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How to Complete a Home Inventory – 3 Easy Steps

One little known tool that makes the claims process easier for home insurance is the use of a home inventory.

A home inventory is a list, group of photos, or video of all the contents in your home. When it comes to a total home loss, a home inventory can make a significant difference in the amount of your claim settlement.

Grab a camera or cell phone and follow these 3 easy steps to completing a complete home inventory…

Nashville, TN home insurance

1.     Start with the Big Stuff

 

         First, go around your home and take pictures or video of all the large appliances and pieces of furniture in your home. Don’t forget the garage and outside. Make sure you take note of all model and serial numbers. If you have the receipts for these items handy, take pictures of those as well.

2.     Do a Complete Tour

         Go through each room one by one and take pictures or video of EVERYTHING. A few things that often get forgotten are bookshelves, inside drawers, inside cabinets, and closets. Don’t forget garages, attics, and outside. 

3.   Protect the Files

         After you gather all your pictures, you want to make sure those files are easily accessible in the event of a covered claim. Some ideas to keep those files safe are..

o   Upload to your email

o   Upload to cloud storage such as Google Drive

o   Upload to a thumb drive and store somewhere other than your home

 

o   Send to your agent to attach to your file

While a home inventory may take some time, it will make the claims process so much easier and will most likely result in a greater claims settlement.

 

If you have questions about completing a home inventory, please give us a call at 615-919-1009. We would be happy to help!

Will My Insurance Company Replace All My Stuff if Something Happens? – Importance of Knowing ACV vs RCV When it Comes to Home Insurance

When you buy home insurance, your mind often goes to what will happen if you have a claim. One question I often get asked in my agency is if the insurance company will replace everything back to the way it was before a covered event happens. In short, my answer is…it depends. There are a lot of factors to consider when discussing how a claim is paid. One thing to consider is if you have ACV or RCV coverage on your contents.

Home insurance quotes in Murfreesboro TN

Actual Cash Value (ACV)

ACV or actual cash value is the depreciated value of the item at the time of the covered claim. This is taking into consideration wear and tear and the age of the item – think “garage sale price”. Actual cash value is often not enough to buy a new item, putting you in a tight place when you are trying to replace the important things in your home.

Replacement Cost Value (RCV)

RCV or replacement cost value provides you with the necessary money to replace the lost items. This is better than actual cash value as it puts you in the same position that you were in before the loss.  

 

Be aware, when replacement cost coverage is in place, you will usually need to replace the item before the insurance company will pay your claim. There may be exceptions to this. Consult your home policy for terms and conditions.

How Do I Get Paid for a Claim?

It is sometimes assumed that if there is a total loss, you will simply get a check for the contents limits of your policy. This is not the case. That is the maximum you will receive in the event of a claim.

 

If you have replacement cost coverage, you will usually receive your settlement in two payments. After evaluating the damage, the insurance company will provide actual cash value for the lost items first. Next, you will need to provide proof that you have replaced the items in order to receive final payment. This will most likely be done over time with the help of an insurance adjuster. 

In Conclusion

 

It pays to take the time to make sure you have replacement cost coverage on the contents of your home. This will save you major headaches in the event of a covered claim.

If you have questions on how to read your policy or you want to look at other home insurance options, give us a call at 615-919-1009. We will be happy to help!

Disclaimer: Every carrier’s insurance policies are different. Please consult your homeowners policy for specific coverages, exclusions, and limitations.

Why Is My Car Insurance So Expensive? – Seven Tips to Lower Your Premiums

Car Insurance in Nashville and Murfreesboro

Car insurance is one of those necessary evils. It seems like every time you turn around, your rate is creeping up. However, there are a few things you can do to lower your rate or decrease the chance of your premiums increasing over time.

      1.       Call Your Agent – If you rate is increasing every year, it might be time to shop around. If you are working with an independent agent, they should easily be able to quote you with several other carriers with just a few clicks. Even if you save $15-20 a month, that is around $200 a year. That is a nice little savings in your pocket for one phone call or email!

 2.       Check Your Insurance Rate Before You Buy a New Car – If you are shopping for cars, call your insurance agent with the VIN number of the cars you are considering. Certain makes and models are much more expensive to insure due to repair costs and replacement parts. It might help pare down your choices and save you money in the long run.

 3.       Use an App that Tracks Your Driving Habits – Many carriers have recently come out with cell phone apps that track your driving and give you large discounts for adopting safer habits. These apps run in the background and start automatically when you are in a moving vehicle so you don’t even notice them. Most companies won’t penalize you if you are not the safest driver. You usually get a small discount for simply letting the app run on your phone.

 4.       Stay Ticket and Accident Free – One thing that really will increase your rate is a ticket or at-fault accident on your record. These will usually follow you for three years before your rate will go back down. Slow down and stay aware to keep saving money every month.

 5.       Reduce Coverage on Older Vehicles – If you have an older car that is only worth a few thousand dollars or less, you might think about switching to a liability only policy. As long as you have the money to replace or repair the vehicle if something happens, this might be a good option to lower your monthly expenses.

 6.       Raise Your Deductibles – The higher the deductible, the lower the rate. If you have the money saved should a covered claim occur, raising your deductible could dramatically lower your car insurance rates.

 7.       Make Sure You are Getting All the Discounts You Deserve – Every insurance company has their own list of discounts, so there might be some that you are missing. Check with your agent to make sure you are getting every discount you qualify for with your carrier. Some common discounts are:

          Safe Driver Discount

          Good Student Discount

          Multiple Policy Discount (i.e. Car & Home, Car & Renters, etc.)

          Multiple Vehicle Discount

          Defensive Driving Course Discount

          Drivers Ed Discount

          Good Credit Discount

          Anti-Theft Device Discount

          Occupation Discount (Teacher, Military, Etc.)

          Low Annual Mileage Discount

While the price is not only the only factor you should consider when choosing your car insurance, it certainly helps to have a few more dollars in your pocket every month by following a few easy steps.

If you have questions about car insurance or you would like a no-obligation comparative quote, give us a call at 615-919-1009 or click the button below. We look forward to serving you!

What Is Not Covered on My Homeowners Insurance? – 5 Optional Coverages You Need to Consider

Homeowners policies are all different, depending on your carrier. Most people assume that if they have a “standard” homeowners policy, they are covered for everything. That is simply not the case.

Many things that you think would be covered are actually optional coverages that your agent must add manually. If you have an inexperienced agent, when you go to file a claim, you could be on your own. You are effectively self-insured.

Home insurance quotes in Nashville, TN

Here are some optional coverages that you want to consider adding to your homeowners policy before you get caught holding the bill.

1. Sewer and Drain Coverage – One of the messiest disasters you could have happen in your home is to have a water backup caused by the sewer or drainage system. The damage is often in the thousands and coverage is not usually included in a standard homeowners policy. The Civil Engineering Research Foundation states that sewer backups are increasing at an alarming rate of 3 percent annually. A sewer and drain endorsement is inexpensive and can be added to your policy to protect you from these disasters. When the time comes, it is a worthwhile investment.

     2.  Limited Matching Coverage – Most people assume that if you have a covered claim, the repairs will make your home look exactly how it did before the damage was done. However, for many homeowners policies, this may not apply to roof shingles or vinyl/aluminum siding. When repairing a covered claim, the insurance company has no obligation to make sure the repaired portion of your home matches the rest. With a matching coverage endorsement, if your shingles or siding is out of production at the time of the repairs, the insurance company will also replace the undamaged portion to match. This protects the curb appeal and resale value of your home.

     3.  Building Ordinance Coverage – We know that if a covered loss should occur, your insurance company will rebuild your home to the way it was before the loss. But what if your home was not up to current building codes before the loss? You could be stuck paying the difference to bring your home up to code if you do not have a building ordinance endorsement. This additional coverage will usually give you an additional percentage of your Dwelling Coverage A in order to bring your home up to code. If you live in an older home, this coverage could save you a lot of money in the event of a claim.

     4.  Flood Insurance – Most people think that if you are not in a flood zone, you don’t need flood insurance. However, 20 percent of all flood insurance claims are in low to moderate risk areas where you are not required to buy flood insurance. Floods can be cause by many sources including storms, overflowing bodies of water, or over-saturated ground. Unless you live on top of a hill (and even then), flood insurance is worth looking into. It is usually inexpensive and give you significantly more protection against major weather events.

     5.   Earthquake Coverage – Standard homeowners policies will not cover damage from any sort of earthquake or earth movement. This also includes sinking, rising, shifting, expanding or contracting of earth. We personally had a claim denied due to “shifting earth” during an extreme drought in Nashville many years ago. It resulted in thousands out of pocket to fix foundation issues in our home. In Middle Tennessee, an earthquake endorsement is inexpensive and would protect you in the event any earth movement should occur.

While there are many more optional coverages, these are my top five to make sure you at least consider when you are shopping for a homeowners policy. While they might cost you a little more today, in the long run, these coverages could save you thousands and some major headaches.

If you have any questions about optional coverages, please feel free to give us a call or email us here. We look forward to helping you!

Disclaimer: Every homeowners policy is different. Please consult your specific homeowners policy for specific coverages, exclusions, and limitations.

 Resources: https://www.iii.org/article/protect-your-house-from-sewer-backups

                     https://www.valuepenguin.com/flood-insurance/how-flood-damage-defined

                     https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/7/140717-usgs-earthquake-maps-disaster-                       risk-science/

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Using an Independent Insurance Agent

Finding new home insurance or car insurance can be a lengthy and confusing process. You can spend hours calling agents and entering information into dozens of websites to get multiple quotes. However, there is one way you can save time (and usually money) when looking for insurance quotes – by using an independent agent.

Car insurance quotes in Nashville, TN

In the insurance world, there are two different kinds of agents – captive and independent. A captive agent is an agent that is contracted to sell one company’s brand of insurance products. There are many great captive agents (I used to be one!), but there are huge advantages to using an independent agent when you are shopping for insurance. Below are some of the top reasons to use an independent insurance agent in your quest for quotes.

1.    An Independent Agent Likely Has Many Different Carriers to Choose From

Where a captive agent is only able to sell one company’s products, an independent agent usually has several companies that they work with, giving you options. An independent agent can offer you the best products from different carriers or give you big discounts by bundling your policies with one carrier.

2.   An Independent Agent Can Compare Prices and Save You Money!

Independent agents often use raters that will quote several carriers at once with the click of a button. Rather than having to spend hours contacting 10 different agents and giving them all your information, you can give your information to one agent and get access to several different quotes. This can give you confidence that you are getting the best price for you!

3.   An Independent Agent Can Easily Put You with Another Company if Rates Increase

One of the greatest advantages of an independent agent is that if your rate goes up with your current company, they can easily move you to another carrier without the hassle of having to move agents. This also goes if you generally become unhappy with your carrier. Some agents will even requote you every renewal to make sure you are getting the lowest price they can offer year after year.

4.   Independent Agents Usually Offer Additional Products

Many independent agents offer health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, surety bonds, and other products that captive agents do not offer. This helps you to keep all of your insurance products in one place, lowering the risk that there are gaps in your coverage.

5.   Independent Agents Work for You, Not the Insurance Company

Independent agents do not work for any one insurance company, so they have your best interest in mind.

Again, while there are some excellent captive agents out there, it pays to consider using an independent agent in your next search for home insurance and car insurance. It could save you a lot of time and money in the long run!

If you are in Murfreesboro / Nashville or surrounding areas, please consider giving us a call at 615-919-1009 or visiting our website – www.advocateinsurancetn.com – for  a free, no-obligation comparative quote. We look forward to showing you the Advocate difference!

Welcome to My Blog

Insurance agent in Nashville, TN

I am Kristen Maurice, and I am the agency owner of Advocate Insurance. I am excited to share this blog about all things insurance.

I have had a passion to help people for most of my life and I am excited I found a place in the world of insurance. Most people don’t like to talk about insurance or find it boring, but I find it fascinating. It is one of the few things that almost everyone purchases, but hardly anyone knows much about it.

I hope this blog will make you a more informed insurance consumer. I hope that it will cause you to look over your current policies and maybe decide you might need some new ones. I hope that you will find something you didn’t know in each post.

I am always open to suggestions, so if you have an insurance topic that you want to know more about, send me an email. I will be happy to answer your questions in an upcoming post.

That is all for today. I will be back again answering your insurance questions soon!