Archive for Insurance Information Institute

If you own your home in Oklahoma/OKC Metro, or if you’re in the process of buying your home then you’re aware of the importance of a homeowner’s insurance policy. But are you making sure that your homeowner’s insurance policy is saving you as much money as possible?

checking-homeowners-insurance-policy-okstatewide

Here are a few tips and tricks for saving money
on your Homeowner’s Insurance Policy. 

Do Your Research

A smart consumer will request several quotes and shop around for the best deal on their homeowner’s insurance policy. Talking with independent agents is always a good method for getting a good understanding of what constitutes the best deal taking coverage and cost into consideration. But you should also look for any discounts you can: many memberships come with insurance discounts, even wholesale club memberships like Costco and Sam’s Club.

Update Your Home

If you own or are purchasing an older home especially, talk with an agent about what modern upgrades will affect your premiums. You can make some changes that make your home safer and also save you money every month!

Brush Up on the Lingo

Sometimes, consumers choose a slightly cheaper option without knowing the real cost of the compromise in coverage. For example, consider the way your policy handles a payout. Actual Cash Value will save you a little money on your premium, but should something happen, you may find this payout inadequate. 

This is because Actual Cash Value payouts are based entirely on the current worth of the home and contents insured. In contrast, Replacement Cost will payout based on the current cost to rebuild or purchase the home and contents. This can mean a stark contrast in what your payout looks like and greatly affect your ability to recover from a disaster. 

Consider A Higher Deductible

As with any type of insurance, you can expect to lower your premium by raising your deductible. You have to consider whether this option is the best fit for you, because raising your deductible will put more financial responsibility on you than sticking with a lower deductible. Speak with an agent about how much you feel comfortable with raising your deductible up to and see how it affects your annual premium.

Add an Umbrella Policy

Although adding an additional policy made seem counter-intuitive when it comes to saving money, an umbrella policy can add extra protections that save you significant money in the future. Should you face any liability litigation, that exceeds your homeowner’s policy, you are personally and financially responsible for those costs. If you don’t have the funds available, you could be looking at wage garnishments or worse. An Umbrella policy is quite inexpensive to add and the protections it provides are more than worth it.

14 things every house-shopper should do before signing on the dotted line…

Shopping for your dream house? There are many considerations when looking at real estate, such as property taxes, school district, available recreational opportunities in the neighborhood, to name a few.

But an important and often overlooked consideration is the insurance implications of your purchase.

You will be paying insurance on your home for as long as you own it, which is why you need to do your homework before you decide to make an offer. Why? Thinking through all the costs associated with buying a home will make the process run more smoothly, and it may also save you money. 

 

So here are some important tips to help make all phases of your home search easier and more worry-free.

 

Before House Hunting:

1. Check Your Credit Rating

A good credit history helps you in many ways. Good credit makes it easier to get a mortgage at a competitive rate, and it may also qualify you for a good credit discount on your insurance.  Get a copy of one or all of your credit reports. Make sure they are accurate and report any mistakes immediately. If your credit is not as good as it could be, take steps now to improve it [1]. 

2. Protect Yourself with a Renters Insurance Policy

If you are currently renting a house or apartment, protect yourself financially with a renters insurance policy [2].  In the event of a disaster, renters insurance [3] can help protect the down payment you’re building to buy your new home, as well as provide useful a insurance history to your prospective homeowners insurer when you go to buy your first home.

 

While House Hunting

As you search for your new home, remember that the physical characteristics of the house—its size, location, construction and overall condition—can affect the cost, choice and availability of home insurance. Following are some factors to consider when shopping for a home:

3. Quality and Location of the Fire Department

Houses that are located near highly-rated, permanently staffed fire departments usually cost less to insure. This also holds true for homes that have a hydrant nearby.

4. Proximity to the Coastline

Houses located on or near the coast will generally cost more to insure than those further inland. There will also likely be a separate hurricane or windstorm deductible [4].

In some coastal communities, private homeowners insurance coverage may not be readily available. Instead, you may need to purchase insurance through a state-run insurance program, which can provide less coverage, and in some cases be more costly, than private insurance.

5. Age of the Home

A stately, older home can be quite beautiful—but they can also cost more to insure. Ornate features like plaster walls, ceiling molding and wooden floors may be costly to replace and can raise the cost of insurance. And, plumbing and electrical systems can become unsafe with age and lack of maintenance. If you are considering buying an older home find out how much it will cost to update these features and factor it into the cost of ownership.

6. Condition of the Roof

Always check the condition of the roof. A new roof matters to insurers and keeps you and your family safer. Depending on the type of roof and whether or not you use fire and/or hail resistant materials, you may even qualify for a discount. 

7. Is the Home Well-Built and Up to Code?

Find out whether the house has been updated to comply with current building codes. Homes built by careful craftsmen and those built to meet modern engineering-based building codes are likely to better withstand natural disasters.

8. Risk of Flooding

Damage from flooding is NOT covered by standard home insurance policies. If you are buying a home in an area at risk from flooding, you will need to purchase separate insurance. Insurance for flooding is available from the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program [5] (NFIP), and from a few specialty insurers.

9. History of Earthquakes

While earthquakes are most frequently associated with California, they occur in the majority of states and, like flooding, are not covered under standard home insurance policies. Earthquake insurance is available from private insurers as an endorsement to a homeowners policy, and in California from the California Earthquake Authority [6].  Check rates with your insurance professional—the cost of earthquake insurance differs widely by location, insurer and the type of structure being covered.

10. Swimming Pool or Other Special Feature

If the house has a swimming pool [7], hot tub or other special feature, you will likely need more liability insurance. You may also want to consider purchasing an umbrella liability policy [8] to provide added protection in the event someone gets injured on your property and decides to sue you.

 

Before You Place a Bid on the Home

11. Check the Loss History Report

Ask the current homeowner to obtain a copy of the loss history report on the home. Homeowners can obtain either a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange [9] (C.L.U.E.) report, which is available from LexisNexis, or an A-PLUSTM [10] property report from ISO®. These reports provide a record of the type of loss on the home, the date of the loss and the amount and status of each claim—going back five years.  If the report indicates there has been damage to the house, have it checked by a professional.

A home claim history can provide extremely valuable information and should prompt questions from the buyer.  For instance, if there was a claim for water damage on the home, it is important to find out the source of the damage (such as a burst pipe) and whether it has been properly repaired. On the other hand, if there was a claim for wind or hail, which resulted in a new roof, this makes the home stronger and is very attractive from an insurance perspective.   

12. Get the House Inspected

You’ll need to have the house properly inspected in order to get your mortgage approved. Accompany the inspector and make sure he/she does a thorough inspection of the home. The inspector should:

  • Check the general condition of the home
  • Look for water damage, termites and other types of infestation
  • Review the electrical system, plumbing, septic tank and water heater
  • Show you where potential problems might develop
  • Double-check that past problems have been repaired
  • Suggest important upgrades or replacements

If the inspector raises questions, your insurance company will as well. And, be sure to find out if there is an underground oil storage tank, as many insurers will not provide policies for homes that have one.

13. Estimate How Much It Will Cost to Maintain the House

Routine maintenance is your responsibility as a homeowner. Losses caused by failing to properly care for your home are not covered by standard homeowners insurance policies. So make sure you factor these costs into the overall price of owning the home.

14. Call Your Insurance Professional

Don’t wait until the last minute to think about insurance. Ask your insurance professional if the house will qualify for insurance, and get an estimate of the premium. The sooner you act, the smoother the process will be. Don’t be shy about asking for estimates on more than one house. Insurance is an important consideration when purchasing a home. If you are uncomfortable with the cost of insuring a particular house, keep looking for one that better fits your financial situation.

For more about insuring your new home: Homeowners Insurance Coverage [11]

ALL SOURCES OF INFORMATION:

The Independent Insurance Agent

You are constantly bombarded with ads for big, well-known insurance companies. Chances are that you’re familiar with Progressive’s Flo and Geico’s gecko. So it makes sense that you might gravitate toward one of these companies. 

Flo from Progressive Insurance

Gecko from GEICO

However, working with an Independent Insurance Agent has many benefits that you should be aware of before deciding where to take your business.

Here are the top 5 benefits in choosing an 
Independent Insurance Agent in Oklahoma!

Network of providers

Instead of calling one insurance company and getting a quote one at a time for their products, independent agents work with a network of trusted insurance providers. They input your information and receive quotes from many insurance providers, saving you numerous phone calls.

Easy and simple

Rather than seeking out several quotes for yourself, an independent agent will assess your needs and then do the work for you. With just one phone call, you’ll have a person working in your best interests to find you the best policy for the right price.

Find better deals

Aside from just renewing your policy for another year, ask your independent agent to check to see if there are any better deals that suit your needs. Agents have saved customers lots of money by doing this.

Great customer service

With big companies, you have to navigate an automated answering system when you call. But with independent agents, you get a real person. Plus, these agencies serve a smaller area than large companies, so they can spend more time with each customer in order to address your questions and concerns.

In the neighborhood

Independent agencies are local, which means that they’re familiar with neighborhood needs. They know if your town is located in a flood plain and the likelihood of theft in your area. This makes independent agents valuable resources when it comes to coverage needs and discounts.

Statewide Insurance Agency

“We welcome you to find the value in your Edmond Locally Owned business and would love the opportunity to become your Independent Insurance Agency today. Please contact us if you have any questions with your current/future insurance needs.”

IAA

OAA

Edmond Locally Owned - Edmond, OK

  • Activities that take drivers’ attention off the road, including talking or texting on mobile devices, eating, conversing with passengers and other distractions, are a major safety threat.

  • In 2014, 3,179 people died in distraction-affected crashes, based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) criteria.

  • The number of state legislatures passing measures that address the problem of driver distractions continues to rise. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia ban the use of hand-held cellphones while driving; 46 states and the District of Columbia have banned the practice of texting while driving.

  • A 2012 Consumer Reports survey found that 71 percent of respondents cut back on texting, talking on a handheld phone or using a smartphone while driving in the previous year. Over 50 percent of them said they were influenced to change their behavior because of state laws, up from 44 percent in a survey conducted in 2011.

 

DRIVER HAND-HELD CELLPHONE USE BY AGE, 2005-2014 (1)

(1) Percent of drivers using hand-held cellphones.

 Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

OTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION:

OKstatewide Issues 2016 Rate Forecast for Oklahoma Car Insurance

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