A Guide to Insuring and Protecting Your Vacation Home

A Guide to Insuring and Protecting Your Vacation Home

A vacation home can be the perfect place to get away from the constant grind of the week. But while your primary home has certain protections and insurances in place, a vacation home may not be quite as protected. With more and more people deciding to own vacation or secondary homes, it’s important to protect those investment properties as much as possible. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Homeowner’s Insurance?

Homeowners insurance is a type of property insurance that covers damage or destruction to your home. If your home (whether primary or secondary) is damaged by fire, flood, theft, or other disaster covered by a standard homeowners policy, you’ll be able to recoup some of your money spent on repairs.

As an owner of multiple properties, it’s important for homeowners to know what their home insurance covers them for—and what it doesn’t. While every policy varies slightly from company to company (and person to person), there are a few key details all homeowners policies must cover:

  • major catastrophes;
  • accidental damage;
  • vandalism and theft;
  • natural disasters such as storms and floods;
  • repairing damage caused by excluded perils (think earthquakes);
  • water leaks; and
  • mold remediation after natural disasters. 

How is Insurance Different for a Second Home?

Insurance on your vacation home is important for a variety of reasons. A large investment like a vacation home, along with its contents, can mean having some peace of mind for yourself and your family. 

Primarily, you don’t want your hard-earned money spent on an unexpected repair or other similar expenses if something unexpected were to happen while you’re away. In addition, vacation homes tend to be located in more remote areas like lakes, forests, beaches or mountains, so there may not be nearby resources if you need help immediately in an emergency situation, meaning more time for damage to occur. And finally, because they are more remote and often uninhabited, vacations homes can be a beacon for burglaries or vandalism, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve covered yourself—and your home—well.

Unfortunately, many second homes are not covered by the primary homeowner’s insurance policy, so you need to take steps to insure and protect your vacation home in order to get the coverage you need at the best possible price. When you’re considering insuring a vacation home, there are three main areas to focus on: the dwelling itself, the contents of the home, and any additional liability.

Dwelling

This type of coverage ensures that the building itself is covered from damage and loss, in cases of fire, burglary or other damages. (However, it’s important to note that if your second home is in a high-risk area—like for hurricanes or floods—that you carry additional umbrella coverage as well.)

Belongings

This covers the items within the home—furniture, electronics, clothes—ensuring that they can be replaced if lost, damaged or stolen.

Liability

Because many vacation homes are hubs of activity, having an additional liability policy to cover any accidents is a good idea. That way, if anyone is injured or an item is damaged—you have the coverage to make it right. In some cases, you may be able to extend your liability coverage from your first home over to your second—so you’ll want to talk to your agent about what is preferable, as well as what is the most cost-effective option for you. 

How to Determine your Insurance Needs for a Vacation Home

Having proper insurance guarantees that you won’t have any issues when it comes time to make repairs or replace items that are damaged or destroyed due to unforeseen circumstances, but it can be complex to determine how much coverage you need, what types of coverage and what policies you should consider.

For this reason, having an insurance agent with specialized concierge service can help. At Penny Insurance, our agents are positioned to be your trusted advocate in the journey, and can walk you through every option available to you to help you find the right insurance. Not only that, but because Penny Insurance is an independent agency, you can be sure you’ll always have someone on your side—even when something goes awry.

Whatever your needs, what types of coverage you need or questions you may have, we are always here to help you along the way. If you would like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know. 

Boat Insurance Basics: What You Need to Know

Boat Insurance Basics: What You Need to Know

If you own or are thinking about purchasing a boat, there’s one thing you need to understand above all else: boat insurance is a necessity. No matter what kind of boat you own, there is always a chance that it could be damaged or lost at some point, so it’s important to ensure that your investment and your lifestyle are protected.

We’re not going to sugarcoat it—boat insurance is expensive. But that doesn’t mean you should skimp out and try to save a few bucks on coverage. With insurance, as with many things in life, you typically get what you pay for, and because watercraft damage can be unpredictable and pervasive, it pays off to spend a little more on your policy and know that you have comprehensive coverage for all possible dangers. That way, if your boat does come into harm’s way, it’ll get taken care of quickly and effectively, with less hassle and frustration from all parties involved.

Fortunately, you don’t have to end up in deep water. Here’s everything you need to know about boat insurance basics before heading out this summer.

What is Boat Insurance and What Does It Cover?

Just like having automotive insurance covers many aspects of owning and operating a car, boat insurance is similar for all types of watercraft. While many states don’t require insurance policies to be held for personal watercraft (although many marinas do), boat owners should always ensure that they have coverage for whatever may come their way. Fortunately, most insurance policies are comprehensive, and cover some or all of the following:

  • Sinking
  • Fire
  • Theft
  • Storm Damage
  • Collision
  • Liability (damage to other boats or structures)

How Do I Choose a Policy?

The key to choosing a policy is to first look at your budget and determine how much coverage you can afford. In some cases, insuring your boat may be a part of a larger insurance package that also includes auto, homeowner’s or renter’s and life insurance policies.

In general, a boat insurance policy should cover three things: property damage, medical payments and collision/collision liability. To fully understand the risk and options available to you, you may want to sit down with an insurance agent to discuss your own circumstances, needs and considerations. Then, they will be able to review your needs carefully before coming up with an actionable plan that fits your lifestyle.

10 Things to Consider (along with Your Insurance Agent)

There are a number of things to consider when purchasing boat insurance (or simply before purchasing the boat itself!) When you sit down with your insurance agent, make sure to talk through the following items so you can make sure you are fully covered.

1. Am I already insured?

Because some policies will cover watercraft as part of a larger policy, check with your current insurance provider if there is any chance that you are already covered under your general home/auto policy, or if it would be better to consider stand-alone coverage.

2. Do I have enough liability protection in case someone gets hurt while using my boat?

Most states require boaters to carry at least $100,000 in liability protection—but some require more than double that amount! In addition, if you are renting a slip at a marina or have a membership there, there may be additional (read: higher) requirements for liability insurance. Make sure you not only understand the thresholds you need to maintain, but have insurance that covers you for the full amount.

3. How much will it cost to replace my boat if something happens?

It’s always better to over-insure than under-insure, but knowing how much your vessel is worth makes a big difference in calculating how much you should spend on protecting it. Fortunately, it’s not hard to determine the value, and an insurance agent can help you along the way.

4. How long am I covered for?

Just like car insurance, boat insurance policies typically last anywhere from six months to one year. To guarantee you always stay covered, make sure your policy will auto-renew so you don’t have a lapse in coverage.

5. What deductibles are involved?

Deductibles are just like those found on auto policies; higher deductibles mean lower premiums. Compare policy options alongside your agent to ensure that you’re balancing these two costs against each other, and won’t end up in a bind if something happens.

As you hit the water this summer—whether it’s at the local lakes or the open sea, make sure you’re covered along the way. We at Penny Insurance are always here to help you navigate the sometimes complex world of insurance coverage. If you would like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know.

How to protect your family heirlooms for future generations

How to protect your family heirlooms for future generations

When it comes to your family heirlooms, you can’t help but be passionate about them. You probably also want to ensure that they are safe from damage or theft, especially if you know that they will one day be handed down to future generations.

But when it comes to protecting the irreplaceable mementos of our lives, how can you ensure their safety and security? This guide will show you how to protect your family heirlooms and collectibles, keeping them safe and sound to continue a legacy into the future.

1. Keep a record

To begin with, make sure you have detailed records of the items: their descriptions, costs, and appraisal values. This will not only help you insure them properly, but will provide a comprehensive account in case of theft or loss, which will come in handy when it comes time to make a claim. In addition, this information may be useful in case you are ever audited by the IRS for tax purposes. These records are often requested during an audit; therefore, the more information you have on hand about each item, the better off you’ll be. Be sure to include details such as where and how you acquired each piece of property, including receipts if possible, as well as details about any restoration work that has been done.

2. Store them safely

When it comes to keeping a family heirloom protected, the first rule of thumb is to store it safely. Putting a piece that is worth thousands of dollars in an enclosed space, or even on a shelf where it could be damaged, is asking for trouble. The best thing to do is buy a large, airtight and stable box or chest, take photos of everything, and then store each item separately. You may even want to categorize them by a number or code that matches your written records. The next step? Put that box away in storage where no one can get to it easily. For highly valuable items, store them somewhere secure, like a bank safety deposit box.

3. Get a collectible insurance policy

Collectible insurance policies are used to protect antique and collectible items, and depending on how valuable your collection is, getting one could be a wise decision. For example, if you inherited a hand-carved grandfather clock from an uncle who purchased it from an upscale store in New York City, getting insured wouldn’t just be smart—it might save you thousands down the road. Fortunately, getting a collectible insurance policy doesn’t have to break your bank; most insurance providers offer affordable rates, depending on what kind of coverage you need.  So when it comes to protecting your hard-earned treasures, consider adding a collectible insurance policy to your arsenal.

4. Plan to pass them on

There are many ways to plan to pass on heirlooms, but if you’re looking to leave them to others—especially pieces with high-value or a lot of meaning within the family—putting your plans in writing is a good idea. While it may not matter to you at that point, it can mean the difference between keeping your wishes intact and an all-out family feud.

Additionally,  you may want to discuss your plans with your insurance provider—they can oftentimes provide customized coverage that protects the item through—or even after—the transition.

Whatever you’re looking to leave behind, what types of coverage you need or the questions you may have, we at Penny Insurance are always here to help you along the way. If you would like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know.

Ready for the New Year? Here’s Your Checklist for Comprehensive Insurance Coverage

Ready for the New Year? Here’s Your Checklist for Comprehensive Insurance Coverage

A lot of people take their insurance for granted. When they’re driving to work, they don’t question the safety of the road or the safety precautions taken by other drivers; when they get home, they don’t think about whether or not their house will be there if a natural disaster strikes. But this is all because we trust in our insurance policy and feel safe knowing that we are covered.

But, when it comes down to it, do you have comprehensive coverage? Are all your most important things covered? Knowing whether or not you are fully insured against whatever may come your way is important, but it starts with understanding the types of coverage available, and matching them to your own needs. In this article, we’ll discuss the most common types of insurance coverage and how each one can benefit your family’s needs.

Homeowners’ Insurance

A standard Home Insurance policy usually includes coverage for your home, belongings, and liability. This means that if something happens to your house (including fire, theft, etc.), your insurance company will cover the cost to help you rebuild or repair it. It also means that if someone is injured on your property, your insurance company will help cover the costs of injury or property damage.

However, it’s important to realize that there can be significant gaps in homeowners’ coverage—just because something happens to your home doesn’t mean that it’s automatically covered. One example of this might be flooding—which oftentimes is not covered by a standard homeowners’ policy. To find out what your coverage includes—and does not—schedule time with your agent to go over your policy.

Renters’ Insurance

Similar to the coverage in homeowners’ policies, renters insurance covers a renter’s belongings in case of fire or theft or other circumstances, whereas property owners’ coverage does not extend to their tenants. There are two types of renters’ insurance that are common: replacement cost insurance, which covers the cost to replace anything that is lost; and actual cash value coverage, which pays out the assessed value of the lost items.

However, it is important to note that there are also gaps in renters’ insurance—they typically will not cover high-value valuables under the same policy (you’d want to get an additional policy for them), and motor vehicles may also not be covered by the singular policy.

Health Insurance

While health insurance is often covered by a corporate entity or by the government (in cases of an ACA plan), health insurance is still one of those major coverage options that you should maintain—all the time. Providing coverage for doctor’s visits, prescriptions, catastrophic illness or injury and even dental and vision care in some plans, health insurance is definitely a line item you don’t want to be without. However, because it can also be complex in what you’re eligible for and what it might cost you (especially considering subsidies and coverage options) it’s always best to walk through your options alongside an agent who knows the ropes.

Life and Disability Insurance

When it comes to insurance plans, one of the most important (and often overlooked) is life insurance. Often paired (or available to be paired) with disability insurance, life insurance offers a payout in case of your—or a loved one’s—demise, providing a certain level of stability in an otherwise uncertain time. Similarly, disability insurance can provide income and coverage options in the case that you are either permanently disabled, or in case of short-term (up to six months) or long-term (over six months) illness or injury. Because these plans are relatively inexpensive but cover you in case of one of the worst possible outcomes, life and disability insurance should definitely be on your checklist for 2022.

Business Owners’ Insurance

If you own a business and do not carry insurance on it, you may want to reconsider in 2022. A Business Owners Policy (BOP) is straightforward insurance for business owners—combining property coverage for your business assets with general liability insurance. While many business owners may need added coverage based on their industry or specialty, business owners’ insurance policies are a great place to start.

Umbrella Insurance

Although you may not hear about this type of coverage that often, umbrella insurance can be a great type of insurance to keep in case of a major problem. Covering liability, damage and injury, umbrella policies fill in the gaps that the common types of insurance may leave behind, offering an added layer of protection should something go wrong.

As an added protection, umbrella insurance can not only help with excessive bodily injury or property damage, but also offers coverage in case of libel, slander or false arrest.

Specialized Insurance Policies

What do horses, antiques, boats and a private art collection all have in common? They may all be insured under specialty premier policies that cover them separate from your other homeowners or vehicle policies. While all of these are very different, with different policy terms and valuations, keep in mind that if something has value to you, it’s worth insuring it from harm. To find out if your prized possessions need additional coverage, talk to your agent about this premier coverage.

Whatever the types of coverage you need or the questions you may have, Penny Insurance is here to help you along the way and to make sure you’re completely covered for anything that could happen—this year or in the future. Should you have any questions about coverage or insurance types, or if you would like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know.

Holiday Hazards (And How to Prevent Them)

Holiday Hazards (And How to Prevent Them)

While most of us look to the holiday season with excitement and anticipation, the reality is that with an increase in online and on-the-road activity, as well as home projects, visitors and more, there are a number of pitfalls that homeowners and travelers should be aware of.
To help, we’ve compiled a list of some of the biggest holiday hazards, as well as a few prevention tips to help keep them from happening to you.

Fire

When it comes to the holidays, one of the most significant threats to the American home is fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, an estimated 790 fires a year begin with Christmas decorations—excluding Christmas trees—while the trees themselves account for another 160 a year.

Prevention Tip: When stringing lights or any other electric decorations, make sure you are double-checking that the wires are intact, with no fraying or loose connections. And if you have a live tree, you’ll want to make sure it stays well hydrated; a dry tree can go up in flames in a matter of seconds.

Theft

From porch pirates nabbing daily deliveries to home invasions and break-ins, theft is a big concern during this time of year. And while your local thief may be seeing an uptick in activity, there’s no reason you have to be part of his list.

Prevention tip: At home, keep track of what you’ve ordered to be shipped to your home, and when it is expected to come in, so you can get your packages inside before they are a temptation for drivers-by. When out shopping, take care to keep your eyes open and be aware of your surroundings to avoid becoming a victim of robbery. Finally, at home, keep doors and windows secured—whether you’re traveling or just watching Christmas movies—and double-check any vehicles outside, as well.

Lighting Mishaps

Hanging lights and wreaths may seem pretty straightforward, but according to the U.S. Consumer Safety Commission, there are on average more than 14,000 holiday-related accidents each year during the December holidays—most of those being attributed to slips and falls.

Prevention tip: As with any home improvement task that includes ladders or elevation, take time to ensure you’re practicing standard safety measures for your project. Ladders should be firmly on the ground, with no wobbling, and you should have a spotter to keep you steady, if possible. Keep tools handy close by, and maintain three points of contact between you and the ladder at all times for added security. Finally, make sure you keep paths clear of clutter and mess, so that you avoid tripping over it when moving boxes or decorations around.

Travel

The Christmas holiday marks the busiest travel season by far, which also makes it the most dangerous, as well. Between an increase in drivers, holiday travel or even Christmas party goers on the road a little too late, December road travel can be pretty risky.

Prevention tip: You can’t always prevent accidents, but you can take a few safety measures. Outside of carrying drivers’ insurance (a must!), take a few hours to take your car into the mechanic—pre-travel—to have the oil changed, tires checked and make sure your vehicle is in good shape for the trip. In addition, if you’re headed to a holiday party where alcohol will make a showing, make sure you select a designated driver for the night to keep everyone safe.

Fraud

There’s no worse time of year than to find out you’ve become a victim of identity theft or credit card fraud, but the increase in online shopping, gift orders and credit card scanners makes it a prime time for someone looking to hack into your accounts.

Prevention tip: When using your credit card around town, take a closer look and make sure there isn’t a skimmer over the scanner waiting to grab your information. When using your phone, stay off of public wi-fi, and if possible, use a VPN to protect your online searches, instead.  Finally, when shopping online, make sure you’re only shopping secure sites (you’ll see a locked padlock next to the web address), and avoid phishing scams by not clicking on any random links that may be emailed or texted your way.

Injuries

They may go overlooked, but injuries can put a quick damper on the holiday spirit. From cooking burns or cuts, to injuries sustained from opening packages (yes, it happens a lot!), there’s no shortage of ways to win a trip to the emergency room, if you’re not careful.

Prevention Tip: As with any other situation in the kitchen, practice general safety precautions by paying attention to open flames and blades, and keeping knives sharp and pan lids close by.  Cut away from yourself—when wrapping or unwrapping—and use a tool to get into those plastic-encased presents.

Whatever you have going on this holiday season, don’t end up on the bad size of the hazards list. From homeowners’ policies to car insurance, Penny Insurance has the experience and expertise to walk you through all types of coverage, every step of the way. If you would like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know.