What’s one of a homeowner’s greatest enemies? Water (where it shouldn’t be).
When water enters your home, it can quickly cause a lot of damage. So, it’s important to understand which types of plumbing issues and water damage are covered by your home insurance policy.
Learn about the types of insurance for water damage as well as what is and isn’t covered:
When it comes to coverage of water damage, the key indicators that an issue is likely covered are sudden and accidental.
Coverage of water damage would fall under dwelling coverage (the structure of your home) or personal property coverage (your belongings). A deductible and coverage limits may apply to personal property coverage — review your policy or contact us with questions.
Examples of water damage that are likely covered include:
On the other hand, water damage caused by issues that are not sudden or accidental, such as delayed maintenance and neglect, will not be covered. And homeowners insurance only covers the damage caused, not the source of it. You’ll have to replace or repair pipes and appliances yourself.
Examples of water damage that isn’t covered include:
Are you a home insurance expert or does the industry’s jargon leave you scratching your head?
Unfortunately, if you don’t understand everything that’s in your homeowners insurance policy, you could be vulnerable to expensive mistakes or unpleasant surprises later on. We’re here to help.
Keep reading for our list of 10 important, uncommon and often misunderstood home insurance terms to know about.
1. Adjuster: The claims adjuster investigates your claim, collects evidence and determines how much to pay for the property damage or total loss.
2. Declarations Page: This is the front page of your homeowner’s insurance policy. A declarations page summarizes basic information about your policy such as the policyholder, the home covered, and your coverage and premium amounts.
3. Indemnification: The compensation for your homeowners insurance claim.
4. Loss of Use: Coverage that pays additional expenses when a policyholder has to move out of their residence while repairs are made as a result of damage caused by a covered loss.
5. Negligence: A failure to take reasonable care or otherwise prevent damage to your home and property.
For example, you neglect to shovel the snow from your sidewalk and a neighbor injures themselves. Or, you don’t take a dead tree down and it falls on your property or your neighbor’s.
6. Occurrence: A single event or series of exposures that cause an injury or damage to your property. Examples include break-ins, fires, burst pipes and more.
7. Personal Umbrella Policy: An optional, additional liability coverage for your personal assets in the event of an accident on your property that exceeds the limits of your current homeowners coverage.
8. Replacement Cost: The actual cost of replacing your home and property in the event of damage or complete destruction. Replacement cost is different from the current market value of your home.
9. Scheduled Personal Property: If you have high-value personal property such as jewelry, artwork, antiques and more, this type of coverage can be added to your homeowners policy.
10. Subrogation: When someone else’s negligence leads to damage to your property (such as a neighbor’s tree falling on your roof), you can ask your insurer to settle the claim for you. Subrogation is the process of seeking payment recovery for you.
Have questions about your homeowners insurance? Just reach out, and we’ll be happy to help.
If your home is destroyed by a fire or other catastrophe, will you be able to rebuild it?
Learn what a reconstruction cost estimate is and how to calculate it for your home.
What is a reconstruction cost estimate?
Your reconstruction cost estimate (also known as your dwelling coverage limit) is part of your homeowner’s insurance policy. It refers to the cost of rebuilding your home and any attached structures as they were before a total loss.
The most important thing to know about a reconstruction cost estimate is that it’s not the same as your house’s current market value.
How is it calculated?
The simplest way to determine your home’s reconstruction cost estimate is to look up the average per-foot rebuilding costs (labor and materials) where you live. Multiply that per-foot cost by the square footage of your home and any attached structures.
Reconstruction Cost Estimate vs. Home Appraisal
A home appraisal looks at the real estate market in your area and comparable properties to determine a sale price for your house based on its location, condition and other relevant factors.
In contrast, a reconstruction cost estimate is solely about the price of labor and materials. If you had to build your home from the ground up, to resemble its current condition, what would it cost?
It’s important to choose the right amount of dwelling coverage, or you could be left with out-of-pocket costs for the difference between your coverage limit and the actual reconstruction cost.
What’s the difference between a reconstruction cost and a replacement cost?
The replacement cost for your home refers only to the price of labor and materials. Reconstruction cost accounts for additional costs related to rebuilding such as demolition, debris removal, and more.
Have questions about your dwelling coverage limit? Just reach out, and we’ll be happy to help.
Does your homeowner’s insurance protect against all the possible threats to your property? If you’re worried about something that isn’t covered, you may be able to add it on. An insurance add-on, also known as a rider or endorsement, is an optional addition to your policy.
It’s a good idea to review your current policy to get clear on the types of damage you’re insured against. Learn about a few popular insurance add-ons to see if any of them make sense for you:
1. Sewer Backup
Having your sewer back up into your sink, toilet or drain is no fun. In addition to the ickiness factor, the repair bill can be expensive. You need a plumber to unblock the sewer, and you’ll probably have a mess to clean up.
Adding a sewer backup rider to your homeowner’s coverage will cover the costs associated with repairing the problem, replacing damaged belongings and removing wastewater from your home.
2. Home-Based Business
Do you run a small business out of your personal residence? Instead of purchasing a commercial insurance policy, you can add a home-based business rider to your policy. This will protect the personal belongings in your office space and cover any medical bills for business visitors who are injured on your property.
3. Swimming Pool
When it comes to home pools, you should check your existing coverage to see if damage to the structure of your pool is covered. If guests injure themselves in or around your pool, it’s likely not covered by your standard homeowner’s policy. You’ll have to add injury coverage as a rider.
As with hurricanes and floods, earthquakes are a type of natural disaster that require additional coverage. An earthquake rider will cover the costs of repairs and debris removal in the wake of an earthquake. In addition to your home, earthquake coverage protects other structures on your property such as a garage, shed, deck, etc.
5. Umbrella Coverage
This is a type of personal liability insurance that protects you and your family from major claims and lawsuits. Umbrella coverage may extend to other homes you own, as well as your vehicles and any watercraft.
Have questions about insurance add-ons? Just reach out, and we’ll be happy to help.
With spring on the way, it’s time to think about protecting and maintaining your most valuable investment: your home.
It’s a good idea to give your house a thorough cleaning and inspection inside and out, both to refresh your space and to spot any potential problems.
Ready to get started? Be sure to add these five basic maintenance tasks to your spring checklist.
Examine Your Roof
Winter weather can take its toll on your roof. First, check for loose or damaged shingles, animal nests, loose metal strips, cracked caulking, signs of fungus or algae, and damage to the chimney exterior. Address smaller issues now before they turn into big problems later, and be sure to hire a professional if you’re not comfortable with ladders and heights.
Clear Out the Gutters
Again, this could be a DIY project depending on your skill level, or you could hire a professional cleaning service. Remove all debris from your gutters, then check for leaks. Finish by power-washing to clear out any remaining dirt.
Check for Cracks in the Foundation
Unfortunately, routine caulking isn’t always enough to prevent masonry cracks in your foundation. Hire a specialist for epoxy injection that will chemically bond the cracks.
Reseal Windows as Needed
A leaky window is bad for your energy bills. If the weatherstripping has been compromised or the caulk is cracked, make any needed repairs.
Get an HVAC Inspection
Along with changing the filters regularly, have a professional come out for a tuneup every year.
Spring is also a good time to check your homeowners insurance to make sure you have enough coverage. Reach out today if you have questions about your policy.
You’ve decided it's time to replace your outdoor deck and you’re ready to take it on as a DIY project, or you’ve decided to work with a licensed and bonded contractor for the heavy lifting. Before you start on such a critical project, it’s important to know that decking options have grown over the last several years, bringing new choices in composite plastic and wood products from which to construct your deck.
While they often cost more than wood, composite materials offer the promise of greater durability and less maintenance. Wood is still the most common choice for deck material, but it doesn't last forever. Composites may be more durable, but they might lack the natural look and color you are looking for.
In June 2016, CBS News reported that while wood products still have a command on the market, composites are growing in popularity. Synthetic wood commands about 16 percent of the $7 billion-per-year deck market and appear to be gaining some traction.
From cost to maintenance and durability to look, there are many things to think about as you decide between composite or wood for your next deck. Here are some pros and cons to consider before you decide which product to buy.
Calfee Insurance 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.
Pros of Composite Decking
Conventional wisdom has long held that kitchens and baths sell homes. Those are also two of the more expensive areas to tackle for home improvement, but if you make sound design decisions and choose the right materials, you could end up making your home more appealing to potential buyers – and a more enjoyable place for you to live. And, if you’re handy, some of these ideas may even be great DIY (do-it-yourself) home projects.
A study from the National Association of Realtors1 confirms that kitchens and baths still top the list of interior home improvement projects that appeal most to potential buyers. The survey ranked the projects by the percentage of the remodel cost that would likely be recovered based on the home’s resale value after the remodel. These five home improvements can potentially provide the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to ROI.
1. Complete Kitchen Renovation
National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s (NARI®) cost estimate for the project: $68,000
REALTORS® estimated cost recovered: $40,000
Percent of value recovered from the project: 59%
The look and feel of a kitchen can serve as shorthand for how up to date the owners have kept a house. Potential buyers have been known to rule out homes based on kitchens alone. Stainless steel appliances and granite countertops continue to be on many buyers’ checklists, especially those who want to move right in and start entertaining.
The top reason for renovating a kitchen, cited by 24% of homeowners, was to upgrade worn-out surfaces, finishes and materials. According to the Remodeling Impact Report, 10% of realtors said a completely renovated kitchen most recently helped them clinch a deal, resulting in a closed sale.
2. Kitchen Upgrade
NARI’s cost estimate for the project: $38,300
REALTORS® estimated cost recovered: $20,000
Percent of value recovered from the project: 52%
A less expensive alternative to completely gutting a kitchen is an upgrade to the current design. Replacing dated appliances, refinishing cabinets and changing out tile backsplashes are some cost-effective updates that can still modernize a kitchen and make it more appealing to buyers.
While 12% of realtors suggest that sellers completely remodel their kitchens, 57% have suggested a kitchen upgrade. Twenty percent of realtors have said a kitchen upgrade most recently helped complete a deal. In addition to the resale value, kitchen improvements can also help you enjoy your time in your home, with better functionality and livability cited by 29% of respondents as the most important result of their remodel.
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.
3. Bathroom Renovation
NARI’s cost estimate for the project: $35,000
REALTORS® estimated cost recovered: $20,000
Percent of value recovered from the project: 57%
Bathrooms are another place where a home can show its age, and potential buyers may hesitate at the cost and work involved in remodeling an outdated bathroom after buying a home. Still, while 33% of realtors have suggested sellers complete a bathroom renovation before completing a sale, only 4% said the project most recently helped them complete a deal.
4. New Bathroom
NARI’s cost estimate for the project: $60,000
REALTORS® estimated cost recovered: $30,000
Percent of value recovered from the project: 50%
A remodeling decision often driven by function rather than a desire to modernize, adding a new bathroom is nearly as expensive as completely remodeling a kitchen, but with less of a “wow factor” for potential buyers. With only 5% of realtors suggesting that sellers add a bathroom and only 1% saying the project most recently helped clinch a deal for them, this may be one project that makes more sense for homeowners planning to be in their homes for several years.
5. New Master Suite/Owners’ Suite
NARI’s cost estimate for the project: $150,000
REALTORS® estimated cost recovered: $75,000
Percent of value recovered from the project: 50%
The costliest project on the list, a new master suite or owner’s suite, is another project that may have greater value to you while living in the home rather than in making it attractive to future buyers. Sixty-five percent of respondents said they have a greater desire to be home since completing the project. Only 3% of realtors have suggested that sellers complete an owner’s suite before attempting to sell, and less than 1% said the project most recently helped clinch a deal for them.
Still deciding where to focus your budget for home improvement? Make a list of the reasons you’re considering each project, and be sure to consider the impact on your home insurance, too. Want to attract future buyers and increase the value of your home? Kitchens and bathrooms remain a good place to start.
If you plan to remain in your home for a number of years, you may want to update a bedroom, add a bathroom, convert a basement to a living area or tackle any other project that will add to your own appreciation of where you live.
If you rent an apartment or home, you might not be thinking about insurance. After all, you don’t own the building and your landlord may have insurance in case something happens. But if your living room is damaged in a fire, your landlord’s policy likely won’t cover your brand new laptop or your vintage vinyl record collection.
Renters insurance helps protect your personal property inside your apartment — your electronics, furniture and clothing — unlike a homeowners policy that generally covers the building as well as what’s inside. In insurance speak, protection for your personal property is also known as “contents coverage.” And, as a renter, if you invest in updating items such as built-in appliances or bathroom fixtures, you may be able to apply a percentage of your contents coverage to repair or replace what has been damaged.
Renters insurance can also protect your personal possessions from theft, fire, vandalism and other hazards, both at home and anywhere in the world. So if there’s a theft at the hotel you’re staying at while on vacation, your renters insurance may help you replace your stuff the same way it would if your things were stolen from your apartment.
Protecting You, Along with What’s Inside Your Apartment
It’s not just your possessions that renters insurance coverage can help protect. It can also help protect you. In case a claim is brought against you or you are sued by a third party, your renters personal liability coverage can help to cover the legal costs and related damages. Many renters policies provide a minimum of $100,000 of financial protection that may help if someone claims injuries or damages while in your apartment, or caused by your personal activities or those of your household members.
For example, if you are found legally responsible for accidental fire damage to the building where you live, liability coverage in a renters insurance policy may provide financial protection. This liability protection may also extend to any vacation property that you rent.
Like homeowners insurance, renters insurance can pay for necessary additional living expenses if you are unable to live in your apartment due to a fire or other loss that your insurance policy covers. You can also opt to purchase additional coverage for your valuable possessions that might have limited coverage in a typical policy, such as jewelry, fine art or silver.
Things to Know About Renters and Landlord Insurance
So, while your landlord’s insurance policy may protect the building itself in which you live, it likely doesn’t cover anything inside your apartment that belongs to you. A renters insurance policy can help give you peace of mind that you — and your stuff — have protection from unexpected events, both at home and wherever your travels take you.
Owning a home can mean dealing with the unexpected – from a tree falling on your roof to a pipe bursting in your bathroom. Because you likely can’t prevent all unwanted surprises, knowing what to expect if you have a homeowner’s claim can help give you some peace of mind.
While insurance carriers can handle claims in different ways, here are some basic steps in the process.
If Your Home Has Been Damaged:
Beginning the Claim Process:
We are an insurance company that cares. We help you get the coverage that meets your needs to help protect the things that are important to you, so you don’t have to worry.
Relocating After a Loss:
Resolving a Claim:
While renters insurance offers broad protection for tenants, it's important for consumers to choose the policy that best suits their individual needs.
A renters policy can cover your personal belongings and help cover legal costs in the event you are sued for accidental bodily injury or property damage of others. But not all policies are the same. Here are five questions to ask your insurance representative to help you make the right choice.
1. What's Covered and What's Not?
A renters policy generally covers your stuff against events like theft, lightning, fire, smoke, vandalism, explosions and windstorms.1 There's also liability protection against claims and lawsuits alleging that you caused bodily injuries or property damage. There may be coverage for certain kinds of water damage, such as leaks from damaged pipes. Your insurance rep can tell you if the policy includes additional living expenses if you're forced to move due to a covered loss.
A typical renters insurance policy does not generally provide coverage for damage from floods and earthquakes. Also, there will be limits on how much coverage is provided for your things. There could also be lower limits in the policy for different categories of your possessions. If you own expensive collectibles, such as jewelry or art, ask your insurance representative about buying additional coverage for these valuables.
2. Will a Renters Policy Cover my Roommate?
Renters insurance typically covers family members, but may not cover roommates. Calfee Insurance recommends that each occupant obtains his/her own policy to cover their individual stuff.
Some insurers allow roommates to be insured under a single policy. In these instances, roommates must agree to the level of coverage, based on the combined value of their stuff. If one roommate moves away, the remaining renter typically will need to obtain a new policy.
3. What's the Difference Between Cash Value and Replacement Coverage?
There are two types of renters coverage, one that pays based on your property’s actual cash value and one that pays based on you property’s replacement cost.
For example, a computer you bought for $1,000 eight years ago has significantly depreciated in value, let’s say to $200. If you have a cash value policy, the maximum amount you would be paid would be the lesser of the cost to repair it, or $200. If you have a replacement cost policy, the amount you would be paid would be the lesser of the cost to repair or replace the item with a similar new computer.
4. Will Owning a Dog Affect my Renters Coverage?
Some policies provide coverage if your dog injures someone, and some insurers exclude or limit coverage for customers who own a dog. It’s best to discuss this with your insurance representative when purchasing your policy.
5. Am I Covered if my Laptop Computer is Stolen from my Car Parked Outside my Home?
Renters policies generally include coverage for items stolen off-premises. That means belongings outside your home have insurance protection similar to the things inside your home. However, off premises coverage may be limited to a percentage of your total coverage for personal items. For example, if you have $50,000 in personal items coverage, the amount available for off-premises losses may be 10 percent of that figure, or $5,000. Also, keep in mind, there is generally a deductible that applies.