Category Archives: Personal

Homeowners Claims: Water Back Up, Overflow, or Discharge?

 

 

Water back-up is one of the more confusing coverages in homeowners’ policy. It involves more than back-up, as overflow is mentioned in some of the coverages. But what is a back-up, and how is it different from an overflow or a discharge? All these things come in to play when there is a water loss, and what causes the back-up or overflow may make a difference in whether or not there is coverage.

 

First let’s look at definitions.

Back-up: An accumulation caused by a stoppage in the flow; something prevents the water from continuing down its path, so it is forced to reverse direction and go back the other way. A collapsed drain pipe can cause a back-up; water can no longer proceed down its normal course and is forced to change direction. A blockage can cause a back-up; the blockage prevents the water from going forward, and the water has to reverse itself.

 

Overflow: When the water exceeds its boundaries; the space is filled to capacity and water then spreads beyond its limits. A tub left running creates an overflow. The tub can no longer hold the water running into it, so the water overflows onto the floor and surrounding area.

 

Discharge: A flowing or issuing out; water coming from a pipe. A leaking pipe discharges water from the hole in the pipe; it is not a back-up or an overflow, it is simply water issuing from a pipe at the wrong spot.

 

Discharge or Overflow?

The standard Homeowners policy provides coverage for water damage that is the result of a discharge or overflow of a plumbing, heating, air conditioning, or household appliance if it is on the residence premises. This covers pipes that leak behind walls, floors, or ceilings; washing machines and dishwashers that overflow, toilets that overflow, or storm drains off premises that overflow due to high rains or floods. It is important to note that a sump, sump pump or related equipment, or a roof drain, gutter or downspout or similar equipment is not considered a plumbing system or household appliance. A discharge or overflow caused by a storm drain, water, steam, or sewer pipe is covered as well if it is off the premises.

 

The coverage is for repair of the damaged property–the walls, floors, tiling, and carpet, areas that got saturated and need to be repaired or replaced. Even the tear out of a wall, for example, to get to a leaking pipe is covered. What is not covered is the leaking pipe itself; a pipe leak is often caused by simple wear and tear or age of the system, and that is a maintenance item. However, even if the insured is hanging a picture and pokes a hole in a brand new home and new pipes, the damage to the pipe is not covered. The exclusion for damage to the item causing the loss is all encompassing, and has no exceptions.

 

The policy specifically excludes water that overflows from sumps, sump pumps, or related equipment or water that backs-up through sewers or drains. However, this is where a lot of losses occur; sump pumps may fail or be unable to handle the flow of water during a severe storm or flood, and sewers or drains may back-up due to a stoppage in the flow. Overflows are excluded for sumps because that is a common cause of loss; the sump cannot handle the volume of water it receives. For example, if the drain backs up and overflows because of heavy rainstorms, that is not covered under the policy.

 

To provide coverage for this occurrence there is the Water Back-up and Sump Discharge or Overflow endorsement. This provides a certain dollar amount of coverage (varies by company) for back up through a sewer or drain or overflow or discharge of a sump, sump pump or related equipment, even if the equipment suffers a mechanical breakdown. For example, the sump pump motor burns out and the basement floods; there is coverage for that damage. The coverage is for water or waterborne material, so coverage is provided for damage caused by items floating in the water. This coverage does not, however, increase the limits of liability for coverages A, B, C, or D in the homeowners policy. This takes the problem of defining back-up or overflow out of the equation of certain losses, since the endorsement provides the coverage that is excluded in the main policy itself.

 

Water, whether it be from pipes, sewers, sumps, or floods, is one of the bigger issues in homeowners policies. There is a lot of confusion surrounding what is and is not covered. Once you consider the definition of the terms, you are on your way to understanding the coverage. As always, policy language rules the day. If you have any questions or concerns about whether your homeowners policy includes the Water Back-up and Sump Discharge or Overflow endorsement, and how much coverage that provides, contact your agent for details.

 

This article was brought to you by Property Casualty 360. Click here to find the original article.

 

Is Your Home a Target to Thieves This Holiday Season?

 

Thieves Thrive During Holiday Travel

An article from Property Casualty 360.

 

Joe Pesci's character attempts to rob a home on Christmas Eve in "Home Alone (1990)." (20th Century Fox)
Joe Pesci’s character attempts to rob a home on Christmas Eve in “Home Alone (1990).” (20th Century Fox)

 

In “Home Alone,” Kevin McCallister is left to defend his family’s home when two thugs attempt to break in on Christmas Eve, while the rest of the family is traveling overseas. While the likelihood of an eight-year-old being left home alone for the holidays is a stretch, a home robbery during holiday travel is more likely than you’d think.

 

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Statistics, the number of long-distance trips by Americans increases by 54 percent during the Thanksgiving travel period. The number rises by 23 percent during Christmas and New Year’s.

 

Burglars can take advantage of this to break into homes. According to Nationwide claims data over the past three years, there were almost 15,000 home thefts in the peak holiday travel months of November, December and January. As homeowners travel across long distances and for extended periods of time, they leave themselves more vulnerable to the occurrence of home theft.

 

Locking doors, installing a home security system, refraining from promoting your travel online, putting a hold on newspaper and mail delivery, and informing your neighborhood watch program are all good advice from Nationwide to deter a burglary. But, it’s important to recognize that even if one takes all these precautions, a theft can still occur.

 

Nationwide encourages consumers to account for their possessions before leaving on trips by creating a home inventory. Here are a few simple tips on taking inventory of your home before embarking on your holiday travels.

 

Use home inventory software. The Insurance Information Institute has a free online program that allows consumers to catalog all of their belongings. It is available here.

Move from room to room, listing items as you go. This method should be used every time you update your inventory. Don’t forget to include the items in the basement, attic, garage, and any detached structures, such as a tool or storage shed.

**Remember, the Reno Agency offers a free Home Inventory Documenting Service to all our current customers. If you would like to take advantage of this, please call us at 269.792.2232 to schedule.

Use credit card and checking account statements to confirm purchases if needed. Also, create a list of each credit card you have with the corresponding customer service number in case your purse or wallet is stolen. This way, you have the number to contact to report a stolen card(s).

Look for manuals on the items that will help with model numbers and verification of ownership.

Work with your agent to complete the inventory. If you are unsure if an item is covered by your insurance policy, call or visit with your agent.

Keep a copy of your home inventory list elsewhere. Share the list with a trusted friend or family member, keep a copy in a bank safe deposit box, or store an electronic version in the cloud using a provider such as Dropbox. Free cloud storage of up to 2GB is available through Dropbox, which allows you to access your files anywhere with internet access.

Update your coverage. Make sure you update your current inventory list with your insurance agent if you’ve recently received new gifts, or purchased new household items such as furniture, appliances, etc.

 

 

Is Your Dog On The Blacklist?

 

Blacklisted Dog Breeds Create Homeowners Insurance Dilemma

 

An Illinois investigative news team recently released their findings on an insurance trend that is upsetting dog owners across the United States. Several insurance companies are giving “blacklisted” dog owners an ultimatum: choose between their beloved dog or insuring their home. For those people who own a dog on the blacklist, this is creating quite the uproar as many of these dogs don’t have a bite history, nor have they shown any signs of aggression.

 

 

The Insurance Information Institute says that “dog owners are liable for any injuries their pets cause in the following instances:

1. If the owner knew the dog had a tendency to cause that kind of injury;
2. If a state statute makes the owner liable, whether or not the owner knew the dog  had a tendency to cause that kind of injury;
3. Or, if the injury was caused by unreasonable carelessness on the part of the owner.

 

Homeowners and renters insurance policies typically cover dog bite liability. Most policies provide $100,000 to $300,000 in liability coverage. If the claim exceeds the limit, the dog owner is personally responsible for all damages above that amount, including legal expenses.”

 

If you have a dog whose breed is on the blacklist, it means insurance companies have the right to raise your homeowners insurance rates, force you to sign a release of liability waiver that excludes fido from your homeowners policy, or worse yet, they can refuse to insure your home altogether.

 

These blacklisted dog breeds include, but can vary by company:

– Rottweiler
– Pit Bull
– Doberman
– German Shepherd
– Akita
– Chow Chow
– Wolf Hybrid
– Presa/Dogo Canarios

 

If you are the owner of one of these dog breeds, check with your insurance company to see whether you are covered. If they find a problem, the best thing to do is to shop around. Not all insurance companies are alike. Some insurance companies will even cater to these blacklisted dog breed households, but at a premium.

 

All the insurance companies represented at the Reno Agency only look at the dog’s bite history. No specific breed can be excluded based on the Michigan Essential Insurance Act. According to the Michigan Insurance Coalition, “the Essential Insurance Act requires insurers to accept most applicants for automobile or home insurance, and it restricts the number and type of classifications insurers can use in order to develop rates.”

 

Check out this infographic presented by State Farm highlighting dog bite statistics. It’s important to remember that all dogs have the potential to bite if aggravated, even the cute and cuddly.

Dog bite vertical

 

Swimming Pools and Trampolines Increase Your Liability Risk

 

If you are one of the many American homes that own a swimming pool or trampoline, your house is probably one of the favorite hang out spots for the neighborhood kids. That being said, you also increase the likelihood that you will have to file a claim due to injuries sustained from swimming pools and/or trampolines, especially if they lack necessary safety precautions.

 

It’s important to notify your insurance agent if you have added a swimming pool or trampoline to your property. Failing to do so allows the insurance company the right to deny claims you submit resulting from these items because they were not informed of them in the first place.

 

If you add a swimming pool to your property, insurance companies shouldn’t cancel your policy or raise your rate, but they will want to see that safety precautions are in place, such as a fence, a locking gate, or an alarm.

 

Some insurance carriers will not insure you if you have a trampoline on your property. So if you are looking to purchase a trampoline, check with your agent first to see if this will cause an issue with your insurance company. You may be asked to add safety precautions to meet the company’s requirements, or you may need to change insurance companies altogether.

 

To reduce your liability risk if you own a swimming pool, you should:

 

–       Add an outdoor swimming pool barrier. This is a physical obstacle that surrounds a pool or spa so that access to the water is limited. A successful barrier prevents a child from getting over, under or through it to gain access to the pool or spa. Barriers commonly include a fence, wall or gate.

**Fence gates should open out from the pool and should be self-closing and self-latching. The gate should have no opening greater than ½ inch within 18 inches of the latch release mechanism. This prevents a young child from reaching through the gate and releasing the latch.

–       Add an alarm to doors, gates, windows and pools or spas to alert adults when unsupervised children enter the area of the pool or spa. Make sure the alarm sound is unique from other sounds in the house, such as the telephone, doorbell and smoke alarms.

–       Add a pool or spa safety cover. This is a manual or motorized barrier that can be placed over the water’s surface, and is easily opened or closed. A cover should withstand the weight of two adults and a child to allow a rescue if an individual falls onto the cover.

 

To reduce your liability risk if you own a trampoline, you should:

–       Discuss the importance of trampoline safety with your kids, and tell them about the risks of not using it properly.

–       Keep an eye on children and inexperienced jumpers while they are on the trampoline.

–       Instruct jumpers on how to safely enter and exit the trampoline.

–       Do not allow children or pets underneath the trampoline while someone is jumping.

–       Keep the trampoline free from foreign objects and pets. Any new object introduced to the trampoline is another potential hazard that can result in injury.

–       Do not allow roughhousing or flips as this behavior can result in injury.

–       For maximum safety, only allow one jumper at a time.

–       Do not allow children under the age of 6 years to use a full-size trampoline.

–       Use padding that completely covers the springs, hooks and the frame. Or, purchase a spring-less trampoline.

–       Use trampoline net enclosures to prevent injuries from falling off the trampoline.

–       Do not use a ladder with the trampoline. This encourages small children to use the trampoline unsupervised.

 

The Reno Agency recommends anyone who owns a swimming pool or trampoline to purchase a Personal Liability Umbrella Policy (PLUP). This policy will extend additional liability protection to you in the event a claim exceeds your liability limits on your homeowners insurance.

 

Not only do PLUP’s extend coverage to your homeowners insurance, but also to your auto insurance, boatowners insurance, rental dwelling insurance, etc. Depending on your insurance company, adding this valuable coverage may provide you with a discount on your other insurance policies.

 

PLUP’s are purchased in increments of $1 million, so talk with your agent, or call the Reno Agency at 269.792.2232, to determine what amount is appropriate for you.

Don’t Get Burned By Insurance Claims This Summer

Grange Insurance Logo

Grange Insurance offers tips to have fun and stay safe

School is out for the summer, and for many, that means vacations, cookouts and pool parties. Summer is fun, but its activities can also lead to unnecessary and expensive claims if families do not take the right precautions.

Columbus, Ohio-based Grange Insurance offers tips to help families have fun, stay safe and avoid claims that could become financial inconveniences.

 

1. Prepare your house for ‘vacation mode.’   Security Alarm

Families should prepare their homes for ‘vacation mode’ if they’re planning to be gone for an extended period of time.

“Turn off the valve on the washing machine, check the back-up battery on the sump pump and put high-end electronics on a storm surge protector in case bad weather should occur that might lead to flooding or fires in the home while homeowners are away,” advises Ken Kozek, vice president of claims for Grange Insurance.

Kozek also advises families leaving town to have a trusted neighbor check the home periodically, alert the local police to increase neighbor check the home periodically, alert the local police to increase neighborhood watch, put lights on a timer, and stop mail and newspaper delivery.

 

2. Don’t be a target for theft.   Theft

Homes are a target for theft when homeowners are away, but thefts can occur just as easily when homeowners are home.

“Summer is open-window season for houses and cars and open-door season for the garage, so be mindful of your personal belongings,” adds Kozek. “If you’re going to leave windows or doors open, keep things like wallets, cell phones, golf clubs and jewelry out of sight.”

 

3. Be safe around water.   Swimming Pool

“Swimming is a great summer activity, but water can also be very dangerous if you’re not careful,” said Kozek. “Families should take precautions when it comes to activities that include water and keep an eye on kids at all times to avoid drowning.”

Kozek also advises families with pools to install a fence around the premise to prevent unwanted swimmers who, if injured, could become a liability for the homeowner.

“Homeowners should also consider installing motion-activated alarms around the pool that will sound an alert if someone falls in,” adds Kozek.

 

4. Don’t play with fire.   Fireworks

Fireworks are enjoyable and fun to watch, but they can also lead to serious injury, especially to children. They’re also a leading cause of summer house fires. Grange Insurance urges families to stay safe and leave fireworks to the professionals this summer.

 

5. Know your coverage options when you’re away from home.   summer_vacation

Grange Insurance encourages families to contact their independent agent before renting cars, boats or vacation homes this summer.

“Families should be aware of what their coverage options are before they leave for vacation,” said Kozek. “Additional coverage might be needed when renting cars, boats or homes, but in some cases, current auto and homeowner policies might provide all the coverage that is needed. Your independent agent is a great resource to help make sure you’re covered for any situation, and they can help you save money by avoiding potentially unnecessary rental charges too.”

 

For more information about staying safe and saving money this summer, visit www.grangeinsurance.com or call the Reno Agency today at 269.792.2232.

 

About Grange

Grange Insurance, with $2 billion in assets and more than $1 billion in annual revenue, is an insurance provider founded in 1935 and based in Columbus, Ohio. Through its network of independent agents, Grange offers auto, home, life and business insurance protection. The company and its affiliates serve policyholders in Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin. For more information, visit www.grangeinsurance.com.

Marital Bliss and an Insurance Review

 

Bride and groom running along beach

Whether you are tying the knot this summer, or have recently exchanged wedding vows, the Reno Agency has some tips for the newlyweds.

 

Marriage is a great time to re-evaluate your insurance coverage to make sure you are appropriately covered, and to take advantage of all the discounts you are now eligible for. Here are a few areas to look at once you have tied the knot:

 

Auto Insurance – If both you and your spouse have vehicles, talk to your agent to combine your insurance policies and take advantage of the multi-car discount. Marital status may also help reduce your premium, so make sure to add your spouse’s information to your policy.

 

 

Home or Renter’s Insurance – Now that you are married, it is important to protect your new home together. Have your agent review your policy to make sure your homeowners or renter’s policy protects both of you in terms of personal possessions and liability coverage.

 

If you and your spouse purchased a home, insure your home and autos with the same company to receive the multi-policy discount. If you and your spouse are renting, get a renter’s insurance policy to qualify for this discount. Renter’s insurance is more affordable than many might think. Read, “4 Lessons to School Millennials on Renter’s Insurance,” for more information.

 

 

Life Insurance – Marriage means having someone you can depend on for life. Knowing you depend upon each other means you should consider a life insurance policy. Life insurance is important to have if you have debt (credit cards, medical bills, etc), own a home with a mortgage, are planning on having children, or if you want to plan ahead while you are in good health.

 

There are different types of life insurance policies (Term, Whole, Universal), so make sure to consult your agent on which type(s) are best for you.

 

 

Health Insurance – Save money and consolidate your health insurance into one plan! Marriage is oftentimes a qualifying life event that allows you to make changes to your insurance policy. If both of your employers offer health insurance, choose the better plan.

 

 

Planning a wedding can be stressful enough. Don’t let insurance stress you out further. Update your insurance policies early and enjoy marital bliss.

 

If you need assistance with your insurance policies, call the Reno Agency at 269.792.2232 or toll-free at 877.774.7366.

Hot Off the Grange Insurance Press: Putting Together the Pieces of your Insurance Policy Puzzle

Grange Insurance Hi Res Version

Grange Insurance shares steps to reading insurance policies

Columbus, Ohio – According to Punxsutawney Phil, spring is just around the corner. For those of you who live in colder climates, this might be a welcome change. However, this also means that the sometimes volatile weather is right around the corner, making now a good time to review your insurance policy to make sure you have the coverage you need as we approach storm season.

Similar to putting together a 1,000-piece puzzle, reading an insurance policy can seem daunting at first glance. This can make it hard to determine what you’re looking at and how much coverage you have. To cut through the clutter, Grange Insurance offers five tips to quickly understand the pieces of your insurance policy puzzle:

Start with the Declarations Page

The Declarations Page is typically the first page of an insurance policy, but policy holders might also receive this as a standalone document. “The Declarations Page is like the four corners of your puzzle, and it serves as a roadmap for your policy,” says Larry Tamasovich, manager of policy forms and compliance, Grange Insurance.

The Declarations Page includes a list of form numbers that apply to your policy, and it provides basic information such as name and address of the insurance agency, what is insured, for how much, under what circumstances, and for how long. It might also include additions to the policy beyond basic coverage.

Assemble your Policy

Once you’ve reviewed the Declarations Page, you can begin piecing it together. The first step is to identify the policy form numbers on your Declarations Page and match them up with the form numbers of your policy. You should also look for the edition dates of the policy forms shown on the Declarations Page and compare them to the edition dates of the forms received for your policy. This will help you determine if you have a complete, up-to-date policy. If you’re missing anything, contact your independent insurance agent or insurance company.

Identify your Coverage

With the Declarations Page and policy in-hand, you have the proper forms to start filling in the middle pieces of your policy puzzle. Each policy is typically broken out into broad coverage sections identified by titles that include an insuring agreement and an exclusions section. The policy itself should have an index page to make it easier to identify sections within the policy. To identify your coverage, follow these four steps:

1.  Turn to the section in your policy that you want to review, such as homeowners property protection.
2.  Refer to the insuring agreement section to see your broad coverage.
3.  Turn back to your Declarations Page to verify if that coverage applies to your specific policy, what your limit and/or premium is, and if you have a deductible.
4.  Once you’ve determined that this coverage applies to you, refer back to your policy and read the exclusions page for that section to get an understanding of what is not included.

“For example, maybe you’re concerned your basement might flood during the upcoming rainy season,” said Tamasovich. “The insuring agreement will tell you what is covered in your house, but the exclusions section might tell you that floods are not covered unless you have a separate flood policy. If flooding is truly a concern, this would be a red flag to contact your agent about a flood policy to make sure that you have the proper coverage in place to fully protect your home.”

Refer to the Definitions Section

Insurance policies can be loaded with legal language and industry jargon, and that can make the meat of your policy hard to digest at times. Every policy should include a Definitions Section. If ay any time you are unsure of what the policy is stating, refer to the Definitions Section to see if you can find an explanation.

Call your Agent

Even after these steps, your insurance policy may still be overwhelming, says Tamasovich. At that point, it may be time to call your independent agent.

“We’re coming up on the most volatile time of the year in terms of weather, making now a good time to get your ducks in a row before bad weather hits,” said Tamasovich. “If ay any time you’re unsure of what you’re reading or what your coverage is, call your agent. He or she can help explain what’s in your policy, and more importantly, help make sure that you’re appropriately protected for the future.”

For more information about insurance policies and the types of insurance available to you, visit www.GrangeInsurance.com or call your independent agent today.

 

About Grange

Grange Insurance, with $2 billion in assets and in excess of $1 billion in annual revenue, is an insurance provider based in Columbus, Ohio. Through its network of independent agents, Grange offers auto, home, life, and business insurance protection. Established in 1935, the company and its affiliates serve policyholders in Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin. For more information, visit www.GrangeInsurance.com.

 

Keynote Recognizes Progressive as Dominate Leader in Car Insurance Websites

Direct news report from http://www.progressive.com/newsroom/2013/February/keynote-2013.aspx.

Progressive official logo black

MAYFIELD VILLAGE, Ohio — February 25, 2013 —Keynote® Competitive Research, the industry analysis group of Keynote Systems, once again recognized Progressive.com as number one among online car insurance websites.

Progressive has sat atop the list for 20 of the last 21 scorecards dating back to 2000, demonstrating consistent excellence in the insurance space. The Keynote Insurance Carrier Scorecard praises the site for offering so many features to the customer in real-time, while providing excellent customer support options that make the insurance shopping experience easy.

“Our goal remains laser-focused — to continually strive to cut through the clutter and make buying and servicing insurance easy, understandable and transparent when you come to Progressive.com,” said Progressive’s Acquisition Leader, Toby Alfred. “Your online experience should mirror our beloved Superstore ads and offer you the best service possible.”

Keynote reviewed websites and interviewed company representatives from well-known insurance companies. Sites were then ranked in order of how well they met industry-specific criteria as well as performed specific functions, such as buying and quoting car insurance.

Areas where Progressive excelled included:

  • Name Your Price: Prospects can enter their insurance budget and view the closest-matching coverage page
  • Mobile buy: Prospects can bind their auto insurance quote via a smartphone app or mobile-optimized interface; we offer coverage needs assessment tools
  • Mobile prefill: Prospects can prefill information into their quote by taking a picture of their driver’s license or insurance ID card
  • Bundled quoting: Prospects can get home and auto quotes within one flow

About Progressive
The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies (collectively, “Progressive Insurance”) makes it easy to understand, buy and use auto insurance. Progressive offers choices so consumers can reach us whenever, wherever and however it’s most convenient for them — online at progressive.com, by phone at 1-800-PROGRESSIVE, on a mobile device or in-person with a local agent.

Progressive offers insurance for personal and commercial autos and trucks, motorcycles, boats, recreational vehicles and homes. It’s the fourth largest auto insurer in the country, the largest seller of motorcycle insurance and a leader in commercial auto insurance. Progressive also offers car insurance online in Australia at http://www.progressiveonline.com.au.

Founded in 1937, Progressive continues its long history of offering shopping tools and services that save customers time and money, like Name Your Price®, the Snapshot Discount®, and a concierge level of claims service.

The Common Shares of The Progressive Corporation, the Mayfield Village, Ohio-based holding company, are publicly traded at NYSE:PGR.