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!

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.

Arizona Insurance Agents Tips For Holiday Home Security

AZ insurance agent tips

The holiday season is a terrific time to visit friends and family, to enjoy some winter recreation, or to leave town altogether.

Your home’s safety and security is an important element of your enjoyment and peace of mind while you are away.

Here are some insurance agents‘ tips for holiday home security:

Don’t broadcast your trip on social media – and this goes for your children, also!  No “check-ins” at out of town sites, no photo or video postings. There will be plenty of time for that when you get back.

Do stop delivery of mail and newspapers. Nothing says “empty house” more eloquently than a stuffed mailbox and newspapers all over the driveway. Plus, you run the risk of having mail stolen.

Do move your garbage cans into the garage or another secure location. An empty garbage can when your neighbor’s cans are full is a clear indication that no one is home.

Do invest in timers. These timers should be attached to both your interior and exterior lights as well as to televisions and radios in the home. Sound and light is a powerful deterrent and makes a house looked lived-in.

Do set your burglar alarm and make sure that a local friend has the house key, the burglar alarm code and the burglar alarm company phone number in case of an attempted burglary or in case of a false alarm. Make sure that your “call list” at the alarm company is up to date and that the people on that list will be in town when you are away.

Do ask a neighbor to walk by and check the house from time to time. Even stopping mail and newspapers does not guarantee that the front of the house will be clear. Advertising circulars and phone books are thrown into driveways or left on front porches, local merchants hang door hanger coupons on the front door knobs, packages that require signatures are indicated by sticky notes left at eye level on the front door. Even well-meaning friends and neighbors can drop off holiday gift bags by the front door, not realizing that you are not there to pick them up in a timely manner.

Do have a neighbor park their car in your driveway from time to time. Although most people fear a burglary happening at night, the truth of the matter is that most burglaries happen during the day as  residents and neighbors are usually not at home. Having a car parked in your driveway during the day is a possible indication that the home is occupied.

Do give a house key to a trusted friend or neighbor and do have them do interior walk-throughs of your home. Although we often worry most about crime when we are away, non-crime related incidents can cause a lot of damage to a home, especially if problems like broken water pipes are left unattended. Make sure this neighbor knows where the home utility boxes are located, such as the sprinkler timers or fuse boxes. If you have vendors coming to the home to do landscaping or cleaning, make sure that someone does a walk-through afterwards to make sure that the alarm system is turned back on and that all doors are locked.

Our insurance agents want you to have a happy, enjoyable holiday season! These tips are easy to follow and will make your vacation and your homecoming a secure one.

Finding the Right Insurance Agent in Arizona

There’s more to choosing insurance than just searching for quotes on the internet or finding the lowest price. Your choice of  insurance agents can affect the quality of service you receive and your level of satisfaction. Choosing the right agent is essential to getting the most for your premium dollars.

When you start looking for an insurance agent, be aware that there are two types of agents. Independent insurance agents work with several different companies whereas Captive agents have a dedicated book of business with just one insurance company.

The obvious advantage to an independent agent is that you may receive quotes from more than one insurance company and you may end up with a lower premium overall. Getting a lower price, however, may not always translate to a better deal. An agent is more than just the middleman in a business transaction; a good agent should also be an advocate for the customer.

There can be advantages to a Captive agent as well. These agents have well-established reputations and working relationships with the insurance companies they do business with. It is likely that they know the personnel in the claims department and management well and are known by them. If they are a valued agent, they can be an effective advocate in the case of a disputed claim.

Before you decide on an insurance agent, get references and check their ratings from existing customers. Consider what types of services you want from your agent. You want someone who is on your side and looking out for your best interest.

Are you looking to place all of your insurance business with the same agency? If so, make sure they do business with insurance companies who handle multiple lines of insurance such as home insurance, auto insurance, commercial insurance, etc.

Ask about their customer service department. Will there be a dedicated agent assigned to you? Take time to find out their protocol when reporting a claim and who will be your liaison with the insurance company. Do you feel comfortable that your agent will go to bat for you in the event of a dispute between you and the insurance company?

How well do they understand your individual needs, and have they explained why they recommend certain coverages and limits? How often do they review your policy and will they alert you to any changes or updates to your policy that you ought to be aware of? Will they give you comparative quotes or recommend changes if there are rate increases?

Every agent should be well-versed in policy language, how it affects you and whether or not the policy you want to buy is the policy you need.

Finding the right agent that can serve you both today and for the long term allows you to build more than just a business relationship, but a relationship of trust. Having an agent who knows your circumstances, your insurance needs and treats you as a valued customer instead of just a policy number will pay dividends in superior customer service for many years to come.

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.

Buying the Right Home Insurance for Your Family

Insurance policies in Arizona

Credit: Mike Olbinski

With such a diverse array of insurance options to choose from, finding the right insurance for your personal needs can be difficult. The only way to truly ensure that you are purchasing the insurance policy you need for the price you are willing to pay is to educate yourself. There are some basics worth considering when buying insurance in this state.

It is important to understand that Arizona is home to a very diverse array of natural disasters. These include dust storms, earthquakes, land slides, flash floods, and tornadoes, just to name a few. Take the time to do some research about the disasters that occur most frequently in the area of Arizona where your house resides. These statistics should help immensely when deciding which policy is right for you. According to the Western Farm Press, “The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 5 counties in Arizona as primary natural disaster areas due to damage and losses caused by ongoing drought and related disasters that began Jan. 1 and continues”. Knowing the disasters which specifically tend to affect your county is crucial.

While it is possible to buy insurance that covers your home in the case of a specific disaster, it is often easier to buy a comprehensive package which covers your home in the case of the most common natural disasters. Although these comprehensive policies can be expensive, they offer peace of mind. The worst thing that can happen is for a different natural disaster to occur than what you are specifically covered for.

There are other precautions besides purchasing home insurance that should be taken into consideration. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. One of the best ways to prevent a disaster from damaging or destroying your home is by taking some simple precautions. Meet with your agents to discuss some simple home modifications that can help prevent you from having to file a claim. Simple things like installing a lightning rod to prevent fires, installing a sump pump to prevent flooding, and strengthening a foundation can go a long way.

Evaluate the worth of your home before deciding to purchase a policy. Many people don’t take a close enough look at exactly how much coverage a specific home insurance policy provides. If you aren’t sure how much your home is currently worth, hire a professional to assess its current value. This will help ensure that you don’t overpay or underpay for your policy and are getting the exact amount of coverage that you need.

A good home insurance policy will also provide deductions based on various factors. These could include paying your bill on time, living in a low-risk area or simply because you have been a customer for a long period of time. Deductions can help you save a lot of money in the long run on the cost of your insurance. Do your research to help find out which insurance company can provide you with the most deductions. Also, when a disaster does strike, big or small such as a fire, water damage, or mold, we can help get you storm damage clean up providers.

Tips From Insurance Agents to Reduce Homeowners Claims

One factor that can affect the cost of your homeowners insurance is your claims history. Keeping your claims history to a minimum can be accomplished by using a variety of tips from insurance agents.

Winterize Your Home

This is a task that needs to be done in the fall before the winter season starts. All pipes that are exposed to the weather or cold will need to be insulated. This can be done by adding pipe insulation to all of the exposed pipes. Another option is to wrap heat tape on the pipes. You will need to insulate pipes that are in a garage or a crawl space that is exposed to cold air. Turn off and drain all your outside water faucets to prevent the pipes from freezing.

Protect Against Moisture and Mold

Areas of the country that have high levels of humidity can cause problems for a homeowner that has a basement. Excess moisture in a basement can lead to the formation of mildew and mold. Mold is a risk to you and your family’s health and needs to be prevented. Your homeowners policy may not cover any mold removal from your home. Moisture in your basement can be treated with a dehumidifier. If your basement has water penetration, then the walls may need to be sealed. Check all of the appliances in the basement, such as a water heater, to ensure there are no leaks. You also need to make sure that no water is leaking at your windows and doors.

Home Fire Prevention Measures

Verify that all of your smoke detectors are working properly once to twice each year. Smoke detectors that are not working properly may need a new battery or require a replacement. Your home should also have one to two fire extinguishers that are easily accessible. Fire extinguishers are needed to put out a grease fire because water will be ineffective. You should also have a fire evacuation plan for your home, should a fire occur.

Home Theft Safety Measures

Outside doors to your home should all have a deadbolt lock. You can also install an alarm or a security system to alert the police if your home is burglarized. If you have valuable items inside of your home, store them in a fire-resistant safe. Make sure that you do not have easy entry points that an intruder can use, such as a window air conditioner installed on the first floor.

Eliminate Safety Hazards and Nuisances

The potential for an accident is something that is not always considered. An accident can occur if you do not have the proper railings on staircases or take proper care to ensure your property is safe. Make sure that all sidewalks and entrances to your home are free of ice to prevent a trip and fall. You should also keep all flammable items in an outbuilding, such as a barn or shed, away from your home.

Benefits of Safeguarding Your Home

The use of smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and alarm systems qualify for a discount on a homowners insurance policy.

Make sure that you have reviewed your insurnce policies with your local insurance agent to make sure you are getting all the policy discounts that you should.

Arizona Home Insurance: Does My Policy Cover Fallen Trees?

Arizona Home Insurance Covers Tree on houseAs summer slowly begins turning to fall, you may be starting to notice leaves and branches dropping on your property. Have you ever wondered if your home insurance would cover you if a tree fell and caused damage to your property? What if a neighbor’s tree falls and takes out a storage shed? Is the cost of removing a fallen tree covered? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about when your homeowners policy covers fallen trees.

  1. If a tree falls and hits my house, am I covered? Usually, yes. Most homeowners insurance policies cover damage caused by fallen trees to your home or to other insured structures such as garden sheds or detached garages. Unless you purposely cut the tree down so you have an excuse to remodel your kitchen, it typically doesn’t matter what made the tree fall. Natural causes such as wind, lightning, or ice are all normally covered.
  2. My neighbor has a big tree close to our property line that I’m concerned may fall. If my neighbor’s tree damages my home, am I still covered? Again, yes. Regardless of who owns the tree, if it damages your home you can still file a claim with your insurance company. In strong storms trees and branches can turn into projectiles that cause considerable property damage. In most of those cases, your insurance company will be concerned with the damage to your property, not where the tree came from. If a tree located on your neighbor’s property falls due to disease or lack of care, your insurance company may try to recover costs from your neighbor’s insurance company. If this happens, you may be reimbursed for your deductible.
  3. Removing a fallen tree can be expensive. Are those costs covered? If a tree damages your home or another insured structure, your insurance company will most likely cover the cost of removing the fallen tree. If the tree falls on its own and does not damage property, the cost of removing the fallen tree does not typically fall under your homeowners coverage.
  4. The couple down the street paid for some pricey landscaping and woke up one morning to find that someone had stolen several trees and bushes. Am I covered if that happens to me? Most homeowners insurance policies cover loss or damage to trees and shrubs from various causes, including fire, lightning, vandalism, and theft. Coverage for damage or loss of trees is typically limited to 5% of the amount of insurance on your home. There may also be a $500 limit for any single tree or shrub.

If you have questions about how your homeowners policy protects you against damages from fallen trees or branches, contact your insurance agent to discuss your needs and ensure you are fully covered.