At the Dash Leander Agency, our mission is to enrich lives and communities by helping to navigate the endless barrage of insurance speak so that a buying decision is bred out of trust and understanding. We can make you smarter about your insurance, we can make your insurance quote take less and less time and we can simplify your insurance; pick the motto you’d like.
We‘d love to save you money and often will, but we don’t sell you the cheapest policy, we sell you the RIGHT policy.
Shopping? Here are some things to know before you buy:
Nobody wants to think about it, but damages to your home can happen. In fact, the average homeowner files a claim approximately every nine years. When you’re in the midst of a crisis, it can be difficult to think clearly. You’re worried about the future and how you’re going to get back on your feet. Luckily, having home insurance can help make the process a little less stressful.
Knowing the claims process, and steps to take after an accident or disaster can be incredibly beneficial. Knowledge is power in these situations; and the more you know, the better chance you have to get what you deserve from your claim, and do so within a timely manner.
Who is the Claims Adjuster?
The claims adjuster is the person working for the insurance company. They are the person who will evaluate your claim, looking at the damage incurred and what your policy covers. They will also decide how much your insurance provider will compensate you.
The adjuster plays such an integral role within your claim and it is important to work with them. You will be asked questions about the damage and the condition that your home was in before it occurred. The adjuster will basically serve as the intermediary between you and the insurance company. You will be giving them all of your documents and evidence that the insurance company requires for the claim.
The First Step
First, you should document your claim through pictures or videos as soon as you are able to in order to paint the most accurate picture of the damage incurred. When filing the claim, take all of the costs into account, including money that you might have to spend on a hotel, missing days of work, labor and materials for repairing the property, as well as the value of the items that were lost or damaged.
Having a third party assessment done is a great way to get another set of eyes on the damage and to come with even more ammunition when the claims adjuster comes to assess the damage and offer a settlement.
Evaluate the cost of all the damage and compare it to your deductible. You don’t want to fall victim to the $0-Pay. Discuss with your insurance agent to see if it’s worth filing the claim. If the cost of the damage is right around the cost of your deductible, you might want to hold off to avoid filing an unnecessary claim that will go against your record and affect future insurability.
How Payment Works
When getting a payout for your claim, you most likely won’t get the entire settlement amount at once. Instead, the initial check will probably be an advance of the total amount. However, there is always a chance for an “on-the-spot settlement” in which case you will get the total check right away. This settlement can be reopened if you find more damage down the line, typically within the year of the damage.
Additionally checks for property damage, damage to personal possessions and additional living expenses incurred as a result of uninhabitable property, should come in separately, not in one lump sum. This can help make sure that the money is going toward the right funds.
In the event that personal belongings are damaged, one of the first steps you should take is to try and find out the cost of everything inside your home. If you have an inventory of your possessions, that will be incredibly useful in the process. If you don’t have one, look back at old photos and videos to recollect the things that might have been damaged.
Next, depending on whether you have an actual cash value or replacement cost policy, you will either get reimbursed for the items (factoring in depreciation) or for the cost of buying new items, respectively. In many cases, your replacement cost policy will require you to buy the replacement items prior to compensation and then they will reimburse you, so keep those receipts.
Additionally, talk to your insurance company about how much time you have to replace your items. Oftentimes, you don’t have to make an immediate decision.
If there is property damage to your home and you have a mortgage, the check will most likely be made out to your lender. This is typically laid out as a condition of granting your mortgage. By receiving the insurance check, the mortgage lender can help ensure that appropriate repairs are made to the property, as this is also in their best interest to secure both of your investments in the property. Therefore, in most cases, the mortgage company will have to endorse the check, with the money typically being put in an escrow account, paying for the repair work as it is completed.
If you are in a situation in which you need to rebuild your home you can decide if you want to rebuild on the same site, a different location, or not at all. The money you are given to do this will depend on the policy you purchased. Typically, you’re entitled to the replacement cost of your home, keeping in mind that your insurance company will pay to have your home returned to the state it was in prior to the damage, not for a bigger or more expensive place.
Additional Living Expenses
In contrast to the payout for property damage, the check for any additional living expenses should be made out to you. Though you may still have to get the check endorsed by the mortgage lender, these expenses don’t have to do with repairs to your home. This can help cover the additional costs of living in a hotel or getting a rental car.
- Be thorough and document everything. This includes the inventory of your possessions, documents and conversations with the insurance company, and being on top of deadlines and appropriate forms.
- If you are able to, be present for inspections by the insurance adjuster or independent inspector.
- Make sure that you understand your insurance policy and everything that you are covered for. Know your rights.
- Stand firm to your claim. The process may take a little longer than anticipated and you may not get the compensation you expected. You are able to dispute it if you believe you’re entitled to more. Don’t be forced into settling by the duration of the process either, be patient.
- Be honest with your claim. Lying won’t get you any farther in the process and is illegal.
- Cross your ‘t’s and dot your ‘i’s. Make sure you get all the appropriate information from your claims adjuster including your claim number, and the name and phone number they can be reached at. This can help ensure that your claim is properly filed and your forms are accurate.
When push comes to shove, home insurance has your back. The reason you purchased it was to protect your investment, so if you need to repair damaged property or possessions, make sure you stay calm and understand the process so that you are able to restore this investment.
One of the first steps you take when buying a home is purchasing homeowners insurance. Similarly, one of the first steps you take when renting a home is getting renters insurance. Just because you don’t own the property itself doesn’t mean that damages are any less likely.
However, many people don’t get renters insurance because they feel they don’t need it. One of the main reasons being, that they think their landlord’s insurance will cover them, when in fact, a landlord’s policy typically only covers them and their property.
To protect your possessions, renters insurance is one of the most essential tools you can purchase to reinforce your financial stability. It can be fairly inexpensive as well, costing less than a dollar a day (averaging 15 to 30 dollars per month) depending on your provider, geographic location, and additional insurance policies you carry.
Renters insurance covers personal property and personal liability. So things like furniture, electronics and clothes, as well as medical expenses if a guest gets hurt while at your place, can be covered. Additionally, some policies will cover temporary living expenses if your rental property becomes uninhabitable.
Just like with H03 and HO5 homeowners insurance, not all situations are covered with renters insurance. If you’re looking for protection for natural disasters such as earthquakes or hurricanes, you will need to buy riders for additional coverage. If a natural disaster such as a wildfire, tornado, or hailstorm cause damage to the building, the landlord’s insurance will most likely cover the damage to the building, however, your personal property will probably not be covered, which is where your personal policy can come in handy.
Other riders can include sewer drainage damage (drain gets backed up and floods, ruining your possessions), extended theft coverage (items stolen outside of your home, such as a laptop from your car), and loss of use (living expenses if your property becomes uninhabitable).
Additionally, if you’re in a building with multiple units and you are responsible for an unnatural fire (i.e. you leave the stove on and a fire starts), you can also be responsible for the damage to the other tenants apartments including any of their property damage.
What types of coverage are there?
There are two types of coverage that renters insurance provides: personal property and liability. Personal property coverage covers repairing or replacing personal belongings in the case of theft or damage. Liability coverage covers you in the case of a claim or lawsuit if someone is injured or their property is damaged by an accident on your property.
Additionally, you can opt to get a broad form of coverage or a comprehensive form. The broad form is the typically the most common form purchased and is similar to HO3 coverage as it extends to specific events like fire or theft. Comprehensive coverage is more similar to HO5 in that it covers a more general range of events, with only specific exclusions.
Next, you get to decide if you would like actual cash-value coverage or replacement cost coverage. For actual cash value, your insurance provider will factor in depreciation before offering your claim amount. So if you bought a couch for 500 dollars five years ago, and now it is worth 300 dollars, your insurance company will compensate you 300 dollars.
For replacement cost coverage, your insurance provider will compensate you for the actual cost to replace the couch. So you would get 500 dollars for the couch, or however much it costs to get a comparable one. Replacement cost coverage typically has higher premiums than actual cash-value, but could save you some serious out of pocket costs down the line.
How much coverage should you get?
When deciding how much coverage you need you should evaluate a few things. First, take a look at your landlord’s insurance to see what they are actually liable for and what they will cover in the event of damage to the property. Additionally, take inventory of all of your possessions (beyond just those ‘big ticket’ items). It’s estimated that an average two-bedroom apartment contains about 30,000 dollars worth of stuff, which will be difficult to replace if something unexpected were to happen.
To save some money on your policy, look into installing a smoke detector, burglar alarm, and fire extinguisher to help reduce your risk of needing to file a claim. If you have roommates, check with them to see what their policies are and if you have the ability to purchase one together.
Why is it important?
Renters insurance is important because it can help protect you and your belongings from unexpected events. It also helps fill the gaps that other policies may lack. For example, if your car is broken into and your laptop is stolen, the window will most likely be covered under you auto policy, but the laptop probably won’t be. Your renters policy can help extend this coverage of your property.
Just because you don’t own the building you’re living in, doesn’t mean your other possessions are any less valuable, or your guests are any less accident-prone. Through purchasing renters insurance, you will be covered for personal property and liability claims throughout the duration of your rental experience, and you can do so without breaking the bank.
There are plenty of things in life that should be debated: HBO or Netflix, is NASCAR a sport, cheese or pepperoni, and the quality of the How I Met Your Mother finale; the importance of life insurance shouldn’t be one of them. However, it’s estimated that there are approximately 15.3 trillion dollars worth of unmet life insurance needs in the United States, meaning many people are debating it, and life insurance is losing.
There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding life insurance. Whether it’s regarding the difficulty to obtain it, the perception that you won’t qualify, or that you just don’t need it, people are being deterred from purchasing a life insurance policy that could protect them and their family’s future well being.
So, without further adieu, let’s take a look at some of these common misconceptions about life insurance.
Myth #1: Senior citizens can’t get life insurance.
Busted: It’s true that life insurance costs increase as you get older. It’s not true that you can’t get insured once you become a senior. The perception that you are uninsurable as you enter your senior years is far from the truth. There are still many affordable rates that seniors can obtain. When insurance companies evaluate you for a policy, they determine the likelihood that you’ll cash in on your policy during its term. If you are healthy senior, your age won’t be as heavy of a factor as you’d be led to believe.
Myth #2: Life insurance is too expensive.
Busted: Approximately 80 percent of people over estimate the cost of life insurance. Millennials have been shown to over estimate life insurance expenses by 213 percent and Gen-Xers by 119 percent. Many people think that it will cost them around 1,000 dollars/year, when in reality it can cost as little as 150 dollars/year.
Myth #3: You’re better off saving or investing your money.
Busted: Life insurance is an investment. Though it might not present itself in the form of luxurious vacations or stock portfolios, it’s an investment in your future and your family’s future. Even if the benefits aren’t immediate, the money you’re putting in each month isn’t just getting thrown away; it’s helping you be more prepared for life’s curveballs.
Myth #4: Only the breadwinner needs life insurance.
Busted: Just because someone doesn’t bring home the largest check in the house, doesn’t mean his or her contributions aren’t valuable. A stay-at-home parent has a lot of responsibilities that keep the day-to-day activities on track that aren’t necessarily quantifiable in the form of a single check. If something were to happen to the “non-employed” or lower salaried parent, life insurance can help cover the costs of the jobs that they contributed to the household, including childcare and home maintenance.
Myth #5: You’re too young to be buying life insurance.
Busted: Being young is one of the best ways to save money on life insurance. Buying a plan as a healthy person at the age of 30 can cost you around 12 dollars per month, whereas that same policy can cost you 32 dollars per month if purchased at the age of 50. Additionally, more than just the worry of increased costs, there’s always a chance you won’t even be able to qualify for a policy after certain things happen later in life. Your insurability can change in the blink of an eye and is never higher than when you’re young and healthy. In three, five, or even10 years, there are plenty of things that can happen that could make getting life insurance less of a reality, which is when you will probably need it most. When you’re young and in good health, premiums will most likely be lower and insurability higher, saving you money in the long run.
Myth #6: You’re single and don’t have dependents, so you don’t need it.
Busted: Just because you don’t have anyone who directly depends on your income now, doesn’t mean you can’t plan for it now. Getting life insurance before these major life events can help lock in a lower rate. Additionally, funeral costs will be made the responsibility of your family (the average funeral costing thousands of dollars) and co-signed loans aren’t going away as they would become the responsibility of the co-signer.
Myth #7: The plan you have through your employer is sufficient.
Busted: Many times employer life insurance benefits provide a payout that is closer to one or two times your base salary. That base salary will typically not include commissions or bonuses either, which could impact the amount greatly. Generally, it is recommended for your life insurance policy payout to be somewhere between five and eight times (some experts even recommending 10-12 times) your annual salary. Additionally, if you leave your job, that employer benefit probably won’t be coming with you, leaving you vulnerable. Getting your own personal policy can help ensure you are protected and your family will be secure.
Life insurance is something you buy before you need it. Don’t let common misconceptions keep you from insuring yourself properly. By learning the facts and what fits best with your lifestyle, you can make an informed decision about your life insurance policy, and help prepare you and your loved ones for the future.