Author Archives: Sierra Magee

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These tips hold water: Helping clients understand water loss avoidance and mitigation

Category : General

Did you know that water damage is one of the most frequently filed losses on homeowners and renters. Safeco is here to help with this Water Prevention Infographic:

Click here to view the Infographic

 

 

 

 


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Heavy rain? Be on the look out for heavy damage!

Category : Helpful Hints , Product

Your home protects you from the elements, but heavy rains can weaken that protection. With a little maintenance and a lot of vigilance, it’s not hard to stay safe and dry.

Spring rainstorms are a fact of life in many areas of the country, and they help keep things green, even if they keep you inside. But when they get heavy, it’s time to start thinking about the potential impact all that water has on your home. The first step is finding and fixing any immediate problems as soon as it’s safe to do so. Then, you’ll want to take measures to prevent those problems from happening during the next downpour!

Where is all that rain going?
Your roof and gutters form a key line of defense for your home – and in a storm, they’re vulnerable, because so many things can damage them. Trees, hail, and other objects can create weaknesses that might lead to leaks in your roof, so check for missing shingles and other issues. And keep your gutters clear so all that water drains properly.

Are you checking everywhere?
Water dripping from the ceiling is hard to miss. Water in your crawl space, however, can easily go undetected because hardly anyone ever checks there. Don’t forget to look down there after a storm (or have a professional do it) to make sure everything is nice and dry. If you do see moisture, you’ll want to get it out with a sump pump as soon as possible.

And don’t just look up – another place to check is your home’s exterior, whether it’s siding, brick, or another material. Weak spots can be hard to see, so look at various times of the day in different lighting conditions.

Of course, you’ll want to make sure your doors and windows are properly sealed to keep the elements out, too.

What about around your property?
Storm water has to go somewhere, and if your property doesn’t drain well, or if runoff goes toward your foundation, you could have problems. So watch for patterns, and grade property so it drains away from your home if possible. Always be wary of hillsides and tilting trees after heavy storms, because the land might not be stable.

And don’t forget to keep storm drains clear of leaves and other debris. This can prevent flooding both on the streets and your own property.

What should you do during the storm?
During powerful storms, stay inside. This is not the time to check your roof, your exterior, or your property unless there’s an emergency and you know it’s safe to go out. Monitor your interior, making sure no water is getting in. If it is, do what you can to alleviate the situation in the moment, even if it means just placing something under a leak to collect the water. For more serious problems, though, remember that safety is the most important thing. If your basement is flooding, for example, don’t go down there – you could be trapped and even drown.


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Frequently asked questions during hurricane season:

1. Am I covered for flood?

Flood insurance is separate from your homeowner’s policy. We can quote flood coverage but FEMA requires a 30 day wait between when you take out the policy and when coverage begins. Also in order for the flood policy to provide coverage the following conditions must apply:

    • A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of 2 or more acres of normally dry land area or of 2 or more properties (at least 1 of which is the policyholder’s property) from:
      –Overflow of inland or tidal waters; or
      –Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source; or
      –Mudflow; or
    • Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood as defined above.

2. What is a moratorium and why can’t I change or add coverage to my policy?

An insurance moratorium or binding prohibition simply means an insurance company places a temporary halt on writing new business or raising limits on existing policies for a period of time. This is common with an impending storm.

3. What type of water damage will my homeowners cover?

One example would be water back up and sump pump overflow, but only when the endorsement has been applied to your policy. This endorsement provides coverage when water backs up through or overflows from a sewer, drain, sump, sump pump or any system on the residence premises designated to remove subsurface water from the foundation area. This is a common claim after heavy rainfall.

4. What’s my responsibility if my home has sustained damaged?

Report your claim right away. Make emergency repairs to prevent further damage to your property, but only if you or someone you know is able to do so safely.

5. Do I have a separate deductible for a loss from a Hurricane?

Not necessarily. Some of our costal clients and those who live near major bodies of water may have a separate wind/hail deductible, but for the vast majority of our clients, you typically would have one deductible on your policy and it’s the same for all perils.

These are some of the common questions we’ve encountered with the impending storm, but please do not hesitate to call (804) 320-0129 or email myagent@kmicoverage.com, with any questions or concerns.


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Back to School Safety

As kids head back to school, let’s keep them safe

The end of summer means many things, such as cooler weather, shorter days and the start of football here in RVA!

But most important, it means kids are headed back to school. And that means we all should be extra careful on the roads, in school zones and around buses. Remember to watch for bikes, too! Here are some tips for both parents and kids to make sure everyone stays safe.

Use caution on the roads 

  • There are going to be a lot more kids on the sidewalks and streets when school starts, so take it slow and always be aware of your surroundings. That’s good advice for all situations, of course, but be extra cautious around the times when school starts and ends for the day.
  • Watch out for school zones! They’re usually easy to spot, as many have flashing signs indicating a slower speed limit.
  • Remember to follow school-bus rules. You aren’t allowed to pass the bus on either side of the road when the red lights are flashing. Even when the lights stop, make sure the coast is clear before moving on. Kids can move quickly and erratically.
  • Leave yourself extra time to make it to your destination. Whether you’re headed to work or dropping your child off at school, rushing is a recipe for disaster.
  • Be especially careful in school or child-care parking lots and loading zones!

Teach kids to be safe while walking  

Just a few minutes spent explaining some basic safety rules to your child can help keep them safe when they’re walking to or from school. Young children should never cross streets alone, but if your child is old enough to walk with others, remind them to do the following:

  • Always use marked crosswalks when crossing streets and look both ways twice.
  • Do not assume that drivers can see you. Try to make eye contact with them, if possible, when crossing the street.
  • Watch for driveways when walking on the sidewalk.
  • Be aware of cars that are turning or backing up.
  • Never move into the street from behind a car or other obstacle. Don’t chase a ball, pet or anything else into the street.
  • Always use sidewalks and paths. If there is no sidewalk or path, walk facing traffic and as far to the left as possible.

Help them stay safe on their bikes

Just as it’s important to help your children learn safety tips for walking to and from school, it’s important to teach bike safety, especially by setting good examples yourself.

  • Make sure your child wears a properly fitted helmet every time he or she rides a bike.
  • Before the bicycle is ridden, do a quick inspection to ensure it is working properly and reflectors are in place.
  • Show your kids how to ride on the right side of the road with traffic and to stay as far to the right as possible.
  • Encourage your child to walk his or her bike across busy intersections. Or better yet, choose a route without any busy crossroads.
  • Explain to your child why no one should ride on the handlebars.
  • Demonstrate the rules of the road by using proper hand signals and obeying traffic signs when you ride bikes together with your child.
  • Set curfews so your child is not riding a bicycle at dusk or in the dark.
  • Most importantly, supervise your children every time they ride until you are certain they have good judgment.

We know you’re probably familiar with all of these good ideas, but everyone needs reminders. So take it slow, and let’s have a happy and safe school year!


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Back to School

Insurance Tips for Back-to-School Time

College is expensive enough without finding out too late that an accident or theft isn’t covered under your current policies. So, as you get your children ready to head off to school in the fall, there’s one vital “to-do” to add to your list (other than writing that tuition check): a review of your insurance coverage.

It’s important to keep in mind that policy language varies from state to state, and there are never “one-size-fits-all” situations, but below is a general guide. If you have questions, or want to go over your insurance needs, don’t hesitate to contact us!

HOMEOWNERS (may vary by state and individual policy)

Coverage of personal property: Most homeowner’s policies provide 10 percent of Coverage C (Personal Property) for property owned by an insured that is at a residence other than the insured’s. For example, if the contents of a policyholder’s home are insured for $100,000, a student’s property up to $10,000 would be covered if living in a dormitory – provided the damage is caused by a covered peril and the student meets the definition of an insured.

For apartments or houses off-campus, the same coverage generally applies. Certain items, such as jewelry or expensive electronics, may require special coverage, or a “rider.” Renters insurance is strongly recommended.

Liability coverage: There usually is exclusion for damage to property rented to an insured, so generally damage to a dorm room or apartment would not be covered, unless the student carriers renters insurance.

Ensuring adequate coverage: Contact us to get specific answers and information about your coverages. Also, it’s a great idea to create an inventory of the items your student is taking to school, as is keeping photos of and receipts for the items.

Renters insurance: If your student’s needs can’t be met under your current policy, don’t forget renters insurance. Landlords’ policies generally only cover the structure, not the possessions of renters.

AUTO (may vary by state)

Coverage without a car at school: If your student will continue to drive while at home on school breaks, they should continue to be listed on your auto policy. If they are attending school more than 100 miles from home, and are not taking a vehicle with them, the policy may qualify for a distant-student discount.

Coverage with a car at school: In most instances, a car registered to parents and listed on their policy will be covered if used by a listed student away at school. But you should make sure that your insurance carrier writes coverage in the college’s state and location. And note that a change to the principal location of the vehicle could result in a change in premium.

Driving a friend’s car at school: Students generally would be covered while driving a friend’s car if the students are listed on their parents’ policy and do not have regular use of the vehicle. The coverage would likely be secondary in this case, as the carrier for the friend’s vehicle likely would be the primary coverage.

Coverage discounts: In addition to the possible distant-student discount mentioned above, students may qualify for a good-student discount. To qualify, most insurance carriers require that a student must be enrolled in at least four courses per term as a full-time student at an accredited college or university and meet certain academic qualifications. Also, drivers under the age of 21 who complete a driver education course may be eligible for a policy discount.

Going away to school is an exciting time for both students and their parents. Making sure you’ve got the right insurance coverage can help you protect your assets as you invest in your child’s future. We’re happy to discuss your coverage and options — just give us a call (804) 320-0129 or stop by!

 


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Attention Safeco Customers: File a glass claim online from start to finish

Safeco continues to partner with Safelite Solutions and now they are making it easier than ever to file your claim: You can report an auto glass repair from your computer, tablet or smartphone.

Safelite’s website identifies the work that needs to be done, confirms coverage and gives the ability to schedule an appointment for repair or replacement. You can access the glass claim center through Safeco.com.

Why Safelite Auto Glass?

  • Guaranteed work: All work is backed by Safeco’s Presidents Guarantee, which ensures that all repairs completed through Safelite meet industry professional standards and this guarantee applies as long as you own the vehicle.
  • Value: For customers with comprehensive coverage, Safeco will cover the cost of a windshield repair 100% if the shop can repair, instead of replacing. If the windshield needs to be replaced you are subject to your deductible, *unless you opted to carry full glass under your policy.
  • Quality: All providers who perform the auto glass repairs are trained professionals who meet or exceed industry professional standards.
  • Convenience: Work can be performed at your home or your office at no additional cost. Customers are never left waiting and are kept in the know with OMW (On My Way) texts.
  • Speed: Safeco customers receive high priority at the shops in the Safeco network, so this means a repair or replacement is scheduled quickly.

Not sure if you have full glass coverage under your policy? Give us a call for a policy review. (804) 320-0129


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Auto Insurance Rates Cont…

Auto insurance rates are rising at the fastest rate in over a decade.

Here’s why:

There are many factors (out of your control) impacting insurance premiums. It’s important to understand that insurance companies base their annual premium rates on a number of factors and these factors are heavily regulated by federal and state laws, all of which are strictly enforced.

  1. Financial Stability: On a quarterly basis your insurer must prove that they are solvent. This means having assets in excess of liabilities. Many insurance companies are experiencing the effects of external environment and market factors that are driving up costs.
  2. Accidents: Even if you have had no accidents, the companies’ total accidents for the prior year will directly impact premiums for everyone. Inclement weather, heavy seasonal travel, and/or large construction projects have all been known to increase losses for a particular year. For example, lower gas prices might mean more families opt to drive to their vacation destination vs. flying. More drivers on the road = more frequency of accidents.
  3. Cost of repairs: With newer technology come higher repairs costs. Years ago a minor fender bender may have meant a new bumper cover and paint, today we have cars with back up cameras and other technology which are driving up the cost and time for repairs. Repairs are more common than total replacement of vehicles. This particular statistic can have substantial impacts on the auto insurance industry. Also, rising healthcare costs has driven up personal injury claims.

Insurance is designed to spread the risk across large numbers of people. By law, insurance premiums must be applied to an entire class of people, not an individual. It’s important to understand that insurance is a business and like any business some years are better than others. You can have one company file a 9% increase and another 2% and it’s all based on a multitude of factors from the prior year. This is why working with an independent agent is so valuable. At Knight Magee Insurance, we represent multiple insurance companies, we track market conditions, new programs and discounts and work with our clients to ensure you have the best coverage, but also the best rates. Contact us at Knight Magee Insurance for a no obligation insurance review.


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Car Insurance Rates

There’s no one price fits all scenario when it comes to insurance. Here are some factors to consider that may impact your auto premiums:

  1. Previous coverage: Those who have had a lapse in insurance or a gap in coverage and/or carry state minimum liability limits tend to pay more for car insurance.
  2. Credit history: According to research a higher credit-based insurance score typically means you are less likely to file a claim, so as a result more favorable premiums are offered to those with higher scores.
  3. Your home: Where you live and whether you rent or own your home can impact your premiums. For example cities, tend to have more traffic and street parking and as a result are more susceptible to losses and therefore may pay a higher premium than those who live in less densely populated areas.
  4. Your vehicle use: The more time you spend on the road, the higher the chance of something happening. If you have a long commute your rates may be higher than someone who works from home and qualifies for a low mileage credit.
  5. Vehicle symbol: Vehicle symbols are determined by safety ratings, cost of parts and labor, and the likelihood of theft and/or break in. The higher the symbol the more costly to insure.
  6. Marital status: Believe it or not, those that are married are proven to have fewer auto accidents than non-married drivers. As a result more favorable rating is offered to married drivers vs. single drivers.
  7. Age: Younger inexperienced drivers tend to pay more, so qualifying for a good student discount and/or taking a driver improvement course might help offset the dreaded “youthful” surcharge.
  8. Deductible: Often, the higher your deductible, the lower your premium. We recommend that clients only carry the highest deductible they can manage at the time of a loss. Don’t forget you have to pay that deductible out of your own pocket in the event of a covered loss.
  9. Driving history: If you’ve ever been in accident or received a ticket, then I’m almost certain you experienced an impact to your insurance premium. Watching the speed limit and not driving distracted are two ways to stay safe but also reduce premiums with a clean driving record.

Car insurance costs can vary greatly form driver to driver, carrier to carrier and even state to state, which is why an independent agent, with multiple markets is invaluable. If you want to better understand how your policy was rated or are interested in a no-obligation review, contact us at Knight Magee Insurance.

*Look out for our next blog where we will address how car insurance companies base annual premium rates on a number of “other” factors, all of which are out of your control.

 


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It’s Boating Season

It’s Boating Season

Every summer, our team gets calls from customers after a fun weekend on the water takes a turn for the worse. Often, these accidents could have been prevented with just a few simple precautions. Here are a few tips we like – courtesy of our partners at Safeco.

Don’t let an accident wreck your fun!

Life Preservers Aren’t Just for Kids. It’s not enough to just have life jackets on board — wear them! In an accident, people rarely have time to reach for a life jacket. This rule applies to adults, not just children: More people in their 30s die in boating accidents than any other age group. Life vests have come a long way in style. Today, you can even get vests for your water-loving dog!

Watch the Back of the Boat. Carbon monoxide kills in minutes. So tell your passengers where your exhaust pipes are located and turn off your engine when people are in the water, and don’t let passengers “ski” or “teak-surf” by holding on to the back of the boat. Both Washington and Oregon made teak-surfing illegal in the last few years, after several tragic deaths. Carbon monoxide detectors are standard on most new boats; older boats install devices for less than $100!

Alcohol and Boating Don’t Mix. More than 50 percent of drowning’s result from boating incidents involving alcohol. You don’t drink and drive, so don’t boat and drive.

Boats Need TLC Too. When you’re out on the water, make sure your gas tanks are vented and bilges are free of vapors, oil, waste and grease. Carry a charged fire extinguisher. Have your boat’s operating systems checked yearly by a certified marine technician. The Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons also offer free vessel safety checks.

Experience Counts! The U.S. Coast Guard says that operator errors account for 70 percent of all boating accidents. Make sure anyone who drives your boat is properly trained. You can also earn boat insurance discounts from Safeco and other insurers if you complete a safety course with the Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons.

Sites for Information:

Coast Guard: www.uscgboating.org

Coast Guard Auxiliary: nws.cgaux.org/

Safeco tips: www.safeco.com/insurance-101/consumer-tips/your-boat

*Most home insurance policies have limited coverage for boats. If you own a boat, watercraft insurance is your best bet: It covers theft, damage, and injuries or accidents while you’re on the water, as well as some of your expensive watersports gear.

We have a variety of boat insurance options. Give us a call at (804) 320-0129 or email myagent@kmicoverage.com


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Stress Awareness Month

Relax! April is Stress Awareness Month

Believe it or not, the average stress level of Americans has dropped since 2007, according to the American Psychological Association (APA).

But, we here at Knight Magee Insurance understand if you don’t exactly feel that way.

Even though things have improved, the APA’s most recent Stress in America™ survey indicates that Americans are still living with stress levels higher than what’s considered healthy. And nearly one-quarter of respondents say they aren’t doing enough to manage it.

It’s a good thing, then, that Stress Awareness Month is here. Held every April since 1992 and sponsored by the nonprofit Health Resource Network, Stress Awareness Month is a “national, cooperative effort to inform people about the dangers of stress, successful coping strategies and harmful misconceptions about stress that are prevalent in our society.”

Stress management doesn’t just help you feel calmer and more focused. It’s important to your overall health. Constant exposure to stress can trigger your brain’s alarm system to remain in alert mode, flooding your system with the hormones you need to take flight or fight when facing danger, according to the Mayo Clinic. This causes more stress in and of itself. And, all that stress can cause problems with your health, your relationships and your overall quality of life.

So, reducing your stress is well worth your while, and, if you don’t know where to start, we’re here to help. These tips from the Mayo Clinic and WebMD will get you headed in the right direction:

  • Make stress management a goal — and make a commitment to that goal. Simply saying, “I want to reduce stress” isn’t enough. You’ve got to learn to identify problems and implement solutions, which takes work.
  • Identify your triggers. What situations cause you to experience stress? Work? Relationships? Thinking about money? Don’t overlook everyday tasks, such as commuting, or even positive events, such as starting a new job.
  • Consider strategies to deal with those specific triggers. For example, creating a budget plan or talking to a financial adviser could help ease your worries about finances. Changing your hours at work could potentially improve your commute.
  • Practice relaxation techniques and live a healthy lifestyle. Here are just a few tools that people use to help alleviate stress:
  • Deep breathing, yoga or tai chi
  • Meditation and guided imagery — imagining yourself in a place of relaxation
  • Writing or talking to someone about your feelings
  • Exercise (even simple stretching or housework) and outdoor recreation
  • Art and other creative projects
  • Ask for help. Many people you know have probably experienced similar stresses to your own. Find out how they have solved problems and relieved stress. And, if they are still having trouble, you can work on managing issues together. 

April in RVA is a great time to try to reduce stress and live a healthier life. So, what are you waiting for? At the end of the month, see how you feel. Keep doing the things that worked for you; stop doing the things that didn’t.

Remember, when you make stress management a bigger part of your life, you leave less room for the stress itself.


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