If you’re a homeowner, your house needs to be insured for a its replacements value (not counting the value of the land). You must be proactive and review your current homeowner’s coverage at least annually to make sure that your insurance is sufficient to rebuild or repair your home after a disaster. So, what do you need to look for during the annual review of your homeowner’s policy? Click here to watch video or on the image below to learn more
EMERGE INSURANCE AGENCY
Imagine a fully automated home, complete with virtual assistants to do your shopping for you, showers that regulate water usage, appliances that order their own replacement parts and a thermostat that regulates the temperature without manual adjustment. It may sound like something out of “The Jetsons,” but these innovations, as well as robotic vacuums, video phones, talking alarm clocks, smart watches and dog treadmills are no longer a fantasy, and there are more inventions on the horizon to help simplify our lives.
Smart home technology was once a luxury, but today it’s becoming more mainstream as more affordable options are rapidly becoming available. This technology makes life easier by providing comfort and convenience, often at the touch of a button or even through voice activated technology!
In addition to comfort and convenience, a smart home can also save you money on energy and insurance costs. Here are five ways that home automation is making life better while saving you money.
1. Smart Showerheads
Smart showerheads mitigate water usage, which is something residents in historically drought-ridden states like California should consider. The e-Shower doesn’t require extra energy and is designed to optimize water usage by increasing the surface area of water droplets. It also fits most shower pipes. According to Tree Hugger, a sustainability media outlet, this smart home device reduces water consumption by 70 percent1>, which can save you a lot of money.
A second type of water-saving showerhead regulates water flow. The EvaDrop uses sensors to determine how close a person is standing to the showerhead and automatically cuts back water flow based on showering patterns and observations. The device also tracks water usage and documents shower habits by using sensors to collect the data.2
2. Smart Thermostats
Smart thermostats are great for homeowners looking to reduce their energy costs and they’re environmentally conscious, too! Bought by Google and advertised as a thermostat that “pays for itself,” Nest can help homeowners save at least 10 percent on their heating bill.3
Homeowners can program this device to have different settings for when they’re home and away. It also comes with a built-in intelligent Auto-Away feature that monitors at-home patterns, tailoring settings to optimize energy savings while you’re out of the home. Better still, the device stores your energy use history and allows you to customize a schedule. The latest Nest can be operated by voice command and even includes a safety feature to alert you by phone if its built-in smoke alarm is triggered or the battery is low. All these features can be managed with an app you can download onto your smartphone!
3. Smart Lights
According to SaveOnEnergy, LED lights with dimming features are very efficient, long-lasting lightbulbs that maximize energy savings.4 There are even internet-enabled adjustable dimmers like Philips Hue, Insteon and iLumi you can control with an app on your smartphone. They allow homeowners and renters to control energy output remotely, and these smart lights can also add to a home’s décor as many of them have built-in color changing options.
If you or your family member neglect to turn off lights when you leave a room, there’s a smart light invention for you: occupancy sensors. Plug a bulb into this handy tool and it will automatically switch off the light when the room is vacant.
4. Smart Appliances
Did you know that it’s possible to use your phone to communicate with your refrigerator, dishwasher, dryer, washing machine and even your oven? It’s true – there’s a whole new world of smart appliances that can operate and communicate on what’s known as a “smart grid.” These grids allow appliances to establish user patterns, differentiate between peak and off-peak usage and access the optimal time to perform basic functions.5
These smart appliances are much more energy efficient, but the benefits go way beyond the money you could save on gas and electricity. Smart washing machines, for example, can diagnose malfunctions and allow you to monitor the machine’s cycle while you’re away from home. Smart ovens can switch from cooking to warming mode automatically when your food is ready, so you’ll never burn your cookies again. Interested in a smart grill? They now make models, such as the Lynx Smart Grill, that are capable of learning when a burger needs to be flipped and will even send you an alert to let you know.
5. Smart Home Security Systems
While there are many to choose from, consumers are abuzz about Scout Home Security System, which is customizable.6 The system operates off the “Scout Hub,” which plugs directly into your home’s WiFi router and includes an alarm. Consumers can purchase access sensors or key fobs for doors, motion sensors, live video monitoring cameras and other add-ons to tailor the security packages to individual needs.
Advancements in anti-theft technology are making homes safer than ever, and these home security systems could earn you a discount on your homeowners insurance, too. This is great for homeowners and insurers alike because home security systems help reduce theft and vandalism, which means lower rates for you. All the companies we represent offer a homeowners insurance discount for home alarms, so check with us to see how much you can save.
EMERGE INSURANCE AGENCY
1 “Two new entries to the smart shower device market claim huge water savings.”Tree Hugger, 10 Sept. 2015. Web. 20 Jan. 2017.
2 “The world’s first smart shower.” EvaDrop, n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2017.
Understanding the role deductibles play when insuring a car or a home is an important part of getting the most out of your insurance policy.
A deductible is basically the amount “deducted” from an insured loss. Deductibles have been an essential part of the insurance contract for many years and represent a sharing of the risk between the insurance company and the policyholder. When repairing your home or replacing personal possessions, the amount of the deductible would come out of your own pocket.
A deductible can be either a specific dollar amount or a percentage of the total amount of insurance on a policy. Generally speaking, the larger the deductible, the less a consumer pays in premiums for an insurance policy. Deductible amounts can be found on the declarations (or front) page of standard homeowners and auto insurance policies.
Here is how it works: if you have a $500 “dollar deductible,” that $500 would be deducted from your claim. So, if your insurance company has determined that you have an insured loss worth $10,000 you would receive a claims check for $9,500.
Percentage deductibles are calculated differently. They are based on a percentage of the home’s insured value. So if your house is insured for $100,000 and your insurance policy has a 2 percent deductible, $2,000 would be deducted from the amount you are reimbursed on a claim. In the event of the $10,000 insurance loss, you would be paid $8,000.
Deductibles in many parts of the country have been going up. In hurricane prone states, where there is a greater risk of a major catastrophe, special deductibles may apply for homeowners insurance claims when the cause of damage is attributable to a hurricane. These deductibles are generally higher and may take the form of a percentage of the policy limits.
Deductibles for property damage work differently than, for example, a typical health insurance policy where there a single annual deductible for the policy. With an auto or homeowners insurance policy, the deductible applies each time you file a claim. The one major exception to this is in Florida, where hurricane deductibles specifically are applied per season rather than for each storm.
Hurricane deductibles have helped to make more private insurance coverage available in coastal communities at a lower price. This means more choice for consumers. So, consumers who reside in states where competitive markets exist can often shop around for coverage and usually find that they have a selection of insurance policies to pick from that offer a variety of different premiums, coverages and deductibles.
Here are some other important things to know about deductibles:
Raising Your Deductible Can Save Money
One of the best ways to save money on a homeowners or auto insurance policy is to raise the deductible. For example, for auto insurance, increasing the dollar deductible from $200 to $500 can reduce collision and comprehensive coverage premium costs by 15 to 30 percent. Going to a $1,000 deductible can save you 40 percent or more. But, remember that if you have a loss, this amount will be deducted from your insurance claim and that you will be responsible for the difference.
Deductibles Differ by Company and by State
Insurance is state regulated. And insurance companies must follow strict state laws. This also applies to the way deductibles are incorporated into the language of a policy, and how they are implemented. In many states a range of deductibles can be found. So if you are shopping for insurance, you should always ask about deductibles when comparing policies. For homeowners or renters insurance policies, most insurers offer a minimum $500 dollar deductible. However, raising the deductible to $1,000 or more can save upwards of 20 percent on the cost of an insurance policy.
Deductibles Do Not Apply to Liability Claims
There are generally no deductibles for the liability portion of a homeowners or auto insurance policy. Instead, the deductibles apply to property damage. So, on in an auto policy, there is a deductible for the optional comprehensive or collision coverage, but not for the liability portion. And, in a homeowners policy, deductibles apply to damage to the structure of the house or personal possessions but not if a homeowner is sued or a medical claim is made by someone injured in the home.
Flood Insurance Offers a Range of Deductibles
Flooding is not covered by standard homeowners insurance policies but is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and from some private insurance companies. The NFIP offers separate policies for the structure of your home and for your personal possessions, along with a variety of deductibles. You can choose one deductible for the structure and another for the contents of your home. Mortgage companies, however, may require that your deductible be under a certain amount. Flood damage to a car is covered by the optional comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy.
Percentage Deductibles Apply to Hurricanes and Hail
Hurricanes and Hail: There are two kinds of wind damage deductibles: hurricane deductibles, which apply to damage solely from hurricanes; and windstorm or wind/hail deductibles, which apply to any kind of wind damage. Whether a hurricane deductible applies to a claim depends on the specific “trigger” selected by the insurance company. These triggers vary by state and insurer and usually apply when the National Weather Service (NWS) officially names a tropical storm, declares a hurricane watch or warning, or defines a hurricane’s intensity in terms of wind speed. Due to these differences, homeowners should check their policies and speak to their agent or insurance company to learn exactly how their particular hurricane deductible works. In some states, policyholders have the option of paying a higher premium in return for a traditional dollar deductible. However, in high-risk coastal areas insurers may not offer this option, instead making the percentage deductible mandatory.
Hurricane Deductibles Are Not New: The first hurricane deductibles were introduced into policies over 20 years ago. After Hurricane Hugo hit South Carolina in 1989 and Hurricane Andrew hit Florida in 1992, insurers realized they were far more vulnerable to huge weather-related losses than they had previously thought. In order to be able to continue getting reinsurance (basically insurance for insurers), and thus continue to offer homeowners insurance in high-risk areas it became necessary to require policyholders to share some of the cost by including hurricane deductibles in policies.
Consider Percentage Deductibles When Purchasing a Home
When looking for a new home, it is important to consider the cost of insurance. Coastal properties and other locations at higher risk for a natural disaster may cost more to insure than other locations, and you must add to that a separate deductible for earthquake or hurricane damage. Remember, you will be paying for insurance the entire time you live in your home—if you are a prospective buyer and feel you cannot afford the insurance, then it may be time to consider a different home.
EMERGE INSURANCE AGENCY
Have you ever walked into a store the day after Halloween and felt like you flash-forwarded through time to mid-December? Ghost and skeleton decorations are instantly replaced with red and green foil, ribbons and bows, candy canes and Santa statues. Only days into November, Christmas commercials start airing on TV and some radio stations convert to all carols, all the time.
But what about Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving is a time that’s rich in history and tradition and shouldn’t be forgotten or ignored. For example:
Did you know?
A newer tradition that’s grown in popularity is to serve a deep-fried turkey at the feast. Proponents say that it takes less cooking time and the meat is juicier (and, honestly, what doesn’t taste better deep-fried?). However, preparing a turkey this way can be a dangerous proposition since it requires vast amounts of hot oil, which can splash, spill over or combust and burst into flames. The NTF and Butterball are two resources to learn how to properly and safely deep-fry a turkey. The most important rules are to never leave the turkey unattended while cooking and to keep pets and children away from the deep-fryer.
In fact, it’s a good idea not to leave any food in the oven or on the stove top over an open flame unattended while preparing Thanksgiving dinner to reduce fire risks. Cooking-related fires happen more on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year, contributing to 75 percent of Thanksgiving fires compared to 46 percent of fires on other days, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Let’s face it, nobody wants to eat blackened, dry and crunchy turkey, and you definitely don’t want to call the fire department or file an insurance claim when you should be enjoying quality time with family and friends.
Even the most careful cooks can have an accident, so be sure to reach out to us or your local insurance agent in advance to make sure you have enough coverage to repair or replace your damaged property in the event of a Thanksgiving mishap. We can reach to assist you in filing a homeowners claim by calling (904) 677-5884 if needed.
The greatest Thanksgiving tradition aside from gorging on delicious food is surrounding ourselves with the people we love and reflecting on all that we’re grateful for in our lives. Happy Thanksgiving!
EMERGE INSURANCE AGENCY
Purchasing a home can be a rewarding, pricey and overwhelming experience, especially for first-time buyers. And, if your aren’t a Gates, Buffett, Zuckerberg or one of the many others found on the Forbes 400, chances are your house will be one of the most significant investments you’ll make, so choosing the right home isn’t a decision that’s made lightly.
Shopping for a home can be exhausting as you research neighborhoods, tour homes, apply for a loan, negotiate the purchase price, organize inspections, and wade through a seemingly endless stack of paperwork. You also need to select aninsurer and homeowners insurance policy. This is critical, as it will protect your investment for as long as you own your home, so it’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make. To protect your investment, your belongings and loved ones, following are some tips for both new and veteran homeowners.
1. Fire and water damage are the two most prevalent causes for insurance claims.
The National Interagency Fire Center reports that there were 63,312 wildfires and 3,595,613 burned acres in the U.S. in 2014. Additionally, according to the National Fire Protection Association, there were 487,500 structure fires in 2013, which resulted in $9.5 billion in property damage and amounted to approximately one home structure fire per 85 seconds. There are several steps a homeowner can take, both inside and outside of the home, to prevent becoming one of these statistics.
Using fire-resistant materials around your property and on your home provides added protection and may even save you money in the event of a loss. For example, fire-retardant plants like rockrose, ice plant and aloe resist ignition. Fire-resistant shrubs to consider when landscaping include hedging roses, bush honeysuckles, currant, cotoneaster, sumac and shrub apples, and hardwood, maple, poplar and cherry trees are less flammable than pine, fir and other conifers. Speak with your local garden center to learn more about the plants that can protect your home from fires.
Water damage is the second largest cause of insurance claims; however, certain circumstances aren’t covered by a standard homeowners policy. To differentiate, damage that is caused by weather (e.g., natural flooding from hurricanes, flash floods, etc.) is referred to as flood damage and requires flood insurance, which is available through the National Flood Insurance Program. Water damage is usually caused by bursting or leaking pipes, plumbing issues, malfunctioning household appliances (refrigerators, hot water tanks, dishwashers, washing machines) and HVAC issues.
Homeowners can take the following steps to protect against water damage.
2. Some of your belongings may have limitations to their coverage.
Certain items like fine art, rare stamps or coins, wine collections, antiques, expensive jewelry and collectibles may not be fully covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy. Speak with your local insurance agent to ensure you have the right amount of coverage for everything you own.
3. Home renovations may impact your insurance rates.
If you’re considering building an addition, remodeling or putting in a pool, keep in mind that your insurance premiums will likely be impacted to protect this new investment. Square footage is one factor in determining a premium. Additionally, if renovations include higher value materials, the replacement cost in the event of a loss will go up, affecting your insurance rates accordingly. Swimming pools increase your liability exposure, which will increase your premium; however, pools can be great assets. In addition to providing a fun way to cool off on hot days, pools can act as a barrier for wildfires and an added source of water for firefighters, if necessary. And most renovations add to the comfort and livability of a home, as well as its resale value, which is well worth the added protection. Speak to your local insurance agent to determine how much your premiums will change and be sure to ask about any money saving discounts.
EMERGE INSURANCE AGENCY
Cecil Williams -