Tag Archives: Homeowner’s Insurance

What Kind of Homeowners Insurance Do You Need?

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What Kind of Homeowners Insurance Do You Need? on avanteinsurance.com

A look at types of policies and what they cover

Homeowners insurance is one of the most important protections you can have to safeguard your home, belongings and financial security, protecting you against loss caused by natural disasters, fire, theft, or accidents.

What does homeowners insurance cover?

Most insurance offers a combination of policies that are designed to cover:

• Your home’s structure

• Your belongings

• Liability

• Additional living expenses

Types of coverage

Dwelling

This type of coverage has to do with safeguarding your home’s structure. “Your homeowner’s policy pays to repair or rebuild your home if it is damaged or destroyed by fire, hurricane, hail, lightning or other disasters listed in your policy. Most policies also cover detached structures such as a garage, tool shed or gazebo,” according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Personal property

If your belongings are ever damaged or stolen, your homeowners policy will pay to replace them. This includes furniture, appliances, computers, electronics, clothes, sports equipment, and other personal items.

Deciding how much coverage you need is difficult to determine. It’s important to take an inventory of what you own. You can create an excel sheet and there is inventory software as well. Here is a good guide for creating a home inventory.

NOTE: Expensive items such as jewelry, art, silver, and collectibles are covered, but only up to a certain dollar amount. In some cases, you may need a separate policy for them.

Liability protection

Liability insurance protects you in the event of a lawsuit if anyone is injured on your property. It also covers damage to someone else’s property. This includes injuries or damage caused by you, your children, and even your dog. It will pay attorney fees and any settlements or medical bills if you are found liable.

Medical payments

Similar to liability insurance, this type of policy takes care of the medical bills of anyone who is hurt on your property.

Loss of use

This comes under the banner of “additional living expenses” and covers you if you are forced to stay somewhere else while repairs are being done on your house. Most policies pay 10 to 20 percent of the amount of your dwelling coverage.

What else do you need?

Homeowners policies don’t cover everything, so there are supplemental policies you can add to traditional coverage.

Flood and earthquake insurance

Homeowners insurance does not cover damage caused by flooding. It usually does not cover earthquake damage, either. You will need a separate rider to cover these instances. Some states actually require you to have these types of policies.

Valuable articles coverage

As mentioned above, things like jewelry and other expensive items are covered, but the amount may not be enough as there are limits to what you will get.

Umbrella insurance

This is insurance you buy on top of your liability policy. “An umbrella policy kicks in when you reach the limit on the underlying liability coverage in an auto, homeowners, renters or co-op/condo policy … It will also cover you for additional types of claims, such as libel and slander,” according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Sinkhole coverage

If you live in an area that is prone to sinkholes, you might want to think about purchasing this additional protection.

Animal liability

If you have a dog and it bites someone, you could suffer financially. Liability insurance does cover this type of incident, but it might not be enough if you are sued and have to pay damages. Some counties or states might even require owners of certain breeds to carry this type of policy.

Homeowners insurance is vital to your financial stability. Make sure you have proper coverage that meets your needs and will help you recover in the event of damage, an accident, or other disaster. For more information or to request a quote, contact Avante Insurance today.

7 Home Upgrades That Can Lower Your Homeowner’s Insurance

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7 Home Upgrades That Can Lower Your Homeowner’s Insurance on avanteinsurance.com

Not just raising your home’s curb appeal

Homeowner’s insurance…we all need it, but most of us fear the premium bill when it comes. Insurance rates continue to rise, no matter what part of the country you live in. It can be frustrating and a little frightening as you try to figure out how to pay the extra amount.

However, there are some certain upgrades you can make on your home to lower your insurance rates. We outline 7 of those home improvements here:

Tip #1: Start with your roof

If you really want to impact your insurance rates, a new roof might be the answer. Yes, the initial cost might give you anxiety, but over the long-term it will save you money. In theory, newer roofs are better able to withstand storms than an older one. It will also be more resistant to leaks that can cause damage to your home. In fact, some insurance companies will only offer limited coverage if your roof is too old.

If you do upgrade your roof, make sure you use a reputable company/contractor and that all building codes pertaining to your area are followed. If you live in a part of the country that is prone to hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, or other natural disasters, your state or county will most likely have guidelines to follow to make sure your roof can withstand those conditions.

Tip #2: Add reinforcements to windows, doors, and more

Along with a new roof, think about making an investment in other safety upgrades throughout your home. As this past summer demonstrated, natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and wildfires will occur and certain actions can help make your home safer while lowering insurance rates.

Here are several safety upgrades you can do:

• Add storm shutters or hurricane-impact windows

• Anchor roofs, gable ends & walls

• Install hurricane-rated doors & garage doors

• Retrofit older homes to withstand earthquakes

• Update utilities

• Add water barriers in flood-prone areas

Tip #3: Upgrade to avoid flooding issues

Did you know flood damage is the #1 insurance claim in this country? For those who live in an area that is prone to flooding, certain actions can help mitigate the cost of insurance. Tips include: installing flood openings, elevating utilities, and elevating your home if possible.

Tip #4: Install a security system

Insurance companies are all about risk … or rather avoiding it. A good security system reassures the company that they are less likely to end up paying a claim in the event of a break in. Ask your agent for suggestions of systems or devices that could potentially lower your insurance rates.

Tip #5: Install fire and carbon monoxide detection systems

Fires destroy thousands of homes every year. A good fire alarm is essential, not only for lowering insurance rates, but also safeguarding your loved ones. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), “Sixty-five percent of home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no working smoke detectors.”

Carbon monoxide poisoning can also pose a serious risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control, a total of 2,244 deaths resulted from “unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning” from 2010-2015. Carbon monoxide poisoning is usually due to common household items, such as gas fires, oil-burning furnaces, portable generators, and charcoal grills, among others. Carbon monoxide detectors are built with special alarms that will go off if CO2 levels rise. Installing one can help ensure your family gets out in time.

Tip #6: Upgrade plumbing

If you live in an older house, the pipes might have been built with galvanized lead, which can corrode over time. Replacing old pipes with more modern copper, PVC or PEX can be better for your health, your home, and your insurance rates.

Tip #7: Upgrade electrical wiring too

Faulty or old electrical wiring is one of the main causes of house fires. Look at these stats from the ESFI:

• Home electrical fires account for an estimated 51,000 fires each year, nearly 500 deaths, more than 1,400 injuries, and $1.3 billion in property damage

• Electrical distribution systems are the third leading cause of home structure fires

• Arcing faults are responsible for starting more than 28,000 home fires

According to RateHub.com, “If your house still has aluminum or knob and tube wiring, you should look at upgrading it to modern copper wiring. If you don’t you might have to get your policy from high-risk insurance providers.”

Tip #8: Install a fence around your pool

If you have a backyard pool, you need a fence around it … period. A pool fence will lower your insurance rates (and may even be required), but it’s also a big safety issue. According to a National Safety Council report, “Drowning deaths are the leading cause of death and injury of children under 5 … More than 80% of the drownings occur in residential pools or spas.”

Even if you don’t have young children, a fence is still important. If you have company and they have children, or even if a child from down the street wanders into your yard and drown, you could be held liable if you don’t have a secure fence.

These 8 home upgrades can ultimately help you lower homeowner’s insurance rates. If you need a consultation about your insurance needs or you have questions about reducing your rate, contact Avante Insurance today.

6 Things That Could Accidentally Void Your Homeowners Insurance

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6 Things That Could Accidentally Void Your Homeowners Insurance on avanteinsurance.com

Common mistakes that could result in having your policy canceled

Watching the news coverage of hurricanes and wild fires across the country this summer has been heartbreaking. If you live in one of the affected areas, the impact has been even more devastating. It also brings home the importance of good insurance to help rebuild damaged property and disrupted lives. Every homeowner must buy insurance, of course, but did you know certain actions could result in a termination of your coverage?

Let’s discuss some of the dangers that could void your homeowner’s policy.

1. Being away from home for an extended period.

Here’s one you might not have thought about. Let’s say you go on vacation for more than a month. Maybe you own homes in different parts of the country and you divide your time between them during the year. If you leave your home vacant, it is essential that you have someone who will look in on the house at regular intervals. There is always the chance of water pipes bursting or other kinds of damage, as well as burglaries. Most insurance companies specify what to do if you plan to be away so that your policy remains valid. The length of time varies from company to company, but most require action if you will be gone longer than 30 days.

2. Making major home repairs and renovations.

Of course, giving your home a makeover is great, but if you do extensive renovations without informing your insurance provider, you could be in jeopardy of voiding your policy. This is especially important if the renovations would increase the value of your home such as an addition, alarm system, wiring/plumbing, a new roof or putting in a pool. It’s also important to make sure any contractors or workers you hire have their own liability insurance.

3. Having a home-based business.

You might not have thought that a home-based business could affect your homeowner’s insurance, but it’s true. If something were to happen as a result of your activities and you didn’t have the extra insurance, your claim could be denied.

How do you know if you need extra insurance?

• You have clients or employees coming to the house

• You own expensive equipment

• You keep inventory in your house

4. Conducting illegal activity in the home.

If something happens as a result of criminal activity, you should not expect the claim to be honored. Most policies will include an exclusion clause to this affect:

“…directly or indirectly from the growing, manufacturing, processing, storing, possession or distribution by anyone of any drug, narcotic or illegal substances or items of any kind. This includes any alteration of the premises to facilitate such activity, whether or not you have knowledge of such activity. This exclusion applies whether or not there are one or more other causes or events (whether covered or not) that contribute concurrently or in any sequence to the occasioning of the loss of damage.”

Notice it doesn’t matter if you were aware of the illegal activity or not. If a crime is committed, you could be in jeopardy, on top of other legal problems.

5. A fraudulent description or misrepresentation regarding your property.

Fraud is a big deal and insurance companies actively seek to uncover it. If your insurance company finds out you lied about your property, you could be at risk of having your policy canceled. Examples include claiming your home is a single-family dwelling when it is multi-family.

6. Putting in too many claims.

For most homeowners, it is rare to submit a claim. Of course, things like natural disasters, fires or burglaries do happen, but excessive claims cause a red flag to go up. According to Coldwell Banker, A home insurance company reserves the right to void a homeowner’s coverage if a policyholder submits an excess number of claims over the life of his or her policy. If you submit an unusually high number of claims within a given time frame, your home insurance provider may view you as a “risky” homeowner and void your coverage.”

Be careful to avoid these 6 common mistakes so you don’t lose your homeowner’s policy. For more information on how to safeguard your home and property, contact Avante Insurance today.

Lapsed on Your Homeowner’s Insurance Payments?

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Lapsed on Your Homeowner's Insurance Payments? on avanteinsurance.com

Five tips on how to get a new policy without breaking the bank

Everybody wants to save money and nobody wants to think of the worst. As a result of those two mindsets, many people go without various forms of insurance or allow their existing insurance to lapse. When it comes to homeowner’s insurance (HI) first-time buyers may be relieved to hear that it’s not something you’re legally required to have. However, if you’re buying your house via a mortgage (which is the vast majority of us), your lender is going to want you to have HI in place to cover repairs.

If you lapse on your HI payments you’re not just putting your house at risk. You’re taking a chance on losing your possessions or not covering yourself in the event of someone being injured in your home. Your mortgage lender may respond by nominating their own policy and having you pay higher premiums. They might even instigate legal action against you. Should you find yourself in a lapse, here’s how to get started on a new policy.

What qualifies as a lapse?

As we mentioned, a lapse can come about from a failure to keep your payments up on their due dates. In some cases, it doesn’t have to be any more than a day overdue to qualify as a lapse. Other insurers may operate a grace period of a few days where you have time to make amends. It can also occur as a lapse in information between you and your HI provider; for instance, if you have made any renovations or changes to your property and neglected to inform them (such alterations can of course affect the terms of your policy). You may even have been keeping on top of your HI payments but neglected to get a renewal in place in time.

You can think of these lapses as akin to an accident record on your driving insurance. The lower your driving claims history, the more attractive and insurable a prospect you are. HI lapses can make your current or future insurer view you in a bad light when it comes to putting a number on your premiums. Like most bad situations, the sooner you take action on a solution, the better.

What steps to take after a lapse

Your first step should be to find out if your current HI provider is amenable to reinstating your pre-existing terms. Presuming you’re happy with them (and vice versa) your solution may be as simple as reaching out to get the original policy back on track. If this step works, it’s much simpler and less unpleasant than putting in the work to find a new HI provider who will likely have to discover that you lapsed on your previous agreement. You may be required to pay a fee to have your policy reinstated.

Secondly, find out if you’ve had a policy placed on you by your provider to cover HI. This probably won’t be the case if the lapse is a short one, but if the days without payment have been accruing, then your insurance provider may have taken their own steps and force-placed HI. It’s an unpopular practice with homeowners and has been coming under wider review in recent years. If your insurer has indeed force-placed insurance, you must ensure this is no longer in place whether you’ve renewed with your original provider.

If there’s no way to mend things with your original insurer, it’s time to shop around and find the best HI from another provider. Always be honest with any potential new providers about why your last HI arrangement came to an end. If you do, you’ll be aware from the outset how much you’ll be expected to pay under the new arrangement and be sparing yourself any nasty financial surprises. You may even consider raising your deductible to get a better overall deal on premiums.

A fourth step is to find out if there are any further ways to get discounts on your new HI policy. Will making security improvements to your property lower the premiums? Could you combine auto and home insurance? Another way to possibly save yourself some money is to have your home inspected when a new policy is in place. This way, should any claimable issue arise in the future you’ll have a record that it didn’t occur during the period of the lapse (during which you wouldn’t be covered).

Last but not least, it’s important to remember that your insurance needs will be unique to your own situation. Take the time to sit down face to face with a qualified insurance provider. They’ll review your situation in-depth beyond an initial phone call or other contact. With everything on the table from claims histories to credit scores, both you and any potential provider can be sure you’re getting the best value for your money.

Avante Insurance is a South Florida family owned and operated agency providing an array of insurance services to meet the individual needs of our customers. If you need any information on insurance, you can call us at 305-648-7070, request an insurance quote or contact us with any questions or comments.

5 Homeowners Insurance Myths that Could Hurt New Families

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5 Homeowners Insurance Myths that Could Hurt New Families on avanteinsurance.com

Don’t believe these common misconceptions

Buying a new home – especially if it’s your first – is very exciting. If you’ve finally found the perfect house after a long and exhaustive search, you are probably anxious to move in, start decorating, and truly making it your home for you and your family.

To protect your investment, you probably know that you’ll need homeowners insurance. But before you just buy any policy or go with the cheapest option, here are some misconceptions that could come back to bite you.

All of your valuables will be covered

If you have a lot of jewelry or other valuables, surely your homeowners insurance will pay you back what they’re worth in case of a burglary, right? Well, not exactly. Most policies put a cap of about $1,500 on valuables, so if your items are worth more than that, you will definitely want to get extra coverage.

Making a list of your possessions isn’t worth it

Off the top of your head, do you know everything you own? While you probably could list most of your items, there are almost certainly things you’ll forget. This is why before any sort of disaster strikes, you should create an inventory of everything you have. If you need to file a claim, you will have to list all that was lost, and a pre-prepared record will prevent you from forgetting something.

Medical expenses will be covered if you or a family member gets hurt

Most homeowners policies have a medical payment portion, but it is not for people who live in the home; it’s there to protect you if somebody else – such as a guest or repairman, for example – is injured on your property.

You’ll be covered in case of a flood

You should know that a standard homeowners insurance policy does not cover flood damage, and you’ll need separate flood insurance. This is particularly important if your new home is in a flood zone, but even if it isn’t, you may want the additional protection (not to mention peace of mind).

An at-home business is covered

In all likelihood, a home business won’t be covered by your homeowners insurance. This means that if an employee or customer got hurt, your policy won’t help you. Fortunately, you have the option of adding a business endorsement to your homeowners insurance or you can buy an in-home business policy.

Because your home is your most valuable possession, you have to give it the utmost protection, which is why you need to be diligent about your homeowners insurance. To make sure you get the right policy, contact Avante Insurance. We will walk you through your options and help you choose the best insurance for your home. Give us a call at 305-648-7070 or drop us a line through our online form.

How To Make Sure Your Homeowner’s Insurance Is Sufficient

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How To Make Sure Your Homeowner’s Insurance Is Sufficient on avanteinsurance.com

Review your insurance policy regularly to ensure that it fits your family’s financial needs

Homeowner’s insurance is a necessary protection for nearly everyone who owns a home– but how do you know if you have enough? What other expenses could you incur if your home is damaged or destroyed? What’s the most accurate way to calculate the value of your home?

If you’re a homeowner, these are the types of questions you should ask to make sure you and your family’s financial security is guaranteed. If you don’t know the answers, don’t worry. Taking the time to figure them out could save you from tons of unnecessary hassles, headaches and even the heartbreak of being unable to replace or renovate your home after a disaster.

How much is enough when it comes to homeowner’s insurance?

At minimum, your homeowner’s insurance coverage should begin with a replacement cost policy– a policy that covers the entire expense of replacing your home. However, it’s often a smarter idea to purchase a “guaranteed” policy, or one that includes approximately 25% more than the value of your home, to cover additional and unforeseen expenses.

Do homeowner’s insurance policies cover the contents of a home?

If you have a replacement cost insurance policy, it’s unlikely to fully cover the property inside your home. However, it’s important to make sure these items are insured. Losing expensive computers and electronics, furniture, home appliances, valuable collector’s items, and jewellery that could be stolen or destroyed can put a huge dent in your personal finances. Luckily, for just slightly more than a replacement cost policy, you can purchase additional insurance to cover the contents of your home.

If you live in a condominium, check with your association to see what their insurance covers. In most cases, you’re still responsible for insuring almost everything that’s inside your condo.

When should I consider getting more home insurance coverage?

If you’ve recently done any renovations, additions, or remodelling that could significantly increase the value of your home, it could be a good idea to get more homeowner’s insurance. It’s tough enough to go through the effort and expense of improving your home, only to see it ruined after a disaster. The last thing you’d want is to be reimbursed only for the value of the home before you remodelled or improved it.

The addition of pools and the remodelling of kitchens usually add the most value to homes– but other renovations, such as bathroom remodels and the addition of high quality flooring, can also raise the value of your home. While professional landscaping may make your home look more attractive (and can be an expensive process) it doesn’t usually alter the long-term value of your home– so no matter how nice those rose bushes look, you likely won’t need additional homeowner’s insurance.

Keep in mind that if you have recently added a pool, you may need to get more than just additional homeowners insurance to keep you well-insured. You may also need to add liability insurance to protect yourself against potential legal trouble from slip and falls and other pool-related accidents.

No matter where you live or how large your home is, it pays to have a comprehensive homeowner’s insurance policy that can protect your family from a variety of risks. To learn more about how to make sure your insurance policies really have you covered, contact Avante Insurance today for a free consultation. You can reach our team at 1.305.648.7070 or complete our online contact form.

Trampolines, Swimming Pools, and Puppies, Oh My! Do You Know Your Homeowner’s Insurance Restrictions?

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Trampolines, Swimming Pools, and Puppies, Oh My! Do You Know Your Homeowner’s Insurance Restrictions? on avanteinsurance.com

Your homeowner’s insurance policy is in place, but do you know what exactly is covered?

No matter how safe your home, lawn, and all of your assets are, unfortunately, bad things happen every day—from burglaries, to backyard injuries, to natural disasters—there’s no such thing as ever being too prepared for the unexpected. In the off chance that you are hit with an unplanned injury, emergency, or speed bump, do you know what, exactly, your insurance policy covers?

Although homeowner’s insurance covers an extensive amount of property and damage, there are several aspects that your will want to double check before crossing them off the coverage list. Many homeowners think they’re covered when they’re not, or that they’re inadequately insured. Nonetheless, you’ll still sleep better if you’ve taken the steps to ensure your coverage limits.

Trampolines

In 2011, more than 83,000 emergency room visits were cause by trampoline injuries. If you choose to make your youngster’s day by bringing home one of the bouncy contraptions, you will want to consider the fact that many policies do not include coverage for trampolines—due to the health and personal injury risks alone! After your trampoline is set up, be sure to follow these important safety measures:

• Adult supervision is a must

• Keep a close eye out for wear and tear (never use a damaged trampoline)

• Make sure the trampoline is on a level surface with nothing overhead or fences nearby

• Do a safety check of the springs and connections before each use

• Absolutely NO jewelry, or anything in jumpers’ pockets that might pose a hazard

• Always make sure there’s nothing underneath the trampoline, and that NOBODY, under any circumstances, plays down below

• No draw strings or anything else that might get wrapped around the netting

When purchasing and installing a trampoline, it is best to take the safe route and supplement your homeowner’s policy with a personal health insurance plan.

Treehouses (and treehouse injuries)

What kid doesn’t want a tree house? Not only can they be fun, they’re also a special project for the whole family to plan and work on together. Of course, they’re also a bit on the risky side even for the least anxious of parents. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate those risks:

• While it might be tempting to go high, it’s safest not to build higher than six to 12 feet off the ground

• Use steps secured to the tree trunk rather than rope ladders and climbing ropes

• Make sure the structure is properly secured to the tree in a way that allows the tree to still grow without damaging the treehouse

• Get an expert opinion: have a carpenter and arborist check out your plans and your completed treehouse

Swimming pools

Backyard pools are becoming more and more common, whether they are above or in-ground, it’s important to keep your summertime retreat safe. Sadly, over 200 children drown in home pools every year, and many of those deaths could have been prevented.

If you plan on getting a pool, you will want to talk to your Insurance agency about an umbrella liability policy. An umbrella policy is a cost effective, extra layer of protection which may keep you from having to relinquish your home, stocks, retirement, college funds or any other significant assets in the event your homeowner’s, auto, or boat insurance policy pay out its limits.

Aggressive dog attacks

We all know your dog would never bite anyone—until it does. Even the sweetest canine is still deeply attached to its wolf-pack instinct to protect you and your family. While this is a good thing, it can also lead to trouble. Fortunately, mindful dog owners can take steps to prevent their pooches from biting:

• Spay or neuter your dog as soon as possible

• Socialize your dog with humans and other dogs at a young age

• If you’re having trouble controlling your pet, enroll him or her in a training class

• Be conscious of common triggers, like strangers, that might elicit that strong protective instinct

Despite following all these precautions to a fault, there’s no way to 100 percent ensure that you will be able prevent the unexpected and unplanned injuries that seem quite inevitable. Luckily, you can make sure you’ve got a safety net. For more information on what’s covered, and how to increase your coverage, contact the experts at Avante today!

What Causes Most Homeowners Insurance Claims?

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What Causes Most Homeowners Insurance Claims on avanteinsurance.com

Be sure to consider the most common events when purchasing your policy

If you’re a homeowner and you’re researching what type of insurance is right for you, it’s a good idea to understand what kind of protection you’ll need most. While needs vary from home to home, there are certain events that arise more often than others and some that lead to costly repairs. Here’s a quick breakdown of the most common claims made on homeowner’s insurance:

Damage from wind and weather

Would you believe that more than 50 percent of the claims made each year are due to wind, hail, and other weather-related water damage? According to Claims Journal, the breakdown is 25 percent due to exterior wind damage, 15 percent due to hail, and 11 percent due to water damage. And if you live in Florida, your home’s exposure to things like hurricanes, tornadoes, tropical storms, and other weather events that feature high winds can be quite high.

Plumbing disasters

A large portion of water damage stems from non-weather-related problems. Whether pipes burst or leak or appliances malfunction causing a flood, unexpected and large amounts of water can cause a lot of havoc. These types of events happen suddenly and often without warning, especially when pipes within the walls or under the floor fail. In Florida, claims for this type of damage average in excess of $6,000 each.

Burglary and theft

Also among the top causes of claims to homeowner’s policies are thefts inside the home or on the homeowner’s property. Stolen merchandise, damage to the home (broken doors and windows), and other theft related claims are not only common, they average thousands of dollars in loss for each occurrence.

Lightning

Thunderstorms and lightning can do more than force folks to stay indoors – they are also notorious for causing damage to homes. While a little bit of lightning is usually not an ordeal (especially if you live in Florida, where there are thunderstorms nearly every day in the summer), they can wreck your home’s electric lines and even cause a fire.

Floods

Floods that are non-plumbing related, like those that occur after days and days of rain, are responsible for a large portion of homeowner’s insurance claims each year. If you live near the coast or on any waterfront, you are most likely aware of the amount of damage that can be caused by flooding. These claims are not only very common, they are some of the most expensive, averaging over $13,000.

While you can never predict what will happen in or around your home that may result in damages or loss, everyone knows the value of planning ahead to protect your assets. And because your home is the biggest and most valuable investment you’ll ever make, having the right insurance is crucial, from your basic homeowners to flood and windstorm policies, depending on where you live. It’s best to do a review each year, go over all your coverage in detail, and to update your policy when you make changes, updates, or additions to your home or property.

To make sure you’re protected, get a no-obligation quote online or give us a call at 305-648-7070, and we’ll review your insurance needs and options.

Insurance Binders: What You Need to Know

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Insurance Binders: What You Need to Know

Many have heard of them—but what exactly are they?

Let’s face it, insurance can be confusing. Most folks depend on their agent to fill them in on the details that are necessary and choose not to worry about the ones that should be left to the experts. But understanding many of the industry terms and how they apply to you and your insurance policies is always a good idea. “Insurance binder” is one term that many people aren’t clear on, including what it means and when you would need one. So here’s a quick overview of what you need to know:

What is an insurance binder?

An insurance binder is a temporary contract that states that a certain insurance policy has taken effect. So essentially, if you were buying a new car and wanted to make sure it was covered even before you drove it home, you could call your insurance company and ask them to issue a binder.

Binders are a short-term agreement that your insurance company issues based on your arrangement with them. And they do not necessarily guarantee long-term coverage.

When do I need one?

There are several scenarios where an insurance binder may be necessary and if you’re not sure if you need one, the advisable thing to do is to call your provider. Some examples of when you would require a binder include:

 

Purchasing a home: Your title company may require you to get a homeowner’s binder before they are willing to handle your closing

Buying a new car: If you’re purchasing at a dealership, it’s not uncommon for the dealer to require you to have an insurance binder before you can take it home

Renting a home: Some landlords require that their tenants get a renter’s insurance policy binder to ensure they are not liable for loss or damages to personal property

How long is the term?

Insurance binders are meant to be interim policies that are only in effect until the long-term policy has been written. They can vary in length from 30 to 60 days and can usually be cancelled anytime within that period—although some carriers will specify a date that a cancellation has to occur by.

What happens after a binder is issued?

In most cases, after you’ve been issued a binder, your insurance provider will assess the risk of taking on this policy, check out all of the information you’ve provided to them (if you don’t already have policies with them), and review your records and claims history. Once they determine the level of risk, they’ll set a premium amount and advise you of how much you need to pay upfront to put the long-term policy into effect. The process, although it may seem long, usually doesn’t take too much time. Once your policy is approved, you will receive the documentation from your insurance provider.

With any assets, including your home, car, boat, or even your life, you want to be sure you’re protected as quickly as possible. So when you’re in need of insurance, a binder can provide peace of mind that you’re covered until your official policy is in place.

If you have any questions about insurance binders or want to get a quote on an insurance product, give us a call at 305-648-7070 or fill out our online quote request form.

Could You Be Paying Too Much for Your Homeowner’s Insurance?

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Could You Be Paying Too Much for Your Homeowner's Insurance? on avanteinsurance.com

Determine if your premiums are too high—and then lower them!

It’s not an uncommon question: people often wonder if what they’re paying for their homeowner’s insurance is too high. At the same time, your home is likely your most valuable asset, so you know you need the right protection. But how do you determine if your policy is priced right and if you have the appropriate coverage? Insurance is a confusing subject for most folks, between all the industry jargon and the variety of different solutions out there. So to help, we’ve created this quick guide.

What’s your deductible?

Your deductible is a key factor in determining the cost of your premium. If it’s too low, you are likely at a higher premium than you need to be paying. To decrease your cost, consider raising your deductible; even an increase of a small percentage will save you money.

Got any safety features?

Although they aren’t a requirement, things like smoke detectors, alarm systems, storm shutters, carbon monoxide detectors, and other security items can reduce the cost of your homeowner’s policy. These features decrease risks associated with damage or loss, so insurance companies often provide discounts on coverage to homeowners who’ve taken these steps.

Are you protected against the right risks?

Many homeowners make the mistake of getting coverage for every imaginable disaster without really honing in on what’s appropriate for their home and where it’s located. Residences in Florida, for example, are not in danger of experiencing an earthquake or mudslides. If you’ve purchased a policy without considering the actual dangers that your home needs protection against, it’s likely you’re paying too much. The best thing to do is to go over your coverage with your provider. Take into account where you live, the type of construction of your home (CBS, wood frame, brick, etc.), and what natural disasters are common in your area.

Have you done any comparisons lately?

Not all insurance companies and products are the same. While there are similarities, it’s important to get more than one quote when you’re shopping for your homeowner’s policy. Each carrier takes into account several factors when determining your premiums, including where you live, how many people are living in your home, the crime stats of your neighborhood, the age of the house, and similar variables. Your best bet is to get quotes from multiple providers, compare each one thoroughly, and be sure that you are comparing apples to apples before making a decision.

Are you bundled?

A smart way to save money on your homeowner’s insurance is to bundle policies. If you have separate homeowner’s, auto, life, and business insurance policies, you are not reaping the benefits of bundling—the number one advantage being saving money. So go through all your different policies and talk to your provider about putting them together.

Have you done your homework?

And by homework, we mean have you kept up with regular maintenance like cleaning out gutters, checking the shingles or tile on your roof, and keeping your trees trimmed? Routine maintenance can decrease the likelihood of damages, which in turn can reduce the need to make claims—which, as you probably guessed, decreases the cost of your homeowner’s policy.

If you’re thinking that you may be paying too much for your homeowner’s insurance, review this guide and then talk to us. We will be happy to go through your policy with you to help determine exactly what it should cost and the most appropriate coverage for your home.

5 Things You Need to Know When Buying Homeowner’s Insurance

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5 Things You Need to Know When Buying Homeowner’s Insurance on avanteinsurance.com

Keep these guidelines in mind to ensure that your home is protected in case the unthinkable happens.

Many people look at homeowner’s insurance as a necessary evil. But the truth is that it protects one of your biggest assets—your home—from the unexpected. While the hope is that nothing ever happens, homeowner’s insurance gives you peace of mind knowing that you’re covered if the worst should come to pass.

Know the value of your home and how much insurance you need

One of the first things you’ll need to decide when shopping for homeowner’s insurance is the amount you will need. First, you’ll want to determine the actual value of your home. You’ll also want to know the cost (in today’s dollars) to replace your existing home or any portion that may be damaged. If you’re unsure, an appraiser or a homebuilder can likely give you the most accurate value of your home.

Understand ways that you can save on your homeowner’s insurance premium

While there are a variety of risk factors that can increase the cost of homeowner’s insurance, there are also factors that can help you save money on your policy. Some items that may qualify for discounts include:

  • • An alarm system

 

  • • Deadbolt locks on your doors

 

  • • Updated electrical wiring in your home

 

  • • Location of your home in relation to a fire department, fire hydrant or police department

 

  • • Updated heating systems

 

  • • Fire alarms and/or sprinklers

 

  • • Well maintained driveways, stairs and sidewalks to help prevent the chance of injury

 

Understand the risks that will determine your premium

Your insurance premium is based on the amount of risk that the insurance company is incurring by selling you the insurance policy. Factors like crime rate in your neighborhood, how close you are to busy roads and highways, your living habits and the proximity of trees on your property all play into the cost of your insurance premium.

Keep a detailed inventory of your belongings including dollar amounts

Your homeowner’s policy not only covers the structure of your home, but also your belongings. Be sure to make a list of all of your belongings and the values based on receipts and purchase dates. You can also take photos and most definitely keep receipts for any new items that are purchased.

Having this list ahead of time can be a huge timesaver in the event that something happens to your belongings. Also, be very careful about where you store this list. Think about storing it somewhere safe away from your home like a safety deposit box at your local bank.

Know what’s covered—and what’s not

Many homeowners don’t understand their coverage and are shocked to learn that something is not covered after damage has occurred. It’s important that you read your policy and ask your insurance agent or a trusted advisor any questions about areas that are not clear.

Don’t wait until something bad happens to get clear on your policy

If you are unclear about your homeowner’s policy or think you may not have sufficient coverage, contact Avante Insurance today at 305-648-7070. Our licensed insurance agents would be happy to go over your current coverage and identify any areas where your coverage may be lacking or where you may be paying too much.

6 Mistakes to Avoid When Purchasing Homeowner’s Insurance

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6 Mistakes to Avoid When Purchasing Homeowner’s Insurance on avanteinsurance.com

Navigating the ins and outs of homeowner’s policies.

It’s the most expensive thing you’ll ever buy, so it only makes sense that you’ll want to make sure your investment is more than adequately protected. As a homeowner, you took the time to do your homework and purchase a house that will not only serve your needs as far as living arrangements, but will also be a viable investment to you in the years to come.

And while you’ve likely purchased homeowner’s insurance, it is required if you have a mortgage, you wouldn’t be alone if you made some mistakes when picking out your coverage. Many people make errors when it comes to choose a homeowner’s insurance policy but the reality is, certain mistakes could end up being costly ones.

Here’s an overview of some of the most common mistakes homeowner’s make:

1. Covering purchase price or mortgage amount

Think about this: your home is going to appreciate in value, right? So choosing a homeowner’s policy that only covers the amount you paid for your home or for the amount you have left to pay on your mortgage could easily be a catastrophic mistake if an unforeseen event was to result in a total loss.

Imagine if you paid $350,000 for your home but only insure it for the $50k you owe. Although it may be tempting, because a policy that covers $50k is going to cost so much less, avoid this costly mistake by working with your provider to determine how much your home is actually worth.

2. Focusing on policy price when choosing a provider

It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the cost of the coverage, but remember, you’re purchasing insurance to protect your investment. Before selecting the provider with the lowest price, do your homework and shop around. Base your decision on the stability of the company, their longevity in the business, their level of service and their history and process of handling claims. These are the most important factors to consider. A good rule of thumb is to avoid those with the highest and lowest price and find a happy, reasonable medium.

3. Going with actual cash value instead of replacement cost

Another common error homeowners make is to get a policy that will pay out the actual cash value of their belongings instead of the replacement cost. The problem with this is that many of your belongings will be much more expensive to replace than they are actually worth at the time of the loss.

Computers, couches, furniture, stereo equipment, etc. all get more and more costly every year and if you don’t choose replacement cost, you could end up having to foot the bill to replace many necessary items.

4. Choosing less coverage to reduce premium

Less coverage will definitely cost you less, but this translates to having less protection in the event of a disaster or unexpected event. If you are looking to lower your costs, a good option is to get the right amount of coverage and increase your deductible. This strategy ensures that you’ll have the protection you need at a more reasonable rate.

5. Not considering “extras”

It’s always a relief to know that you don’t live in a flood zone, but the truth is, a flood can still happen anywhere. And when it does, you’ll wish you had coverage. Before you decide against it, consider what how much rain or snow you get in your area. Many times a flood is caused by these factors and occurs in the lower risk areas. This also holds true if you’ve paid off your mortgage and aren’t required to have flood insurance anymore.

6. Not asking the right questions

All insurance can be confusing and homeowner’s is no exception. The most important thing you can do is make a list of questions to ask your provider before purchasing a policy. In addition to asking for a summary of your policy, preferably in layman’s terms, here are important questions you should ask:

 

  • What’s covered?

 

  • What’s excluded?

 

  • Are there any limits to the coverage?

 

  • How are claims handled?

 

  • Are there any additional coverages that I may need?

 

  • Are my personal belongings covered & for how much?

 

  • Are there any discounts available?

 

  • Are there any bundles or umbrellas policies available?

 

When navigating through the world of homeowner’s insurance, many people make these common mistakes. Being aware of them will help you get the right amount of coverage at the best price and will save you from many headaches in the long run. If you need homeowner’s or have any questions, we are happy to assist you so please, give us a call.

Homeowner’s Insurance: Do You Know What Your Policy Covers?

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Homeowner’s Insurance: Do You Know What Your Policy Covers? on avanteinsurance.com

Don’t find out your homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover something when it’s too late.

Homeowners insurance is meant to provide financial protection in the event that your home or its contents are damaged. It can also provide protection if you or a family member is deemed liable for injuries to others or damage to their property. Most mortgage lenders require homeowner’s insurance.

There are various types of homeowner’s insurance policies, ranging from basic policies to those that offer much more broad protection.

What’s covered and what’s not?

Most homeowner’s policies will cover damages from fire, hail, lightning, theft, windstorms, vandalism or theft. Often, earthquakes and floods are excluded from standard homeowner’s insurance policies. Homeowners are always able to purchase supplemental insurance to cover those perils that are not covered by basic homeowner’s insurance.

What is usually covered:

  • • Personal Property Coverage: Reimburses you for personal items in your home that may be damaged or destroyed during a covered event. This could include clothes, furniture, electronics and sporting goods.

 

  • • Loss of Use Coverage: Pays additional living expenses that may arise if you’re forced to move out of your home while it’s being repaired.

 

  • • Liability Insurance: Helps to protect your assets and cover legal fees in the event of a lawsuit due to you or one of your family members causing injury to others or their property.

 

  • • Dwelling Coverage: Coverage pays to rebuild your home if damaged by a covered type of loss. This includes the actual renovation costs including plumbing, electrical work and air conditioning repairs. It’s important to purchase enough dwelling coverage to cover the cost to rebuild your home in today’s dollars.

 

  • • Other Structures Coverage: Coverage can cover detached structures like sheds, garages and fences on your property.

 

  • • Additional Home Coverages: There are a number of additional coverages that can be added to your homeowner’s policy. Learn more about Avante’s Optional home coverages.

 

Unsure of what’s covered in your homeowner’s insurance policy?

If you’re still unsure about what is actually covered by your current homeowner’s policy, it’s important to contact your insurance agent and discuss your policy to ensure your insurance needs are being met and that you’ll be protected in the event of a loss.

If you’re interested in learning more about the wide range of homeowner’s insurance options at Avante Insurance feel free to contact our team of licensed and experienced insurance agents today at 305-648-7070 or simply request a quote.

Homeowner’s Insurance and Mold: What’s Covered and What’s Not?

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Homeowner’s Insurance and Mold: What’s Covered and What’s Not? on avanteinsurance.com

Spotted mold in your home? Learn if the remediation is covered by your homeowner’s insurance.

Mold is one of those dreaded things to find in your home or on your property. There have been many stories in the news over the last decade or so about how mold spores can be toxic and harmful if breathed in over time.

Mold can also dramatically decrease your home’s overall value by leaving walls, floors or wood damaged. It’s most often found in humid, warm, damp areas where moisture can easily collect, but in truth, mold can be found anywhere. If you are sensitive to mold, you can have pretty serious symptoms including:

 

  • • Nasal stuffiness.

 

  • • Eye irritation

 

  • • Difficulty breathing

 

  • • Wheezing

 

  • • Skin irritation

 

Most common places for mold

Mold spores spread and reproduce when in a favorable environment, so it is critical to eradicate it if found in your home. The most common areas for mold growth are bathrooms, basements, around windows, crawl spaces and any area in your home susceptible to flooding. You can generally smell and/or see mold, so you do not have to worry too much about not knowing it is there. Mold usually appears as slightly fuzzy, discolored, or slimy patches that increase in size as they grow.

Insurance coverage for mold remediation

Depending on the size of the area in question, mold remediation can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to thoroughly treat. Unless it is a tiny spot, you will most often need to enlist the services of a mold remediation specialist who can ensure that the mold problem in your home is properly treated and is entirely eliminated. Many wonder whether any portion of this cost is covered under general homeowner’s insurance policies. Most often, the answer to this depends somewhat (as you might expect) on your specific plan as well as the source of the mold.

For example, if the cause of the mold is flooding, then you will likely find that your homeowner’s policy will not cover the necessary repair work. Flood insurance is usually a separate policy that protects your home when it is impacted by heavy rain, storm surge, snow melt, or other water damage.

However, if the mold is caused by something that is covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy, then you might find that your homeowner’s policy provides some coverage. A good example of this is if your policy covers damage from a busted pipe, then any mold that is a result of this damage may be covered. You should check the specifics of your policy to be sure.

Preventing mold in your home

Mold needs moisture in order to grow, so eliminating problematic moisture sources is key to preventing mold growth. Other things that you can do to prevent mold growth in your home include:

 

  • • Clean up any spilled water immediately

 

  • • Use bathroom fans when showering

 

  • • Clean exterior gutters and route excess rainwater away from your home.

 

  • • Keep indoor humidity levels below 60% if possible.

 

  • • Vent your appliances

 

Avante Insurance provides strong homeowner’s insurance coverage and our team can answer any questions you may have about flood insurance and coverage for mold damage. Call our team today at 1-305-648-7070 for a quote.

How to Choose a Homeowner’s Insurance Policy

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Pricing is important, but it shouldn’t be the only qualifying factor when deciding how your home is protected

Your home is very likely going to be the largest asset you will buy and you naturally want to protect your investment. Homeowner’s insurance will protect against potential damage and loss, and the majority of lenders today will require that you have insurance for your home at all times.

What Homeowner’s Insurance Covers

This type of insurance will help to protect a home against a variety of damage including storm damage, fire and theft. Not that most insurance companies will not cover any damage that occurs from flood or earthquakes. While earthquakes aren’t a typical problem in Florida, floods can be a potential threat and you may want to look at getting extra insurance to cover this possibility.

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Lightning Safety and Your Homeowners Insurance

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Claims are down, but severity is up. Is your home protected?

Insurance claims for lightning strikes in the United States is on a steady decline as fewer storms and dry weather prevail. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), however, insurers still paid nearly 100,000 policyholders $739 million in lightning claims in 2014. And despite the 13 percent drop in claims from 2013 to 2014, the average lightning paid-claim amount rose 26 percent, from $5,896 to $7,400, in the same span of time. With 10,440 claims out of a total 99, 871, Florida was the top state for lightning claims last year, followed by Georgia, Texas and Louisiana.

So while claims are down, lightning strikes are still a serious reality. It’s estimated that 20 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes occur each year in the US alone. And since each strike can carry 100,000 volts or more, significant damage can occur – even miles from the point of impact. The cost of repairs is often shocking for many homeowners, so what can you do to make sure your home is protected?

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Do You Know What Your Homeowners Insurance Policy Really Covers?

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Get the facts on what your Homeowners Insurance Policy covers


A persons home is easily one of the most important and valuable things that he or she owns. Naturally, people want to protect their home as much as they possibly can, and they rely on homeowners insurance to help them with this. Most people do not really understand their policy though, and they believe that it simply covers anything that could possibly happen to their home. Those homeowners are woefully misinformed, and its important that they have a better idea of exactly what they should expect and what the policy actually covers. First, lets look at the importance of having a quality insurance policy for the home. Later in the article, well look at some of the gaps in most of these policies.

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