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For your auto and home insurance coverage, should you go through an agent or online?

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For many people, the convenience of buying insurance online from the provider or from an 800 number is appealing; but when a CRISIS hits, it is in YOUR BEST INTEREST to have an agent who is LOCAL, whom you know personally and can serve as a liaison between yourself and the insurance carrier. It is always most beneficial to have your auto-home-life insurance, all with the same company.

At our agency, we know YOU personally, you never have to confirm your name, address, or give a policy number when you call. We take the time to meet and sit down with our clients and to do a review of all their policies. If you talk with an “800 Insurance Company” you’ll never speak to the same person twice and they have no idea who you are as a person and what coverage you need. If there is a serious claim, it’s doubtful that you could ever find the employee of the “800 Insurance Company” to ask them why they sold you the coverage that they did.

In times of trouble, our agency goes to bat for you. We help file the claim, we can speak the adjusters, and help out with any unforeseen situations related to the claim. This is especially important, especially with weather-related incidents where there can be quite a large area off affected clients. We’re here to be an advocate YOU, if something is not being addressed promptly or if there is a communication issue, we’ll help you resolve it quickly and get you back where you belong.

Another great attribute of having Farmers Insurance is that we only work with our own adjusters, meaning  the adjuster inspecting the damage is someone who is knowledgeable with Farmers Insurance policies. Many online insurers (as well as independent insurance agencies) use independent adjusters, who may not be as familiar with each insurer’s claims. This can cause larges delays as well as unfavorable outcomes when you have a claim.

For a review of your coverage, give us a call anytime 816-795-5977.

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Claims, Claims, Claims-What your agent did NOT tell you.

In last month or so, I’ve had 2 vastly difference scenarios with 2 different insurance carriers, both “name brands.”  I’ve changed the name to protect the guilty!  It’s sad that the scenario happened, but the claims service you receive from your insurance carrier can be vastly different from one carrier to another.

Insurance Company A-Client files a home claim Oct 5. They drag their feet and finally send out an adjuster on Oct 31. However this adjuster is not an employee of Brand A, they are a ‘independent adjuster’ who is not allowed to bring the claim to completion (and submit payment to the insured). They are allowed (by law) to take 10 days to complete the claim after inspection. The took the entire 10 days to process the claim and the check. Claim closed Nov 9
**Process time from claim filing to claim closed—-
**35(THIRTY FIVE DAYS)

Farmers client (my insured). Files home claim Nov 8th. Due to high claims volume from the Liberty hail storms 2 weeks ago, our adjuster (who is a FARMERS employee), works OVERTIME on a SUNDAY. Client gets their check in hand before the adjuster leaves their home on Sunday Nov 13.
**Process time from claim filing to claim closed—-
**5 (FIVE) DAYS.

If you know of someone who has had a claims ‘runaround’ those are great referrals for me. We are proud of our company, offer great service, take care of our clients, and most importantly proud of our claims service. #WeAreFarmers 

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Homeowners and Renters–Tips for Holiday Security

The FBI reports that nearly 400,000 burglaries occur between November and December each year in the United States, but some burglars can be deterred; here are some tips:

  • Do not hide spare keys under flowerpots or doormats.
  • Use a timer to turn household lights on and off even if you’re not home. Burglars watch for occupancy cues especially unlit homes.
  • Do not display your Christmas tree and presents in front of easy-access windows.
  • Keep your windows and doors, including sliding doors, secured and locked.
  • Make sure you’re home to accept any packages that are scheduled for delivery. If not, request that the packages are left with a trusted neighbor, the post office, or shipped to your work address.
  • Request to suspend your mail if you are going out of town or on vacation.
  • Do not leave notes on your door announcing that you’re away from home.
  • Do not leave empty boxes from high-priced items outside your home for trash collection. Burglars would love nothing more to swipe your brand new flat screen TV, your children’s newest game system, and your computer.
  • Ask a trusted neighbor to check up on your home if you’re out of town.
  • Arm your security system if you have one installed and monitored. Studies show that homeowners with security systems only arm them 50% of the time.

Moving and Selling Your Home? What To Do When Your House Is Vacant

Selling your home can be a stressful process, especially when it doesn’t move quickly.  With a new job looming, you may have no choice but to leave the home vacant for a short time until it sells.

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So is there a problem?  Truthfully there can be.  When you have a homeowner’s policy, on of the insurance company’s requirement is that the property is “Owner Occupied.”  Since you no longer occupy the property, generally these now vacant homes fall under different insurance rules and can leave you at risk.  Homes are typically considered vacant when the utilities are shut off and/or furniture has been removed.

Insurance companies view a vacant home as a higher risk.  There are more opportunities for vandalism and no one living there to protect the home from fire or storm damage should they occur.

So what should you do when moving?

First you need to talk to your insurance agent and get the details on your policy.  Since policies vary by state and insurance company, there is no single right answer.

Explain the situation to your agent.  Ask what coverage is included and what is excluded (specifically for vandalism as well as water damage).  And find out what changes can be made to protect your home.

Selling a home doesn’t always follow a quick timeline.  If you’re facing the possibility of leaving your home vacant, contact us first  and find out how to best protect yourself and your property.

We are always here to answer your questions. Call 816-795-5977 or email anytime-jolson3@farmeragent.com

 

What you NEED TO KNOW about Homeowner’s Insurance

Everybody who owns a home and has a mortgage has to have home insurance—but understanding the policy in it’s entirety?  Well as your agent and insurance adviser we know you’re not wizards at this stuff and that’s why we have such an important job. It’s truly about education.

Here are seven things that smart homeowners need to understand when shopping and comparing policies.

1. Insurance companies look at replacement cost, not market value

Did you get a ‘good deal’ when you bought your current home?  Did it appraise for $325,000 but you only paid $305,000?  Do you think your home insurance policy should list the coverage on your home for exactly $305,000 then since that’s what you just paid for the house?  Not so fast, my friend.  In the event of a claim what do you want your policy to do?  The answer of course is to REPLACE/REPAIR the damage whether it was to the structure or your contents after your deductible is met.

When you buy a house here are factors that affect the house value: age of the house, size of the lot, school district, local neighborhood–just to name a few.

There are a myriad of factors that go into determining a homes replacement cost including but not limited to: age of the house, square footage, style of the house, number of bathrooms, if there’s a basement and if the basement is finished, number of garages, square footage of the deck. I think you get the idea.

 

2. You should never, ever ignore water or flood risk

Planning to skip flood coverage because you’re in the middle of the high plains? Think again. Lakes, rivers, and oceans aren’t your only watery concerns. Forgetting about your sump pump or sewer can be a catastrophic mistake.

Back up of sewer or drain is NOT COVERED under any company’s base home insurance policy. You have to select additional coverage (typically from $5,000-$25,000) and pay and additional premium for coverage. The #1 cause of this type of claim is a failed sump pump. Even brand new ones can fail if you have heavy rains for several days or if you lose power during a storm.

If there is a power failure and it causes the pumps to fail and you have flooding in the basement this is the ONLY way that you’ll have coverage; otherwise you’re on your own to clean up the mess and repair any damage.

3. Don’t use insurance for maintenance issues

Making a claim on your home insurance will likely cause your premium to rise. That’s no fun for anyone, so unless you have a major catastrophe it’s always best to contact the agent first to discuss the situation to see if it merits filing a claim.

Also, too many claims could result in cancellation of your policy. So keep your claim activity to a minimum.  As a general rule of thumb I would suggest not turning in a claim unless the total amount of damage is twice your deductible or more.

Gone are the days of using your home insurance for maintenance issues that arise from daily wear and tear. Insurance should only be used for larger claims or catastrophic incidents.  If you do have multiple claims in a short time period (2 claims in 3 years; 3 claims in 5 years) it will be very difficult to move your insurance when you choose to shop. No insurance carrier wants a client who is “claim happy.”

Want another way to think about your home insurance? Here is another thought– When you use your home insurance, it should be with a sense of “Thank God I have insurance.”

4. Tell us before remodeling your home

Very seldom do our clients tell us about home renovations until well after the fact. But letting us know what you thinking or planning on doing can help eliminate some surprises down the road.  If you don’t, otherwise you might find yourself paying some big bucks in either premiums or lack of proper coverage down the road.

Not only do you want to ensure any possible mishaps are covered under your policy, but your insurer likely will need to reassess your property, especially if renovations affect the value of your house.

Some renovations—like a new roof—can lower your premiums by as much as 25%. But others, like putting in a pool or trampoline, can cause your premiums increase due to liability concerns. In fact some insurance carriers will cancel or non renew your policy if you have an unfenced pool or unfenced trampoline. Double check with us before finalizing construction plans.

5. Buying insurance isn’t “like shopping for gas”

Understanding the intricacies of your policy can be immensely overwhelming, tempting many homeowners to shop exclusively for the lowest price. But being more methodical can make a huge difference.

Don’t view buying insurance like shopping for gas.  You are buying coverage for the MOST EXPENSIVE  possessions that you own. Make sure to ask plenty of questions, such as ‘Is this replacement cost policy or actual cash value?’ and ‘what are limits on my personal property (jewelry, guns, etc)?’

Go through your policy with us every 1-2 years, asking questions whenever you’re confused. We do this for all our clients; it’s called a Farmers Friendly Review.  Don’t feel bad about asking questions, that’s what we’re here for.

Insurance can scare even the most educated consumer. So take your time, ask questions, and don’t just go with the cheapest price because seldom is that the best decision.

6. Insurance is not a conspiracy theory.. No, seriously.

Believe it or not, we (your insurance company) don’t set out to smash your dreams of reimbursement with an iron hammer. And we are not the type of company to cancel your insurance if you have a claim or two.

One area that makes things very difficult as an agent are people who think the insurance companies are out to deny every possible legitimate claim.  There is not a vast conspiracy against the clients.

You might not want to believe it but we (the insurance company) do want to keep you happy. And sure, we also want to protect the bottom line as well.

7. Don’t get frustrated about increasing premiums

As your agent and adviser of choice we are your ally. Remember: We are not the ones setting the rates or raising your premiums. You might be upset, but just give us a call to understand what exactly is happening with your policy.

Remember we are NOT the the insurance company, but we understand that we are your liaison between the insurance company and yourself as the client. We understand that increases are difficult on you as the insured.

If you have an issue with your coverage or rate, remain calm during discussions.  What we do is to go over the coverage line by line and see if you’re eligible for any new discounts or if dropping a coverage or raising a deductible might be a good fit for your situation.
If you’re a client and it’s time for a review call 816-795-5977 or email jolson3@farmersagent.com.

If you’re not currently a client and have learned something in this post that you should’ve been taught by your agent years ago, contact us today for your personalized proposal.
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Personal Umbrella Liability Insurance-What is it and do you need it?

If you were found liable for an accident, would your current insurance coverage be enough to pay for a judgment against you, or would your assets be at risk to help pay? “What about my homeowners and auto insurance? Don’t they cover me?” If you are sued, your standard homeowners or auto policy can provide liability coverage, paying for judgments against you along with your attorney’s fees, up to a limit set in the policy. However, if the judgment against you is for more than your insurance covers, you could be forced to pay a legal judgment from your current assets and future earnings. You might think this scenario is unlikely, but what would you do if it became reality? That’s where a personal umbrella liability policy can be beneficial to help you provide the protection you want.

With a Personal Umbrella policy, you’ll have additional liability limits over and above those provided by your underlying homeowner and auto policies. An umbrella policy can help prevent financial hardship by providing protection that you choose for both current assets and future earnings.

Umbrella Insurance Explained

So how can a personal umbrella policy provide the protection you want? This type of coverage offers additional protection above what your auto and homeowners policies will cover. For example, should you be involved in a car accident and sued, your auto policy covers you up to a predefined amount, your coverage limits. If the cost goes over that limit, your umbrella policy kicks in and covers you for an additional amount up to the limit on your umbrella policy.

You may also think that only those with a large amount of assets would benefit from an umbrella policy, but that’s not necessarily the case. Do you like to entertain? Have a pool? A large dog? You could benefit from considering an umbrella policy. Ultimately, if you or something you own accidentally causes damage to another person, you can be sued for more than just what you have in the bank. Any retirement funds, investments, savings and even future earnings can be at risk to pay for a settlement. In some states, the equity in your home can be part of the judgment and you may have to sell your home to pay for a judgment against you.

Regardless of your personal finances, if a situation arises where you may be held financially responsible for an accident, it could be beneficial to purchase an umbrella policy. A million-dollar umbrella policy is available for far less than you may think as well. Depending on your policies you can get coverage in Missouri or Kansas for as little as $120/yr.

Other Benefits

Besides providing increased liability limits, a Personal Umbrella policy can fill gaps in your coverage with added benefits, such as:

  • Coverage for claims that may not be covered by your underlying Homeowners, Auto, or Watercraft liability policies, such as libel, slander, or defamation of character.
  • Worldwide coverage.
  • Paying for defense costs and attorney fees associated with claims against you that are covered by your Personal Umbrella policy, but not by your primary policies.

Protect your future with the coverage you want

If the unexpected occurs, do you have enough coverage to protect you and your family’s assets? Talk to me about adding a Personal Umbrella policy to your insurance portfolio. The added protection you choose with an umbrella policy can outweigh the minimal cost, and can be financially advantageous should you need it.

 

Do you have questions or comments on umbrella policy coverage?  Call 816-795-5977 or email jolson3@farmersagent.com.

Protect Your Family During Severe Weather

Did you know that March is Severe Weather Preparation Month?

While it may still feel like winter outside, it won’t be long until spring arrives.  And with it comes spring storms!  Is your family prepared?

First things first, make sure you have designated a safe place to go to if the weather gets bad.  It could be a basement, closet, or room with no windows or outside walls.  Make sure this space is cleared out enough that you could easily get your family inside if needed.  (You don’t want to be clearing out the closet if there is a tornado!)

Next, put together a small emergency kit.  What would you need if the power was out?  Consider putting in flashlights, extra batteries, canned food, and plenty of water.  (Don’t forget supplies for your pets too!)

Keep emergency phone numbers in your cell phone contacts, including the all our phone numbers
Office: 816-795-5977
Jon’s Cell: 816-304-1614
Claims: 800-435-7764
You could even save a note in your phone with your policy numbers too!

While we can’t prevent bad weather, it’s always great to be as prepared as possible.  Take care of your family first and know that we’ll be there to protect your belongings.

 

March Home Maintenance

What do you need to do this month to keep your home running smoothly and your family protected?  Read below to find out!

Change Batteries In Smoke Detectors – When the time changes, it’s a great idea to change the batteries in all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  This way you always know that they are working and in good order!  The spring time change this year is on Sunday March 8th.

Make A Severe Weather Plan – Designate a safe place in your home in case of bad weather.  Stock it with basic emergency supplies and throw in an extra flashlight and batteries too!

Check Your Credit Report – March is Credit Education Month.  When was the last time you checked to see that your credit reports were accurate?  If it’s been over a year, stop by www.annualcreditreport.com and order a free copy today.

Review Your Insurance Discounts – Are you getting all the discounts you qualify for?  Call us to review your policy and see if there are any changes that need to be made.

 

And as always, give us a call if you have any questions or need assistance with auto, home, business, or life insurance.

Tips for Insuring Your High Value Jewelry

Christmas is a popular time for new jewelry purchases.  Between engagements, holidays, and all of those jewelry sales, it seems like everyone has a few new trinkets by the time January rolls around.

If you’re investing in a new ring or receiving any special jewelry, then there are a few things you need to know about jewelry insurance!  Let me help….

Jewelry is part of the contents coverage on your Home or Renters policy.  It is covered on a basic level, but it’s usually not enough coverage if you have several nice pieces.  This coverage varies by policy so call us to find out exactly how much coverage you have.

But there is a special coverage you can ADD to your policy to insure each piece of jewelry!  It’s called “scheduled personal property.”

You simply send us a copy of the appraisal (sometimes a receipt will work too) and we can tell you exactly how much it will cost to insure it.  Many times it’s less than $20-30 per year (depending on the value).

We can also discuss how this coverage protects you if you lose the jewelry and if you’ll still owe a deductible.

Even if you don’t want to insure each piece of jewelry you own, you can still increase your overall jewelry coverage to make sure that there is enough to protect your collection.  You will still want to add photos, descriptions, and appraisals or receipts to your Home Inventory!

The holiday season is a magical time!  Make sure that your beautiful gifts are protected.  Call us today to get started!

Are Your Christmas Gifts Covered? 

This time of year, most of us are doing a lot of shopping!  Christmas gifts and holiday sales mean that everyone is buying a little bit more than normal.  So what does that have to do with insurance?

Let’s look at some common purchases and how you can make sure they’re protected!

Electronics – Did you purchase a new flat screen TV or Xbox on Black Friday?  Maybe a new laptop or some high dollar headphones?

All of these items are covered for theft or fire (or any other covered peril) by your Homeowners or Renters Insurance, but they are subject to your deductible.

However the BIG problem is that when someone has a major fire or burglary, they FORGET what they have!  It’s hard to remember every item in your home.

That’s why we recommend that you keep a Home Inventory of high-dollar items.  Save your receipts, take photos, or just keep a list.  Keep this info in a safe place (like a file backed up in the cloud), so that you can access it in case of a claim.  This isn’t required, but you’ll be glad you have it!

Guns, Jewelry, & Art – If you purchase high dollar, custom, one-of-a-kind, or collectors items, you need to contact us as soon as possible!  These items will be covered by your policy, but may be limited to an amount much less than what they’re worth.  If you contact us, we can review your policy and tell you exactly how much coverage is available and if you need to add these specific items to your policy.

And what about all of those gifts sitting in your car trunk?  Yes, it’s a great place to hide presents from the kids but here is the bad news – your auto insurance DOES NOT cover the contents of your vehicle.  That means that if someone breaks in and steals everything, it’s only covered by your Home or Renters policy.  And if you have a large deductible, you could be out of luck!  Get those presents into a safe location quickly and don’t keep them stored in your vehicles.

’Tis the season for lots of shopping!  Call us to make sure all of your possessions are properly protected!