Tag Archives: Homeowners Insurance

Recreational Vehicles: Snowmobiles, Golf Carts, and ATVs


True or False?

Your recreational vehicle is covered under your homeowners policy.


False. If you drive your recreational vehicle on your own property, your homeowners policy will extend liability coverage to you, but once you leave your property, you are not covered.


If this statement comes as a shock to you, speak with your agent today and make sure you are not riding around uninsured. Your agent will need the following information in order to add coverage:

  • Year
  • Make
  • Model
  • CCs
  • Use of the unit
  • All driver information


The types of sports vehicles included under the recreational vehicle designation are those not subject to motor vehicle registration (with the exception of snowmobiles) and are designed for travel off of public roads. Examples include snowmobiles, golf carts and ATVs. Three-wheelers are ineligible, and snowmobiles over 600 CCs are generally unacceptable and will not be covered through most companies.


If you use your recreational vehicle to transport people  or property for compensation, rent a unit to others, or use a unit for business purposes, different insurance coverage needs to be applied. Your insurance agent can assist you with this.


If you are the owner of a Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV), also referred to as side-by-sides, check with your insurance agent to see whether your insurance company offers coverage for these vehicles. Some, such as Pioneer Mutual Insurance Company, do not write coverage for UTVs due to the major safety concerns that come with these off-road vehicles. Pioneer also does not write coverage for dune buggies, which many of the newer UTVs are made for dune riding.


Your insurance agent is your best resource for understanding coverage for recreational vehicles. Therefore, if you have any questions, give the Reno Agency a call today at 269.792.2232.



Fall Maintenance Tips: 10 Recommendations To Prepare Your Home For Winter

Sometimes we get so busy during the fall with football games, visiting orchards, hayrides, picking out pumpkins and going trick or treating, that we forget to do some important maintenance on our homes to make sure that it’s ready for the upcoming winter.

Well, I hate to break the news, but there are 74 days until Christmas! Holly

This means, there’s less than two months to get all the home maintenance projects done before the weather really turns cold. And with the sunlight diminishing a little more each day, finding the time to tackle this “to-do” list may seem a little daunting (especially if you’re a procrastinator like myself).

So let me just cut to the chase since we’re getting short on time. Here are ten of my recommendations of what to get done to prepare your home before the snow flies.

  1. Do a visual inspection of your roof to make sure there aren’t signs of wear or damage. We discussed this step in our first “Fall Maintenance Tip,” so if you missed it, read it here.
  2. Clean out gutters and downspouts of leaves and debris so you decrease the chances of ice buildup.
  3. Inspect flashing along the roof to make sure its in place and in good condition. Check along roof elevation changes, such as where the chimney or vents meets the roof, or around skylights. These are typical sources for water to penetrate the roof covering.
  4. Walk around your home and look for tree branches that hang over your house. If there is an ice storm or heavy snowfall, these branches pose a threat to damage your roof, so trim these branches, and dead limbs, away from your home.
  5. Check your driveway and walkways for cracks. If you don’t fix cracks before winter, water can seep into them and freeze causing a larger crack. If the crack hasn’t gone all the way through the concrete, you can resurface the worn concrete.
  6. Have your furnace cleaned and inspected. Make sure a new filter is placed inside the furnace if you have forced air.
  7. Check your smoke detectors to make sure they are all operable. And practice a fire safety drill…October is Fire Prevention Awareness Month after all, so make sure your family knows what to do in the event of a fire.
  8. If you have a wood burning fireplace, have your chimney cleaned and maintained by a certified chimney sweep
  9. Clean out dryer vents for clothes dryers. Many people don’t know that they should clean out their dryer vents regularly. Excess lint build up poses a fire threat so getting your vents and dryer thoroughly cleaned at least once a year is recommended. There is a DIY dryer vent cleaning kit by LintEater that you can use to clean your vents with. I found the best price from here.
  10. Insulate water pipes to prevent freezing when the temperatures drop, especially outdoor faucets. You can put an insulated cover over regular faucets like this, or you can install a freeze-proof faucet yourself.

Not sure what type of outdoor faucet you have? Check out the photo below.

Outdoor Faucets Comparison




Hopefully, after tackling this “to-do” list, you’ll be able to enjoy your winter free from unexpected losses.

Is Your High-End Bicycle Properly Insured?


Warmer weather has people parking their four-wheel vehicles in the garage and opting for a two-wheeled option. No, we’re not talking about motorcycles. We’re talking about their more labor intensive, off-road capable cousin, the bicycle.


Whether it’s to visit places not accessible by car, competing in a cycling race, or taking a leisurely ride with the family around the neighborhood, bicycles have become a staple to many of us.


High-End Bicycle
With some bicycles costing as much as $20,000, it’s important to have the appropriate insurance coverage to protect against theft and losses.


“Over 15 million bicycles are sold each year in the U.S., of which 4 million are of higher value,” said Dave Williams, CEO and co-founder of Velosurance, a company that offers bicycle insurance policies in the U.S. ” A good quality, entry-level mountain or road bike costs around $1,500, and the average-value bike sold in 2013 was valued at approximately $4,000, with high-end bicycles costing as much as $20,000.”


With so many Americans spending thousands of dollars on bicycles, having someone steal their bike, or a bike getting damaged while being transported, can put a big damper on your weekend plans. Talk with your insurance agent to see what coverage applies to your bicycle under your homeowners or renters insurance policy. If the coverage isn’t enough, then a stand alone bicycle insurance policy may be what you need.


Along with having the proper insurance for your bicycle, purchasing the best locks possible will help protect your investment against theft any time it is not in use. According to the U.S. National Crime Victim Survey, over 1.3 million bikes were stolen, which equates to approximately 2.5 per minute. Take the extra measures to ensure you can enjoy your bicycle for a long time.





Are Our Teens Missing the Point of what a ‘Designated Driver’ Is?


First of all, it is sad that we have to discuss an adult matter with our teenagers, but the reality is that teenagers are finding access to alcohol earlier than parents may like, and are abusing it.


The legal drinking age in the U.S. is set at 21 for a reason; teenagers make bad decisions when they consume alcohol.


“The age limit for alcohol is based on research which shows that young people react differently to alcohol. Teens get drunk twice as fast as adults, but have more trouble knowing when to stop. Teens naturally overdo it and binge more often than adults. Enforcing the legal drinking age of 21 reduces traffic crashes, protects young people’s maturing brains, and keeps young people safer overall,” says James C. Fell, a public health researcher at the Pacific Institute for Research & Evaluation, as stated on MADD.org.


Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici | Freedigitalphotos.net
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici | Freedigitalphotos.net



In a recent Bloomberg article titled, “Teens Missing the Point of ‘Designated Driver,’ Zachary Tracer wrote about an alarming realization about teenagers who drink alcohol:

U.S. teens recognize the importance of using a designated driver to get home. The problem is, that person isn’t always sober.


In 2013, Liberty Mutual Holding Co. and Students Against Destructive Decisions conducted a survey of 2,537 students in 11th and 12th grades. “About one in five adolescents say it’s fine for their driver to have some alcohol or use drugs, as long as that person isn’t too impaired to drive. Four percent just pick the least inebriated person to take them home,” according to the survey.


I’m sure if you look back to your high school and early college days, you can remember a friend, or possibly yourself, being the designated driver for the group, only to have had a beer or two before driving everyone home.


Teens “seem to think that unless they’re really falling-down drunk, that it’s OK for them to drive,” said David Melton, managing director for global safety at Liberty Mutual.


More than 10,000 people were killed in collisions involving drunk drivers in 2012, accounting for 31% of all car-crash deaths that year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The driver was intoxicated in about 18% of fatal crashes involving motorists ages 16 to 20, the data show.


Designated drivers are supposed to abstain from alcohol. A separate study of bar patrons last year found that about 40% of designated drivers consumed some booze.


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


If you think that your teenager’s use of alcohol doesn’t impact you, then you are wrong. Teenagers who consume alcohol are a liability risk to you, opening you up to insurance claims and lawsuits.





It is our job as parents to educate our children about the dangers of using alcohol, especially consuming it too early. You need to have the alcohol conversation earlier than you think too as “almost one in three 8th graders has tried alcohol,” found in National Institutes of Health survey results on Drug and Alcohol Use.




The National Institutes of Health suggest parents do the following to prevent underage drinking:


– Talk about the dangers of drinking with your children

– Drink responsibly, if you choose to drink

– Serve as positive role models in general

– Don’t make alcohol available

– Get to know your children’s friends

– Have regular conversations about life in general

– Connect with other parents about sending clear messages about the importance of not drinking alcohol

– Supervise all parties to make sure there is no alcohol

– Encourage kids to participate in healthy and fun activities that do not involve alcohol


Parent’s should pay close attention to the following warning signs that may indicate underage drinking:


– Changes in your child’s mood, including anger and irritability

– Changes in academic performance

– Rebelliousness

– Changing groups of friends

– Low energy level

– Less interest in activities and/or care in appearance

– Finding alcohol among your children’s things

– Smelling alcohol on a young person’s breath

– Problems concentrating and/or remembering

– Slurred speech

– Coordination problems


Statistics from MADD.org

– Kids who start drinking young are seven times more likely to be in an alcohol-related crash.

– High school students who use alcohol or other substances are five times more likely to drop out of school.

– One in six teens binge drink. Only 1 in 100 parents believes his or her teen binge drinks.

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.