Drafty windows. Leaky faucets. Dirty air filters.
All are common issues and they’re not only annoying — they also cost you money in decreased energy efficiency and higher utility bills.
Would you like to save $200 to $400 a year on your energy costs? That’s how much the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program estimates that homeowners can save by incorporating technologies to make their homes operate more efficiently.
Of course, helping to protect you and your family is our goal at Strive Insurance Group, Inc., and keeping your home well-maintained usually means your home will be safer as well. Those are goals we all should share. Several of the tips below from the National Association of Home Builders will help you accomplish both.
Do a home-energy audit
Making your home more efficient can seem like an overwhelming task. But “auditing” your energy efficiency is something you can do yourself, and it’s relatively simple. This will show you where your home loses energy, how efficient your heating and cooling systems are, and ways you can decrease your electricity use. Just inspect the areas listed here and note the problems you find.
Where’s the air? Air commonly “leaks” from homes through gaps around baseboards, electrical outlets and windows or doors. Stopping these drafts can save up to 30 percent of your yearly energy costs. Be sure to check your home’s exterior as well, paying particular attention to areas where two different building materials meet. When you find leaks, seal them with caulk or weather stripping.
Don’t wait … insulate! Check to see if the amount of insulation in the ceiling and walls is sufficient. Your attic door should be insulated and close tightly. For walls, make a small hole in a closet or other inconspicuous place and probe into the wall with a screwdriver — the area should be completely filled with insulation.
Do a systems check. Efficient heating and cooling systems can save you frustration as well as money. Make sure ducts and pipes are insulated properly, and have your equipment checked and cleaned by a professional each year. Filters for forced-air furnaces should be replaced as soon as they are dirty, or every 30 to 60 days.
Let there be (efficient) light. Lighting can account for up to 20 percent of your home’s total electricity use, so consider compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs, which last longer and use far less energy than incandescent bulbs.
If you are in the Austin area and need assistance with your homeowners insurance, please feel free to call me at 512.576.7338.
Tips for Buying Homeowners Insurance
Homeowners insurance is a way of protecting your home should the worst happen. The insurance covers damage to the property or to the possessions within the home. It can also cover personal liability, which will offer protection should there be an accident in the home or on the property.
When it comes to purchasing homeowners insurance, it is important to do your research in the same way that you would if you were making any other major purchase. Buying homeowners insurance in Austin or any city can be an expensive and time consuming process, but by doing some basic research and following a few tips, it’s possible to save some money and get a better price while still protecting your home.
Tip #1: Take Some Basic Security Measures
The more secure your home is, the less chance there is of a break in. That means if you take every effort to best protect your home such as installing intruder alarms. Even exterior lighting or motion lights can make a difference.
Tip #2 Shop Around
Consumers often look around and compare prices for household goods, but they often neglect to shop around and see if they can get a better price on homeowners insurance. Try and get at least three different quotes from three companies to see which the best price is. Working with an independent agent has its advantages since we represent many insurance carriers.
Tip #3 Check the Policy Details
This is an aspect that often gets overlooked, but in order to get the best deal on a homeowner’s insurance policy, you need to compare the policies alongside each other to determine which policy is the most suitable one. A question to consider asking might be, can you tell me what perils the policy covers? Also look at deductibles. Bottom line, make sure that your policy will cover everything you need.
Tip #4 Keep It Up to Date
Another important aspect of homeowners insurance is ensuring that it is up-to-date. Have you added a deck or patio? Maybe you had some basic remodeling done? Don't wait until it's too late to add coverage.
Tip #5 Do a Home Inventory
It might seem like a lot of work, but come claim time it will make a HUGE difference. Think about it, you just lost all your belongings to a fire and the insurance adjuster is going to want a list of all personal property. After a fire or theft, this is probably the last thing you’re going to want to do. Check out the website www.KnowYourStuff.org. You can upload pictures and videos for free. They also have an app on Android and iPhone. Obviously it can be overwhelming just thinking about it, so go room by room. Try doing one room a month until you have completed the inventory.
Unlike driving a car, you can legally own a home without homeowners insurance. But, if you have bought your home and financed the purchase with a mortgage, your lender will most likely require you to get homeowners insurance coverage. That’s because lenders need to protect their investment in your home in case your house burns down or is badly damaged by a storm, tornado or other disaster.
If you live in an area that is likely to flood, the bank will also require you to purchase flood insurance. Some financial institutions may also require earthquake coverage if you live in a region vulnerable to earthquakes. If you buy a co-op or condominium, your board will probably require you to buy homeowners insurance.
After your mortgage is paid off, no one will force you to buy homeowners insurance. But it is not advisable to cancel your policy and risk losing what you’ve invested in your home.
Source: Insurance Information Institute (III.org)
Austin, TX- There are many variables that are factored into a homeowners insurance quote/policy. As an agent, we have to ask, "do you own a dog? If so, what kind?". When the answer is pit bull, the number of insurance companies I quote with dwindles down to just a couple due to the exposure. It's not easy telling clients or prospective clients they are an undesirable insurance risk because of their family pet. I have friends with pit bulls and in my opinion they are good dogs. Unfortunately the insurance companies just look at statistics and there is no human element. Bottom line, if you have a pit bull, make sure you let your agent or insurance company know as there could be exclusions to your policy.
Other dogs that insurance companies find dangerous include, Akita, Alaskan, Chow, Doberman Pincher, German Shepherd, Malamute, Presa Canario, Rottweiler, Siberian Husky, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or Wolfdog. If you are a Pit Bull owner, you might find the article below helpful. If you have questions, please feel free to contact us.
Austin, Texas- Believe it or not, your insurance needs will probably change throughout life. For example, when you have a child, you may need to consider some form of life insurance. Another example would be increasing your personal liability limits as your assets grow. The Insurance Information Institute put together a list that might help you access and monitor your insurance needs. Check out the links below:
Life Stages- Assessing Insurance Needs
Since it's Valentines Day, I figured this is the best time to discuss a coverage called Scheduled Personal Property with you. Some of you may be familiar with it, but some of you may not. An example of Scheduled Personal Property (SPP) would be your wedding ring, engagement ring, necklace or maybe a watch. Most homeowners insurance policies cover Personal Property, however, it probably doesn't cover jewelry that you are wearing or there is a limit (sometimes as low as $2,500)
Scheduled Personal Property can be added to your homeowners insurance for a small fee (based on value of the jewelry) and usually, depending on the insurance company, there is no deductible. Sometimes an appraisal is required for jewelry that is greater than $15,000. If you have questions, contact us.
When it comes to Homeowners Insurance, there is more to it than just covering your home. Since there are so many bicyclists in Austin, TX, I figured this would be an informative video. Bicycles are covered under the Personal Property section of your Homeowners Insurance, but subject to deductible. When purchasing a policy, make sure you review deductibles and coverages. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas homeowners are no longer paying the highest insurance rates in the country, a distinction that now goes to Florida residents, according to an annual report released by an industry association.
But the report released Monday by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners shows that while premiums for Texas homeowners has dropped to third in the nation, it remains well above the national average.
The average annual cost of the most commonly sold policy in Texas is $1,578 while the national cost is $978, The Dallas Morning News reports (http://dallasne.ws/19vxFYd ). By contrast, the average policy for Florida homeowners is $1,933. Louisiana ranks second at $1,672.
Texas is followed in the rankings by Mississippi, $1,409; Oklahoma, $1,386; and Alabama, $1,163.
The association's Mark Hanna said policies are being driven upward in coastal states by more expensive windstorm policies. He said the report shows rate increases in Texas have been more moderate in recent years compared with Florida and other states. The average policy in Texas represents a 1 percent increase from the prior year.
Hanna told the Morning News the figures show that while rates elsewhere have been climbing, Texas homeowner rates "have been far more stable despite the state's abundant hailstorms, hurricanes, ice storms and wildfires."
"The best news for consumers is the fact that Texas insurance companies continue to pay claims quickly while complaints against insurers remain very low," he said.
But a consumer group notes that Texans are paying more for insurance but receiving less overall coverage.
Alex Winslow of Texas Watch said while Texas homeowner rates may fluctuate, "they're always among the highest in the country."
Read more here.
I recently read an article by Caterina Pontoriero that showed Texas has the most fires from frying turkeys. I guess it makes sense since Texas is such a big state. Not to mention Texans love to cook. Studies do show that fires have decreased over the years, which is some good news. She provides some great tips when frying your bird:
Click here to read her article.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Insurance Agent | Austin, Texas
When it comes to homeowners insurance renewals, I get a lot of questions about why the dwelling coverage increases. For example, last year the coverage was $245,000 and this year the renewal states it's going to be $252,000. Quite simply, the reason for this is, the cost to replace your home increased since last year. Another coverage that is factored into that number is Debris Removal, which can really add up. See below. I could not find any recent numbers,but I found some data from material increases from 2010 to 2011. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
> Copper Pipe + 26.5% > Lumber +11.7%
> Steel Rebar + 15.8% > Plywood +11.0%
> Drywall + 5.5% > Labor Costs Unknown