Category Archives: Fire and Liability

10 Thanksgiving Fire Safety Tips

8210557842_4ffce3a8ac_zDid you know that on Thanksgiving Day the amount of kitchen fires are two times more likely to occur than on any other day of the year? That seems reasonable, as most of us are celebrating a holiday that resonates because of the amount of food preparation that takes place. That is why we want you to be prepared for the worst, while enjoying the holiday.

Here are 10 tips to keep in mind as the day of feasts approaches:

  1. Install a fire detector in or near the kitchen.
  2. Never leave the kitchen when frying or grilling food.
  3. Use a timer when cooking.
  4. If using a deep-fryer, keep the fryer outside, away from any walls.
  5. Avoid loose clothes or long sleeves while cooking.
  6. Make sure all candles around the house are securely placed.
  7. Keep kids away from cooking areas.
  8. Keep all flammable things – oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, towels – away from the stove top and oven.
  9. Keep the floors clear of any objects you may trip over.
  10. Make your fire extinguisher functions properly, and place in or near the kitchen.

We hope that you take these tips and put them to use while you prepare for Thanksgiving. Then, the only thing you will have to worry about is overeating. Have a wonderful holiday!

Should I Contact A Restoration Company After A House Fire?

resized_college-freshman-meme-generator-learns-how-to-cook-sets-kitchen-on-fire-8ee1daDear Sherri, My son will be going to college in two years so I started to teach him how to cook so he will be able to prepare his own meals. He nearly destroyed my house and totally burned my kitchen. What should I do now? – Heart Burn in NY

Dear Heart Burn, First, teach your son the ancient tradition of take out. It’s faster and obviously, oh so much safer!

I assume the first thing you did was to call your insurance company and file a claim. That’s a good first step. However, what most people forget to do is to contact a reputable restoration company to complete the overwhelming clean up. Attempting to do this yourself can be not only dangerous, but could end up costing you more money. A restoration company will help repair your home by getting the smoke smell out and will prevent additional damages, such as mold from the water used to put out the fire from taking root. Not to mention they will remove the damaged items from your home and try to save items as well. They can help to find important documents and will also help to submit the claim to your insurance company. A good restoration company can help make your home whole again a lot faster than you could. And the best news is that usually, insurance companies will pay for the restoration company because they know that it saves them money in the long run. So, after you put in your claim, contact a reputable restoration company. And most importantly, keep your son out of that new kitchen!

Does My Landlords Policy Cover Fire Damages to my Personal Possessions?

Since I rent an apartment, would my landlord’s policy cover any fire damage to my personal possessions?

No. Your landlord’s policy covers the actual building itself; the walls, roof, wiring, plumbing, etc. It does not cover your personal possessions such as your clothing, furniture, or electronic equipment. To obtain coverage for your own items, you need to purchase a Renter’s Policy. Also, your landlord’s policy doesn’t cover you for loss of use while your apartment undergoes renovations after a fire. However, a Renter’s Policy would reimburse you for any extra expenses you incur should you require temporary lodging.

Your Fire and Liability Policy: Deductible and Coinsurance

439D Fire BellLast week we discussed the importance of noting the policy’s “Valuation” and “Form” when determining which policy is best for you and for performing an accurate apples-to-apples comparison when you receive multiple quotes. This week, I’m going to discuss two more important items to look at when comparing various insurance quotes for fire and liability policies.

DEDUCTIBLE – Deductibles are the amount you pay when you put in a claim. Some policies only have a property deductible, some have a liability deductible, and some have both. For example, let’s say you purchase a policy with a $1,000 deductible. Later on you’re in the bathroom and your hair drier falls in the sink full of water, short-circuits, and causes a small fire with damages that total $2,800. You put in a claim with all the appropriate proof of damage and you receive a check from the insurance company for only $1,800. Why? Remember, you are responsible for your deductible, which was the missing $1,000. Obviously the lower the deductible, the more the premium will cost, but make sure you can afford that deductible when recovering from a disaster.

Imagine you have a $1,000,000 building. We’re not talking market value because market value includes land and land doesn’t ever require rebuilding. We’re talking about how much it would cost to rebuild your building exactly as it was before any disaster. You decide to insure it for $500,000 in order to save money. How smart! Or is it? Most insurance policies have what is called a “Coinsurance Clause” in order to stop people from doing exactly that. How does it work? If your policy has an 80% coinsurance clause, that means that if you insure your building for LESS than 80% of its true value, you actually become a co-insurer and you are responsible for that portion of the value you didn’t insure. Thus, a coinsurance clause penalty kicks in and you are responsible to pay the penalty. For example, imagine that one of your large trees falls on your $1,000,000 building during a storm and caves in the entire corner of the building causing $50,000 in damage. You submit a claim expecting $49,000 (Don’t forget that $1,000 deductible.). However, since you violated your coinsurance clause and only have 50% of the insurance you are supposed to have, your insurance company is only going to pay you 50% of your damages minus your deductible. In other words, 50% of $50,000 is $25,000 minus your $1,000 deductible; you are going to get a check for $24,000 to fix that $50,000 worth of damage! Coinsurance can be 80%, 90% or even 100%. Obviously the lower the coinsurance percentage required, the more expensive your policy will be. Whatever it is, make sure you don’t even get close to violating it or it’s going to cost you money in the long run.

As you can see, covering the same building can get you many different premiums by just changing the four items we have mentioned in these two blogs. You must look at the details to see WHY one quote is less expensive than another. Is it a less expensive rate or is an important coverage missing? Next week we’re going to discuss how your broker or agent fits into all these choices and what you should expect from him or her.

– Ray Alvarez

Two Important Items To Look At When Buying A Fire And Liability Insurance Policy

fire-and-liabilityWe’ve all seen the commercials with cartoon military officers, reptiles, and bugging devices telling us their policies will save you money. However, how do you really know if you are getting the RIGHT insurance to protect you? While price is important, should it be the only criteria when picking a policy? Would you buy a new car if the only thing you knew about it was its price? Of course not! Yet, at times, that is the only thing we understand about a policy.

Therefore, this week, I’m going to discuss two of the more important items to look at when comparing various insurance quotes for fire and liability policies. Each will affect the premium, but once you know what they mean, you can determine if you want to pay the extra premium for that coverage or not. Also, this will help you make an apples-to-apples comparison with all the quotes you receive.

Policies usually determine a loss in one of two ways: Replacement Cost or Actual Cash Value. A Replacement Cost policy pays you the actual cost to replace an item; while an Actual Cash Value policy takes depreciation into consideration. For example, let’s say you insure a $30,000 Home Theater and you’re the envy of the neighborhood! Unfortunately a fire destroys it and you put in a claim. A Replacement Cost policy is going to give you $30,000 once you go out to replace the system and submit the bill showing the actual replacement cost. An Actual Cash Value policy is going to determine that this Home Theater is now over two years old and due to depreciation and newer models now available, your Home Theater is only worth about $2,000, so that is what they are going to pay you. The premium is less, but there is a big difference as to what you will be paid when presenting a claim. Is it worth it? That’s up to you.

Policies are written on a “Basic Form”, “Broad Form”, or “Special Form”. The “Basic Form” covers 11 perils. They are fire, lightning, explosion, windstorm or hail, smoke, aircraft or vehicle damage, riot or civil commotion, vandalism, sprinkler leakage, sinkhole collapse, and volcanic action. “Broad Form” also covers these 11 perils plus breakage of glass, falling objects, weight of ice, sleet, or snow, water damage, and collapse. “Special Form” is different. This form protects you from all causes of physical damage unless otherwise specifically limited or specifically excluded in the policy. In the first two types of forms, you have to prove that the policy covers it in order to get paid a claim. With “Special Form”, the insurance carrier has to prove that their policy specifically excluded it in order to not pay the claim. Which do you prefer? You get what you pay for.

That’s why it is so important that when you receive a quote, you review the form and valuation. If they are quoting you “Special Form”, you need to see the exclusions so that you can decide if the price is right for you. And these are just two items to take into consideration. Join our agency again next week when we discuss a few more items that you want to consider before laying down your hard-earned money!

– Ray Alvarez