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.

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.

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..