Protecting Your Collection and Preventing Loss

Collecting can be an enjoyable hobby, an educational pursuit or even a financial investment. So how do you look after a collection now that you’ve assembled one? While every collection is unique and has its own specific needs, you can take some simple loss prevention steps to help protect yours from loss or damage.

A good place to begin is creating and maintaining a current inventory of your collection. For each item in your collection, your inventory list should include: artist/maker, title, date, type of object, materials used, any inscriptions or markings on the object and its value. Be sure to include photographs to document the condition of each item and store a copy in a secure, secondary location such as a safe deposit box.

Theft and fire are two of the most common causes of loss involving collections. Consider installing centrally monitored burglar and fire alarm systems. Not only will this help keep you and your family safe while deterring loss or damage to your collection, it can sometimes result in savings on your insurance policy.

When choosing how to display or store your collection, consider the following suggestions:

  • Hire a professional art handler to ensure objects are properly installed.
  • Avoid hanging objects behind doors, in narrow hallways or in close proximity to furniture or shelving.
  • Do not hang objects above a working fireplace or in close proximity to other heat sources such as radiators.
  • Keep objects out of direct sunlight, as UV light can cause severe damage, specifically works on paper, photographs or textiles.
  • Do not store objects in basements or attics, as these areas are vulnerable to flooding, leaks and dramatic temperature changes).
  • Fragile objects should be displayed behind glass or secured with specialty wax, putty or gel.
  • Have a mulch bed or other type of barrier around outdoor sculptures to prevent damage from lawn equipment.

Realize, too, that all art objects are sensitive to the influences of temperature and humidity, which could lead to damage such as warping, cracking and mold growth. Maintaining a controlled home temperature and humidity level will help prevent damage to your collection.

Sometimes accidents simply can’t be anticipated or stopped, but by implementing some of these preventive loss measures, you have a better chance of increasing the longevity of your collection.

Contact your local Ayres Group Agent for advice on coverages to protect your collection.

8 items for your autumn home project list

Steps you take this fall to maintain your home can keep you warm this winter and protect your property from loss.

As you take advantage of fall weather to work on projects around your home, pay special attention to these potential trouble spots:

  • Clean out your gutters. Remove leaves and other debris from your gutters first by hand to get rid of the large particles, and then with a scraping tool and water hose before cold weather arrives. This helps to prevent overflows and ice damming. Ice dams are caused when snow melts on a heated part of the roof, then refreezes on a colder portion of the roof.  This creates a dam and allows water to back up under the shingles, causing damage to insulation and interior ceilings or walls. The University of Minnesota Extension Service has more information about preventing ice dams.
  • Make sure downspouts properly guide the water away from the home. Direct downspouts at least 6 feet from the foundation.
  • Use door sweeps and caulk to block drafty areas of the home from the winter cold. Common areas for these are recess lighting areas, electrical outlets, door frames and windows.
  • Have your furnace and chimney checked and cleaned annually. Change your furnace filter regularly; every three months is typical.
  • Vacuum out your air ducts. Every few years, the air ducts should be vacuumed to help make sure that heated air passes through with no obstacles.
  • Remove screens and put up storm windows. Add weatherstripping to seal out cold air, increasing your furnace’s efficiency.
  • Reverse the circulation of your ceiling fans. As you fire up the furnace for the heating season, reverse your ceiling fan blades to rotate clockwise, creating an updraft that forces warm air down into the room. This can provide additional energy savings.
  • Winterize your pipes. Adding insulation now can help prevent pipes from freezing later and causing breaks and water damage.

Are you properly insuring your other structures?

There’s more to your homeowner policy than just coverage for the house you live in. It also provides coverage for other structures on your property.

These may include all structures and buildings not sharing a foundation with your house. Most insurance policies provide 10 percent coverage for other structures. For example, if you insure your home for $200,000 an additional limit of $20,000 applies to all other structures. Remember that if you have a total loss, you don’t receive $20,000 for each structure, but $20,000 total for damage to all other structures. A large detached garage by itself can exceed this amount in many cases.

So how do you know you have appropriate coverage?

If you have detached structures on your land, it is best to consult with your Ayres Group independent insurance agent to discuss options. A pool house, large barn, garage with living space, fence, freestanding deck and stable may fall into different categories, and your agent can help make sure you have the correct coverage to protect you in the event of a total loss.

While the chances of losing all your other structures at one time are small, you want to secure enough coverage to protect your investments. You may need more than the 10 percent standard coverage for appurtenant structures.

Also consider that many different types of structures could qualify for coverage on your policy, and it’s important to select the correct category based on usage. Your agent can advise you on the information you will need to provide to obtain the coverage that’s right for your situation.

A good example is a barn. Barns can be built in many different ways from a variety of materials. By providing accurate information on usage and construction, you can be assured that your property is protected.

If your other structure is being rented, is used for a business or was not reported, you are most likely not adequately insured. Your agent has the expertise to guide you.

Finally, don’t forget to assess how much insurance protection you need for personal property housed in your other structures. For example, a home woodshop in your barn could have valuable equipment you’ll want to protect. Ask your agent for advice.

The best way to look at it is to think of insuring your other freestanding structures the same way you would your home. You want 100 percent coverage for each structure in the event of a loss. Replacement of these structures is typically less expensive than a home, but those costs can add up and represent a significant loss.

Courtesy: Cinfin.com

1945: a key year in understanding home reconstruction costs

Owners who treasure their older houses are sometimes surprised by the high estimated cost to rebuild their homes, should they have a total loss. But a little history lesson may help explain why reconstruction costs on homes built prior to 1945 can be challenging.

What happened in 1945 to make construction costs change so much?

  • The Federal Housing Administration mandated building codes and standardized mills for the first time in 1945. Previously, all lumber was “true dimensional,” which means a 2×4 piece of lumber was actually two inches by four inches. To create a consistent product that could be used countrywide, lumber mills created specifications and began scaling down dimensions, making post-1945 lumber smaller. So, a home built with lumber milled prior to 1945 is much more expensive to replace because today’s lumber has to be retrofitted by custom milling to match.
  • Some homes built prior to 1945 were built with post and beam construction instead of bearing wall construction. Roof weight is supported differently with post and beam construction, and partial damage to the structure (especially a weight-bearing post) may result in a need for total reconstruction.
  • Prior to urbanization, homes were often built using materials found on the property. Southern regions used hand-hewn timber, industrial regions used brick masonry and mountain regions used stone masonry and logs. These regional materials and individual design resulted in very little consistency from home to home. In the event of a loss, retrofitting these unique materials can cost up to four times more than homes of more modern construction.
  • Before 1945, doors and windows were not standardized. Older homes have larger windows that maximized the sunlight. Window panes were also smaller, had true divided sections of glass and frames made of solid wood, all of which costs more to reproduce. Doors were often solid wood as well, which can be up to 10 times more expensive to create than today’s lighter, raised-wood panel or Masonite doors made of fabricated materials.
  • In homes built before 1945, handcrafted features like crown molding, door casings and baseboards were thicker, made of solid wood and often ornate.Each piece was hand cut and carved vs. today’s milled trim. Replacing part of the trim work to match the rest of the home is expensive because it involves both specialized labor and custom materials.

These are just a few of the reasons why reconstruction costs of homes built prior to 1945 can vary so drastically. While the cost to replace individual elements can be up to 10 times the cost of the modern material equivalent, the overall average cost to rebuild a home constructed prior to 1945 is about double the cost of modern homes.

But what if a homeowner does not intend to rebuild the home with original materials? With a total loss, homeowners could rebuild with the quality and materials they choose. However, for a partial loss, the homeowner may not have that option. If the integrity and stability of the home would be compromised by rebuilding with modern materials, then original materials must be used for structural integrity, and county building inspectors would mandate replacement of heavier materials to match the original structure.

Because there is no way to determine exactly what portion or percentage of a home would be damaged in the event of a loss, it’s prudent to be prepared to rebuild the entire structure with pre-1945 materials. By providing 100 percent replacement cost coverage, the homeowner is assured that the home can be replaced completely. In the event of a partial loss, insuring 100 percent to value prevents the implementation of coinsurance penalties, which can be a costly out-of-pocket expense for the homeowner.

Courtesy: Cinfin.com

The benefits of working with an independent agent

After a lot of saving and planning, my sister and her family bought their dream home. Sadly, a storm damaged their roof, and she’s had difficulty resolving her claim. Her family did not purchase their insurance through an independent agent. I encouraged her to give her carrier the opportunity to see things through, but I also suggested that once her claim is resolved, she might consider an independent agent to help her better determine the right carrier and insurance products for her family’s needs.

My sister and her husband are busy with their jobs and kids, and it never occurred to them to research insurance options. After their recent experience, they are coming to understand that how your insurance company treats you when you have a claim matters.

My sister hadn’t considered why it’s advantageous to partner with an independent insurance agent and actually didn’t know the difference between independent and captive agents (agents who represent one company). Like many people, she hadn’t thought about the various ways of buying insurance and the differences among them. It’s easy to compare the concept to buying shoes for her kids.

Quality: My sister wants the highest quality shoes that she can afford for her children. After all, those shoes are what will protect their feet and carry them on all their daily adventures. Likewise, you want the best insurance products your money can buy to protect your belongings, and an independent agent can offer them to you. Independent agents are business owners who select the most desirable carriers, apply to represent them and sell their insurance products. So when agents represent a carrier, it’s because they believe in the carrier enough to associate their own business’ name and reputation with it.

Selection: Instead of going to a store that carried only one brand of shoes, my sister would go to a store that offered a variety of quality brands with different features and styles. Similarly, an independent agent offers a selection of products to meet clients’ needs, whether the clients’ focus is on claims service, specialized coverages or even cost. Independent agents ask questions, listen and make recommendations – maybe your child will soon be old enough to drive, you have a special collection to protect or you plan to buy a rental property. Whatever your situation, your agent has options to match you with the appropriate carrier and insurance products.

Knowledge: My sister would never guess at a size; she’d ask an informed employee for help measuring her children’s feet to make sure they got the appropriate fit. She would ask about wear and durability and get the facts from the sales person who knows the products better than anyone. In the same manner, independent agents know the benefits of each carrier and nuances of each product and can provide you with the details to help you make informed decisions. You can be confident that your independent agent has the expertise you are looking for.

Obviously, insurance is far more important and complex than shoes! But if my sister would put the effort into making sure she bought the best shoes for her children, doesn’t it make sense to apply a similar process to ensure the right protection for her home and autos?

It’s easy to “check the box” and buy online. Voila – you have insurance! But partnering with an independent agent can help you make sure you have the right amount and type of insurance coverage from a carrier that he or she trusts to protect what matters most to you.

For more information contact The Ayres Group

4 ways to save on your homeowner insurance premiums

Looking for ways to save on your homeowner insurance premiums? Here are a few easy strategies that may lower your homeowner’s insurance premiums without reducing the amount of coverage.

  1. Increase your deductible
    A deductible is the portion of any covered loss that you pay before your policy provides payment. You can usually lower the cost of your insurance when you increase your deductible. You start saving right away and pay the deductible amount only if you have a covered loss. For many insureds, the premium savings over time more than makes up for the occasional, out-of-pocket expense of a deductible.
  2. Insure both your home and auto with the same insurance company
    If you package your home and auto coverage, you often receive additional savings on your home, condominium or tenants policies and on your auto insurance premiums. For even more savings, you can package your insurance for your boat, motorhome, jewelry, rental properties and more with your homeowner coverages.
  3. Improve your home security
    You may be eligible to save if you have the following protective devices:

    • Smoke detector
    • Fire and burglar alarm that rings at the police, fire or other monitoring stations
    • Sprinkler system alarm
    • Secured community
    • Temperature monitoring system
    • Backup generator
    • Automatic water shut-off system
  4. Age 50 or Retired?
    Retired people on average stay at home more and spot a loss situation like fire or water leak sooner than working people. They also have more time for maintaining their property. If you are at least 50 years old or retired, you may be eligible for a discount. For information more on the discounts offered in your state, a quote or policy service, please contact your local Ayres Group Agent for more information.

Coverages described here are in the most general terms and are subject to actual policy conditions and exclusions. For actual coverage wording, conditions and exclusions, refer to the policy or contact your independent agent.

Controlling Risks for Property Owners

Losses that occur on property you own can affect your livelihood and that of your tenants. They also can affect your insurance rates and eligibility. Without the proper controls in place, you could be saddled with the responsibility of owing for injury or damages that you did not cause.

RECOGNIZE THE RISKS

When you understand the risks you face as a property owner and lessor, you can better manage them. Consider these scenarios:

Natural perils – A tornado sweeps through town, damaging your building and your tenants’ contents.

Fire – A grease fire starts in a restaurant at one end of your building. Before it is extinguished, fire damages multiple units and tenant contents.

Third-party injury or illness – A patron slips and falls in the parking lot, spraining her ankle.

Change in occupancy – A restaurant replaces a retail store in one of your units. As a property owner, you want to determine if the current sprinkler system is able to handle the demands of a restaurant.

Change in tenant operations – A retail craft store expands its operations to include pottery making. With this expansion, your tenant adds kilns to heat-treat ceramic projects.

Vacancy – Your unoccupied building is vandalized, resulting in damaged property.

REVIEW THE RESPONSIBILITIES

A well-designed lease agreement can assist owners in transferring responsibility for payment due to bodily injury or property damage to the legally responsible party.  Consult with legal counsel when evaluating your current lease or other formal contract.  When consulting with your attorney, consider whether your agreement:

  • is signed by all tenants
  • contains appropriate anti-subrogation wording and indemnification–hold harmless provisions favorable to you and acceptable under your state’s laws
  • authorizes you to develop, change and enforce rules and regulations for the premises
  • defines which areas you control and which the tenant controls
  • defines the maintenance obligations of all parties while specifying the scope of the operations and the steps you will take if the tenant defaults on these obligations
  • grants you the right to inspect the leased premises for conformance with the lease provisions concerning maintenance and to point out to the tenant any obvious hazards
  • requires the tenant to obtain permission before performing any building alterations
  • contains provisions regarding use of hazardous substances, dispensing of liquor and other activities that increase the risk of loss
  • requires service contractors who come on your premises to provide certificates of insurance verifying adequate limits of insurance and appropriate state licenses, where applicable
  • requires tenants to obtain specified liability insurance on behalf of the owner, with you listed as an additional insured on a primary basis. Make sure you obtain proof that the tenant has acquired and maintains all required insurance.

Consult with legal counsel to familiarize yourself with state laws before you lease space to bars, restaurants or stores that sell liquor.

While it is your duty to live up to your obligations as a property owner, it is also wise to make your tenants take responsibility for their actions and premises upkeep.

Contact your Ayres Group agent whenever a new tenant moves into the building, a current tenant changes its operations or part of the building becomes vacant for 30 days.

Source Cincinnati Insurance

Personal Property inventory – Learn the benefits of having a personal property inventory list

If your possessions are stolen or destroyed, your insurance company will ask you to provide a record of them. Learn the benefits of having a personal property inventory list below.

Details Will Be Important At Claim Time

Do you know the brand name and serial number of your stereo? Would you recall off the top of your head when and how much you paid for your digital camera? Without a list in front of you for reference, the details of your valuables may be forgotten – which creates more frustration in an already stressful time, and can cost you money in the long run.

That’s why it’s important to have a personal property inventory created ahead of time – before an unfortunate incident.

What Is A Personal Property Inventory?

A personal property inventory is a complete list of all your household goods and personal belongings. A complete inventory includes the following information about each item on your inventory list:

  • The room in the house where it’s located
  • Item description and quantity
  • Purchase date
  • Place of purchase
  • Original cost
  • Estimated current value
  • Serial and model number
  • An accompanying videotape or still photographs of each item
  • Receipts and current appraisals for the most valuable items
  • How Does An Inventory Help You?

No one is fully prepared for a loss, but you can take steps to reduce the stress in the aftermath. A personal property inventory in place before a claim ensures that your claim is filed promptly and completely, which means that you’ll get it settled quickly and accurately, and get your life back to normal.

You can also use an inventory to determine if you have adequate coverage for your possessions. Many people find out after a loss that they were not sufficiently covered, and should have purchased higher coverage amounts or replacement cost coverage. A good rule of thumb is to add up how much it would cost to replace your belongings, and then compare it to your policy’s personal property limit. This is an indicator of whether or not you need to purchase additional coverage.

It’s also a good idea to check the claim settlement methods on your policy. If you’ve purchased replacement cost coverage, your settlement allows you to buy new items to replace the damaged or stolen ones. If you have actual cash value coverage, you receive what your items are worth at the time of the loss – taking into account depreciation.

More Helpful Tips

Be complete with your inventory. An effective way to do an inventory is to split the area of your house and take one room at a time. Start outside and take views of each side of your house, including the landscaping. Make sure to include all items in a storage shed or garage, like children’s bikes and sporting goods.

Move inside the home and cover one room at a time. You might want to start with artwork or wall hangings and then move onto the floor. Remember to include all high-valued items like antiques, collectibles, silverware and jewelry.

Electronics are a key part of any personal property inventory. TVs, stereos and personal computers should be included, as well as clothing, CDs, tapes, furniture and items inside china cabinets and storage bins.

As you videotape each item, it’s important that you verbally state when each item was purchased, its value, any special features and the model and serial number. If you choose to photograph these items instead of videotaping them, write all pertinent information on the backs of the pictures.

When The Inventory Is Complete

Once you’ve completed the inventory, copy everything including paper lists, videotapes, receipts, computer printouts, appraisals and photos. Store one set in a secure place in your home, and store the other off the premises in a safe deposit box or with a friend or relative.

Update your inventory every four to six months to ensure that the information is accurate and reflects all items in the home. Save all the receipts for newly purchased items, and make sure to update your inventory as soon as you make a major purchase and delete the items you no longer have.

For more information on personal property insurance, contact your Ayres Group Representative.

 

Buying a condo? What you need to know about insurance

Buying a condo is similar to buying a house. Your mortgage company will probably require you to buy condo insurance. But how do you know how much insurance you need?

Typically, condominium associations own and insure the outside structure of a condominium building, including the grounds and other features, such as a pool or tennis court. Most often, a condo owner is responsible for everything from the drywall in (wall coverings, floor coverings, cabinetry, etc.) The insurance term used to identify the condo unit’s interior finishes is Additions and Alterations or A&A. Similar to the cost to rebuild a home used for a homeowner policy (coverage A), the A&A covers the structural finishes and features; it does not include your furnishings or personal property.

ADD UP THE COSTS

When trying to determine the amount of coverage you need to replace the Additions and Alterations (interior finishes) of your condo, you will want to take into consideration anything attached to a wall or floor. You should include the cost of all wallcoverings (including paint), floor coverings, interior doors, trim-work, bookcases, built-in cabinetry, appliances, plumbing fixtures and electrical fixtures.

However, some condominium associations cover both the exterior and structural interior finishes of the building (A&A completed by the association at the time of purchase), with the exception of your personal property and furnishings. The bylaws or agreements of your condo association stipulate what part of the structure the association is responsible to replace in a loss and what part of the unit the condo owner is responsible to replace. Ask your attorney to review the contract before you buy.

REVIEW THE MASTER CONDO POLICY

By carefully reviewing your condo association’s master insurance policy, you will know how much you are responsible to replace and can get a good idea of how much coverage you may need. Make sure your insurance policy covers everything not covered in the association’s policy, such as improvements and alterations to your unit. You also need to value your personal items to determine how much coverage you need for contents; doing a home inventory will help you track your possessions. Don’t forget to include unique or expensive items, such as artwork or jewelry. Ask your insurance agent whether you need separate personal articles coverage to protect all your valuable items.

It is also important to review your loss assessment obligations. For example, if a fire damages part of a condominium building’s common areas, each condo owner is then assessed (charged) money to cover some of the cost of the repairs. Some condo insurance policies may provide coverage to help you recover some of your assessment.

Your Ayres Group Agent can help you review coverage options to meet your needs. Contact them today!

Lakefront Home Insurance

Have you recently reviewed your insurance policies? Have you compared your coverage to your association’s bylaws? Are you sure you are adequately insured for property or liability claims specific to your lakefront home?

The Stillson Insurance Agency has specialists that can make sure your insurance needs are being met correctly. We pride ourselves on establishing a relationship of mutual trust and service with all of our clients.

Lakefront Insurance

We represent a carefully selected group of financially sound, reputable insurance companies. We place your insurance with top-rated carriers, offering the best coverage at competitive pricing.

Please call (269) 663-6695 to set an appointment

  • Top rated carriers
  • The Best Coverage
  • Competitive Pricing