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. 

How to Protect your Equine Investments

How to Protect your Equine Investments

People have been riding horses for centuries, and they remain a popular choice for recreation and transportation even today. There may be many reasons why people invest in horses, but regardless of the reason, it’s important to protect your investment—for work, fun or just companionship—with equine insurance. Not only can this help cover any injuries or illnesses that might happen to the animal, it can also provide coverage should the animal be stolen or lost. In this article, we’ll discuss the main types of equine insurance, and other considerations for horse owners.

What is Equine Insurance?

Equine insurance is insurance for horse owners that generally covers the loss or injury of the horse. In this instance, we will define equine insurance as insurance on the horse itself, although there are often many different types of insurance that can sometimes fall into this category—including farm property coverage for paddocks and land and liability insurance if your horse is used for business purposes.

The 2 Types of Equine Insurance

Although there are different types of policies and coverage options to choose from, most equine insurance boils down to two types: Mortality and theft insurance, and Medical/Surgical coverage. 

  1. All-Risk Mortality and Theft

Typically only issued for horses under 20 years of age, a mortality policy covers the loss of a horse due to death, or even theft. This type of coverage is typically available for both personal use animals and trail horses, and in the instance that your horse needs to be put down, is stolen or dies, a mortality policy will reimburse you for the loss, based on age and health of the horse at the time the policy is taken out. 

  1. Medical/Surgical

Available as an add-on to mortality plans, these plans can cost anywhere between 2.5  and four percent of the animal’s value. Medical/Surgical policies can be considered like health insurance for your horse—covering medical costs in case of illness or injuries—and similarly, cover everything from prescriptions to surgery. However, most policies will not cover basic or preventative care like vaccinations or dental care. 

Other Insurance Considerations for Horse Owners

If you are considering equine insurance for your horse—whether it be a work asset or more of a family friend, there are other things to consider when considering an equine policy. 

  1. The right policy matters

While there are two common policy types that we’ve covered above, the reality is that there are many options for different types and forms of coverage for horse owners. Liability insurance covers injury and property damage to others, horse transit policies cover the transportation risks of horses that are constantly on the move. One should also consider the surrounding policies that will help protect the investment and the horse itself—like property or dwelling damage for structures like barns, and farm coverage for a larger land property.

Because the uses of horses differ, as does each household or business, it’s important to understand that policies can vary widely. Some mortality policies may pay out a mere thousands, while others pay multiples of that in case of loss, but the premium will match the back-end payouts, as well. As with any other insurance consideration, navigating the many options and finding the best selection for you (and your horse!) is key. Make sure you engage an agent you trust along the way to make the process easier, and to nail down the right policies for you and your large animals. 

  1. Policies are non-transferrable

A policy on a horse is similar to a policy on a human—they are for that specific individual, and cannot be transferred to another. While it may be an option to add more animals (read: horses) to your policy, they would need to be listed as separate individuals. What’s more: if you sell or give the horse to a new owner, the policy cannot go with the horse. Instead, that owner would need to take out a new policy for the animal, and you’d need to cancel yours.

  1. Timing is key

If you already carry a policy on your horse—or once you have one in place—understand that most policies require immediate notification if the horse becomes ill or injured. Know what your policy covers—and what it requires of you for claims—before they become an issue later on.

However your horse fits into your family, and whatever the type of coverage you may need, Penny Insurance is here to answer any questions and help you select the best plan possible to cover your equine investment.  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. 

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.

Insuring Family Heirlooms- From Generation to Generation

Insuring Family Heirlooms- From Generation to Generation

Insuring Family Heirlooms—from Generation to Generation

Some of the most valuable things in life aren’t those that were expensive—they are things that are truly unique. Like the old grandfather clock that sat in your ancestor’s living room to the family ring that has been a part of more weddings than you have, these family heirlooms are the foundation of our own backgrounds and characters, and can be—quite literally—irreplaceable. For that reason alone, you should make sure you are doing what you can to take care of them—including insuring them in case of loss, theft or damage. 

What is considered a family heirloom?

While the word “heirloom” brings up ideas of art passed down for generations, or a piece of priceless jewelry, the reality is that an heirloom is anything of value that is passed down from generation to generation. Practically, this means that everything from furniture, clothing, serving ware, textiles and more could be considered an heirloom. As such, any of these things can be worth insuring, if they are valuable enough for your family.

What kind of insurance will I need to insure an heirloom?

There are a few different types of insurance that may cover an heirloom, depending, of course, on what the heirloom is. Homeowners insurance may cover items within the home, but generally will not recognize the inherent value of a specific thing, so typically you will be looking at more specialized policies. Other options are personal property insurance, which focuses coverage on a per-item basis. At Penny Insurance, we offer Valuable Items Insurance, which takes into consideration the value you place on an heirloom item.

When in doubt, it’s best to consult your insurance agent for guidelines on what can be insured and for how much. Even if they won’t cover it, there is a great chance they will know who will. 

How do you insure a family heirloom?

Insuring the most precious of items isn’t hard—even though there are a few things you’ll need to do to get everything in order. Here is a step-by-step process for getting your family heirlooms insured.  

1. Locate and List

What do you consider a family heirloom? Is it—practically—worth insuring? Do your due diligence and determine what pieces you would like to insure—from artwork to jewelry or even grandma’s vintage recipe book. Once you have compiled all the information you can, you’ll need to find out what it’s generally worth.

2. Get an appraisal

While an appraisal can’t tell you how much you value grandpa’s old watch, it can give you a more complete picture of what you have to insure—the monetary value of the item, how old it is, and maybe even a bit of background information you didn’t have before. All of this information will be vital to have on hand as you meet with your insurance agent. 

3. Work with your agent

Once you have all the information in place, schedule a time to sit down with your agent and go over the details of what you want to insure and for how much. They’ll be able to not only walk you through the process and the price, but often may also give you ideas on how to protect the item, or coverage options you should consider. 

4. Keep them safe

While it’s great to have Aunt Cindy’s stole insured in case something happens to it, keep in mind that there is no compensation equal to that of losing something that held personal value for you, so you’ll want to make sure you keep your family heirloom as safe as possible. Consider how you will store and care for the item until it’s ready to pass down to someone else—and when you do, let them know how they can go ahead and protect and insure it, as well.

No matter what type of heirloom you want to insure, Penny Insurance is ready to help. 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. 

Top 7 Questions to Ask Your Insurance Agent

Top 7 Questions to Ask Your Insurance Agent

Top 7 Questions to Ask your Insurance Agent

Insurance policies can range from the simple to the complex, but the more “things” you have covered the more facets there are to any policy. As your portfolio grows, you are sure to have questions about how policies interact, how much they cost, and what they cover. The best way to ensure you have a comprehensive understanding of your insurance coverage—from car, to home, life, and more—is to ask the questions vital to understanding each policy.

What questions should I ask my insurance agent?

There are a number of things you need to know when purchasing or re-evaluative your insurance policies, and although many will be specific to your own policies and needs, there are some standard things you should know, regardless of who your broker or insurer is, and what type of insurance you are considering. Consider these questions the next time you are scheduled to meet with your insurance broker: 

1. What policies do you recommend?

It’s always good to rely on the expertise of an insurance broker, but make sure you know what policies they recommend for you—and why. Keep in mind that even with all the information they may have about you, there might be something they don’t know, so having a frank conversation about the policies themselves and what they cover is always a great first step.

2. What is the coverage?

As part of the policy discussion, you should know all aspects of what the policy covers, and more importantly, what it doesn’t. Make sure you know what persons or assets are covered in the policy, to what limit, as well as any gaps or limitations that exist. 

3. What will the deductible be on this policy?

The other commonly-asked question is regarding the deductible—essentially, how much you will have to pay out of pocket should you need to file a claim. This is a number that you can adjust when initially purchasing the insurance policy, that may help make your premium more affordable; just make sure that you don’t sacrifice a low monthly payment for a deductible that is too high to cover, in case something happens.

4. Am I eligible for any discounts?

Oftentimes, an insurance company will offer discounts to their customers. These could show up as military discounts, renewal discounts, or even as multi-line reductions, which occur as you add multiple items or persons to your policy. To be sure you’ve covered all your bases, ask your insurance agent what discounts they offer in general, to see if you qualify for any of them.

5. Do I need any additional policies? 

In the case that your coverage ends a bit shorter than you’d like, you may want to consider additional policies that cover them. Common policies you may include are gap insurance, which typically covers the difference between a car’s insured value and what you may still owe on it, or flood insurance, which offers additional protection on a residence that may sit in an area where flooding could be a concern.  

6. What is the claims process like?

Because insurance is a “just in case” purchase, it’s hopeful to think that you may never need to file a claim, however, it would be short-sighted, as well. Walk through the process with your insurance agent—who would you contact, what documentation would you need, how long the process takes—to ensure that if trouble hits, you’re ready with a plan of action. 

7. What is the premium?

One of the biggest questions most people have is this one: what will this cost? The premium—the recurring amount you pay (usually monthly, every six months, or once a year)—is the main cost you’ll have in keeping insurance, so it’s important to make sure it fits within your budget. You’ll also want to know the increase that may occur at renewal, if any. Remember that the premium price is affected by other factors such as coverage limits, exclusions and deductibles, so there are likely ways you can move things around to ensure your budget and your insurance coverage get along.

Whatever insurance policy you end up with, Penny Insurance has the experience and expertise to walk you through it all. 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.