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If the possessions in your apartment or rental house were damaged or stolen, could you afford to replace them? If you’re like many Americans, the answer is probably no. That’s where renters insurance comes into play. But what is renters insurance, and what do you need to know about it? 

Renters insurance protects the personal possessions you keep inside your apartment or rented home. It also covers your personal liability. It’s not an exact comparison, but you can think of it as homeowner’s insurance for people who rent. Here are four useful insurance tips for renters. 

Just Because It’s Not Required Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Need It 

Renters insurance may or may not be required by your landlord or apartment complex. If you’re renting a home or a room in a home, remember that your property and liability are not covered by your landlord’s homeowner’s insurance. Even if it isn’t required that you have renters insurance, you should always just get it anyway. The cost of renters insurance varies, but it is probably lower than you expect. 

Look for Replacement Cost vs. Cash Value 

The value of even your largest purchases (such as electronics) decreases over time. If your possessions are insured at cash value, that means the coverage will equal whatever the item is valued at right now. It may not be enough to purchase a new replacement in the event that the item is stolen or damaged. Instead of cash value, opt for replacement cost coverage. It will be a little more out of pocket, but it should ensure you can faithfully rebuild your home or apartment after a loss. 

Document, Document, Document!  

Carefully construct a list of all the property you want to be insured, especially the more valuable items. Take photos and videos of everything, including receipts, so you can prove that you own the items and that they are not already damaged. In the event you have to make a claim, you’ll have everything prepared to show to the insurer. When you clearly present the evidence, your insurer will likely have an easier time determining the claim as valid. 

Ask About the Limits of Personal Property Coverage 

Chances are you have auto insurance. But did you know that personal property inside your vehicle is not covered under your auto insurance if it is stolen or damaged? Renters insurance may or may not include coverage for personal property losses due to theft or damage to your vehicle. This is a very important feature that you need to make sure is included in your renters insurance. 

Renting is a great way to live, but the risks can differ from the risks of owning a home. Help manage these unique risks by following these insurance tips for renters!

Halloween is a special day of the year that many people young and old get excited about. However, Halloween poses more dangers than scary masks and fake blood, so you need to stay safe and protect what you care about. Here are some useful tips for staying safe, having fun, and avoiding insurance claims!

Safety When Driving on Halloween Night

It’s a given that you need to be more vigilant and pay attention to your surroundings when driving at night. Threats ahead are more difficult to see, and incidents like wildlife running into the road can happen suddenly. But on Halloween, there is more than just wild animals walking along the roads. First, depending on where you are driving there may be trick-or-treaters out for a stroll. There could also be teenagers getting up to no good, playing pranks or hanging out in wooded areas. Even if you are driving on an empty road or in a place with no houses around, remain on alert. 

Young adults and adults celebrate Halloween, too, and drunk drivers are another threat to look out for when you are driving on Halloween night. Scan the road for anyone who is driving erratically, and do not be afraid to place a call to a non-emergency phone line. 

You do not want a night that’s supposed to be full of spooky fun to turn into a real life nightmare, where you have to make an unfortunate auto claim. However, in the event of an accident, remember your agent is only a call away. Calling your insurance agent is one of the first things you want to do after an accident occurs. 

Trick-or-Treating Safety

If you’ll be spending Halloween with your children, there are some important safety precautions you can take to ensure you have a fun yet enjoyable holiday. If your children will be trick-or-treating in yours or a friend’s neighborhood, make sure you and/or another adult are present at all times. Gone are the days that kids can just be turned loose to get candy from strangers’ homes. Even if your children are older, it’s still risky to let them walk alone – especially on Halloween when predators may be more likely to be out. 

If you wish to be extra precautious, you can have your children’s candy scanned at your local police department – to make sure there are no harmful objects or substances inside the pieces. Even if you don’t go this far, still glance over your child’s bag of candy before letting them begin eating. If you see any candy wrappers that look damaged or otherwise off in any way, it’s safest to simply throw the candy away. 

If you’ll be passing out candy from your home, make sure all walkways and steps are clean and well-lit. Children may get excited when there’s a bowl of candy ahead, and it’s possible they could trip and fall and get hurt if the path to your door is dark or has debris. Avoid a potential insurance claim by ensuring your home is safe for little monsters and witches to visit. 

Staying in on Halloween

If you are spending Halloween at home and do not have any children around, there are still some safety precautions you can take. If you have pets, keep them inside for their safety. There may be strangers who want to harm them in the name of Halloween, but they could also just get frightened by the commotion and run off. You also need to protect your home and possessions. Make sure your garage is securely shut, or if you leave your vehicle outside, that its doors are locked and any enticing electronics or other personal items are taken inside the house. Double check that your home’s doors are locked, even if you plan to stay in all evening. Thieves and vandals often take advantage of the Halloween commotion to perform their nefarious deeds. If something happens, you have insurance in place to protect you, but you certainly don’t want to have to use it, so take proper precautions on the 31st. 

No matter what you’re doing this Halloween, you can stay safe and avoid having to make a claim. But if you need us, our agency is only a phone call or email away! 

 

It has long been said that dogs are humankind’s best friend. If you have a canine companion you love, chances are they are an integral part of your family life. They snuggle with you (or on the dog bed) at movie nights, attend your barbeques and parties, and run to greet the delivery worker. But for some dog owners, living with their furry friend can cause home insurance rates to rise. It all depends on what breed of dog you own. That is why the assistance of an independent insurance agent is invaluable. They can shop the market to find you the lowest rates that will cover the “risks” that the insurance companies believe your dog’s breed pose.

Here are the most common breeds:

  • Akitas
  • Alaskan Malamutes
  • Bull Mastiffs
  • Chow Chows
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • German Shepherds
  • Great Danes
  • Pit Bulls and Staffordshire Terriers
  • Presa Canarios
  • Rottweilers
  • Siberian Husky
  • Wolf Hybrids

First Thing’s First 

Do not conceal your dog’s breed from your insurance agent. This may be tempting since, as we will soon discuss, owning a “high-risk breed” dog will probably increase your home insurance rates. You may believe that your dog is the most angelic creature in the world, but dogs are animals and we can never know what may frighten or intimidate them into aggressive action. If there is an incident where your dog harms either your property or a visitor, you will wish you’d been paying those higher premiums all along. The average claim payout for dog bites, one of the most costly claims, is a whopping $30,000. If your insurance carrier denies you coverage because you lied or concealed information from them, you could find yourself responsible for that hefty check. Yikes. 

What Will Happen?

When you own a dog that is considered a more “high-risk” or traditionally “aggressive breed,” it can be difficult to even find an insurance carrier that will cover your dog under your policy. Once you do, with the assistance of your independent agent, you will likely be required to increase your liability coverage limits. The amount can vary – it is best to rely on your agent’s expertise for this. Remember how we mentioned the average payout for a dog bite is 30K? You want to make sure you have adequate coverage or else some of that money could have to come out of your own pocket. 

It’s possible your insurance carrier may want you to purchase a separate umbrella policy instead of simply increasing your liability limits. An umbrella policy can be useful, not just in the case of pet damage or attacks, but also for any incident that happens on your own property. 

Take Preventative Measures 

In order to reduce the risk of your dog biting someone or otherwise causing injury, there are some steps you can take. Do not engage your dog in aggressive play, put your dog in its kennel or room in situations where it seems stressed, and be sure to work on socializing and training your dog when you first adopt it. Maintain a securely fenced yard if your dog spends significant time outside, and always supervise your dog when it plays with visitors – especially children who may not yet know how to treat an animal gently. 

Your beloved dog’s breed does not have to stop you from being properly insured. Independent agents can shop the insurance market for you in order to find you a homeowner’s policy that provides adequate coverage and allows for your “high-risk” breed dog. 

With colleges starting back up, maybe you have a child returning to school or leaving for the first time. You’ve got the twin XL sheets, the posters and the textbooks. Did you know that you also might need insurance for your college student?

Auto Insurance

If you already have auto insurance for your child’s car (and you should!), don’t cancel it if they are not taking their vehicle to college with them. There is a chance your auto insurance premiums could actually drop significantly if your child moves more than 100 miles from home. Most importantly, your child will still be covered when they return home and drive their vehicle. If they do take their vehicle off to college, thankfully they should still be covered under your policy. However your premiums may change depending on where your child is living during college – especially if they go out of state. 

Renters Insurance 

The good news is that if your child will be living in on-campus dorms or other university sponsored housing, their possessions should remain covered under your homeowners insurance. It’s important to note that the coverage limits may be different, so be sure to thoroughly discuss everything with your insurance agent before your child leaves. 

If your child will be living off-campus, their possessions will no longer be covered under your homeowners policy, and you will need to purchase a separate renters insurance policy to cover their items. A renters policy can protect your child’s expensive electronics such as a laptop or TV as well as other high value items like musical equipment or instruments. Like your homeowners insurance, your child’s renters policy also covers their insured possessions whether they’re inside your child’s living quarters or not. 

Health Insurance 

Although your child is eligible to remain on your own health insurance plan until they turn 26, there are still some things to consider when they leave for college. If your child will be living out of state during the school season and is not willing or able to return home for doctors’ visits, they may struggle with finding in-network providers. With the exception of emergencies, many health policies offer limited or no coverage for out of network providers. Before you make any moves, check with your child’s school to see if there are any in-network providers close to campus. 

If there are not, you have two options. First, you can have your child knock out all necessary medical appointments before leaving for school and schedule future appointments to coincide with breaks. If you do want the peace of mind that good coverage offers, look into supplementing your child’s health coverage with a student health insurance policy. Coverage may also be available through their college or your child could purchase their own coverage in the health insurance market. 

Sending your child off to college is an exciting time, whether they are a freshman or a fifth-year senior. Make sure your student has all the protection they need by utilizing the right insurance tools. 

Experiencing a car accident is stressful enough on its own. Add to that the possibility of medical bills, car repair bills, and the cost of renting a vehicle while yours is in the shop, and you’ll definitely feel overwhelmed. However, with rental car assistance or reimbursement, you may not have to worry too much about the latter. Here are 5 things you need to know about getting a rental car after an accident. 

It’s Not a Guarantee

Your ability to get a rental vehicle while yours undergoes repairs depends on a few different factors. First, do you even have this add-on in your policy? The add on that allows you to get coverage for a rental vehicle after an accident is called rental reimbursement coverage, and as an optional coverage, it is not automatically included in your auto insurance. However just because it’s optional does not mean you should go without it. 

Second, who was at fault for the accident? If it was deemed to be you, see the paragraph above. If you are not at fault, you will be dealing with the other driver’s insurance provider to handle the claim. The other driver’s insurance provider should give you a rental car that is comparable to the one that was damaged in the accident. 

The Loss Must Be a Covered Loss 

Rental reimbursement coverage cannot be used if your vehicle is in the shop for routine maintenance or any cosmetic work such as paint or other voluntary modifications. Even if it is in the shop for a few days, you cannot apply for rental reimbursement coverage in this instance. You also cannot utilize the coverage if you are taking a trip and renting a vehicle – unless you are renting a vehicle because your own is being repaired after an accident. As long as the loss is being covered by your auto insurance, you are free to use your rental reimbursement coverage. 

It’s Not as Expensive as You Think 

Car rental company Enterprise reported that the average American drives 3-4 different places per day, and the average length of time for a vehicle repair is two weeks. Renting a vehicle can cost upwards of $300 a week, depending on the size. However, a year of rental reimbursement coverage usually costs less than a single day of a rental car payment. Although there are limits, in the long run the benefits truly outweigh the costs.

When you’re a first time home buyer, you might be expecting the process to be more glamorous and exciting than it is in reality. Now, buying your first home is certainly an exciting event, but glamorous? Last time we checked, there wasn’t much glamor about paperwork… If you’re like most people, you will work with a mortgage lender to purchase your new home. Therefore process of closing on your home will involve an almost overwhelming amount of paperwork and finances, but this is a good thing. It ensures that your investment is made with all the right t’s crossed and i’s dotted. However there is one important thing you must do before you can close on your home, and that’s purchasing homeowners insurance.

Why Homeowners Insurance?

Would it surprise you to learn that purchasing homeowners insurance coverage is a requirement for closing on a home, if you finance through a lender? That’s right. Lenders require you to have home insurance for at least a year in order to allow you to close on your home. The thinking behind this is that by lending you the funds to buy a house, your lender needs an assurance from you that they are not going to suffer a huge loss if something happens to your new home. You see, that new home is an investment for both you and your lender, and when left uninsured, your home is a huge liability for your lender. This is why they usually will not agree to giving you a loan until you have proved that you have homeowners insurance in place.

What Will You Need to Bring?

It is common practice for lenders to ask you to bring your homeowners insurance binder with you to the closing meeting. The binder acts as definitive proof from your insurer that your home and its contents are covered under a policy. Some lenders may accept a photocopy of your insurance documents or a letter from your insurer.

How Do You Know Which Insurer to Choose?

This is where the assistance of an independent insurance agent is invaluable. Just like shopping around for a mortgage lender is a smart idea, shopping around for the best homeowners insurance is also a smart practice. But with your busy life, you probably don’t have time to shop the insurance market. Work with a dedicated independent insurance agent, and they will shop the market for you to find the best policy and most competitive rates.

School’s out, the sun’s out, and pretty soon you might be out of town! As you’re packing for your summer vacation, insurance is probably the last thing on your mind. You’re probably thinking about what clothes to bring, whether you need both your phone and tablet, or trying to dig out the snowboard you haven’t used in months. However as with every big moment in life, there are always insurance considerations to keep in mind.

Property Damage

This can come in two forms – damage or loss of your own property or damage to others property. In the first instance, the same homeowners or renters insurance that covers your personal property against theft, vandalism, or some acts of nature when you’re at home also covers your possessions you take with you on vacation. This is especially important for more expensive items such as electronics, jewelry, or even sporting equipment you take on vacation. On the flip side, this coverage also ensures you are safeguarded against any loss that happens to the property you left behind when you’re away from home. The important thing to note for this kind of coverage is that your policy must have certain limits of coverage in order to protect everything you want protected.

The other way in which your insurance can protect you in the case of property damage while you’re on vacation applies to the property of others. This is especially important if you’re renting a house or condo and end up breaking or damaging the property itself or something inside it. This type of coverage is called your personal liability policy, and if you cause damage in the place you’re vacationing, you may be covered by it.

Medical Emergencies

This one depends on where you are vacationing. In the case of medical emergencies inside the U.S., you should not encounter many obstacles regarding your insurance coverage extending to other in-network hospitals. You should expect to pay rates similar to what you’d pay at home. However, depending on your policy you may not be covered if you visit an out-of-network hospital in another city or state. It is best to know up front before you embark on your journey – for this you will speak to your insurance agent. You should also put “insurance card” on your packing list, if you don’t already carry it with you at all times (which you should!). Your home doctor may also offer “tele” services – meaning he or she can diagnose you over phone or video chat, and you get to stay in network no matter where you are in the country.

If you’re traveling out of the country, you may be surprised to learn that your coverage is more than you expected. Again, this is an instance in which it is most appropriate to speak to your agent before your trip to find out exactly what the out-of-pocket expenses would be for medical care abroad. Keep in mind this only applies to medical emergencies, not elective procedures.

The most important thing is to notify your insurance agent that you’ll be traveling, and to ask them if there are any updates needed to your policies. With an independent insurance agent on your side, you’ll have a friend to help you properly prepare for this exciting upcoming trip.

Mornings are difficult, aren’t they? You’re rushing to get showered and dressed – and if you have kids, to get them up, showered, and dressed – and you have to make it to work on time! With everything going on, stopping and making breakfast is not on your to-do list. You’ve probably heard it a thousand times: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” But do you really know what skipping breakfast does to your body? Here are the reasons why you need to kick the habit of kicking breakfast to the curb.

Your Brain Slows Down

It’s not just the Monday morning blues. It seems like every time you get to work and start your day, you simply can’t focus. When you skip breakfast, your blood sugar drops, and the glucose that your brain needs to function at top capacity is nowhere to be found. There are plenty of studies that have proven that both adults and children perform better at work or school after they’ve started their day with a balanced breakfast.

Your Mood Drops

Another way that missing breakfast affects your brain is by affecting your dopamine and serotonin levels – the chemicals in your brain that regulate mood. You might have heard of the phrase “hangry” – a combination of “hungry” and “angry.” No one wants to be known as the hangry person in the office! Aside from the chemical effects, hunger can also cause headaches and tiredness, which further bring down your mood.

You’re at Greater Risk for Health Problems

You might think skipping breakfast is harmless, but studies have shown that regularly missing “the most important meal of the day” can increase your likelihood of diabetes and heart disease. The reason behind this is that skipping your first meal after a night of fasting (as you sleep) causes extra stress in the body that can lead to insulin resistance and plaque buildup.

Adopting better wellness habits such as eating breakfast every day is one of the best things you can do for your overall health – mental and physical. By taking good care of yourself, you increase your happiness, lengthen your lifespan, and can be there for your loved ones longer. Not only that, your insurance rates may be lowered as well! Start tomorrow – the most important meal of the day may save your life.

It can be a glorious feeling to ride with the wind in your face and the sun on your back, but the fun can turn deadly in an instant if riders do not take the proper precautions. Motorcycle riders are overrepresented in traffic accident fatalities. Take the right precautions every time you ride your bike in order to protect yourself, your passengers, and your fellow drivers. Since May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, we put together some guidelines to help riders stay safe every time you start up your engines.

Check Your Bike Before Every Ride

Before you get on the road, it is important to check that every aspect of your bike is safe and operational. This is especially vital for those who only use their motorcycle occasionally, but full time riders would do well to follow a strict safety routine as well. Always be sure to check for gas or oil leaks, test headlights and turn signals, brakes and fluid levels, and examine tires before you ride off. If you have a passenger, remind them to keep their feet on the foot rests at all times and to keep a tight hold on your hips, waist, or belt.

Protect Your Body Properly

You must always – ALWAYS – wear a helmet when you ride your motorcycle. There are no exceptions to this rule! NHTSA recommends wearing a helmet that meets DOT, Snell, or ANSI standards – these have been tested and certified to ensure maximum protection. There should be a label indicating certification on either the exterior or interior of the helmet. It is most important to protect your head, but the rest of your body needs protection as well. Cover your arms and legs with a tough material such as leather or heavy denim, and wear the right gloves and boots.

Don’t Take Risks on the Road

Many crashes involving motorcycles happen because a vehicle driver simply did not see the bike on the road. Pay attention to your surroundings at all times, leave ample room between your bike and other vehicles, and remain on the defensive when there are other drivers around you. Always obey traffic laws. Just because your bike is small and can move differently than a standard passenger vehicle, it does not mean you have an excuse to do whatever you please on the road. Following speed limits and traffic laws helps keep not only you, but also your fellow citizens safe.

Don’t Drink and Ride

It is never safe to use alcohol or drugs before driving a motorcycle. Just like driving a car, boat, or other craft, driving a motorcycle while impaired will seriously impact your ability to operate the bike, make decisions, and react to dangers. According to a 2017 study by NHTSA, 28% of motorcycle drivers who were involved in fatal accidents were under the influence of alcohol. Do not ride your bike if you know you’re going to be drinking. It is never worth it to risk your life.

Having the right insurance also protects you as a motorcycle driver. Speak to your agent about motorcycle coverage and stay safe every time you ride.

Life insurance: you may not want to think about it too hard, but you need to. It can be difficult to consider the possibility of your own passing, but when you realize what the financial consequences of your death might be for your loved ones, you’ll realize just how important life insurance is. If you have a policy, that’s the first step. However you cannot simply let that policy sit untouched for all the years of your life. There are certain changes you may go through that would necessitate updating your life insurance beneficiaries. But what are those changes? We’ll dive into it a little deeper.

You Get Married

When you consider the many changes your life will go through after tying the knot, updating your life insurance beneficiary might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But when two become one, often combining their finances, ensuring your spouse will be taken care of in the unthinkable event of your death is one of the most loving things you can do to secure your new life together. Many couples will change their beneficiary to their spouse once the nuptials are over. In fact, depending on where you live you may be required to. The death benefits would ensure your spouse will be able to take care of final expenses, pay off your debts, and not have to experience the burden of entirely losing their partner’s income.

A Child Is Born

You may be having a child together, adopting, or taking over care of a friend or relative’s child. Whatever the case, if an important child comes into your life, you may want to take another look at your life insurance beneficiaries. Some do not recommend adding your new child to your list of beneficiaries, since they will not be able to receive death benefits until reaching the age of majority. However you can still specify to your spouse or other beneficiary that you would like the policy benefits to go towards something specific, such as your child’s education expenses.

You Start a Business

If you own a business with partners, it is possible to include them in your list of life insurance beneficiaries. However, you should also consider creating a buy-sell agreement with any business partners. This will allow your business partner(s) to use the benefits from the agreement to buy out your shares in the company in the event of your death. If you wish to protect the business you have built, make sure to speak with an experienced insurance agent to ensure you have all the coverage you need to keep your business running no matter what.

Whoever you name as your life insurance beneficiary, be sure to inform them right away. This is especially true if you choose someone outside your immediate family, since they may not even expect to be named in your policy. Life insurance benefits will not bring you back after you are gone, but they can go a long way towards protecting the people you care about.

Carnal Roberts Agency has a full offering of life insurance services, so you can get started protecting who and what you care about today.