Is Hail Damage Covered by my Homeowners’ Insurance?

The exterior of your home is constantly being exposed to the elements. While it is designed to withstand all types of weather and protect you while you remain cozy and comfortable inside, there are times when damage can occur. Thunderstorms bring heavy rains and strong winds but they also bring damaging hail that can poke holes in your roof and siding, as well as crack or even break your windows. In Houston, TX, residents can call on Memorial Insurance Agency if they have any questions about hail damage.

More Common Than You Think

Hail can cause extensive damage to your roof, especially if it’s older and already in need of repair. There are times when the rain is so heavy, many people don’t realize hail is also present. Hail damage is much more common than many people believe. That is why most types of hail damage are covered by your homeowners’ insurance policy. While hail doesn’t occur all that often, it can wreak havoc on a home, damaging your roof, siding, and windows.

Call An Inspector

If you believe your home may have suffered some hail damage, don’t wait to take action. Call an inspector today. They can evaluate your roof and identify any potential hail damage that could lead to significant problems in the future. Making the necessary repairs promptly will ensure there is no further damage inside the home.

The agents of Memorial Insurance Agency have the answers Houston, TX residents need if they are concerned about hail damage. Call and schedule your meeting today to find out what types of damage your homeowners’ policy covers. They will give you the information you need so you will have peace of mind knowing your home is protected.

 

Galvanized Plumbing

Water damage claims are one of the most common kinds of home insurance claims. In fact, many home insurance carriers will decline to insure homes with the old galvanized plumbing, which is still commonly found in homes built before about 1985 which have not been updated.

Why do only a small proportion of insurance carriers accept this old kind of plumbing? Well, it all comes down to risk, of course. Galvanized plumbing is prone to corrosion, and statistically it is much more likely to cause an expensive home insurance claim when compared to more modern PVC piping.

Unless you have a very high value home, the chances are that your insurance company will carry out an exterior only inspection when agreeing to insure your home. So they won’t know if your plumbing is galvanized or not – it is up to you to tell your agent when you are purchasing your policy. If you’re with a carrier who doesn’t accept galvanized plumbing, and you have a water damage claim from a burst pipe, your insurance carrier may deny your claim.

This is one reason why it is very important to contact an independent agent who will work with you to select the right kind of policy for your home. But don’t worry – the licensed agents at Memorial Insurance will ask you all the right questions to make sure you are correctly covered!

Depreciation Heartache! ACV vs Replacement Cost

When it comes to insurance, there are many common pitfalls for the unwary. Let’s examine one of these today: Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost.

Actual Cash Value: In this case, if you have a claim, your insurance company will pay you the amount of your claim minus depreciation. Imagine that you have a 25-year composition roof on your home which you installed 10 years ago at a cost of $10,000. If your roof is destroyed and needs replacing, how much will you get from your insurance company? The short answer is: not enough! Your roof’s expected lifespan is 25 years, meaning it depreciates in value 4% each year, to end with a theoretical value of zero after 25 years. In this example, your 10 year old roof has therefore lost 40% of its value by the time the hurricane hits, meaning the maximum available payout under an ACV policy is $6,000. But your financial pain doesn’t end there – you also have to take into account your deductible. So if your home is insured for $200,000 and you have a 2% wind/hail deductible, you will be paying $4,000 out of pocket before your insurance company pays even one cent. Keeping up? Therefore the total payout you’ll get from the insurance company will be the $6,000 Actual Cash Value of your roof, minus your $4,000 deductible, making a grand total of $2,000 ……. just a fraction of what you will have to pay to replace your roof.

Replacement Cost: This is a much better option. Your insurance company will pay whatever it takes to REPLACE your roof to the same standard as the one that was destroyed. There is no depreciation – all you pay out of pocket is your deductible. So in this case, you would receive a lot more money from the insurance company.

Moral of the story? Now you can see why Memorial Insurance always offers Replacement Cost policies, and low deductibles! Whichever insurance agent you use, always make sure the magic words Replacement Cost are on your homeowners insurance policy! Replacement Cost is not limited to the structure of the house itself – it can apply to personal property too, usually as an optional endorsement for a small extra cost. Reputable agents should always offer Replacement Cost – for both the dwelling and the contents – as standard, but beware unscrupulous agents who may try and sell you an ACV policy to save a little premium. It’s just not worth it!

Coming Soon: Flood Endorsement!

We had some exciting news from one of our most innovative insurance carriers this week. Starting this spring, a Flood Endorsement will be available for all home insurance policies with XYZ Insurance (not the carrier’s real name because this product is still confidential).

What does this mean? Well, instead of purchasing a separate flood policy through the NFIP, homeowners will be able to add flood coverage to their home insurance.

Remember the old days when you had to purchase separate home insurance and wind insurance policies? Nowadays, most carriers combine these coverages in the same policy, even in coastal areas. Continuing this trend towards value and simplicity, the same thing is going to happen with flood!

XYZ Insurance is set to be the first company to “go live” with this endorsement, but it seems likely that other companies will follow suit because it makes so much sense for consumers.

XYZ Insurance’s new Flood Endorsement will offer:

  • Choice of flood coverage levels up to the limits of the home insurance policy (in other words, not limited to $250,000).
  • Full Replacement Cost coverage, including for your personal property.
  • Loss of Use coverage (for hotel stays and living expenses while your home is flooded).
  • Claims handled by XYZ Insurance adjusters (not FEMA).
  • Premiums likely to be lower than NFIP policies (in Preferred zones, probably around $150-$300 per year depending on coverage level).

So, when will this coverage be available to you? Watch this space for updates, or contact your agent at Memorial Insurance for more information!

Can You Alter Home Insurance?

Home insurance is something that all homeowners need to have on hand. This is going to help protect them and their home and is also going to help protect their investment. For those that live in the Houston, TX area, the agents with Memorial Insurance Agency can help you find the right home insurance policy for you.

Home insurance is something that can be pretty difficult to understand, but that is also very essential. When it comes to your home insurance, it is important that your policy fits your home as specifically as possible. This is going to help make sure that if you do have to call on the policy, it is going to cover your home and is going to cover what you need it to cover. If you have a policy that does not fit your home as perfectly as possible, it may not cover what you need it to in the event of something happening.

The key to getting a policy that is going to fit your home perfectly is to alter it as needed. That being said, you can alter your home policy at any time but may need the help of an agent to do so. When you alter your policy, you need to be sure you are changing it for the better. If you do change your policy during a billing cycle, you are not going to see the new price of your policy, if there is one, until the next billing cycle.

For those that live in the Houston, TX area, the agents with Memorial Insurance Agency can help you find the home policy you need and help you alter policies that you may already have in place to give you the best coverage possible for your home. Contact our offices to get a quote.

6 Things to Look For in Home Insurance Mailers

Ever had something like this through the mail? Most likely you receive several of them every year in the lead-up to your home insurance renewal. They may sound tempting …. but how do you know if it’s a good quote? What should you be looking for? Let Memorial Insurance be your guide!:

  1. Coverage amounts: Do these match your current policy? They are often lower, because less coverage means a cheaper price. Your agent has several tools available to work out exactly how much your home should be insured for.
  2. Bells and Whistles: On this quote, $1,000,000 in personal liability is eye-catching, especially if your current policy offers “only” $300,000 or $500,000. But if you have an umbrella policy (which you should!), you’ll already have the high liability coverage anyway. And if you want to add higher liability to a homeowners policy, it’s only going to cost a few bucks a year. So this feature is not nearly as impressive as it sounds!
  3. Extended Replacement Cost: Some agents offer relatively low dwelling coverage amounts, but add the extended replacement cost endorsement and tell you it’s additional coverage for your home. This is not true. Extended replacement cost applies when a large area is afflicted by a catastrophe (for example a Category 4 hurricane), and the subsequent increased demand for materials and contractors pushes repair costs sky-high. This endorsement allows for extra coverage but ONLY in the event that replacement cost increases in your area as a direct result of a natural disaster. If faulty wiring causes your house to burn to the ground, you’ll get only your basic Dwelling Coverage amount from your insurance company.
  4. Deductibles: This quote headlines with the 1% deductible, but notice the cheeky 5% deductible in the middle? This part is the deductible for a named hurricane. If you keep in mind that named hurricanes are one of the leading causes of insurance claims in many states, including Texas, do you really want to be on the hook for a 5% deductible the next time a major weather event blows through? In the case of this particular policy, you’d be looking at a $30,000+ out of pocket payment before the insurance company stepped in to take care of the rest. If this is something you can afford and would be happy to pay for, then stop reading here! In Houston, a 2% hurricane deductible is standard, with 1% also available in some areas. At Memorial Insurance, we’d be happy to provide several quotes with different deductibles so you can make an informed choice and NOT get a nasty surprise after the next hurricane.
  5. Total Premium: The advertised rate on this quote is NOT the final price, it is a guess based on you having the best possible credit and zero prior claims. To get the final rate, insurance carriers run an “insurance score” taking into account the above plus many other factors. More than nine times out of ten, when you call the agent to take the quote, your premium will increase.
  6. Exclusions: Sure, this quote tells you that your contents are insured for replacement cost. But how about the roof? See my earlier blog post for details of why you do NOT want an Actual Cash Value (ACV) policy. Moreover, are water coverages (slow seepage, water backup, foundation water damage) included? Most likely not, because these increase the premium, which would make for a less impressive mailout!

Moral of the story: if you’re interested in a quote you receive in the mail, make sure you get an “apples to apples” comparison with your current policy to make sure all the coverage levels match. Better still, why not give Memorial Insurance a call – we have most of the main home insurance carriers in our agency, so we will do the shopping and comparing for you, and make 100% sure you are correctly insured!

Insurance Health Check

Are you one of the millions of people making a New Year’s Resolution to improve your health this January? While you’re at it, why not check the health of your insurance, too? The following three tips may come in handy!

  1. Update your agent: Changed your phone number or email address? Make sure your insurance agent is aware. We may need to contact you if we get an alert from your insurance carrier about your policy. Also, if we’ve got your up-to-date information, we can proactively call you ahead of your renewal and let you know of any pending increases, and find you a lower-priced policy in plenty of time.
  2. Check your coverages: Make sure your auto insurance has high enough limits, and check you have uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage. Maybe you’ve purchased a rental property – is it included on your umbrella insurance? How about that jet ski – is it covered? Give your insurance agent a call, we’d be more than happy to run a policy health check.
  3. Review your billing information: If you’re set up on automatic draft, make sure the billing information is current. Your credit score will not thank you if a payment is declined! Similarly, make sure your insurance agent is aware if your mortgage details have changed. That way, we can process your renewal in plenty of time without you having to worry about a lapse in coverage.

Top 5 Christmas Safety Tips

The most wonderful time of the year is also one of the most dangerous! Keep an extra close eye on the following sources of holiday woe…..

  1. FIRE, FIRE EVERYWHERE! Even Texas can get cold in winter, so make sure your seldom-used woodstove or furnace is well-maintained. Keep flammable objects such as clothing, Christmas decorations, cats and children well away! Candles and drapes do not go well together so be sure to NEVER leave naked flames unattended.
  2. ELECTRICAL DISASTERS Christmas is the season for wannabe electricians to practice their skills with the Christmas lights. Avoid the chance of electrical fires by checking for frayed wires or corroded sockets, and do not overload your outlets or extension cords. Save money on your electricity bill and further reduce the chance of a fire by switching off your Christmas lights at night.
  3. KITCHEN CATASTROPHES More people in the house means more traffic in the kitchen, and a higher chance that your big bubbling pot of boiling liquid could end up getting knocked off the stove top and give someone a Christmas they will never forget. Keep children, guests and pets out of the kitchen while the cooking is happening!
  4. WRECKS Multi-tasking much at Christmas? The roads are busy, the weather can be bad, and people are racing around to beat Christmas deadlines. Allow extra time and don’t be tempted to text and drive!
  5. BOOZE Did you know you could be held liable in court if you allow an intoxicated person to drive home from your Christmas party? The solution: offer a rideshare service such as Uber, or make up the spare bedroom – it is much better for your inebriated guest to crash there and NOT on the highway!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from Memorial Insurance! Our wonderful “event planner” Mayra Reyes put on quite a spread for us all at lunchtime today.

Our office will be closed on Thanksgiving Day itself, but we’ll be open as usual on Wednesday and Friday, ready to help you with your home, auto, landlord, flood, renters and umbrella insurance needs!

Smart Homes!

Travelers – a household name insurance company and one of our preferred carriers – has teamed up with Amazon to offer a free Amazon Echo Dot to every homeowner who switches their insurance to Travelers’ great new Quantum 2.0 product! Not only that, but homeowners can save money on a range of Smart Home products via the Travelers Amazon store.