There are many common myths about potential dangers in and around the home that can keep some homeowners up at night. However, the gap between myth and fact can make all the difference when it comes to reducing risk in your house. So what does the data tell us are the biggest risks to your home?
From leaking valves to house fires, Claim data reveals the facts about the most frequent causes of homeowners’ claims, as well as the costliest. The answers may surprise you. While some risks are common nuisances we are all too aware of, others can be catastrophic. To help keep your home, your valuables and your family safe, you will want to take steps to protect them.
Danger #1: Water Damage
Many people think of damage from hurricanes and heavy rains when they think of water damage. But according to Travelers Claim data from 2009-2016, more property losses resulted from non-weather water claims (20%) than weather-related water claims (11%)*. Non-weather water claims can involve plumbing-related losses, such as pipes, drains and valves, as well as appliance issues. Learn more about common causes of water damage and the steps that you can take to help prevent it.
Danger #2: Weather-Related Roof/Flashing Damage
Wind, hail and weather-related water damage accounted for more than half, or 51%, of all Travelers property loss claims between 2009-2016. Falling limbs and branches weighed down by snow and freezing rain can cause roof/flashing damage. It is a good idea to inspect trees on your property to help prevent damage caused by falling tree limbs. Learning how to identify and remove ice dams can also help you avoid costly damage in the winter months.
Danger #3: Frozen Pipe Damage
Frozen water pipes are considered a potential source for catastrophic property damage, and make the list of Travelers’ five costliest sources of homeowner claims. While a sub-item of weather-related water loss, it is so significant, it deserves special mention. The good news is you can take steps to help prevent your pipes from freezing by identifying pipes that are most at risk and taking steps before winter arrives to help insulate them. During the winter, you may consider using a smart thermostat to manage and monitor that your heat is set at a safe level to help avoid freezing, and to receive notifications if the temperature in your home drops unexpectedly.
Danger #4: Theft
Theft from the premises makes the list of top causes of property loss claims, accounting for 6% of losses. There are many steps that you can take to help make your home less attractive to thieves, including landscaping with theft prevention in mind, adding outdoor lighting and creating a plan to make your home appear occupied while you are away. There are a number of methods to monitor your home to help minimize the theft potential, including smart home alarm systems.
Danger #5: Fire
Although fires do not occur as often as other incidents around the home, the damage that they can cause puts fire at the top of the costliest types of claims, according to Claim data from 2009-2016. Fire and related damages accounted for 25% of claims as measured by costs paid out. Fires can start from cooking, overloading circuits, and improperly using a wood stove, among other causes. Learn more about the potential wood stove safety tips, and how to help protect your home.
Hybrid gasoline-electric cars offer great fuel efficiency, but sales have suffered in recent years because of low gas prices.
Decreasing crude oil reserves and concern over air pollution from combustion engines are expected to increase the demand for hybrids in the near future.1 In the meantime, car manufacturers are looking for new ways to attract buyers.
Some manufacturers are changing the hybrid's image. They want it to be known as a car that's fun to drive as well as practical. An example of this trend is the 2017 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid. By combining a powerful engine with high fuel efficiency, the car won a first-place ranking among midsize hybrids from U.S. News &
Here are four things to consider before buying a hybrid:
1. Used Cars Offer Better Values
If you can't afford a new hybrid, consider buying a used one. Like all cars, hybrids begin losing value as soon as they're driven away from new car dealerships. Vehicle history reports offered from companies like Auto check and Carfax allow consumers to track service records and rule out vehicles that have performed poorly.
2. Fuel Efficiency Varies Among Drivers
Autotrader points out that hybrids are at their most economical while driving at low speeds and in stop-and-go traffic. If you primarily drive on the freeway, your fuel savings may be reduced.
3. You May Get a Tax Break
Newly purchased plug-in hybrids may be eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500.5 State and local tax incentives also may apply.
4. Insurers May Give You a Discount
Buying a hybrid can lead to reduced car insurance costs. Some insurers have determined that hybrid drivers have a reduced risk of being involved in accidents.
After a fire, burglary or another event in which you lost possessions from your home, it may be difficult to remember the details of every one of the belongings that you have accumulated over the years. In this situation, having a current inventory of your possessions, including make and model numbers, may help you with any potential insurance claims. Taking the time to document your belongings now can help you recover faster after a loss.
Here are some steps you can use to help build your home inventory checklist.
Step 1: Take the time to walk through your property. Compiling a comprehensive home inventory takes time and effort. The more detailed your inventory, the more useful it will be if you have to make a claim. Document possessions inside your home and on your property that may be of value.
Step 2: Keep your inventory in a safe place. Creating a digital home inventory and storing it off-site will help ensure that it won’t be lost, stolen or damaged during any disaster at your home. You can also create a photo or video inventory and upload it to a cloud-based service.
Step 3: Update your inventory often. When you make a significant purchase, add the information to the inventory while the details are fresh in your mind. This is also a good time to delete items that you have replaced or no longer own.
Step 4: Remember your business assets. While most people think of their home when making an inventory, it is important to document the contents of your business, if applicable, as well.
Step 5: Consider valuable items. Valuable items like jewelry, art, and collectibles may have increased in value since you brought them into your home. Check with your agent, if you have one, to make sure that you have adequate insurance coverage for these items as they may need to be insured separately. Consider putting jewelry or other valuables that you don’t often wear or use in a safe deposit box.
To learn more about ways to protect your home and belongings, check out our homeowners insurance products.
Buying renters insurance to protect your stuff may seem like an unnecessary expense, until you experience a theft or fire in your rented home or apartment and lose some of your most treasured possessions forever.
Whether you're a longtime renter or starting out in your first place, renters insurance policies provide important benefits and coverage. If a fire or similar incident destroyed your home and you didn't have renters coverage, it would be up to you to replace everything you own. Plus, if someone claimed you caused an injury or property damage, without adequate insurance protection, you could be at risk for an expensive lawsuit and paying that person for his or her damages.
As you consider whether to buy renters insurance, here are four things you need to know:
1. Renters Insurance Provides Off-Premises Coverage
Renters insurance does more than cover the cost of lost or damaged possessions in your home. There is coverage if your bicycle is stolen from a bike rack at the park, or if your laptop is taken from your car while you're at the supermarket.
2. You Can Be Compensated if You're Forced to Relocate
Most renters policies provide additional living expenses coverage if your home becomes uninhabitable due to an event such as vandalism, theft, fire or water damage from home utilities.1 This benefit usually includes the cost of living expenses, up to your policy limits.
This coverage typically is limited to 30 to 50 percent of your insured personal property. For example, if your belongings were insured for $100,000, the limit on additional living expenses would be $30,000 to $50,000, as outlined in your policy.
3. A Home Inventory Can Determine How Much Coverage You Need
Before you decide how much coverage you need, it's important to know how much it would cost to replace your possessions. You can calculate replacement costs by conducting a home inventory and checking with your insurance representative to make certain you're fully covered.2
4. You Can Reduce Your Renters Insurance Costs
There are a variety of ways to reduce the cost of renters insurance. An option is to select a higher policy deductible, the amount you must pay before your insurance coverage takes effect. Increasing a deductible from $250 to $500 could create an annual savings of up to 15 percent.
You also may want to consider buying all your insurance policies from one carrier. For example, when you bundle your auto and renters policies , you receive additional savings.
We never expect to get in a car accident. And even though accidents are common, they feel like a big deal when they happen to us.
It’s natural to experience shock, anger, fear and other emotions in the moment and after the fact. But, preparing in advance can help make a collision more manageable.
If you're ever involved in a car accident, taking these six steps can help you better handle the experience.
Step 1: Make sure no one is hurt.
Call 911 if you, another driver, any passengers or any bystanders need immediate medical attention.
Step 2: Keep everyone safe.
The accident scene can be a hazard for other drivers. If the collision is minor, move the vehicles to the side of the road or the nearest parking lot. If the accident is major, carefully exit your car and walk to a safe place.
Step 3: Call the police.
Ideally, law enforcement will come to the scene quickly and take an official report. However, the local police department may not have the resources to respond to a minor accident, in which case you can file a police report yourself later.
Step 4: Gather necessary information.
Use your phone's camera or a pen and paper to note the other driver's name, address, phone number and insurance information. Record the other vehicle's license plate, vehicle identification number, make and model.
Step 5: Document the accident.
Take photos, videos and voice recordings to capture vehicle damage, road conditions and any details you remember about the events leading up to the crash.
Step 6: File a claim.
Get in touch as soon as possible to get your claim started. We can work to get your car repaired or replaced and minimize the disruption to your life.
Reach out if you have questions about your accident coverage or anything else.
Inclusive Basic Boat Insurance Coverage
Get basic boat insurance coverage with protection for which other carriers may require additional premiums such as mechanical breakdown, uninsured boater, personal property, medical payments, commercial towing reimbursement, fuel spills and dinghy coverage.
Uninsured Boater Coverage
This provides coverage for incidents when another boater may not have insurance coverage. As long as you've chosen sufficient limits on your policy, uninsured boater coverage can help cover your medical bills and bodily injury resulting from an accident with someone who does not have insurance. Coverage extends to you, your family and your passengers. The requirement for uninsured boater coverage varies by state.
Flexible Coverage Options
You choose between agreed value or actual cash value coverage. Agreed value provides “replacement value” on covered partial losses involving your vessel. Actual cash value earns you a premium discount. In the event of a loss, settlement is based upon a depreciated value.
Towing and Assistance Reimbursement
Get reimbursed for transportation of your boat to a repair facility when it’s inoperable, as well as for gas delivery and roadside assistance.
Personal Property Coverage
Protects personal property on the boat including but not limited to fishing equipment, clothing and boating-related equipment such as life vests.
Physical Boat Damage Coverage
This coverage provides protection in the event of a collision such as with a submerged object or another boat.
This helps cover costs of bodily injury or damage to the property of others.
Here's a look at three recent innovations in home security.
A home security system could make you eligible for a property insurance discount, too. Get in touch today to discuss your policy or anything else
As a seasoned homeowner, you’ve been paying off your mortgage and are now considering buying a second home – a place you can retreat to on vacation, an investment property, or maybe even a combination of the two. You’ve been through the home-buying process before so you know what to expect, but there are certain factors unique to buying a second home that you'll want to consider. These factors will vary depending on how you intend to use the property, so it's a good idea to determine if the home will be for mostly personal use or if it will be occupied by tenants.
Here are six essential things you should consider before buying a second home:
1. Can I Afford It?
It may seem like an obvious question, but can you afford a second home? If you choose to take out a mortgage on a new property, take some time to carefully understand the requirements so you’ll be better prepared for the process when submitting your mortgage application.
As a homeowner, you're probably well aware of the strict credit requirements for taking out a mortgage, and things get even more serious when it comes to buying a second home. Your debt-to-income ratio will, of course, be a significant factor, and when it comes to holding two mortgages, you may find it a bit more challenging to balance this ratio. Also, be prepared to shell out a hefty amount for a down payment, since you'll be required to put at least 10 percent down on a vacation home and perhaps an even higher amount if it will be used as an investment property. And don’t forget that a second home will need to be protected, so you’ll want to talk to your homeowners insurance agent about getting a quote, once you’ve got your sights set on a second property to call your own.
2. How Will It Affect My Taxes?
Understanding the tax implications of your new property will be another challenge. If you intend to rent your place to tenants, that means you'll earn rental income throughout the year, and that income will be taxable. As the owner of the home, you also may be able to take deductions in the form of mortgage interest, property taxes, repairs, depreciation, and operating expenses. One of the most important things to do as the landlord is to maintain accurate records of your income and expenses throughout the year in order to properly report the information on your tax return.
3. What Home Expenses Should I Expect?
Just like your primary residence, your second home will also require you to shell out cash for expenses – both expected and unplanned. It’s helpful to have a budget set up for home needs, and with two homes, this may be an even more critical step, since your expenses will be elevated. In addition to the maintenance costs, remember you'll have property taxes, insurance, potential homeowners' association dues and more. If the property is at the beach or in a flood zone, you'll also need to consider things like flood insurance in addition to your regular homeowners policy. And finally, if you plan to rent the property, you'll also need to look into insurance that specifically protects you as a landlord.
Travelers wants to help you protect the things that matter to you. We offer a wide breadth of products so you can be covered at home and on the road.
4. How Will I Use the Property?
If the property will solely be used for personal vacations, this question isn't as critical. However, if you intend to rent the home occasionally or full time, you'll want to consider your strategy ahead of time. Keep in mind that for mortgage purposes, your lender doesn't consider the income generated from renting the home. Whether you can afford the second property is determined solely based on your credit and debt-to-income ratio. If you plan to rent the home, it's important to build your rental strategy as early in the process as possible to ensure you'll have rental income that can help offset the home's monthly expenses from the start. That will translate to less cash out of your pocket, as long as the tenants are diligent in paying the rent on time.
5. Who Will Maintain the Property?
You’ll want to plan for who will maintain the property to protect your investment. If the investment property is located near your primary home, it may be easy for you to provide the regular maintenance and upkeep of the home, if you’re handy and have the time – and the will – to do those tasks. However, if the property is far from your primary home, you'll need to think about how it will be cared for when you're not staying there. This is especially important if the property is located in an area that’s susceptible to strong storms and hurricanes. Severe weather events can pop up at a moment's notice, and your second home will need to be properly prepared to withstand such weather. If the home will be for your personal use, perhaps you can find a neighbor to keep an eye on the house when you're not there. If you plan to rent the home, consider hiring a rental management company to take care of the general upkeep so you won't have to worry about every little detail from afar.
6. Is the Property in an Ideal Location?
Whether buying a second home for your personal enjoyment or as an investment property, make sure you choose the right location for your needs. You may not get as much use as you’d like from a vacation home that requires extensive travel to get there. And, a rental home in an unpopular locale may lead to months of being unoccupied – which means you’re paying the second mortgage yourself rather than with income from renting it out. In either scenario, ensuring the home is in an ideal area can help provide you with a positive return on investment. If you do intend to rent the property, take some time to research the rental climate in the area before moving forward. The best places to own investment property are often popular vacation destinations and cities with an abundance of career options.
Buying a second home doesn't have to be daunting. In fact, with careful research and planning, it can be a smart investment for your future.
Do you know where most home fires start?
If you guessed the kitchen, you’re right. One of the most popular rooms in the house also has the potential for danger.
But a few simple habits can help prevent damaging fires from ever starting in the first place.
To find a little more peace of mind this season, here are four ways to make your home safer.
1. Don’t walk away from an active stove.
Unattended cooking is a leading cause of kitchen fires. If you need to leave while frying, grilling or broiling, make sure to turn your stove off first. It’s easy to lose track of time when you step away to answer the door or check on the kids, and it doesn’t take long for trouble to start.
2. Keep clutter under control.
It’s not uncommon for kitchen counters to get loaded up with stuff. Make it a priority to clear your kitchen countertops of anything flammable, such as wooden utensils, papers and dish towels, especially around the stove.
3. Use space heaters, fireplaces and woodburning stoves safely.
If you use a space heater during colder months, consider replacing older models with one designed to turn off if it tips over. Position space heaters with a 3-foot distance from everything else and always turn them off before you leave the house or go to sleep.
If your home has a fireplace or wood-burning stove, have it inspected annually by a professional. Use a mesh screen to keep sparks inside the fireplace.
4. Practice candle safety.
As with a stove, a lit candle is an active fire that you shouldn’t leave unattended. Blow out candles before leaving a room and keep burning candles on level surfaces and away from flammable objects, young children and pets.
Have questions about your insurance coverage? Reach out and we’ll be happy to help.
Car insurance is a necessary expense for many people, and there are a variety of ways to save on this household cost once you know what it takes. To get started, gather your personal information, determine your budget and then consider the insurance coverage that you think will best safeguard you and your lifestyle.
Here are 10 ways to save on your car insurance:
1. Gather Specifics About Your Car and Its Primary Drivers
One way to begin the process of shopping for car insurance to get the most value for your money is to gather all of the information an insurance carrier needs to offer you the best possible rate.1 Start by compiling this basic information before you shop for quotes:
With this information, an insurance carrier can suggest the best coverage and rates for you and your lifestyle.
2. Research How Much Car Insurance Costs Before You Buy or Lease
When you buy or lease a car, it can be tempting to get a brand-new car or trade in your practical family vehicle for a sports car. Just keep in mind that the type of car you drive may impact your insurance coverage and rate. Be sure to check the cost of insurance before you finalize your car purchase or lease. Insurance rates may vary widely depending on the type of car, repair costs, safety record and many other subjective points.2
3. Research All Car Insurance Coverage Requirements
Each state has specific requirements for car insurance coverage.3 Coverage may become more complicated when a financial institution owns the vehicle you drive, so if you’re taking out a loan to make the car purchase, keep in mind that the lender may require you to have specific insurance that might otherwise be optional.4 One example is collision insurance that pays for the repairs of damage to your car sustained during an accident. Another example is comprehensive coverage, which typically covers the loss of the car for theft, fire and other damage due to non-accidents. Find out what coverage you need and the cost before you buy or lease.
4. Decide What Additional Coverage You Need
It may seem counter-intuitive but buying additional car insurance coverage may save you money.
Weighing the options for additional coverage will help you to ensure you are well protected. Consider how your finances might be impacted if you're involved in an accident, and the injuries or damages exceed the amount covered by insurance. You purchase car insurance to help protect against the potential costs of a theft or accident, so be sure to talk to your insurance agent or carrier for professional guidance on the appropriate level of coverage for you.
In addition, there are other coverage options that may save you money. What if your financed car is totaled? Can you afford to pay the entire loan? In this case, you may want to consider GAP insurance, which covers the difference between what your vehicle is currently worth, which is what your standard insurance typically will pay, and the amount you owe on it.
Again, your insurance agent or carrier can help guide you through the available options.
5. Save Money with Accident Forgiveness
Having a clean driving record is one thing that typically can help you to qualify for lower premiums. But there are times when even a good driver can have an accident. You may want to consider looking into potential savings through Accident Forgiveness and Minor Violation Forgiveness, if available in your state. These optional features can help you avoid a premium increase following your first covered accident or minor violation. There are also other features that can help provide peace of mind, such as Decreasing Deductible and a Total Loss Deductible Waiver. Ask your insurance agent about these plans, if you fit the bill as being a responsible driver because of your good driving record. Some carriers – in select states – also offer a program that uses smartphone technology to capture and score driving behavior of drivers covered on your policy, which could result in savings both in your first term and at renewal. It’s another option to explore when you’re a good driver and looking to save on your car insurance.
6. Determine What Car Insurance You May Not Need
If you own an older car and are looking to trim your expenses, you may consider dropping collision and comprehensive coverage. You’ll want to consider how much your older car is worth when you consider the cost of your premium including collision and comprehensive coverage. Be sure to also consider your individual driving situation to base your cost-cutting efforts on all the factors that could help you determine if this is a wise choice for you. With an older car, you may be paying premiums that total more than your car's value. Typically, if your car is worth less than 10 times the insurance premium, it may not be cost effective to keep that part of your coverage.
7. Life Cycle Events Can Save Car Insurance Costs
One thing you can count on is that life will sometimes bring changes in your lifestyle and circumstances, so it’s smart to consider how these changes may or could affect your car insurance costs. For example, did your child go away to school? Perhaps there’s a Student Away at School discount you can explore. Did you buy a home? Maybe you can explore a Multi-Policy Discount and get the benefit of bundling your policies. These are some of the events that may help lower your car insurance rate. It’s a good idea to notify your car insurance agent when you have a major life event such as these, to have a conversation to ensure you’ve got the best coverage for your current life needs.
8. Choose the Deductible That Is Right for You
Your car insurance deductible is the amount you’ll pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in. The lower the deductible, the less you’ll pay out of pocket if an accident occurs. Selecting a higher deductible may lower your car insurance premiums.
For example, if you choose a $1,000 deductible and have an accident causing $2,000 in damage, you would pay the first $1,000 of a covered loss before insurance kicks in.
9. Compare Car Insurance Companies and Costs
With many things we buy nowadays there are choices. Many of us wouldn't think of buying a product or service without comparing prices, the value you get for your money, and the reputation of the provider. You may want to consider using the same philosophy when you purchase car insurance. Do your homework and then talk to your insurance agent or carrier about what your needs are.8
10. Ask Your Agent About Available Discounts
It’s a good practice to check in with your insurance agent at least annually to find out if you are eligible for a better car insurance rate. You may receive discounts if you bundle coverage, such as buying insurance for your home and car from the same company. As mentioned earlier, safe driving records and extra safety features on a car may also lower rates. Ask your insurance agent about any new offerings or gaps in your coverage to determine the best coverage for you.
Now that you’ve got some ideas on how to save on your car insurance, you may want to check with your carrier to review your coverage.