Uncovering PWC Coverage

According to data from the National Marine Manufacturers Association, 75 million people in the U.S. participate in recreational boating. With 3.5 million of those boaters coming into Lake Havasu alone a year, Arizona’s plethora of man-made lakes are an epicenter for this leisure activity. Like any other investment, it is important to secure personal watercrafts from the threat of collision, theft, and bodily injury. Securing recreational vehicles is not as pervasive as auto and home insurance, and because of this, personal watercraft coverage is a foggy concept for some. To make searching for boat insurance less like sailing blindly into unchartered waters, understanding the tides of PWC coverage will make navigating this necessary process a little easier.

What Does Your PWC Coverage Actually Cover?

To get a framework of how PWC coverage works, think of it as a hybrid of auto and home insurance policies. Similar to auto insurance, PWC coverage includes damages your boat may inflict on docks or any other land item it may come into forceful contact with, personal injury of anyone inside or outside of the craft, and any physical damage that may harm the vessel itself. Like home insurance, PWC insurers give you the choice between replacement cost or cash value in the event of total loss. A unique element of PWC coverage that is independent of other essential insurances is the ability to lay-up; the winter months are undoubtedly less filled with trips to the lake as July and August, and fortunately, during such times of minimal to no use, coverage is subject to suspension.

Agreed Value vs. Actual Cash Value (ACV)

When buying a car, the value of your vehicle begins depreciating from the moment it’s obtained. The same goes for your boat, unless you make an agreement with your insurer on the value of the craft upfront. This agreed value will ensure a fixed fiscal compensation in lieu of an incident, in spite of depreciation. However, there are upsides to choosing an actual cash value (ACV) policy, where a vessel is insured based on current market value. Most insurers will offer a steeply discounted rate for ACV agreements.

Where is Your Boat Covered?

Outside of the water, your boat does neither you nor your insurer any good, begging the question: will your vessel receive any coverage when on land? The answer is maybe, but not from your PWC coverage. Depending on the type of auto insurance you have, your watercraft may be insured while out of the water. In the case of attachment via trailer, your vehicle policy reigns supreme. This does not necessarily mean your boat will be covered in this regard, but to ensure that it is, an umbrella policy included in your auto insurance may secure your boat’s haul from the garage to the lake.

Lessen the Bloat of Boat Insurance

With a deeper understanding of the basics of boat insurance, it is easier to find ways to save. Here are a few steps you can take to deflate the rates of your coverage:

1. Get Your Arizona Boater Education Certificate. Certain providers offer discounts when boat safety classes are fulfilled.

2. Extend Your Lay-Up Period. Be realistic about how often you will use your boat for specific periods of time, and save money during your busiest months.

3. Invest in Boat Safety Features. Your rates may be underwritten if your boat is secured with enough safety features. In addition, preventative measures can inhibit incidents and keep your rates from spiking after an accident.

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Insurance Agents Offer Tips for Getting the Most Value from Your Homeowners Insurance

Insuring your home is one of the greatest fixed expenses you will have. Your insurance agents want to help you see that this is money well spent whether you file any claims or not. The following steps should prove useful for getting your money’s worth from your home insurance:

Maintain a Good Credit Record

Customers who pay their bills on time and don’t take out more in loans than they can afford to pay back are generally seen as lower insurance risks. Responsibility pays off in discounts.

Buy Your Home and Auto insurance from the Same Company

Insurers that offer different types of coverage will often give a 10% to 15% discount for buying multiple policies. Likewise, staying with the same insurer can garner a discount for customer loyalty.

Upgrade Home Features

Many home improvements, such as adding a security system or a sprinkler system, will result in discounts on insurance premiums. Your insurance agent will be able to tell you exactly which features provide a discount and how much of a discount in your area.

Review Your Riders

At least once a year, take a look at the extra insurance you have for valuables such as jewelry, art, or antiques. Do you still have these valuables? Have they significantly increased or decreased in value? Are they something you want to continue to keep and insure? Asking these questions will help determine whether you’re paying the right amount insuring extras. Also, and most importantly, list out and photograph each of these items with an appraisal value, and keep multiple copies of this list in different places. If you do have to file a claim, this documentation will help immensely.

Ask Your Agent What Discounts are Available

There are various discounts available for senior citizens, nonsmokers, and customers who have not filed previous claims against their homeowners insurance (see also Chubb Insurance Scottsdale AZ). Other responsibility discounts may apply to you. Ask your agent for details.

Raise Your Deductible

Increasing the amount you will have to pay out of pocket if you do file a claim is a good way to lower the cost of your premium. Just put the amount you save on premiums into an emergency fund that you do not touch unless you have a genuine emergency.

Check for Adequate Replacement Value

Make sure that your policy covers the replacement value of your home in the event of a catastrophic loss. This is the primary reason you carry insurance. Do an annual cost analysis of what it would take to rebuild your home and set your coverage accordingly.

Don’t Hoard

Clutter increases the risk of fires, personal injury, and the inability to get out of the house in an emergency (or for emergency crews to get in). It also impedes proper maintenance. This will be reflected in what you pay in premiums. Cleanliness pays.

Limit the Number of Pets

The drawbacks of clutter listed above apply to pets as well, perhaps even more so. The presence of too many animals in a residence creates obvious health hazards and may present dangers for emergency crews.

Understand Your policy

This is probably the most important favor you can do for yourself. Read your policy thoroughly; if there are provisions you don’t understand, ask your insurance agent to go over them with you.

Unusual Things Your Insurance May Actually Cover

Items covered on your home insurance policyThe purpose of having homeowners insurance is that you’ll be covered in the event of an emergency. So how covered are you? The answer might surprise you, as there are a number of things your policy might cover that you hadn’t thought of before.

Falling debris from outer space is covered under most policies. This debris could consist of meteors, comets or even falling pieces of a spaceship. This coverage isn’t normally listed specifically; a claim for this type of loss would fall under the category of “falling objects.”

If you’re worried about stampeding animals invading your home, you’ll be glad to know that this is typically covered as well. This coverage is normally for animals that you don’t personally own. If you live next to a ranch or farm, you could benefit in the event your neighbor’s livestock gets loose and suddenly invade your property.

Other animal damage could be included as well. In the event a skunk discharges inside your residence, you could be entitled to money that would help you with your cleanup efforts.

Water damage from broken pipes isn’t the only thing that’s usually covered. Aquarium breaks and bursting water beds can also be included in many policies. In order to file a claim, you must usually assert that these items were maintained and stored properly within your home, yet failed to operate as expected.

Every insurance policy is different so not everyone will have the same coverage for these unusual events. Even so, it cannot hurt to contact an insurance agent if you inadvertently suffer a property loss due to no fault of your own. For more information about the different policies that are available, contact us today.

What You Need to Know About Your Homeowners Insurance Policy

If you want to protect yourself and your house from potential unexpected disasters, you need homeowners insurance. In the event of a storm, gas explosion, vehicle accident, or flood, your house will be safeguarded against possible damage costs if you have a valid homeowners insurance policy with you. Many people fear that home insurance may be too expensive for them, however, with careful planning and enough research you could find very affordable homeowners insurance policies in Arizona.

If you are totally new to the home insurance industry, you should first do some research online to learn basic knowledge about home insurance. Although not legally required by law, you should get homeowners insurance.

If you want to save on your policy premium, you should consider following some tips to help keep your premium low:

Securing your home with a good locking system is one of the most effective ways to help lower your premium. If you have a house equipped with a state-of-the-art security camera system and secure deadlocks, your homeowners insurance premium will lower. Another thing you could do to lower your insurance premium is to upgrade your plumbing. Water damage is the most dominant reason for home insurance claims, therefore, if you could lower your risk of water damage, you will lower your insurance premium accordingly.

We all know that homeowners insurance does cover theft, however, no one actually wants to go through the experience. Even though theft is very common, it is totally possible to prevent theft from happening.

1. Know Your Neighbors Well

Living in a safe neighborhood could decrease theft rate drastically. When you have trustworthy and caring neighbors, they can look after your property while you are away.

2. Secure Your Home With the Latest Technology

Installing a state-of-the-art security camera system may not be enough. You also need a good locking system. Deadbolts and window locks are a must.

3. Make Your Home Look Occupied When You are Away

Thieves don’t want to get into trouble by breaking into an occupied home, so they will pass on your house if it looks like there is someone inside. Light timers and TV timers will help you make your vacant home appear occupied.

4. Hide Your Precious Stuffs

Do not put your high-value stuffs on display for every passerby to see. You should not let the whole world know that you have a home full of valuable assets.

5. Do Not Let the World Know You Will be Away

Many people use social media to update their status and location in real time. However, social media is also the place for thieves and stalkers to get information about their target. You can inform your friends and relatives about your upcoming trip by calling them, emailing them or texting them. You can always brag about your trip after you return home.

If you haven’t got homeowners insurance to protect your home, it is time to do so. Contact any one of our many insurance agents today and we will help you get the best premium possible.

Insurance Agents in Arizona Talk About Break-ins

Arizona homeowners are being confronted with a rise in property crimes not just in their homes, but in their cars and storage areas. Crime statistics for 2010 show that “the city property crime rate in Phoenix was higher than the national property crime rate average by 35.05%.” Based on these and other statistics, given that the total burglary reports for Phoenix in 2010 amounted to 15,626, and the projected burglary rate for Phoenix in 2013 is 17,080. Your insurance agents want to help you make sure that your property doesn’t become part of these statistics.

To start with, here is an interesting infographic that covers many of the basic facts and statistics regarding residential break-ins. Since this information was compiled by a security system provider, it naturally promotes the use of home alarms. A security system is an important component of an overall plan, but they are too often defeated by the owners themselves. Nothing will substitute for awareness. Set the alarm for the day when you’re at work, not only at night.

It’s not just that the number of break-ins is increasing, but the types of break-ins have changed. Since more people are using garage door openers with remotes in cars, a burglar will break into a car in the driveway in order to get the remote. That’s often enough to gain entry into the house, as many residents neglect to lock the doors between the house and the garage. Remove remotes from cars parked outside. Lock your car each time you leave it.

Vacant houses are a burglar magnet because it’s so easy to tell that they’re unoccupied. An overgrown yard, shuttered windows, no cars in front, unused trash cans that are never put on the curb, notices or flyers flapping on the doors— all these signs are invitations to break in or vandalize. If a tenant can’t be found immediately, hire a property manager to check the premises daily.

It’s also become common for burglars to pose as work crews. They will drive around hauling trailers with yard equipment, shovels, pvc pipes, or other tools that give them the appearance of being on a job. It’s the most natural thing in the world to see a man walking around a house with a shovel on his shoulder, carefully examining landscaping or the foundation, and to assume he’s from a nearby nursery or a foundation repair company. What he’s actually doing, however, is looking for security wires, a vulnerable door, or a partially hidden window. Know what’s going on in your neighborhood. Look for company signage on any work trucks.

Finally, one of the most depressing trends in break-ins is the number of them that occur during summer vacation or school holidays. Unsupervised teens have been known to break into neighbors’ homes for a number of reasons:

(1) They’re familiar with the area; they know who goes to work during the day or who is away on vacation. They know who has the expensive toys and who does not have a dog or a security system.

(2) They’re bored, looking for some excitement, or trying to build up a reputation.

(3) They don’t like certain neighbors and want to exact a little revenge for a perceived wrong.

Get to know your neighbors. Take extra precautions during school breaks.  

Tips Insurance Agents Will Give You to Protect Your Home from Damage

Although home insurance will provide coverage for your home in case of a disaster, the best way to avoid home damage is to engage in preventative measures. Many disasters, natural and artificial, may be avoided by making some extra effort. By taking some tips from insurance agents, implementing these measures should be possible in no time at all.

The first step is to investigate the most frequently occurring natural disasters in your area. Different parts of Arizona will tend to suffer from higher rates of specific disasters than others. For example, some areas will be more prone to tornadoes and floods while others will have a high rate of earthquakes. In some cases it is possible to purchase specialist insurance which only covers one type of disaster or incident. Take the time to meet with local insurance agents for some tips.

Evaluate which type of insurance is right for you when meeting with insurance agents. It is important to understand that a typical home insurance policy does not cover natural disasters. According to the Arizona Department of Insurance:

The broad policy covers all the perils covered by the basic plus: building collapse; freezing or accidental discharge of water, or steam from within plumbing, heating, or air conditioning systems and domestic appliances; falling objects; weight of ice, snow, or sleet; and rupture or bursting of steam or hot water heating systems. The special policy covers dwellings for “all risks” except certain specified perils, such as earthquake and flood, and coverage for damage to personal property caused by any of the perils covered by a basic or broad policy. For an additional premium, a special endorsement usually can be added to extend the special policy to provide “all risk” coverage on personal property that is normally limited or excluded from the policy.

There is even a comprehensive package which is rarely sold today that covers almost any possible damage to your home that is imaginable. Deciding which insurance policy is right for you should be influenced by the overall value of your home as well as which accidents or disasters you feel are most likely.

Make changes to your home that will help prevent damage from occurring in the first place. Some good examples of these changes may include installing new piping, roofing, or a lightning rod. These home improvements can prevent damage from leaking pipes, mold, and even fire. Some other examples of preventative measures include reinforcing your home’s foundation to help resist a tornado or installing fire resistant insulation.

Many insurance agents will agree to give you a discount on home insurance for installing such precautions in your home. Be sure to mention all of these facts when signing up for insurance. Some agents will also agree to give you a discount based on other factors such as a high credit score or a claim-free history. Buying insurance can be challenging, but with the right know how, getting a discount should be achievable.

Arizona Insurance Agents Show You How to Prevent Water Damage to Your Home

Water damage is a primary cause for claims against homeowners insurance in Arizona. Even a paid claim cannot adequately compensate you for the time and aggravation of dealing with water damage, so we want to help you avoid this issue.

Let’s start by addressing potential water damage to the exterior of your home, or your neighbor’s home- during rain season.

The major factor in avoiding exterior water issues is the slope of the ground surrounding your house. Six inches in slope for every 10 feet, or a grade of -2% to -5% is considered ideal for drainage, but you must make sure your excess water does not drain into your neighbors’ yards.

Another factor affecting drainage is the amount of concrete around your house in the form of driveways or patios. Water that hits concrete has got to drain off somewhere, so you need to control that flow. A good solution may be to replace some of that concrete with pavers. Lay drainage pipes underneath the pavers, or install French drains. Always consult with a licensed contractor to make sure your renovations meet codes.

See that your roof is in good shape. An inspection every two to four years is adequate unless there has been severe weather, in which case you should have someone look at it right away. Damaged shingles or missing flashing indicates the need for repairs. Go up to the attic during the day to look for spots of daylight coming through the roof. Water spots on room ceilings or walls call for an immediate roof inspection.

Finally, see that your home is equipped with gutters and downspouts. Not only do they safely channel excess rainwater, they protect landscaping and add aesthetic appeal.

Now let’s look at how to head off interior water damage.

1. Monitor water use. This sounds elementary until you realize that a significant amount of water damage is caused by overflowing tubs, toilets and sinks. Make sure that sinks are equipped with overflow drains. Always supervise children in the bathroom and kitchen.

2. Fix malfunctioning appliances immediately. A constantly running toilet is a disaster waiting to happen, and when it finally gives, it will do so in the middle of the night. Water heaters that are 10 years old or older should be replaced. Not only will you head off a sudden 50 gallon deluge, you will enjoy the savings of new energy efficient models. Inspect your dishwasher door’s seals or gaskets, and replace them if they are hard or cracked. Periodically check your washing machine’s drain hose to see that it is clear and uncrimped to the stand pipe (you’d be surprised what sometimes happens to those missing socks).

3. Dehumidify wet basements. Control minor seeping with an oil-based masonry waterproofing paint. Major seeping problems may have to be addressed with a French drain or other pressure relief systems. Get expert advice on this.

4. If you live in an area that experiences freezing temperatures, protect your pipes by covering exterior spigots and allowing interior faucets to drip during cold spells.

5. Know where your home’s water shutoff valve is located and how to operate it. Should you experience sudden flooding from a water supply line failure, shutting off the water quickly will mitigate damage.

Contact any one of our insurance agents, they will be glad to help.

Insurance Agents Offer Safe Driving Tips

With the start of the new year and Winter winds blowing, the snow birds have arrived in Arizona. While these visitors are welcome, the increase in traffic can cause an increase in accidents and insurance claims. Insurance agents would like to offer some safe driving tips for natives and for those who are visiting the state.

Vehicle Safety

Before you get behind the wheel make sure that all of your tires are inflated properly. A low tire could indicate a problem that will make it more difficult to drive, or even cause an accident. Always use your safety belt. This will help reduce injuries for you and your passengers if you do get involved in an accident. If you are driving a rental car, make sure you know where everything is before you start driving. This includes lights, wipers, radio, air conditioning, and mirror controls. Adjust all of the mirrors to ensure you can see clearly.

Double check the dashboard for any warning lights. Proper maintenance on a vehicle will not only improve performance, but improper maintenance can impact insurance claims. Once you are comfortable and everyone is buckled up, you are ready to go.

Of course be sure to follow all traffic signs and obey all traffic laws. These laws are for everyone and help keep us all safe.

Dust Storms and Monsoons

Arizona is in a desert that is subject to frequent dust storms. The high winds sweeping across the dry desert can blow dust onto highways and reduce visibility. Visitors from the north may be familiar with blizzard conditions where blowing snow reduces visibility. Dust storms are much the same, though they don’t make the road slippery. If you are caught in a dust storm turn on your lights and reduce speed accordingly or pull over to the side if the storm is severe. If you decide to pull off the road, be sure to get as far over to the right as possible.

Deserts are not the first environment where people expect floods, but they do happen in Arizona. These flash floods can cover roads with a torrent of water that is dangerous to cross. Areas where floods are common will have signs that say, “do not cross when flooded”. These signs are there for your safety, so find another way to get where you are going.

Don’t cross washes that have swollen with recent rain. There is no way to predict if another rain will send a sudden flash flood down the wash. These flash floods are strong enough to wash away even a large vehicle.

Night Time Driving

Statistically speaking, night time is the most hazardous time to drive in Arizona, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety. It is important to be particularly cautious when driving after dark. Here are some quick tips to help:

  • Slow down so you are driving within your vehicle’s headlights.
  • Dim your headlights if you are following another driver.
  • Keep your headlights clean.
  • Go slow on curves.
  • Avoid using light inside your car while driving.
  • Do not drive if you are tired.
  • Obey the speed limit (55 mph on federal highways, 65 mph on rural interstates).

Driving safely and following all applicable laws will help avoid costly and dangerous accidents for you and your family.

Arizona Insurance Agents Offer Tips on Kitchen Fire Safety

There’s nothing nicer on a cold winter morning than cooking up a good hot breakfast to share with someone you love. Even kitchen klutzes can figure out how to brew coffee and scramble eggs. But make sure you’re awake before you stumble into the kitchen and turn on the stove, because studies by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) show that the number-one cause of home fires and home fire injuries is cooking, and most of those cooking fires start on the stove. In consultation with the NFPA, your insurance agents should offer these tips for making sure your kitchen experiences are happy ones:

  • Don’t store plasticware or anything flammable in an oven or microwave. Always check inside an oven before turning it on. Completely clear off the stovetop before turning on a burner.
  • Stay focused on cooking. Once you turn on a stovetop burner, don’t leave the kitchen without turning it off. Always keep the stovetop in your field of view when working in the kitchen.
  • In a small kitchen, don’t allow more than one other person to help you cook. Unless this is a special teaching session with one child, keep children away from the stove.
  • Keep a clean kitchen. Grease and food spills can catch fire. Clear clutter away from the stovetop. Have paper recipes encased in plastic, and when you need to refer to them, put them on a counter away from the stove.
  • Use pots and pans of adequate capacity on the stovetop and in the oven to prevent spills.
  • Be careful not to overheat oil or grease. Use cooking thermometers when in doubt. Immediately turn off the heat under any grease that starts to smoke.
  • Roll up sleeves and tuck in loose shirts. An apron is good for more than keeping stains off good clothes; it can keep good clothes from getting scorched.
  • Use the back burners first, and turn pot handles out of the way. Make sure all pots have lids that fit, and have them accessible while cooking.
  • Keep pot holders in a designated place where they are easy to reach when you need them and easy to put away when you don’t.
  • Use timers to remind you what’s cooking where.
  • Keep a charged fire extinguisher in or close to the kitchen.
  • Keep a box of baking soda nearby because…

…if you do have a kitchen fire:

  • Pour baking soda on a grease fire, NOT WATER. Water will cause burning grease to splatter.
  • Turn off all burners and the oven.
  • Slide a lid firmly over a pan with burning contents and leave the lid on until the pan is cool.
  • Use the fire extinguisher that you kept charged and ready. Point the nozzle at the base of the fire, not the flames.
  • If the fire gets out of control, make sure everyone is out of the house. Get out yourself before calling 911. Shut all doors behind you.

We hope this list will help keep your winter cooking pleasant! For more information, please contact our insurance agents.

Arizona Insurance for the Motorcylist

Riding a motorcycle is a fun way to get around, and Arizona’s weather means that when others up north are shivering and huddling under blankets, you can take to the highway. But before you “get your motor running,” there are factors involved in insurance requirements that you need to consider first.

Insurance Itself

First and foremost (and there’s no getting around this), if you are planning to drive on public roads and your vehicle has a motor, you need insurance. Cars, tractors, motorcycles, mopeds, even golf carts are all considered vehicles when it comes to driving on the road (and no, you can’t drive on the sidewalk to get around this restriction).

Arizona requires the same amount of coverage for the motorcycle driver as it does from the automobile driver when it comes to insurance. Namely, the minimum amounts of liability coverage are:

  • $15,000 bodily injury coverage for one person in one accident
  • $30,000 bodily injury coverage total per accident
  • $10,000 property damage coverage per accident

Remember that liability coverage only covers the other people injured in an accident, and not yourself. Comprehensive and collision coverage, while not required, provide quite a bit of peace of mind. That way, you don’t have to worry if that other guy doesn’t have the right amount of insurance.

Insurance coverage is a pretty big deal. If the Motor Vehicle Division inquires about your coverage and you can’t prove you have it, not only could they suspend your motorcycle registration, they could suspend your driver’s license!  Suddenly you go from “born to be wild” to “born to take the bus everywhere,” and are facing a long line to get your registration in order, along with a $50 reinstatement fee.

Is it Actually a Motorcycle?

When looking for insurance, it’s also important to know if you are actually driving a motorcycle. According to Arizona law, not all vehicles on less than four wheels are the same, and this will affect not just your registration fees, but your insurance coverage as well.

The first, and smallest type we’re looking at is the moped, which has bicycle-like pedals and a small engine with less than 50 cc displacement. Mopeds have a maximum speed of 25 miles-per-hour, and 1.5 brake horsepower or less.

Next up, then, is the motor-driven cycle, a motorized vehicle with up to three wheels designed to go faster than 20 mph, but with engine displacement from 49 to 80 cc.  Basically this is the class where you’re going to find your motor scooters.

Anything larger than that, and you’ve got an actual motorcycle, which is any motorized vehicle with up to three wheels, and isn’t a tractor (though using a Harley as a tractor does have a certain appeal, doesn’t it?).

If you’re having difficulty determining what class your bike is, the Motor Vehicle Division of Arizona can provide more information.

Helmet Laws

The amount and type of insurance coverage you have does not have any bearing on the helmet laws of Arizona. Those laws, by the way, require a helmet for any rider or passenger under the age of eighteen. Those over the age of 18 do not have to wear a helmet, but any driver must wear goggles or some form of protection that covers the eyes. Because, let’s face it, you don’t want to take a bug to the eye at 50 mph. Ouch, and ick.

By the way, that same section of law that requires goggles also requires a rear-view mirror, a seat, footrests and handrails for a passenger, and that the driver’s hands be lower than shoulder height as he drives. So your toddler may look cute hanging from the steering bar, but that doesn’t mean he’s safe to drive.

Be safe, and happy riding!