How Fido Can Affect Homeowners Insurance

Man’s best friend enjoys many of the benefits of his master’s home besides food and shelter and a comfortable place to live and play.  In return, dog owners expect companionship and possibly, protection; after all, even a small dog can bark to signal intruders.

Few people doubt that most dog owners love their pets and treat them well.  The costs associated with having a dog can include medical and dental that rivals human expenses, premium food, toys, grooming and Doglicense fees.  However, one of the expenses not anticipated by pet owners is a higher homeowner’s insurance premium or even a Cancelation of Coverage by an Insurance Company.

There are almost five million dog bites a year with children being the main victims.

“Dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowner’s insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2012, which amounted to more than $489 million,” said Peter Robertson, representing the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, testifying against the bill at a hearing of the Committee on Financial Services.  He said, “The total cost of dog bite claims increased by more than 51 percent between 2003 and 2012.”  It is now estimated that dog bites cause losses of over one billion dollars a year.

Some insurance underwriters have denied or canceled coverage or increased the premium of the owner’s liability insurance based on the homeowners’ specific breed of dog such as Pit Bulls, Dobermans, Akitas, Mastiffs, Malamutes and even German Shepherds.  The aggressive nature of certain types of dogs combined with specific training or lack of training, abuse or neglect are identified by insurer’s refusal to provide liability coverage.

If you are considering what insurers identify as a high-risk pet, you might want to visit with your insurance agent prior to acquiring your new best friend to see if it affects your rates.

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By |October 12th, 2013|Categories: Homeowners Insurance|0 Comments

5 Safety Devices and 10 Home Emergency Items – PLUS 5 Steps to Check that your Insurance has you Covered!

As a homeowner, you always want to be prepared. Here are five home safety devices you should have:
1. Fire extinguishers. Put one on every floor of your home, plus an extra in the kitchen where the vast majority of home fires start. Multi-purpose A-B-C extinguishers put out all types of fires. Check and recharge when the pressure gauge drops. You’ll even get a discount from some insurers.
2. Upstairs escape ladders. Put one under a window in each upstairs bedroom. Practice deploying them.
3. Wireless water alarms. Place under sinks, behind the refrigerator, anywhere water will collect if there’s a leak.
4. Automatic shutoff valve for water heater. This cuts off the water supply as soon as it senses a leak.
5. Sump pump alarm. Alerts you to a rapidly rising water level that could mean a flood.

If a disaster hits, here are 10 key items for a home emergency kit. Keep them in a waterproof plastic bin in an easily accessible place.
1. Battery-operated lantern. Throws more illumination than a flashlight and is much safer than candles.
2. Radio/phone charger. Get one with a hand crank for charging.
3. Multi-tool. Make sure it includes a can opener and pliers.
4. Mylar blanket. This shiny silver sheet is remarkably warm, yet lightweight, and folds up compactly.
5. Nylon rope. Handy for tying down outdoor furniture and securing doors.
6. Fishing line. This is a very strong way to secure items when rope is too thick.
7. Duct tape. Nothing is as versatile for quick temporary repairs.
8. Vinyl tablecloth. Spread it out anywhere to create a clean zone.
9. Baby wipes. These are great for removing dirt and grime from your hands or almost any surface.
10. Work gloves. Use these to protect your hands during post-disaster cleanup.

Here are five steps to take to get the right insurance at the right price:

Step 1. Determine how much coverage you need. Don’t go by your home’s appraised value, which includes the land. Ask your local homebuilders association for recent per-square-foot replacement costs. If your area is prone to natural disasters, price out extended or guaranteed replacement policies to protect you from inflated labor and material costs after such events. With your home replacement taken care of, look at coverage for possessions, living expenses, and liability.

Step 2. Find out what’s NOT covered. Standard policies don’t cover damage from flooding, mudslides, and earthquakes. If you’re in a flood zone, you may have to buy supplemental flood insurance. Most standard policies exclude mold, broken water mains, and sewer backups, but you can buy extra coverage for them.

Step 3. Examine the deductible. Some insurers are changing their deductibles from dollar amounts to percentages, which may turn out to be higher deductibles. If that’s the case, check that the premium has been lowered. To reduce your premiums, you want to take the highest deductible you can afford.

Step 4. Focus on the premium. When you get your renewal, compare the new premium to last year’s. If it’s up more than 5%, ask for an explanation. Did your risk profile change, or the market? Try to lower your premium by bundling in auto insurance, installing a security system, storm shutters, or a new roof. But first check with your insurer.

Step 5. Keep records. Do a home inventory of everything you own. Add receipts, photos, or videos and store with all paperwork, including your insurance policy, in a fireproof box. As a backup, scan and store that info on a flash drive and keep it off-site.

If you’re thinking of buying a home, we can answer any questions you may have about financing that purchase. We can also help with refinancing your existing home or funding home improvements. Please call or email us any time – we’re always here to help…. Have a great day!
P.S.: The housing market is in recovery, home prices are extremely affordable – and mortgage rates remain near historical lows. But it’s smart to get the process started early if you’re thinking about buying or refinancing. Please call or email us to talk about the attractive options available now.

Article Courtesy of Jerry Iverson, Senior Loan Officer, Evergreen Home Loans .

Evergreen Home Loans is a home loan lender and is not affiliated with Merit Properties, Inc. To read more about Evergreen Home Loans, click here

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