5 tips to consider before switching insurance in Lakewood, WA

5 Things to Consider Before you Switch Your Insurance

Switching your insurance policy can save you hundreds of dollars a year. But, make sure you consider these things before you make the switch.

5 tips to consider before switching insurance in Lakewood, WATip #1: Compare Apples to Apples

You’ve seen the commercials – “average savings of $500 a year for those who switched…” Absolutely you can save money. However, be sure that your new quote compares your current policy to the new policy – all coverages, driving records and vehicles the same. Any one thing can make a big difference. Many companies will try to lure you with great savings, but a CLUE report (comprehensive loss underwriting exchange – also known as your claims history) is not completed until after the application is submitted. Online companies are notorious for doing this.

Tip #2: Status Changed

If you’ve recently received a ticket or an accident, moved or purchased a new vehicle, have your current policy changes made prior to shopping. It is entirely possible that your new ride may get you some savings, or result in a price increase. In addition to this, if you’ve recently had a ticket fall off of your driving record, it would be worth calling the company to see if they can remove it now and save you some money for the remainder of your policy term. Regardless, if something changes, be sure to revert to tip #1.

Tip #3: Work with an Independent Insurance Agent

Independent insurance agents are discount detectives and have access to multiple companies. Even better, they know your current situation, history and can give you recommendations across many of their companies. They can compare rates between each of their carriers and let you know the benefits of each company.

Tip #4: Multi-Policy Discounts

When you’re looking for a new policy, be sure to take all things into consideration. You may be focused on your auto insurance, but if you have a package policy (multiple policies with the same carrier) you are likely getting discounts. If you move your auto insurance policy to another carrier, your home insurance may increase as much as 20% eliminating any saving you received. Take all of your policies into consideration. One additional item to consider here is if you have an umbrella policy, this is typically required to follow your home insurance policy. Some carrier require the home and auto to write the umbrella, so talk to you agent about your specific situation.

Tip #5: Your Relationship with your Agent

Knowing your insurance agent and having a business relationship with them is important. They are the ones who will go to bat for you in the event you have a claim or accident. Often times they can help you file that claim or give you recommendation on local companies to help fix your issue. If you have your insurance directly with the company handling your loss, you don’t get this representation. Having a local independent insurance agent is the way to go.

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.

 

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.

Tornado or Wind Insurance in Lakewood, WA

Tornadoes, Hurricanes and Wind Damage

Does my Insurance Cover this?

Tornado or Wind Insurance in Lakewood, WAEvery state in our country can have a tornado, hurricane or suffer from a severe windstorm, so understanding that your home is protected with the right insurance to cover this type of loss is critical. Browse your policy or call your agent before an event is forecast because once a storm is coming, insurance companies will freeze new coverage from being bound in time for the event.

Your standard homeowners policy likely covers it (except in hurricane prone states like Louisiana, Texas, Florida and Hawaii)

While there are exceptions to every rule, the industry typically covers your home from certain perils such as windstorms, fire and theft. One of the common perils covered is wind damage which will include tornadoes, hurricanes and other high-wind events. So, typically you will be covered from these events, less your deductible, should such an event occur in your state.

What if it isn’t on my standard policy?

If Hurricane Insurance isn’t on your standard insurance policy, there are endorsements and other companies who you can get the coverage from. Same with states that have high likelihood of tornadoes. Be sure to check the fine print!

There is an exception to every rule

The best way to ensure you’re covered is to ask your insurance agent or company directly. There are policies that exist that will exclude this coverage, so be sure to check. Also, be sure that your internal contents are covered (personal property) and not just the home itself. If you own a home in the central part of the US (Tornado Alley) double check for coverage as it is common to have this loss be excluded.

There is always a company willing to give you this coverage

The beauty of shopping with an independent insurance agent is that they offer coverage from multiple insurance companies, not just one, so if one company doesn’t offer it, another one they sell will. Endorsing this coverage is potentially another possibility.

One last thing to note

Often large windstorms will trigger flooding events from either pushing in tides or be accompanied by heavy rains. It is important to understand that these events are not covered by a windstorm, tornado or hurricane coverage. You will need a separate flood insurance policy to cover you from water that damages a home even if the first event was the cause of the rising waters.

With anything insurance, the best answers that can be provided to your specific questions come from your local insurance agent. These agents are able to provide you with a certain, yes or no when it comes to coverage. Because they live where you do, they can help you assess the best coverage for your specific situation.

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.

 

Space Heater Safety in Lakewood, WA

Proper Use of Space Heaters in Lakewood, WA Can Eliminate a Homeowners Insurance Claim

Prevent a Costly Fire in your Home by Following Proper Space Heater Safety

Electric HeaterSpace heaters are undeniably a convenient and efficient way to heat some spaces including garages, bedrooms and workspaces like shops or offices areas. But, an often overlooked fact with space heaters is the dangers that they may catch nearby items on fire.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that the number of residential fires caused each year by portable space heaters exceeds 25,000 annually. Furthermore, an estimated 300 people are killed annually by fires caused from space heaters being used improperly. In addition to fires being started, thousands of people each year receive hospital treatment to treat burns caused by improper use or handling of space heaters.

When using a space heater, regardless of type, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s safety and operational instructions.

Some things to consider when purchasing a space heater are:

  • Will you need to vent the space (propane heaters or kerosene heaters)
  • Does the unit you’re purchasing carry the “Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label?

o   The UL is a global independent safety science company with more than a century of innovating safety solutions from the public adoption of electricity.

  • Does the unit have a built in thermostat to control the temperature?
  • Does the unit have a safety feature that will disable it if it tips over?
  • Will your unit be able to be placed away from flammable material and away from children and pets?
  • Never leave your space heater unattended or running over night.

The proper use of a space heater can provide you with a great solution to heating a space and being energy efficient in your home. Be sure to properly use the space heater and avoid leaving it unattended or in an area where children might play.

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.

Carbon Monoxide Safety in Lakewood, WA

Keep your Friends and Family Safe from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Lakewood, WA

Keeping your Home in Lakewood, WA Safe from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide Safety in Lakewood, WAOur homes should be places of comfort, relaxation and memories. That’s why it is important to protect your homes from dangers such as fires, theft and one people too often overlook: carbon monoxide (CO).

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is produced when fuels such as wood, oil, natural gas and propane are not efficiently burned. Carbon monoxide can be produced by your household equipment such as generators, lawn mowers, barbeques and your furnace.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that each year, 170 people in the United States are killed by carbon monoxide poisoning in their homes. These deaths can be caused when equipment malfunctions or when the products are used in areas that are not properly ventilated, such as a closed room.

The Center for Disease Control lists the common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning as headache, dizziness, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.

The good news about all this is that protecting your family from CO poisoning is relatively simple.

 

 

 

Follow these tips for Carbon Monoxide poisoning prevention:

  • Always have your home’s gas burning furnace, water heater and fireplace serviced by a professional. A professional will ensure the appliance is burning properly and is properly vented.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your home (newly constructed homes, apartments and condominiums will likely already have these installed). For an extra level of protection, consider installing a CO alarm in every bedroom of your house.
  • Never leave a car idling in a garage
  • Keep portable generators at least 20feet from an open window
  • Never use a charcoal barbeque inside a home, tent or camper
  • Never use a gas oven to heat a home

Even a single carbon monoxide detector in your home could save lives. If you rent a home or apartment that does not currently have a carbon monoxide detector, ask your landlord to provide one. Many states require that homes have them installed. Review your state laws here.

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.

 

Fire Extinguisher Safety in Lakewood, WA

Learn how to Keep and Maintain a Fire Extinguisher in Lakewood, WA

How to Keep and Maintain a Fire Extinguisher in your Home

Fire Extinguisher Safety in Lakewood, WAYour home is much more than the place that you live or where you sleep. It is where you create memories, raise a family and have family and friends over to visit. Keeping everyone safe while they’re there should be a first priority. But, when was the last time you looked at your fire extinguisher to ensure it would perform if a fire broke out in your home?

A fire extinguisher is arguably one of the most important pieces of safety equipment in your home or apartment (second only to a smoke detector) and should be kept up at regular intervals. Just because you have a fire extinguisher in the home doesn’t mean that it will function in case of emergency. With these tips, however, you’ll be better set in case of emergency and in the event you have to use an extinguisher to put out a fire.

1.) Inspect your extinguisher once per month.

 

Inspecting your fire extinguisher will ensure the canister is charged and ready to work in case of a fire. You should inspect the extinguisher for damage and check the charge meter (typically a green to red meter near the top). Try to inspect your fire extinguisher monthly to ensure it is where you left it and that the extinguisher is in good shape.

 

2.) Maintenance

Your fire extinguisher really doesn’t require much, but should be maintained at least one time per year. Like any pressurized system, the canister will lose pressure over time. Ensure that it is “charged” and if required, get it recharged or replace the extinguisher.

Other items that should be considered are:

  • Is your extinguisher accessible? Are there items in front of your extinguisher that would cost you time or block your access to it in case of emergency?
  • Is the needle pointing to green on your extinguisher’s gauge?
  • Is the nozzle in good shape (perhaps it was dropped and damaged). If not, replace the extinguisher.
  • Is the pin intact and appear to be in good shape?
  • Is the canister itself in good shape and free of dents, rust or obvious signs of leaks?

Keeping your fire extinguishers in your home in good working order is just one of the important steps to keeping your home and house guests safe. It is also a way to avoid a costly and emotional homeowner’s insurance claim. 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.

 

 

Fireplace Safety, Lakewood, WA

Keep your Home in Lakewood, WA Safe this Winter by Following Proper Fireplace Safety

Protecting your Home and Guests from Fireplace Dangers in Lakewood, WA

A fireplace is one of a home’s greatest features and can bring an ambiance and warmth to a space to create that perfect night in on a cold evening. As important as they are for creating the perfect mood, it is equally important to ensure that you properly maintain your fireplace.

Fireplace Safety and Maintenance

Wood Burning Fireplaces

  • Ensure your flue is open and clear from obstructions. It is important to take a peek up your chimney (before lighting your fire of course) to be certain the chimney is not blocked. Often time birds or other animals will make shelter in your chimney in the off-season, so be sure to check if you haven’t used your fireplace in some time.
  • Keep glass doors open. If you have a normal, wood burning fireplace, keep the screens closed, but the glass doors open. The doors are usually designed to keep a room insulated when not in use, not to keep the fire in. A chimney requires air to be pulled through and up the chimney, so keeping the doors open allows this air to flow properly while your screen keeps debris and sparks from flying out onto your carpet or other flooring.
  • Install a chimney cap. Chimney caps keep rain from damaging your chimney and keeps birds and other critters out. You should also put a screen across the chimney to prevent sparks from flying out and onto roofs or lawns potentially causing a fire.
  • If you have burned 70-100 fires call a chimney sweep to come and inspect your chimney. They’ll clean out any build-up and do a visual inspection to ensure your chimney is healthy and structurally sound.

Gas Burning Fireplaces         

  • Install an oxygen-depletion sensor, commonly known as a “safety pilot.” These safety pilots will turn off the gas if they detect the fireplace isn’t functioning properly or if too much carbon monoxide builds up.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors near the fireplace and every floor of your home. A couple per floor would be ideal.
  • Maintain proper distance from the fireplace. Keeping objects away from the fireplace is the best way to avoid a fire or smoke damage. Keep curtains and other fabrics at least 3 feet away from the outside edge of the fireplace.
  • Contact your gas company or call 911 immediately if you smell gas in your home.
  • Clamp your fireplace damper open to prevent carbon monoxide from entering your home.

With all fireplaces it is important to keep your children and pets away. Burning fireplaces in a home can deplete the home of oxygen and replace it with carbon monoxide. Keep your carbon monoxide alarms in working order to ensure your family stays safe.

Keeping your fireplaces in your home in good working order is just one of the important steps to keeping your home and house guests safe. It is also a great way to avoid a costly and emotional homeowner’s insurance claim.

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.

Identity Theft Lakewood, WA

Identity Theft: An Unfortunate Reality

It has been all over the news lately: data breaches at major retailers have been potentially compromising shoppers debit and credit cards. While your banking institutions and credit card issuers do offer some protection against fraudulent charges to your accounts, did you know that your homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance plan may offer additional protection if your identity is stolen.

Identity Theft in Washington:

  • Keep an eye out: Even if you do not suspect your identity or credit cards have been potentially comprised, it is a good idea to regularly go over your statements to ensure all charges are accurate. Some credit card issuers will offer inexpensive credit monitoring from at least one of the three major credit reporting agencies. If you notice a fraudulent charge or an error on your credit report, you should immediately contact the appropriate agency (i.e., your credit card issuer, credit reporting agency, bank, etc.).
  • Extra Protection: In addition to your own diligence, your homeowners, condo or renters insurance policy can offer some extra protection. For a small yearly fee (typically less than $40 per year) your insurance policy may cover expenses related to court fees, loan reapplication fees (if denied due to identity theft), notary fees and more. Some insurance plans may also include access to an identity theft counselor, someone to assist with reporting fraudulent activity and to act as a liaison to the major credit report bureaus on your behalf. Identity theft plans will vary by carrier and state, so be sure to ask your Insurance Unlimited, Inc., agent about plans available in Washington.
  • Next steps: If you suspect that you have been a victim of credit card or identity theft, fill out a police report. This will be crucial as the next few agencies you will be contacting, your bank, credit card issuer and the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Transunion and Equifax) will need a copy send to their fraud departments. You will also need to file an ID Theft Complaint and Affidavit with the Federal Trade Commission. Any accounts or cards that are potentially compromised should be closed and new cards issued. Continue to monitor your credit reports and accounts.

The road to recovery from credit card and identity fraud can be long and expensive. Here at Insurance Unlimited, Inc., in Lakewood, Washington we hope it is something that you never have to experience on your own. If you are interested in learning more about adding identity theft protection to your existing home, condo or renters insurance plan contact us today. You can also visit our website 24/7 to learn about the other insurance products we offer.

Condo Insurance Lakewood, WA

“What does my condo insurance policy cover?”

Congratulations, you’ve purchased a condo!! Home ownership with little or no yard work. You can remodel your kitchen, paint the walls and enjoy your new space. During the purchasing process your agent probably told you that the homeowner’s association insures the building, the walls and the physical structure of your unit. What that insurance does not cover is the personal contents of your unit or any remodeled or upgraded areas within the unit.

Condo Insurance 101 in Washington:

  • Why do you need it: While your walls and building are covered in the event of destruction, your belongings and any upgrades are not. You are responsible for the physical contents, additions and upgrades in your unit. Condo insurance also provides liability coverage should a negligent act by you (fire, water damage, glass breakage, etc.) affect units other than your own. Say you left the bathtub running and it overflowed causing damage to the unit below. Your condo insurance would cover the damage to the unit below you as well as repair the damage to your unit, after a deductible. Pro tip: never leave your bathtub running unattended.
  • What may be covered: Like a renter’s insurance policy, your belongings are covered up to a certain dollar amount. Like a homeowner’s insurance policy you can add scheduled property like art, jewelry and other collectibles. A condo insurance policy also includes a negligence and liability portion in the event that you damage a unit other than your own, the common areas or if someone is injured in your unit. A condo insurance policy may also include reimbursements for living expenses if your condo is unlivable and needs to be repaired.

Having the proper amount of condo insurance coverage may help protect you from having to pay out of pocket for liability claims or damage to your unit. There are several options when it comes to the condo insurance you feel is appropriate for your needs and budget. Have questions? Talk to your local, independent insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. Insurance Unlimited, Inc., in Lakewood, Washington can guide you through a condo insurance policy and add additional coverages like flood insurance or earthquake insurance. Their years of insurance experience can save you a bundle, and they live right in your area, so know first-hand what your insurance needs might be.  You can also visit their insurance website 24/7 to learn more about the insurance products they offer.