The Truth About Homeowners Insurance

Ask 10 people what standard homeowners insurance covers and you’ll probably get 10 different answers.

Some people think their policy only covers their physical dwelling, when in fact most property insurance goes further than that. Additional structures, personal belongings and even liability protection might also be included.

Then, there are the myths suggesting that homeowners insurance covers situations, it actually doesn’t.

Let’s set the record straight today:

Myth 1: Wear and Tear Is Covered

Fact: Coverage typically includes damage from fire, weather and theft. It does not cover damage due to general wear and tear or neglect. As a policyholder, it’s up to you to maintain your home. This includes making routine repairs and protecting your home from pests.

Myth 2: You’re Safe in Case of Flood Damage

Fact: Although some weather-related damage is covered, such as from hail, other natural disasters may not be:

  • Floods require specific flood insurance.
  • Earthquakes might be covered, but sometimes they require additional insurance.

Myth 3: All Personal Belongings Are Fully Covered

Fact: Homeowners insurance covers your furniture, clothing and other personal items up to your policy’s stated limits. More valuable items like jewelry and artwork typically require an add-on policy to be fully covered. Routinely inventory your belongings to determine if your limits meet your coverage needs.

Myth 4: You Have Protection Against Any Injuries That Happen at Home 

Fact: Your policy’s liability coverage protects you if a guest is hurt in your home. The same is not true for you. If you or a family member are injured at home, it would be covered by your health insurance rather than your homeowners.

Myth 5: Home Businesses Are Part of the Package

Fact: A home business requires business insurance to cover property damage and liability issues.

Need help understanding the ins and outs of your homeowners policy? Give your local agency a call today. Let’s chat.

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4 Ways to Cover Your Belongings in a Move

Moving can be one of life’s most stressful events. It’s tiring and time-consuming to box up all your belongings, and that’s before you even start worrying about how to transport everything safely.

Speaking of that, do you know if your insurance covers your property while it’s in transit? And does your policy immediately kick in once you arrive in your new home?

Here’s what to know before you move:

1. Understand Your Coverage Limits

We see it all the time. Policyholders assume their current homeowners or renters insurance policy covers them during a move. In reality, these policies typically apply at a residence or storage unit but they usually aren’t designed to protect personal property while the items are being packed or physically moved.

2. Find Out About Additional Protections

Say your moving truck gets into a wreck and jostles all your delicate furniture around. If you have trip transit insurance or special perils coverage, you should be covered. These even kick in if anything gets stolen or disappears.

You can also ask your moving company about full value protection. This plan holds movers responsible for the replacement value of anything you’re shipping with them.

3. Don’t Assume Moving Everything Yourself Is Safer

If you’re driving your own vehicle, know that you assume all responsibility. To stay on the safe side, look into truck rental companies that offer additional coverage.

4. Know When to Adjust Your Policy

What’s the most important thing to do before you move? Check in to go over your coverage. We can time the transfer or cancellation of your policy to make sure there are no gaps in coverage during your relocation.

Whether you’re packing up this summer or staying put for a while, reach out anytime to make sure you have the right homeowners coverage at the right price.

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Sometimes Standard Coverage Isn’t Enough

Are you driving around with more risk than you realize? 

You’re probably thinking, “Well of course I have basic car insurance. Isn’t that enough?” Depending on your situation, it might not be. 

No matter what, it’s crucial to evaluate your coverage regularly to make sure you and your vehicle are adequately protected. And checking it is particularly important under these special circumstances:

Teen Drivers – These may be two of the scariest words in the English language, especially if you’re the parent of one. New drivers are more likely to make mistakes, so before you put your teenager behind the wheel, check in to make sure they’re adequately covered.

Collector Cars – They’re an adventure on wheels and important to protect, as damaged or stolen antique cars can cost a fortune to fix or replace. Whether you’re a restoration hobbyist or driving enthusiast, you’ll rest easier knowing your classic cars are protected down to the last rare part.

Sports Cars – Fun to drive, not fun to replace. The powerful engines may bring out your inner speed demon and usually require more coverage than a basic auto policy can offer.

Rental Cars – Do you really want to be on the hook for a car that isn’t yours? Even if you’re going a short distance, a little extra coverage could go a long way.

Accidents happen, but specialty coverage can provide the extra protection you need (not to mention peace of mind). 

Ready to re-evaluate your current coverage? Reach out to Vick Insurance Group today at www.vickinsurancegroup.com.


Is It a Big Mistake to File a Small Claim?

You know that sinking feeling you get when something goes wrong with your house? 

Whether it’s a stolen bike or a burst pipe, your first reaction may be to call us to file a claim. In reality, filing a claim “just to be on the safe side” could cost you — in more ways than one. 

But won’t your insurance just deny claims that are too small? Not necessarily. Find out how to decide which claims to file and which to pay for out of pocket:

Should you file a claim?

It depends. 

Some types of events, think fire or theft, are too serious and expensive to tackle on your own. Anything causing significant damage that would be impossible to pay for, even with your emergency fund, is probably a good claim candidate. 

What if…?

Here are a few common scenarios and how you might want to deal with them:

You recently filed a claim. Think long and hard before submitting another. Most underwriters assume one claim every 10 years is average. Filing more could be cause for a rate increase.     

The claim is related to home maintenance. Nope — upkeep falls squarely on you. If it’s revealed that you’ve let your maintenance schedule lapse on things like plumbing or HVAC systems, your homeowners policy could even be canceled.

The cost to repair the damage is well over your deductible. Yes, report away. Say a tornado takes out the whole back half of your house. In this case, filing a claim is the only way to make your home liveable again. 

When it comes down to it, you have homeowners insurance for a reason. If you need it, use it. 

Just be smart about when you do and you could save yourself a lot of stress and a good chunk of money.

Have questions about whether or not to file a claim? Reach out anytime to our available staff at Vick Insurance Group. Don’t hesitate to contact us at 731-584-2554.


4 Ways to Protect Your House from Water Damage

Every home is vulnerable to leaks and flooding, and dealing with water damage can be expensive and annoying. The good news is there are several easy ways to prevent problems.

Take a look at these maintenance tips to help keep your house dry and your foundation strong.

1. Clean your gutters. To do their duty, gutters must be free of leaves, nests and other debris. Be sure to clear your gutters out on a regular basis or they may send water directly to the sides and foundation of your house instead of carrying it safely away.

2. Watch for signs of a leak. Identifying and repairing potential water leaks can help you steer clear of mold and termites, so pay attention to any upticks in your water bill and listen for dripping sounds. Also look for physical signs of trouble, like dark spots around your pipes or ceiling stains.

For extra peace of mind, consider investing in a smart water leak sensor that will detect hidden leaks and alert you when there’s an issue.

3. Avoid chemical drain cleaners. Harsh chemicals can erode your pipes to the point of puncture, so do yourself a favor and invest in a drain snake. They’re effective, inexpensive and better for your health and the environment.

4. Insulate your pipes. There are plenty of ways to avoid bursting pipes. Whether you leave cabinet doors ajar, leave faucets dripping or cover outdoor spigots with foam shields, be sure to take action before inclement weather hits.

Along with these preventive actions, make sure you know what your policy covers in the event you do have to file a claim.

Have questions? Reach out today.

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How to Minimize the Risk of a Car Break-In

Car theft is a common occurrence that impacts more than 750,000 drivers a year — that’s roughly one incident every 41 seconds. Want to secure your vehicle from being broken into or stolen? Here are a few ways to avoid problems, plus some guidance for what to do in the event of a loss.

Keeping Your Car Safe

By some estimates, more than half of vehicle break-ins are unknowingly enabled by car owners. If you know what conditions are most desirable for thieves, you can take the right steps to help secure your belongings.

Some general rules: 

  • Roll up and reinforce your windows. This will help prevent reach-in or smash-and-grab burglaries. Adding a protective film can also make windows tougher to break.
  • Lock up when you leave. Even if you’re just running into the convenience store for a cup of coffee, be sure to lock your doors. Most break-ins happen in a matter of seconds.
  • Park smart. Stick to well-lit areas, monitored parking garages and low-crime neighborhoods.
  • Invest in an aftermarket car alarm. Most factory alarms only sound when the doors are opened. By contrast, a motion or tilt-sensor alarm can tell you when the car is experiencing movement of any kind.
  • Take valuables with you and hide everything else. Don’t leave your belongings in plain sight. Keep your keys and anything of value on your person and hide everything else in your glove compartment or trunk.

What to Do Post Break-In

If you’ve experienced a break-in, reach out right away. Also make sure to take pictures, file a police report and make an insurance claim. If any credit cards were stolen, cancel them immediately.

Some car burglaries are unavoidable, but with a little vigilance you can minimize your chances of having to deal with a break-in.

Visit us online at www.vickinsurancegroup.com 24/7.


What to Know About Insuring Your Roof

Simply having a roof over your head isn’t enough. As a homeowner you also need to take good care of this important part of the house, which means understanding what your homeowners policy includes (and what it doesn’t) in the event of damage or decay.

Is your roof properly insured, or are you carrying more risk than you realize?

Roof Insurance Basics

Generally speaking, if an unavoidable event like vandalism damages your roof, your homeowners insurance should cover it. However, if it’s determined the damage was caused by something within your control, like neglected maintenance, that’s where things get tricky.

Factors that influence your coverage include:

  • Age of your house and roof: Once a roof has passed its life expectancy, your coverage may be reduced or eliminated.
  • Roofing materials: Premium shingles, like those made of slate, may not be covered.
  • Your location: In some cases, replacement coverage is available for roofs. In others, you’ll only be reimbursed for what the roof was worth at the time it was damaged.
  • Type of damage: Weather events like tornadoes and hurricanes are usually covered, but wind or hail alone may not be.

The Importance of Maintenance

Address minor issues before they result in major damage by conducting a roof inspection twice a year. Carefully check the state of your shingles and examine gutters, flashing and ventilation. Look for leaks and water damage inside and out, especially after big storms.

The Bottom Line

Don’t make the costly mistake of assuming any and all roof damage will be covered by your homeowners insurance. Avoid problems by double-checking your policy for specifics about your coverage and reach out to your Vick Insurance Family if you have questions.

You are always welcome to stop by our office, or visit us online at www.vickinsurancegroup.com.


Keep Your Home Safe While You’re Away

If you’re lucky enough to be a snowbird who travels with the seasons or if you have an extended trip coming up, you’re probably thinking about how to best protect your property while you’re gone.

Here are a few tips for keeping your home safe from the elements and intruders.

1. Turn off your water. Even small leaks can turn into flooding disasters when left unattended. If you’ll be gone a while, consider shutting off the water and draining your pipes. If you do leave the water on, have someone stop by regularly to run the hot water, flush the toilets and check for any problems.

2. Hire a home watching service. Well-meaning neighbors and friends may be happy to check on things while you’re away. However, it’s a good idea to consider hiring a home watching service instead. These professionals do more than bring in your mail. They’re trained to spot issues like slow leaks and will make your home appear occupied during your absence.

3. Review and update your homeowners insurance. Confirm that you have adequate coverage for your unoccupied residence or vacation property. Also, check to see if having a house sitter or caretaker will reduce any potential surcharges you pay when your home is vacant.

4. Embrace smart technology. Thanks to advances in technology, many home security and HVAC systems can be monitored and controlled remotely with a smartphone. Cameras and apps are helpful if you’re trying to keep the temperature consistent, turn different lights on and off, and watch for suspicious activity from a distance.

With these steps, you can help keep your home safe and enjoy peace of mind while you’re away.

As always, feel free to visit us at our office or online at www.vickinsurancegroup.com 24/7.


Watch Out for These Homeowner Mistakes

Few things in life are as stressful as buying a home. That is, until something goes wrong with it. The real work of owning a house often begins after moving in, but you can start the journey well-prepared by being aware of these common pitfalls.

Being Underinsured 

Many homeowners make the unfortunate error of underestimating how much their personal belongings are worth. Though it’s important to have your property appraised, that alone isn’t enough.

To get the most suitable coverage, factor in the value of everything inside your dwelling, too — not just what it would take to repair. From improvements you’ve made and appliances you’ve updated to furniture, clothing and electronics, you’ll need to account for everything that would have to be replaced.

Ignoring Routine Maintenance

All homes require upkeep, and some tasks are more vital than others. Realistically, neglecting routine maintenance could even lead to a fire or flood. In fact, homeowners are more likely to file insurance claims for water and smoke damage than any other type.

Since houses don’t come with an owner’s manual, it’s a good idea to make and follow a home maintenance checklist that includes doors and windows, your washer and dryer, and fire prevention equipment.

Making Assumptions About Your Policy

Do you fully understand your homeowners insurance deductible? If not, it’s important to get to know how it works and what out-of-pocket costs you’ll be responsible for in the event of an incident.

Generally, the higher the dollar amount or percentage deductible, the less you pay in premiums each month. But before you increase or decrease it, make sure you know how various claims would play out.

All homes, even new ones, experience unexpected issues now and again. Fortunately, many are preventable with a bit of know-how.

Please feel free to contact our team at Vick Insurance Group with all of your home insurance needs, questions, and concerns.  Also visit us online 24/7 at www.vickinsurancegroup.com.


Timing Matters When You’re Car Shopping

Car shopping has become something of a science. If you time your purchase right, you could save thousands off the sticker price, while buying during certain times of the month or on the wrong day can cost you. Here’s a look at when you might find the best deals on a new set of wheels.

Daily Differences

Contrary to what the ad campaigns would suggest, weekends generally aren’t the best time to buy a car. Three-day or holiday weekends like Presidents Day may offer exceptions, but don’t get stuck thinking this is the only time to find a great value.

Instead, skip the weekend rush and consider buying during the week. Statistically, shopping on a Monday tends to save buyers an average of 8 percent off the retail price. Weekdays also make it easier to get prequalified by the bank, which can increase your negotiating power.

Monthly Savings

Most dealerships and manufacturers incentivize with monthly and quarterly goals. The more eager they are to hit their numbers, the more leverage you have to negotiate. Catch them at month’s end as the sales cycle comes to a close and you could walk away happy.

Markdowns for certain vehicles may also be available during different months of the year. For example, May is a popular month for SUV sales, and you’re more likely to find bargains on trucks and full-sized pickups in the fall.

Seasonal Offers 

At the end of the year, dealerships are probably working to clear out current models to make space for the next year’s lot. You could find Black Friday deals in November as well as holiday offers throughout December.

Dealership discounts fluctuate quickly, but that could work to your advantage. Either way, with a little flexibility you may be able to land the car you want at a reasonable price.

Please let our Vick Insurance Group know if we can assist you with all of your auto insurance needs. Feel free to visit us online at www.vickinsurancegroup.com 24/7.