Archive for Home Insurance

Is Your Home as Efficient as it Could Be?

pexels-photo-205325Drafty 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 Duncan Financial Group, 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.

The only thing left to do after you complete your audit (and make any necessary changes)? Figuring out how to spend the money you’ll save each year!

Do You Have Enough Coverage to Rebuild Your Home?

Ipexels-photo-106399magine how devastating it would be to lose your home in a fire. Now imagine not being able to rebuild it completely because you didn’t have the correct amount of insurance.

Selecting the proper amount of coverage is the single most important decision you can make with your Homeowners policy. Without it, you may not have enough coverage to rebuild after a total loss. This is called “insurance to value.” Below are some explanations and tips to help you make the right choices for your needs — and remember, if you need help, we’re just a phone call away!

What is insurance to value?

Insurance to value is the relationship between the amount of coverage selected (typically listed as “Coverage A” or “Dwelling Coverage” on your policy declarations page) and the amount required to rebuild your home.  Insuring your home for anything less than 100% insurance to value could mean you wouldn’t have enough coverage to replace your home in the event of a total loss

Why is the cost to rebuild different from the market value?

A home’s market value reflects current economic conditions, taxes, school districts, the value of the land and location, and other factors unrelated to construction cost.  The cost to rebuild your home is based only on the cost of materials and labor in your area.  It is important that you insure your home based on its reconstruction cost, NOT its current market value

Why is reconstruction more expensive than new construction?

New-home builders typically build many homes at once, and solicit bids from various sub-contractors to receive the best pricing. Their business model is based on economies of scale. For example, they may purchase 20 bathtubs at once, securing a lower unit cost. These economies of scale don’t exist when building a single home.

How can I make sure I have the correct amount of insurance?

Work with your agent to provide detailed information at time of purchase to be sure that you receive a thorough and accurate quote.

Ask us about additional coverage options that may be available.

Review your insurance to value calculation on a regular basis with your agent.

Tell your agent about any changes or improvements that you make to your home.

 

Why a Home Inventory Is Important?

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Let’s try a little exercise: Can you list everything you own from memory?
Didn’t think so.

The fact is most people own more things than they realize. It’s easy to remember the cars, the computer, the TV. But what about that holiday china in the garage?  Or every pair of shoes?

All of it is regarded as personal property for insurance purposes. And if your home is destroyed by fire or some other disaster, having a list of your possessions makes filing a claim easier — and helps you put your life back together.

Why should I complete a home inventory? What’s the best way?
Comparing the value of your belongings to the “contents” limit listed in your policy helps you make sure you have enough insurance to replace them if they are lost, stolen or destroyed as a result of a covered loss. The easiest way to take an inventory is to use a video camera, recording and describing items as you walk through your house. Or, you can use a regular camera and create a home inventory checklist.

Here are a few tips for completing and storing your inventory:
Add brand names and descriptions where you can, especially on large-ticket items. Serial numbers are helpful to note.
Keep any receipts you have with the list to make the claims process easier.
Store your video or photo inventory offsite so you won’t lose it if your house is damaged.
Update your personal property records when you purchase new furnishings and valuables.
Though the task may seem daunting, it’s important to try. An incomplete inventory is better than nothing at all.

How much insurance do I need?
We can assist you in analyzing your insurance needs and help you decide how to most effectively protect your personal property. You should consider full-value coverage, which will pay for the replacement value of your personal belongings. A standard policy typically covers personal property only up to its actual cash value, determined by taking the replacement cost and deducting depreciation, which can be substantial. (For example, a 5-year-old TV is usually worth much less than what it would cost to purchase a new one.)

Finally, remember your homeowners policy covers valuable items such as jewelry, furs, art and antiques, only up to set dollar amounts. If the cost of replacing them exceeds these limits, you may want to purchase scheduled personal property coverage.

The Insurance Information Institute has a FREE online tool that can help you create your inventory. Just visit www.knowyourstuff.org  for more details.

We hope you’ll never need the home inventory, but preparing for the worst can prevent a lot of hassle later!

Teen Drinking = Insurance Issues

Duncan Financial GroupSummertime is no school time for teenagers and parents taking vacation, leaving their children unsupervised. Unfortunately, these events often become occasions for teens to drink alcohol. Teens at unsupervised parties risk harming themselves and others when they drink. Parents who host these parties might bear responsibility for what happens there and for injuries or damages occurring after the guests leave. Although their Liability insurance might cover any financial damages, the circumstances of the accident determine which policy will respond, and this will affect how much coverage the parents have.

Assume that a guest consumes several beers at the party, drives off in his car, and gets into an accident, injuring himself and a passenger. The parents of both injured teens sue the parents who hosted the party, who in turn notify their Homeowners insurance company. However, the policy’s personal liability coverage does not apply to an insured person’s legal liability for:

  • The occupancy, operation, or use of a motor vehicle by any person
  • The entrustment of a motor vehicle by the insured person to anyone else
  • The insured person’s failure to supervise or negligent supervision of any person using a motor vehicle
  • The actions of a minor involving a motor vehicle.

Because of this, the Homeowners policy will not cover the parents’ liability or defense costs. Their Personal Auto insurance policy might cover them, however. The policy’s liability insurance covers the individuals named on the policy and household residents who are their relatives for their liability for bodily injury from an accident arising out of the use of any auto. Therefore, even though the parents were not actually operating the vehicle involved in the accident, their policy will cover their liability. In addition, the auto policy that applies to the car involved in the accident (the guest’s insurance, or, more likely, his parents’) will also cover the hosts’ liability for the passenger’s injuries. The hosts’ policy will step in if the owners’ policy either does not apply or pays out its maximum limit of insurance.

Now assume that the guest consumes the beer, but a sober guest gives him a ride home. Rather than go straight to bed, the young man goes for a swim in his parents’ pool and drowns. His parents sue the hosts, alleging that his judgment was impaired because the hosts allowed him to drink. In this situation, the homeowner’s policy should pay for the hosts’ liability and legal defense. Because this accident did not involve a motor vehicle, and no other policy provisions that would remove coverage apply, the policy will cover this claim.

Although one policy or the other might apply to a liquor liability claim, there could be significant differences between the amounts of coverage the two policies provide. Most homeowner’s policies provide personal liability coverage of at least $100,000 for each occurrence; many provide limits of $300,000 or $500,000. Auto policies might provide much less coverage. Most states have laws setting the minimum amounts of liability coverage that an auto policy might provide, but those limits are relatively small. For example, New York law requires minimum limits of $25,000 for injuries to one person and $50,000 for injuries to two or more people (higher amounts apply for death claims.) Should a young person become seriously injured or killed, the damages claimed could well exceed these amounts. Parents should consider buying as much liability insurance as they can afford; they should also think about buying an umbrella policy, which pays for damages that surpass the amounts payable under homeowner’s and auto policies.

Of course, the best course of action is to properly supervise parties, so that everyone has a good time and lives to have another one someday.

For more information on y0ur Auto or Homeowners Policy, contact Duncan Financial Group today!

What is Homeowners Insurance?

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Homeowners insurance is an insurance policy that protects you financially in the event that your home and property is damaged in a covered peril, or in the event of a covered lawsuit.

Perils that are typically covered by a standard home insurance policy include fire, wind, lightning, hail and theft. While no one plans on losing their home or possessions to any of these perils, it unfortunately happens every day. Ask yourself this: If your home was ever destroyed in a fire, for example, how would you pay to rebuild your home? That’s where your homeowners insurance comes in.

Homeowners insurance protects the investment you have made in your home by providing you with coverage for specific hazards.

But your home insurance doesn’t stop there. In the event that someone was filing a lawsuit against you for accidental damage you caused to their property, how would you pay for the costly legal fees? Standard homeowners insurance also contains liability coverage that protects you and your family against lawsuits where another party finds you liable for damage to their property or person.

For more information please contact us at (724) 863-3420

Insuring Tokens of Affection and Other Precious Possessions

It’s the time of year when romance is in the air, but tender feelings could prove costly for couples who are moving toward marriage. According to one industry survey, the average price of a new engagement ring was $5,200 in 2010, and 12% of couples spent more than $8,000. For young couples starting their lives together, an engagement ring may be one of their most valuable possessions.

Do you have cherished jewelry or other items that would be expensive (or impossible) to replace? Most homeowners, condominium, and renters policies have limited coverage for your personal property. Adding an endorsement (or floater) to your policy (or a separate personal property policy) may provide additional coverage for especially valuable articles.

Pricey Personal Property

Basic homeowners, condo, and renters policies commonly have a maximum coverage limit for the combined value of certain property. Theft of jewelry, for example, may be limited to $1,000 or $1,500. There are other disadvantages to the personal property coverage in standard policies, including the fact that they generally protect you only from certain incidents (damage or accidental loss are typically excluded) and may be subject to a high deductible.

A Scheduled Personal Property, or SPP, endorsement to your homeowners, condominium, or renters policy can be customized to cover single items or a class of luxury goods, and it typically covers more incidents (except those that are specifically excluded), including theft, mysterious disappearance, and sudden, accidental loss. Examples of classes of personal property other than jewelry include silverware, computers, cameras, sporting goods, guns, musical instruments, fine art and antiques, coin or stamp collections, and other valuable collectibles.

So if your golf clubs never make it back from Hawaii, your diamond engagement ring is lost in the ocean, or your notebook computer accidentally takes a tumble, an SPP endorsement could help you recover the full replacement value, up to your policy limits. And your claim could be subject to little or no deductible.

Duncan Financial is here for you and your family no matter what part of your life you are in. We change as you need. Stop in or contact us today to find out what else we can do for you.

Do You Know All You Can About Homeowners Insurance?

President Obama pays roughly $120 per month to insure his Ford Escape Hybrid–not factoring in a hybrid vehicle discount.

But how much would President Obama pay for homeowners insurance? As it just so happens, quite a bit.

According to some estimates, the price tag for the White House tops $100 million, a fair bit more than a run-of-the-mill Washington D.C. household. The cost to cover a home that pricey would be outrageous, even for two Harvard graduates.

But the real kicker is Liability coverage. Even adding a new pool to your home can necessitate an increase in liability coverage, so imagine how much liability coverage would be needed to cover visits from international media and foreign leaders? Too much to fathom!

On the bright side, President Obama can save on Homeowners Insurance by landing a multi-policy discount by insuring the White House on the same policy as his Ford Escape Hybrid. This could save him up to 15% on both premiums

But wait a second–maybe the White House needs Renters Insurance. After all, the President doesn’t own the White House, right?

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average cost of a Renter’s Insurance policy is roughly $20 per month. However, something tells me the White House may need a bit more coverage than your everyday rental property.

Good luck finding a Renters Insurance policy that covers a $100 million home, Mr. President.

Even if you don’t live in the white house Duncan Financial Group can find a policy that fits you and your needs. We are an independent insurance agency so we can customize multiple packages just for you!

 

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DFG Recipe and Holiday Cooking Safety Tips Just for You!

A Christmas recipe from us to you!  This makes a great gift idea for friends and neighbors. It provides a wonderful Christmas present for all your unsure-what-to-buy friends!  Decorate with a pretty label and a circle of Christmas fabric under the jar ring. Using the same basic recipe you can substitute different fruits and vegetables to make other varieties.

 

Ingredients

2/3 cup shortening                          2 2/3 cups white sugar

4 eggs                                                   2 cups mashed bananas

2/3 cup water                                    3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder      2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt                        1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves            2/3 cup chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease insides of 8 (1 pint) straight sided, wide mouth canning jars

In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, bananas, and water. Sift together flour, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Add to banana mixture. Stir in nuts.

Pour mixture into greased WIDE MOUTH pint jars, filling 1/2 full of batter. Do NOT put lids on jars for baking. Be careful to keep the rims clean, wiping off any batter that gets on the rims.

Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, sterilize the lids and rings in boiling water.

As soon as cake is done, remove from oven one at a time, wipe rims of jars and put on lid and ring. Jars will seal as cakes cool. Place the jars on the counter and listen for them to “ping” as they seal. If you miss the “ping”, wait until they are completely cool and press on the top of the lid. If it doesn’t move at all, it’s sealed.

Jars should be eaten immediately or kept sealed in refrigerator for up to a week

Holiday Safety tips to make sure your holiday season is, “The Best One Yet!”

  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S.  When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on the range.
  • Provide plenty of large, deep ashtrays, and check them frequently. Cigarette butts can smolder in the trash and cause a fire, so completely douse cigarette butts with water before discarding.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high, out of sight and reach of children (preferably in a locked cabinet).
  • Test your smoke alarms, and let guests know what your fire escape plan is.

The safest way to keep your family and home protected is by purchasing a homeowner’s insurance policy or checking your current homeowner’s policy to make sure it is still meeting your needs. Duncan Financial Group can help you with all your insurance needs. Stop in or contact us today!

Duncan Financial Group
311 Main Street
Irwin, PA 15642
(724) 863-3420
Toll free (888) 383-3420

Holiday Safety Tips That Will Calm Your Holiday Nerves

This time of year, the buzz around many workplaces is all about holiday spirit, parties, gifts and celebrations. But, as an Insurance company and since we are always assessing risks and trying to protect our customers from unexpected holiday-related disasters, conversations tend to be a bit more doom-and-gloom around our office. The talk around the water cooler here at Duncan Financial Group is more about “turkey fryer fires”, ”snow damage” and ”winter weather disasters”. Below are what we have thought to be the most common 3 concerns for the Holiday Season.

 

#1- Cooking Fires:

The Concern: Did you know that the leading cause of home fires in the U.S. is cooking fires? Around the holiday season many people spend more time in the kitchen cooking up meals for large groups and baking holiday treats. The increased time in the kitchen makes the instance of cooking fires greater than any other time of the year. What exactly is the most dangerous piece of cooking equipment? For the past few years is has been nothing other than… the turkey fryer.

The Knowledge to save you from this hazard: Avoid loose clothing and keep flammable materials away from heat sources. While cooking up that seasonal meal, always keep an eye on the stove. Practicing safe cooking will help ensure a happy, stress free holiday.

#2- Harsh Winter Weather

The Concern:  Did you know that between 1991 and 2010 winter storms resulted in approximately $26 billion in catastrophic losses?! Whether Jack Frost is nipping at your nose or dragging you by your boot straps- snow, ice and cold weather can do quite a lot of damage to your home.

The Knowledge to save you from this hazard: When you’re up on the ladder this year putting up holiday lights, make sure your roof is in good shape and your gutters are cleared out. Also, take a look around for any low lying tree branches that could be brought down by heavy snow and remove or trim them to keep your home safe and warm this season.

#3- Thefts

The Concern: Unfortunately, holiday time burglaries have been on the rise over the past few years. If you think about it, Christmas presents wrapped up and placed under the tree are an easy target for a burglar who wants to get in and out of your home quickly and with some valuable items. Also at risk is your car. Many thieves are finding brand new purchases in the trunk or back seat of a vehicle as shoppers go from one store to the next.

The Knowledge to save you from this hazard: Show those burglars that you won’t become their next victim by protecting your valuables this season. Don’t put presents on display in your home especially in front of a window. Don’t leave gifts in your vehicle unattended. You should do this all year round, in order to prevent burglaries in your home.

Duncan Financial Group is always looking for ways to make their customers feel safe and protected visit our website today to see what else we can do for your well-being!

Duncan Financial has rates every home owner can afford

Duncan Financial Group

Homeowners Insurance

Home is where the heart is.  It is also one of the most important assets you will ever acquire. It is more critical than ever to make sure your home and all that ”makes it a home” are fully protected. Homeowners insurance must be custom built to prepare you for all of life’s planned and unplanned events.

We provide the professional and personal attention necessary when choosing property insurance. Our experienced insurance advisors offer the best rates, guidance, and coverage – all under one roof. We understand that there are many different needs when it comes to protecting your home, and we work diligently with you as your needs change, grow, or at any other time when you may need us most. We cannot prevent life’s mishaps from happening, but we can help you to be prepared when they do.

Contact us today at 724-863-3420 to speak with one of our experienced insurance advisors. Duncan Financial Group located in PA, will work closely with you to choose the right  coverage for your home, condo, or rental property.

Personal & Commercial Insurance, Risk Management & Employee Group Benefits

Main: 724-863-3420
Toll Free: 888-383-3420
Fax: 724-864-3022