Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of our frequently asked questions. If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.

  1. GENERAL - What is an "Independent Agent?"
  2. GENERAL - How can I watch all the YOU TUBE videos from SRS?
  3. GENERAL - What insurance companies does SRS Insurance Group represent?
  4. GENERAL YouTube Video - What is an "agent of record letter?"
  5. BUSINESS - I own a business. Can you help me with business coverage?
  6. BUSINESS YouTube Video - What is an "insurance binder" and why is it important to my business?
  7. AUTO - Can I get auto insurance with a learner's permit?
  8. AUTO - Will a speeding ticket from another state affect your auto insurance?
  9. AUTO - What is the cheapest auto insurance I can buy?
  10. AUTO - How do you find insurance records from a previous owner of a car?
  11. AUTO - Am I covered by a family members insurance while driving their car?
  12. AUTO - What is "no fault" auto insurance
  13. AUTO - How will a DUI affect my auto insurance?
  14. AUTO - If my child gets a learners permit do I have to add them to my policy?
  15. AUTO - Can my car insurance be in my parents name?
  16. AUTO - Can auto insurance companies demand information about other people who live with you?
  17. AUTO - Can you insure someone else's car?
  18. AUTO - Can you get your car insurance before you move to the new state?
  19. AUTO - Can you get auto insurance if you let your old policy expire?
  20. AUTO - Can you legally use a different address to get cheaper auto insurance?
  21. RENTERS - Who is covered under my renters policy?
  22. RENTERS - Why buy renters insurance?
  23. HOME - Why buy homeowners insurance?
  24. HOME - What kinds of risk does a homeowner policy protect you against?
  25. HOME - What is the difference between a dwelling policy and a homeowners policy?
  26. HOME - Who is covered by my homeowners policy?
  27. HOME - What is the difference between home insurance and title insurance?
  28. HOME - What does property damage cover under my homeowners?
  29. HOME - What does additional property damage cover under my homeowners?
  30. HOME - What does personal property coverage do in my homeowners policy?
  31. HOME - Some of my personal items were stolen from my hotel room, are they covered under my homeowners policy?
  32. HOME - Why would I want personal liability coverage on my homeowners policy?
  33. HOME - Are intentional acts or injuries covered under my homeowners liability policy?
  34. HOME - If I cannot live in my home due to a fire, will my homeowners policy pay for some of my extra expenses like hotel rooms and food?
  35. HOME - My homeowners policy has "medical payments coverage" what does this cover?
  36. HOME - What additional coverage might be available to me under my homeowners policy?
  37. HOME - My credit cards were stolen while on vacation, are the charges covered under my homeowners policy?
  38. HOME - Does my homeowners protect my stuff while i am away on vacation?
  39. HOME - Does my homeowners cover my food in the freezer when the power goes out?
  40. HOME - A tree fell on my house during a storm is this covered?
  41. HOME - During a recent storm my neighbor's tree fell on my fence and destoryed it, who's homeowners policy will pay?
  42. HOME - My luggage and laptop were lost on a recent flight, are they covbered by my homeowners policy?
  43. HOME - Are the personal belongings that I take on a trip covered?
  44. HOME - The pipes in our home froze and burst while out of town, are they covered?
  45. HOME - Several items were stolen from my home, why did my policy only pay for part of my stuff?
  46. HOME - How much coverage do I need on my home?
  47. HOME - How much liability coverage should I carry on my home?
  48. HOME - My mortgage comapny requires that I carry insurance, how much do I have to carry?
  49. HOME - No one will cover my home with insurance, someone told me my mortgage company will place insurance on my home? How does this work?
  50. HOME - How much coverage does my homeowners policy require me to carry on my home?
  51. HOME - How do I know if I have enough coverage on my personal property?
  52. HOME - My daughter is away at college. She is no longer a dependent, should I buy another policy for her at college?
  53. HOME - Do we have to give personal information to get a homeowners policy?
  54. HOME - Will my homeowners policy pay to bring my house up to building code?
  55. HOME - How much is my home worth?
  56. HOME - How much are my contents worth?
  57. HOME - Why shop around, aren't all homeowners policy the same?
  58. HOME - My homeowners policy talks about "perils" what are these?
  59. HOME - I understand that earthquake and flood are normally excluded from homeowners policies. What should I do about this?
  60. HOME - What do insurance companies look at when determining my rates on my home?
  61. HOME - What are some ways that I can cut my homeowners insurance cost?
  62. HOME - What are the internal factors within the insurance company that effects my insurance premiums?
  63. CLAIM - How can I report a claim?
  64. CLAIM - What should I do if there is a loss or claim?
  65. CLAIM - How do I price my claim?
  66. CLAIM - Does my policy pay me the "limit?"
  67. CLAIM - What happens if I don't like the amount my insurance company has offered on my claim?
  68. CLAIM - I forgot to list something on my claim proof of loss form. Should I just go ahead and settle my claim and take the insurance check?
  69. CLAIM - How long does my insurance company have to settle my claims?
  70. CLAIM - How will my insurance company settle my claim?
  71. CLAIM - Does my mortgage company have any say in my repairs from the claim?
  72. CLAIM - My home was recently broken into and i don't have receipts for everything that was stolen, how will this work?
  73. CLAIM - My home was damaged recently in a fire. I want to protect my things by boarding up the windows etc. Do I have to get permission to do these things from the insurance company?
  74. CLAIM - Can I make repairs to my home before the insurance company inspects it?
  75. CLAIM - What information should I give the insurance company representative?
  76. CLAIM - Do I have to be home for the adjuster when they come out to inspect the damage?
  77. CLAIM - What if I disagree with the adjustors estimate of my claim?
  78. CLAIM - During the repairs my contractor found some hidden damage, who pays for these repairs?
GENERAL - What is an "Independent Agent?"
An independent agent represents multiple insurance companies, not just one.  An independent agent has the advantage of being able to quote your policy with many different companies to ensure you get the best protection at the best cost.




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GENERAL - How can I watch all the YOU TUBE videos from SRS?
SRS Insurance group has set up a YOU TUBE account with a long list of insurance, safety and training videos. You can subscribe to our SRS YOU TUBE account by clinking on this link below. Once you sign up for our YOU TUBE channel you will get a copy of all NEW uploaded videos. You may also simply view our videos here as well.

Click here for the SRS YOU TUBE link...
http://www.youtube.com/TerryYoungRiskTaker


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GENERAL - What insurance companies does SRS Insurance Group represent?
SRS Insurance Group represents many fine companies, including Travelers, Auto-Owners, Ohio Casualty, Safeco, Zurich, Tokio marine, QBE, Johnson and Johnson, Harford Mutual, Summit, Bridgefield Casulaty, BCA, AIA, General Casualty, Illinios Union Insurance,  and more.



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GENERAL YouTube Video - What is an "agent of record letter?"
An "agent of record letter" is a short brief one paragraph one page document that allows the customer to transfer their policies from one agent to another. Please watch this brief video for an overview of this document and process.

Click here for the video...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toY11Lo_v60



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BUSINESS - I own a business. Can you help me with business coverage?
Yes! Not only can we insure your business assets including property, autos and machinery, we can also help you find medical, life, dental and vision coverage for your employees.



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BUSINESS YouTube Video - What is an "insurance binder" and why is it important to my business?
Please take 3 minutes and watch the "five critical components" of every insurance binder and what you should look for from your insurance agent.

Please click on the link below...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OchrlcQqbV8

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AUTO - Can I get auto insurance with a learner's permit?

Yes, you can. A Drivers or Learners "Permit" is permission to drive and therefore a temporary license with certain restrictions. You can obtain your own auto insurance or you can be covered under another persons policy such as your parents or the vehicle owners policy, but you must have coverage.

A Drivers Permit comes with all the responsibilities of anyone licensed or not who operates a motor vehicle on public roads, including our financial responsibility.



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AUTO - Will a speeding ticket from another state affect your auto insurance?

All States as of 2005 are Required through New Federal Regulation to comply with and make available to all other states reciprocal driver records. It Is not a matter of a ticket needing to be reported to your state anymore. It can be found in any other state. If the infraction occurred then the information is available to all states in the newly integrated drivers record databases.

The reciprocal requirement extends to all states being able to automatically suspend or deny a drivers license in any other state without need of request until such time as the originating jurisdictions suspension or violation requirements have been satisfied.

My advice, if it ain't too high just pay it quickly so you don't wind up taking a trip and hiring an attorney trying to get our license reinstated.If the ticket defaults your drivers license can now be suspended regardless of which state you're licensed in.



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AUTO - What is the cheapest auto insurance I can buy?

Cheap Insurance

That really depends on your credit score, claims history, driving record, where you live, etc. You can get up to four car insurance quotes in minutes from companies like Safeco, Unitrin Direct, MetLife, Travelers from some Web sites. But keep in mind, price is not everything. The cheapest may be the most expensive if you need it.  

Tips to lower your car insurance cost

- Ask for a higher deductible
- Buy homeowners insurance from the same company
- Ask for discounts! For example, if you don't use your car often you could qualify for low mileage discounts.
- Shop around
- Check if your state has a Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program



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AUTO - How do you find insurance records from a previous owner of a car?
Insurance Records are protected under State and Federal Privacy laws. There is no legitimate legal reason for a person to want to obtain the "insurance records" of a previous owner. The attempt to do so would consitute an invasion of that persons privacy rights.

Any coverage or compensation paid to a previous owner would not extend to the new owner as the new owner did not have a financial interest in the property (vehicle) prior to the purchase of it.

The previous insurers obligations was to the previous insured owner and those obligations ceased when the policy expired, terminated or when the vehicle was sold to another individual.

If you are interested in the vehicle history, accidents, previous damage or repairs and such, this can be obtained through Car Fax and other online services.


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AUTO - Am I covered by a family members insurance while driving their car?
If you are a listed, scheduled driver on your relatives insurance policy then yes you are covered. If you are not a scheduled driver then maybe you will be covered and maybe you will not.

There are many factors that would come into play to determine if you are covered or not. In most cases if you are a visiting relative from out of town or at a family reunion and such then, yes, you would be covered under permissive use rules. If you are a resident family member or a regular operator then you are required to be scheduled on the policy for coverage. 

One final note...The general rule is "the insurance follows the car." This is not the case 100% of the time BUT it is most of the time.



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AUTO - What is "no fault" auto insurance
"No-fault" insurance refers to medical coverage which you are required by state law to carry on your automobile insurance. Not all states have "no-fault" statutes, though almost all insurance companies sell some type of medical coverage for their auto policies.

Basically, if you have an accident for which you aren't at-fault, and you live in a "no-fault" state, your own insurance must pay for your medical bills. The "no-fault" part comes from the fact that even though someone, say, plowed into the rear of your car while you were stopped at a red light, your own carrier must pick up the ambulance, hospital, rehabilitation, etc. Some states allow "no-fault" insurance carriers to go after the at-fault party, but this varies too much to discuss here and it's also relatively rare.

Typically it's based on the amount of the medical bills or the weight of the at-fault party's vehicle. Many people who live in "no-fault" states often believe they can prohibit their carrier from paying their bills (with the assumption that they don't want any payments made under their policy in case their rates go up). This isn't the case. Much like worker's comp, "no-fault" medical coverage is primary, and the first-party insurance carrier must pay it.

Finally, many people who know they live in a "no-fault" state often believe this has something to do with physical damage to a vehicle and liability. That's not true. "No-fault" relates only to the medical coverage. If someone hits your vehicle, and he's at-fault, he is still legally liable to pay for the damages to your vehicle.

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AUTO - How will a DUI affect my auto insurance?

You will probably lose it. But, since you will probably also lose your drivers license, you don't need it.

But...It depends on the insurance company. Despite popular controversy there is no guarantee of what exactly will happen. When it's time to renew your policy, the rates may be considerably higher and in some cases could be cancelled. Some companies will still insure you as long as you provide an SR-22 certificate of financial responsibility. Others will at minimum report this to their (ins companies) network which could cause problems for you later down the line.



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AUTO - If my child gets a learners permit do I have to add them to my policy?

Yes, A Drivers or Learners "Permit" is permission to drive and therefore a temporary license with certain restrictions. If your child is driving your vehicle then the child must have the coverage required by your states law.

A Drivers Permit comes with all the responsibilities of anyone who operates a motor vehicle on public roads, including financial responsibility. When you purchased your auto policy, part of the language of the insuring contract requires that you notify the insurer within 30 days of any change in risk factors associated with your policy. Failure to add a new driver to your policy, especially a minor child, can constitute parental negligence and material misrepresentation of the risk assumed by your insurer when they issued your policy and can result in a denial of any coverage in the event of a loss.

 



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AUTO - Can my car insurance be in my parents name?

Yes, It can be in your parents name if you are still a minor, a dependent or are still a household resident So long as "YOU" are also a scheduled driver on the parents policy. Failure to schedule your self as a driver is a common form of Insurance Fraud by misrepresentation of the risk assumed by the Insurer.

So whether the policy is in your name or your parents name, as a regular driver or with regular access you are required to be listed as a driver on the policy.



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AUTO - Can auto insurance companies demand information about other people who live with you?
The insurance company can ask you a lot of things that you don't think are any of their business, but if they are insuring your auto, they have every right to ask about all residents in your household as well as anyone else who may have access to your vehicle. Failure to disclose is a violation of the terms of your insurance contract and can result in cancellation or non-renewal of your policy.

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AUTO - Can you insure someone else's car?
It depends on the language in the policy. Some companies allow you to insure a vehicle that is in your care, custody, and control with no requirement of ownership but you must at least be the primary user of that vehicle. I don't know of any case where you would be allowed to insure another persons vehicle in which you do not have care, custody, and control.

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AUTO - Can you get your car insurance before you move to the new state?
Yes, If you have an address in the new state.


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AUTO - Can you get auto insurance if you let your old policy expire?

There might be an internal "30-day rule" within certain companies, but you can get insurance with a new company. You may have to do a bit of footwork, and it might not be with a standard carrier, but it is possible.

A carrier with this "rule" is probably just wanting to verify what kind of customer you'd be, particularly in the area of premium payments (are you always on time? regularly late?). Insurance companies are, after all, businesses ... they want to know you'll be a good client.



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AUTO - Can you legally use a different address to get cheaper auto insurance?
No, that's called insurance fraud. The company may not press criminal charges, but they won't pay any claims if they find out.

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RENTERS - Who is covered under my renters policy?
With renters insurance, it is important to note that coverage is only provided to the person named in the policy. Even if you share the premises with someone else -- if it is your insurance, the property of your "roommate" is not covered.

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RENTERS - Why buy renters insurance?
Just like homeowners, renters face risks of loss. Sure, since a renter does not own the dwelling unit, she does not risk the residence itself. As a renter, the greatest risk is damage to or loss of personal property. Renters can also be liable to third parties that are injured while at the residence.

If you rent, insurance acts as a risk transfer device to protect you against a catastrophic loss. In exchange for payment of a premium, you transfer the risk of property loss and liability to third parties to an insurance company.

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HOME - Why buy homeowners insurance?
There are two major reasons for homeowners to buy insurance:

1. As one of -- if not the -- most important assets that a person has, you need to protect your home from damage and destruction.

2. Mortgage lenders require homeowners to carry insurance to protect the lender's investment from damage or loss.

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HOME - What kinds of risk does a homeowner policy protect you against?
The major risks covered by homeowner's insurance are:
(See your policy for a complete list of coverages and exclusions)

1. Damage or loss to the home itself, as well as other structures on the land;

2. Damage or loss to the items of personal property in the home and other structures; and

3. Injury or harm to third parties (typically guests and others who come to your home).

The major risks covered by renter's insurance are damage or loss to items of personal property contained in the residence and liability to third parties who are injured while in the residence.


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HOME - What is the difference between a dwelling policy and a homeowners policy?
A homeowner's policy is a package which covers loss not only to the dwelling structure, but other structures on the land, personal property contained in the dwelling, and liability to third parties who come onto the dwelling and surrounding land. In its purest form, a dwelling policy covers only the dwelling structure itself -- providing a much smaller amount of coverage. Though not very common, dwelling policies are used in some areas of the country to insure seasonal homes that are unoccupied for part of the year

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HOME - Who is covered by my homeowners policy?
As the insured, you and the members of your home are covered for the loss of the home and its contents. Third parties -- other people who come to your home -- are covered through the liability portion of the insurance policy for injuries caused by your negligence. In addition, you and the members of your household have some liability protection to others even while you are away from the premises.



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HOME - What is the difference between home insurance and title insurance?
Title insurance and homeowner's insurance protect against totally different types of risks.

Homeowner's insurance covers loss or damage to the home, other structures, and the personal property contents of the home, as well as third-party liability.

Title insurance protects ownership interests in the real property. Title insurance is to guarantee that you have good and marketable title to the property -- that your interest in the property is superior to all others. When purchasing a home through proceeds of a loan, lenders require you to obtain title insurance. That way they know that you have clear ownership of the real property and the home.

Before being able to obtain a loan on a home, the title insurance company conducts a search to determine all liens, encumbrances, and other possible defects to the title as it stands in the hands of the seller. Then, when the title insurance coverage is obtained, the Title Company guarantees that the buyer has marketable title to the property after the purchase. Any liens, encumbrances and other defects to the title that occur during your ownership of the property, however, are not covered by this insurance.

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HOME - What does property damage cover under my homeowners?
The property damage portion of a homeowner's policy covers loss or damage to the home and other structures on the property. In the event of a total loss, the amount paid depends upon the dwelling policy limit of the insurance contract as well as the type of coverage provided under the contract.

On some policies, other structures (such as detached garages, tool sheds, fences, guesthouses, and gazebos) are typically covered at the rate of 10% of the limit set for the dwelling itself. For example, an insurance contract that provides $100,000 coverage for a dwelling typically will provide up to $10,000 coverage for other structures. Trees, shrubbery and other landscape are typically covered for 5% of the dwelling limit.

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HOME - What does additional property damage cover under my homeowners?
Some insurance policies also provide additional property damage coverage when a loss occurs as the result of a covered peril. Covered items include:

1. reasonable temporary repairs

2. necessary to protect the property against further damage

3. reasonable cost of removing damaged property and debris

4. expenses of removing property and storing it for up to thirty days

5.reimbursement for fire department service charges

6. reimbursement of up to $500 for loss of credit cards, check forgeries or acceptance in good faith of counterfeit money.


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HOME - What does personal property coverage do in my homeowners policy?
Contents (personal property) coverage is a typical component of all homeowner's and renter's insurance policies. Personal property refers to all tangible goods commonly found inside your residence and owned by you or family members who live with you. Examples of personal property include your clothes, furniture, furnishings, and appliances. Coverage for automobiles, aircraft, and other vehicles is typically excluded.

Your policy will have an overall limit on how much it will pay for all personal property involved in a single claim. The typical limit is at least 50% of the home’s insured value. The policy, however, will have separate limits on such items as computers, antiques, silverware, cash, firearms, works of art, furs, and so forth.

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HOME - Some of my personal items were stolen from my hotel room, are they covered under my homeowners policy?
Maybe. Most folks don't know that their contents coverage usually includes loss or damage to personal property, regardless of where it was at the time of the loss. You may then be covered under your homeowner's or renter's insurance in the event of theft of personal property while staying at a hotel. Such coverage is typically as much as 10% of the dwelling policy limit.

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HOME - Why would I want personal liability coverage on my homeowners policy?
Accidents happen…and there are plenty of attorneys who specialize in recovering for victims whenever they do. Litigation has become a fact of life. Anyone with assets must take steps to protect what has taken so long to acquire. For most people, the front line in the war to protect assets is home or rent insurance.

Liability coverage pays when you are legally obligated for damages that occurred as the result of something that happened on your property (your neighbor slipped and fell on your entryway rug, for instance). It also covers damages caused by your personal activities (hit a baseball through your neighbor’s double-paned window). This coverage would pay the claims as well as a lawyer to defend you in the event of a lawsuit. In addition to protection for claims and lawsuits arising out of non-auto incidents that occur at your premises, these policies often provide protection for incidents that occur off the premises.

Keep in mind that unlike other coverage in your policy, liability insurance does not have a deductible. There is no amount that you must first pay before your insurer picks up the tab.

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HOME - Are intentional acts or injuries covered under my homeowners liability policy?
No. Your personal liability coverage is not applicable if you intentionally injure someone or intentionally damage someone else’s property.

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HOME - If I cannot live in my home due to a fire, will my homeowners policy pay for some of my extra expenses like hotel rooms and food?
“Additional living expense” coverage (also called “loss-of-use”) is one of the most important features in a standard policy. This coverage picks up the tab for your hotel costs, restaurant bills, and other additional living expenses when your home is too damaged to live in during repairs. Don’t plan on checking into the Ritz and dining at The Four Seasons, though; chances are that your policy will only pay the difference between your normal living expenses and any additional costs. The limit of coverage varies by company. It may be based on a percentage of total coverage or limited by a specified length of time.

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HOME - My homeowners policy has "medical payments coverage" what does this cover?
Medical payments -- often up to $1,000 -- pay the medical bills for people accidentally hurt in your home. It also pays for people hurt away from your home by you, your household members, or by your pets. Often, this coverage is provided no matter who is at fault for the injury. It is intended to cover the costs of minor injuries without the need for a third party to sue for reimbursement.

Unlike the medical payments coverage in a personal auto insurance policy, a home medical payments coverage does not apply to injuries to you or to those who live with you. Nor does it cover injuries related to at-home business activities.

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HOME - What additional coverage might be available to me under my homeowners policy?
In addition to the standard coverages provided by most insurance policies, there are options or "riders" which can be added to the policy. A "rider" is an additional set of terms and conditions that “rides on” the basic package offered by the insurance company. Below is a sampling of some of the most common riders that can be added to or purchased along with an insurance policy.

1. Scheduled personal property endorsement (personal property floater)

Most insurance policies limit the coverage that is provided for personal property, especially certain categories of personal property (check with the individual insurance company to determine what categories of personal property it lists with respect to limitation of coverage). For example, most policies limit the loss of money to $100 - this is to prevent insureds from claiming a high dollar value loss of money whenever a loss does occur. Jewelry is usually covered up to a certain amount but any individual item is only covered for a stated amount, regardless of actual value.

If you have coin collections, cameras, and jewelry in excess of the stated amount of coverage for these categories, you can add a rider to the insurance policy to cover the additional value of these items. The cost is usually determined on a "per thousand" dollar basis. The cost per thousand is often nominal when compared with the risk of loss. If you have items of high value, make certain that there is no limitation to their coverage. If there is, have the items appraised by a certified appraiser and then get the insurance company to add a rider to cover the additional value of your personal property.

2. Special computer insurance

Your home policy may or may not cover that brand new WebTV you just purchased. Or the scanner, tape drivers and speakers you need for operating your home office. To cover them, your insurance company will probably require you to purchase a rider as additional coverage. You may also need a business policy to cover your home office equipment.

3. Income property

Some insurance companies allow you to add a rider that covers residential premises other than your primary residence. This is most likely to occur if you own your home plus another residence that you rent out. As it is with your primary home, it is important to maintain insurance on rental property. Many insurance companies will let you add additional properties to your existing homeowner's insurance.

4. Secondary residence premises endorsement

If you own a vacation home, it is important for you to maintain coverage for that residence as well as your primary residence. Like income property, many insurance companies offer secondary residence (vacation) premises coverage as a rider to your homeowner's insurance policy. You are often able to obtain the needed additional coverage at a reduced rate by purchasing a rider (as opposed to a separate, stand-alone insurance policy).

5. Theft coverage protection endorsement

Most insurance policies have strict limitations with respect to coverage of personal property loss due to theft. To expand the amount of insurance for personal property due to loss by theft, purchase a rider for additional theft coverage under your homeowner's or renter's insurance policy. You should check your current or "about to be purchased" insurance policy to determine the amount and type of coverage it has for loss of personal property due to theft.

6. Home business

Having a home-based business presents a variety of exposures to loss that must be considered. Many homeowner's or renter's insurance policies exclude coverage for losses as a result of the operation of a business -- including business-related liability (e.g., a customer trips over your furniture and breaks an arm). Many insurance companies now recognize that many people operate home-based businesses. If you operate a business out of your residence, make certain that coverage is available through your insurance policy. If your home-based business is excluded, you may be able to add a rider to the insurance.

7. Watercraft and recreational vehicle endorsement

Many insurance policies exclude coverage for watercraft and other recreational vehicles commonly located (stored) at your residence. In addition, these vehicles are often excluded under standard automobile insurance policies. To obtain coverage for loss of these vehicles, many insurance companies offer an optional rider. Check with your insurer to determine if such coverage is excluded and, if so, whether a rider may be added to the insurance policy to cover these vehicles.

8. Land and mine subsidence coverage

Some areas of the country are susceptible to land slides and land subsidence losses. You may recall images of hillside homes in southern California sliding into muddy ravines. Most insurance policies exclude loss of property due to land subsidence, but some insurance companies provide a policy rider to protect the homeowner against loss due to land subsidence.

Although not common, some areas of the country had extensive mining operations in the past. Loss due to the structural failure of old or abandoned mining operations is often excluded from coverage. If your residence sits on top of a former or current mine operation, check to make certain there is coverage should the mine collapse. If not, see if your insurer offers a rider option.

9. Sewer and drains back-up

Similar to flood (excluded under all homeowner's or renter's insurance policies), a backed-up sewer or drain can cause significant damage and may be excluded from coverage by the terms and conditions of the insurance policy. Many insurance companies offer a rider to protect against the risk.

10. Workers' Compensation

If you have people who come to your residence to do work, you may be viewed as an employer. For example, if you have someone who provides childcare in your home or you have a neighborhood youth mow your lawn once a week, these people may well be your employees (often referred to as “casual” employees). Most states require all employers to have workers' compensation coverage for their employees. Failure to provide workers’ compensation insurance doesn’t only expose you to severe and catastrophic loss should someone be deemed to be your employee at the time of an accident or injury, but also failure to provide workers' compensation insurance could result in stiff fines and penalties. Some insurance companies offer a rider to their homeowner's insurance policies to provide coverage for these "casual" employees.

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HOME - My credit cards were stolen while on vacation, are the charges covered under my homeowners policy?
Most home and renter insurance policies provide coverage for theft of credit cards; however, the amount of coverage is limited. You should note that once you have reported the loss or theft of your credit card, you are responsible for only $50 of unauthorized use.

Also most credit card companies today cover unauthorized charges as well.

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HOME - Does my homeowners protect my stuff while i am away on vacation?
Your homeowner's or renter's insurance protects you against loss of personal property as a result of theft as well as third-party liability insurance whether at home or on the road.

Also, if you are on vacation, your home and its contents remain covered (although it is a good idea to have someone periodically check in on your home while you are away).

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HOME - Does my homeowners cover my food in the freezer when the power goes out?
The answer depends on why the power to your home was cut. If it was as the result of a coverage occurrence (such as windstorm), coverage under the insurance policy applies. If the power was cut as the result of power grid failure, you’re out of luck--coverage does not apply.

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HOME - A tree fell on my house during a storm is this covered?
Under most insurance policies, the loss of the tree, the damage caused as a result of the felled tree, and the cost of removal of the tree are covered under your homeowner's insurance. You should check to see if your particular insurance policy limits losses for trees and shrubbery. If you have large trees or extensive shrubbery around your house, consider the purchase of a rider to extend coverage for these additional exposures.

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HOME - During a recent storm my neighbor's tree fell on my fence and destoryed it, who's homeowners policy will pay?
Homeowners are responsible for injury or damage to third parties that is caused by their ownership of property. In this example, your neighbor is responsible for the loss that you suffered as a result of his tree falling on and damaging your property. The same would be true if your uphill neighbor’s land ended up in your backyard as a result of a mudslide.

As a practical matter, your insurance company may provide coverage to you as a homeowner and then take the subrogation rights to this loss. Then they’d seek reimbursement from your neighbor or his homeowner's insurance company.

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HOME - My luggage and laptop were lost on a recent flight, are they covbered by my homeowners policy?
Airlines are subject to legislation that allows them to limit their liability for loss. This type of loss is covered under most insurance policies. As with other categories of personal property, however, there may be limits on the amount of coverage.

If you have a laptop computer or cell phone that you bring with you while you travel, consider the purchase of a rider to your homeowner's or renter's insurance to cover the item’s full value. Also, remember that purchasing the computer with a credit card can sometimes provide coverage for theft of items purchased with the card. Just be aware that theft coverage for items purchased by a credit card are likewise subject to certain exclusions. If your laptop or phone is from your business, your employer’s business insurance should cover it.

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HOME - Are the personal belongings that I take on a trip covered?
Yes, your home and renter’s insurance policy will provide you protection. If you are traveling with costly jewelry, valuable photographic equipment, pricey art, or other items of high value, you should consider the purchase of extra insurance in the form of a rider to extend coverage for these items.

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HOME - The pipes in our home froze and burst while out of town, are they covered?
Coverage for those frozen pipes is provided under broad form (HO-2) and special form (HO-3) policies. (Still, you may need to prove that you properly drained all plumbing lines and that maintained a proper level of heat to the dwelling.) There is no coverage, however, under the basic form (HO-1). (These types of policy forms are discussed later.)

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HOME - Several items were stolen from my home, why did my policy only pay for part of my stuff?
Your insurance policy contained a provision that limits the amount of loss for items of personal property that were used in your business. If you operate a home-based business, find out what limitations your insurance company puts on insuring property used for business. Also find out if a business operation rider is available as optional coverage for your homeowner’s or renter’s policy.

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HOME - How much coverage do I need on my home?
The amount of coverage that you need depends on what it would cost to replace your home and land in the event of a total loss. While you may be able to get by with only 80% coverage, will you be able to take the other 20% out of your pocket in the event of a total loss? The incremental cost to insure a property to full "replacement cost value" is so low it would be fool-hardy not to fully insure your property at full value.

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HOME - How much liability coverage should I carry on my home?
The amount of financial liability coverage you should consider depends upon the nature and extent of your assets. In addition to the value of your home, consider how much your business, personal property and other investments are worth. While there are exemptions as to the amount and type of property subject to a levy in the event of a judgment against you, it is better to have sufficient insurance to protect yourself and all your assets against any potential judgment. Liability limits of $300,000 are common, increased amounts of $1 million are also becoming commonplace.

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HOME - My mortgage comapny requires that I carry insurance, how much do I have to carry?
Lenders will ask you to carry insurance as security for their investment, just as they may require fire insurance and other types of coverage as investor protection. If you’re financing, lenders will require you to carry at least 80% of the value of your home or up to 100% of the amount of the mortgage. It is not a good idea to try and save a few dollars by carrying the dwelling policy limit bare minimum amount of insurance. The value of your home may increase or a total loss may occur. The insurance company may apply the "coinsurance" principal and not fully cover a loss.

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HOME - No one will cover my home with insurance, someone told me my mortgage company will place insurance on my home? How does this work?
When insurance is not available on the open market, there is typically a state-operated or-mandated "pool" of coverage so that no one will be forced to go without insurance. The cost of such insurance is typically higher than would be available in the open market. This is because the risk for property in the particular area is greater than in other areas.

If you are purchasing property in an area where insurance is not available on the open market, your lender will still require you to have insurance on the property up to at least the full value of the mortgage (or 80% of the actual value of the home). You may have to purchase "pool" coverage to meet the lender's requirements. If you fail to keep your coverage in force, the lender will purchase coverage that protects its interest. In any event, read what the coverage is. You may discover that it covers only the structure, not your personal property.

If the lender requires coverage, you may choose your own insurer. You don’t need to purchase coverage from the insurer your lender recommends.

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HOME - How much coverage does my homeowners policy require me to carry on my home?
Most insurance companies require homeowners to have at least 80% of the actual value of your home (excluding the value of the land) in order to pay a claim in the event of a total loss. This is often referred to as "coinsurance." The results can come as a real surprise to a homeowner in the event of a loss. For example, consider a homeowner who has an older home that is insured for $60,000. Due to appreciation of home values, the home is now actually worth $100,000 -- which means the insurance company would today require the homeowner to carry at least $80,000 of coverage. Since the homeowner carried only $60,000 (60% of the home value), the insurance company may only provide 60% of the loss - a claim for $20,000 may result in payment of only $12,000.

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HOME - How do I know if I have enough coverage on my personal property?
It is a good idea to inventory the contents of your home. In the event of a complete loss, it is difficult to reconstruct by memory the contents of your home. Some people videotape the contents of their home or apartment as a record of what it contains. If you have items of high value, get certified appraisals of them. Check to see if there is a limitation of coverage with respect to certain categories of personal property. As said earlier, if your insurance policy does not provide enough coverage to replace all of your personal property in the event of a total loss, purchase a rider to increase the coverage.

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HOME - My daughter is away at college. She is no longer a dependent, should I buy another policy for her at college?
Some policies include coverage for children away from home until they reach the age of 25; other policies are not so generous. Refer to your particular insurance policy to see what coverage is available. If there is any question, you may find that renter's insurance for your daughter is a good, relatively low-cost option.

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HOME - Do we have to give personal information to get a homeowners policy?
Yes. Insurance companies require information about you and your property. The insurance company needs to know that you have an "insurable interest" in the property; that is, that you have an ownership interest in the property that is worth protecting. To determine the insurance interest in property, lots of personal information is necessary.

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HOME - Will my homeowners policy pay to bring my house up to building code?
A few policies include a building code endorsement that pays the costs of an upgrade. In most cases, though, home insurance policies simply cover the amount of the loss. The big difference in policies is between an "actual cash value" policy and one that covers the "replacement cost" of the lost or damaged property. In this context, the additional cost for a "replacement cost" policy is well worth it.

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HOME - How much is my home worth?
Before buying home insurance, you’ll have a choice: insuring property for "actual cash value" or for "replacement cost". Both offer the same kind of liability, but they differ in the amount and type of property protection coverage. This difference often results in very different dollar amounts in the event of a loss.

Actual cash value: "Actual cash value" refers to how the value of the property is determined in the event of a loss. Actual cash value takes into account depreciation -- that an item purchased new is worth less after having been "in-service" for a number of years. For example, you bought a sofa three years ago for $2,000. Fire destroys the sofa and you put in a claim with the insurance company. The insurer determines that the actual cash value of a sofa that is three years old is currently $500, and that is what they would pay you. If your policy has a $1,000 deductible, you’ll collect nothing.

Replacement cost: "Replacement cost" likewise refers to how the value of the property is determined in the event of the loss. But the fundamental difference is that the value is set at how much it will cost you today to go out and buy a new item to replace the one that has been lost. In the example above, that $2,000 sofa may cost $3,000 if it were bought new today. With replacement cost coverage, when that sofa is destroyed today, after you have paid your deductible, the insurer pays you $3,000 to go out and buy that same new sofa to replace the one which has been destroyed. Replacement cost policies are more expensive than actual cash value policies.

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HOME - How much are my contents worth?
Most insurance companies cover your household contents -- things like furniture, clothes, appliances, etc. – on an actual cash value basis in both home and tenants policies. You have to pay as much as 10-15% more if you want to insure at replacement cost. That’s where companies will ignore depreciation and pay today’s price for a brand version of whatever you lost. Of course, you’ll have to foot the bill for the deductible regardless of the value.

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HOME - Why shop around, aren't all homeowners policy the same?
There are a number of standard packaged insurance policies available, but not all insurance policies are the same. The bottom line -- not all insurance policies are created equal. Even a standard, broad form insurance policy issued by one insurance company can be very different from the same broad form insurance policy offered by a competitor. The differences often come as a result of how each insurance company "packages" its policy - there are a variety of ways in which an insurance company can put together an insurance policy, their underwriting criteria and standards, and customer service.

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HOME - My homeowners policy talks about "perils" what are these?
A "peril" is the exposure to the risk of being injured, destroyed, or lost. Most insurance companies refer to "perils" as the particular risks that can cause loss or damage. In some insurance policies, these are referred to as "named perils" - the types of occurrences that can cause loss or damage for which the insurance company will provide coverage.

Many new policies are written on an "all-risk" basis, meaning that all perils are covered unless specifically excluded. One of the major differences between standard packaged insurance policies are which perils that cause a loss are covered. The more perils covered, the more you wind up paying.

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HOME - I understand that earthquake and flood are normally excluded from homeowners policies. What should I do about this?
Many insurance companies in areas prone to earthquakes offer earthquake coverage. In 1996, the California Legislature passed and the governor signed legislation creating the California Earthquake Authority -- a state-managed authority that offers a very restricted earthquake policy. While this coverage is often expensive, it is important for a homeowner in an earthquake prone area to explore the availability and cost of this important coverage.

Flood insurance is available nationwide through many insurance companies. Private insurers write flood insurance under a special agreement with the federal government through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This coverage is extremely important to those who are in areas subject to flooding, since resulting damage is commonly excluded from coverage under all forms of standard homeowner's insurance policies.

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HOME - What do insurance companies look at when determining my rates on my home?
Insurance companies employ actuaries who determine the amount of premiums that the company must collect. To get it, they calculate the expected losses that will be incurred, the administrative and marketing costs associated with producing the insurance, and factor in cash reserves to protect against major catastrophes (see “Insurance Company Factors” below for more information).

In determining the cost for individual policyholders, an actuary sets a number of criteria for the underwriter. Those criteria help to make decisions on the amount of premium to charge. Each company has its own underwriting standards, which means one company can reject your application while another might accept it.

Some of the major factors to consider in determining the premium for a homeowner's insurance policy are:

a. Amount of coverage – the more you insure, the more it will affect the price of the insurance.

b. Type of coverage - which policy form is used (i.e.- HO-2 vs. HO-3); the more protection, the higher the cost.

c. Type of construction - whether your home and other structures are made of wood, stucco siding, brick, concrete, or steel frame construction.

d. Available fire protection – how far you live from the nearest fire station or hydrant, as well as the type and quality of your community’s fire protection.

e. Age of home - as a general rule, older homes are more vulnerable to loss than homes of newer construction. Also old wiring and building codes make an older home more susceptible to loss.

f. Location of home - the home might be located in a stable sub-division as opposed to struggling inner city, where it sits might be more susceptible to earthquakes or hurricanes.

g. Actual cash value vs. replacement cost - whether valuation of losses are set at the lower actual cash value or to full replacement cost.

h. Riders - which riders and other options -- as well as the amount of coverage for each -- will be added to the base policy form.

i. Deductible - the amount that you pay out-of-pocket for each claim before the insurance company will “foot the bill” for payment of a claim. Lower deductibles are more expensive than higher deductibles.

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HOME - What are some ways that I can cut my homeowners insurance cost?
Different companies charge different rates for similar coverage. First take stock of what coverage you have and what options your insurer offers. No one wants to spend money for coverage they don’t need. You can knock off the cost with some of the following:

a. Increased deductible - approximately 1/3 of all covered damage or losses are $100 or less. If you increase your deductible (to $250, $500, or $1,000), you significantly reduce the risk of loss to the insurance company and can shave a significant percentage off the cost of the policy. This keeps good coverage for major claims while you pick up the tab for the smaller ones.

b. Multiple policy discounts - many insurance companies offer discounts if you buy two or more policies with them (e.g., your home and auto).

c. Burglar-proof security devices - installation of dead bolt locks, smoke detectors, fire/burglar alarm systems, sprinkler systems, motion-sensing outdoor lights, and fire extinguishers can each reduce the premium by about 5%. If you put in a sophisticated home-security system that rings into the local police or fire department or to a private security firm, look for a larger discount (15% to 20%).

d. Fire-resistant building materials – a few insurers offer discounts if fire-resistant building materials are used. Other insurers make fire resistant materials a prerequisite before they will make an offer to insure a dwelling (i.e., some insurers require fire-resistant roofing materials such as tile and will not insure a dwelling if the roof is made from cedar shakes).

e. Long-time policyholders - longevity with an insurer counts and the longer you have been with the same company, the greater the reduction.

f. Senior citizen - some companies offer senior citizen discounts because they generally spend more time at home.

g. Group insurance - some employers, unions and other organizations have made arrangements for discounted insurance for their employees and members.

h. Annual premium payment - paying for your insurance once each year may be less expensive than a semi-annual, quarterly or monthly periodic premium payment schedule.

i. Comparison shop - check out offers from a few insurance companies - don't simply settle for the first insurance offer that comes your way.

j. Insure the home, not the land – a common misconception is that you need home insurance at least equal to the amount you paid for your home. However, that may not be the case since it is not necessary to insure the land your home sits on.

k. New home – you may be in line for a reduction if your home is new. Your discount probably declines after the first year, but the reduction is still attractive up front.

l. Non-smoking households – some insurers reduce premiums if all the residents of your home are nonsmokers.

m. Loss-free policies – a few insurers offer discounts if you have been with them for some time and have not incurred losses.

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HOME - What are the internal factors within the insurance company that effects my insurance premiums?
The primary factors which affect an insurance company’s rates for homeowner’s or renter’s insurance are the individual company's loss experience and its administrative expenses.

When an insurance company suffers a tremendous amount of losses (loss experience), the company may run low in its reserves and need to raise rates to make up for the suffered losses. Conversely, some insurance companies only insure "better" risks and have a low loss ratio, enabling the company to offer lower rates.

Another major factor is an insurance company's administrative expenses. The cost of personnel, marketing, and sales expenses have a major impact upon the price of insurance. A recent trend of insurance companies is to offer insurance direct to you, thus reducing costs by not having to pay sales commissions to insurance brokers/agents

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CLAIM - How can I report a claim?
To report a claim, you have several options: You can contact your carrier directly. (Many are listed on this site.)  Or, you can call our office at 1-877-222-UROK (1-877-222-8765) and we’ll help you through the process. If you would like help on a personal insurance claim for auto, home, boat, motorcycle, etc., you can email Audrey Phillips at ap@southernriskservices.com. If your claim is for business or commercial insurance you can email Jettia Campbell for help at jc@southernriskservices.com. Please see our employee directory on this site for more contact information.



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CLAIM - What should I do if there is a loss or claim?
In the event of a loss, the first thing you must do is protect the rest of your property from further loss. For example, if you are able to put sand bags around your property during a flood, you should do so. Another example may be to fence off damaged property, prohibiting “wanderers” from strolling onto the property and getting injured. Take photographs or videos of damaged areas, if possible.

The next step is to notify your insurance company of the loss. Almost all insurance companies have toll-free telephone numbers for their claims departments. Be aware that most conversations with the claims department of an insurance company will be recorded.

Once your claim has been presented to the insurance company, the next step is to have the claims adjuster come to the property and assess the loss. Some companies have claims adjusters on staff and others employ independent adjusters.

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CLAIM - How do I price my claim?
The value of a claim is based on many factors and requires special expertise to determine what is fair and reasonable.

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CLAIM - Does my policy pay me the "limit?"
No. There is a widespread misunderstanding of the meaning of a “limit”. A “limit” is the most your insurance policy will pay for a loss. What this means is that after a claim adjuster has assessed the damage or loss, your loss may be less than the policy limits. In that case, your policy covers only the amount of your actual loss.

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CLAIM - What happens if I don't like the amount my insurance company has offered on my claim?
When it comes time to settle with the insurance company, the insurer will ask you to sign a form that “releases” the insurance company from further responsibility for the claim. If you do not agree with the proposed settlement amount, do not accept it and do not sign the release. You will need to hire your own expert (such as an independent adjuster) or get an attorney involved to resolve the terms and amount of the dispute.

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CLAIM - I forgot to list something on my claim proof of loss form. Should I just go ahead and settle my claim and take the insurance check?
Don't accept the final check and don't sign a release in favor of the insurance company until you are completely satisfied with the settlement.

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CLAIM - How long does my insurance company have to settle my claims?
In most states, there are fair claim practices laws for insurance companies. A common standard is based upon what is "fair and reasonable." Be aware that there are many "bad faith" lawsuits filed against insurance companies for their failure to deal with their insureds in a "fair and reasonable" manner.



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CLAIM - How will my insurance company settle my claim?
Depending on the nature and extent of the loss, as well as the individual practice of the insurance company, they may

1. cut a check or draft to you directly,

2. have the settlement proceeds placed in escrow for payment to contractors, materialmen, and other laborers, or

3. set up an account from which the proceeds will be distributed.

Some companies have contracts with contractors who provide the repairs and then bill the company directly.

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CLAIM - Does my mortgage company have any say in my repairs from the claim?
Mortgage lenders will require that all the money paid by the insurance company be used for repairs on the home. To protect its financial interest, the mortgage lender will require the insurance proceeds to be paid into an escrow account from which contractors, materialmen, and labors will be paid. The lender cannot keep the proceeds of a settlement to cover your loan balance.

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CLAIM - My home was recently broken into and i don't have receipts for everything that was stolen, how will this work?
You should have some evidence of ownership, such as photographs, appraisals, or statements under the penalty of perjury. Be aware that making a false statement to an insurance company as part of a claim is fraud and may be pursued as a crime (often a felony offense).

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CLAIM - My home was damaged recently in a fire. I want to protect my things by boarding up the windows etc. Do I have to get permission to do these things from the insurance company?
Make all temporary repairs as are necessary to protect your property from further loss or damage. For example, securing the premises with a temporary fence may prevent further losses should uninvited third parties stroll into your damaged property. But in the event of a total loss, before the appraisal process is completed, it is usually not a good idea to remove damaged goods or other property. Consider taking photographs to show the way things looked before embarking on the clean-up and repairing.

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CLAIM - Can I make repairs to my home before the insurance company inspects it?
You should not make permanent repairs until after the insurance adjuster inspects the damage or loss. Only repairs that are required to protect the property from further loss or damage should be done before the damage/loss has been inspected for purposes of claim approval and valuation. If you are not sure whether your repair will be considered “permanent”, ask the insurance company first.

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CLAIM - What information should I give the insurance company representative?
Insurance company representatives need to be able to determine how the loss occurred, as well as the extent of the damage. Any information along these lines should be disclosed to the company and its representatives as part of the claim process. If you are uncomfortable dealing directly with the insurance company or its representatives, hire an attorney to look after your interests and have him/her deal with the company.

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CLAIM - Do I have to be home for the adjuster when they come out to inspect the damage?
You don't have to be present, but it is a good idea to be there to keep an eye on the process.

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CLAIM - What if I disagree with the adjustors estimate of my claim?
You can either hire your own independent insurance appraiser to determine the value or contact an attorney to represent your interests in the claim process.

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CLAIM - During the repairs my contractor found some hidden damage, who pays for these repairs?
This again depends on the outcome of the claim settlement process. If you have already accepted the settlement and provided a release to the insurance company, end of story - you pay the extra. If the claim has not been closed, contact the insurance company and try to resolve the difference. If a compromise figure cannot be reached, you will need to hire an independent insurance adjuster or retain an attorney to represent your interests with the insurance company.

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