3 Things to Consider When Buying Home Insurance in Arizona

You’re looking for home insurance for your Arizona home. Perhaps you just moved to the state or you’re a first time homeowner. Either way, you’re unsure about what things to consider when you purchase insurance for your home.

What types of coverage do you need? How can you avoid paying too much? What should you look for in a homeowners insurance policy? Here are three things that many homeowners rarely consider when they buy home insurance.

Think About Safety First

Many times when people buy their home, they look for a great area, with friendly neighbors, close to schools or shopping. However, the MSN article, “10 Things That can Lower or Raise Your Homeowners Insurance Rates,” suggests looking for a home near a fire department. According to the post, if your home is over five miles from a fire station or fire hydrants, your insurance rates may be higher.

Additionally, items such as swimming pools, trampolines, and play equipment can cause injuries, thereby raising your rates. Whether it’s a fire or an injury, keep safety in mind when you consider your home.

Consider the Land Your Home is Built On

Most people don’t consider that the land their home sits on isn’t at risk from theft, fires, or other hazards. Therefore, they shouldn’t include its value in deciding how much homeowners insurance to buy. Otherwise, you could pay a higher premium than you should.

Your insurance agent can help you decide how much dwelling coverage to buy. Your coverage should equal the full replacement cost of your home. Replacement cost and market value are not the same. The market value includes the price of your land and depends on the real estate market.

Remember Your Responsibilities as a Homeowner 

Becoming a homeowner means an increased level of responsibility. That responsibility not only includes paying your home mortgage, home insurance premium, and taxes, but it includes maintaining your home and property as well.

Seasonal maintenance includes things such as:

  • Cleaning out your home’s rain gutters
  • Checking your roof for signs of wear and tear
  • Checking the weather stripping and caulking around your doors and windows
  • Cleaning your chimney flue
  • Checking for leaky faucets inside and out

Maintaining your home not only can save you money on the cost of your home insurance, it can keep the expenses of maintaining your home low.

Additionally, as a responsible homeowner, maintaining a solid credit history can help keep your home insurance costs in check. More and more insurance companies are using credit information to determine the cost of home insurance. Generally, they must advise you if there is any adverse action – like a higher rate.

Your best course of action is to keep your credit in good shape by paying your bills – like your home mortgage and insurance – on time and by not getting more credit than you need. And don’t forget to check your credit report regularly for problems or errors. You can check it for free once a year.

For more information on home insurance, check out this guide from the Arizona Department of Insurance or visit our website.

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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.

Pool Saftey

Arizona InsuranceFlying into Phoenix, Arizona, you see that hundreds of homes underneath you have swimming pools.  Vast gardens of deep blue line backyards for miles and miles. Arizona is hot! Phoenix actually has five months of summer. The months of May, June, July, August, and September are considered summer season!

There’s something else floating around these backyard pools. It’s called liability! Oh, cool off in the pool, next to the pool, in the house just looking at the pool, but mostly, make sure the pool is INSURED.  Insurance should be the first place you look for information. The consequences if you don’t aren’t cool at all!

You will be hotter under the collar than triple digit heat if someone gets injured or (gasp!) killed in your pool. Just think about it, you could lose your home paying for the privilege of chillin’ in your own backyard oasis, if you aren’t insured and someone gets hurt.

There can be no relaxing next to an uninsured swimming pool. Find out from an insurance company what can happen without the proper coverage. Take a look at some of these helpful hints to help you protect your assets:

The website, www.safetyathome.com offers these great safety tips: 

  • If you have a pool at home, install a fence. The fence should be at least four feet high and have a self-closing, self-latching gate that has a locking mechanism beyond a child’s reach.
  • Cut overhanging tree limbs and remove chairs or ladders from the pool area to prevent children from climbing over the fence that surrounds the pool.
  • Keep grates and drain covers in good shape and secured in place.  Alert your family and guests to stay away from these devices, as the suction from drain outlets can be strong enough to cause entrapment of hair or body parts, which can potentially cause a person to drown.
  • Make sure you know infant and child CPR if you own a pool.

Adults are just as likely to make mistakes and drown accidentally in your pool. Just think about a certain guy you know, who, if he was alone with your pool for a weekend, would possibly be found  floating at the bottom with a beer still clutched in his hand?

Don’t know anybody like that?  What about you? Even if you’re not Jay Gatsby, how responsible are YOU when the football buddies come over? How about your wife and her book club friends. Ever notice how many bottles of wine are alongside the trash after one of THOSE meetings?

How about the teenagers? Need I go further on this point? I would add to that list above, make sure your roof is inaccessible to teenagers who think they can “make it into the pool no problem!”

Follow these instructions and your life will be easier! Don’t forget that people are stupid sometimes! Your neighbor’s rude cousin  could decide to cool off in your pool because you aren’t home. After that he forgets to lock the gate. Any kid could walk in there and I wonder who will be liable!

Arizona is a great place to live. It’s a much more tolerable place when you have AC, a swimming pool, and a cocktail in hand, so make sure you have all the insurance you need behind your back, and you will really relax!

We invite you to call one of our insurance agents to see how you can get properly covered on all your insurance policies.

Keep Your Pool Safe and Prevent Insurance Claims

As the summer heats up, many Arizona residents want to cool off in their own pool. While splashing around in the water can be a great source of family entertainment, backyard pools can also be potential liabilities. According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I):

There are over 3,400 fatal accidental drownings in the U.S. annually, with children ages one to four having the highest drowning rates. Fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury related deaths for children ages one to 14 years old, according to the CDC. In addition, for every child who dies from drowning another four children will be treated for “nonfatal submersion injuries” which can cause brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities including memory problems, learning disabilities and permanent loss of basic functioning (e.g. permanent vegetative state).

Pool owners need sufficient liability coverage to cover their pool. Most homeowners insurance policies have at least $100,000 of liability protection. However, since pools are considered an “attractive nuisance,” homeowners may need additional liability coverage. The I.I.I. recommends at least $300,000 to $500,000 of liability coverage for pool owners. Homeowners also need enough insurance coverage to replace the pool if it is destroyed by a natural disaster.

Homeowners need to be aware that they can be liable for damages even if the person injured was using the pool without permission. In addition to purchasing sufficient liability coverage, homeowners should also consider the following safety precautions:

  • Completely surround the pool with a four sided fence that is at least 5 feet high, as required by law. If a residence makes up one side of the pool enclosure, there must be a barrier between the home and the pool that is at least four feet high.
  • Install an appropriate pool cover. Arizona requires a motorized, key-locking, ASTM approved pool cover.
  • Layer child safety measures such as pool alarms that sound when a child enters the water, self-closing latches that prevent a child from opening the pool gate, and alarms on exterior doors or windows that will alert when doors leading to the pool are opened.
  • Install a VBG compliant pool filter. Keep children away from pool filters or other suction devices and make sure that supervising adults know how to shut down the filter in case of an emergency.
  • Make sure that pool guests know how to swim. Proficient swimmers should accompany beginners, and adults should supervise children at all times.
  • Have emergency supplies such as ring buoys, reaching poles, and a first aid kit easily accessible. Post emergency numbers on the phone. Keep a phone close to the pool.
  • Regularly check the pool area for hazards such as glass bottles or toys that could cause an accident. Keep radios or other electronic devices away from the pool.
  • Restrict alcohol use near the pool. Alcohol is involved in almost half of water related deaths for both adults and teens.
  • Learn basic life-saving techniques such as rescue breathing and CPR.

Taking these basic safety precautions can help you and your friends safely enjoy your pool this summer. Pool safety doesn’t just prevent claims on your homeowners insurance policy, it also saves lives.

For more information on pool safety, you can view the state guidelines at the Arizona Department of Health Services website.

Prepare for Fire Season by Evaluating Your Homeowners Insurance

The 2012 Arizona wildfire season has already started, and the U.S. Forest Service estimates that the 2012 season could be as bad as the historic 2011 fire season. The 2012 National Seasonal Assessment predicts an “above normal significant fire potential” for the mountains, with a normal significant fire potential predicted for other parts of Arizona. As of May 16, the Gladiator Fire had already destroyed four structures and threatened almost 400 more.

There are several steps homeowners can take to prevent fire damage to their property, including using fire resistant materials, providing a firebreak, and creating a defensible space around structures. If the worst does happen, homeowners also need to be sure that they are adequately insured to cover a catastrophic loss of their homes. The Insurance Information Institute lists four key questions homeowners should ask to ensure adequate coverage in case of a disaster:

    1. Is my insurance coverage enough to rebuild my home at today’s costs?

Insuring your home for its value may not be enough to rebuild your home at the price of current construction. Adequate coverage should include a replacement cost policy that will pay for the replacement of damaged property with comparable materials. Arizona homeowners might also want to consider an extended replacement policy that will pay an additional 20% above policy limits if a disaster–such as a widespread wildfire–raises the cost of materials and labor. Other options include inflation or ordinance riders which help cover the impact of inflation or new ordinances on construction costs.

    1. Is my insurance coverage enough to replace all of my possessions?

Most homeowners insurance policies cover possessions at a rate of 50-70% of the amount of insurance on the structure of the home. A home inventory is the best way to determine if this is enough coverage to replace your personal possessions if they are lost to a fire or other disaster. You can insure your personal possessions by either a cash value or replacement cost policy. Cash value policies cover the cost of replacing your property after depreciation. Replacement cost policies cover the replacement cost of your possessions at today’s prices. Your insurance agent can help you determine whether a cash or replacement policy is the best option for you.

    1. Will my insurance cover my extra expenses if my home is destroyed?

If your home is destroyed in a wildfire or other disaster, there will be additional expenses beyond replacing your home and possessions. Coverage for additional living expenses would pay for the extra cost of living away from home and includes expenses such as hotel bills and restaurant meals. It could also cover lost rental income if you rent out a portion of your property.

    1. Will my homeowners insurance adequately protect my assets?

This question isn’t directly related to disaster planning, but it is still an important factor in evaluating your homeowners insurance needs. Liability damage protects you against claims made for bodily injury or property damage caused by you, a family member, or a pet. Liability damage covers court costs as well as any costs incurred in a court judgment up to the limits of your policy. Additional coverage beyond your policy limits is available in the form of an excess liability or umbrella policy.

Wise preparation for fire season should include making sure your home is adequately insured. Your insurance agent can help you evaluate your insurance needs.

How to Head-off Potential Claims on Your Homeowners insurance policy

Now that you’ve purchased your homeowners insurance, it’s time to think about steps you can take to prevent, or lessen, future homeowners insurance claims.

Here are some tips that might help in keeping the homeowners insurance claims adjuster away:

  • Buy enough coverage: Find out what it would cost to rebuild your house in your area. Want to keep the same look to the house? Ask a builder for an estimate on the cost to rebuild. Don’t skimp on coverage, and forget about paying that little extra for that piece of mind for insuring your home and belongings.
  • Bring on the fire department: Ask your local fire station to come by your house and do a fire safety inspection- and include your kids when they come to your house. Spotting fire hazards and fixing them will certainly pay off in the long run.
  • Insure that Picasso: Okay, maybe you don’t have a Picasso hanging in your entryway, but you might have a few, so-called luxury items like jewelry and an heirloom desk sitting in the den. Make sure you have the ‘rider’ for coverage, if needed.
  • Water… water: Everywhere. If only you would’ve changed that leaky hose on the washing machine before you left on vacation. Do a survey of your in-house connections. Sprinkler system? Make sure the automatic timer is working correctly and not ‘hanging up’ for hours on that station by your basement window. 
  • Accidents waiting to happen: Walkways and steps invite all sorts of potential for liability claims from strangers or friends coming to your property. Make sure step rails and decking are in good repair. 
  • Wind and hail: It’s not uncommon, or rare, for a major onslaught of wind and hail to hit parts of Arizona. Heed warnings by battening down patio furniture, or screen doors…and even keep tree limbs trimmed back. 

It makes good sense to review your homeowners insurance coverage with your insurance agent at least once a year.

 

Home Insurance Hints to Keep Burglars Away

Summer is approaching quickly in Arizona, which means the heat is coming on strong. For you, that means it is time for a short getaway, or maybe a lengthier vacation, for some time to cool off and refresh your body from the heat. As you’re getting ready to go, you are checking your to-do list before you head out. Clothes and shoes packed? Check. Toothbrush and toothpaste? Check. Sudoku puzzles and iPad charger? Check. Things are looking good, your bags are packed and you’re ready to go.

But, wait. Did you burglar-proof your home? The last thing you need to happen while you’re gone is to have someone break into your home and damage or steal your valuables, which would lead to a home insurance claim.

Let’s rewind back to that check list and let’s add some more steps to ensure that you don’t leave home with a huge sign on your house that reads “NO ONE HOME. BURGLARS WELCOME!”

What you want is to prevent any need to file a claim with your home insurance. To allow that, below are a few helpful tips for how to fool those burglars into thinking you are actually at home.

-Keep your mail and papers away

Call your local post office and your newspaper agency. Have both your mail and newspapers held while you are gone. Having a collection of papers on the lawn or mail spilling out of the mailbox are both obvious signs that someone might not be home. If you are unable to hold your mail and papers, an alternative would be to ask a trusted neighbor to come each day and gather your papers and mail until you get home.

-Turn your lights on and off

You might be wondering how this is possible if you are not at home. It’s actually pretty easy with some simple timers in place. Attach some timers to a few lamps around your house and set them to turn on and off intermittently throughout the day and evening. If a light is on, a burglar is less likely to come lurking nearby. At the same time, though, if a light is on non-stop, a burglar might get suspicious. Don’t forget to make sure they go off as well.

-Keep your grass clean-cut

Okay, IF you have grass, keep it trimmed. There are lawn-mowing services that you can call, or you can ask a neighborhood kid to mow your lawn and keep it neat while you are out of town. An unruly, overgrown lawn can be a tip off to burglars that your home is currently uninhabited.

-Keep your windows covered

Don’t leave any option for anyone to be able to peep inside your home. Close all drapes, shades, and blinds. It doesn’t matter how well-kept your front yard is, or if your lights are going on and off all night. If anyone can just walk up to your window and look inside, they’ll figure out pretty quickly whether or not anyone is home. Before you leave for your vacation, make sure all your windows are covered.

Why take any chances while you’re gone? You should be able to relax and feel confident that you took all precautions to keep your home and your valuables safe. Hold your newspaper, hold your mail, keep your lawn clean, set some timers, cover your windows, and enjoy your vacation.

For more information call your insurance agent and sit down for a policy review..

If We Had a Mascot, What Would It Be?

My Son

Super Insurance Agent in Training

Apparently, when you’re a big time insurance company, it’s a requirement to have a mascot represent you. Geico has the Gecko. Progressive has Flo. Allstate has Mayhem, although maybe that’s an anti-mascot. Hmmm. We could list a whole bunch of others. But, well, we’d rather focus on ourselves.

Thanks to our wonderful clients, and of course our amazing employees, Arizona Capital Insurance (formerly OMNI Insurance) is making quite a name for ourselves in the great state of Arizona. That being the case, we debated and decided it might be time for us to have our own mascot.

However I have no idea what or who our mascot should be. That’s where you come in. Below you will find a list of things about Arizona Capital Insurance. Based on this information, we’re hoping you can help us come up with some good ideas.

Okay, here we go…

  • Arizona Capital Insurance is an Arizona-based insurance agency. Translation: cactus, road-runners, a burning sun, etc. may inspire you somehow.
  • We offer all kinds of insurance in AZ: home, auto, life, business, renters, watercraft, and recreational vehicle insurance.
  • The company has roots dating back to 1959.
  • We have amazing insurance agents who go well above and beyond the call of duty for their clients.
  • We use social media to stay connected with our clients because we have a vested interest in you, your needs, and your lives.
  • Our primary goal is to get you the very best policy available. We do the shopping for you so you don’t have to. But we are highly opposed to the idea of a mascot who shops – unless it’s shopping for great rates!
  • After getting some great rates for their clients, a few of our agents may have delusions of being superheroes. Important to know as a super-hero mascot may be a great fit.

If you need a few more ideas, then be sure to visit our website. Okay then, the word is out. You know a little bit more about us. So, we’re ready for the creative genius in you. Any ideas for a mascot? Be sure to include your ideas in the comments below and just maybe the winner will get an extra cool prize.

Yes, that is my kid in the picture above. I am just glad he had his undies on the right way! -James