Archive for Homeowners Insurance

What you should know about flood insurance

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 You’ve probably heard this horror story before — someone loses a home due to a flood and learns after the fact that standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood damage.

At Duncan Financial Group, we want you to be educated about all of the risks you may face – before a loss occurs – so you can determine what insurance coverage is appropriate. Spring is a prime season for flooding, so now is a good time to review your options.

Because very few companies offer flood insurance, the U.S. government created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in 1968. Available to homeowners, renters and business owners, this insurance often is required to obtain a mortgage in areas at high risk of flooding.

But you might want to look into a policy just for peace of mind, even if you don’t live in a flood-prone zone. According to the NFIP, nearly 25% of the program’s claims occur in moderate- to low-risk areas. Check out the questions and answers below to help determine if flood insurance is right for you.

Is flood insurance available in my area?

To participate in the NFIP, a community must adopt and enforce a floodplain management ordinance with rules regarding construction in certain flood-prone areas. In exchange, the government makes flood insurance available within that community. We’re happy to help you find out if you’re eligible for flood insurance. Just give us a call at 724-863-3420. You can also visit  http://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program.

What does it cover?

The NFIP provides coverage for both the structure and its contents. Coverage for contents is optional in some cases, so you may want to give us a call to discuss other coverage for your personal property.

Keep in mind that you typically can’t purchase flood insurance and have it take effect the next day. There is usually a 30-day waiting period. (Exceptions to this rule apply, however, particularly when the insurance is required by a lender and is purchased during the process of securing a mortgage.) If you think you need flood insurance, don’t wait to buy a policy!

What doesn’t it cover?

Generally, government-issued flood insurance will not cover the following: Buildings entirely over water or principally below ground, gas and liquid storage tanks, animals, aircraft, wharves, piers, bulkheads, growing crops, shrubbery, land, roads, machinery or equipment in the open and most motor vehicles.

How much does it cost?

As with all insurance policies, the cost of flood insurance varies depending on your situation. If your home or business is in a high-risk area, such as a “special flood hazard area,” your premium naturally will be higher than those in low- or moderate-risk zones. Premiums are based on how old the building is, how many floors it has, the location of its contents, your deductible and more. Renters insurance is typically less expensive, as renters generally insure their belongings and not the building.

Where can I find more information?

As always, we are happy to help you determine your insurance needs. Stop by our office at 311 Main Street, Irwin, PA,  or give us a call at724-863-3420. The NFIP website, at http://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program, has plenty of answers as well.

Insurance Companies Pay Out Big for Dog Bites

Duncan Financial GroupInsurance companies shelled out $479 million to pay for dog bites last year, up from $413 million in 2010.

One company alone, State Farm, paid more than $109 million in Homeowner claims related to bites. California – which has more people and dogs than any other state – led the nation with 527 State Farm claims costing more than $20 million, followed by Illinois, Texas, and Ohio. The nationwide average claim was $28,800.

Dogs bite some 4.7 million Americans a year, nearly half of them children, Nearly 400,000 of these bites require medical treatment – and an average of 16 result in death.

Children age 5 to 9 are the group most likely to be bitten. The ASPCA predicts that one of every two children in the U.S. will suffer a dog bite before he or she turns 12, in most cases by their own dog or a pooch owned by a friend or neighbor. Seniors are the next most vulnerable group, followed by mail carriers. Dogs bit some 5,600 USPS carriers in each of each of the past two years, costing the Postal Service more than $1 million worth of medical bills in 2011.

Heredity, socialization, training, physical condition, and activities of humans can all affect the animal’s propensity to bite. Because children are by far the group most vulnerable to dog bites (a child is 900 times more likely to be attacked than a letter carrier) the ASPCA recommends that youngsters should never:

  • Maintain eye contact with a dog
  • Go near a chained canine
  • Approach or touch a dog who is eating, sleeping, or off-leash
  • Scream or run if an off-leash dog approaches
  • Pet a dog without asking its caregiver for permission (it’s wise to have the animal sniff your closed hand first – many dogs perceive an open hand as threatening)
  • Approach a dog from above its eye level
For more information on protecting yourself and others from possible liability, contact Duncan Financial Group and ask about reviewing your Homeowners Policy or getting Umbrella Coverage to cover the possibility of dog bites–even if they are accidental!

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?

Duncan Financial Group

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

Homeowners Insurance

Duncan Financial Group

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 when you need us most. We cannot prevent life’s mishaps from happening, but we can help you to be prepared when they do.

Call us at 724-863-3420 to speak with one of our experienced insurance advisors. We will work closely with you to choose the right coverage for your home, condo, or rental property.

Homeowners and Lawsuits

It is common for neighbors to disagree. For example, one person might think that their outdoor dog barking at people passing by is an asset for keeping them safer from intruders. However, a neighbor who enjoys peace and quiet would think the dog is a nuisance. Another neighbor might enjoy listening to his or her music at a loud volume, but others who live in the neighborhood will likely find it annoying. Some situations might not be about noise. People who live in neighborhoods with a uniform appearance might hassle a new homeowner who decides to paint his or her house a clashing color. Whether the source of the problem is noise or something else, disagreements between neighbors can escalate into lawsuits. Before this happens, it is important to know what types of provisions a Homeowners policy provides for legal issues.

Many people think that a Homeowners insurance policy covers most types of lawsuits filed against them. For this reason, people are usually not as careful as they should be about preventing them. For example, consider a new homeowner who moves into a subdivision, replaces the existing fence with higher boards and paints them contrasting colors. If the subdivision has rules about the permissible colors and acceptable maximum height of fences, they will try to get the new homeowner to comply. Homeowners who refuse might find themselves facing a lawsuit for violating the subdivision’s code. The courts will likely favor the subdivision’s rules, and a Homeowners policy will not provide coverage for the legal battle. Therefore, it is important to understand exactly what legal issues are covered under the policy.

Loud noises, eyesores and changes are all issues that do not physically harm another person. Although they might be annoying, they are not issues that would be covered by a Homeowners policy if they escalate into a lawsuit. Always remember that a Homeowners policy offers protection for two types of liabilities: Property damage and bodily injury. If the family dog bites someone on the property, a guest falls off a broken step, or one of the kids breaks a visitor’s car window, a Homeowners policy covers such issues.

Since coverage is limited to two types of physical damage, it is important to work as hard as possible to settle disputes with neighbors. For example, if neighbors complain about a barking dog, it might be best to enroll the dog in training or purchase a no-bark citronella collar. Trim overgrown shrubs or trees that neighbors complain about. Many people get angry and frustrated when a neighbor makes accusations or complains. Anger is usually what causes people to be stubborn and refuse to compromise. Always listen to what neighbors have to say, and try to understand the situation from their perspective. Use common sense to arrive at a solution that is favorable to both parties. However, the best way to avoid anger and confrontation is to fix possible nuisances before neighbors complain. For additional information about avoiding problems and lawsuits with neighbors, discuss the issues with one of our agents.

Contact us today!
Duncan Financial Group
888-383-3420
311 Main Street Irwin, PA

DFG Tips To Keep You & Your Guests Safe This Holiday Season

You May Be Thinking:

I’m hosting a party and I’m concerned about my guests drinking and driving. What can I do to reduce the risk?

Home hosts have a duty to serve alcohol responsibly and conscientiously. They need to ensure see intoxicated guests do not get behind the wheel of a car, creating a risk of harm to themselves and others on the road. Follow these tips to ensure safety when serving alcohol at your next party:

• Serve alcoholic drinks only upon request, and offer non-alcoholic beverages such as sparkling water, fancy juice drinks and soft drinks.

• Avoid making alcohol the main focus of the social event. Entertain guests with music, games and dancing.

• Always serve food when serving alcohol. High-protein foods such as meat and cheeses take longer to digest, slowing the rate at which the body absorbs alcohol. However, try not to serve salty foods, which make people thirsty and inclined to drink more.

• Be careful not to serve alcohol to minors. Limit access to the bar if minors are on the guest list, and verify the ages of young guests before serving them.

Remember this holiday season the first rule of having a happy holiday, keep your friends and family safe! Duncan Financial Group knows how important protecting the ones you love. Please visit our website, and find out about events we have for you this Holiday season.

 

Winterize Your Water Pipes

Winter brings the threat of freezing temperatures and harsh conditions to much of the U.S. Some places are well beyond the threat; it’s going to freeze — there’s no way around it. Such conditions pose unique hazards to all owners of commercial and residential properties. The following is some information on this common winter threat.

FREEZING/BURSTING PIPES

One of the most common causes of damage to commercial and residential buildings during the colder months is freezing and bursting pipes. As a building owner, there are measures you can take to prevent pipes from freezing; however, sometimes the worst happens anyway. If it does, the result can be thousands of dollars of damage to your building, furniture, electronics, and other business property.

Here are some things To Do to prevent hazards caused by Winter:

-Locate the turn-off valve and drain the lines.
-Protect spigots with Styrofoam attachments. These can be purchased at most home improvements stores and offer much better insulation than wrapping the spigot with a towel.
-Search for pipes that are not insulated. These pipes may pass through unheated areas, such as crawlspaces, basements or garages. Pre-molded foam rubber sleeves can be fitted to the pipe and offer essential insulation to keep them from freezing. Fiberglass insulation is also an option. You may also consider wrapping the pipe with heating tape.

The team at Duncan Financial Group has experienced hard winters and endured the same day to day winter hazards you have. That’s why we are here to help you through the winter!