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.

Should I Bundle My Insurance Policies Or Not?

bundle

bundleIf you’ve ever shopped around for insurance, you’ve likely been asked if you want to bundle your policies. In other words, combine your home or renters, auto and life insurance policies with the same carrier. Although you have the option to shop around individually for each policy, it almost always makes sense to have the same carrier cover as many of your policies as possible.

Click here to learn more about personal insurance options

Benefits of Bundling

  • The discount—Most policyholders bundle their policies because of the promise of a discount. The amount varies by provider but can generally range between 5-25 percent.
  • The option of a single deductible—With bundled policies, your deductible may be cheaper in the event of a claim that affects multiple policies. For example, if your home and auto policies are with two separate carriers, and a hailstorm damages your home and your car, you’re responsible for paying both your home and auto deductibles before receiving payment. But if you bundle your policies, your provider may offer you the option to pay only the higher of the two deductibles.
  • Less chance of being dropped—If you’ve made claims or gotten tickets, having your policies bundled with one provider can decrease the chance of them dropping you.

When It Doesn’t Pay to Bundle

It isn’t always better to bundle your policies with one insurance carrier. Here’s when it may be better to split them up:

  • If you have tickets or past claims that make your auto insurance expensive – In this case, it may be cheaper overall to buy each policy from separate providers.
  • When premiums increase—Bundling discourages people from price shopping, which makes it easier for providers to increase their rates. Most assume that you won’t go through the effort of shopping around when your policies renew.
  • If policies aren’t technically bundled—Some carriers may insure you with an affiliated company. Although you may get a discount with that company, you’ll lose the convenience of paying your premium with one familiar provider.

A Few Tips to Consider

Although discounts are the main reason people bundle their insurance policies, never assume that bundling is the cheapest option. Your needs and circumstances will dictate whether you should combine your policies with one carrier. Consider the following tips:

  • Shop for new coverage when your policies renew. Ask for the price of the individual premiums as well as the price of the bundled premium. Then you can decide whether it is worth it. Just make sure you compare the same coverage when shopping for quotes from each carrier.
  • Ask if the provider uses a third-party insurance company. Remember that you may save money but lose the convenience of dealing with one provider and a combined bill.
  • Ask an independent insurance agent to get prices from multiple companies so you don’t have to do the legwork. An agent that is loyal to a particular carrier may be able to offer discounts that you can’t get alone.

With multiple factors contributing to the price of your insurance premiums, it is important to shop around in order to get the best rate for your insurance needs. Feel free to contact us to determine if bundling is right for you and help you take advantage of all available discounts.

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.

Helping you Understand the 80% Rule for Home Insurance

80% Rule

When it comes to your home, making sure you’re adequately insured is of the utmost importance. Despite this, many homeowners are unaware of the “80% rule” for home insurance. As a result, they find themselves underinsured when trying to replace their personal property after a loss. Understanding the 80% rule—and following it—can help you protect yourself and your home.

The Basics

There are two valuation options available when purchasing insurance on your home. Typically, homeowners can elect to insure their home and personal property on an Actual Cash Value basis or at replacement cost. Actual Cash Value refers to the amount needed to repair or replace an item, minus depreciation (the decrease in the value of your home or personal property due to normal wear and tear). Replacement cost refers to the amount needed to repair or replace your damaged property with materials of similar kind and quality without deducting for depreciation.

Most insurance companies require homeowners to purchase replacement cost coverage worth at least 80% of their home’s replacement cost in order to receive full coverage. For example, if you bought your home for $275,000, you would need to have insurance for at least $220,000 for the insurance company to fully cover any potential claims.

Many homeowners follow the 80% rule when first purchasing their home but are unaware of the importance of adjusting their coverage to keep up with the changes inflation and home improvements can make to their home’s overall replacement cost. As a result, these homeowners are surprised after a disaster or loss when an insurance company doesn’t cover the total cost of replacing their home. Without having at least 80% of the replacement cost of your home insured, your insurance company may only pay the difference between 80% of the replacement cost of your home and the amount of coverage you purchased.

The 80% Rule in Action

Following the example above, let’s say you secured insurance for $220,000—or 80% of the replacement cost of your home—when you first purchased it. Then, you renovated your home, and these improvements significantly raised the replacement cost of your home to $350,000. For your insurance company to fully cover claims, you’d need to increase your insurance coverage to reflect 80% of the new replacement cost of your home, which would be $280,000 in this case. A storm causes $100,000 of damage to your home, but because you increased the amount of insurance on your home to $280,000, the insurance company covers the total cost of the repairs, minus your deductible.

Let’s say you didn’t adjust your insurance coverage, so you only had $220,000 in coverage for your home that is now worth $350,000 to replace. Instead of having at least 80% of the new replacement cost of your home insured, which would be $280,000, you only have 62.86% of the total cost insured. In the event of a claim, the insurance company would divide the amount of coverage you purchased ($220,000) by 80% of the replacement cost of your home ($280,000) and only cover the difference between those two amounts. So, in the same scenario from above, instead of the insurance company paying the full $100,000 (minus your deductible) to repair the damage caused by the storm, they would only pay roughly $78,570, as the difference between the amount of insurance you purchased and the 80% replacement cost was 78.57%. You would then be responsible for paying the remaining $21,430 in repair costs, plus your deductible.

As you can see, failing to adjust the amount of insurance you have on your home to ensure you’re following the 80% rule can be extremely costly. Regularly reviewing your coverage amounts, especially after you’ve done home renovations, can help you make sure you’re properly covered, even if your home’s replacement cost increases.

What Affects the Replacement Cost of My Home?

Because the 80% rule is directly affected by any changes to your home’s replacement cost, it’s important to understand what can affect the replacement cost value of your home. While every policy varies, some of the most common things that affect your home’s replacement cost value are:

• Square footage of your home
• Home renovations and improvements (e.g., changing flooring, appliances and fixtures; updating a roof; or installing new windows)
• Cost of replacing materials
• Labor costs in the event repairs are needed
• Value of interior and exterior components

It’s important to note that the market value of your home does not necessarily affect your home’s replacement cost. As such, things like curb appeal, the condition of your home and the value of comparable homes in your area may not affect your replacement cost value. Be sure to talk to your representative at Rinehart, Walters & Danner Insurance Agency so you can understand what may affect the replacement cost value of your home under your policy.

Making Sure You’re Not Underinsured

Securing adequate coverage for your home, especially as the replacement cost value changes over the years, is essential in protecting your home and your wallet. Contact Rinehart, Walters & Danner Insurance Agency today to make sure you have sufficient coverage under the 80% rule for homeowners insurance.