Important Information You Need To Know When Filing A Homeowners Insurance Claim

Homeowners insurance claim

Homeowners insurance claimDealing With a Homeowners Insurance Claim

If you’ve had a fire, water damage or another unfortunate event in your home, don’t fret. We have all the information that you need to get your claim underway so you can get your life back to normal.

When you have a homeowners insurance claim, your actions can make all the difference. Here’s how to maneuver through the claims process with ease:

  • If you were away from your home when the incident occurred, exercise caution when entering your property. If your property has sustained major damage, contact your local government officials to determine how you should proceed.
  • Report downed power lines to the utility company, and keep your electricity off if there is standing water in your home.
  • If it appears as though it is not safe to be at your home, leave.
  • Contact us to report how, when and where the damage occurred. Make a note of the claim handler’s name, telephone number and identification number when you call.
  • Protect your home from further damage without putting yourself in danger. This may include boarding up windows and salvaging possessions that did not sustain much damage. Your claim handler can advise you on how to do so safely
  • Prepare a list of damaged or lost items from your home.
  • Keep damaged items in your home until the claim handler has come for an inspection. Also, consider documenting the damage with pictures or video.
  • Provide receipts for damaged items if you saved them.
  • If you need to temporarily relocate, save all your receipts for additional expenses. Your policy may cover you for additional living expenses during this time.
  • Once you’ve reported your claim, the claim handler will send you some documents to complete within a specific period of time. Contact us if you have any questions, and return these forms promptly.
  • Contact your mortgage lender to notify them of your loss and to discuss potential contractor bids. Your lender may want to inspect a contractor’s job before making a final payment.

Let us help you throughout the process—contact us if you have questions or concerns. If you have not reviewed your homeowners insurance policy lately, please do so soon. It’s better to review your coverage before you need it. 

Click here to read more about homeowners insurance coverage. 

Do I Have To Pay If A Tree Falls On My House?

tree falls

tree fallsEvery year, storms are responsible for knocking over or breaking off limbs of numerous trees. Unfortunately, sometimes, a limb or tree falls on our house or other property. Cleaning up the damage from a storm can be a difficult task, both physically and emotionally. And things can become especially tense when you discover that it’s your neighbor’s tree that damaged your house.

To make matters worse, many homeowners are surprised to discover that if a neighbor’s tree falls on their house, it’s usually their own homeowners policy—not their neighbor’s—that will cover the cost of the damages. What follows are general guidelines for who pays what in various situations. However, you should also check your homeowners policy for coverages and exclusions. (Click here to learn more about homeowners insurance policies)

Your Property, Your Policy

Generally speaking, if your property is damaged, you are responsible for the damages. It doesn’t matter if the tree or limb came from your property, your neighbor’s property or even municipal property. Keep in mind that a windstorm isn’t anyone’s fault; it’s an act of nature. If a tree does damage your property during a windstorm, your policy will cover the damages. After all, that’s why you purchased a homeowners policy. To protect yourself against unforeseen losses like a tree damaging your house.

Their Property, Their Policy

It might seem unfair that if it’s your neighbor’s tree that damages your home, you should have to pay. Fortunately for you, that standard applies both ways. If a storm rolls through and your tree falls and damages your neighbor’s house, his or her insurance is going to cover the damages.

Negligence and Liability

So far, these scenarios have been fairly straightforward. But what happens when it wasn’t a storm that made the tree fall? Instead, your neighbor’s tree was hollowed out from years of disease, and he’d neglected to do anything about it. In fact, it was so diseased that you expressed your concern to your neighbor that it might topple over and damage your property. Unfortunately, one day, that’s exactly what happens. What then?

Your insurance carrier is still going to be the one paying your claim. However, if you can prove your neighbor knew that the tree was diseased and that he or she neglected to fix it your insurance carrier would probably attempt to collect from your neighbor’s insurance. If your carrier is successful, you could be reimbursed for your deductible.

Remember, though, this rule also applies the other way. If you have diseased or damaged trees on your property and they damage your neighbor’s house, he or she can try to prove your negligence. Your property is your responsibility. So it’s best to inspect your trees every year for signs of disease or damage. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, consider having a professional arborist examine your trees.

Other Structures

If the tree doesn’t damage your house but instead damages your fence, are you still covered? Generally, you are. Most homeowners policies distinguish between two different kinds of structures on your property. The “dwelling” refers to your house and any attached structures (like an attached garage), as well as any fixtures attached to the house. “Other structures,” including detached garages, sheds, fences or gazebos, are also insured, but typically only for 10 percent of the coverage on your dwelling.

Vehicles

If, in the aftermath of a storm, you discover that a tree has fallen on your car, your homeowners policy doesn’t apply. Instead, you’ll be looking at your auto policy. If you have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, your auto insurance carrier will pay for the damages, after you pay your deductible. The same rule would apply to a guest’s car. Hopefully, he or she took out comprehensive coverage, too.(Click here to learn about auto insurance)

Removal and Cleanup

What if the tree fell but didn’t hit anything? Would you be covered for removal costs? If the fallen tree blocks a path to your front door or driveway, then many homeowners policies would pay for removal. Generally, the maximum coverage is around $500. If the tree simply falls in the middle of your yard, your policy likely wouldn’t cover it. Unless the fallen tree damaged insured property, there is no loss to file a claim for.

Replacement

Replacing the trees themselves can be more complicated. Trees that have fallen due to wind damage may or may not be covered, so it’s best to check with your broker. Most policies offer limited coverage for trees that have fallen due to fire, lightning, explosion, theft, vandalism, malicious mischief or aircraft. Amounts and exclusions will vary. It’s important to read your policy and check with your broker if you have any questions.

Making Sure You’re Covered

Hopefully, your trees grow and endure. In the event that they fall, it’s important to know that you’re covered. Contact our office today to make sure that you have sufficient coverage for whatever might blow your way.

Important Insurance Tips For Your College Student

Insurance tips for your college student

Insurance tips for your college student

High School is over and it’s time for the next big step, college. The new students schedule is done, books are purchased and the day is approaching fast for the big move. New furniture, décor and electronics are all packed and ready to go. Before your college student can begin their next adventure you have one last item to complete on your check list. Talking with your insurance agent. While that may seem like an odd item to have on your checklist, it is probably one of the most important. Your insurance agent will have important insurance tips for your college student. When your child leaves home and takes up a new residence at college, that can affect how their belongings are covered. Below are a few questions you may have when it comes to insurance and your college student.

Will my college student’s belongings be covered by my homeowners policy?

Does your child lives in a campus dorm? There is usually a small amount of coverage that would be extended from your homeowners policy. If your child has expensive items, or a lot of items, you may need to consider purchasing additional coverage. Does your child lives in off campus housing? Their belongings may not be covered at all.

Is renters insurance really necessary?

Yes. Chances are your child’s belongings will exceed the amount provided by your homeowners policy, if they are even covered at all. Renters insurance will cover the possessions in your child’s housing at a small cost. You can purchase renters insurance for as little as $15 per month. This will not only give you the extra coverage, but peace of mind that that expensive new laptop or TV will be protected in the event of fire, theft, or other disaster.

In addition to your college students belongings, the move to college can affect your auto coverage and health coverage.

Will your child move more than 100 miles away from home?

If this answer is yes and they do not keep a vehicle at school, your insurance premiums could decrease by as much as 30%. If they are taking a car with them, be sure to review your auto coverage with your agent. Make sure you have the appropriate coverage and your child understands how it works in the event of a claim.

Does my child need to purchase health insurance?

In the state of Ohio, many health insurance carriers are now required to coverage children up to age 26. This rule applies regardless of full time student status. Be sure to review your health coverage to verify the dependent age limit on your plan. Also, make sure your child has an ID card with them if they should need to see a Dr or get a Prescription. They should also understand how the coverage works and if there is any copay they will be responsible for if they should have to use the coverage.

Sending a child to college can be a scary yet exciting time for everyone. When you add your insurance agent to your list of people to talk to during this transition, it can help give you peace of mind for you and your child’s future insurance needs. Remember, your agent is a great source for insurance tips for your college student.

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Your Home-based Business May Not Be Protected

Home-Based Business

Home-based business

 

The time is finally here. You quit your full time job and are going to fulfill your dream and start your own home-based business!! Your hobby of many years has now transformed into a new business venture. You own your home and have it covered by homeowners insurance, but does that also protect your new home-based business? Well, there’s a chance it will not. Most homeowners insurance policies do cover a small amount of business equipment, but it’s likely that what you own will exceed the limit offered. Also, the liability portion of your homeowners insurance policy will not cover any injuries that may occur to any clients that may be on the premises. 

 

Protecting your home-based business and your home

Your homeowners insurance is designed to protect your home and your personal exposure. To ensure you have your business properly covered, here are a few topics to consider.

  • How much is your equipment worth? Put together a list of inventory that includes everything required to run your business.
  • Will your business create extra liability? Do you take possession of other customers’ property? What if your product is defective?
  • Do you stock inventor? If so, make a list of the materials used and completed products you may have.
  • Are there any vehicles? If a vehicle that is used for business purposes must be insured.
  • Do you have employees? You may need to purchase workers compensation coverage.
  • Do you perform work in customers’ homes? If so, a bond may be required.

Now that you have this list of ideas and questions, it’s time to talk to your insurance agent and discuss what option would be best to protect your hone-based business. There are 3 options to choose from depending on your level of risk.

Homeowners Policy Endorsement

This option provides the least amount of coverage, and it not ideal for most home-based businesses. This type of coverage could be an option for a freelance writer with one computer and no customers visiting your home office.

In-home Business Policy

This option is more comprehensive than a homeowners policy endorsement and is a stand-alone policy. This policy would provide higher amounts of coverage for business equipment and liability.

Business Owners Policy, or BOP

A BOP bundles property and liability insurance into one policy. This policy is specifically designed for small to mid-size businesses and will cover your business property and equipment, loss of income, extra expenses and liability. This is the most comprehensive property and liability coverage option. This does not include workers’ compensation, health or dental insurance, but those can be purchased as separate policies.

The best way to ensure that your home-based business is protected is to gather up as much information you can and schedule an appointment with your insurance agent. When provided with all the facts, they will be able to assist you in choosing the best coverage option that will fit into your budget.

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Fire Safety and Prevention, What You Need To Know

fire safety and prevention

fire safety and preventionHome is where the heart is…it’s also where your family, prized possessions and most fond memories are. Home is also the same place that has the greatest risk of fire. Nearly 80% of fire deaths in the US each year occur in the home. Are you taking steps to keep your home and family safe? We have some tips for fire safety and prevention to share with you. 

Fire Safety

  • Check all electrical appliances, cords and outlets. makes sure they are all in working condition, without loose or frayed cords or plugs.
  • Use caution with portable heaters. Never place one where a child or pet could accidentally knock it over, and keep it at least 3 feet away from flammable objects.
  • Be careful in the kitchen. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires. Always practice safe cooking habits, such as turning pot handles to avoid being knocked over, and supervising children while cooking.
  • Check the fireplace. It should be kept clean and covered with a screen to keep sparks contained. Burn only wood in a home fireplace and never leave a fire burning unattended.
  • Beware of cigarettes. They are the number one cause of fire deaths in the US. Most are started when ashes or butts fall into couches or chairs, so use caution if you smoke in your home.
  • Use candles safely. Keep them out of the reach of children, away from curtains and furniture, and extinguish them before you leave the room. Do not allow children to use candles when unsupervised by an adult.
  • Be aware of holiday dangers. If you use a cut Christmas tree, be sure to keep it watered daily, and inspect all lights yearly for worn or frayed cords.

Fire Prevention

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home.
  • Use the smoke alarm’s test button to check it every month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
  • Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.
  • Plan escape routes by determining at least two ways to escape from every room.
  • Caution everyone to stay low to the floor while escaping and never open doors that are hot.
  • Select a safe location outside your home where everyone should meet, and practice your escape plan at least twice a year so everyone knows it well.

Do you need to discuss homeowners insurance with one of our agents? Click here to learn more or Click here to contact us.

Share these fire safety and prevention tips with everyone you care about, you can never be too careful!
Your friends at Rinehart-Walters-Danner Insurance.

Are My Valuables Covered By Homeowners Insurance?

Valuables

ValuablesYour grandmother decided to pass on her birthstone ring to you on you 16th birthday, many years ago. Of all your valuables, it is the most important to you. You always took extra precautions when wearing it and storing it. But, even when it’s locked up safely at home, is it truly safe? If it was ever stolen or lost, that’s what your homeowners insurance is for, right? Wrong.

Standard homeowners, condominium or renters insurance policies include a limit on coverage for jewelry and other valuables. Most policies have stringent limits on coverage of valuables.

  • Jewelry – as little as $1,000
  • Firearms – up to $2,000
  • Silverware – up to $2,500

Also, many policies may not cover losses due to theft, accident or loss.

Common items that require additional coverage

  • Jewelry
  • Silverware
  • Heirlooms (furniture, paintings, etc)
  • Rugs
  • Musical instruments
  • Fine Art
  • Antique china, crystal, decorative items
  • Designer appliances
  • Furs
  • Vintage wine
  • Collectibles (stamps, coins, glassware, etc.)
  • Firearms
  • Computers

Additional coverage options

Endorsements – Endorsements are additions to your homeowners, condominiums or renters insurance policies. This will change or add to the policy’s provisions. Your valuables are “scheduled” on a list that includes a brief description and the item’s dollar value. For all items, an appraisal or sales receipt is typically required. This will help ensure that, in the event of a covered loss, the amount of insurance is enough to cover the repair, replacement or cash payment of the item. The endorsement can cover property otherwise excluded from a basic homeowners insurance policy, extends the number of perils insured against or increase the amount paid for a covered loss. Items scheduled are typically not subject to the policy deductible.

Floaters – A Separate personal articles floater may be used to schedule your valuables that are subject to special limits under basic homeowners insurance coverage.

If you have an existing endorsement or floater, it is important to periodically review our policy’s coverage limits to minimize the likelihood of underinsurance arising out of outdated appraisals and inadequate limits of insurance.

Doing a home inventory can help protect valuables

A home inventory can be a great tool when it comes to protecting your home and valuables. A home inventory will allow you to go room to room and take pictures and details for your items. Some insurance carrier’s even provide a mobile application and you can save the inventory information within the app. 

As always, your agent is there to help you determine the best coverage for your needs. Doing a home inventory and sharing it with them is a great way to help make sure no valuables are missed.

 

What You Need To Know About Fireplace And Wood Burning Stove Safety

Fireplace And Wood Burning Stove Safety

It’s safe to say that winter is here to stay along with the freezing cold. Did you know the largest source of fire in American homes comes from fuel burning appliances? That is why fireplace and wood burning stove safety is so important. 

Wood Burning Safety

Use these tips to practice fireplace and wood burning stove safety. 

  • Read the instructions for your wood burning stove and follow them carefully. 
  • Inspect the firebrick liner, if you have one. Should the liner show signs of wear, replace it immediately. Do not use that unit until the liner is replaced. 
  • Do not use flammable or combustible liquid (gasoline, kerosene, lighter fluid, etc.) to start a fire. 
  • Burn wood recommended by the manufacturer only. 
  • Do not burn plastic, wood or garbage that has been painted or treated with chemicals. 
  • Be sure to have properly maintained smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and an approved multi-purpose fire extinguisher in your home. 
  • Never close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. Doing so will cause the fire to heat up which will force toxic carbon monoxide into your house. 
  • Take extra care when disposing of hot ashes. Remember that these embers may still be hot for several days. 

Solid fuel units tend to require a lot more maintenance than other heating systems. Therefore, regular inspections and care are needed to protect your home and family against fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Chimney Maintenance

Both metal and masonry chimneys require maintenance so that smoke and flue gases are ventilated properly. At the very least, you should have your chimney inspected annually before each heating season. In addition: 

  • Have  your chimney cleaned on a regular basis to reduce creosote buildup. 
  • Make sure your masonry chimney has a flue liner in place to reduce the possibility that the masonry could absorb creosote. 
  • Replace cracked or damaged liners, as they will allow creosote to accumulate and heat to escape. 
  • When hiring someone to reline your chimney, only allow the contractor to use a product that has been tested and listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. 

There are two types of chimneys that require specific maintenance to maximize the dangers in your home. 

  • Fireplace inserts (hearth stoves):
    • Vent should be connected to the flue of the chimney. 
  • Factory-built metal chimneys:
    • Do not use natural gas, fuel oil vents, well casing, stovepipe or other material in the chimney, as they cannot withstand the heat in the wood burner. 

A few other tips

Do not vent more than one heater or appliance into a single flue. Doing so can cause major complications. If one fuel-burning appliance is connected to a flue and then you attach another appliance, such as a water heater, you are running the risk of the following serious problems:

  • Heavy creosote accumulation
  • Deterioration of the flue
  • Creosote blocking the lower heater vent
  • Carbon monoxide drifting into your home

 

When it comes to your home and family fireplace and wood burning stove safety is crucial. Make sure to practice the above safety tips to stay safe and warm. Now is a good time to review your homeowners insurance coverage to make sure your policy is up to day and adequate.

Click here for information on homeowners insurance.

Click here to learn more about chimney fires. 

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How To Prevent Fires When Using Space Heaters

space heater

space heater“The weather outside if frightful, but the fire is so delightful”…well not all of us have a fire place, but a space heater will make due. Supplemental heating, such as space heaters, is the leading cause of house fires from December through February. They are the second leading cause of home fires year-round. 

Space Heaters – Did You Know?

According to the National Fire Protection Association, supplemental heating equipment is the leading cause of home fires from December through February, and the second leading cause of home fires year-round. Keep the following safety precautions in mind when using such equipment, like space heaters.

How Can You Keep Your Home Warm And Safe?

To help avoid a home fire, and a homeowners insurance claim, keep these safety tips in mind this winter:

  • Do not use space heaters to warm bedding, cook food, thaw pipes or dry clothing. These tasks can present major fire and burn risks.
  • Only use space heaters with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) safety mark. The UL signifies that the produce was tested for potential safety hazards.
  • Purchase units with automatic shut-off features and heating element guards.
  • Keep sources of fire at least 3 feet away from heater, including drapery, clothing or bedding.
  • Turn off space heater when leaving the room to prevent burn injuries.
  • Periodically check for frayed insulation, broken wires and overheating. Have your space heater serviced immediately if you notice any of these problems.
  • Use only fuel recommended by the manufactures for liquid-fueled space heaters.
  • Avoid using extension cords. If you must do so, make sure that the cord is the right gauge size and type for the heater.
  • Avoid placing space heaters in high-traffic areas of your home. Units with long cords can present a tripping hazard. 

Following the above safety precautions can help you have a warm, safe winter. After all, you families comfort and safety are surely a top priority. 

At Rinehart Insurance we do more than help you prevent claims. Call us today to discuss all of your insurance needs.

Thanksgiving Turkey Preparation Safety Tips You Need To Know

Thanksgiving

ThanksgivingThanksgiving will be here before we know it and chances are you’re already planning your menu. Everyone loves the green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and lets not forget the main star…the turkey! But there are a few thinks to keep in mind when preparing your turkey this Thanksgiving.
  • Thawing – There are three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in a microwave oven.
  • Preparation – After preparing the turkey, thoroughly wash your hands and disinfect utensils or surfaces to avoid bacteria from the turkey spreading to other foods.
  • Stuffing – The safest way to prepare stuffing is to cook it outside the turkey in a casserole dish. However, if you prefer to cook the stuffing in the turkey, do so just before cooking, and use a food thermometer. Make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a save minimum internal temperate of 165 degrees F.
  • Cooking – Be sure the turkey is completely thawed, and set the oven a minimum temperate of 325 degrees F. Make sure the stuffing, breast, thigh, and wing joint reach a safe minimum temperature of 165 degrees F.
  • Rest –  When finished, let the turkey stand 20 minutes before removing all stuffing from the cavity and carving the meat.
As long as you follow the above steps you will have a safe and delicious turkey! If you cook your turkey other ways such as smoker or deep fryer ensure you follow proper instructions for each device and keep a safe distance from your home or other structures. No one needs a homeowners insurance claim during the holidays.

Important Chimney Maintenance Tips You need To Know

chimney maintenance

chimney maintenanceIn spite of the ambiance and relaxation that a fireplace provides, there are also inherent fire dangers. To combat the risk of fire or inhalation of dangerous carbon monoxide (CO) gas, it is important for you to make chimney maintenance part of your home maintenace plan. Follow these tips to keep your chimney in good shape and prevent fire hazards.

General Chimney Maintenance Tips

Both metal and masonry chimneys require maintenance so that smoke and flue gases are ventilated properly. At the very least, you should have your chimney inspected annually before each heating season. In addition:

  • Have your chimney cleaned on a regular basis to reduce creosote buildup.
  • Make sure your masonry chimney has a flue liner in place to reduce the possibility that the masonry could absorb creosote.
  • Replace damaged liners, as they will allow creosote to accumulate and heat to escape.
  • When hiring someone to reline your chimney, only allow the contractor to use a product that has been tested and listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.

Specific Chimney Maintenance Tips

There are two types of chimneys that require specific maintenance to limit the risks in your home.

  1. Fireplace inserts—Make sure the vent is connected to the flue of the chimney.
  2. Factory-built metal chimneys—Do not use natural gas, fuel oil vents, well casing, stovepipe or other material in the chimney, as they cannot withstand the heat in the wood burner.

Keep These Precautions in Mind

Do not vent more than one heater or appliance into a single flue, as major complications can arise. If one fuel-burning appliance is connected to a flue and then you attach another appliance, such as a water heater, you are running the risk of various problems. Such problems include heavy creosote accumulation, deterioration of the flue or CO gas drifting into your home.

For additional home maintenance guidance and homeowners insurance solutions, contact us today.