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.

Meet More of Our Staff

Last week, we introduced you to some of our great employees at our Arizona insurance agency. Today, we’ve got another handful to introduce. And next week, you’ll meet even more.

Why? Well, not to brag, but our insurance agents have a reputation for being friendly, helpful, and sympathetic. So we think you deserve to meet the people behind the company.

So, meet:

Christian

Christian originally planned to be a firefighter. However, after September 11, 2001, the competition to become a firefighter skyrocketed. Anxious about his future, Christian talked to a few of his own friends who were pursuing careers as insurance agents. He’s been an agent for 9 years now.

Here’s what Christian said about working as an insurance agent:

Many people think insurance agents are a dime a dozen and there isn’t any difference from an agent with State Farm, Farmers, Allstate, or any other independent local mom and pop shop on the corner. This is why I love working as an insurance agent. This agency is 180 degrees different from those other insurance agencies.

Christian is passionate about protecting his client’s assets. He knows you can call an 800 # and get coverage from a Lizard, Cave Man, or talking cartoon, but he takes the time to educate his clients and help them understand why they should carry the coverage he suggests. He wants to be the agent looking out for their best interest.

Christian enjoys outdoor activities, traveling, and studying the stock market.

Karen

Karen is an Account Manager who has been with our insurance agency for just under a year, but she has been in the insurance industry for 12 years. She started out in the billing department at an independent insurance agency in Indiana.

Karen’s favorite thing about her job is: talking to a variety of people every day and using her customer service skills and insurance knowledge to help her clients. About working in the insurance agency, Karen said she loves the integrity and honesty of the company and everyone in it. It’s nice knowing I am working for some of the ‘good guys,’ she said.

When she’s not working, Karen can be found riding on the back of her husband’s motorcycle, working on their house, hanging out with friends, and patiently waiting for football season to start. Go Bears!

Karen first met her husband while jumping on a trampoline when they were 18 and 12. It wasn’t until 11 years later that they met again and started dating. Chocolate and sugary treats are her weakness, and she describes herself as loyal, friendly, energetic, patient, and bold.

Ready to work with a new insurance agent? Then check out Independant Insurance Agency and work with people you’ll want to work with!

Meet Some of Our Fearless Insurance Staff

For most people, insurance is completely impersonal, especially AZ insurance. You stick with the company you’ve been with for the last ten years, or, you ask for quotes online and find the cheapest coverage you can. After all, it’s just insurance, right?

At your local insurance agency, our relationship goes deeper than just insuring you. Our goal is to make you feel like part of a well-cared for and supported family. So, we thought we’d take the next few blog posts to introduce a few of the “family members” to you.

Meet Leslie

Leslie has been an insurance staff member for three years. She has been in the insurance industry for the last 7 years. As part of the Arizona insurance team, Leslie enjoys talking to clients and really getting to know them.

Here’s what Leslie says makes her great at her job: “Each client is different and has different needs and wants. This helps me make proper recommendations that can help them now and in the future.”

Want to know a few personal details about Leslie? When not working, she can be found spending time with her family. She enjoys camping and skating. She bought her first house when she was only 20 and now she is buying another one.

To sum Leslie up in a few words, she is: positive, a hard worker, loves to laugh, sociable, and happy.

Meet Jeff

Jeff got his start in insurance 3 years ago when he first arrived as an insurance agent, and he’s doing great! Jeff was honored with the Agent of the Year award last year.

One of the things Jeff loves about his job is: I am creating something that started from nothing and I am getting the opportunity to build relationships with people every day. Jeff also mentioned that he’s a great agent because he has great clients.

In his spare time, Jeff plays volleyball and takes care of his newborn son. Congratulations, Jeff!

Little known facts about Jeff include: being on the Dean’s list at University of Arizona, he loves to play video games, and that he worked for Walt Disney World for four months as a lifeguard.

Insurance doesn’t have to be impersonal. You have every right to know and trust your agent. For that matter, take the time to become friends. This person may be someone you’ll be glad to know for years to come.

Feel free to contact any of our awesome insurance agents. Who knows, maybe you’ll be working with Leslie or Jeff.