Tag Archives: Flood Insurance

Make a New Year’s Resolution to Save Money on Your Auto and Homeowners Insurance in 2014


Five tips to cut your insurance costs, without being dangerously underinsured


Trimming ongoing expenses is a popular New Year’s resolution for many people. While there are smart ways to save on homeowners and auto insurance, making the wrong choices can result in being dangerously underinsured, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).


“There are simple steps you can take to cut the cost of your home and auto insurance while continuing to be financially protected against a catastrophe,” said Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president and consumer spokesperson for the I.I.I.


Following are five insurance mistakes that consumers should avoid, along with practical suggestions for ways to save money:


1. Insuring a home for its real estate value not rebuilding cost. 

Image courtesy of Supertrooper | Freedigitalphotos.net
Image courtesy of Supertrooper | Freedigitalphotos.net

The amount for which you can buy or sell a home can fluctuate for many reasons. But insurance is designed to cover the cost of rebuilding your home, not the sale price. Make sure you have enough coverage to completely rebuild your home and replace all your belongings in the event of a disaster.




A better way to save on homeowners premiums:

Raise your deductible. An increase from $500 to $1,000 could save up to 25 percent on your annual premium. And don’t forget to ask your insurer about all available discounts.



2. Selecting an insurance company by price alone.

You want an insurance company that offers the type of policy and coverage that you are looking for; it should also be financially sound and provide excellent customer service.


A savvier way to pick an insurer:

Ask friends and family for recommendations. Get the names of local agents and/or insurance companies that provided helpful information and a satisfactory claims filing experience.



3. Dropping flood insurance. 

Image courtesy of FEMA photographer Bob McMillan
Image courtesy of FEMA photographer Bob McMillan

Damage from flooding is not covered under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. Even though the cost of flood insurance is rising, don’t be tempted to drop this coverage. Ninety percent of all natural disasters involve some form of flooding. Flood insurance is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), as well as from some private insurance companies.


A smarter way to lower flood insurance costs:

Before purchasing a home check with the NFIP to see whether the house is located in a flood zone. If so, consider buying a home in a less risky area. If you already own a home and it’s in a flood zone, you still have some options: increasing your deductible; and elevating the structure. There may be grants available to help you with the cost of elevation–to find out more, talk to your community officials. You may also want to talk to your community officials about joining or improving their status in the Community Rating System. This is a FEMA program that offers flood discounts to communities that adopt standards that are higher than those required to join the National Flood Insurance Program.



4. Purchasing only the legally required amount of liability for your vehicle. 

Image courtesy of suphakit73 | Freedigitalphotos.net
Image courtesy of suphakit73 | Freedigitalphotos.net

In today’s litigious society, buying only the minimum amount of liability means you are likely to pay more out-of-pocket if you are sued–and those costs may be steep. The insurance industry and consumer groups generally recommend a minimum of $100,000 of bodily injury protection per person and $300,000 per accident on auto insurance.


A less risky way to cut auto insurance costs:

Consider taking a defensive driver class that would offer a discount on insurance cost. You can also raise the deductible on comprehensive and collision coverage. If you are driving an older vehicle (worth less than $1,000) you may want to think about dropping one or both of these coverages.


5. Neglecting to buy renters insurance. 

Image courtesy of FEMA photographer Earl Armstrong
Image courtesy of FEMA photographer Earl Armstrong


The average renters insurance policy is less than $200 per year ($187 dollars a year) or about $22 per month. For the price of a couple fancy coffees a week, you can insure the contents of your apartment, as well as get liability protection in the event someone is injured in your home and decides to sue. Lastly, renters insurance policies also provide coverage for additional living expenses–so if you can’t live in your home because of a fire or other disaster, you would get the money to live elsewhere temporarily.


A good way to cut the cost of renters insurance:

Look into multi-policy discounts. Buying several policies with the same insurer, such as renters, auto and/or life insurance, will generally provide savings.


This article was provided by the Insurance Information Institute.


Who to Call After Flood or Storm Damage

West Michigan was hit hard last week and many have experienced flood damage as a result of the heavy rains, and over filled rivers. If your home or business has been affected by water or storm damage, call our office at 269.792.2232 local, or toll free at 877.774.7366, and we’ll provide some recommendations on what restoration companies to use.

Floods are not covered under Homeowners insurance, so if you have any questions on whether your particular loss is covered, please give us a call. Email your questions to Mike@renoagency.com or Shelly@renoagency.com.

For more information on what to do after a flood, refer to our previous post, “Are You Flood Ready?”

Flooding on 130th Ave in Hopkins, MI
Photo courtesy of Lynn Schmuker

Are You Flood Ready?

As the Winter snow melts, and the Spring rains fall, do you know if you are protected if your property is flooded?

Many homeowners believe that their homeowners insurance covers them from floods. However, they are very wrong. You must purchase a separate flood insurance policy to protect your home and contents in the event of a flood. There are flood insurance policies for homeowners, renters, and condo owners.

So the next question is, “How do I know if I need Flood Insurance?”

FEMA manages the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which makes federally-backed flood insurance available in communities that agree to adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances to reduce future flood damage. Flood insurance is available in most communities through insurance agents and is available whether the building is in or out of an identified flood-prone area.

To find out if your home or business is at risk for flood, FEMA has compiled flood hazard maps that outline your community’s different flood risk areas. Remember,

What to do to prepare yourself for the chance of a flood

Educate Yourself

After getting flood insurance, there are several things you can do to minimize losses in your home and ensure your family’s safety.

1. Safeguard your possessions.

Create a personal flood file containing information about all your possessions and keep it in a secure place, such as a safe deposit box or waterproof container. This file should have:

1. A copy of your insurance policies with your agents contact information.

2. A household inventory: For insurance purposes, be sure to keep a written and visual (i.e., videotaped or photographed) record of all major household items and valuables, even those stored in basements, attics or garages. Create files that include serial numbers and store receipts for major appliances and electronics. Have jewelry and artwork appraised. These documents are critically important when filing insurance claims. For more information visit www.knowyourstuff.org.

2. Prepare your house.

1. First make sure your sump pump is working and then install a battery-operated backup, in case of a power failure. Installing a water alarm will also let you know if water is accumulating in your basement.

2. Clear debris from gutters and downspouts.

3. Anchor any fuel tanks.

4. Raise your electric components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers, and wiring) at least 12 inches above your home’s projected flood elevation.

5. Place the furnace, water heater, washer, and dryer on cement blocks at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation.

6. Move furniture, valuables, and important documents to a safe place.

3. Develop a family emergency plan.

1. Create a safety kit with drinking water, canned food, first aid, blankets, a radio, and a flashlight.

2. Post emergency telephone numbers by the phone and teach your children how to dial 911.

3. Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family. Know safe routes from home, work, and school that are on higher ground.

4. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be your emergency family contact.

5. Have a plan to protect your pets.


For more information on emergency preparation, talk to your insurance agent or visit Ready.gov.

Read about Michigan’s Flood Facts here.

Read about how to stay safe During a Flood.

**Information in this article was provided by www.floodsmart.gov and www.fema.gov.