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.

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.

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.

New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home Insurance

With 2013 just around the corner, now is the time to do something for your home. Here are three New Year’s resolutions to ensure your home insurance is in tip-top shape.

Review Your Home Insurance Policy Carefully

Tips for your Phoenix Home Insurance Policy

An insurance policy is a complicated document. Most people don’t thoroughly read their coverage until they need to file a claim. Your first resolution for 2013 is to read your policy, beginning with the declarations page.

The declaration page includes all the basic details including:

  • Name of insurance company
  • Name of insured person(s)
  • Residence of insured person(s)
  • Policy number
  • Policy period
  • Property covered
  • Coverages purchased
  • Limits of liability
  • Deductibles
  • Premium

It’s important to review the declaration page long before you file a claim, to verify the information is accurate and that you have the type and amount of insurance coverage you expect. If not, rectify the situation immediately.

The next part of your insurance package you need to review contains the actual policy. Depending on your insurance carrier, this section may contain information on:

  • Dwelling and personal property
  • Liability
  • Medical payments
  • Additional living expenses
  • Definitions
  • Conditions
  • Limitations
  • Exclusions

Just as with the declarations page, it is important to review the information contained in your policy. Make sure you understand the type of coverage you have and determine if you need to make changes. In all cases, if you have questions or concerns, be sure to contact your insurance agent.

Consider Optional or Additional Home Insurance Coverage 

Your lender typically sets the minimum amount of insurance required to obtain a mortgage. This may be too little or too much for your individual circumstances, so it’s wise to compare the minimum required with your preferences. 

Many homeowners don’t consider what optional coverage they may want or need, or which is not included in their current policy. Optional or additional insurance may include coverage for:

  • Earthquakes
  • Floods (www.floodsmart.gov)
  • Home businesses
  • Sewer backup
  • Umbrella liability
  • Watercraft
  • Theft
  • Debris removal
  • Tree, plant, and shrub protection
  • Credit card coverage
  • Identity theft
  • Mold

For more information, including further descriptions of many of the coverages listed above, the Arizona Department of Insurance offers this booklet: Consumer’s Guide to Homeowners Insurance.

Arrange an Appointment with Your Agent

Most experts recommend conducting an audit of your home insurance coverage at least once a year. Be sure to consider physical changes that could impact the value of your home – a bathroom upgrade, perhaps – or pricey furnishings that might increase the value of its contents. In addition, you may be eligible for discounts, like if you add security features, retirement discounts, or if you’re home more and can keep an eye on your place.

So before 2012 passes by, give your agent a call and arrange for a meeting in 2013. Explain that you want an audit to review your current policy and determine if it still meets your needs.

In the meantime, if you’re shopping around for home insurance, contact us or check out our website for more helpful tips and ideas.

Get Insurance Against Fires This Winter

AZ Insurance Tips Winter

It’s finally cold in Arizona, and this means you are bundled up for days indoors. Sure, it might not get as cold here in Arizona as it does in, say, the Dakotas, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t get chilly. And with that winter chill, some people might want to build a fire in their fireplace, or have a bonfire one evening. That’s why winter is the perfect time to check for fire hazards around your home and to fix them before they become a real problem.

So, what are some of the most common sources of fires around a home? If you’re checking for problems around your own property, you should look for:

  • Dead or dried-up vegetation close to your home. This is a true warning sign, as any old plants or dried up wood can very easily turn into a roaring blaze.
  • Leaves and sticks clogging your gutters. Old leaves, small twigs, and other debris can fall off trees or get kicked up to your roof by the wind. If they fill your gutters and dry out, they’re basically a tinderbox sitting right against your rafters.
  • Old, cracked, or leaking tanks and pipes. If you have gas utilities or even just a propane grill, be mindful that old tanks and pipes can give off gas fumes, creating a potential fire or explosion hazard.

If you find any of these risks around your own home, the first step is to remove the problem sensibly. For instance, many homeowners choose to dispose of leaves and old vegetation by – ironically – burning it. If you do this without looking for other risks first, flying embers and sparks could easily reach your home and create just the problem you were trying to avoid.

So, make sure you dispose of leaves and dried vegetation carefully, either by preferably composting or putting it in the trash, or – if you must burn – by a well-monitored and controlled fire. The best way to do this is to choose a remote, distant location from your home with no large vegetation nearby. If you can, dig a fire pit or a ring around the fire, or place a ring of large stones around the outside.

Also, make sure to check gas lines and old tanks for leaks and cracks. If you do find some, the safest thing to do is to call a professional and let them help you patch the leak. There are also many places where you can exchange old, obsolete propane cylinders for new ones full of fuel for only a small amount more than the propane costs.

Remember, stay safe this winter, and make sure to protect your home from fire. And if you’re curious about other ways to keep yourself and your home safe, check out our insurance website for helpful tips, ideas, and advice.

Learning How to Purchase Insurance

AZ Insurance AgentWith a wide variety of insurance to choose from, finding the right policy for your coverage needs can be difficult.

Everyone knows that Arizona is a state which has a very low rate of natural disasters. This can make finding the right insurance agent for your personal situation challenging, since the probability of a certain disaster occurring will likely depend on your specific area. Take the time to do some research about the statistics concerning disasters in your area. This knowledge will help you later when you are building your insurance portfolio.

A good insurance agent will tend to have a reputation. Only work with an agent that has proven themselves to a client base in the past. The specific agency or company is also very important to consider. Investigate how often they deny claims, exactly how much coverage you get for what you pay, as well as the specific technicalities that allow agents to deny your claim.

Arizona has unique coverage when compared to most other states in the country. According to Home Insurance.org,

1) In case an individual suffers an injury while within the premises of your property, legal damages are taken care of by the coverage provider.

2) In the scenario that a calamity renders your home uninhabitable, the coverage provider shall monetarily assist you to live elsewhere.

These two aspects are very important to consider as a person purchasing insurance because they cover you legally in the case of the unexpected. This makes it very advantageous to own home insurance, because in the event that someone is injured on your property you will not be held responsible. If your home is damaged or destroyed, the insurance company will need to temporarily fund a place for you to live in.

It is very important to realize that most typical insurance policies do not cover against natural or freak disasters, such as a nuclear disaster or natural disaster such as a hurricane or earthquake. While the incidence of natural disasters tend to be low in the state of Arizona, it is still possible to purchase additional protection by investing in a specialist policy.

Always take the time to compare several different policies before settling on the one that is right for you. Taking the time to evaluate different policies based on factors such as the cost, coverage provided, and previous customer satisfaction rate is absolutely essential. Never make the mistake of simply working with the first insurance agency that you come across.

Look for potential deductions that you can use to save money on a policy. Although it might seem like a certain policy costs more, you could actually end up spending less by using the various deductions that are available. Deductions are often based on factors such as the amount of claims you have previously submitted, as well as other factors that tend to decrease the chances of you filing a claim. Use deductions that other insurance companies offer as a negotiating edge.

Contact any insurance agent in Arizona and they can guide you through this process.

Finding the Right Insurance for Your Budget

Insurance in ArizonaThere are a lot of factors to evaluate when attempting to find the right insurance in Arizona for your specific needs. Insurance can be complicated to purchase because there is such a wide variety of factors to consider. A great example is home insurance. With such a wide variety of disasters that occur in Arizona, knowing what insurance is right for your home can be challenging. Besides home insurance, buying the right health, life, and car insurance can also be a challenge. By learning how to navigate the complex insurance market, finding the right insurance for your personal needs should be possible in no time at all.

Let us start with buying car insurance. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation:

Arizona requires that every motor vehicle operated on our roadways be covered by one of the statutory forms of financial responsibility, more commonly called liability insurance, through a company that is authorized to do business in Arizona. This includes golf carts, motorcycles and mopeds.

Minimum levels of financial responsibility established in 1980 are:

  • $15,000 bodily injury liability for one person and $30,000 for two or more persons

  • $10,000 property damage liability

A lot of people have a hard time deciding exactly what type of insurance they need for their car. The best way to determine this is to know the worth of your vehicle. If your car is worth $2,000 dollars or less, then minimum rate coverage might be the way to go. However, for newer cars that are worth more, more expensive and comprehensive coverage is necessary.

When purchasing insurance for your home, it is important to investigate the natural disasters that occur most often in the area where your home is located. Arizona is a state that is home to a wide variety of different natural disasters such as flooding, tornadoes, and earthquakes. Quite a few homes also end up being damaged during thunderstorms as well. Knowing which natural disasters occur most frequently where you live will help you buy the specific types of natural disaster insurance that will be most cost effective.

In addition to purchasing insurance, it is important to make an active effort to protect your home from natural disaster damage. Simple actions like installing a lightning rod, fortifying the foundation of your home, or installing a sub pump can help prevent home damage from occurring in the first place. Such precautionary measures are also likely to help reduce the price of your insurance, since there is a lower risk of damage from a natural disaster.

When evaluating different providers of insurance, it is important to determine which ones provide the best incentives and discounts. Usually insurance companies will offer these to people who display qualities that have been shown to lower risk. These might include not getting into a car accident or receiving a speeding ticket for a certain period of time, excelling in school, or having a clean insurance history of not filing claims. Always choose an insurance agent that provides incentives with full coverage.

Protecting Against Roof Repair Scams

It is that time of year again… Monsoon Season!

photo from boomerinthepew.com

During Monsoon Season, homeowners experience the beauty and splendor of the Arizona terrain. Flowers are in bloom thanks to more rainfall, hail and the beauty of our sunsets is magnified. It is the time of year when the animals come out in force- more than any other time of the year. Everything is radiant, until one morning when you look up and see what you have been dreading since the rains first started. Nightmares of that last hail storm begin flooding your dreams: roof damage. This damage is of course, not always delivered in the form of hail. Tree branches and high winds can add damage to already aging roofs and deteriorate living conditions and affect the costs of utilities over time if repair is stalled for too long.

An even bigger hazard to your health, your roof, your wallet AND you standing with your insurance are roof repair scams. Everyone has heard the horror stories of scam artists who took their victim’s insurance money and disappeared into thin air, leaving behind unfinished work or not showing up to do work at all. We have found through the years of taking calls from clients that not all roofing contractors are the same.

Here are a few tips to help protect you from roof repair scams:

Take the time to shop around: There is no shame in getting multiple quotes from different roofing companies. Go for it! In addition, your insurance agent may even be able to provide a list of roofing companies or refer you to roofing contractors that are located in your area. But you will never know if you don’t ask.

Don’t find yourself in high pressure situations: If a salesman is trying to pressure you or if something just doesn’t feel right about it- listen to your gut instincts. A good roofing contractor will work with you in order to get your business, not pressure you into a contract.

Research all roofing companies that you are considering: Before you begin deciding which roofing company you want to use, make sure that they are a legitimate business with a license to do home repair work in Arizona. The presence of a contractor’s license is very important as it can help to identify whether or not the company is a legitimate business. You can look up license numbers and get more information at the Arizona Contractor License Center.

In addition to the above website, you can also refer to websites such as the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) or websites such as Angie’s List (www.angieslist.com), which can aid you through reviews written by previous customers (however, you should always take these reviews with a grain of salt).

-Don’t be afraid to ask questions: This is your roof. It is something that will be hanging over your head (literally), for quite some time. Asking questions is not a bad thing. Often times, a good company will encourage asking questions.

NEVER pay prior to repairs: One staple of being scammed is that the salesman will want the money before the work is started. So don’t give the full amount until the work is complete. Some roofing companies do require money before hand, but a legitimate contractor or roofing company shouldn’t ask for the full amount prior to completing the project.

Storm Damage:

If you do have storm damage and you have extensive water damage in your home, you should call a water damage repair contractor. Many times you will have a tree that has fallen and you need a tree removal company.

For more tips and articles regarding insurance, please visit: Arizona Capital Insurance.