What to do if you're in a car accident in Lakewood, WA

What To Do If You Get Into a Car Accident

What to do if you're in a car accident in Lakewood, WABeing in an accident can be a very frightening event. Being prepared to know how to handle the situation when it occurs will help you deal with the shock of it, as well as ensure you are covered for the loss when it does happen. While accidents will happen to almost every driver, whether their car is parked and unattended, or while they’re driving, knowing these important steps will help you deal with the unfortunate situation.

Safely park your vehicle: If you happen to be driving when the accident occurs, safely pull the vehicle over to the side of the road. If possible, carefully write down the license plate and description of the other vehicle(s) involved in the accident. If you are reporting a hit and run, this information will aid police in locating the driver. In the event of a hit and run it most likely happens when your vehicle is unattended. If you return to your vehicle to find damage, look for clues to help you prove your case, i.e. Security cameras.

Assess any Injuries: If someone is injured, take care of their immediate needs and quickly call 911. It is typical to be jittery after such an event so catch your breath too.

Call police: Once you’re safely parked, you should call the police to file a report, especially if another party is involved. It’s important to always have documentation of how the accident happened. Some people want to settle the claim without going through insurance, but this comes with risks. The other driver may not live up to their word and without contacting the police, it turns into a he said, she said scenario.

Exchange Information: Exchanging insurance ID cards is always recommended. Be sure to have their name and phone number too. It’s simple to take a picture with your phone. Be sure to include the car’s license plate number, year, make and model too.

Take pictures/Gather any witness information: If you have a witness who wants to share their side of the story, jot down their phone number and name. Your insurance company will want to talk with any witness to the accident. Taking pictures also gives your insurance company more details on the damage of your vehicle.

Call your insurance company: Sometimes even though vehicles collide, the damages may be limited, so you’ll want to take a close look and determine if you want to pursue a claim or get an estimate first before calling your insurance company. If someone was injured or if you have major damage, it’s always best to call your insurance company immediately. Your insurance company can assist you with your claim so if you have taken pictures and provided all the information above, your claim can be settled quicker.

While we hope you never have to experience a car accident, being prepared will help you tackle the unfortunate situation.

If you have questions about your auto insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

Home Insurance Options in Lakewood, WA

Which one is best for your homeowner’s policy: ACV or RCV?

Home Insurance Options in Lakewood, WAInsurance policies are full of language and terms that may not be clear right off the bat. Many terms are specific to the industry and to the specific type of insurance that is being purchased. Having a local insurance agent for all of your insurance coverage allows you to chat about all the details with your agent so you completely understand your policy. If you haven’t done this, there are many potential claims where it’s easy to assume you have full coverage.

EXAMPLE: Your $4,000 couch was ruined in a home fire. After filing a claim, you might assume you will be fully reimbursed for your couch since you have a homeowner’s insurance policy. However, it depends what type of coverage you have.

There are two such terms on a homeowner’s insurance policy: Replacement Cost and Actual Cash Value. These terms can be a bit confusing to decipher between.

  • Replacement cost is very simple: Your insurance company literally reimburses you for the covered personal property lost based on replacement cost at the time of loss with no depreciation. Replacement cost policies tend to be a bit more expensive since you are essential getting a brand new item for one that may have otherwise depreciated. Replacement costs are agreed upon by all parties before the insurance policy is finalized. If you have high-ticket items (jewelry, art, RV, boat, luxury vehicle or classic car) this may be the best type of coverage if you can afford it.
  • Actual cash value is the cost to replace the item minus any depreciation. For your damaged couch, if you had an actual cash value policy, your insurance would pay out the cost of the couch minus any depreciation. Therefore, your couch is worth less than what you paid. An actual cash value policy can put you in a tight spot if your items cost more to replace or repair than your policy pays out.

No matter which policy type you choose, the local experts at Insurance Unlimited can answer any questions and walk you through the different types of scenarios to see which policy type is right for your situation. Our local insurance agency can guide you through your homeowner’s insurance policy and more, like auto insurance. Our years of insurance experience can save you a bundle, and we live right in your area, so we know firsthand what your insurance needs might be.

Insurance for your jewelry in Lakewood, WA

How to Keep Your Jewelry Protected

Insurance for your jewelry in Lakewood, WAJewelry is valuable not only because of its beauty, but the special meaning behind it. Does it represent 30 years of marriage? Was it passed down from a great grandmother? Was it given to you to celebrate a special moment? Between its sentimental value, as well as financial value, our local insurance agency wants you to be fully protected.

Anything can happen to your jewelry, whether it’s stolen, damaged or accidentally slips off your finger while swimming in the ocean. While memories of the jewelry itself cannot be replaced, a good insurance policy can provide financial protection to an unfortunate situation.

If you own jewelry that’s valued over $1,000, consider getting an insurance policy endorsement to insure its value.

Like other valuables coverage, insurance for your jewelry can simply be added to your home or renters insurance policy on something called a “floater.” It’s a simple insurance policy extension. A good policy will cover everything from theft and damage. The cost of coverage varies, typically $1 – $2 per $100 in value for a yearly policy. So, for a $5,000 ring, you’d expect to pay $50-$100. By calling Insurance Unlimited Inc., we will ensure we find the best coverage for your jewelry. We can also help answer any questions regarding ‘what if’ situations.

Here are some questions to discuss with our agents so you fully understand your insurance coverage.

  • If your jewelry is stolen, will you be reimbursed the full amount you paid? What happens if it was accidentally lost?
  • If your jewelry has appreciated over the course of owning it, will your insurance company honor its new value or what you paid for it?
  • What happens if you simply lost a small piece of your jewelry? Would you insurance cover the cost of replacing the stone?
  • Don’t forget to ask for discounts! If you plan to safely store your jewelry when you are not wearing it, you could qualify for a discount from some insurance companies.

While we hope you never have to experience an insurance claim for your jewelry, it’s always important to be prepared.

Items you need in case your jewelry is lost or stolen:

  • Original Receipt
  • An appraisal – if you don’t have the original receipt, at least have an appraisal.
  • GIA Certificate or similar reputable certificate
  • Take photos of all of your jewelry and store them on the cloud or a zip drive that’s stored in your safe.

Keep these items in a safety deposit box or safe in your home. If you’d like to know more about insuring your jewelry, contact an agent at our office. We’ll give you the best options for insuring your jewelry as well as answer any other questions you may have.

How to deal with a fallen tree in Lakewood, WA

Who is responsible if your tree falls onto your neighbor’s house?

How To Deal With a Fallen Tree

How to deal with a fallen tree in Lakewood, WANeighbors are great! You can count on them to keep an eye on your place while you’re away, let out a furry friend or even borrow some last minute ingredients! Shoot, some of your neighbors are probably some of your closest friends. But having neighbors can sometimes cause some uncomfortable exchanges.

With spring on the way, often high winds occur when the cold air and warmer air mix together. This, mixed with sometimes wet soil can bring a vulnerable tree toppling down. So, what happens when YOUR tree drops down onto your neighbor’s house, car, fence or other property? Who is liable for that and which insurance company should you call?

Well, the answer is most of the time quite simple. Whoever owns the damaged property is responsible to get the damage repaired – not the owner of the tree.

Let’s look at some specific examples:

Your tree falls onto your neighbor’s house:  Neighbor responsible to mitigate damages and call their own insurance company.

Your neighbor’s tree falls on your car: You should call your insurance company.

Now, proving any sort of negligence on the part of the tree owner is exceedingly rare. Trees die but can remain strong and standing for many years. If you or your neighbor has a tree that has died and you’re worried about it, you should call out an arborist. If the tree is the neighbors, have a conversation about the risks it poses and potential harm it could cause if it fell. Perhaps this will remedy the problem.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

Home Inventory List in Lakewood, WA

Keep a Home Inventory Checklist Just in Case

Two Ways to Construct a List

Home Inventory List in Lakewood, WAFor most of us, we won’t have to experience a disastrous home loss such as a flood, fire, earthquake or other disaster. That doesn’t mean any of us should be less prepared for such an event should one occur. Preparing a home inventory can be a large task, but taking the time to do so can make a difference of thousands of dollars when it comes to your claims settlement as well as simple ease of processing your claim.

For many of us, where we live symbolizes us and what is in that house symbolizes our lives. Our belongings represent our memories, personal style and even investments that hold significant value such as art.  When you add up how much all of your personal items are worth, it can be a substantial figure into the many 10s of thousands of dollars or more.

Home insurance claims from disasters such as flood or fire are traumatic. A home inventory checklist can help you remember quickly what items you had. Would you recall exactly how many pairs of jeans you had and what brand they were? Would you recall how many pairs of shoes you had or what brands they were? What about art? Could you recall the name of the artist and how much you paid for it?

Taking the time to inventory your home can be useful in the event of theft or damage to the contents of your home. Keep track of your items with this easy to use chart! You can even attach photos of your items and quickly send this chart to your insurance agent to help speed up the claims process. Another way to document is with a thorough video or video series. Be sure to store your home inventory checklist in a safe place like in the cloud.

The good news is your insurance agent likely gave you sufficient coverage for your personal property. If you feel like you need more, be sure to tell your agent. Home, renters and condo insurance policies typically come standard with this coverage.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

 

Be Cautious Before Posting a Negative Review Online in Lakewood, WA

Exercise Diligence When Leaving an Online Review

A Negative Online Review Can Leave You Liable

Be Cautious Before Posting a Negative Review Online in Lakewood, WAEveryone today is connected in some way to social media. It can be by Facebook, Yelp, email or other internet outlets. When you write something, you leave your fingerprint for everyone to see. If you go to a restaurant, dentist, daycare or other business and have a bad experience, you might think of writing a bad review on the company’s Facebook page or Yelp. If you decide to do this, it is important to exercise caution about how you word your experience as recent cases have shown you can be sued for libel – even if you think the review was justified. This can be a very frightening situation and how on earth can you afford to pay attorney fees? What do you do?

If you have the right coverage on your homeowners insurance, you likely have protection for these personal offenses such as libel, slander or defamation of character. If you receive a lawsuit, you need to contact your homeowners insurance claim’s department right away. The claims department will defend you and pay for damages up to certain limits on your policy. If you want to be extra cautious, you can get an umbrella insurance policy that would give you coverage above and beyond your homeowners policy for attorney fees and any damages awarded. It is important to understand your home or renters insurance.

If you have questions about one of these policies, feel free to contact one of our licensed agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. We have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. We live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so we can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out our website, 24/7.

Use Technology to Protect Your Lakewood, WA home!

Six Pieces of Technology That Can Prevent a Home Insurance Claim

How Technology Can Keep Your Home Claims-Free!

Use Technology to Protect Your Lakewood, WA home!We touched a couple weeks back on how simple pieces of technology can keep your home safe from burglary. Well, wouldn’t it be great if technology could help us avoid other claims like water damage, fire & freezing damage?

Technology for the home has taken huge steps in the past 5 years. In fact, most everything in a home can be controlled by a mobile device and an installed home router (Wi-Fi). Implement some of these do-it-yourself items into your home to help you avoid an insurance claim:

Thermostats: Not only does a smart thermostat help you reduce your energy consumption, you can now monitor the home temperature while away on vacation. We all know someone who has experienced a frozen pipe that caused water damage. Typically this is because the thermostat wasn’t on and a cold-snap came through. Smart thermostats allow you to adjust the temperature through a Wi-Fi signal even while you’re abroad.

Smart Garage Door Openers: I think we’ve all come back home and noticed we left the garage door open all night, or even left the house only to reach your destination and think… did I leave my garage door open? Smart garage door openers work with your Wi-Fi system to notify you if the door is open or closed. You can then close it from your mobile device ensuring your items stay safe and sound.

Water sensors: Water sensors alert to you when water is standing on the floor. A great place to install a water sensor is behind a toilet, near a dishwasher and behind your refrigerator if you have a water/ice maker. Water sensors can be synced up with your existing alarm system or are available in a Wi-Fi version which at this time run around $60 each.

Smart Smoke Alarms: Smoke alarms are really the first line of defense for fires and smoke damage. Often times a fire will smolder, but the resulting smoke damage can be just as damaging. Smoke alarms, like water sensors, can be obtained by your existing home security company and tied in. Additionally, smoke alarms can be tied into your Wi-Fi alerting you if something is awry at home while you’re way.

Smart Locks: “Did you lock the front door when we left? No, I was carrying the suitcase.” Fortunately, door locks are available in a Wi-Fi enabled where you can simply lock and unlock your front door via a battery and Wi-Fi signal. Unlocked front doors are now a thing of the past.

Humidity Monitors: High humidity is another sign that you have water in your home. When humidity rises it can wreak havoc on your home. Humidity sensors come in all sorts of devices including your thermostat, furnace and even some home video monitors like the aforementioned Canary device we mentioned in our blog about home security. If the humidity is extra high, this may be a sign that water is leaking somewhere.

If technology is your thing, consider some of these options! For most people, insurance is not. Fortunately if you have questions about your home or renters insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

Prevent Rodents and Rodent Damage in Lakewood, WA

Keep Your Home Free of Rodents and Rodent Damage

Protecting your Home from Rodents and Rodent Damage

Prevent Rodents and Rodent Damage in Lakewood, WAYou’ve spent a lot of time making your house perfect and keeping it clean. Don’t let a rodent destroy the inner workings of your home!

A single rat can destroy insulation, chew through wires, weaken floor joists and even chew through brick! Not to mention they carry disease and leave droppings wherever they go. The droppings will soak into insulation and the odors can emanate into your home.

Pest control and crawl space cleaning is big business. Just check a search online and see all the companies that do it. With hundreds of thousands of homes damaged each year in the U.S., these companies keep busy removing and repairing homes damaged by pests. Don’t fall victim!

Rodent damage is not typically covered by your home insurance policy. For most losses to be considered, it needs to be “sudden and accidental.” A rodent making a home in the crawl space of your home may come overnight, but the damage they cause is caused over a period of months, or even years.

So, how do rodents get into your home? A rat, for instance, has a very soft skeleton and can squeeze through the smallest of gaps. It is important to look at all areas that enter your crawlspace.

Crawlspace areas to check:

  • Screens that cover vents (ensure there are no gaps or holes)
  • Gaps around brickwork (if gaps exist, use expanding foam, mortar or weather stripping to fill the space)
  • Access panels (ensure the access door fits tightly and gaps do not exist)

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Never store food in your garage or crawl space
  • Keep trash in tight containers
  • Keep weeds and other plants away from your home so they can’t hide near your home
  • Don’t keep pet food in a garage or other outdoor area
  • Don’t stack items near your home where they could hide (lumber piles, wood piles etc.)

If you suspect a rodent may be in your crawl space, look for hanging insulation and feces left near the walls. Consider calling a professional to come and take a look. Keeping your crawl space clean is important to the inner air in your home, so if your crawl space has been damaged get a quote to repair and replace the insulation.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

Rock Chip Claims in Lakewood, WA

Do Rock Chip Claims Impact My Insurance Rates? Our Insurance Agency Weighs In

Answers to Your Rock Chip Claims

Rock Chip Claims in Lakewood, WAWe’ve all seen the tents around claiming, “Free rock chip repair!” but clearly there is a hidden cost somewhere. Sure, the insurance companies will pay the people at the tent to inject an epoxy into the chip in hopes that it doesn’t run and turn into a non-repairable crack. After all, the insurance company clearly sees that $40 is better than the $250 to have the windshield replaced.

So the question is: Can a rock chip claim impact my insurance rates? Short answer is yes, it is possible.

Depending on your insurance company you may upset a delicate balance of claims loss. Most insurance companies use rating factors into their algorithms such as age, zip code and certainly previous losses. Some insurance companies claim that people who turn in multiple glass claims have an overall higher loss rate and cost them more money in future claims. Furthermore, it depends on how many claims you have over a certain period of time. For instance, if you file a theft claim, then you have a rock chip claim the next week, this may flag your policy for filing too many insurance claims over a certain period of time generating a rate increase. This happens because when you stop at a rock chip repair tent they will ask you for your policy number and turn in an insurance claim so they can get paid (if you have comprehensive insurance).

Not all insurance companies do this and telling which ones do and which ones don’t can be very difficult. Trust your local insurance agent to place you in the best place for your insurance needs. If you’re a heavy commuter and typically need a new windshield every year, perhaps your agent can determine what company they offer that is a bit more lenient about this than others. Some companies even offer zero deductible glass replacement. Regardless of your situation, always discuss your insurance options with your licensed insurance agent.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

How to Prevent a Dog Bite Claim in Lakewood, WA

How to Protect Yourself from a Dog Bite Claim

A Guide to Preventing Dog Bite Claims

How to Prevent a Dog Bite Claim in Lakewood, WAAccording to the Insurance Information Institute, over $400 million a year is paid out for dog bite claims each year by insurance companies. While that may seem like a lot, there is an estimated $600 million that was excess over the home insurance policy limits. Protecting yourself with sufficient limits, as well as considering an umbrella insurance policy, could help you avoid any out-of-pocket expenses should your pooch bite someone.

Owning a dog can be and usually is a joyous union. Dogs can become aggravated or agitated by small children pulling their hair, tail or stepping on them. It is important to watch your pet and never leave a dog alone around small children. While a dog may be provoked, it is still your responsibility to ensure your pet does not bite someone. While most claims are from small bites and only require first aid, the lasting damage can still be severe such as nerve damage in hands or feet.

The Insurance Information Institute states that there are 3 kinds of laws regarding pet liability:

  1. Dog-bite statute: The dog owner is automatically liable for any injury or property damage the dog causes, even without provocation.
  2. “One-bite” rule: In some states, the owner is not held liable for the first bite the dog inflicts. Once an animal has demonstrated vicious behavior, such as biting or otherwise displaying a ‘vicious propensity’, the owner can be held liable. Some states have moved away from the one-bite rule and hold owners responsible for any injury, regardless of whether the animal has previously bitten someone.
  3. Negligence laws: The dog owner is liable if the injury occurred because he or she was unreasonably careless (negligent) in controlling the dog.

While it is important to understand your state laws regarding dog bite liability, the best course is prevention.

The Humane Society lists several ways to avoid being bitten by a dog. Because dogs can’t tell you what their thinking, it is important to watch the dogs body language. Some signs the dog may be uncomfortable include:

  • Stiff tail
  • Pulled back ears
  • Intense stare
  • Backing away
  • Dog is visibly injured
  • Don’t take toys away quickly

If someone asks if they may pet your dog, ask them politely to let the dog smell them first to ensure the dog is comfortable with it. If your dog reacts negatively to someone, it is okay to tell that person it isn’t a good idea.

We hope that your pup never bites someone, but unfortunately it does happen. Ensuring that your home insurance limits are sufficient and also carrying an excess liability policy called an umbrella insurance policy may help protect your pocketbook in the unfortunate event.

If you have questions about your home or renters insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.