3 ways to prepare for a home insurance claim

We all wish to live happily in safe homes free of fires, burglaries, storms, and other natural disasters. But when the dreaded happens, it is crucial to understand what to do and how to file a claim successfully. At Safechoice Insurance Agency serving Rochester, MN, we recommend reviewing your policy with a professional insurance agent to ensure that it is up to date with your present situation.

1. Ask as many questions as possible to have the correct information

 Your claim preparation involves contacting your insurance company as soon as possible. If the peril is a fire that hinders you from entering the house, you can search online for Nationwide numbers to help you reach your insurer. In the initial call, confirm your deductible and ask as many questions as possible. You should also notify your insurer whether you will need to relocate or not.

2. Document the damage

Your insurance provider may not get to you right away, use this time to document the damage. Take pictures and videos and match your losses with your inventory (you should have your inventory ready before any accident). This acts as proof that you owned the items.

3. Make the necessary replacement and repair arrangements.

Depending on the damage, do what you need to do to save the situation and notify your insurer. If it was a broken pipe that led to the accident, you can fix it or find someone to do it for you before the insurance company gets to you.

The home insurance claim process can be stressful, mentally-draining, and lengthy. However, knowing what to do, acting promptly, and handling the situation like a pro helps get your home back into shape faster. To get more tips on how to prepare for a home insurance claim, contact Safechoice Insurance Agency in Rochester, MN, and we will help be happy to assist you.

Three things you need to know as a first-time home insurance buyer

Home insurance is an essential product for anyone who owns a home. You need to protect the investment you make in your property, and your lender will require home insurance if your home purchase was financed.

At Safechoice Insurance Agency, we want to make sure first-time home buyers out there in Rochester, MN know the following three things before purchasing a home insurance policy. 

Insurance providers frequently offer a discount for bundling.

Anything you can do to bring down the costs of your insurance will significantly help you down the road. One discount that’s commonly offered by many insurance providers is a bundling discount. 

Bundling discounts mean you pay less if you have numerous types of insurance through the same provider. This means if you get your auto and home insurance from the same company, you may enjoy lower premiums. 

Having a home inspection can help you learn of ways to bring down insurance costs.

Home insurance providers typically inspect a home as part of determining how much they will charge for coverage. During this inspection, they may mention repairs you can make to bring down your insurance premiums. 

To learn more about purchasing home insurance for the first time in Rochester, MN, contact us at Safechoice Insurance Agency with your inquiries. 

Savvy Investors Protect Value with Home Insurance

Residential real estate continues to be a popular investment choice these days. Many people find stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments a bit too complicated for their tastes. They would rather get involved in something they can better understand. After all, almost everyone has lived in a house or apartment, thus acquiring some knowledge of the market.

Nevertheless, this familiarity should not be confused with expertise. Investors should take their real estate purchases seriously. For example, acquiring adequate home insurance for investment property is essential. Those who fail to do so may find themselves paying out-of-pocket when problems arise. In the worst-case scenario, they may even lose the home altogether.

To help you make the most of your real estate holdings, the following are some main reasons why investors need solid home insurance policies

To Prevent Income Losses

Since you expect a profit from your property, consider getting insurance coverage to sustain these earnings when things go awry. There are many reasons why you could be temporarily unable to rent, sell or use your property. A legal ruling, for example, could enjoin you from doing so until a court has made a final decree. 

You should speak with professionals familiar with home coverage for investors, such as the staff at Safechoice Insurance Agency, serving the Rochester, MN area. They can help you find a home insurance policy to protect your investment earnings as best possible.

To Take Care of Structural Damage 

You also want a home insurance policy that covers structural damage. You may need this help to pay for needed repairs and replacements in cases of vandalism, fire or another calamity that diminishes real estate value. 

To Handle Harm Done to Others

Also consider getting liability coverage, especially if planning to rent your property. 

Liability home insurance can defray legal costs when you are sued for someone who has gotten hurt. Renters, guests, and neighbors are likely candidates to file lawsuits. They may hold you, as the owner, responsible for accidents occurring on the premises.

Get More Information Today

To learn more about how home insurance can protect your investment properties contact Safechoice Insurance Agency, as many in the Rochester, MN have done. The knowledgeable staff can direct you to the best policy to meet your investment needs.

Are weather events covered by my homeowners insurance

Weather is one of many uncertainties that all homeowners live with. It doesn’t seem to matter where in the country you live, north, south, east, west or in the heartland, all of them have their own weather-related issues. Some of them are covered under most home insurance policies, others almost never are and some may be covered with an endorsement. Talking to an expert can help you to understand which policy and provider are the best for your particular situation. If you live in or near Rochester, MN Safechoice Insurance Agency is happy to sit with you and go over all the options.

Rain is a weather event that most parts of the country have to deal with. Rain may be accompanied by thunder and lightning. If your home is struck by lightning and is damaged as a result, that damage is covered. If the rain is frozen and comes down as hail, the damage caused will be covered by a home insurance policy. The snow that causes damage to your roof or freezes causing ice dams is also covered. However, if the rain is torrential and causes a mud or landslide, the damage caused to your home will not be covered by homeowners insurance.

The wind is one of the major weather events that can cause damage to your home. It may come in the form or a hurricane, a tornado or just a severe wind storm. It can cause trees to fall on your home, rip the roof right off of your home and even tear your home right off of your foundation.

Flood damage is not covered under a typical home insurance policy. In order to have coverage, you need to either have a flood rider added to your policy or purchase Federal Flood Protection Insurance.

Weather can be unpredictable and can cause major damage to your home. To make sure that you have the coverage that you need, call Safechoice Insurance Agency in Rochester, MN. They will be able to help you with any questions you may have.

Is Home Insurance Required In Rochester, MN?

There are many homeowners in Rochester MN and many of them have purchased home insurance but if you own a home in Rochester, MN and you don’t think home insurance is necessary for you, here are some important points to consider. Remember, your home is your biggest investment and you need to safeguard it.

It protects your home against natural disasters

While no one prays for it, it still happens once in a long while. Think of disasters like wildfire, thunderstorm, flood, or even vandalism. If it happens to your home, it may take you years to recover from it, if you ever do. 

That is why several home insurance policies cover all these disasters. You will be compensated duly for it. Safechoice Insurance Agency, whose serving state is Minnesota offers several policies that cover natural disasters. Having to renovate a home whose loan you are still paying will be a double-blow for you.

Most home insurance policies cover the additional living expense. This will be necessary if the disaster renders your home unfit for living. You may have to put up in a hotel for a few days while you seek a makeshift accommodation before your home is fully renovated. Your insurance provider will bear the additional living expense. 

If your home gets damaged or burnt, your furniture and fittings will not be spared. Some policies will go as far as defraying the cost of the replacement or repair of your belongings. 

Some policies protect you against a lawsuit

Some home insurance policies include liability insurance. If anybody has an accident in your property, you could be held liable. The liability insurance will reimburse you for lost wages, legal fees, and medical bills. 

Lenders now require it

A lot of lenders now ask for proof of home insurance. Only very few asked for it before but now, most of them do. They want to protect their money.

Considering the three points raised above, you will agree that home insurance is indispensable in Minnesota or in any other state. You can contact Safechoice Insurance Agency for more information on home insurance and how you can safeguard your home. 

Are All Your Valuables Covered by Your Home Insurance?

With basic home insurance, you can protect your home and personal belongings against such threats as fire, hail, windstorm, theft, vandalism and water damage due to a leaky roof or plumbing problems. The amount of protection you receive will depend on the limits of your policy. As part of your personal goods, valuables also receive a measure of protection under a standard home insurance policy. This protection, however, may not cover the entire worth of your valuables due to limits on your policy, leaving you with no choice but to pay the rest out of pocket. At Safechoice Insurance Agency, we can help you determine insurance coverage that will fully protect all the valuables in your Rochester, MN home.

What Valuables May Not be Fully Covered by a Standard Home Insurance Policy?

Depending on their worth, such items as pricey jewelry, furs, works of art, antiques, heirlooms and rare coin collections may not be fully covered by basic home insurance. You can, however, obtain additional coverage to protect these items. This coverage known as a "floater," comes with higher limits to cover the repair or replacement cost of expensive valuables. By having your valuables professionally appraised, you can determine their current value. This gives you a better idea of how much coverage you need to protect them against damage or loss.  

Importance of Protecting Valuables

You can’t predict when a disaster will strike but you can be prepared for the outcome with insurance coverage. Protecting valuables with a floater enables you to recoup your losses if these goods were to be stolen or damaged in an unforeseen disaster.  When it comes to treasured goods, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

To learn more about insurance protection for your home, personal goods and valuables, contact us at Safechoice Insurance Agency in Rochester, MN.  

6 inexpensive energy upgrades you can make to your home

The average consumer spends approximately $2,000 per year on energy costs. The Department of Energy estimates that as much as $400 is being wasted.  At the Rochester, MN, Safechoice Insurance Agency, we’ve got more tips to help you save on your energy bill.

Completing an Energy Audit of your home can uncover the costliest leaks and suggest fixes.  While you can do it yourself, many utility companies will provide low cost or free audits, using infrared cameras, blower doors, or other high-tech tools. Rochester Public Utilities can provide an energy audit and offers rebate coupons for energy-efficient appliance and light builds. 

Here are six free or inexpensive energy upgrades you can do yourself:

  1. Next to heating and cooling, water heaters represent the largest expense. Lower the temperature on your water heater by a degree or two.
  2. Install a programmable thermostat and raise/lower the temperature when you’re sleeping or gone for the day.  Some of the newer, high-tech thermostats will learn your patterns and program themselves.
  3. Seal air leaks around pipes leading to the outside and add weather stripping to doors or windows.
  4. Add pipe insulation to the pipes leading into your home from your air conditioner or heating unit.
  5. Add insulation in attics, basement, and crawl spaces.
  6. Using more efficient light bulbs and fixtures can reduce the amount of energy used for lighting by 50% to 75%.

If you have older appliances, upgrading them to energy-efficient appliances can pay for themselves over time. A new ENERGY STAR ® refrigerator could save you as much as $150 a year.  A quick way to check if your refrigerator is sealed is to close a dollar in the door. If it falls to the floor, you’re leaking energy.

More energy efficient windows and doors can help reduce your energy bill. Adding storm windows can reduce heat loss through your windows by as much as 50%.

For all your home insurance needs, contact Rochester, MN, Safechoice Insurance Agency.

Things That Can Increase Your Risk Level and Insurance Rate

As is true across the nation, auto insurance is mandatory in Rochester, MN. The penalties are severe for those who drive without coverage. This is understandable because accidents are all too common these days.

Since you must have insurance, you should try to limit your level of risk of being in an auto accident or the victim of theft. Following are three things you should consider when assessing your risk level. Also, contact the experienced staff at Safechoice Insurance Agency for more information.

1. Your Occupation

Sure times are tough. You are willing to take almost any job to earn some extra cash, right?

Be aware that certain occupations can increase your odds of being involved in an auto accident. For example, pizza delivery drivers are under intense pressure to get orders to customers in a prescribed amount of time. Consequently, they may drive a little faster than normally advised.

Delivery drivers are more susceptible to an accident than the average person who can pay closer attention to the road.

2. Your Neighborhood

If you live in or move to a known high-crime neighborhood, you need to think about the effect this could have on your insurance rate.

Most cities have areas hard hit by car thieves. You may need to consider getting more coverage to handle the increased odds of your car being stolen if living in one of these places.  

Of course, you cannot always help where you live. If your neighborhood has lots of crime, try to park your car off the street in a more secure spot.

3. Your Vehicle Model

Getting a new car? Is it a flashy, super-fast sports car? Well, if this ride has a tremendous amount of horsepower, you face a higher risk of an accident.

The chances are that you may not be able to handle all the power under the hood. High-velocity cars can get you into serious trouble and lead to insurance rate increases.

Learn More About Risks and How to Avoid Them

You must have adequate auto insurance. Might as well limit your risks of an accident or theft to keep rates as low as possible.

If interested in avoiding unnecessary risks, contact the agents at Safechoice Insurance Agency, serving Rochester, MN and beyond.

 

 

Energy-Efficient Upgrades for Your Home

Energy efficiency is a way to reduce the amount of energy you use in your home. You can reduce your energy costs. The independent insurance agents in Rochester, MN at Safechoice Insurance Agency would like to offer several ways you can lower your utility bill by making your home more energy efficient.

Lights

Incandescent lights can save you approximately 25% every year. It surrounds the filament with gas to heat the bulb, which increases efficiency. These types of bulbs can be used in lamps and overhead light fixtures. They can also be placed outdoors as landscape lighting.

The CFLs, or Compact Florescent Bulbs, produce light with argon and mercury vapor. CFLs utilize at least 70% less than the incandescent lights. These bulbs use less energy. Place them in open fixtures, like uncovered domes or track lighting.

Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are a combination of CFLs and incandescent lights. They use less heat and are very bright. These are the most energy-efficient lights. LEDs use 20-25% energy and have a longer lifespan than incandescent bulbs. Because they come in an assortment of colors, they can be used as holiday lighting.

Windows

To improve the energy efficiency of your home, use caulking in the gaps on the windows. This can diminish the amount of air that leaks from your home through the windows. This can decrease the cost of your electric bill in the summer and your heating cost during the winter.

Another way to reduce your energy cost is to invest in window treatments. This can keep the sun from penetrating your windows in the summer. In combination with ceiling fans, window treatments could trim your electric bill every month.

In Rochester, MN, Safechoice Insurance Agency has an independent staff can help you with your new or improve your current homeowners insurance.

What to Do After Your Home is Damaged by a Storm

If you live in Rochester, MN you need to know what to do if your home is damaged by a storm. Safechoice Insurance Agency will help you with your claim as soon as possible. However, you should use these tips to ensure that your claim is paid out.

  • Make sure that the home is safe to enter and turn off the electricity if the damage is extensive.
  • Take photos of the damage as soon as possible to document the damage.
  • Perform temporary repairs to protect the integrity of the home. For instance, if shingles are missing, cover the gaps with a tarp or plywood to keep water out of the house until permanent repairs are completed. Insurance may not cover damage that occurs after the initial storm if you haven’t tried to protect your home.
  • Don’t start tossing damaged items until the insurance adjuster has come by to see what happened.
  • Do not start on permanent repairs until after you have contacted your insurance company. They will want to send an adjuster out to see the damage before it is corrected.
  • Call your insurance company or agent with your policy number. They will instruct you on what to do next. You may want to keep a log of your phone calls to the insurance company, including the time of day and the person to whom you spoke.
  • Save every receipt related to the storm damage, even those for temporary repairs. You may be reimbursed for these costs.
  • Contractors may come to your door offering to repair your home. It is wiser to use the contractor that is recommended by the insurance agency, even if it seems more expensive. You don’t want an unscrupulous repairman using sub-par materials on your home.
  • After you’ve spoken to your insurance agency, they will send an insurance adjuster to your home to inspect the damage. Be sure to ask for his identification and his business card so you can contact him with any questions.
  • If your home is uninhabitable, you may be able to receive payment for your housing costs. Ask your insurance adjuster for an advance payment for your expenses. Save your receipts for hotel costs.

Storms can be rough in Rochester, MN, but with Safechoice Insurance Agency, your home will be protected.