Friday, July 26, 2013

Will My Home Insurance Cover Leaky old Plumbing?

Will your home owner’s insurance policy cover leaks from old plumbing fixtures?  The answer is, well maybe. 

Virtually all home insurance policies today cover plumbing leaks that are sudden and accidental. In other words, you're covered for a pipe that abruptly springs a leak, as opposed to one than trickles out water over months or years.

Older policies also cover that long-term type of pipe failure, provided that you could not know about the problem until you discovered it.

So, the answer to the question hinges on the type of policy and type of leak. There is no uniformity, though even a policy that covers leaks of any kind will significantly limit or exclude any related mold damage. Your agent should be able to explain your coverage to you.

Let's assume you do have good leak coverage. In that case, your policy will pay for: the cost to tear out the wall to get at the leak; all resulting water damage, including mold repair that's covered; and the expense of repairing the wall and replacing tiles, etc. In short, the only part of a covered loss that's not covered is the cost of repairing the leak itself.

As for the question of whether you can still file a claim after the repair has been fixed, that depends on how long it has been since the work was done. Technically, you have violated a condition that gives the insurance company the right to inspect damage before repairs are made. However, in practice, most home insurance companies will not deny your claim solely based on late reporting. But when insurers can't inspect the damage themselves, it can be tough sledding for the policyholder.

You should always contact your insurance agent first for direction.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Which Old Insurance Policies Can Be Tossed?

Are you trying to get organized but are having trouble deciding what to keep and what to toss?  For property and liability policies, such as auto, home, umbrella, etc., you need to keep only the most current coverage summary page, called the "declarations." Your agent will keep electronic copies for years and so will your insurance companies. Once your policy period has ended and your current declaration has been replaced, shred the expired one. Also keep the most recent policy booklet -- the legal contract itself. From time to time, the insurance company will send you a new booklet because the insurer will have made some contract changes. When that happens, it's safe to recycle the outdated policy contract/booklet.

For individual life, health, disability and long-term care insurance and other policies that are continuous until they're canceled, you should keep the policy papers and any amendments until the coverage ends or is canceled. Since these policies often include the original application containing a lot of personal information, it's probably safest to shred the whole policy.

Hold on to group insurance policies, such as employer-sponsored health, disability or life insurance, until the insurer issues you a new policy or you are no longer part of the group or the group no longer exists. When it's time to get rid of those documents, shred any personal pages and recycle the rest.

There is one exception to the above tips: Keep an old policy for which a pending or ongoing claim is being filed or adjusted. You or your attorney may need the paperwork for reference.

I hope this helps you streamline your insurance file.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Covering Your Home on The Road, RV Insurance

If the open road is calling you and a recreational vehicle, or RV, is the way you want to go, it may be smart to hitch on some RV insurance. While some owners opt to cover their RV with an endorsement on their auto insurance policy, many insurance companies offer specialized RV insurance that resembles a combination of car insurance, home or renters insurance, and travel insurance rolled into one policy.
While some of the coverage a RV policy offers is similar to regular car insurance to cover accidents, you also need specific coverage that's like property insurance because you essentially live in the vehicle when you're using it.  You also need liability insurance to protect you if someone trips and falls on your campsite or slips inside your RV.

Why consider RV insurance?
A lot of agents would not recommend putting your RV on an auto insurance policy because of liability issues and the potential for loss.  Some people think their belongings (in the RV) are covered by their home insurance, but if you carry expensive things like a digital camera, binoculars, jewelry and electronics, you can easily exceed your coverage.  RV’s often carry special equipment such as a generator, a water pump and a refrigerator that also needs to be covered.

What does RV insurance cost?
Like most insurance policies, RV insurance premiums vary widely because RV’s vary widely.  RV’s can run anywhere from $5,000 for a non-motorized trailer to several million for a top-of-the-line luxury RV with a hot tub and crystal chandeliers.  RV insurance is usually less expensive than car insurance because the RV isn't driven as often and because RV drivers tend to be more experienced.  Variables that go into determining RV insurance rates include:

·         Your driving record.
·         Your age.
·         Your gender.
·         Your marital status.
·         Your credit score.
·         The model, type and age of your RV.
·         Its storage location.
·         Usage for vacation or as a primary residence.
·         Average number of days per year you intend to use the RV.

RV insurance can cover the actual cash value (depreciated value) or the total replacement cost in the event that your RV is totaled or stolen.  Companies tend to limit total replacement cost coverage to newer RVs.

RV owners also can choose optional coverage for:
·      Pet injuries.
·      Vacation liability.  One of the most important types of optional RV coverage is vacation liability insurance, which will pay for bodily injury and property damage if someone or something gets hurt in or around your RV.
·      Personal effects.  The biggest mistake people make is not covering their stuff.  You can get basic personal property coverage up to a specific limit or schedule individual items.
·      Trip insurance. A traffic accident in an RV can be even more of an emergency because you're normally far from home when it happens, you can purchase coverage for living expenses and transportation in case your trip gets interrupted.
·      Trailer and golf cart coverage.
·      Roadside assistance.  Towing an RV can cost a lot more than a regular car, so you should buy a higher level of roadside assistance coverage.

Are there any discounts?
In addition to discounts similar to those available on car insurance, (such as for a good driving record) RV drivers can get a discount for membership in an RV association or for taking an RV safety course, says Blanchard. You also can cut your RV insurance premiums based on the time your vehicle spends off the road.
Most companies also offer layover or storage insurance to reduce the cost of insuring the RV when it's in storage, typically up to 50% off the normal premium.

Before you get behind the wheel of your RV, make sure you've got enough protection to keep the fun going even if you hit a bump in the road.