5 MYTHS ABOUT HOME INSURANCE

Homeowners insurance includes many myths and preconceived notions that can make the home buying process confusing and intimidating for first-timers. However, demystifying homeowners insurance may be easier than you think. Take these five common home insurance myths into consideration before buying your first home to help ensure a smooth process.

Myth #1: The surrounding neighborhood doesn’t affect the price of home insurance.

Contrary to popular belief, the cost of a home’s insurance premium is influenced by its surrounding area. Each neighborhood has a record of multiple factors that insurance companies take note of, including prior insurance claims and crime rates in the area.

Based on statistics provided by the FBI, the state, and other departments, each community is given a grade by insurance companies. The frequency of crimes, like burglaries and vandalism, within a community is compared against the city’s population. Neighborhoods with lower grades are considered higher risk, and homes within these areas will often have higher premiums.

Myth #2: External home fixtures don’t affect the price of insurance.

The physical structure of a home isn’t the only factor involved in home insurance. When it comes to calculating premiums, insurance companies consider every potential risk on the property. Homes with trampolines and swimming pools carry a higher risk of claims due to injury or property damage and are subject to higher premiums.

Dog owners may also be surprised to learn that they could face higher premiums. Although many domesticated dogs are friendly, insurance companies pay close attention to the risk of bites and other injuries.

Myth #3: Older, cheaper homes will have lower insurance premiums.

Though an older home may have a lower sale price, it may have a much higher insurance rate. Older homes are considered high risk to insurance companies for many reasons. Homes built in the ’80s and before may have outdated plumbing, and water damage and leaks are among the most common home insurance claims.

Another concern with older homes is the wiring system. Older homes may have aluminum wiring installed, which is susceptible to fire. Outdated wiring systems also may not be up to current state code, which can further drive up the price of a premium.

Myth #4: Homes within the same neighborhood will have the same premium.

Though the neighborhood a home is located does influence its premium, many factors could cause one house to pay a vastly different amount than even the one next door. For example, brick houses are at lower risk of fire damage than homes with wooden frames. However, homes with fiber-cement siding are fire resistant and have an added benefit of being termite proof.

It’s important to note that homes within earthquake-prone zones are evaluated differently. Brick houses are more prone to damage from earthquakes and will pay higher premiums than homes made of other materials within these areas.

Myth #5: Once a premium is calculated, the price is fixed and can’t be changed.

A homeowner has plenty of options to reduce the cost of their home insurance premium. Updating the roof to hail-resistant shingles, for example, will impress an insurance company. Additionally, installing security features such as a fence or alarm system will decrease both the risk of claims and the cost of your premium. Installing a sprinkler system to reduce the risk of fire damage is another way to make an insurance company happy, and they’ll reward you — by lowering your premium.

Now that you are armed with insider knowledge about the way homeowners insurance works, you can begin the hunt for your first home with confidence. If you have questions about homeowners insurance or are interested in quotes, an independent insurance agent can help you. Visit trustedchoice.com to get matched up with an independent insurance agent today, so they can help you get started on your journey.

five ways to lower your auto insurance bill

It’s easy to lower your insurance costs — especially if you have a great driving record, or don’t mind having higher deductibles.

Who doesn’t want to pay less for car insurance? Billions of dollars are spent on ad campaigns to convince you to “switch and save” — but the truth is, many people can find savings no matter who their insurance company is. According to the Insurance Information Institute and other experts, here’s how you can, too:

1.Drive safely. Accidents, speeding violations, and other incidents on the road can put your safety at risk, of course. But they also can hit your wallet pretty hard, because some can cause your insurance premiums to skyrocket. On the flip side, many companies will give you a discount if you don’t have an accident or moving violation over a set amount of time — so not only will you not pay more than you should, you could pay less than you would otherwise.

2.Make sure your coverage fits your life (and your car). If you can afford higher deductibles — that is, the amount you have to pay before your insurance kicks in — you can save significantly on your premiums. The Insurance Information Institute says raising your deductible from $200 to $500 could drop your overall cost by as much as 30%. You’ll also want to consider dropping collision or comprehensive coverage if your car is old and worth far less than it once was.

3.Pay your bills on time. And not just the ones from your insurance company, either. Most carriers use credit information when they’re determining how much your coverage will cost, so it pays to have a good credit history. Other things that can impact your standing include your outstanding balances and how much available credit you have.

4.Ask about discounts. There are all kinds of discounts available for drivers — including some you might not have realized. Do you own your home? You might save on your car insurance. Do you purchase your homeowners and auto policies from the same company? You’re probably already getting a discount for that. If you don’t drive much, you could be eligible for a low-mileage discount. The list goes on and on (literally), so make sure your agent helps you get the savings you deserve!

5.Shop around. This goes for cars and insurance policies! Your car has a big impact on how expensive your insurance will be, so if you’re buying a new one, be sure to do your research on how much it costs to repair that particular model, the likelihood of theft, etc. And when it comes to insurance, an independent agent can help you get quotes from a number of insurance companies — they’ll make it easy to weigh your options and find the right balance between coverage and cost.

How to Drive Safely in Strong Wind and Rain

Driving in conditions that involve strong wind or heavy rain can be relatively common and may not be the most pressing safety concern for many drivers, but Travelers safety professionals know that driving in severe weather can significantly increase the risk of a dangerous situation for you, your family and other drivers. Severe weather demands your undivided attention, so be sure to reduce driving distractions by turning the radio down and turning off and stowing your phone to help you keep your attention fully on the road. Keep in mind that sometimes the best decision you can make is to avoid driving altogether and to stay off the road completely until the weather clears.

Driving in Heavy Winds

Wind may not seem like it can present a significant risk, but strong wind deserves special consideration from drivers. Strong wind can occur just about anywhere, but it can be more common in wide open spaces. Areas for concern also include highway overpasses, tunnels and “road cuts” through mountainous areas that can act as funnels for wind. The following tips can help keep you on the road and safe if you encounter heavy winds.

1. Anticipate gusts. Take special care when driving through areas prone to strong winds or when weather reports predict severe weather.

2. Notice larger vehicles. Be aware of large vehicles on the road such as tractor-trailers and recreational vehicles. They are more susceptible to high winds and drivers may have difficulties staying in their lanes.

3. Keep a firm grip on the wheel. Keep both hands on the wheel in case the wind begins to move your vehicle, especially if you are driving a large vehicle or towing a trailer.

Driving in Heavy Rain

In addition to the potentially poor visibility that accompanies most heavy rain, drivers should be ready to protect themselves against hydroplaning. Hydroplaning can occur when a vehicle is traveling too fast in heavy rain conditions, causing the vehicle’s tires to travel on a thin layer of water rather than grip the surface of the road. This has the potential to make steering and braking difficult and could even lead to losing control of your vehicle. Follow these tips to help you stay safe while driving in heavy rain.

1. Take your time. Slow down to help avoid hydroplaning. Also, one of the most dangerous times to drive can be soon after it begins to rain. The rain can cause oils on a roadway to rise to the surface and make conditions slick. Waiting a while after rains begin, rather than rushing to your destination, can be a safer plan when it is raining.

2. Turn your lights on. Turning on your headlights can help you to see more clearly and also helps other vehicles see you. Many states require the use of headlights during rain.

3. Give other vehicles more space. Add 1-2 extra seconds of following time in the rain, which gives you, and the cars behind you, more time to react to traffic.