Are My Valuables Covered By Homeowners Insurance?


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to periodically review our policy’s coverage limits to minimize the likelihood of underinsurance arising out of outdated appraisals and inadequate limits of insurance.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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Should I Bundle All My Insurance Policies Or Not?


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.

Safety Tips For Your Holiday Decorating Needs

holiday decorating

holiday decoratingIt’s cooling down and holiday spirit is in the air. For many, it’s time to start holiday decorating! While holiday decorating adds beauty to your home, it can also bring added risk. Trees, garlands, and lights can add extra fire hazards if not used properly. The last thing you want for Christmas is a homeowners insurance claim to deal with. But don’t worry, we have a few tips to keep your home and your family safe this holiday.

Christmas Tree Safety

  • Keep a fresh-cut tree outdoors and cover the trunk in snow, or immerse it in a bucket of water until you are ready to decorate it.
  • When you are ready to put up a live tree, cut a 1- or 2-inch diagonal off the bottom of the trunk. The new cut will help the tree to absorb water, which preserves its freshness.
  • Select a spot for the tree that is at least three feet away from a heat source.
  • Put the tree in a sturdy, water-holding stand with widespread legs, and keep the stand filled with water.
  • Once a tree becomes dried out, do not keep it in your home or garage, as it is highly flammable.

Holiday Lighting Safety

  • Mixing and matching lights can create a fire hazard, so keep outside lights outdoors and inside lights indoors.
  • Always buy lights and electrical decorations bearing the name of an independent testing lab, such as UL, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and maintenance.
  • Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings before using them. Throw away any that appear damaged.
  • When hanging your lights, string lights together using built-in connectors. Do not join more than 200 midget lights or 50 larger lamps through one string or cord.
  • Do not connect more than three sets of lights to one extension cord.
  • Remember to unplug all decorations and lights, both inside and outside your home, before leaving or going to bed.
  • If you blow a fuse, unplug the lights from the outlet and immediately replace the blown fuse. If the replacement fuse blows again, a short circuit may be present. Throw the faulty light string or decoration away, or if it is new, return it for a refund.
  • When hanging lights outside use a ladder made of non conductive materials to reduce the risk of electrocution.

Candle Safety

  • Place candles in stable holders and in a spot where they cannot be easily disturbed.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate your Christmas tree.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended, and always extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Avoid placing candles near flammable objects.
  • Keep burning candles out of the reach of children.

Taking extra precautions while decorating can be the difference between a relaxing holiday season or a tragic holiday season.

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Helping You Understand the Different Parts of a Homeowners Insurance Policy

Homeowners Insurance Policy

Homeowners insurance is one of the most frequently purchased forms of coverage among U.S. residents. As their name suggests, these policies provide critical financial protection for your home, family and belongings. However, homeowners insurance coverage can also be a complicated subject. Although these policies may be common, they can vary significantly in their details and capabilities. As such, it’s critical to conduct your due diligence and ensure you thoroughly understand your homeowners insurance policy and the coverage it provides.

Different Types of Homeowners Insurance Policies

There are many types of homeowners insurance policies for you to choose from. The form you select plays a significant role in determining the financial assistance available to you following losses. Some policies may only provide coverage for the physical structure of your home, while others may provide more extensive coverage. Similarly, some types of homeowners insurance can render financial assistance in response to a wider variety of perils than others. This article focuses primarily on HO-3 homeowners insurance policies.

An Overview of HO-3 Homeowners Insurance

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, HO-3 homeowners insurance policies are the most common type of homeowners coverage. This form of insurance casts a wide safety net across many risks and exposures that may affect your home while also providing coverage for many aspects of your life. Generally, HO-3 policies are composed of the following primary components:

  • Dwelling coverage—Your HO-3 homeowners insurance can provide financial assistance if the physical structure of your home is damaged or destroyed by a covered peril. This may include its roof, walls, floors, foundations and attached appliances.
  • Other structures coverage—This includes coverage for additional structures on your property other than your primary residence, such as detached garages, tool sheds, gazebos, guest houses and fences.
  • Contents coverage—This coverage can provide financial assistance for losses related to your personal belongings, including furniture, clothing and electronics.
  • Loss-of-use coverage—If a covered event damages your home or makes it uninhabitable temporarily, this part of your HO-3 insurance policy can help pay for resulting expenses, including dining at restaurants or staying in hotels. This coverage may also compensate you for lost income if you rent out part of your home but are unable to collect rent due to property damage.
  • Liability coverage—Your insurance can provide financial assistance if you or your family (including pets) are at fault for another party’s losses. This may include bodily injury and property damage costs, such as the affected party’s medical bills or lost wages. This coverage also provides financial assistance for legal expenses arising from such incidents.

Common Endorsements or Additional Coverages for HO-3 Homeowners Insurance

Although the core components of HO-3 homeowners coverages can provide ample financial protection in many situations, you should also work with a qualified insurance professional to identify any remaining coverage gaps. Certain perils and incidents may be excluded from standard HO-3 policies, meaning you would have to pay out of pocket for resulting losses.

Fortunately, you can augment your homeowners insurance with additional coverage by purchasing endorsements. These investments can prove invaluable, as they enhance your HO-3 policy to cover losses that might not otherwise qualify. Common endorsements to consider include the following:

  • Water/sewer backup coverage—If your plumbing or sewer line backs up and causes water damage, this endorsement can help recoup your losses.
  • Scheduled property coverage—Although the contents coverage generally included in standard HO-3 policies can protect some of your belongings, particularly valuable items, such as jewelry, art and collectibles, may require this endorsement to be fully covered.
  • Service line coverage—If your phone, power lines, sewer, gas lines or water pipes are damaged on your personal property, this endorsement can help cover the cost of repairs or replacements.
  • Flood coverage—Property damage from external water entering your home (i.e., due to flooding) is not generally covered under a standard policy. Check with your agent to determine if you can add flood coverage to your policy via a policy endorsement, which is the case in some areas of the country. However, most often, you’ll need to purchase a stand-alone flood insurance policy, which your agent should be able to assist you with.
  • Earthquake coverage—Losses caused by earthquakes are typically excluded from HO-3 policies. To ensure coverage for these perils, consider adding an endorsement to your homeowners insurance or acquiring a separate earthquake insurance policy.
  • Windstorm coverage—In many cases, such as if you live in areas prone to tornados and hurricanes, coverage for losses arising from severe windstorms may not be covered. As such, you may need to add a windstorm endorsement, if available where you live, or talk to your agent about purchasing a windstorm insurance policy to gain appropriate coverage.

Acquire Optimal Coverage

Without fully understanding your homeowners insurance policy, it’s impossible to ensure your coverage is adequate. With that in mind, working with a qualified insurance professional to assess your circumstances, explore your options and assemble ideal homeowners coverage is necessary. Contact Rinehart, Walters & Danner for more information.

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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Does My Homeowners Insurance Policy Cover Water Damage?

Water Damage

Water damage is one of the most common reasons for homeowners to make an insurance claim. But does homeowners insurance typically cover water damage? The answer depends on the specific policy and the cause of the damage.

To ensure you’re covered for water damage due to water backup, sewer backup and sump pump failure, it is vital to speak with your insurance agent. They can review your current homeowners insurance coverage and help you purchase any necessary endorsements to provide appropriate coverage.

What Causes Water Damage?

Water backup is when water flows back into your home through a drain or a toilet due to a blockage in the main sewer line.

Another cause of water damage that homeowners may encounter is a malfunctioning sump pump. Sump pumps are designed to pump water out of a basement or crawl space, preventing water damage. However, water can flood the home if the sump pump fails. Some homeowners insurance policies may help cover sump pump failures, but it isn’t typically included in a standard policy.

Standard homeowners insurance policies do not typically cover these types of damage. Common reasons for water backups may include the following:

  • Tree roots—When searching for moisture underground, tree roots can enter older or cracked pipes, slowly causing extensive damage or blockages.
  • Aging plumbing systems—As plumbing systems age, they become more susceptible to backups and other problems. Leaky or burst pipes and faulty plumbing fixtures can also cause water damage.
  • Combined pipelines—If your city combines sewer and storm drainage lines, you may experience issues during a storm. Heavy rains can overwhelm the system and create water backup problems in your home.
  • Blockages in the sanitary main—City sewers can also become blocked over time, leading to water backing up into your home.
  • Sump pump failure—A malfunctioning or non-working sump pump could cause extensive damage to your home. Note that while a water backup endorsement may pay for damage caused by sump pump failure, it may not cover the cost of replacing the pump itself.
  • Weather-related issues—Heavy rain, floods, hurricanes and snowstorms can also cause water damage in a home. Water can enter a home through roof leaks, foundation cracks or flooding from nearby bodies of water.
  • Appliance malfunctions—Faulty parts, wear and tear, or poor maintenance can cause serious water damage. Dishwashers, refrigerators, washing machines and water heaters can cause water damage in a home.

Sewer and Drain Backups Cause Devastating Household Damage

Water damage from sewer and drain backups is a common cause of property damage. Water damage and freezing accounted for 19.9% of home insurance claims nationwide in 2020. The average homeowners insurance claim payout for water damage was $11,650 between 2016 and 2020.

How to Help Prevent Water Damage

The following steps can be taken to help prevent water damage:

  • Keep gutters and downspouts clean and free of debris to ensure that rainwater is properly directed away from the foundation of the home.
  • Grade the soil around the foundation to help prevent water from pooling near the home, which can lead to leaks and water damage.
  • Regularly maintain plumbing and sewer lines by having a plumber perform routine inspections to identify potential issues and to clear out any blockages.
  • Avoid flushing inappropriate items down the toilet or pouring grease down the sink, as these can lead to clogs and backups.
  • Install a sump pump or replace an aging sump pump to help prevent basement flooding. Regular testing and maintenance of the sump pump is important to ensure it functions properly.

Water Damage May Cause Mold Damage

Household water damage can lead to mold growth, which can cause serious health problems, especially for people with allergies or weakened immune systems. Mold can grow within 24 to 48 hours of water damage and spread quickly throughout a home.

The cost of mold remediation can be high, ranging from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the extent of the damage. Unfortunately, mold damage is often not covered by a typical homeowners insurance policy unless caused by a covered peril, such as a burst pipe or accidental overflow of a plumbing fixture.

Homeowners may need additional coverage or endorsements to ensure appropriate coverage for water and sewer backup-related mold damage.

How to Get Coverage for Water Backup

Homeowners can purchase an endorsement that provides water and sewer backup coverage. It’s essential to check with your insurance agent to ensure that you have water backup coverage before a damage-causing incident. The cost of water backup endorsements varies based on the level of coverage and your specific policy.

Making Sure You’re Covered

Reviewing your policy with your agent and purchasing any necessary endorsements for water backup is crucial to ensure you’re covered in a water damage incident. Contact Rinehart, Walters & Danner Insurance Agency today to learn more about your current homeowners policy coverage and available endorsements.

Navigating the Homeowners Insurance Marketplace in 2023, We Can Help

homeowners insurance marketplace

Homeowners insurance continues to be one of the essential types of coverage acquired and maintained by Americans in 2023. However, while these policies may be integral components of homeowners’ insurance portfolios, being common should not be mistaken for uncomplicated. Prospective and current policyholders should remain apprised of recent economic patterns and relevant industry trends to avoid being blindsided by changes in their coverage or costs.

Heading into 2023, several significant conditions are affecting the homeowners insurance market. Inflation continues to have wide-reaching implications for the U.S. economy, and the insurance market is far from immune to these effects. As the cost of building materials used to repair homes and goods replacing destroyed belongings increase, so too must the cost of insurance. In addition, the increasing frequency of natural disasters has led to a recent surge in homeowners insurance claims, culminating in Hurricane Ian inflicting over $67 billion in insured damages last fall.

What to Expect in 2023

Factors that influenced the homeowners insurance marketplace in 2022 are not going to disappear this year. Most policyholders should not be surprised to see their premiums continue to increase, although certain influencers may become less impactful. For example, although construction labor and building material costs continue to affect homeowners insurance costs, recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that at least the latter’s increasing prices may be leveling off.

Severe weather events and natural disasters will likely remain significant threats in 2023. With that in mind, increasing insurance premiums, specifically in high-risk areas like southern states, should be expected. Fortunately, homeowners in some areas may enjoy some financial reprieve as government officials take action. For example, in December 2022, the state of Florida passed legislation designed to provide a safety net for insurance companies and stabilize the property insurance market.

5 Tips for Buying Home Insurance in 2023

Amid market trends and global factors mainly outside of the average policyholder’s control, there are still various ways to optimize homeowners insurance coverage and either reduce premiums or minimize increases:

  1. Bundling policies—By combining multiple components of their insurance portfolio under the same broker, such as home, auto and life, homeowners may be privy to discounts as high as 20-25%. Furthermore, bundling coverage can make it easier for policyholders to manage their insurance portfolios and decrease the likelihood of an insurer dropping them in response to an incident.
  2. Improving homes—Upgrading property can help secure lower homeowners insurance prices. Potential improvements may include installing new plumbing or storm shutters, upgrading roofs and adding security or fire protection systems.
  3. Reconsidering home features—Certain additions to your property, such as swimming pools and trampolines, may generate additional risks and exposures. Insurance companies generally must consider such conditions and raise premiums accordingly.
  4. Exploring discounts—Homeowners who have not filed a claim against their policies for an extended period (generally at least three-to-five years) may receive a discount. Even aspects of a homeowner’s life not directly related to their home could earn them lower premiums. For example, many insurance companies may offer discounts for members of the military or certain professions, such as law enforcement officers, firefighters and teachers.
  5. Reassessing coverage—Some homeowners may be able to find lower rates by shopping around for multiple quotes. Altering the details of coverage may also help to keep premiums from increasing. However, policyholders should proceed with caution when adjusting their insurance. For example, increasing deductibles may lower premiums but also mean higher out-of-pocket costs before a policy will render aid.

For most Americans, homeownership is a dream come true. However, like any significant financial investment, a home must be adequately protected by comprehensive insurance. In 2023, many factors must be accounted for while optimizing homeowners insurance policies.

For More Information

Maintaining sufficient coverage while controlling costs can be a difficult task. With that in mind, it’s essential for homeowners to work with a knowledgeable and experienced insurance agent. For more information or help navigating the homeowners insurance marketplace, contact Rinehart, Walters & Danner Insurance Agency today.

The Growing Need for Personal Cyber Coverage

personal cyber coverage

personal cyber coverageToday’s society has grown increasingly digital in nature, with many individuals leveraging smart devices within their daily lives. Although this technology can offer various benefits, it can also make individuals more susceptible to cybercrime. Such incidents have steadily become more common and costly. In fact, the FBI reported receiving more than 800,000 complaints regarding cybercrimes in the past year, totaling $4.2 billion in overall expenses.

These findings emphasize how critical it is for individuals to safeguard themselves and their families from cyber events. That’s where personal cyber insurance can help. Typically offered as an endorsement to a homeowners policy, this form of coverage can provide financial protection for losses resulting from a range of cyber incidents—including fraud, identity theft and data breaches. Keep reading to learn more about the growing need for this coverage and the key types of personal cyber insurance available.

The Growing Need for Personal Cyber Coverage

Technology has continued to advance in the past decade, playing a larger role in how individuals live, work, and entertain. A variety of online platforms have given individuals the ability to stream content, communicate with others, shop for goods and make electronic payments at the click of a button. Additionally, smart devices have allowed individuals to upgrade a number of household appliances (e.g., thermostats, fridges, doorbells and security systems). Altogether, this technology has contributed to the growing adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT), which refers to any devices that connect or send information to the internet. Looking ahead, insurance experts anticipate that the average household will possess as many as 50 IoT-capable gadgets by 2023.

While these devices certainly offer several advantages, increased technology utilization also comes with greater cyber vulnerabilities. As technology advances, so do the tactics of cybercriminals—resulting in more frequent and severe cyber events. Here are some of the most common cyber incident scenarios that individuals and their families may encounter:

  • Bank fraud—This form of fraud entails a cybercriminal gaining unauthorized access to an individual’s electronic bank credentials, allowing them to transfer and steal funds from the individual’s account. According to a recent report from NortonLifeLock, cybercriminals steal over $170 billion each year via bank fraud.
  • Identity theft—Such theft refers to a cybercriminal accessing an individual’s personal information (e.g., Social Security number or credit card number) and using it to commit fraud or other crimes under the individual’s name. The Federal Trade Commission confirmed that nearly 1.4 million complaints related to identity theft were filed last year, up 113% from the previous year.
  • Data loss—In the event that an individual’s device gets infected with a virus or other malicious software (also called malware), they face the risk of losing any valuable data stored on that device. Viruses and malware can come from numerous avenues, including harmful websites, dangerous email attachments or infected USB flash drives—thus making data loss a major threat.
  • Extortion—Ransomware incidents have contributed to a substantial rise in cyber extortion over the last few years. These incidents stem from a cybercriminal using malware to compromise an individual’s device (and any data stored on it) and demanding a ransom payment in exchange for restoration. In some cases, the cybercriminal may even threaten to publicly share the individual’s data if they don’t receive payment. According to cybersecurity experts, ransomware incidents have increased 500% since 2018, with the average ransom payment totaling over $300,000.
  • Cyberbullying—While social media platforms allow individuals to connect with others, these platforms can also, unfortunately, be used for negative purposes, such as cyberbullying. This type of bullying includes refers to harassment, threats or other intimidating language that occurs via electronic means. Although anyone can be a victim of cyberbullying, kids and teenagers are particularly vulnerable. The latest data from Pew Research revealed that 59% of teens have experienced cyberbullying.

Considering these risks, it’s clear that individuals can’t afford to ignore cybercrime. In addition to implementing effective cybersecurity practices (e.g., using trusted devices, browsing secure websites, conducting software updates, backing up data, creating unique passwords and knowing how to identify potential scams), having adequate insurance in place is crucial. By investing in personal cyber coverage, individuals can properly protect themselves and their families amid cyber-related losses.

Types of Personal Cyber Coverage

Personal cyber insurance varies between insurers. However, there are a number of key coverage offerings available:

  • Online fraud coverage—This coverage can offer reimbursement for financial losses that may result from the various types of online fraud, such as phishing scams, identity theft or unauthorized banking.
  • Online shopping coverage—Such coverage can help pay for the cost of any goods that were purchased online but arrived damaged upon delivery or didn’t get delivered whatsoever.
  • Identity recovery coverage—This coverage can provide reimbursement for the expenses associated with recovering from an identity theft incident (e.g., rectifying records with banks or other authorities, hiring a consultant to assist with credit restoration and taking unpaid time off from work to recover from the incident).
  • Data restoration coverage—Such coverage can help compensate the cost of having an IT specialist recover a device and restore any data stored on it if the device gets infected with a virus or malware.
  • Data breach coverage—This coverage can offer reimbursement for the necessary notification and recovery services in the event that private, nonbusiness data entrusted to the policyholder becomes lost, stolen or published.
  • Cyber extortion coverage—Such coverage can help pay for the expenses associated with responding to a ransomware event (e.g., consulting an IT specialist to mitigate the extortion attempt and restoring compromised devices or data).
  • Cyberbullying coverage—This coverage can provide reimbursement for the costs that come with recovering from a cyberbullying incident resulting in unlawful harassment or defamation of character. These costs may include psychological counseling services, legal advice, temporary relocation expenses and social media monitoring software. This coverage can also offer protection if an individual or their child faces engages in cyberbullying and faces subsequent legal action from the victim.

Because personal cyber insurance is still a relatively new type of coverage, it is usually only available as an add-on to an existing homeowners policy. Further, certain insurers only provide this coverage as an endorsement for high-value homeowners policies. Yet, some insurers may offer standalone personal cyber coverage. Moving forward, insurance experts expect the personal cyber coverage market to continue growing, allowing for more widely available policy options. In any case, individuals should consult trusted insurance professionals to discuss their specific coverage capabilities.

For further risk management resources and insurance solutions, contact us today.

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 maintenance 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.