This same preventative measure goes for your Motor Vehicles. Make sure that you don’t have any cracks in your windows on your car.  Another preventative measure you can take is to make sure the rubber sealing around your windows is not aging or cracked in any way.

What happens if we have you have taken these preventative measures and something still happens? No worries! We have one of the top rated Claims Team in the nation. If you have any leaking of any kind, make sure to stop the leaking as best as possible. If there is major or even some minor damage already done and you cannot stop the leaking yourself, you can call a company to come out to help you with this. Most policies have a clause that requires you to prevent any additional damage after any claim. This would mean to secure any property or tarp the roof if it is leaking.  All you need to do is call your agent and ask them for a company name and number that will be able to help you with this. If this is the case, make sure to keep all receipts from any work that is done. Your claims adjuster will want to keep this in mind with your claims information. The best thing that you can do is stop the leaking before it causes more damage than necessary.

Find out more about protecting  your home and motor vehicles by calling our office, or visiting  Your Louisville Insurance for a free quote online today.

Louisville Home Insurance Basics

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Louisville HouseWhat doesn’t my home insurance policy cover?

Most home insurance policies do not provide much coverage for expensive jewelry, antiques, collectibles or art. You may have to purchase a “floater” or “endorsement” to achieve adequate protection for your valuable possessions. There may also be a limit on reimbursement for stolen or destroyed computers.

Standard home insurance policies provide coverage for loss or damage due to theft, fire, lightning, hail, and explosions; they do not cover damage from floods or earthquakes, or damage caused by lack of routine maintenance.

Flood insurance is available from the federal government (Visit Federal Emergency Management Agency web site). If you live in a flood zone you should discuss the need for an additional flood insurance policy. Earthquake coverage is available as a separate policy which you will also need to discuss with your agent.

You may have difficulty finding coverage for certain other disasters, such as hurricanes and wildfires.

How do I know if I need federal flood insurance?

If you are located in a flood zone, your lender will most likely require you to carry flood insurance. Both the U.S. Geological Survey and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offer maps showing earthquake and flood risks.  To find out how much flood insurance costs in your area, click here to obtain a free flood insurance quote.

How can I reduce my home insurance premium?

There are numerous ways to reduce your home insurance premium:

  • install smoke detectors
  • install and give proof of an alarm system
  • install fire extinguishers
  • increase your deductible

Keep in mind when you increase your deductible you will pay more of the amount of any claim out of your own pocket. For instance, if you have a $500 deductible, you would have to pay the first $500 of damages. Your insurance coverage would not kick in unless your loss was greater than $500.

If you currently have a low deductible of $100 or $250, and you increase it to, say, $500, $1,000, or $2,500, be sure you can handle the increased risk. In other words, only increase your deductible if you set aside that amount of money so it will be available if you need it.  If you want to know how much you’ll have to pay for home insurance, fill out one of our Louisville  Home Insurance Quotes online.

How Much Home Insurance Coverage do I Need?

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Louisville Home Insurance

The amount of home insurance coverage you need depends on many factors, and it varies from homeowner to homeowner. In order to determine how much coverage you need is to talk to your insurance agent.  This can be discussed over the phone or by making an appointment to come in to speak with your agent.

Making sure you have enough home insurance to cover the cost of rebuilding your home at current construction costs is the key. That cost could be more or less than you paid for the home or what you could sell it for today.

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The cost is based on:

  • local construction costs
  • building codes
  • square footage of your home
  • features and materials of your home

The coverage for personal property is usually a set percentage of the dwelling coverage, say 40%, 50% or 60%. To determine if you have enough coverage, conduct a home inventory. Write down everything you own and figure out how much it would cost to replace it all. Keeping photos or a video of all of your personal property, along with receipts, can serve as an excellent form of evidence of your possessions.  Don’t keep these records in your home.

Any time you think you need more coverage, contact your insurance agent.  Be sure you have coverage that guarantees the replacement of personal items, and doesn’t just pay their value at the time of loss.

Coverage for living expenses can vary depending upon your insurance company. Many policies provide coverage for about 20% of the insurance on your house. Some companies offer a policy that provides unlimited coverage for a limited length of time. If you rent out part of your house, this coverage reimburses you for loss of rent while your home is not fit to live in.  If you think you need more coverage, talk to your agent.

Liability coverage is part of most home insurance, but the standard amount may not be enough to protect your property in case of a lawsuit. You should have enough liability insurance to cover at least two times the value of your assets including your home. If your assets are greater than your liability protection under your homeowner’s policy, you may want to consider purchasing an excess liability—or “umbrella”—policy.  Ask your agent what would be best to suit your needs or get a free Louisville Home Insurance Quote online.