Ahhh yes...Summer break is almost done. The sun is shinning, the kids are out of school for just a few more weeks, and you have just enough time to take that dream vacation. If you're not headed to the beach, maybe you are taking a week to travel cross country to see the inlaws; whatever the case may be, your house will be empty for an extended time. Rather than worrying about the safety of your home and your possessions while you are away, here are some tips to put your mind at ease.
1. Get a house-sitter
Trusted friends and family are perfect candidates for house sitters. Also, let’s not forget about those poor college students who are home for the summer. Speaking from experience, the opportunity to get out of the house and make a few bucks is very appealing. Asking a trusted individual to hold down the fort while you are away will keep your house in use. Burglars will not want to stop by if the house is occupied.
2. Timers for electronics
An unlit house looks suspicious. Should you leave the lights on for the duration of your vacation? This is not the eco-friendliest option and it could increase your electric bill. Why not invest in some electronic timers? Many of these plug right into your outlet and they allow you to set your lights to turn on and off at designated times. While you’re at it, it may not be a good idea to purchase exterior lights that are motion sensitive. If someone comes on your property, the lights will come on and hopefully scare off unwanted visitors.
*Pro-tip: Burglars who have been scouting the area will notice that your lights come on at the same time every day! As an extra precaution, put your timers on a varied schedule.
3. Ask a neighbor
You neighbors can be your biggest help! If you are out of town for more than a day or two, if would be a good idea to ask your neighbors to keep an eye on things. Ask if they wouldn't mind grabbing your mail and bringing your trash in and out (trash left in the garage will start to stink, this could be a pungent signal to burglars that your house is vacant. It's also unpleasant for those living next to you). Depending on your relationship, your neighbor may even be willing to mow your lawn while you're gone. Make sure that any favors you ask of your neighbors are appropriate and reasonable. And hey! you can offer to help them out when they go on vacation!
4. Lock up and throw away the key
Maybe you shouldn't throw your keys away, but be sure to remove any spare keys that you have hidden outside. Burglars are smart. They will look under the mat or inside that fake rock by your porch. It's best to either leave the key in the house, or give it to your neighbor. After you've taken care of your spare key, make sure that you have locked all entries points into your home. This includes your main entrances, windows, the door inside the garage, etc.
5. Don't over share
What do we love more than our social media? Posting all of the cool things we do on social media! Rather than updating your location or posting your vacation photos while you're out, wait until you get back. Let's try not to advertise to the world that your house is empty. By waiting to post your photos and refraining from location specific status updates, you get to relive your vacation when you get home.
6. Your neighbor needs your insurance agent's info
Life is unpredictable. This does not mean, however, that you shouldn't be prepared. Before you head out on your trip, give your neighbor your insurance agent's contact information. Why? Here is a story from the life of Kevin Wheeler: Kevin's neighbor was out of town for extended trip. While the neighbor was out, heavy rains filled their basement with water. Because Kevin had their insurance information, he was able to help get their claim started for them. Who knows what may happen to your property while you are away? Giving your neighbor your agent's info is a simple tip, but it could save you time and money.
Here at Cardinal, we want to help you stay safe. If you have any questions about your home insurance incase of theft or weather damage while you're away, give us a call.
You've been waiting for it and it's finally here!
Below is the list of the final five insurance terms that you need to know.
This is the maximum amount the insurance company will pay out in case of a loss. The limits are usually found on the first page of your policy, this page is also referred to as the declarations/dec. page.
7. Comprehensive and Collision Coverage (aka "Full Coverage")
To begin, there is no such thing as "Full Coverage". It is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot, but it holds no real meaning in the insurance world. BUT! If you want to really impress your insurance agent and you are looking for this elusive "Full Coverage", ask him/her about comprehensive and collision coverages. Both of these coverages are associated with physical damage done to your vehicle.
Comprehensive: This covers auto damage that occurs by an act of nature, theft, or an UNINTENTIONAL act of stupidity. I.e. Say you are practicing your golf swing in your front yard. If you hit your car that is parked in your driveway with a kamikaze golf ball, comprehensive insurance will help you pay to have the dent removed.
Collision: Collision coverage helps you pay for damage to your vehicle when you run into (or collide with) something.
An endorsement is a form added to any basic insurance policy. These forms ensure that the policy meets state insurance requirements and they modify coverage based on your exposures or changes you have requested. In other words, endorsements make sure you have the specific coverages you need.
A binder is the temporary version of your permanent policy. When you apply for a new insurance policy, there is a small amount of down-time (approximately 30 days) before you receive your actual policy. The binder provides proof of coverage until that point.
10. Actual Cash Value (ACV) VS Replacement Cost
Actual Cash Value (ACV): this is what an item costs to replace MINUS depreciation.
Replacement Cost: As you might except, this is how much it costs to replace your property with new materials.
You can think about it like this: Let's say you have a six-year old, big-screen TV. One afternoon there is a terrible lightening storm that strikes your house. Your TV blows up! The first thing you do is call your insurance agent at Cardinal and file a claim. After going through the necessary process, you will receive a check for the actual cash value of your TV. If, however, the cost of an equivalent TV is more than the ACV, just send your insurance company the receipt and they will reimburse you (the sum of that purchase is your replacement cost).
If these definitions are a little too vague for you, feel free to click on the link for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website (NAIC).
WHAT QUESTIONS DO YOU HAVE? You can leave any questions or comments below or on our Facebook page.
My name is Anna and I just started working at Cardinal. I am new to the insurance business, but I have already learned so much. I have many questions about insurance, as I'm sure is the case with many of you. While I may not have the answers - I will be picking the brains of the Cardinal Insurance Team. Shoot me an email with your questions - and I will get the answers! mailto:email@example.com
Hello out there to all of you curious insurance inquirers! My name is Anna and I just started working at Cardinal. I am new to the insurance business, but I have already learned so much. I have many questions about insurance, as I'm sure is the case with many of you. While I may not have the answers - I will be picking the brains of the Cardinal Insurance Team. Shoot me an email with your questions - and I will get the answers! firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the first of a two-part post entitled “Top 10 Insurance Terms Everyone Needs to Know”. If you are like the majority of the population, you may be a bit intimidated by the wide world of insurance. Well, I am here to help! Below, I have made a list of the most common terms you might hear thrown at you by an insurance agent.
So, buckle up and let’s go!
Insurance provides financial protection of your assets and family against sudden and accidental loss (including loss of life, property, and livelihood).
This is probably a term that is familiar to you. To better understand liability, try asking yourself: “What potential harm could I or something I own cause another person? What damage caused to another person/thing is my responsibility?” I.e. My dog bites my neighbor, my car hit another person’s car, I didn’t leave the emergency brake on and my camper just ran into a building! Etc.
A claim, also know as a loss, is an unexpected event that causes financial harm to you, the insured. In other words, THIS IS WHY YOU HAVE INSURANCE. If an accident occurs, call your agent ASAP. If you do not tell them, they cannot help you.
FYI: I recommend that you talk with your agent FIRST, before calling your insurance company. He/she can help you determine whether or not the claim is substantial enough to be turned in to you company. Again, your insurance agent is here to help.
4. Premiums VS Deductibles
Premium: Let's talk about the money you pay in to all of this. Your insurance company will ask that you pay for the coverages on your policy. This amount varies based on what is listed on your policy, as well as a multitude of other underwriting factors. The premium makes the policy a legally binding contract.
Deductible: Your deductible is what you will have to pay if you and/or your insured property are damaged. Fortunately, because you are insured, this amount is substantially lower than what you would have to pay without insurance. Remember, insurance is always expensive when you purchase it, but NEVER when you have a claim.
FYI: A note about deductibles. You can think about it in this way: this is what you are willing to assume (financially) in case of a loss. A higher deductible means a lower premium because the more you are willing to pay out of pocket, the less the insurance company pays out on your behalf. Just a warning: If you aren't able to afford your deductible at the time of the claim, the insurance company will not pay their share.
When you file a claim, the insurance agency sends an adjuster to come assess the damage. This person will walk you through the process and work to get a resolution to your claim. The adjuster is often the person who will write you the check!
Anna Buck works as an administrative assistant at Cardinal Insurance Services Inc. She has a masters degree in vocal performance from Indiana University and is currently pursuing an Artist Diploma at Ball State University,