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How To Enroll in Medicare When You Are Turning 65

Congratulations! You now qualify for Medicare benefits! However, the piles of mail and endless phone calls with companies trying to get you to enroll in their plan can be confusing and overwhelming. How do you cut through the noise? Let’s take it piece by piece to help you decide the best path for you.

Medicare Basics

Before we start, let’s break down the basic parts of Medicare and how you can enroll in each.

Original Medicare (Part A and Part B)

Original Medicare has two parts.

          Part A which covers inpatient care including hospital stays and skilled nursing facility care

          Part B which covers things like doctor’s visits, ambulance services, and durable medical equipment.

 

Depending on whether or not you receive Social Security retirement benefits or Railroad Retirement Benefit will determine how you will enroll in Medicare when you turn 65.

If you are receiving Social Security retirement benefits or Railroad Retirement Benefits, you will automatically be enrolled in Part A and Part B. You should receive a package in the mail with your red, white, and blue Medicare card approximately 3 months before your coverage begins.

 

If you have other coverage, such as an employer health plan, you may turn down Part B. If you do not have job-based insurance and you turn down Part B, you may incur a premium penalty if you need to sign up in the future.

If you are NOT receiving Social Security retirement benefits for Railroad Retirement Benefits, you will need to actively sign up for Medicare Parts A and B.

If you would like to sign up during your Initial Enrollment Period (the seven month period that includes your birthday month, three months before, and three months after), you can enroll the following methods:

  1. Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (Monday-Friday 7AM-7PM)
  2. Visit your local Social Security office
  3. Online at SSA.gov

If you are eligible for Railroad Retirement benefits, you will need to enroll in Medicare by calling the Railroad Retirement Board or contact your local RRB field office.

 

Keep all records of when you enroll, just in case your application is lost. This will keep you from incurring a premium penalty for late enrollment. 

Other Medicare Coverage Options

There are several other coverage choices that will help fill in the gaps that Original Medicare leaves.

There are two “paths” that you can take that will fill in most gaps in your Medicare Part A and Part B coverage.

1.       Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) with Prescription Drug coverage

2.       Medicare Supplement with a separate Prescription Drug plan (Part D)

 

Click each path to learn more.

Still overwhelmed?

 

Let us help you navigate and decide the best path for you to take. We offer plans from all of the major companies, so you can compare and contrast. Consultations are always no-charge, and you are never under any obligation to make a purchase.

 

We also make it easy by offering flexible appointment options – both in person and virtually. Schedule your appointment today by calling 615-919-1009 or clicking the link below. We look forward to meeting you!

How Do I Cancel My Life Insurance Policy?

Life Insurance for Seniors Near Me

So you’ve done the “right thing” your whole life. You bought life insurance for yourself when you got married to protect your spouse, and then increased it again with each kid to ensure everyone is taken care of. You might have purchased another policy to cover estate taxes or one to buy out a partnership agreement. You are now in your later years and you are looking around at all of these life insurance policies that you might not need anymore. Or you might have a premium that keeps climbing and you just don’t want to pay it anymore. 

So what do you do now?

How to Cancel a Life Insurance Policy

There are many options when it comes to cancelling a life insurance policy. Let’s look at each option carefully to determine what might be a good fit for you.

1.     Surrender the Policy

      One option is to simply surrender the policy. If you decide to surrender the policy, you simply contact the insurance company (or your agent) and provide a written request to cancel the policy. If you own a term policy, you will receive a refund for any unused premiums. If the policy has cash value, you will receive the cash value amount, less any loans or surrender charges.

 

But…before you do that, keep reading. There might be a better option.

2.   Lapse the Policy

Another option is to let the policy lapse, which is simply to stop paying the premium. If you pay your premium by automatic withdrawal, you will need to request that your payment information be removed from their system.

 

If there is cash value in the policy, the insurance company will automatically start applying the cash value to the premium until the cash value is exhausted. If you own a term policy, the policy will be cancelled for non-payment after the determined length of time in your insurance contract.

3.  Use the Policy for a Charitable Contribution

You can use a life insurance policy to provide a charitable contribution in a few different ways.

o   You could donate a policy that is fully paid for.

o   You can gift a policy that requires the charity to continue paying premiums

o   You can name the charity as a beneficiary and you as the policyholder continues to pay premiums

In any of these instances, the charity will receive the full death benefit at the time of death of the insured. There are tax implications with these types of transaction, so please contact your tax professional for more information.

4. Reduce the Death Benefit

If you are struggling to pay your premiums but you still want to keep your policy, you might have the option to lower your death benefit. Contact your insurance carrier to see what options you may have with regards to your particular life insurance policy.

Life Insurance Near Me Murfreesboro

5.  Trade Your Cash Value for a “Paid Up” Life Insurance Policy

In some cases, you may be able to trade your cash value for a fully paid for policy with a lower death benefit. Depending on your level of cash value, you can get Contact your life insurance company to see if this is an option for you.

6. Life Settlement

Seniors voluntary surrender or lapse over $100 billion in face value of life insurance every year. However, many of these seniors qualify for a life settlement that could turn their policy into money, whether their policy has cash value or not. A life insurance settlement is the sale of a life insurance policy for greater than the cash value, but less than the death benefit.

A few examples…

    •  A 74-year-old male with a $1,000,000 term policy that had $0 in cash value was able to receive $132,143 for his policy. 
    • A 68-year-old female with a $500,000 universal life policy with $0 in cash value was able to receive $52,700 for her policy.
    • A 89-year-old male with a $1,300,000 universal life policy with a cash value of $275,153 was able to receive $573,000 for his policy

If you are over the age of 65 and you have a life policy worth $100,000 or more that you are planning on lapsing or cancelling, it is worth it to reach out and see if this might be a good option for you. Our in-house consultant has over 30 years of life settlement experience and can help you weigh your different options.

If you have any questions regarding life insurance or life insurance settlements, we are happy to help. Give us a call at 615-919-1009 or email us at [email protected]

This website includes a solicitation for insurance. No guarantees of life insurance rates or settlement offers are being made to the reader. Life insurance rates or settlement offers are made on an individual basis and are subject to underwriting guidelines.

What Kind of Insurance Do I Need for My Rental Property?

Landlord Insurance Near Me, Advocate Insurance, Murfreesboro

Owning a property, just like any asset, requires protection. There are inherent risks that come along, especially in the wake of national disasters.  This can be acts of nature like flooding, fire, and earthquakes. Otherwise, you could lose out your income stream when your property investment undergoes repairs.

Having an insurance policy mitigates your risk. However, there are many different kinds of insurance out there, and you should know which one is suitable for you. Below are different types of insurance that are useful for a property owner to consider:

Landlord Insurance

Landlord insurance is defined as a policy that provides property and liability protection for property owners that rent their property to tenants. This type of policy may also be known as dwelling fire insurance.

Landlord insurance is used in place of homeowners insurance and offers similar protections, helping the landlord recover from financial losses in the event of certain covered perils. There are many companies that offer landlord insurance policies out there. A comprehensive landlord insurance policy will encompass these three protections:

1.    Property Damage

This ensures that you can file a claim when a natural disaster strikes like fire, earthquake, and even electric/ gas malfunction. In case a tenant commits a violation by vandalizing your property, you can also file a claim.

2.    Lost Rental Income

If your property becomes uninhabitable due to fire or weather damage, you can receive compensation for lost rental income while your unit is being repaired and remains vacant.

3.    Liability Protection

If your tenant sustains an injury that resulted from property maintenance oversight such as structural damage, you can file for a claim to help you pay for medical expenses and avoid being sued by the tenant.

 

 

Umbrella Insurance

Umbrella insurance is defined as insurance that provides additional coverage over and above existing limits of underlying insurance policies. It can be protective insurance for injuries, property damage, select lawsuits, and personal liability cases. 

Umbrella insurance is useful since it can protect your home investment assets, providing extra layers of benefits that extend above your homeowners’ insurance. Other protection it provides includes claims on liability coverage on your rental units. 

Umbrella Insurance Near Me

For example, if your renter owns a dog that bit a neighbor that finds you responsible for the injuries he sustained, then you may need to use your umbrella insurance. Another example would be a tenant who complains and files a lawsuit against you when he stumbled on a sidewalk crack in your premises that resulted in an injury. If your existing liability limits are not enough, you can then make a claim on your umbrella insurance.

Renter’s Insurance

Renters Insurance Near Me

Renter’s insurance is an insurance that offers coverage for a tenant’s belongings, liabilities, and even living expenses in the event of a loss. This type can be availed to those renting in a single-family home, apartment, condo, etc. This type of insurance is very handy if injuries to a guest result while living in the property.  Outside a landlord’s negligence of structural problems in the property, the tenant can file for a liability claim on his renter’s policy. 

Most landlords require their tenants to get renter’s insurance, says Dawson Management. This is for the tenants’ protection, since a landlord is not liable for any losses or damage of a renter’s belongings. If a disaster occurs, a renter without insurance could stand to lose his valuable items without the property owner handing a single dime to the tenant. This is one of the primary reasons renter’s insurance is so vital.

Bottom Line 

As a landlord, it’s very important to know about the different kinds of insurance available. Knowing each insurance policy’s limitations will help you decide what type of insurance to buy. Don’t assume that standard home insurance will cover all you need for your rental property. Review each insurance policy and protect your assets. An extra layer of protection will help you gain peace of mind. 

How to File a Homeowners Insurance Claim – FAQs about the Homeowners Insurance Claims Process

No one wants to file a claim on their homeowners insurance policy even though, that’s what the policy is there for! Since you probably don’t file claims on a regular basis, you might be confused about what you should do (and not do) in the event you need to start the process. Let’s dive into some frequently asked questions about filing a homeowners insurance claim.

how-to-file-a-homeowners-insurance-claim

When Should You File a Homeowners Claim?

 

If you incur significant damage to your home due to a major disaster like a tornado, flood, or fire, you will certainly want to file a claim on your homeowners policy. However, some instances of damage to your property may require a little more consideration. When you are thinking about filing a claim, it is important to ask yourself a few questions.

  • What is my deductible? – If the cost to repair the damage is less than or slightly more than your deductible, it probably would not be worth it to file a claim. For example, if your deductible is $1000 and the expected repairs are $1200, it would be safe to say that the ramifications of filing will probably be more than $200 and filing would not be worth it.
  • What is covered on my home insurance policy? – Not all causes of damage are covered by homeowners insurance, so go over your policy to determine if the incident will be covered.
  • Is the event a maintenance issue, normal wear and tear, or malicious intent? – If there was something you could have done to prevent the damage, the insurance company will most likely not cover it.
  • Have I filed claims before? – You want to limit the number of claims on your record, as it could cause the insurance company to not renew your policy and make it difficult for you to get insured elsewhere.

 

Your agent can help you with information you need to make decisions on whether filing a claim is right for the situation.

How Do I File a Homeowners Insurance Claim?

1. File a Police Report, If Necessary

While this step is not necessary for all claims, if vandalism or theft has occurred, you will need to file a report with the local police. Many home insurance companies will require this to support your claim for these types of perils.

2. Contact Your Insurance Agent ASAP

Notice…I said contact your AGENT, not your insurance company 1-800 number.

Here is why…

When you call an insurance company 1-800 number to even ASK A QUESTION about filing a claim on your home insurance, they will mark it on your record as a claim, even if you never actually file that claim. This is called a “zero dollar claim”. And yes, that claim counts against you just as much as a paid claim.

Unless this has happened to you or someone you know, you probably didn’t know this little tidbit. I come across countless people on a weekly basis that deal with this problem and have to pay for it (literally) for many years.

Always call your agent first! That’s what we are here for. If you don’t have an agent…get one! Your insurance agent is the liaison between you and the insurance company. They are your advocate and should fight to make sure you are treated right throughout the claims process. Going through this process is the time when you wish you hadn’t purchased your policy from the internet.

If you decide with your agent that it is best to file a claim, they will help you gather all information necessary to start the claims process and get an adjuster to your home as soon as possible.

3. Prevent Further Damage

Do your best to conduct temporary repairs to protect your home from further damage, such as tarps (in the event of a roof leak) or shutting of water to your home (in the event of water damage caused by busted pipes). Keep receipts for any purchases made.

4. Document EVERYTHING

Make sure that you document the date, time, and details of everything that happened surrounding the claim event. Take pictures or video documenting the aftermath of property damage BEFORE you repair anything. Then, document the measures you took to prevent further damage. Keep all receipts to submit to the insurance company for reimbursement, including receipts for lodging or food if the home is uninhabitable.

How Long Do You Have to File a Homeowners Insurance Claim?

According to your insurance contract, it is your responsibility to contact your insurance company as soon as possible if you believe there is damage to your property that could result in a claim. 

According to Wiseman Bray PLLC, while the normal statute of limitations of a contract claim is 6 years in Tennessee, your homeowners policy may include a much shorter “contractual statute of limitations”. Hidden in the fine print, this deadline may be only 1 year or sometimes shorter.

 

It is best to file a homeowners insurance claim as soon as possible.

home-insurance-claims-process

Can I Withdraw a Homeowners Insurance Claim?

 

If the insurance company has not paid anything on the claim, you should be able to cancel the claim. However, the claim will still go on your record as a “zero dollar” claim which could affect your premium or ability to insure the property.

How Long Does a Homeowners Insurance Claim Stay on Your Record?

 

The insurance claim will usually stay on your record for 5-7 years. Some insurance companies will stop counting it against you at 3 years; while others will not count it after 5 years. For this reason, be sure to have your agent shop your rate each year if you have a claim on your record.

homeowners-insurance-claim

Will Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim Raise My Rates?

 

Yes, in most cases, your home insurance rate will increase at renewal if you file a claim during the prior policy term.

How Many Home Insurance Claims Can You File?

The average homeowner makes a claim every 9 years. You can technically file as many claims as you desire, but filing multiple claims in a short period can result in:

  • Your rate increasing significantly at renewal
  • The company voiding or not renewing your policy
  • Difficulty in finding an insurance company that will insure the property

 

Most insurance companies will not accept you as a policyholder if you have been non-renewed by another company. It is best to not file more than one claim every three years if at all possible. Filing more often than this could result in difficulty securing affordable insurance.

Is it Worth Claiming on Home Insurance?

Taking all the factors above into consideration, it is up to you determine whether or not it is worth it to file a claim on your home insurance. It is important that you discuss with your agent any questions you may have.

 

If you need help with your homeowners insurance in Murfreesboro or anywhere in Tennessee, we are happy to help ensure you get the best policy for you!

Is Mold Damage Covered By Insurance?

It is a hot, summer day in Murfreesboro. You work outside in your garden for a while, but decide to stay inside and enjoy the nice, cool air conditioning. You walk to your bathroom to splash some water on your face and you see it in the corner…mold spores silently climbing up your wall! What do you do???

Mold Damage Home Insurance

Mold is something you do NOT want to find in your home ever! It is messy and expensive to mitigate. However, here in Murfreesboro – where we get over 54 inches of rain a year – we have the hot, muggy climate that mold just loves. 

Many people believe that when you find those little spores growing in the corner of the basement, homeowners insurance will step in. However, this is a common misconception. Let’s take a look at some common questions regarding mold and homeowners insurance 

When is mold covered by insurance?

Most standard homeowners policies will exclude mold, fungus, and dry rot from their policies. 

is-mold-covered-by-insurance

However, most carriers, will allow you to purchase an endorsement, or addition, to your policy that will offer limited coverage for fungi, wet or dry rot, or bacteria. This endorsement, which requires additional premium, will cover the cost to remove the fungi, the cost to tear out and replace damaged parts of the building or covered property, and other necessary expenses up to the limits of the endorsement. 

Coverage under this endorsement will usually only apply if the mold or other fungi is caused by a covered peril. Perils are events that could cause damage to your home or personal property. Most policies list perils that are covered – those are your covered or named perils.

Some of the covered perils that are most likely on your homeowners policy are: 

  • Fire
  • Lightening
  • Windstorm or Hail
  • Theft or attempted theft
  • Falling objects
  • Vandalism or malicious mischief
  • Accidental discharge or overflow of water from plumbing, heating, air conditioners or appliances
  • Frozen pipes
  • Weight of ice, snow, or sleet

If mold and other fungi, dry or wet rot or bacteria damage is caused by one of the named perils on your policy and you have the discussed endorsement, your claim would most likely be covered.

When is mold not covered by insurance?

Unless you have the endorsement discussed above on your home insurance policy, mold damage is likely not covered. Mold and other fungi is usually excluded even on a open perils policy, the most extensive of home insurance policies.

What should I do if I suspect mold in my house?

Some common signs of mold in your home are…

  • Lingering cold or flu-like symptoms
  • Frequent nose bleeds
  • Visible mold spores
  • Frequent headaches or respiratory issues
  • Damp or musty smell in your home

 

 

Mold can get out of hand quickly. If you suspect mold in your home, contact your insurance agent as soon as possible to see if you have any coverage on your policy. If you do have coverage, professionals will be dispatched to start cleanup quickly and keep damage to a minimum. 

If you have any questions regarding mold coverage on your homeowners insurance policy, we would be happy to help, whether or not you are in the Middle Tennessee area.

Give us a call today at 615-919-1009 or click here for more information. We look forward to serving you!

Car Insurance and COVID-19

These are crazy times we are living in and the world seems to be changing by the day. Insurance is one of the sectors that is changing to help its customers and give them some relief from financial pressure. But what does it mean for you? Let us explore some frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 and car insurance.

Car Insurance Covid-19

What are car insurers doing to help customers during COVID-19?

There are multiple things that many car insurers are doing to provide relief during this scary time. Be aware that every auto insurance company is doing their own relief package, so contact your insurer or agent to see if any of the following are available to you.

  • Moratorium on Cancellations
    • Many auto insurance companies are putting a moratorium on cancellations for non-payment at this time. If you miss a payment, many insurers are giving you more time to make that payment before they cancel your policy. This does not mean they are giving you free insurance by allowing you to miss a payment. You will need to make up for all those missed payments once the moratorium is lifted. It is important to pay your bill if you can, so you do not get left with a large bill at the end of the crisis.
  • Premium Rebates
    • Car insurers know that many people are not driving as much, and their cars are sitting idle. This is putting more money in their pockets since there are few fewer claims. Many insurers are offering rebates to their customers in the form of a premium credit. Depending on the company, this can be as much as 20 to 25 percent of your bill credited back to you for April and/or May. Other companies are opting to offer a flat credit (such as $50 per vehicle) instead. These premium rebates are being automatically credited to your account, so no action is needed by the customer.
  • Temporary Modification of Exclusions
    • Normally, food or medicine delivery drivers need a special endorsement on their personal auto policy to be covered. However, during this crisis, some carriers are modifying their policy exclusions to include coverage for food and/or medicine delivery drivers.
  • Special Service for First Responders and Medical Professionals
    • Some companies are offering special services to front-line professionals such as enhanced claims service, expedited towing and vehicle repairs, and deductible deferrals.

Are car insurance companies available to help if I have a claim?

Insurance was deemed essential by most states during this crisis, so car insurance companies and agents are available to help during this time. Be aware, you will probably get faster service through online portals and email rather than call centers. Many companies are experiencing high call volumes during this time. You can also contact your insurance agent to help you answer any questions you may have. 

Is there anything I can do to save money on my car insurance during COVID-19?

Save Money On Your Car Insurance

With many people out of work, everyone is looking to cut expenses. Here are a few ways you can save money on your car insurance during COVID-19.

  • Ask the insurance company to waive any late fees
    • If you have missed a payment, ask the insurance company to waive any fees or penalties. Most will oblige if you just ask and it is not a regular occurrence.
  • Change your payment plan
    • While this might not necessarily save you money, it can certainly help with a cashflow problem. If you normally pay in full or semi-annually, switch to monthly payments for a while to free up some cash.
  • Shop around
    • This is actually a great time to shop your insurance, especially if you think your credit might be taking a nosedive in the near future. Your insurance rates are highly tied to your credit rating. So, if you have great credit now, lock in that rate for 12 months! Hopefully, by the time your next renewal comes around, you will have had time to catch up on things. It doesn’t cost anything to shop your rate with an independent agent. It’s worth a look, even if you can get assurance that you have the lowest rate for your coverage.
  • Make sure you aren’t paying for things you don’t need
    • It’s easy to not realize what you are paying for on your car insurance. Do you have a AAA membership? You don’t need roadside assistance on your policy. Do you have extra cars? Think about taking off coverage that provides a rental car should you be in an accident. While it is not a good idea to lower your liability limits, there are other “extras” on your car insurance policy that can be removed if you don’t need them.

What do I do if I can’t pay my car insurance?

As discussed above, many carriers will not cancel your car insurance at this time. However, you will owe any missed payments once the moratorium is over. For instance, if your car insurance payment is $100 a month and you don’t pay April and May. There is a good chance, that you will have a $300 bill coming in June.

 

And don’t think, I will just cancel in June and get new insurance. You will still owe the company for the time that you were insured. If you don’t pay it, they will send it to collections. Also, if you have a lapse in insurance, you will increase your rate even more or even prevent you from getting coverage from certain carriers. (Many of your mainstream carriers require 6 months prior insurance before they will offer coverage.)

question-mark-car-insurance

We know this is scary time and everyone has many questions. We are here for you! Give us a call at 615-919-1009 anytime and we will navigate this together.

Disclaimer: Every carrier’s insurance policy is different. Please consult your auto insurance policy for specific coverages, exclusions, and limitations.

FAQs – 7 Frequently Asked Questions about Flood Insurance

The issue of flood insurance can be confusing.

Many people don’t know when or if they need it when they are in the process of purchasing a new home. To bring a little clarity, let’s dive into the 7 most commonly ask questions about flood insurance.

Do I Need Flood Insurance?

Flood Insurance Near Me

Against what most people would believe, this answer is almost always “yes”. The definition of flood in the insurance world is way different than what most people would think. According to the National Flood Insurance Program, the definition of flood is “an excess of water on land that is normally dry, affecting two or more acres of land or two or more properties”.

In short, anywhere it can rain, it can flood.

If you live in a flood zone, also called a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), your mortgage company may require you to have flood insurance. This is especially true if you have a government backed mortgage.

Even if you are not required to purchase flood insurance, it is still strongly worth considering. While your area may have never flooded before, things like broken water mains, melting snow, strong storms, poor drainage systems or construction in your neighborhood can result in flooding. In the 2010 floods that occurred in the Nashville area where over 13 inches of rain fell in 36 hours, many people were taken by surprise. Hundreds of properties not located in a flood zone were affected, causing over $2 billion in damage.

According to NFIP, over 20% of claims of all NFIP claims are outside of high risk areas. You can receive lower cost coverage if you live in a low or moderate-risk flood area. 

Does My Homeowners Insurance Cover Flood?

Insurance Flood Near Me

For most insurance policies, the answer is “no”. A standard homeowner’s insurance policy specifically excludes water damage caused by flood, surface water, tidal water, waves, or an overflow of any body of water. Many policies also exclude water that comes in below the surface of the ground. Problems like this are very common in structures with a basement.

What Does Flood Insurance Cover?

There are two types of coverage on a flood insurance policy, building and contents.

Building coverage is limited to $250,000 if you purchase your policy through the NFIP. If you purchase through a private insurer, the limit can be much higher.

Your building coverage will cover things like:

  • Foundations, walls, and staircases
  • Electrical and plumbing systems
  • Water heaters and furnaces
  • Permanently installed carpeting, paneling, and bookcases
  • Blinds
  • Refrigerators, stoves, and built-in appliances

 

Contents coverage with the NFIP is limited to $100,000. Again, if you purchase with a private insurer, the limits may be higher.

Contents coverage will protect things like:

  • Personal belongings – clothing, electronics, furniture, etc.
  • Microwaves
  • Washers and dryers
  • Carpets not included in building coverage
  • Portable air conditioners
  • Curtains
  • Some valuable items up to a specified limit

What Does Flood Insurance NOT Cover?

If damage to the property is not caused directly by flooding (per the definition above), it will not be covered by a flood insurance policy. For example, if the sewer backs up into your home and it is not a direct result of flooding, it will not be covered. (This is when a water and sewer backup endorsement would be handy!)

Other things that are not covered include:

  • Damage caused by earth movement, even if caused by flood
  • Additional living expenses, such as temporary housing, while the building is being repaired
  • Property that is outside the building such as swimming pools, hot tubs, fences, decks, patios, plants and trees
  • Currency or precious metals
  • Most vehicles such as cars
Tennessee Flood Insurance

How Much is Flood Insurance?

In Tennessee, the average yearly cost for flood insurance is $861. The cost will vary between NFIP flood policies and insurance purchased from private insurers. Only 1% of homes in Tennessee have flood insurance.

Some factors that play into your flood insurance rate are your flood zone, building type and age, type of foundation (crawlspace, basement, elevated, etc.), and location of your contents (i.e. Do you have a significant amount of contents below ground level?). The greater the risk of flooding, the higher your rate will be.

How Do I Get Flood Insurance?

The easiest way to get flood insurance is to contact an independent insurance agent. Most will be able to quote your home with several different companies to get you a competitive rate.

Who Has the Cheapest Flood Insurance?

It is difficult to determine who has the cheapest flood insurance because so many factors are at play. 

Many of the companies we represent, such as ASI and Assurant, have very affordable options.

 

If you are interested in obtaining a Tennessee flood insurance or home insurance quote, please click here or call us at 615-919-1009 and we will get the process started! We look forward to serving you!

Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Water Damage?

Home Insurance Near Me

Coming back to a flooded home can be heartbreaking, more so if the damage has extended to your personal belongings. And it’s common than you think. As a matter of fact, water is among the top causes of damage to American homes.

 

It’s no wonder then why many homeowners often ask – does homeowner’s insurance cover water damage? The answer is never straightforward. It’s a yes and a no!

Whether your homeowner’s insurance policy will or will not cover you depends on the specific circumstances.

 

In today’s article, you are going to learn everything you need to know about what is and isn’t covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy in regards to water damage. 

Instances That Your Standard Homeowner’s Insurance Will Cover You for Water Damage

Broadly speaking, a standard homeowner’s insurance policy does cover water damage. That said, not all events are covered. Your policy will only cover water damage if it resulted from a ‘sudden and accidental’ event, as explained by haasproperties.com.

 

For example, if the water damage is caused by the sudden breaking of a pipe or if a washing machine supply hose suddenly breaks. Another example is when your water heater raptures and drenches your drywall.

Homeowners Insurance Near Me

The following are other events that a standard homeowner’s insurance policy will usually cover.

 

  • Damage resulting from snow or rainstorm.
  • In case of plumbing issues. These issues may include burst water pipes, frozen plumbing, accidental overflow, and faulty plumbing.
  • When damage to your personal belongings results from fire extinguishing.
  • If the damage is from a leaky roof. Here, your policy will cover not only the damage to the roof itself but also to the interior of your home as well.
  • If an appliance or a fixture accidentally overflows.
  • When mold grows as a result of water damage.
  • When your home gets vandalized.

Instances That Your Standard Homeowner’s Insurance Will Not Cover You for Water Damage

Murfreesboro Home Insurance Near Me

Don’t expect your standard homeowner’s insurance to cover the following types of water damage.

 

  • Flood: Your standard homeowner’s policy doesn’t provide flood coverage, no matter the source of the water. Some of the common causes of flood damage include rainstorms, over-saturated ground, and water surges from rivers, lakes, oceans, or other water bodies. Typically, flood insurance is sold as a separate insurance policy that you will need to purchase to supplement your existing home insurance.      
  • Maintenance issues: Are you keeping up with the maintenance of your home? If you are not, then your standard homeowner’s insurance won’t cover you in case of water damage.
  • Water backup: Homeowner’s insurance doesn’t typically cover water backup damage. It’s an optional add-on to a homeowner’s insurance policy. It helps cover the cost of removing water or replacing furniture after an unexpected backup.
  • Source of water damage: Your standard insurance policy will not provide cover for the source of water damage. As such, while you can expect your homeowner’s insurance to cover is the cost of tearing out and replacing that damaged floor. Don’t expect it to cover the cost of replacing your washing machine or broken dishwasher. 

Is Mold Covered?

Generally, coverage for mold damage depends on your specific policy and location. A majority of insurance companies exclude mold from a standard homeowner’s insurance but provide an option to add it through an endorsement.

 

Some insurance companies will help cover mold remediation of the mold resulted from a peril that your policy already covers.

Mold Insurance Murfreesboro

So, what constitutes a covered peril? Well, while it varies from policy to policy, with an open peril policy, you will be covered for anything that your policy doesn’t specifically exclude.

And usually, they will cover the remediation to a certain cost. In most cases, a typical mold endorsement covers damages anywhere between $2,500 and $5,000.

Mold remediation may involve doing things like:

  • Physically removing the mold
  • Controlling all humidity
  • Sealing off the mold
  • Cleaning up afterward

 

Take note, however, that your standard homeowner’s insurance will not cover mold damage resulting from your negligence. That is, the negligence when it comes to performing your maintenance responsibilities as the homeowner.

The following is an example:

Suppose you notice that your toilet is leaking water as a result of a damaged seal. But instead of fixing the toilet, you ignore the issue thinking that it’ll probably go away on its own. Then, sooner or later, the damage to the subflooring results in the growth of mold.

And before you take action, the mold has already grown and spread almost everywhere in your home. 

Water Damage in my home

In this case, your standard homeowner’s insurance policy will not cover you on the basis that you could have taken some steps to prevent the problem in the first place.

What’s worse, fixing a mold issue often doesn’t come cheap and there is the risk of health problems.

 

So, will your homeowner’s insurance cover water damage? It will clearly depend. It depends on the specific circumstances that led to the damage in the first place.

 

Still have more questions? Give us a call at 615-919-1009 and we will be happy to help!

What Does Extended Replacement Cost Mean on a Homeowners Policy?

Tornado Damage

With the recent damage caused by the tornadoes in parts of Middle Tennessee earlier this month, people are taking a closer look at their home insurance policies. One coverage that becomes super important during an event such as this is extended replacement cost coverage. Let’s dive into why this optional coverage is so important.

What is Extended Replacement Cost Coverage?

Extended Replacement Cost coverage is an optional endorsement that provides additional payment for the rebuilding of your home over and above your Coverage A: Dwelling limit. This is usually a percentage of that limit, such as 10%, 25%, or 50%. For example, if you have a Coverage A: Dwelling limit of $200,000 and your extended replacement cost coverage is 25%, you will have an additional $50,000 to rebuild your home should it cost more than $200,000. 

Do I Need Extended Replacement Cost Coverage?

You would think…”If I need more coverage, why don’t you just increase my dwelling amount?”

 

That makes sense, however it is not as simple as just raising the limit. When your agent completes your homeowners insurance quote, they will normally complete a replacement cost estimator. This is what the insurance company will use as the basis for your Coverage A amount. Your replacement cost estimator is completed with normal reconstruction costs in mind – i.e. not after a natural disaster. After a natural disaster, construction costs skyrocket due to labor and material shortages. This is when your extended replacement cost coverage is important. It gives you that additional protection so that you are not responsible for the charges should your home cost more to build than estimated.

What is the Difference Between Extended Replacement Cost and Guaranteed Replacement Cost?

Some insurance companies will offer guaranteed replacement cost coverage on your dwelling. This means that no matter what it costs to rebuild your home to the way it was before the claim, the insurance company will cover the costs 100%. This coverage is very expensive as it does not cap the insurance company’s liability. Because of this, very few carriers will even offer this option.

 

In contrast, extended replacement cost coverage does provide a limit to coverage. This makes it a cost-effective alternative to guaranteed replacement cost coverage.

How Much is Extended Replacement Cost Coverage?

It is impossible to pinpoint an exact price of extended replacement cost coverage as there are so many factors in play. The price of extended replacement cost coverage will be dependent on several factors that could include the location of the property, the amount of dwelling coverage, and personal details of the insured such as loss history or credit. 

Extended replacement cost will always be less than guaranteed replacement cost coverage.

If you have questions about extended replacement cost coverage or any other parts of your homeowners insurance policy, we would be happy to help you! If you are looking for a new policy, we will shop your rate with multiple carriers to make sure you are getting the best home insurance. Give us a call at 615-919-1009 or click below to contact us today. We look forward to serving you!

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Dog Bites?

According to Statista, there are approximately 89.7 million dogs in the United States. While many dogs are lovable cuddle bears, they are still animals and will bite in extreme circumstances. This leaves the question…

Am I covered if my dog bites someone?

Dog Bite Insurance

Most homeowners and renters insurance policies will provide coverage up to your liability limit if your dog bites someone. A typical liability limit is between $100,000 to $500,000. If the judgement is greater than this amount and you do not have an umbrella policy providing more coverage, you will be on the hook for any amount above the liability limit.

 

Be aware that there is no coverage if the dog bites someone that lives in the home.

Are there some dog breeds that insurance won’t cover?

There are some cases where dog bites may be excluded from a homeowners policy. If you own a dog of a certain breed that is dubbed “dangerous”, some insurance companies will not insure your home at all or will require a “dog bite exclusion”. Some breeds that are normally on a list of restricted dogs are:

  • Pit bulls
  • Chows
  • Rottweilers
  • German Shepherds
  • Akitas
  • Doberman
  • Presa Canario
  • Wolf Hybrids

 

 

Every insurance carrier is different and will exclude different breeds or will not exclude any at all. 

Will insurance pay medical bills due to a dog bite?

 

Your homeowners policy has coverage specifically for medical payments. This coverage is to pay necessary medical expenses for someone who is injured on your property, including being bitten by your dog. The limit for this coverage is usually between $1000 and $5000. The purpose of this coverage is to reduce the likelihood of a lawsuit. 

What happens to my insurance if my dog bites someone?

 

If your dog has bitten someone before, it poses a much greater risk for the insurance company. If you have insurance at the time of the bite, some insurance carriers will not renew your policy or charge you a higher premium at renewal. If you try to switch insurance companies, you may not be able to get a homeowners policy at all or the dog will need to be excluded. 

If you have more questions about dog bites and insurance or you are looking for a home quote, we would be happy to help! Please click the button below or call us at 615-919-1009. We look forward to serving you!

What is a Homeowner Declaration Page? and Other FAQs

What is a Homeowner Declaration Page?

Your declaration page is a summary of your insurance policy. It can normally be used as an evidence of insurance or proof of insurance. It contains all the basic vital information about your policy. Your declaration page may contain different information depending on the type of policy. 

Tennessee Homeowners Insurance

How Do You Read a Declaration Page?

The first section of a declaration page will include:

  • Name and contact information of your insurance company
  • Name and contact information of the agent/agency that wrote your policy (if applicable)
  • Your policy number
  • The effective and expiration dates (and possibly times) of your policy
  • The primary insured name and address
  • The address of the property being insured
  • The premium amount
Homeowners Insurance Murfreesboro TN

The second section of the declaration page is usually the coverage information. Here is a summary of the different types of coverage usually listed on a home insurance policy:

  • Coverage A: Dwelling
    • This is the maximum amount that the insurance company will pay to rebuild your home. Some policies will include “extended replacement cost” in addition to your dwelling limit. This includes an additional percentage of your dwelling amount should expenses to rebuild your home exceed that limit.
  •   Coverage B: Other Structures
    • This is the maximum amount the insurance company will pay to repair or replace structures on your property that are not part of the primary dwelling. This can include fences, driveways, detached garages, swimming pools, pool houses, sheds, and more.
  • Coverage C: Personal Property
    • This is the maximum amount the insurance company will pay to repair or replace your belongings. Think everything you would take with you when you move. This coverage can be valued at Actual Cash Value or Replacement Cost.
  • Coverage D: Loss of Use
    • This is the maximum amount the insurance company will pay for costs incurred by the insured as a result of not being able to live in their home while it is being repaired after a covered loss. This would include things such as hotel or rental home costs, emergency expenses, increased food or utility costs, or extra mileage costs.
  • Coverage E: Personal Liability
    • Personal liability coverage is what protects you against lawsuits for incidents that you or your family members are liable for (excluding incidents covered by other insurance such as a car accident). Incidents covered by liability coverage include someone falling and getting injured on your property, your dog biting someone, or a family member accidentally causing damage to another person’s property.
  • Coverage F: Medical Payments
    • Medical payments coverage is used to pay reasonable and medically necessary expenses of someone who gets injured on your property. This coverage is used to keep some incidents from escalating to a lawsuit.
  • Optional Coverages
    • This section of the declaration page will list optional coverages that may have been added to your policy such as:
      • Water and Sewer Backup Coverage
      • Ordinance & Law Coverage
      • Identity Theft Coverage
      • Increased Jewelry or other Personal Property Coverage
      • Earthquake Coverage
      • Sinkhole Coverage
      • Mold/Fungi Coverage

 

This section will also usually list your deductible, which is the amount you are responsible for before the insurance company will start paying on a claim. For example, if you have a covered claim of $5000 and your deductible is $1000, you will pay $1000 and the insurance company will pay $4000 for the claim.

How do I get My Insurance Declaration Page?

You will receive a declaration page when you initially receive your policy.

If you no longer have a copy, the easiest way to get a declaration page is to request one from your insurance agent. If you do not have an agent, you can request one from your insurance carrier.

Another easy way to get your declaration page is to check your online account with your insurance carrier. You can usually access your declaration page at any time.

If you have more questions about your policy or would like to request a homeowners insurance quote, call us at 615-919-1009 or click the button below. We look forward to serving you!

How to Read Your Home Insurance Policy

It is important that every homeowner understand their homeowner’s insurance policy. However, these policies are often full of jargon, making them difficult to understand. We are here to break down the parts of a homeowner’s policy and make it easy for you to know how you are covered!

Home Insurance Murfreesboro

What is Coverage A: Dwelling?

This is the maximum about the insurance company will pay to replace your home in the event of a total loss. This is usually determined by a replacement cost estimator completed by your agent. It is important that you provide accurate information regarding your home to ensure your dwelling amount is correct.  If you have a total loss, once the dwelling amount is exhausted, you may be responsible for paying to fix the remainder of your home.

 

Most carriers offer “Extended Replacement Cost”. This gives you an additional percentage of Coverage A (usually 25% or 50%) over and above the dwelling amount. This is available should the cost to replace your home be more than the limit of Coverage A. This gives you nice protection from the rising cost of rebuilding a home.

What is Coverage B: Other Structures?

This is an additional amount (usually a percentage of Coverage A) that will cover replacement of other structures on the property. This can be things like fences, sheds, detached garages, driveways, and swimming pools. The coverage B limit is usually a default amount. Make sure you let your agent know if you have any exceptional structures that might exceed your limit of coverage.

What is Coverage C: Personal Property?

Personal property is all the items inside your home. The easiest way to think about personal property is that it would be everything you would take with you when you move. These things can add up quickly. It is important to consider furniture, appliances, clothing, and everything in between. Some high value items require additional limits or “scheduling” to be covered. If you have expensive jewelry, art, silverware, guns, musical instruments, or antiques, be sure to let your agent know to ensure these items are covered.

 

You also want to ensure that your agent selects “replacement cost” coverage for your personal property. With this selection, you would have the coverage to replace your items, not counting depreciation.

What is Coverage D: Loss of Use?

Coverage D pays for expenses incurred when your home is unable to be lived in due to a covered loss. For instance, if your home burned down, coverage D would cover the cost of another place for your family to reside while your home was being repaired. Coverage D does not usually include mortgage payments; however some companies offer this as an additional endorsement. 

What is Coverage E: Personal Liability?

Coverage E is one of your most important coverage amounts. It protects you in the event you are sued. For example, if someone falls and hurts themselves on your property or your dog bites someone. You want your personal liability amount to be as high as you can afford. Unfortunately, you do not have to be a millionaire to be sued like one.

 

Also, look at adding an umbrella policy that serves as excess liability coverage over your homeowners, auto, and any other personal insurance policies. This gives you extra coverage in the event of a large liability claim that may be over your coverage E limit. 

What is Coverage F: Medical Payments to Others?

Coverage F serves as additional coverage to help pay for small injuries that happen to guests on your property. This coverage is usually between $1,000 and $5,000 and is simply designed mitigate smaller claims before they turn into lawsuits.  

If you have more questions about your Murfreesboro home insurance policy, click the button below or give us a call at 615-919-1009. We are happy to help!

The Newlywed’s Guide to Buying Insurance

Congratulations! You just got married and everything is changing – new spouse, new home, new in-laws. But with all these new things comes changing insurance needs. Here are the things you need to think about insurance-wise after you tie the knot.

Newlyweds Insurance

Home or Renters Insurance

Getting married often comes with a new place. If you are moving into your spouse’s existing home, make sure you are added as a named insured on the existing homeowners or renter’s policy. This is as easy as calling your agent or insurance company.

 

If you are purchasing a new home, contact your local agent while you are in the process of looking at homes. It is a good idea to have an insurance agent run a quote on your favorite home BEFORE putting it under contract. This is to ensure the property has not had a “location loss” which is an insurance claim on the property. Even if you didn’t live in the home at the time of the claim, location losses can affect your insurance rate or even keep you from getting insurance at all. Using an independent agent will help make sure you are getting the lowest rate by comparing rates from multiple carriers.

Car Insurance

Getting married is a great time to consolidate your auto policies. Having multiple cars on a policy will usually give you deep discounts. Also consider bundling with your home or renter’s insurance to give you an even lower rate.

Life Insurance

Getting married is a major life event where you should reevaluate your life insurance. The thing with life insurance is…the younger you are, the cheaper it is. Now is always the cheapest life insurance will ever be for you! Especially if you are thinking about kids in the near future, life insurance gives you the peace of mind that your family will be taken care of should the worst happen.

Health Insurance

Looking over your health insurance policies is a necessity when you get married. The nice thing is that getting married often offers you many new options. If your employers each offer coverage, compare the prices between keeping your policies separate or putting both of you on one employer’s plan. If neither of you get coverage from your employer, look at getting a policy on the federal health insurance marketplace. Since your household is larger, you could qualify for a larger subsidy to help pay for healthcare costs. Talk to a local independent agent to find out how much you can save.

If you have questions regarding insurance for newlyweds, we are happy to help! Give us a call today at 615-919-1009!

Do I Really Need Renters Insurance?

Many renters think that because they pay monthly rent, everything is included, even insurance. This is simply not the case. Your landlord’s coverage only applies to the building, not all of your belongings. The landlord’s insurance also doesn’t cover you if someone injures themselves on the property and you are found liable. When you consider these two points, you can see the importance of purchasing renters insurance.

Renters Insurance Murfreesboro TN

What Does Renters Insurance Cover?

Renters insurance typically has two parts – liability and contents. Liability coverage is required by many landlords, especially apartment complexes. It usually ranges from $100,000 to $500,000 and provides you protection if someone sues you after being injured on the property.

Contents coverage is what protects your belongings. Everything that you move in on moving day is covered by this coverage. When considering the amount of your contents coverage, make sure that you consider high price items such as…

  • Jewelry
  • Designer clothing and shoes
  • Musical instruments
  • Art
  • Guns
  • Computer equipment
  • Memorabilia

 

I once had a client that only wanted $2000 in contents coverage. However, when I asked more questions, he had over $10,000 in guitars and a piano in his apartment. (It is Nashville!) This would have been a huge problem should a total loss have occurred. Remember those things add up when you are deciding on your contents amount.

How Much Does Renters Insurance Cost?

The best thing about renters insurance is that it is so inexpensive – usually less than $1 a day! Usually when you bundle with your auto insurance, you get a discount on both, making it even more affordable.

There is really no reason not to buy renters insurance. To compare your rate with multiple companies in Tennessee, give our office a call at 615-919-1009 or visit our website today!

Does My Car Insurance Cover Me if I Drive for Uber or Lyft?

Driving for ride share companies, like Uber or Lyft, has become more and more popular. With many people doing it as a side job and even more people driving as a full-time gig.  But most drivers don’t realize that the coverage provided by your typical car insurance policy and the insurance provided by your rideshare company leaves gaps that can put you at risk liability wise.

 

Let’s take a look to see how it works…

Uber Lyft Insurance Murfreesboro TN

The Three Periods of Ridesharing

When you are a rideshare driver, there are three periods in the process.

Period 1 – Your app is on, waiting to accept a ride request

Period 2- On your way to pick up a passenger

Period 3 – Ride in progress – passenger on board

While Uber and Lyft provide generous insurance protection during Periods 2 and 3, the amount of coverage they provide is minimal during Period 1. During this period, a driver is provided with only $50,000 in liability coverage with no property damage, medical payments, or uninsured motorist coverage. That means if you get in an accident with an underinsured or hit and run driver during this period, you would have no coverage to get your car repaired or pay medical bills. With almost half the drivers on Tennessee roads underinsured or uninsured, this puts you at a huge risk.

What is Rideshare Gap Coverage?

 

Rideshare gap coverage fills in the coverage gaps during Period 1. It brings the minimal coverage offered by Uber and Lyft up to the coverage limits on your personal car insurance policy. Rideshare coverage fills in missing coverage for physical damage, medical payments, and uninsured motorist coverage to provide you with full protection during Period 1.

Is Rideshare Gap Coverage Worth It?

In short, yes! Rideshare gap coverage is inexpensive and can give you the peace of mind that you are always well covered on the road.

 

For more information about rideshare gap coverage for Uber, Lyft, UberEATs, and other transportation network drivers, give us a call at 615-919-1009 or visit our Contact page today for a free, no-obligation quote.