Tag Archives: Renter’s Insurance

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.





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.


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


Living Single: Protect Yourself Financially With These Six Insurance Tips


One benefit of being single is that your money is your own, to use as you see fit, so you have the freedom to decide which savings plans and investment vehicles are right for you. But you are also solely responsible for protecting yourself financially, and insurance should be at the top of the list. The Insurance Information Institute provides advice to protect your greatest asset–you!


More Americans are living alone than ever before, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report. The proportion of one-person households increased by 10 percentage points between 1970 and 2012, from 17 percent to 27 percent. In 2012, women represented more than half (55 percent) of one-person households, although men have been closing this gap over time. Sixty-two percent of unmarried U.S. residents 18 and older in 2012 had never been married. Another 24 percent were divorced, and 14 percent were widowed, the report noted.


If you’re flying solo, you have only yourself to depend on. Take the time to review your insurance and financial needs now in order to take care of yourself in the future. The I.I.I suggests the following six ways to help you enjoy living the single life–securely.


1. Life Insurance

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 13.6 million unmarried parents living with children in 2011, the most recent figure available. As a single parent it is crucial to make sure your dependents will be financially secure in the event of your death, so life insurance should be a key element of your financial plan. However, even if you do not have dependents, life insurance can be an excellent way to pay for your final expenses without burdening parents, siblings or other family members. A life insurance policy also enables you to leave a significant contribution to a charity you may want to support. Furthermore, whole life or permanent life policies create a cash value that, if not paid out as a death benefit, can be borrowed against or withdrawn on the owner’s request, creating a kind of “forced” savings plan. And remember, if you are single because of a divorce or a spouse’s death, you may have a life insurance policy with an outdated beneficiary designation, so make sure to make appropriate adjustments to your policy.


2. Disability Coverage

If you were disabled and unable to work as a result of an accident or illness, what would you do for income? Who would take care of you? Disability income insurance can replace lost income. Keep in mind that 43 percent of all people age 40 will have a long-term (lasting 90 days or more) disability event by age 65. While many employers offer disability coverage, some smaller businesses may not, so you may want to consider buying a private disability policy, which will replace 50 to 70 percent of your income.


3. Long-term Care

The good news is we are living longer. The bad news is that if you end up needing long-term care services, it can get pricey. If you live alone and do not have the financial resources to pay for home health care, a nursing home or an assisted living facility, long-term care insurance can be a solution. In general, it’s a good idea to buy this type of insurance well before you turn 60-there is less chance you will be rejected, and the younger you are, the lower the premiums will be.


4. Homeowners and Renters Insurance

Singles are somewhat more likely to rent than own their home; according to the U.S. Census Bureau around 20 percent of owner-occupied homes are one-person households, while close to 40 percent of rental households are occupied by a single person living alone. If you rent a house or apartment, your landlord’s insurance will only cover the costs of repairing the building itself in the event of a fire or other disaster. You need your own coverage, known as renter’s insurance, in order to financially protect yourself and your belongings.


If you do own your home, (whether it is a house or condo or co-op apartment), it is important to make sure you have the right amount and type of insurance. Homeowners insurance covers the structure of your house, personal belongings, liability and additional living expenses. With condo or co-op insurance, on the other hand, you will need to make sure you have two separate policies to protect your investment: your own insurance policy, which provides coverage for your personal possessions, liability, structural improvements to your apartment and additional living expenses; and a “master policy” provided by the condo/co-op board. The latter covers the common areas you share with others in your building, such as the roof, basement, elevator, boiler and walkways, for both liability and physical damage.


5. Auto Insurance

If you are single because of a divorce, notify your auto insurance company that there is a change in ownership or designated driver for any cars you owned as a couple. If you, or your former spouse or partner, move to a new home, you should get a separate auto policy immediately. And if either of you buys a new car, arrange for a new auto policy before the car is registered. Removing a former spouse or partner from the insurance policy also protects you from possible liability if he or she is involved in an accident and gets sued. You can often save money by buying auto and homeowners or renters insurance from the same insurer. Check with your insurance professional to see what discounts are available.


6. Retirement Income

If you are single, chances are you will need to be more self-reliant when it comes to investing for your retirement as you may not have a spouse or children to step in and help out should you need that support in the future. Most single people will qualify for retirement income from Social Security, but is unlikely to be enough to pay for more than the bare necessities in retirement. Some will have retirement income from a “defined benefit” type of pension plan–one that pays an income based on your final income and years of service from an employer. Social Security income increases to match inflation, but defined-benefit payments do not, so they will become increasingly inadequate the longer you live in retirement.

For retirement income security, if your employer offers a 401(k) type retirement savings plan, you should contribute the maximum you can to it–especially if the employer matches your contribution. (The employer match is, in effect, extra pay for no extra work so don’t miss out on that!) If you don’t have access to a 401(k) plan, start your own tax-favored retirement savings plan immediately. When you retire, you may want to consider using some of your retirement funds to buy an annuity,  which pays you an income for the rest of your life. This will ensure that your lifetime income (from Social Security, a defined-benefit pension, and the annuity) is enough to pay all your expenses.

Other Things to Consider

Talk to your insurance professional about getting the best insurance protection for your specific needs and make sure that you are taking advantage of all available discounts. Keep in mind, in today’s economy, good credit is more important than ever. A clean credit record will entitle you to higher credit limits, lower interest rates on credit cards and more favorable interest rates on loans. Many landlords now perform credit checks before leasing an apartment and some employers investigate credit histories before making job offers. So whether you are buying a home, applying for a new job or looking for the best price on insurance, a good credit history will go a long way toward helping you realize your financial and personal goals.



This article was provided by the Insurance Information Institute, http://www.iii.org/press_releases/living-single-protect-yourself-financially-with-these-six-insurance-tips.html


Do I Need Insurance for a Child Going Away to College?



iii LOGO_RGBx300This article was provided by the Insurance Information Institute to bring awareness about what insurance products parents and students should consider before heading off to college.



With computers, TVs, printers, PDAs, and MP3 players being shipped off to school, it is more important than ever that students and their parents purchase the appropriate insurance protections.


Theft can be a major concern on college campuses; according to U.S. Department of Education there were about 40,000 thefts in 2006. And campus fires are on the rise with a dramatic increase from a low of 1,800 fires in 1998 to 3,300 fires in 2005, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).


For students who live in a dorm, most personal possessions are covered under their parents’ homeowners or renters insurance policies. However, some home insurance policies may limit the amount of insurance for off-premises belongings to 10 percent of the total amount of coverage for personal possessions. This means that if the parents have $70,000 worth of insurance for their belongings, only $7,000 would be applicable to possessions in the dorm. Not all insurers impose this type of limit, so you should check with your agent or insurance company representative.


Expensive computer and electronic equipment and items such as jewelry may also be subject to coverage limits under a standard homeowners policy. If the limits are too low, parents may consider buying a special personal property floater or an endorsement for these items. There are also stand-alone insurance policies for computers and sometimes cell phones.


Students and/or their parents may also want to consider purchasing a stand-alone policy specifically designed for students living away at college. This can be an economical way to provide additional insurance coverage for a variety of disasters.


Students who live off campus are likely not covered by their parents’ homeowners policy and may need to purchase their own renters insurance policy. Parents should consult their insurance agent or company representative to see if their homeowners or renters policy extends to off-campus living situations.


For students going off to college, the Insurance Information Institute recommends the following:

1. Leave valuables at home if possible

While it may be necessary to take a computer or sports equipment to campus, other expensive items, such as valuable jewelry, luxury watches or costly electronics, should be left behind or kept in a local safety deposit box.

2. Create a “dorm inventory”

Before leaving home, students should make a detailed inventory of all the items they are taking with them, and revise it every year. Having an up-to-date inventory will help get insurance claims settled faster in the event of theft, fire or other types of disasters. For an easy way to put together an inventory, use the Insurance Information Institute’s free Home Inventory Software.

3. Engrave electronics

Engrave electronic items such as computers, televisions and portable devices like iPods with your name or other identifying information that can help police track the stolen articles.

The Insurance Information Institute offers the following advice to guard against theft of your personal belongings on campus:

1. Always lock your dorm room door and keep your keys with you at all times, even if you leave briefly. And, not just at night – most dorm thefts occur during the day. Insist your roommates do the same.

2. Don’t leave belongings unattended on campus. Whether you are in class, the library, the dining hall or other public areas, keep book bags, purses and laptops with you at all times. These are the primary areas where property theft occurs.

3. Buy a laptop security cable and use it. A combination lock that needs decoding may be just enough to dissuade a thief.

4. Most campus fires are cooking related so be careful about the types of hot plates or microwaves you bring to school, and how you use them.


In the event a student is planning to have a car on campus, choose a safe, reliable vehicle and do some comparison shopping to find the best auto insurance rate. Talk to your independent agent, Mike Salisbury, to find the best rate today. You can call the Reno Agency at 269.792.2232 or email Mike at Mike@RenoAgency.com.


If you decide to keep the student’s car at home, be sure to contact your agent who handles your auto insurance, as many insurers will give discounts for students who are living away at school at least 100 miles from home.


Bicycle Safety and Insurance


iii LOGO_RGBx300This article was provided by the Insurance Information Institute to address the importance of insuring your bicycle properly.



Bicycling is increasingly popular, both as a sport and as a means of transportation. And bicycles can cost anywhere from several hundred dollars for a basic bike, to thousands of dollars for specialized racing bikes. Whether you use your bicycle to commute to work or school, or simply like to cycle around the block with your children, it is important to understand the rules of the road and protect your financial investment with the proper insurance.


Bicycles are covered under the personal property section of standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. This coverage will reimburse you, minus your deductible, if your bike is stolen or damaged in a fire, hurricane or other disaster listed in your policy.


If you are purchasing a new bike, keep the receipt and call your insurance agent or company representative immediately. If you own a particularly expensive bicycle, you may want to consider getting an endorsement that will provide additional coverage. Your insurance agent or company representative can review your coverage options with you.


There are two types of coverage for personal property:

1. Actual Cash Value – reimburses you for what the bicycle is actually worth given its age. A 10-year-old bicycle, for example, would be valued at the cost of a comparable bicycle minus 10 years depreciation.

2. Replacement Cost Coverage – reimburses you for what it would cost to replace your 10-year-old bicycle with one of like and quality at current cost. Replacement cost coverage costs about 10 percent more than actual cash value, but it is a good investment.

Homeowners and renters insurance policies also provide liability protection for harm you may cause to someone else or their property. If you injure someone in a bicycle accident and he or she decides to sue, you will be covered up to the limits of your policy. Your homeowners or renters insurance also includes no-fault medical coverage in the event you injure someone. This coverage usually ranges from $1,000 to $5,000. Check with your agent to review how much coverage you have, and adjust the limits as necessary.


To make filing a claim easier, the Insurance Information Institute suggests the following:

1. Save your receipts

When you buy your bicycle you may also purchase expensive equipment to go with it, so make sure to save your receipts for everything. The cost of a helmet, patch kits, pumps, extra inner tubes and other essentials, not to mention that fancy new bike jersey, can add up quickly. If your bike and related items are stolen or destroyed, having receipts can help speed the claims process.

2. Add your bicycle and related items to your home inventory

Everyone should have an up-to-date home inventory of all their personal possessions. An inventory can help you purchase the correct amount of insurance and make the claims filing process easier if there is a loss. To help you create your inventory, the Insurance Information Institute provides free, online software at KnowYourStuff.org.

Of course the best protection of all is to keep your bike safe; to help avoid theft, follow these simple rules:

1. Always lock up your bike, even if it is in your garage, an apartment stairwell, or a college dormitory.

2. Lock your bicycle to a fixed, immovable object like a parking meter or permanent bike rack. Be careful not to lock it to items that can easily be cut, broken or removed, and that the bike cannot be lifted over the top of the object to which it is locked.

3. Lock up your bicycle in a visible, well-lit area.

4. Consider using a U-lock and position the bike frame and wheels so that they take up as much of the open space within the U-portion of the lock as possible. The tighter the lock-up, the harder it is for a thief to use tools to attack the lock. Always position a U-lock so that the keyway is facing down towards the ground. Do not position the lock close to the ground as this makes it easier for a thief to break it.

5. Do not lock up your bicycle in the same location all the time. A thief may notice the pattern and target you.

6. Consider registering your bike with the National Bike Registry.


It is even more important to keep yourself and your family safe while you are riding. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that cyclists follow these seven rules:

1. Protect Your Head – Never ride a bike without a properly fitted helmet.

Watch this short video on the proper way to fit a helmet

2. Assure Bicycle Readiness – Ride a bike that fits you and check all parts of the bicycle to make sure they are secure and working well.

3. Learn and Follow the Rules of the Road – Bicycles are considered vehicles on the road; therefore riders must follow the same traffic laws as drivers of motor vehicles.

4. Act Like a Driver of a Motor Vehicle – Always ride with the flow of traffic, on the right side of the road, and as far to the right of the road as is practicable and safe.

5. Be Visible – Always assume you are not seen by others and take responsibility for making yourself visible to motorists, pedestrians and other cyclists.

6. “Drive with Care” – When you ride, consider yourself the driver of a vehicle and always keep safety in mind. Ride in the bike lane, if available. Take extra care when riding on a roadway. Courtesy and predictability are key to safe cycling.

7. Stay Focused. Stay Alert. – Never wear headphones as they hinder your ability to hear traffic. Be aware of your surroundings and ride defensively.