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Protect Your Personal Boat/Watercraft

Bookmark and Share There are many hidden costs associated with owning a boat: Dock fees, general maintenance, and winter storage, just to name a few. One expense that boat owners should never skimp on is purchasing the best available insurance policy for their watercraft.

Because buying a boat is a huge investment, owners should protect their boat with comprehensive insurance coverage. Plans are often based on the type and size of the boat. Many Homeowners and Renters insurance policies provide limited coverage for property damage if the boat's engine is less than 25 mph horsepower or if it is a small sailboat, but without additional insurance, no liability coverage is included.

Owners of larger, more powerful boats and yachts will need to purchase a separate insurance policy for their boat. The insurance company will take into account the size and type of boat, its value, and where the boat sails when drawing up the conditions and cost of the policy.

Separate boat and watercraft insurance policies provide much more coverage to the owner. These policies generally include loss and damage coverage to the boat's hull, machinery, furnishings, fittings, and any permanently attached equipment, like a navigation system. Liability coverage is extended to:
  • Bodily injury to other persons
  • Damage to other's property
  • Legal expenses associated with non-consensual operation of the boat
  • Medical costs for injuries to the owner and passenger
  • Boat theft
Policyholders can choose the liability limits of their plan, ranging anywhere from $15,000 up to $300,000. The deductible cost for property damage is $250, and it ranges between $500 and $1,000 for theft and medical expenses. Of course, policies can be individualized based on the boat owner's needs. Other endorsements and coverages can be added to the policy to cover the boat's trailer, fishing gear kept aboard the boat, and any other accessories. Also, make sure to ask whether or not the policy covers the boat while it is being towed.

Just as Auto insurance providers offer discounts to their policyholders, discounts for watercraft policies apply in certain cases. For example, insurance companies favor diesel-powered engines over gasoline ones because diesel fuel is more stable, making the engine safer to operate.

Other discounts are related to safety equipment kept on the boat. Having items like fire extinguishers approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and ship-to-shore radio equipment could reduce the amount of the premium. Also, completing a boater's safety course offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the American Red Cross, or the U.S. Power Squadrons can gain some favor with the insurance company. Maintaining a clean boating record is just as important as being accident-free on the roadways, when it comes to lowering insurance rates. Premiums are usually discounted for every two years the boater goes without an accident or filing a claim. Bundling your Watercraft insurance with Homeowners and vehicle policies is another good way to save money on coverage costs.

A solid insurance policy gives boaters the peace of mind needed to set sail and enjoy the open waters. Nothing is more relaxing than knowing your investment is covered.

Renters Insurance: What You Should Know.

Bookmark and Share A recent nationwide survey found that only 34% of tenants carry a Renters policy which means that most renters are taking a financial gamble with all of their belongings.

The three leading reasons that respondents gave for not buying Renters insurance show that many people don't understand what this policy covers - and doesn't cover:
  • Nearly three in five (57%) felt that their rented home has such effective security that they don't need protection against losses from theft.

    However, without a Renters policy, tenants still remain highly vulnerable to other risks. A fire could damage or destroy their possessions, requiring replacement at a high cost. An accident might leave the unit temporarily unlivable, costing hundreds or thousands in living expenses. An injury to a visitor on the premises could result in costly medical bills - not to mention a lawsuit. The typical Contents policy will provide protection against these losses - and a wide variety of other risks.

  • More than half (52%) believed that they couldn't afford the coverage. Among respondents, 21% estimated the annual premium at $1,000 or higher, while another 60% pegged the cost as $250 a year or more.

    However, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the average Renters policy costs only around $185 a year.

  • Nearly half (48%) thought that the landlord already had coverage.
Although the landlord carries insurance in the building itself, the policy does not cover risks to tenants' property and liability.

Can Dogs Really Protect Your Home from Burglars?

Bookmark and Share According to the FBI, an average of 2.1 million burglaries occurs each year. Your current renters or homeowners insurance will replace stolen items, but consider implementing several strategies that prevent burglars from targeting your home in the first place. In addition to security systems, deadbolts and motion detection lights, consider whether or not a dog can successfully deter burglars from targeting and entering your home.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Large Breeds

Big dogs, including German Shepherds, Dobermans, Rottweilers and Mastiffs look intimidating to burglars. Their bite can be pretty ferocious too. However, some big dog breeds aren't known for their bark. If a burglar is casually casing a neighborhood, he or she may leave your house alone because a big dog lives there.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Small Breeds

Small dogs like Terriers, Schnauzers and Beagles don't look intimidating. They can be noisy, though, and their yapping can be invaluable for your protection. Burglars look for easy targets, and they'll walk away from your house if your dog starts barking and alerts you or the neighbors to their presence.

Are Dogs Always Foolproof Burglar Deterrents?

Both large and small dogs can deter burglars, but keep a few facts in mind before you buy or adopt a canine protector.
  1. Remember that all dogs don't follow breed stereotypes. Some Dobermans are docile with strangers, and your Terrier might not bark.
  2. Burglars who want in your home will find a way whether you have a dog or not. They can simply poison the dog or distract it with food.
  3. Your lease or homeowners association agreement may prevent you from owing a dog or a certain breed of dog. Check it carefully.
Overall, dogs can deter burglars. You should use additional security options as well, though. Contact us for information about renters and homeowners insurance and to receive advice that keeps your home, family and belongings safe from burglars.

Preparations for Natural Disasters, Save Yourself Time and Money

Bookmark and Share As the fun and sun of summer arrives, so does the threat of many natural disasters. Happenings like earthquakes are always a threat, but floods, wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and such are more apt to strike in the warmer summer months. There are three very important steps you can take to limit the effect natural disasters have on your life and property and expedite your recovery process.
  1. Planning. There are some basics that any natural disaster plan should include:
    • Always have several escape routes mapped out. Each family member should know where to meet, who to call for help, and where to call to signal their safety to other family members. Your family safety plan should be posted in a central location and the escape route and emergency contact numbers should be reviewed every six months.
    • If possible, store irreplaceable items and documents like birth, marriage, death, and divorce certificates; passports; deeds; social security cards; expensive jewelry; and heirlooms in a safety deposit box during high-risk seasons if you live in an area frequently hit by natural disasters. You may also put video or photo documentation, a listing of serial numbers, appraisals, and receipts for these items in your safety deposit box.
    • Scan your photos to your computer. You can store your photos with an online storage service or make a CD to place in your safety deposit box.
    • You should have an emergency overnight bag ready to go for every person and pet in your family and always keep a credit card, emergency cash supply, and personal identification with you during high-risk seasons.
As far as disaster-specific planning goes, here are some key points:

Flood planning. Many people live in possible flood areas and don't realize it. For example, those living in areas that recently had a wildfire and those living downstream from a dam could have problems with flash flooding. Those living in or near a construction area could find their risk of flooding increased due to changes in water flow patterns. You can assess your risk of flooding by contacting your local building authority and your insurance agent. Since basements aren't usually covered by typical flood insurance policies, those with a basement need a plan on moving their valuables to upper-levels. Do make sure that you have an escape plan, as discussed above, in place for your family.

Hurricane planning. Most people in areas prone to hurricanes are already on high alert during hurricane season, but do keep in mind that hurricanes and the stormy remnants are often unpredictable. The flood planning from above is applicable to hurricane planning. Additionally, you'll want to have a supply of nails and plywood ready to go so that you can board-up your home before evacuation. Remember, if your local authorities issue an evacuation, then you need to heed it.

Wildfire planning. Wildfires can begin unnoticed and spread rapidly with little forewarning. An effective evacuation plan is vital in many cases. If you do have forewarning, then stay tuned to the emergency broadcasts and follow the evacuation directions from local authorities. Remember to take your emergency evacuation bag with you.

If you're under a warning, but haven't been advised to evacuate yet, then you might have time to turn off your gas lines and propane tanks, soak your roof and shrubs with water, move flammable furniture to the center of rooms, and move large valuables to the safest location possible.

Tornado planning. Unlike many other disastrous events, leaving your home during a tornado warning is seldom a wise move. Everyone in your family should know where they should go during a tornado warning. While a basement is ideal, not everyone has one. You can use a central room; preferably one that doesn't have windows or overhead objects. Be sure your emergency kit and phone numbers are in your designated room.

Earthquake planning. Follow the directions from tornado planning. You might also want to place an emergency kit in your vehicle and at your place of employment. Check to make sure your child's school is also well-prepared.
  1. Prevention
    • Aside from living in an area not prone to natural disasters, there isn't much you can do to avoid them. However, unlike most other natural disasters, wildfires can sometimes be prevented. You can personally prevent fires by being careful when using open flames, maintaining your chimney flue, and not throwing cigarettes outdoors. Of course, wildfires can happen regardless of your personal care with fire.
    • You can help to prevent flames from impacting your home by creating a defensible space. In fact, some insurers are now inspecting properties for defensible space before issuing or renewing policies. Your insurance agent, local agricultural organizations, and federal agencies like the American Red Cross and FEMA are valuable information sources on creating defensible spaces. The damage of flooding can also be limited by planning water diversions and landscaping as protective devices.
  2. Insurance
    • Last, but certainly not least, you should make sure your existing insurance is providing adequate protection. For example, your regular Homeowners policy most likely won't provide coverage if a boulder falls or rolls into your home since such would be considered an earth movement and need to be covered by Earthquake insurance. Another example would be your regular Homeowners policy not covering damage from a water or sewage system outside your home breaking, or damages from a flash flood, as these would fall under Flood insurance. If you obtain Flood insurance, keep in mind that the coverage won't become effective for 30 days and your basement usually still won't be covered.