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Preventing Home Burglaries

March 9th, 2020 | Comments Off on Preventing Home Burglaries | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

Preventing Home Burglaries When on Vacation

As a homeowner, security is critical and can make all the difference when it comes to preventing costly and emotionally taxing burglaries. However, when preparing to leave for a vacation, it’s easy to overlook basic home safety precautions. To protect your residence while you’re away and enjoy a worry-free trip, keep in mind the following tips:

  • Lock all windows and doors. Secure valuables in a safe deposit box.
     
  • Arrange to have your lawn mowed or snow shoveled while you’re away. This makes it seem as though people are home and keeping up with daily chores.
     
  • Have a neighbor keep an eye on your home throughout your trip.
     
  • Avoid leaving your house key outside your home, even if you think it’s in a safe place.
     
  • Leave a car parked in your driveway to make it seem as though someone is home.
     
  • Set timers on inside lights. Install a motion-activated sensor on outdoor floodlights.
     
  • Avoid posting photos of your trip on social media until after you return home. You don’t want to leave any clues for thieves that you are away.
     
  • Stop the mail. Piles of uncollected letters and newspapers are a telltale sign you’re on vacation, which can attract burglars.
     
  • Disconnect automatic garage doors. This prevents robbers from gaining entry to your home using universal garage door remotes.

Taking the proper precautions before you go on vacation can make all the difference when it comes to preventing theft.

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The Basics of Life Insurance

March 9th, 2020 | Comments Off on The Basics of Life Insurance | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

If others depend on you for financial support, part of your financial plan should include how you will provide for them in the event of your death. To help you decide which option is the best for you, we’ve covered the basics.

The Basics of Life Insurance

If you are married, it’s important for both spouses to have a life insurance policy. If both people bring in an income, a death can be a difficult financial loss. Also, if a stay-at-home parent should pass away, expenses such as childcare and other domestic items can create financial hardship, too. 

There are two basic types of life insurance: term life insurance and permanent life insurance. The type of life insurance policy that best suits you will depend on your unique needs.

Option #1: Term Life Insurance

Just as its name implies, term life insurance covers you for a specific period of time, or term, that you choose. Since it offers a death benefit but no cash value, term life insurance is an inexpensive way to protect your beneficiaries for a specified period of time.

Renewal term life insurance can be renewed at the end of the term, at the option of the policyholder and without evidence of insurability, for a limited number of successive terms. It can also be converted, or exchanged for a permanent insurance policy, without evidence of insurability down the road. It’s important to note that rates generally increase along with the insured’s age.

Option #2: Whole Life Insurance

Permanent life insurance is any form of life insurance other than term. Examples are whole life, universal life and variable life. These policies combine term life insurance with a long-term, tax-sheltered savings plan.

Whole life is the most basic type of permanent life insurance. It provides coverage that lasts a lifetime and also builds up a cash value that you can borrow against, withdraw or use to pay future premiums.

A life insurance policy with a cash value is ideal for those who have a lifetime need for insurance protection, prefer stable premiums over the life of the policy, want a policy that allows them to build tax-deferred values, and value the high degree of coverage the policy affords. While rates for a whole life insurance policy remain stable over the life of the policy, premiums are initially more costly than for term insurance.

How Much Insurance Do I Need?

To find the right amount of coverage, it’s important to weigh your dependents’ current lifestyle and spending needs against their future sources of income and assets. We can help you figure out how much your family will need to replace this lost income over this length of time should something happen to you. Call us today at 240-644-6000 to learn more.

Source: The Basics of Life Insurance

Top Homeowners Insurance Claims

February 5th, 2020 | Comments Off on Top Homeowners Insurance Claims | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps


As a homeowner, you do everything you can to protect yourself from loss. Although some claims may be out of your control, being aware of common causes of insurance claims can help you prepare when faced with loss. The top homeowners insurance claims include:

  • Wind and hail damage—Damages from wind and hail are the most common homeowners insurance claims. Severe winds and hail can strip the siding off of your home, damage your roof and even break windows.
     
  • Fire and lightning damage—A recent study by the Insurance Information Institute found that fire and lightning claims are the most expensive, costing an average of $68,322 per claim. Faulty wiring, heating equipment and fireplaces are all common causes of household fires.
     
  • Water damage—Frozen pipes, sewage backups and various plumbing issues can lead to severe water damage. Remember, damages caused by flooding are typically not covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy.
     
  • Personal liability—Personal liability claims are made when a person or their property is damaged while visiting your home. In most cases, you are held responsible for paying any medical bills or repair costs for the damaged property.
     
  • Theft—Although theft is less common than other claims on this list, it can still contribute to severe loss. To protect your home from theft, consider installing a home security system.

Contact your broker today for more information on what perils are covered under your homeowners insurance policy.

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Weather Damage and Your Home

December 31st, 2019 | Comments Off on Weather Damage and Your Home | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

Weather Damage and Your Home Insurance Policy

” Depending on the terms of your home insurance policy—some weather-related damages may not be covered.”

Depending on the terms of your home insurance policy, some weather-related damages may not be covered. To ensure you have sufficient coverage, you must first understand what weather claims are typically covered under a standard home insurance policy.

Perils typically covered under your insurance policy include:

  • Lightning strikes—Lightning may result in severe smoke or fire damage, or cause power surges that can damage appliances or electronics in your home.
  • Hail, wind and fallen trees—All three can lead to a variety of damages to your home that are typically covered under a homeowners policy.
  • Frozen pipes—Frozen pipes and a small variety of other water-related damages may be covered under your insurance policy. The source of the water can determine your insurance coverage.

Perils often excluded from your insurance policy include:

  • Sewer backups and flooding—Certain water damage that may be due to negligence will typically not be covered under your policy.
  • Hurricanes, floods and earthquakes—Most natural disasters are not covered under a standard home insurance policy. However, you may be able to purchase separate policies if certain disasters are common in your area.

Talk to your broker today to determine what weather damage is covered under your homeowners insurance policy.

Credit Score & Insurance Premium

December 31st, 2019 | Comments Off on Credit Score & Insurance Premium | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

How Your Credit Score Can Affect Your Insurance Premiums

Your credit score is one of the most influential factors when it comes to financial outcomes in your life. Most people know that their credit scores affect their ability to obtain a mortgage or loan. What’s more, most people understand that the interest rates they pay on loans is tied to their credit scores. However, there are even more aspects of your life that are influenced by your credit score.

In fact, your insurance premiums can be directly affected by your credit score, which means that if your score isn’t great, you’ll be paying more for your coverage.

Insurance Scores

Many insurance companies use your credit score to generate a credit-based insurance score that is then used as a factor in determining your premiums. Credit-based insurance scores and your credit score are not the same thing. Insurance scores focus on only some factors of your credit history in order to gain an indication about how you manage risk. Factors that may be used include:

  • Payment history
  • Amount of debt
  • Length of credit history
  • Recent applications for new credit
  • Types of credit you have

In some states, insurance companies are limited in whether they can use credit-based insurance scores and, if so, to what extent.

While influential, credit-based insurance scores are only one factor in a company’s process of determining your premiums. Auto insurance companies, for example, could consider factors such as your location, age, the model and age of your vehicle, and how much you drive.

Improving Your Score

The easiest way to improve your credit-based insurance score is to increase your actual credit score. A healthier credit score can lead to lower premiums and put money back into your pockets. In addition, the higher your credit score, the better terms you will receive on loans and credit cards. As such, having a good credit score is helpful not only for the present, but also for your financial future.

Some steps that you should consider taking to improve your credit score include:

  • Be punctual—Paying your bills on time is a key factor in maintaining or improving your credit score.
  • Pay it back—Reducing the amount of overall debt that you have is a good way of improving your score.
  • Keep it open—Paying off a credit card feels great, but even if you don’t owe any money, you should still keep the account open.
  • Limit new debt—Keep the amount of applications you make for new credit to a minimum.
  • Maintain balance—Having a wide variety of types of credit, such as a mortgage, auto loan, credit card and personal loan can contribute positively to your credit score.

 

Contact Hodge, Hart & Schleifer today to learn more about how your credit score may be affecting your insurance premiums.

Home Inventory Checklist

October 7th, 2019 | Comments Off on Home Inventory Checklist | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

Why create a home inventory checklist? Though your homeowners insurance policy provides the protection that you need in the event of a loss such as a fire or burglary, your policy can only pay for items that you can document. In order to assure that all your prize possessions will be replaced, you should conduct a home inventory so you have a finite record of everything that you own. This inventory will assist you in determining which items were destroyed or stolen.

How should you conduct a home inventory? To complete a full home inventory, walk through every room in your home and identify all of the contents. It is also wise to take photographs or make a video of all of your possessions, and keep this media documentation with your list. Then, place all of this information into a fireproof safe or safety deposit box at your bank.

Periodically, update this list as you purchase more items for your home.
How does a home inventory list relate to my insurance policy? Not only can a household inventory checklist assist you in the event of a loss, it can also help you determine whether you have enough insurance coverage. Your coverage should equal the cost of your possessions at today’s prices. Items such as jewelry, furs and fine art should be appraised on a regular basis to ensure that you have enough insurance to cover their high-priced value.

Once you have completed your home inventory walk-thru, contact Hodge, Hart & Schleifer for more assistance with your insurance needs.

Capital One Data Breach

August 2nd, 2019 | Comments Off on Capital One Data Breach | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

Capital One Data Breach Impacts More Than 100 Million Customers – Video

Personal information of more than 100 million Capital One customers was compromised in one of the largest data breaches involving a bank. Watch this video to learn more.

Avoiding Heat Illnesses

August 2nd, 2019 | Comments Off on Avoiding Heat Illnesses | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

 7 Tips For Avoiding Heat Illnesses This Summer

The hot summer months can cause your body temperatures to rise without warning, especially when combined with activities like sports or yardwork. And, while it’s tempting to spend as much time outside as you can during the summer, you need to take measures to avoid heat illnesses.

Here are some tips for staying safe when you’re out in the heat:

  1. Wear loose, light-colored clothing so your skin gets air exposure.
  2.  
  3. Shield your head and face from direct sunlight by wearing a hat and sunglasses.
  4.  
  5. Avoid spending time outdoors during the middle of the day, when temperatures are highest and the sun is directly overhead.
  6.  
  7. Take regular breaks in a shaded area if you’re involved in a strenuous activity.
  8.  
  9. Drink water frequently, even if you aren’t thirsty. Experts recommend drinking at least 8 ounces every 20 to 30 minutes to stay hydrated. Stick to water, fruit juice and sport drinks while avoiding caffeinated or alcoholic beverages that can dehydrate you.
  10.  
  11. Monitor children and seniors carefully, since they can get dehydrated more easily.
  12.  
  13. Call 911 if someone exhibits symptoms of heat stroke, such as flushed skin, rapid breathing, a throbbing headache or confusion.
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Remodeling Your Home

August 2nd, 2019 | Comments Off on Remodeling Your Home | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

You’ve hired a reputable builder, collected paint swatches and selected the siding and now you’re finally ready to start that long-awaited remodeling project.

What Protection Does it Offer?

Whether your addition budget is large or small, you are adding both the value of your home and your exposure to risk. To ensure that your project goes smoothly and that you have the coverage you need, here’s what you need to know.

Working with General Contractors

The best way to minimize your renovation risk is to hire a reputable general contractor for the job. As part of the biding process, ask the general contractor to provide a Certificate of Insurance and/or copies of the policies. Specifically, check for coverage for the following:

  • Workers’ compensation: Verify that he or she has workers’ compensation coverage in the event that an employee or subcontractor gets hurt on the job.
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  • General liability: Ask if the contractor has liability insurance, which covers losses due to negligence and errors or omission, which results in property damage. Also ask that you are added as an “additional insured.”
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  • Builders risk: This policy is designed to cover damage to your home and materials, including those not installed yet. We can help you verify whether you should require this from your contractor, based on your renovation project.

Advice for Do-It-Yourselfers

If you decide to do it alone and manage a renovation yourself, you assume all the risks. A review of your homeowners coverage for liability and property is prudent, as you are assuming more risks and exposures than contemplated by homeowners insurance. 

Hiring subcontractors who can provide you with a “Certificate of Insurance” or copies of their policies showing their general liability and workers’ compensation coverage is mandatory for your legal protection. Otherwise, you could be subject to workers’ compensation laws, should they become injured while working on your home. If a friend or relative helps out as a favor and gets injured, your homeowners insurance typically covers the cost of their injuries, up to your policy limits. For an extra layer of protection, it’s a good idea to also carry umbrella liability coverage, which kicks in to provide liability coverage above your homeowners limits.

Insuring the Real Value of Your Home

Experts estimate that 1 out of 4 remodeling projects adds at least 25 percent to the value of a home, yet often most homeowners forget to increase their coverage to protect their investment. Most homeowners insurance policies require 100 percent of the home’s replacement cost, so it’s important to raise your home’s policy limit before your project begins.