Archive for statewide insurance agency

Water Damage Prevention Tips

Leaking Faucet

Even a small leak can become a major problem, so knowing what you’re covered for and how to prevent water damage are equally important.  The below tips should help uncover any potential water problems down the road and keep your property dry this summer.

  • Check appliance hoses.
  • Broken tiles in the shower can allow water to leak into the walls or on the floor.
    • Replace cracked tiles and re-grout when needed. 
  • Run dishwasher and washing machine only when you are home. 
    • If a leak occurs, you can turn the appliance off right away. 
  • When on vacation, turn off the main water supply to your house. 
  • Keep storm drains near your house clear of leaves. 
  • Install a gutter guard.
    • This can prevent a rooftop disaster caused by drain clogs, and also prevents flooding by water that isn’t carried away from the house. 
  • Install a water pressure gauge.
    • An inexpensive gauge can prevent damage caused by water pressure that’s too high. 
    • Pressure should be between 60 and 80 PSI. 
  • Have the correct insurance coverage.
    • We currently represent and offer free Home, Auto & Renters insurance quotes from over 10 different companies!
    • By doing so, we are able to find the company that is best for you.

Oklahoma Home Buyers Insurance Checklist

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:

8 Ways Your Driving Record Could Injure Your Future

In today’s over-scheduled world, any information that isn’t at your fingertips is out of sight, out of mind. So when you set down the mail, it’s easy to forget about that ticket you need to pay from when the motion-sensor camera caught you driving through a red light. However, where you forget, the DMV remembers. Your Oklahoma driving record has the ability to affect many areas of life, some of which may surprise you. Here are eight ways your driving record could injure your future:

Driving Record

  1. Auto insurance: Insurers determine car insurance quotes based on many factors, one of which is your driving record. It’s no surprise that these companies prefer to insure Edmond, OK residents who drive safely and file few claims. For this reason, multiple tickets and accidents on your record can result in higher premiums. How high? A speeding ticket can raise your auto insurance quote by up to 20 percent. A more serious offense, such as reckless driving or a DUI, can cause your rate to skyrocket by up to 300 percent.
  2. Life insurance: Similarly, life insurance premiums are determined by your risk of dying. An unsafe driver has a higher risk of being involved in a serious accident, which can knock you down to a less preferred tier of life insurance, complete with a premium that can be several hundred dollars more per year.
  3. Credit score: If you neglect to pay a ticket, like in our example above, your credit score can take a hit. Once the bill’s deadline comes and goes, fees are slapped onto the amount you already owe. You may start getting calls from collection agencies saying that you owe a huge amount, at which point you remember that bill that you set aside for later…ten weeks ago. By then, it’s too late. Your deflated credit can affect your ability to apply for a loan, credit card or even to rent an apartment.
  4. License suspension: Serious driving infractions and unpaid tickets often result in the suspension of your license. In such cases, the Oklahoma DMV can refuse to register your car, which can lead to more tickets if you continue to drive an unregistered car or with a suspended license. It’s a cyclical mess that can be difficult to get out of.
  5. Hard time: Hard time in jail, that is. Unpaid tickets can result in a misdemeanor charge and a warrant for your arrest. Not to mention, a DUI can land you in the slammer that same day.
  6. Professional career: Losing your license can also result in the loss of your job, particularly if your job requires driving or comes with the perk of a company car. And then when you interview for a new job, some employers will turn you away if they see a DUI or other serious violations after conducting a background check.
  7. Loss of rights: A DUI or other serious violation can be classified as a felony if the incident(s) resulted in severe damage or death. Convicted felons are stripped of a number of rights, such as the right to vote, hold public office, serve on a jury, receive federal aid for higher education, travel overseas etc.
  8. Adoption: Adoption agencies have different policies, but many of them will look at your driving record. A DUI or other serious violation may result in an extensive interview during the home study or may result in outright refusal of your application. The more recent the violation, the more likely it is to affect your eligibility to adopt.

To get the lowest car insurance quotes possible for Oklahoma residents, always drive with caution and respect other drivers who share the road with you. If you do happen to receive a minor ticket, pay it immediately before you have the chance to forget about it. In fact, it’s so important to drive safely that many insurers offer auto insurance discounts to safe drivers. Ask your agent if you qualify for savings today!

Summer Energy Savings

Beat the Heat — and Your Air Conditioning Bill — This Summer

Did you know that, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Americans spend about $11 billion each year on air conditioning? That might not be such a surprise if you’re the one who writes the check for your household energy bill every month.

Believe it or not, you can spend less on cooling costs while still keeping cool in Edmond, Oklahoma.

Here are 5 things to do before you reach to adjust the thermostat:

  • Make sure your house isn’t part of the problem. If your home isn’t insulated and sealed well, warm air could be leaking in, sabotaging your efforts to cool things down. Make sure all cracks and openings are sealed, along with your ducts. The DOE says air loss through ducts can account for 30 percent of the energy a cooling system uses.
  • Keep that breeze flowing. Natural ventilation is a great way to decrease the temperature in your home without using any energy. Open windows in the mornings or evenings when the air is cool and get a cross-breeze going throughout the house.
  • Check that the heat isn’t on. You might be heating your house in the summer without realizing it. How? By using the oven, stove or other appliances that generate heat. Cook outside whenever you can, and use the dishwasher and clothes dryer at cooler times of the day if possible.
  • Create your own personal cool zone. Cooling the whole house might not be necessary if you’re only using a few rooms. Set up fans (ceiling fans will allow you to set your thermostat a few degrees higher), drink plenty of cool liquids and eat cold foods, which can help lower your body temperature. You might even consider wearing a damp shirt to stay comfortable or putting an ice pack on your forehead, the back of your neck or your wrists.
  • Don’t forget the basics. When it’s sunny outside, keep your curtains closed. Minimize your use of lights, as they generate heat. And, when the outside air is warmer than the air in your house, close the windows to keep the cool air in. 

We can’t promise these tips will keep you just as cool as when you kick back and turn on the AC full-blast. But saving money every month? That’s pretty cool, too.

ALL SOURCES OF INFORMATION:

  • Safeco Insurance:

 

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?

 

 

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.

Emergency Preparedness Kit

teddy-bear-emergency-prepardness-kit-emergencypreparedness-okstatewide405

What You Need in an Emergency Kit

You never know when a natural disaster is going to hit the OKC Metro — or even just a big storm that knocks out the power for a few days.

That’s why having an emergency kit for you and your family is so important. It’s not hard to put one together, yet there are still many households that would be completely unprepared if they had to evacuate their home for a few days. Or, for that matter, remain in their home without access to running water or electricity.


Below is a list of basic items for your emergency kit, as recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Of course, you can add or remove items as needed to meet the specific needs of you and your family.

  • One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days.
  • A three-day supply of nonperishable food for people and pets. (Note: Red Cross recommends keeping a two-week supply of food and water on hand at home.)
  • A battery-powered or hand-crank radio, flashlights and extra batteries.
  • A first-aid kit.
  • Prescription medications and glasses.
  • Dust masks to filter contaminated air, along with plastic sheeting and duct tape to create a makeshift shelter if necessary.
  • A whistle to signal for help.
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
  • A tool to turn off utilities.
  • A can opener.
  • Local maps.

Additional items that are likely to be useful:

  • Important documents, such as copies of insurance policies, identification and birth certificates, bank account records, etc. Be sure to keep these in a watertight container.
  • Extra cash or traveler’s checks.
  • Warm blankets or sleeping bags for each person in your family.
  • Matches.
  • Paper plates, plastic cups and utensils and paper towels.
  • Paper and pencils.
  • Books and activities to keep kids busy.
  • Emergency reference material, such as a first-aid book.
  • A complete change of clothing for everyone in the family, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. If you live in a cold climate, you might pack additional clothing and bedding.

Keep in mind, when you need your emergency kit, you really need it. It’s a small investment of time and effort that can have a huge benefit in case of a disaster. And you don’t have to spend your whole day putting it together — spread out the work over a few days and you’ll be prepared in no time. #EmergencyPrepardness

Here are some links that Statewide Insurance Agency found useful:

Federal Emergency Management Agency
https://www.ready.gov/kit
https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/

American National Red Cross
http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/be-red-cross-ready/get-a-kit
https://www.redcrossstore.org/category/id/1
http://www.redcross.org/participantmaterials