What Is Renter’s insurance? A Guide for Renters

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If you live in a rented house or apartment and you don’t have renter’s insurance, you need to consider getting yourself a policy. But what is renter’s insurance and why you should have it? Read on to find out more about how you can cover yourself.

What Is Renter’s Insurance, Exactly?

Renter’s insurance is also called tenant’s insurance. It’s designed to cover you and your personal belongings while you live in a residence which you are renting.

You are responsible for your own belongings and may not ask your landlord for compensation in case of theft, fire, flooding or any event that may lead to loss or damage (except in very rare instances.)

Doing so may result in misunderstanding and animosity between you and your landlord. Landlords have their own insurance policies that cover the buildings/structures they rent out and any other financial interests attached to these. These policies don’t extend coverage to the tenants or their personal belongings.

Renter’s Insurance vs Landlord Insurance

Considering the above mentioned, it’s good to learn exactly how renter’s insurance compares to landlord insurance. Most people don’t understand the difference between renter’s insurance and landlord insurance.

Landlord insurance is a policy that covers the rented building itself, which in this case is a house or apartment. In some cases, coverage may extend to contents inside the building owned by the landlord but it is mainly for the building.

Landlord insurance also protects the landlord from liability risk. If the tenants’ belongings are stolen or damaged, landlord insurance won’t cover the cost of replacing them unless it was due to negligence on the landlord’s part.

Examples of things landlord insurance may cover include:

• Building damage from a chimney fire
• Roof damage from falling trees
• Water damage from pipe leaks
• Replacing burst geysers
• Damage from roof leaks
• Replacement of windows or door locks after a break-in

Since the landlord’s policy protects mainly the apartment or house you live in, it’s up to you to protect yourself and your possessions while you live there. Renter’s insurance may cover the following types of damages:

• Lost or stolen belongings
• Replacement of items lost due to water damage or fires
• Payouts for booking alternative accommodation after a fire or severe building damage
• Certain kinds of legal cover in liability disputes

Your personal belongings include all the things you have in your residence. Examples include clothing, furniture, appliances, electronics, curtain, linen and more. Your landlord can’t insure your belongings because he or she doesn’t own these items. In the same way, you can’t ensure the building because it’s not your property.

Renter’s Insurance vs Homeowner’s Insurance

Apart from landlord insurance, another type of policy worth looking into while considering renter’s insurance is homeowner’s insurance. The major difference here as with landlord insurance is that homeowner’s insurance covers the building, while renter’s insurance doesn’t.

Homeowner’s insurance covers not only the building, but it’s content also. This includes belongings. Homeowner’s insurance is specifically for those who own the building they live in.

Apart from building and structure coverage, both renter’s insurance and homeowner’s insurance policies include personal property, personal liability, additional living expenses, as well as medical payments coverage.

As a result, homeowner’s insurance costs more than renter’s insurance, The average cost of homeowner’s insurance is estimated at an average of $1,083 nationwide annually. Comparatively, renter’s insurance costs $187 annually depending on your zip code. You may already have homeowner’s insurance for your home if you have a mortgage for it. But it might be worthwhile to find out if you can get a better quote from a different insurance provider.

Why Get Renter’s Insurance?

A lot of tenants don’t have renter’s insurance. Some think it’s unaffordable, while others don’t know about it. There are also renters that simply choose to adopt a nonchalant attitude towards insurance, believing it’s not important.

When it comes to disaster, don’t fool yourself into thinking it won’t happen to you. For instance, any area that receives a good amount of rain can unexpectedly be hit by floods. A lot of areas also have fires that erupt from unknown sources and burn down entire buildings – spreading too rapidly to allow residents to vacate belongings.

If you’re capable of replacing all your personal property without any financial assistance, then you could risk forfeiting insurance cover.

However, too many people underestimate the replacement costs on all their belongings. There are many belongings that renters take for granted when calculating replacement costs. These can include things like curtains, kitchen cutlery and cooking utensils, linen, carpets, and even wall decorations.

The replacement cost is what belongings would cost when bought brand new, not what they’re currently worth. For example, even if your microwave is 10 years old already, it should ideally be insured at the cost of buying a brand new one, not at its secondhand retail value.

What Does Renter’s Insurance Cover?

When getting renter’s insurance make sure you understand what your policy covers. Also familiarize yourself with available discounts, deductibles and coverage limits. Ask your agent if your insurance provides Replacement Cost Coverage (RCC) or Actual Cash Value (ACV) for your property.

RCC pays to replace your lost property, no matter how old it is at current market rates, whereas ACV is the depreciated value of your property at the time of loss. This makes RCC more expensive than ACV and means you will have to pay a bit more for your premium.

However, most of your belongings (apart from jewelry and fine art) will likely have an actual cash value of less than half their replacement cost. If you lose everything in a disaster, you won’t have nearly enough to replace items like linen, clothes and appliances as well as furniture.

The common types of coverage provided by renter’s insurance are as follows:

• Personal Property: Renter’s insurance covers the cost to repair or replace your lost/damaged property such as clothing, furniture and appliances. This is usually subject to a deductible, meaning you’ll have to pay a certain amount towards replacement or repair of your items before you’re eligible for a claim.
• Personal Liability: Renter’s insurance covers costs incurred if you’re found legally responsible for someone’s injuries or damage to their property. It protects you from having to pay out of your own pocket for such incidents.
• Additional Living Expenses: If your home should become uninhabitable, your rental insurance policy will cover all the costs of living elsewhere during that period.
• Medical Payment Coverage: Renter’s insurance also covers medical costs incurred when someone gets injured on your property.

Renter’s Insurance Riders

Renter’s insurance policies don’t cover all kinds of loss and damage to your property. For instance, loss or damage resulting from natural calamities like floods and earthquakes are not covered in a standard renter’s insurance policy. Liability claims caused by dangerous dog breeds like pit bulls also won’t be covered.

You will need to add a separate policy or rider to cover these. An insurance rider (also known as a floater or an endorsement) is an optional add-on to your existing policy. Adding an item that’s not covered by your policy – like expensive jewelry or antiques – will typically come at an increased premium.

A rider allows you to pay extra, broadening coverage where your policy is limited. In areas prone to hurricanes, a wind and flood damage rider might be needed just as much as an earthquake rider is needed in earthquake-prone areas.

Common Rental Insurance Riders

Here are a few other riders you can consider adding to your renter’s insurance policy, depending on your unique circumstances:

• Identity Theft Rider: With nearly 10 million Americans affected by identity theft each year, identity theft coverage is becoming ever more necessary. This rider protects you from spending money out of your pocket to resolve problems brought about by identity theft or fraud. It also gets you expert assistance in handling the fraud.
• Pet Damage Rider: In some cases, landlords only accept your pet when you provide proof that you have a pet damage rider. The most problematic pets for insurance purposes are dogs. Some insurance companies have certain breeds they won’t cover because they’re considered “bad breeds”. Ask your agent which breeds they cover. If you own a pit bull, German shepherd, or Doberman pinscher, you must get a pet damage rider in case your dog bites someone, as losses can add up to thousands of dollars.
• Replacement Cost Coverage Rider: The standard Renter’s insurance policy is based on actual cash value and not replacement value for your property. Because actual cash value takes depreciation into account, you won’t have enough to cover all your damages, even after paying a deductible to claim. A replacement cost coverage rider will help you insure items at a rate that allows you to replace them easily.

Flood Insurance for Renters

One of the several factors your renter’s insurance policy premium will be based on is the flood risk of the building you’re renting. As a tenant, you’ll need a contents-only flood insurance policy, since you don’t own your house.

If you live in a high-risk area for flooding, like Florida, this policy is a must-have. Even renters outside high-risk flood areas can benefit. The National Flood Insurance Program reports that approximately a quarter of all flood claims come from outside high-risk areas.

A renter’s flood insurance policy costs from as little as $100 annually and will cover your personal property and give you peace of mind.

Do You Need Renter’s insurance?

This is a very personal decision you’ll need to make. Considering that you have no control over when a hurricane will sweep through your city, or burglary and theft, getting adequate cover remains a wise choice.

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Fire Safety Home Check: Is Your House Safe?

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Fire Safety Home Check: Is Your House Safe?

Staying safe is one of the best ways to avoid catastrophes. Doing a fire safety home check can help you avoid an incident. Even if you’re covered by your insurance company in the event of a housefire, prevention still takes first prize over-claiming for damages. Regardless of whether a fire is big or small, there’s a good chance you’ll lose possessions that are valuable to you. Here’s what you can do to improve your fire safety at home.

How to Do A Fire Safety Home Check?

A fire safety home check is something you can do yourself by simply planning ahead. In a fire safety home check, you will consider a few ways in which you can do to improve the fire safety of your home.

A few things you need to consider during your fire safety check include:

• How will you and your family escape the house in the event of a fire?
• Do you have any systems in place to warn you when a fire breaks out?
• What are you doing to eradicate potential fire hazards in your home?
• Is your family educated on what to do in the ever of a fire?

Certain areas of the home are more prone to harboring fire hazards than others. Regardless, a fire can start in your home anywhere at any time without you knowing. Within only a few short minutes, the fire can entirely engulf your house, leaving little time to escape or try to extinguish the flames.

Too many homeowners don’t realize just how fast the flames from a house fire can spread. Worse yet, smoke from a house fire can easily suffocate house occupants long before the flames reach them. Even pets are at high risk of injury or death from fires – causing a devasting sense of loss for all survivors.

Home Fire Prevention Check

You need an action plan for what your family will do if a fire starts in your home. However, before thinking about the worst-case scenario, consider how you can prevent a fire from starting to begin with.

Here are a few things you can do to prevent house fires.

Educate Children on Fire Safety

Fire safety is an absolutely crucial part of preventing a house fire. Be sure your children know how to stay safe around potential fire hazards. Discuss everything from how to work with electricity, to staying safe in the kitchen.

Never allow young children to work with potential fire hazards unsupervised. Children under the age of 12 shouldn’t be allowed to cook alone, for instance.

Get Your Chimney Cleaned

Chimney fires are one of the leading causes of house fires in the US. Not only is chimney fire common, but they’re also very dangerous.

A chimney fire can start without anyone even noticing. Once the fire starts to spread, it can be a matter of seconds before it’s out of control.

Homeowners with chimneys are advised to book an annual chimney inspection with a qualified, registered chimney sweep.

Electrical Fire Safety

Negligence when using electricity around the house is another leading cause of house fires. If you suspect anything might be wrong with your electrical wiring, don’t hesitate to call a qualified electrician to have a look.

Furthermore, you should avoid using any appliance if you suspect it has an electrical problem.

Be sure to turn off any potentially hazardous electrical equipment before leaving home. This includes stoves, ovens, clothing irons, heaters (both electrical and gas) and tumble dryers.

Also, avoid using electricity in a potentially hazardous way. Misuses of extension cords and multi plugs can lead you to overload the system. Never run two appliances that require a lot of power from the same outlet simultaneously.

Practice Caution While Smoking

Smoldering cigarette butts can easily set alight objects around the house. The best way to prevent this problem is to smoke outside the house and discard butts in a special cigarette butt container.

When smoking inside the house, it’s also recommended to discard of butts in a closed container where the butts can blow away in a sudden draft. Keep butts and ashes away from soft, flammable objects, such as couches, curtaining, linen, stacks of paper and carpets.

Fire Control Home Check

Although there are various ways to prevent a fire at home, you should also have systems in place in case a fire does break out. Find ways to control small fires by putting them out before they spread. Making sure you have ways to extinguish fires should be part of your fire safety home check.

Install Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors can help sound off an alarm, sometimes even before the first flame emerges. Burning food on the stove, smoking electrical wiring and other fire hazards can potentially set off the alarm early.

As an added benefit, a smoke detector and fire alarm system can help you save money on your monthly homeowner’s insurance premiums.

Learn How to Kill Different Fires

All too often, fires that could’ve been prevented are able to spread simply because an unknowing individual tried to extinguish them using incorrect methods. Using the wrong methods to extinguish a fire isn’t just a mistake, it’s also dangerous, as it can cause the flames to burst suddenly onto the person attempting to extinguish them.

Water is effective in extinguishing many kinds of fires, but not all. Most kitchen fires, for instance, can’t be extinguished using water. To know how to put a fire out, it’s important to know what caused the fire.

If you fire erupts in the kitchen as a result of deep-frying oil overheating, water won’t work. Better methods to kill the flames would be to use buckets of sand or to place a lid on the pot to allow the fire to suffocate. Ideally, however, a class C fire extinguisher should be used to put out an oil fire.

Keep Fire Extinguishers in the House

As mentioned, there are different kinds of fire extinguishers for different types of fire. Most homes should at least a class A, B and C extinguisher available. Class A extinguishers can be used for wood fires, paper fires and on burning furniture. Class B extinguishers should be kept close to the kitchen or garage, as they are suitable to put out oil-based fires caused by burning cooking oil or flammable gasoline. Class C fire extinguishers are suitable to use on electrical fires.

Planning an Emergency Evacuation

Unfortunately, some fires just can’t be stopped. In the event of an uncontrollable fire, your fire safety home check should include an evacuation plan. If your house has two levels, consider keeping a ladder on the upper floor so you’re able to climb out from the upper windows if a fire is blocking the exit downstairs.

Be sure everyone knows what the plan is in the event of a fire. Plan at least two escape routes for each room and assign a certain place outside as an emergency assembly point.

Conclusion

Fire safety can be a difficult subject to discuss. When talking to your family about preventing fires at home, try to instill the importance of practicing good fire safety with them. At the same time, avoid causing unnecessary fear and stress to the importance of staying calm even in the event of an emergency. You don’t have to live your life in constant fear of a house fire, but you must be mindful to avoid dangerous situations.

Your fire safety home check should help you stay in control of fire prevention in your home – giving your peace of mind and an action plan for any situation.

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Is Insurance Worth It? How to Buy Only What You Need

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Is Insurance Worth It? How to Buy Only What You Need

Is insurance worth it? You might have asked yourself this question multiple times. It’s hard not to question the necessity of your insurance when premiums are deducted from your account each month. While some types of insurance are unavoidable, you probably have at least some options to reduce your insurance costs. So, what insurance do you really need, and what’s just a waste of your money? The answer could depend on your circumstances, but there are some general guidelines you can follow.

Is Insurance Worth It? Minimum Insurance Requirements

Unfortunately, there are certain kinds of insurance you can’t cut out completely.

For example, there are minimum car insurance requirements if you want to be allowed to legally operate a vehicle on the roads.

Similarly, you might have a contractual obligation to take out homeowner’s insurance if you’re still paying off your mortgage.

While the obligation for minimum insurance can feel like a headache, it’s a positive thing. Insurance cover protects you when unfortunate incidents happen. There’s nothing worse than loss or damage to property when you have no means to pay for it.

In some cases, your insurance provider might also help to defend you legally. Especially if someone tries to claim against you unrightfully.

So yes, paying insurance each month without getting anything back isn’t pleasant. But having at least the minimum cover can be a huge relief if anything bad ever happens to you.

How Much Insurance Do You Need?

A lot of people mistakenly believe that fulfilling minimum insurance requirements is worth it. In many states, however, the minimal legal car insurance isn’t nearly enough. Too many people believe they have adequate cover, only to find out their cover is lacking after an incident occurs.

Know Your Cover

If there’s one lesson everyone can learn, it’s that you must know what your cover is – no matter how much cover you have. At least that way, you won’t get a nasty surprise when something bad does happen. Don’t assume your state minimum car insurance requirements, or the obligatory cover for your mortgage contract have you covered.

Check up on your car, home and life insurance cover yourself. Be sure to ask about your deductible. An insurance deductible is an amount you’d have to pay out of pocket before you can claim for anything, so your deductible should be an amount you can afford to pay.

Furthermore, you have to know what kind of things you’re covered for. Once again, this is an area where a lot of people get confused. There are different kinds of insurance cover for different kinds of incidents. Standard insurance policies won’t always payout for any kind of mishap.

To get additional cover for different situations, normally requires that you take outriders on your policy.

Is Life Insurance Worth It?

Term life insurance is a common type of insurance that typically expires after a set amount of time. What this means, is that loved ones of the insured can only claim on the policy if the insured was still below a certain age at their time of death.

Many people question the necessity for term life insurance. After all, if you don’t claim, you’ll effectively have wasted all the money you ever paid in premiums. Seeing as life insurance isn’t a legal requirement, it’s also the easiest cover to cut when financial times get tough.

Despite this, you might still be under a contractual obligation to have a life insurance policy if you’re busy paying off a mortgage. This is usually just to ensure that your loved ones will still be able to pay off your property should anything happen to you.

While life insurance isn’t glamorous, it can greatly help an insured person’s loved ones in many cases. Choosing whether or not you’ll take out life insurance is a personal choice and will depend on a number of things.

One major factor in deciding if life insurance is worth it, is to consider your situation. If you have dependents, taking out life insurance is recommended. However, if you’re single with no dependents, having a policy isn’t required.

Insurance Policies You Probably Don’t Need

A lot of insurance policies are definitely worth it. That said, there are certain kinds of cover you likely don’t require. Here are a few common policies you can cut from your insurance without compromising your cover too much.

Life Insurance for Children

As discussed, life insurance helps to cover the expenses your dependents will have if you aren’t around anymore. Children don’t have dependents, so taking out life insurance cover on them is unnecessary.

For many families, saving the money you’d spend on premiums for life insurance for children is better saved as part of a college fund.

Unemployment Insurance

If you ever lose your income, unemployment insurance will pay out some of your expenses. While it sounds like a great option, it’s not for everyone.

Firstly, if you never lose your source of income, your insurance policy won’t pay out. So you’ll have wasted all the money you spent. Secondly, you could opt to rather save the amount you would’ve spent, in which case you’ll end up with more money in the bank for yourself.

If it’s possible for you to save, building up a safety net of savings for a rainy day can be a better option than taking out unemployment insurance.

Regardless, this kind of cover can make sense to certain individuals, but it’s up to you to decide.

Credit Card Loss Insurance

Credit card loss insurance is designed to help you pay off your credit card when you can’t make payments anymore. If you have a lot of debt, this can make sense, but be careful.

Rather than making more debt, try to pay off your current debt as soon as possible so you can live debt-free. Paying off your credit card debt will make credit card insurance completely redundant. Additionally, you’ll also be saving the money you would have been spending in interest – it’s a win-win.

Even if you have credit card debt, consider taking the money you currently spend on credit card insurance and putting it towards your credit card bill instead. Stop making new debt on your credit card an you might be able to live debt-free just a little sooner.

Rental Car Insurance

Not everyone needs rental car insurance. Basically, this type of cover allows you to get a rental car if your car is out of order. However, if you have alternative means of transport, it’s completely redundant. Even if you don’t have alternative transport, consider what’s cheaper between renting a car for yourself vs paying rental car insurance each month.

Chances are, if you’re sitting without a car for just one or two days, paying your own rental will be much cheaper than insurance. But if you end up without a car for an extended period of time after an incident, your premiums might still work out cheaper.

The problem is that you never know what the future holds, so deciding whether you need rental car insurance depends entirely on you.

Conclusion

When deciding if insurance is worth it, your personal needs must be considered. Some kinds of insurance coverage are necessary, but you might be paying for cover you don’t need. Saving money on your insurance is always a win, so be sure to review your current cover and cut back on it if necessary. Surprisingly enough, you might even find that you’re over-insured in some areas, while completely lacking in cover for others. In that case, it would make much more sense to put your insurance money towards cover you really need.

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How Much Home Insurance Is Enough?

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Unlike car insurance, there’s no minimum legal requirement for home insurance in Florida. Despite this, you also don’t want to arrive home and discover that you left the stove on, realizing it resulted in your home being damaged. Once an accident renders your home uninhabitable, the costs of repairing the damage can add up to an astronomical number. Most homeowners have mortgages that already put them under financial pressure.

According to the South Florida Sun Sentinal, three in every five homes in America are underinsured by an average of 20%. Since The Sunshine State is known to have some of the worst natural disasters in the country, including hurricanes, tornados, tropical storms, wildfires, and floods, Florida homes are more at risk than in other parts of the country. So it’s important to ensure that homeowners don’t get caught without the right coverage when they’re left with a house in disrepair or homeless, due to the whims of Mother Nature.

If the topic of home insurance is not something you’re unfamiliar with and you’re wondering “how much personal property coverage do I need?” then read on for some important factors to consider when choosing how what kind of coverage you require for your home.

What Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover?

Homeowner’s insurance policies vary in order to accommodate the homeowner’s unique needs. This includes repairs or replacements that are needed due to damage or theft. It also often covers accidental damage to another person’s property, or if an accident occurs on your property.

One of the main reasons for home insurance claims in Florida is natural disasters. Not all insurance policies cover all kinds of natural disasters, which is why it’s important to check with your insurance provider beforehand. For example, damage caused by fire, lightning, tropical storms, and hail are usually covered by homeowners’ insurance but earthquakes and floods usually aren’t.

The main cover in all homeowner’s insurance is dwelling cover, which means that the structure of your home, like the walls and roof, as well as all structures attached to your home, including the garage, are all covered. Dwelling cover covers a variety of losses to the structure of your home, including fire, lightning, wind, hail, theft, and vandalism.

Calculating the Value of Your House

The value of your home insurance should be equal to the amount it would cost to rebuild your home with similar materials if something were to happen to it. But bear in mind that the increased cost of labor due to inflation needs to be taken into consideration as well.

In order to calculate the replacement cost of your house, you would need to take the square footage of your house (not the entire property, only your home’s floor size) and multiply it by average local construction costs. You can find good cost estimates of what construction would cost on most construction companies’ websites. Alternatively, you can ask your insurance agent to provide you with them. You can also use an online replacement cost calculator for this.

Unsurprisingly, a premium house costs a lot to replace, but there are specific things that really impact the replacement cost. These are:

  • Doors
  • Fireplaces
  • Kitchen countertop quality and design
  • Flooring – premium flooring like hardwood flooring can be particularly expensive
  • Attached fixtures
  • Crown molding

If you have other structures on your property that aren’t attached to your house, such as a detached garage, a shed, or your perimeter walls, these will also be covered by most homeowner’s insurance. It also covers the contents of your home such as your furniture or electronic devices if they are lost, damaged or stolen. However, you may need to purchase additional cover for very valuable and expensive items such as jewelry.

It’s also important to bear in mind that your house’s replacement value is not the same as its market value. The factors that determine its market value, such as supply and demand, as well as the value of the land, are not the same as those that determine replacement cost, which only includes what it would cost to rebuild your house from scratch.

How Much Home Insurance Do I Need?

One of the biggest risks associated with homeowner’s insurance is not having enough. When deciding how much home insurance you need, there are many factors that come into play. Some questions you should ask yourself are:

  1. Do you have a lot of valuable items in your home such as jewelry and antique furniture?
  2. Are you covered no matter how your home is damaged, i.e. if your house were to be wiped out by a natural disaster such as a tornado?
  3. Are you covered if an accident occurs or someone is injured in your home?
  4. How old is your home and were expensive materials used to construct it?
  5. Do you have any other structures on your property that aren’t attached to your house?

When deciding to take out a home insurance policy or change your current policy, it makes the process run a lot smoother if you have a detailed inventory of all the items in your home as well as their value. Always remember to keep all receipts in a safe place so that you can prove when and where you bought the item and how much you paid for it.

Depending on the insurance company, you can also reduce the amount of your monthly premium through credits such as installing a burglar alarm and smoke detectors in your home.

The Importance of Home Renter’s Insurance

Renter’s insurance, also called home and contents insurance, covers all your belongings inside the house you’re renting and also includes off-premises coverage, so if you’re traveling and something happens to your luggage, or if you leave something in your car and it’s stolen, you should be able to claim for it. However, always check with your insurance provider to make sure you can claim for your belongings even if you lost them while travelling.

Home renter’s insurance also entitles you to stay in a hotel or other temporary accommodation if the house or apartment you’re renting becomes damaged or destroyed. Your accommodation should be covered for the duration of time it takes to repair the dwelling where you were renting, or until you find a new place to rent.

Damages covered by renter’s insurance includes the replacement or repair of your belongings due to fire or water damage. The last thing you want is to come home to discover that the geyser has burst and water has damaged your antique coffee table, but these things happen. With renter’s insurance, you know that you can get it repaired or replaced.

However, although renter’s insurance offers standard coverage for the theft or damage of your belongings, if you have particularly valuable assets such as jewelry or expensive electronics you might want to consider purchasing an endorsement to cover these higher risk items.

Renter’s insurance also provides liability coverage in case someone is injured in your rented house. This could include injuries from falls, dog bites and should also cover legal costs if an injured third party decides to sue you for the injuries sustained on your property.

Renter’s insurance is cheaper than homeowner’s insurance because it doesn’t cover the expensive cost to entirely rebuild a house and it is definitely worthwhile because it gives you peace of mind that all your belongings are covered. It’s important to bear in mind that your landlord’s homeowner’s insurance usually doesn’t cover your personal items.

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How Much Car Insurance Do I Need in Florida?

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Although there are car insurance minimum requirements in Florida, there is a big difference between the amount of car insurance motorists are required to have and the amount they need, and minimum car insurance is rarely enough.

In order to own and retain a license plate and registration in Florida, motorists need to have $10,000 worth of personal injury protection (PIP) and, if the driver has committed a DUI offense in the past, they are required to have $10,000 worth of property damage liability (PDL) cover as well. With PIP insurance, 80% of medical bills and up to 60% of lost income is covered up to the limit of your policy. However, $10,000 is not sufficient enough for the safety of yourself and your family, which is why there’s the option for additional coverage.

Additional Car Insurance Options in Florida

Although Florida residents are required to take out the minimum required car insurance, if you want to make sure you’re properly covered for every eventuality, we’ve listed some additional car insurance options you can consider over and above the required minimum.

Bodily Injury Liability Insurance

As the name suggests, bodily injury liability insurance covers any bodily harm you may have caused to other people as the result of an accident that was your fault. Without bodily injury liability insurance, you are at risk of being held liable for paying the medical bills that are incurred as the result of a motor vehicle accident.

If you only have the required car insurance minimum of $10,000, if you or anyone else is harmed due to an accident you caused, all medical bills over and above that amount will be your responsibility to pay for. If the accident was another driver’s fault and your medical bills exceeded $10,000, you will have to seek compensation from the driver.

You are not required to have bodily injury insurance in Florida unless you have been convicted of a DUI. If you were convicted on or before October 1, 2007, the minimum requirement is $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident and if you were convicted after October 1, 2007, the minimum requirement is $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. All Florida residents convicted of a DUI must have bodily injury insurance for a period of three years after the return of their driver’s license.

If you’re wondering, “how much bodily injury liability insurance do I need?” then it’s important to know that the Florida Financial Responsibility Law requires all drivers who are at fault in an accident to have coverage of at least $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident. If this financial responsibility isn’t met, your driving privileges could be revoked.

Uninsured Motorist Insurance

Typically, it is the responsibility of the motorist who caused the accident to cover all bills incurred as a result of their reckless driving. uninsured motorist (UM) insurance protects you from having to pay for your own medical bills if the motorist who caused the accident doesn’t have car insurance or is underinsured. It typically covers all bodily injury expenses as well as property damage repairs. Florida has the 5th largest number of uninsured drivers in the country, so Uninsured Motorist Insurance is encouraged.

One thing to bear in mind is that uninsured motorist insurance doesn’t pay for repairs on your car. It covers things such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Loss of enjoyment of life due to the collision
  • Wheelchairs and other mobile devices
  • Death
  • Replacement services for things you are no longer able to do, e.g. cleaner, caregiver

Stacked and Unstacked Uninsured Motorist Insurance

If you want the most comprehensive insurance, choose stacked over unstacked uninsured motorist insurance because it provides better coverage and higher limits. Stacked UM insurance also covers you if you are the driver or passenger of any car, including another person’s car, a rented car, or a motorcycle. Unstacked UM insurance only covers injuries that are listed on your policy. If you own a car and a motorcycle and you opt for stacked UM insurance, you can also add your motorcycle to your policy, which makes it more affordable than taking out a separate unstacked policy for your motorcycle.

So, even though unstacked UM insurance is a lot cheaper than stacked, the latter is more cost-effective in the long run.

Extended Personal Injury Protection

Florida is one of ten states that have personal injury protection (PIP) cover as a required minimum, also called Florida No Fault Insurance. The purpose of PIP coverage is to speed up the process of receiving compensation and to limit using the court system in Florida to determine fault in car accidents. With PIP insurance, the injured party goes to his or her own insurance company to collect payment, regardless of whether they are at fault. The payment received is meant to go towards all medical bills that and any lost wages due to the accident.

However, the minimum required coverage in Florida for bodily injuries is $10,000, which doesn’t go far, especially if other people besides yourself were in your car at the time of the accident. You should consider extending your PIP insurance to $50,000 or $100,000 so that you don’t have to pay for medical bills out of your own pocket or worry about lost wages.

Medical Payment Insurance

If you or your passengers are injured in a car accident, medical payment insurance, or Med-Pay, will help cover medical-related bills such as ambulance and paramedic fees, doctor and hospital visits, nursing services, surgery, scans, and tests. Med-Pay is an added extra on top of personal injury protection, most Florida residents don’t opt for it if they already have personal injury insurance.

Medical payment insurance may sound a lot like personal injury protection insurance and they are similar in that both pay for you and your passengers’ medical bills, regardless of who caused the accident, however, there are three main differences between the two:

  • Med-Pay covers the 20% co-payment that is not covered by personal injury insurance
        • For example, if you are in an accident and you are admitted to hospital and your hospital bills amount to $1500, your personal injury insurance will cover 80% of the bill but if you purchased Med-Pay, the extra 20% co-payment will be covered as well
  • Med-Pay is not dependent on fault
  • Unlike PIP, Med-Pay doesn’t reimburse you for lost wages

What is Comprehensive Car Insurance?

Comprehensive car insurance isn’t required in Florida but it’s highly recommended. It covers you if your car is stolen or damaged not due to a collision. This includes damage due to fire, hailstorms, or if something falls on your car and damages it, as well as vandalism. If you’re still paying off your car, financers will often request that you take out this type of insurance.

Comprehensive car insurance is a nice add-on, however, it doesn’t cover any damage done to your car or the other driver’s car as the result of a collision and it doesn’t cover any medical bills resulting from a collision. When you take out comprehensive car insurance, you will have to select a deductible, which is the amount you will pay out of your own pocket and it also has a limit to the amount it will pay out, which is typically the cash value of your car — this would be the depreciated value of your car and not value of your car when you bought it.

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7 Ways to Lower Home Insurance Costs

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Many factors go into determining how much you pay for your home insurance. The condition of your home, its location and even the breed of your dog are just some of the things that insurance companies take into consideration. At the end of the day, the math is quite simple – the more risks factors have, the higher your home insurance costs will be. But of course, no one wants to pay more than need be, which is why we’ve compiled a list of things you can do to help you pay less for your insurance. Here are seven ways to lower your home insurance costs.

1. Don’t Settle

There are a lot of insurance providers to choose from. Just because one offers you a high price, it doesn’t mean that the next one will too. Each company has its own way of assessing risks, which means that each company can review your situation differently.

The only way to know that you’re getting the best price for your circumstances is to look around. Compare as many quotes from different companies as you can to see which company can offer you the lowest price for the coverage you need. It is a little time-consuming, but you’ll be happy that you did it.

2. Increase Your Deductible Amount

The deductible is the amount that you’re required to pay towards a loss prior to your insurance company paying your claim. If you can’t pay the deductible for a claim, it won’t be processed and you won’t have cover.

For example, if your deductible is $500 and you get damage to your roof valued at $3000, you will receive a claims amount of $2500 from your insurance company. You’ll be liable to pay the $500 not covered by your insurance provider.

The lower the deductible, the higher your premiums will be. This is why choosing the right deductible is one of the best ways to lower home insurance costs.

In the example above, you could save on premiums by increasing your policy so your deductible would be $1000. Talk to your insurance provider about different options for deductibles on your policy. At the same time, don’t make the mistake of setting your deductible too high.

Since you’re responsible for the deductible, you need to be certain that the amount you agree on is one that you’ll be able to comfortably manage if you have to file a claim.

3. Consider Your Pets

As much as you love your dog, some insurance companies might penalize you for its breed. Unfortunately, if your dog is considered to be a dangerous or aggressive breed, it can be harder for you to find insurance.

Examples of such breeds commonly discriminated against include Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Bullmastiffs, Siberian Huskies, Chows, German Shepherds, Presa Canarios, Boxers and Great Danes. Based solely on your dog’s breed, some insurance companies may outright refuse to offer a home insurance policy with them.

Home insurance will normally cover you if your dog bites a visitor on your property. Home insurance providers look at data on the risks for different breeds. Flagged breeds typically have a somewhat higher risk portfolios.

However, if your dog is on the list, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all hope is lost. Some insurance companies are willing to offer you insurance, but typically at higher rates.

When you approach an insurance company, make sure that you have all the details of your pet (which should include its bread and history) ready at hand. If you’ve taken measures like routinely using a muzzle, or taken your pet to classes to change bad behavior, that could play in your favor. Other companies may require that you sign a liability waiver for dog bites so you can’t claim for them, in which case you can still take out a home insurance policy.

4. Keep Your Roof in Great Condition

The condition of your roof matters. Older roofs are usually worn out, meaning they aren’t able to protect your home against the elements as effectively as a newer roof can. Old roofs are prone to leaks, which can also cause damage to your home’s interior structures.

Consequently, insurance companies will typically offer lower rates to homeowners with newer roofs and people whose homes have older roofs will have to pay more. So, make sure that your roof is always well-maintained.

While you’re at it, take care of other parts of your house like adding storm shutters to your windows and reducing the risks of water and fire damage by keeping your plumbing, heating and electrical systems up to date.

Ask a company representative or insurance agent how you can make your home more resistant to natural disasters. Generally, the better you maintain your house, the lower your insurance will be. Just remember to speak to your insurance company whenever you make any improvements or repairs to your home so that you don’t miss out on any money-saving benefits that may come with the improvements.

5. Choose Your Location Wisely

If you’re still in the market for buying a house, try to choose a home that isn’t located in high-risk areas. The location of your house will how much you pay for your home insurance.

For example, if your home is either close to a fire hydrant or a professional (rather than volunteer) fire department, your insurance costs will be less compared to a house that isn’t near these facilities. This makes sense, because you have more protection in case of a fire to prevent extensive damages.

Low-crime areas are more favored by insurance companies as well. Neighborhoods that have increased security, such as 24-hour security guards, camera monitoring, and a neighborhood will be better.

6. Home Security and Protection Devices

Installing smoke detectors, burglar alarms, dead-bolt locks, sophisticated sprinkler systems, smart home technology systems, low-temperature detectors, video cameras, water leak sensors, and any other system that improves your home security will help to cut down insurance costs.

Since these systems are expensive, you should always speak to your insurance company first to find out if getting them installed can lower your premiums. Also find out which systems your insurance provider would most recommend based on your area and how much you’ll save on premiums.

7. Get Rid of What You Don’t Need

This is one of the easiest ways to lower home insurance costs. Some people make the mistake of getting more coverage than they need. At bare minimum, your policy should only cover your most important possessions.

Make it a point to annually review all the possessions under your policy and remove or reduce the cover for anything that has lost its value. The rule is simple – if you don’t need it, don’t pay for it. But be careful of underinsuring as well. You don’t want to cut back on valuable cover that you’ll need in an emergency.

Tip: Bundle Your Insurance

If you haven’t been taking advantage of this, you might be able to get some easy savings. Bundling your home and car insurance under the same company is a simple way to lower your insurance costs. Just make sure that the combined price is actually lower compared to how much it costs to buy the two coverages from separate companies.

Conclusion

Try these simple ways to lower home insurance costs. The best part is you’ll still get the coverage that you need. Insurance isn’t supposed to be a financial burden, so taking the time to find out ways you can cut down on costs will go a long way.

As time goes by, your situation may also change and it’s key that you constantly speak to your insurer to make sure that you’re getting all the discounts that you qualify for. If you’re looking for home insurance for the first time, the most important thing you can do to lower your costs is to figure out what your risks are and then minimize them.

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How to Choose an Insurance Company in Florida?

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Insurance is one of the most important things you will buy as an adult, which is why it’s so important that you choose a good insurance company to it buy from. But how do you know you’re picking the right company for your unique needs? Keep reading to find out how to choose an insurance company that gives you exactly what you’re looking for.

How to Choose an Insurance Company? Things to Consider Before Taking out a Policy

There are tons of insurance companies around, from big ones to small ones, but just like many things, you shouldn’t simply choose the first one you see. Choosing a company should take a little longer than just typing the words ‘insurance companies’, clicking search, and accepting the first one that looks reputable. You must take some time to properly look for the right company. To help you get started, here are some key things to consider before making your choice.
How to Choose an Insurance Company: What to Look For?

Financial Stability

Knowing whether a company is financially stable is one of the first things you have to look at. You don’t want an insurance company that’s going to fail in the future, which will result in you losing your policy.

Financially stable insurance companies can process all claims in a fair way. You don’t want to find yourself needing to claim, only to find your insurance provider can’t pay out. To avoid this unpleasant situation, get your hands on a copy of the company’s current financial statement. Assess their profitability as well as their growth rate for the past years. You can also use online resources and independent rating agencies to help you get this valuable information.

How Good Is the Customer Service?

Customer satisfaction should be high up on your list of what you need from an insurance company. Investigate how well the company treats its customers and how long they take to respond to questions and inquiries. Are they quick to solve customer issues or do they take a long time to process complaints?

When calling the company, what kind of service do you get? Do you have to deal with dreadful voicemail prompts, or are you swiftly connected to a live agent?

Accessibility is key, so make sure that you choose a company that puts its customers first. If you need to claim, you want to know that you can count on your insurance company to handle your claim as quickly and professionally as possible.

Read customer reviews (and not just the positive ones), ask friends and family what insurance providers they’re with and how their experience has been. Also check if there are any complaints laid against the company at your state insurance commissioner. Don’t forget to find out their claims-paying process as well – the easier the process, the smoother and more stress-free your experience will be.

What Do Premiums Cost?

Always ensure that the premiums are affordable and fair compared to the general market. Many people pay more than they should simply because they don’t shop around before buying insurance.

Simply doing your research could be a great way to save money on your insurance. Get quotes from as many different companies as you can, then compare them to find the one that gives you the coverage you want for the lowest price.

Keep in mind that a lower premium may not always be the best option. A lower premium usually means a higher deductible (the amount that you’re responsible for paying should you claim) and vice-versa. So you need to take this into consideration. A company that offers you a really low premium, might be trying to trick you into taking out a policy with an unaffordable deductible.

Find out if a company offer any discounts, such as lower premiums if you take out more than one policy with them (like both car and home insurance, for instance). It’s always nice to get discounts for being a loyal customer.

Are They Specialists?

Be sure that the company is a specialist in the coverage you need and offer you the products you need. For instance, if you want business insurance, look for a specialist in business insurance.

Licensing

Did you know that not every insurance company is licensed to operate in every state? Because you can get insurance online nowadays, it’s vital that you buy only from a company that is licensed to sell its products in your state. This is essential so that you can be assisted by your state insurance department if a problem arises. Also check that the company is government-accredited, as well as recognized. You want to deal with a company that respects all the rules, guidelines, policies, and regulations.

Transparency

Good insurance companies are completely open and honest to their customers, offering full disclosure on their policy terms and conditions. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you file a claim, only to be met with a whole lot of clauses and reasons as to why they can’t pay your claim.

Some of the responsibility does fall on you to ensure that before you sign anything, you take the time to fully read and understand the terms, conditions, and clauses of your insurance product to avoid any surprises later.

Now that you know how to choose an insurance company, let’s take a look at some key points to look at when buying car, home and life insurance.

Car Insurance Checklist

How Much Coverage Do You Need?

First, decide exactly how much coverage you will need by looking at your situation. Also, each state has specific car insurance requirements that you must abide by, so research what insurance you’re mandated to get by your state and make sure you get it.

Have a Look at Your Driving Record

Make sure there are no outstanding tickets or points on your driver’s license before you start requesting quotes. A bad driving record instantly drives up your premiums.
Ask About Discounts

A good driving record, your car’s safety, as well as things like security equipment will get you discounts on your insurance. Make sure the company you choose offers you the discounts you qualify for.

Home Insurance Checklist

Know What Your Policy Will Cover

Every policy is different, so you must be certain that you know what will be covered and what won’t to avoid complications. Check that you fully understand what cover you’re getting. If you live in an area that’s known for flooding, look for a company that can give you this cover, even if you have to add a rider to your policy.

Speak to an Expert

To help you fast track your home insurance search, try speaking to an expert in home insurance. They can advise you on how to save on costs without having to drastically reduce your cover.

Know Your Home’s Information

Be sure you know some specific information about your home. Get to know things like your home’s replacement cost (how much it will cost to rebuild), how many stories it has, its square footage, the year it was built, its fire safety information, the exterior wall type and even the last date of property claim.

All this information can have an impact on your premiums. Many major companies simply use your address and automatically estimate what kind of home you have. Double-checking that this information is correct might be an easy way to save on your premiums a bit.

Life Insurance

Know Which Type You Need

There are two main life insurance types – term life insurance and permanent life insurance.

Term insurance policies only last for a specific time, usually 20 or 30 years. If you don’t claim in this time, all your benefits will expire. Permanent life insurance never expires and you’re always eligible to claim.

There are pros and cons for both, so take the time to assess your personal needs, such as your affordability, before choosing which policy to take. Also look out for a conversion feature, which simply allows you to convert your term policy into a permanent policy, should you ever want to.

Living Benefits

Some companies now offer benefits while you’re still living. These include receiving payments after being diagnosed with a chronic illness or getting some, or all, of your premium paid back to you. Be smart and pick a company that can give you these benefits.

Don’t Overpay

Look for the best rates for your circumstances. Each company has its own way of pricing risks like smoking, diabetes, and your family’s medical history, so find a company that treats your health and personal activities fairly.

Your Hard Work Will Pay Off
Choosing an insurance company isn’t a quick thing to do (nor is it fun, to be honest). But if you do your homework right, you won’t regret the time you put in.

Remember, it’s not only about finding a company that can offer you the lowest price, but it’s also about the quality of the service and how high the customer satisfaction rating is. When considering how to choose an insurance company, don’t simply shop based on price. Be an informed consumer, ask the right questions and get the best policy for your needs.

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What Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover in Florida?

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Homeowner’s and renter’s insurance are both types of property insurance specially to protect your home. For homeowners, home insurance covers both the physical building and its contents (assuming the owners stays in the house). Renter’s insurance doesn’t cover the building where the renter is staying but the contents inside the house, such as furniture, will be covered. But what does homeowner’s insurance actually cover in Florida? While you know your building and belongings are insured, you might not be sure what kind of damages you can claim for.

What Does Homeowner’s Insurance Typically Cover?

Not all homeowner’s insurance policies are the same, so by knowing your policy, you can familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions. However, homeowner’s insurance should typically cover a broad range of incidents that could occur.

If you own the building where you stay, your home insurance policy should cover both the building and its structures (garages, outside buildings, decks etc.) and the contents of your home.

Your policy should ideally cover most of your home’s contents, but certain things are excluded from most policies by default. Cellphones, laptops, watches and other portable items often need to be covered separately from your home’s contents. This is mainly because these items are portable and therefore aren’t considered as part of your home’s standard contents. To cover portable items like cellphones and jewelry against accidental loss or theft, even if you lost them when you weren’t at home, usually requires you to add a special rider for them on your home insurance policy.

Depending on your policy, your home insurance may still cover your jewelry and cellphone if you lost it in a house fire or other insured incident.

Home Insurance Coverage Levels

There are three main ways you can insure your house and its contents. The amount of cover you get will depend on which option you choose.

Actual Cash Value

When you choose this option, your home and contents will be insured for the amount they are worth at any given time. What this means is that if you lose your house and contents, your insurance provider will pay out the amount that your home and its contents are worth at the time you lose them.

The problem with this insurance model is that depreciation of value is factored into the value of your belongings. So, if an incident occurs and you suffer the loss of an important piece of furniture, your insurance will pay out the amount that item was worth when you lost it. Of course, being a used item, your insurance provider will likely value the item at 50% or less of what it would cost to buy a brand new item.

All regular household items that depreciate in value will have less cover with each year gone by.

Replacement Cost

A homeowner’s insurance policy that covers your property at replacement cost won’t factor in depreciation. This means that if you have an insured item that will cost $1000 to replace, your home insurance will pay out the full $1000 to replace it. Even if the item was 10 years old and worth only $150 when you lost it, your policy will still pay out $1000 for replacement, as the depreciation on the item isn’t a factor in this case.

In case of damage to your home or buildings – your policy will pay out enough so you can rebuild your home to its original value. In this case the term “original value” refers to what the house cost when you first bought it. It goes without saying that this isn’t always the same amount you need for full repairs, which is something you should discuss with your insurance provider before taking out cover.

In concept, having home insurance at replacement cost means you’ll run a loss in case of structural damages to your home. If your house increased in value by 15% since you bought it, your insurance provider won’t pay out for repairs in full. After claiming for repairs on your house, it will be restored to the original value you bought it for, minus the 15% increase in value since purchase.

Guaranteed/Extended Replacement Cost Value

Extended Replacement cost value insurance is one of the most comprehensive homeowner’s insurance policy models on the market.

With this type of cover, your home and contents aren’t covered only for replacement cost. If your home appreciates in value after purchase, your policy will pay out for home repairs to restore your home to what its current value was before an incident. This means that if your home appreciated by 15% since you bought it, your policy will pay for full repairs to restore its actual value.

This form of homeowner’s insurance still isn’t fool proof. There is usually a specified limit on how much more an insurance company will pay out. Usually this amount will be 20%-25% higher than your original policy limit.

To avoid losing out when you claim for home insurance at either replacement cost or extended replacement cost value, it’s good to review your policy every few years by updating it to the current value of your home and contents, if possible.

What Does Home Insurance Pay Out for?

It’s good to know what you can claim for on your home insurance policy. While most regular damages will be covered, there are certain losses you would need to cover by adding a rider to your policy.

Dwelling and Personal Property Coverage

Dwelling coverage insures the building where you stay. So, if your house is damaged in an incident for which you’re covered, your dwelling coverage will pay out for repairs, or possibly even to rebuild your home entirely if you lost it.

Property coverage, on the other hand, insures the contents of your home. So, if someone broke into your home and stole your belongings, you should be able to claim for property cover.

Loss of Use Coverage

Suppose your house is damaged by a tree that fell on it. During the time your house is being repaired, you might not be able to stay in it. If this happens, your home insurance provider might pay for you to stay in a hotel or some other form of alternative accommodation.

Talk to your insurance provider to ensure that you’re covered for loss of use.

Personal Liability Cover

If your home insurance policy includes personal liability cover, you can claim for damages you and your family cause to others. Usually, this cover is intended to pay out if a visitor on your property was injured and you’re at fault.

If, for instance, your dog bites a visitor, your homeowner’s insurance will pay out for legal fees and possible damage claims against you. Another example is if a visitor on your property gets injured by tripping over something in your yard and decides to sue for damages, claiming your grass was too long, and so they weren’t able to see where they were walking.

Personal liability coverage will also pay out if a third party claims for damage to their property against you. For instance, if a tree in your yard fell over onto your neighbor’s house, they might file a claim against you to fix their damages. Perhaps they argue that the tree always posed a significant hazard and you should’ve removed it a long time ago. If they take you to court and win the claim, your insurance should cover the legal costs to the maximum amount of your benefits, as well as the costs of the claim against you.

Cover for Other Structures

Other structures on your property, such as garages, pools and sheds are insured under a separate form of cover than your home insurance. This, however, doesn’t mean that your current home insurance policy won’t pay out for other structures. Whether or not you’re covered for damages to other structures will depend on what policy you currently hold. Contact your insurance provider to learn more about the current benefits your policy provides for other structures.

Things Homeowner’s Insurance Won’t Cover

Standard homeowner’s insurance policies tend to pay out for the following:

  • Damage from house fires
  • Structural damages, like burst geysers and water pipes
  • Loss through theft for home contents
  • Physical injury and property damage you cause to another person (related to your home)
  • Damage caused by accidents. If you accidentally drive into your garage door or mailbox – your insurance might pay out for the damage to your residence, but not your car

It’s difficult to know exactly what you’re covered for. Insurance providers will typically have their own standard policies that might exclude covering house fires, for instance, but this is uncommon.

There are, however, some forms of cover that often require you to take out a rider on your policy if you want to claim for such damages. Damages that aren’t typically covered by home insurance policies include the following:

  • Damage from natural disasters or acts of war: If your house is damaged by a hurricane, floods or bomb explosion, you won’t be covered unless you have an applicable rider on your policy.
  • Acts of malice: If you intentionally cause damage to a third party by injury or property damage, or if intentionally damage your own property, you won’t be able to claim for your losses.
  • Mold growth: The growth of mold can be a big problem in Florida’s hot, humid weather conditions, unfortunately your policy is unlikely to pay out to fix a mold problem.
  • Home maintenance: Your insurance won’t typically pay to fix wall cracks or tiles breaking. Things like leaky roofs are usually covered, but not if the leak originated as a result of your negligence to maintain your property.

In a nutshell, your insurance will pay for everyday accidents and incidents (which excludes natural disasters) and will pay out for water damage and structural damages provided you maintain your property as necessary.

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How are Car Insurance Premiums Calculated?

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In Florida state, car insurance is a legal requirement. While the minimum car insurance requirements in Florida aren’t very difficult to adhere to, the need to pay auto insurance still begs the question – how are your car insurance premiums calculated? Knowing how insurance companies calculate your premiums can be useful. Once you know what factors are important to consider, you might find that there are things you can do to help keep your premiums lower.

How Your Car Insurance Premiums are Calculated?

Car insurance premiums are a monthly charge that insurance providers require to allow you to take out a policy. As long as you pay your premiums, your car insurance policy should cover you for personal injury protection and property damage liability. Depending on your policy, you may also be covered for some form of bodily injury liability.

However, when it comes to your auto insurance premium, it’s important that you know what you’re paying for. Your car might be worth far more than the maximum payout your insurance provider would offer in the case of a write-off or loss through theft.

The extent of your cover plays a big role in how much you pay for car insurance each month. More cover usually goes hand-in-hand with higher premiums. While the extra cost can seem like a waste of money, keep in mind that you’re getting more benefits for the money you spend.

With that in mind, cutting corners by taking out less cover than you need is risky. When shopping around for auto insurance, you must be clear on how much cover you want even before taking out a policy. This way you can approach insurance providers with your requirements and ask them to quote on a policy closest to your list of specifications.

To calculate your premium, auto insurance providers will look at your risk portfolio and the extent of cover you want to purchase. If you have a low risk portfolio and you’re taking out minimum cover, your premiums will be low. People with a high risk portfolio applying for a lot of additional cover, will pay the highest premiums.

The reason why premiums are calculated this way is because insurance providers run a higher risk of claims from a person in a high-risk portfolio as opposed to a low one. This often means that the insurer will insure some of its highest risk customers at a loss – as their claims amount to a higher cost than all their premiums combined.

Most Important Factors for Calculating Your Risk Portfolio

Your insurance company will look at several things when deciding what to charge you for insurance. Most of the factors will remain the same from one insurer to another. Some of the most important factors in calculating car insurance premiums include:

  • The make, model and age of your car
  • The neighborhood where you currently live
  • Where you park your car at night and during the day
  • Your personal profile (age, gender, driving record etc.)

Other factors can also play a big role in how much you pay every month. For example, the number of regular drivers you have registered on your auto insurance policy can play a role, as well as your estimated annual mileage.

How Your Personal Profile Affects Your Car Insurance?

Your personal profile has a large impact on your monthly premiums – more so than a lot of other considerations. Although you can’t change many of things regarding your personal profile, it’s still good to know what information insurance companies will look at when considering your risk portfolio.

Age

Unfortunately, age and risk are closely correlated. While it seems unfair that some people must pay higher premiums based on their age, there’s statistical data to support charging people in certain age groups higher premiums.

Insurance companies charge older drivers less than younger ones. Drivers younger than 25 are hit hardest by the age profiling that insurance companies adhere to. But when you think about it logically, it makes sense. Older drivers have more experience, which is one of the reasons they statistically fall in a lower risk category.

The disparity between what young and old drivers pay is often astounding – with some estimating that drivers younger than 18 can pay up to $4500 per year more in auto insurance premiums than drivers older than 56.

The optimal age group, where premiums tend to be the lowest is between 26 and 45. While you can’t control your age, you can take comfort in knowing that your car insurance premiums will be the one thing that gets better as you age.

Occupation

Once again, it seems discriminating that insurance providers would base premiums on your occupation, but as with age, they use verified data to derive their conclusions.

For instance, your risk of getting in an accident will be much higher if you’re an ambulance driver, or you operate emergency vehicles. Even though the vehicles you drive don’t belong to you, your insurance provider is legally obligated to pay out your personal injury protection benefits when you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident – even if your vehicle wasn’t involved.

Your insurance provider will also consider how much, on average, a person in your occupation must drive around for work.

Driving Record

Your driving record is the one part of your risk portfolio you have more control over. Although you can’t change your driving record overnight, you can improve it over time.

The most important things insurers look at for your driving record is whether you’ve been involved in an accident recently, as well as your past claims and traffic offenses. If you’ve claimed from your auto insurance in the past few years – even if it was for an incident where you weren’t at fault – your premiums will probably be a bit higher.

Past traffic offenses will add points to your license. Your auto insurer will consider the points on your license to evaluate whether you’re a responsible.

How Your Car and Environment Affect Your Car Insurance?

Luckily your car insurance premiums aren’t based solely on your profile. While you can’t change easily change your occupation or driving record, you have more control over your vehicle and environment.

Your Car: Model and Features

Car insurance providers categorize almost all different car models in various risk categories. To calculate the risk category of each different car model, insurers will look at how secure and safe it is.

Some cars run a higher risk of theft than others, for instance. A car model that runs a higher risk for theft will be categorized as being less secure, even if it’s fitted with more security features.

Safety is also a concern. A car with ABS and airbags will get a better score than one without built-in safety mechanisms.

Some important features to reduce your premiums include an alarm system, immobilizer and ABS. Regularly servicing your car is also vital to ensure you can claim your benefits when you need to.

Lastly, the price of your car will affect your premiums. More expensive cars are generally cost more to insure as opposed to ones that are mid-range in price. This means trading in your luxury car for a more modest one could save you a lot on insurance.

Environmental Factors

The area where you stay has an impact on your premiums. Insurance providers have crime statistics for different neighborhoods. If you live in a neighborhood where the risk of auto theft is higher, you’ll pay more in premiums.

Another environmental factor which is completely out of your control is weather. If you stay in an area where there’s a higher risk of hail storms, your premiums will be higher.

But you don’t necessarily have move town to get lower premiums. Parking your car in a secure, locked garage can work to your benefit. Not only will this keep thieves away, but your car is also protected from the elements, such as harsh sun, hail and snow.

While the different factors that insurers use to calculate your car insurance premium seem largely out of your control, there’s still one thing you can do to lower your premium. If you up your excess, your premiums will lower accordingly. However, upping your excess means you’ll be liable to pay a larger amount of damage yourself whenever you claim. If you have expendable savings that you could use to supplement claims, upping your excess is a viable way to save, but without a savings pool to tap into, upping your excess could lead to a dilemma where you can’t claim from your insurance because you don’t have funds available to pay the excess.

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Florida Life Insurance: Policy Options Worth Considering

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Life insurance is important to ensure the financial well-being of your loved ones when you’re no longer around. Although it isn’t the first type of cover most people take out, it’s certainly one of the most important. It’s easy to neglect your life insurance and assume that having a policy is enough. Most people never need to claim life insurance, so many aren’t even aware of the extent of their cover. Don’t fall into this thinking trap, where you simply assume your cover is sufficient. Doing a proper evaluation of your life insurance cover could make an immense difference to your family’s quality of life one day. When shopping around for Florida life insurance policies, there are a few things that are helpful to know.

Different Kinds of Life Insurance

Not all life insurance policies are the same. Policies differ depending on your personal needs. Some of the most common life insurance policy options include:

  • Term life insurance
  • Variable life insurance
  • Universal life insurance

It’s imperative that you understand the differences between the above mentioned policy types. Knowing the difference will help you make a choice that’s right for you and your family.

Term Insurance

Term insurance is a type of life insurance cover that will pay out within a set period. For instance, your policy might be valid for 10, 20 or 30 yeas from the date of purchase. This means that a term policy will only pay out if the policy holder dies within a set amount of time.

For example, if someone takes out term life insurance at the age of 25 and the term of their policy is 30 years, the life insurance policy will only pay out if the 25-year-old policy holder dies before the age of 55.

The benefit of term insurance is that will cover almost any death if the insured dies before the policy expires. Illness, car accidents and other accidental deaths are usually all covered by the policy. The only exception is certain cases where the insured’s death is found not to have been accidental. This means that death by suicide won’t be paid out by a policy. Homicide cases where the insured’s death was related to claiming the insured’s death benefit also won’t be paid out.

As an added benefit, term insurance plans often (although not always) have a fixed premium. This means that the monthly cost of the policy will remain the same throughout the duration of cover. If the 25-year-old policy holder mentioned above paid $50 monthly when he/she took out their cover, the premium will still be $50 even 30 years later until the day the policy expires.

Variable Insurance

Variable insurance is a form of permanent life insurance. What this means is that, unlike term insurance, your policy won’t expire after a set number of years. The benefit of a policy that doesn’t expire is that you’ll never lose your death benefit.

Another benefit of variable insurance is its investment component. Most people don’t think of life insurance as a form of investment, but it can be. The investment component of a variable insurance policy is like a mutual fund – where the money from policy holders is combined and invested in the market. As a result, your policy investment can grow in value. Keep in mind, that negative market growth can also pose a risk, causing your investment to diminish in value at times.

After years of owning your variable insurance policy, you’ll typically see good returns on your lifelong investment. The benefit of the investment account on your variable insurance policy is that you can take out a loan using your policy as collateral as a way to access your funds with minimal taxation.

One of the disadvantages of variable insurance is that your monthly premiums usually aren’t fixed as with term insurance. Most permanent insurance policies also have higher premiums when compared to term insurance.

Universal Insurance

Universal insurance is another form of permanent life insurance, meaning your benefits won’t expire. As with variable insurance, you also get an investment and savings benefit with your policy.

Thus, the main difference between a variable and universal policy isn’t based on the duration of the policy, as both are lifelong. Both policies also include an investment benefit. However, the main difference lies in the nature of the investment. Whereas variable insurance operates with a mutual fund investment benefit, the investment component of a universal policy is based on a set interest rate. The interest rate at which a universal policy’s investment grows is determined by the insurer.

It goes without saying that a universal life policy promises more stability in terms of growth. The lifetime gains from a universal policy are generally more predictable. As is custom in financial affairs, less risk does impose somewhat on potential gains, however.

Money invested into the market has far more potential to grow and isn’t restricted by a predetermined interest rate. The trade-off with variable versus universal insurance is risk. Investors who choose variable insurance stand to both lose or gain more from investing money in the market rather than receiving a flat interest rate.

Which Life Insurance Cover is Best?

No single form of life insurance cover is better than another. When choosing life insurance, your personal needs should take preference to help you decide.

Who Needs Term Insurance?

When looking at the life insurance policies listed above it’s easy to dismiss term insurance as less advantageous than permanent options. But keep in mind that term insurance does offer some benefits. Mainly, the premiums on term insurance are generally much cheaper than that of permanent policies.

This allows a young individual in need of cover to take out life insurance at an affordable rate, only for the required time. For instance, the insured may base the duration of his/her cover on how long they’ll be paying off their mortgage, or when their children will reach adulthood.

A major disadvantage of term insurance is that it comes with an expiry date. By the very nature of term insurance, the insured individual will be older when his or her cover expires. Age related ailments can make it more difficult or even impossible to renew cover after expiry.

It should also be noted that insurance companies will base premium cost on an individual’s risk profile. This means that younger individuals who follow a healthy lifestyle tend to pay lower premiums than older persons with riskier lifestyles. A company can penalize you for smoking or pre-existing health ailments.

Who Needs Variable or Universal Insurance?

Both forms of permanent insurance are suitable for anyone who’s looking for more assurance than offered by term insurance. However, permanent insurance policies do come at a higher price and affordability might be a concern for many people.

The benefit of permanent insurance is that companies aren’t as strict about health background checks. This makes permanent life insurance a good option if you’re older or if you suffer from a life-threatening condition. The assurance that comes with permanent insurance means you’ll have a definite death benefit, as well as an investment to assist your loved ones.

One of the disadvantages of permanent insurance, however, is that your investment might not grow as much as you would hope. There are better investment options available that you could take advantage of. If you financially invest in a life policy, you’ll be sacrificing money you could invest elsewhere at a better return rate.

The catch is that other investments won’t include a death benefit, so if caring for loved ones is your priority, permanent insurance can still be a good investment for you.

Alternatively, you can apply for term insurance to obtain a death benefit and invest any capital you have on hand separately. The drawback of this option is that you’ll need to be skilled in finances and investing to ascertain financial gain from your investments.

Conclusion

Different kinds of life insurance policies are tailored according to individual needs. The best option for you will depend on your age, current health and what you’re willing to spend on monthly premiums.

If you’re looking for life insurance in Florida and you’re not sure where to start, contact Pini for help. We’ll guide you in choosing the best life policy for your needs. At Pini, we understand that you’re an individual with unique needs. Our staff are dedicated to helping you get the cover that will benefit you and your family most in times of need. Talk to us about all your life, home and car insurance requirements and we’ll help you choose a policy that you can trust. Your peace of mind matters to us, which is why we’ll do our best to educate you on exactly what your policy covers.

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