How Can I Save Money On My Homeowner’s Insurance?

 I often get asked “How can I save money on my homeowner’s insurance?”

Here are some ways I suggest:

Increase Your Deductible

If you have the ability to handle a higher amount of out of pocket costs, a higher deductible can significantly reduce your monthly payment.  A key point to remember is that you will need savings set aside for unexpected incidents.

Secure it!

Some insurance policies allow for discounts if you make your home safer.  Some things that may qualify for discounts include:  smoke detector, burglar alarm, dead-bolt locks, sprinkler system, fire alarm/burglar alarm, and more.  You will need to balance the cost of the additions with the discounts.

Special Discounts

Some companies offer discounts such as senior discounts.   You might also qualify for a multipolicy discount if your home and flood insurance are through the same carrier.

Stay With the Same Insurer

Some insurance companies reduce premiums if you stay with them for five years or more.

Check the Value of Items You Have Insured

Double check the value of items you have insured.  You may realize you have too high of a value on certain items.

Protect Your Home Against Disasters

The price you pay for homeowners insurance depends in part on the cost of rebuilding your home and the likelihood that it will be damaged by natural disasters or that it will burn down.

Are there some things you can do to reduce the likelihood of disaster?

Find out from your insurance agent or company representative what you can do to make your home more resistant to windstorms and other natural disasters. You may be able to save on your premiums by adding storm shutters and shatter-proof glass, reinforcing your roof or buying stronger roofing materials.

Get a Good Agent

Get a good (or even great) agent.  A good insurance agent will shop rates for you and find the right program for you and your situation.

Go Green!

Tips to Increase Your Home’s Energy Efficiency

Do you want to save money and help the environment?  Try these tips to increase your home’s energy efficiency.

Low-flow

Installing low flow-faucets and showerheads can save gallons of water — and money.

Stop Leaks

Is your toilet running?  Then go catch it.  Just kidding…but seriously, fix it!  That wastes a lot of water and a lot of money.

The same is true for sinks.  Even a small drip can wastes gallons of water a day.

Insulation

Most homes do not have enough insulation.  Stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer with less energy (and less cost).

Seal it!

Windows and doorways can let in way too much.  Make sure you are sealing drafty windows and doorways.  This takes very little money and makes a huge difference.

Efficient ‘Stuff’

Make sure your ‘stuff’ or more specifically, your appliances, are energy efficient.  You may have to pay a little more up front, but it will pay for itself many times!

 

 

All of these tips will help you help the environment and help your wallet.  So go green and save the green! 🙂

AVOID WATER DAMAGE! 9 Sources of Water Damage and How You Can Prevent It!

The Institute for Business and Home Safety identified 9 areas in your home where water damage is most likely to occur. Here are those 9 sources and how you can prevent them.

#1: Plumbing

Homes 30 years old are 3 times as likely to have a plumbing supply or drainage problem.

How you can prevent it:
Inspect pipes annually for condensation, leaks and corrosion. Call a plumber at the first sign of rust-colored water, backed-up toilets or sinks and cracked or warped floors.

 

#2: Roof

Roofs are the most frequent source of water damage, especially in regions prone to freezing and strong wind and hail.

How you can prevent it:
Schedule a professional roof inspection annually. Request a detailed inspection report that includes the condition of the flashing, roof covering, parapets and drainage system. Make repairs if 1) there are cracked, loose or missing shingles and granules, 2) the flashing has deteriorated, particularly around the chimneys and vents and 3) if pooling water is present.

In wind prone areas, consider an impact resistant roof that has passed the FM 4473 or UL 2218 standard.

While away on vacation, turn off your main water supply line.

 

#3: Sump pump

Sump pumps can fail because of power outages, a clogged inlet screen or a faulty float switch.

How you can prevent it:
Inspect the sump pump. Open the lid and remove any debris blocking the water inlet screen. Pour 5 gallons of water into the pump. As the float valve rises, the pump should turn on, discharging water through the outlet pipe. Inspect the outside outlet pipe to ensure water is flowing away from the home.

Prepare for power outages. Install a battery backup system, preferably one with a battery replacement warning. Replace batteries every 2-3 years.

 

#4: Water heaters

75% of water heaters fail before they are 12 years old. The chance a water heater will leak or burst increases dramatically at 5 years old

How you can prevent it:
Schedule a professional plumbing inspection of the anode rod annually once the warranty has expired. The rod will eventually corrode and leave the tank vulnerable to damage.

Remove sediment by flushing the tank every 6 months. Sediment will build up faster in areas with hard water.

 

#5: Shower

Over half of shower stall damage involves a faulty shower pan.

How you can prevent it:
Test the shower pan annually. Block the floor drain. Fill the shower stall with 1 inch of water and mark the water line. After 8 hours, if the water level drops, contact a plumbing professional.

Inspect your shower every 6 months. Check for loose or cracked tiles or crumbling grout lines. Repair as needed.

Pay attention to your water bill. A big increase could indicate a leak.

 

#6: Toilet

78% of water damage from toilets is caused by faulty supply lines, toilet flanges, fill valve assemblies or toilets that back-up & overflow.

How you can prevent it:
Inspect the flushing mechanism every 6 months. The fill valve should shut off when the float reaches the proper level. Replace the flapper or fill valve assembly if you notice constant tank refilling when the toilet is not in use.

Inspect the supply line every 6 months. Ensure the connection to the valve is secure. Operate the valve to make sure the water supply will shut off. Replace if needed.

 

#7: Sink

Nearly half of all water damage caused by sinks is due to a faulty plumbing line and costs approximately $7,000 per incident.

How you can prevent it:
Inspect sink plumbing every 6 months. Ensure connections are secure and there is no corrosion or kinking of pipes, which could lead to pinhole leaks over time.

Know where the water shut-off valve is. Inspect the valve every 6 months to make sure the water supply will shut off.

 

#8: Washing Machine

Half of all washing machine water damage incidents are caused from a burst water supply line. Repair costs about $6,000 per incident.

How you can prevent it:
Inspect water supply line hoses every 6 months to ensure the connection to the valve is secure. If loose, hand-tighten first, then tighten an additional 2/3 of a turn using pliers. Leave a 3-4 inch gap between the washing machine and wall to avoid kinking. Check hoses for kinks, cracks, or blisters commonly found near the hose connection. Replace hoses every 5 years and consider braided stainless steel hoses.

 

#9: Ice Maker

73% of losses involving icemakers were caused by a supply line hose failure.

How you can prevent it:
Make sure the icemaker supply line hose is properly installed. Tightly connect the hose to the valve, but avoid over-tightening. Leave a 3-4 inch gap between the refrigerator and wall to prevent the hose from crimping. Inspect hose every 6 months.

Information has been provided by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety. Suggested precautions may not be effective in every circumstance. As always use good judgement and consult with professionals.

 

 

3 Insurance Horror Stories That Could Have Been Avoided!

ATTORNEY GETS PAID, MOM GETS PENALIZED

A nice lady in her 70s had been insured with BBI forever.  Her adult son lives with her.  He was driving a vehicle belonging to his employer when someone crashed into him and he was slightly injured.  In the course of filing the claims (against the at fault driver and his employer’s worker’s compensation insurance) he contacted one of those “personal injury” attorneys you hear on the radio.

The attorney advised the son that because he lives with his mother, he could file against her PIP & UM.  This is true, depending on the extent of his injuries.  The attorney assured the mom that nothing would happen to her policy.  The attorney filed a third party lawsuit against BBI (so the attorney would get his cut).  Because of the lawsuit (not the claim) BBI canceled mom’s policy.  Her premium went from $350 for excellent coverage to $600 for just above the state minimum limits.

 

DISABLED WOMAN LOSES INSURANCE BECAUSE OF A BAD ADJUSTER

I know of a lady who is severely disabled.  A public adjuster knocked on her door and said he was investigating damages at a neighbor’s house.  The adjuster said he thought she might have similar damage.  The public adjuster examined her home finding three small water stains.  He told the home owner to file three separate claims.

The public adjuster made a big show of bringing in a water extraction company.  The lady filed a total of five claims.  Keep in mind, each claim is subject to a separate “all other peril” deductible which is generally $1,000.  She signed a contract to pay the public adjuster a percentage of any monies the insurance company paid.  According to the company adjuster no single incident rose to the $1000 deductible.  The disabled lady is on the hook for the water extraction bill and was canceled by her company for claims frequency.  Because she filed numerous water damage claims within one year, her home is no longer insurable in the voluntary market.  Her premium went from $900 to over $2000.

 

DON’T TRY TO SAVE A FEW BUCKS AND LEAVE YOURSELF UNINSURED!
A wealthy family has three teenage sons driving high end cars.  Dad went to his agent looking to reduce the very expensive premium.  His agent of 20 + years advised that the premium was expensive because the coverage’s were sufficient to protect dad’s considerable assets.

Dad really wanted to save money and found a fly by night agency.  The agent devised a plan.  He wrote mom, dad, son 1 & four vehicles on one policy & sons 2 and 3 along with only one car on a second policy.

So one day, son 2 is sitting in his Porsche at a stop light horsing around with his friend in the passenger seat when his foot slips off the brake.  The Porsche rolls into the vehicle ahead of him.  The passenger in that vehicle has just been released from the hospital following neurosurgery.  Her head flips forward & back & she is instantly paralyzed.

The insurance company policy #1 denies the claim because son 2 is not a listed driver for the Porsche.  Insurance company policy #2 wants to pay a prorated portion of the claim because there are two policies in the household.  Dad’s million dollar umbrella policy only kicks in after the first $250K is paid out.

So Dad now goes to the agent at the fly by night agency.  Do you know what he tells them?  “Sue them.”  Dad’s response, “No, they are suing me.”

Dad goes to his agent of 20+ for advice & that agent has none.

Ok, listen up folks.  Buying insurance isn’t about getting the tag for your car or keeping your mortgage company off your back.  Even when the payout is to the other guy, Insurance Protects YOU.  It protects your family and your assets.  If you believe that you need to talk to a personal injury attorney or public adjuster instead of your insurance agent, then you have the wrong agent.  I have 17 years experience in Property & Casualty and will turn business down before I’ll write the wrong product.

Do you have questions?

Do you want someone to review your home, auto, or business policy with NO obligation (serious, I don’t pressure anyone)?

Contact us at Blue Sky Insurance Agency!

Protect Your Home During Vacation

protect your home while you are on vacation, homeowner's insurance, florida home owner's insuranceSummer is quickly approaching us.  And for many families, it means enjoying a vacation and leaving your home behind.

So how do you protect your home while you are away.  Below are a few tips and tricks for you before you leave home, so you can concentrate on enjoying time with friends and family.

Neighborly Love

It’s a great idea to ask for help from a neighbor, family member or friend to house-sit. This helps with:

  • If an emergency occurs (like a broken water pipe), the sooner you know about it and get help, the better.
  • A friend or house-sitter can help deter intruders by making your house look occupied. They can keep your house from being an easy target by parking a car in the driveway, moving the garbage cans and picking up flyers or newspapers.

Inside your home, sweet home

  • Make sure small electronic devices are off.  If possible, unplug them.  Some electronics use energy even when they’re turned off.
  • Don’t leave your lights on through your vacation. This can add up to a hefty bill, and it looks a little crazy at night.
  • Leave your curtains as you usually do. Closing them may draw attention, or keep helpers (like police or neighbors) from seeing something suspicious.

Before you go

  • Try not to alert the world via social media/blog posts that you are gone.  There have been many reports of burglars trolling the internet for good opportunities.
  • Consider postponing your mail to keep it from piling up.
  • Lock up and don’t leave a spare key.
  • Make sure your home is covered with the right insurance policy.

Any questions, contact Blue Sky Insurance Agency at 321.636.8878.

 

 

Tips for Better Networking

Networking has built my business.  And I love networking.  When I first started, I wasn’t sure the best ways to network.  But luckily I had great people around me that helped me!

Here are a few tips for getting more out of your networking:

  1.  Wear your name tag.  Wear your name tag everywhere you go.  You would be surprised how often I get stopped and asked what I do.  Just make sure you are being a good representative of yourself and your company! 🙂
  2. Develop your 30 second or 60 second commercial.  Make sure you prepare and be concise.  No one likes someone that just babbles on and on.  Here’s a quick run down:
    Your name & business
    Location if important
    What problem do you solve
    Develop a hook, tie to current events
    Use humor to get attention
    Use group interaction
  3. Prepare a 15 second intro in case you need it.
  4. Prepare your 10 minute presentation.  At so many networking events, you get the opportunity to explain to the group what you do.  Don’t wing it.  Prepare and bring value to the members.  The more you are able to engage your audience and tell stories, the more likely they are to remember you (and refer you).
  5. Buy from your network.  Buy from your network whenever possible.
  6. Give testimonials.  When you buy from your network and you have a great service (and you are more likely to have great service from someone in your network), brag about it.  Give testimonials.  Give reviews.  And tell people how great your network partner is.
  7. Be a giver.  Make sure to refer as often as possible.  Give good referrals.
  8. Be patient.  Building networking relationships takes time.  Don’t rush it.

If you do this, your networking will be more effective, more productive, AND more FUN!

Do This For Better Car Insurance!

Car insurance buying is often confusing.  What do you need?  What’s important?  And what the heck do those insurance terms mean any way?

At Blue Sky Insurance Agency we pride ourselves in helping our clients get the best insurance for their needs.  And we help educate them so they’re not just buying in the dark.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1.  Don’t just get the minimums.  I know, you save money.  But you are taking a risk by getting the very minimum.  And it’s a financial risk that doesn’t make sense.
  2. Pay attention to the deductible.  I have seen clients that leave me because they found ‘cheaper insurance.’  But when they had an accident, they realized their deductible was $5,000.  They saved a few bucks per month to put them into a financial crunch.  Oh, and by the way, they are back with me because I told them the truth from the beginning.  Before you switch to another insurance or agent, make sure you are doing an apple to apple comparison (because the cheaper insurance most likely is just less coverage).

  3. There are so many discounts out there.  And we ask you a lot of questions to try to get you to qualify for every single one we can.
  4. Shop around!  Insurance carriers change who they are targeting every year.  So the less expensive insurance this year may not be the one next year.  And that is a service we offer our clients for FREE.  Because we are an independent insurance agency, we try to find you the best rates for what makes the most sense for you.
  5. Double check the installment payments.  By paying up front, you typically save $10+ per month ($120 per year).  Insurance companies love when you make payments because they make more money.  So if you can, make the annual or bi-annual payment.
  6. Review your policy.  As your vehicle gets older, as your life and finances change, you may need to look at different types of coverage.  Make sure you meet with a licensed and knowledgeable agent that can look at your entire situation and determine if changes need to be made.