Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Safe Travels this Holiday

The Holidays are in full swing and with Christmas just a day away; many have already started their Holiday travels. Being the insurance people that we are, here are a few tips for a safe and secure season of travel.

1) Make your home seem like someone is still there. You can do this several ways. Leave your front and back porch lights on so that at night your house is lit up. Ask a neighbor to collect your mail while you are gone so it doesn’t stack up. You can also ask the post office to hold if for you until you get back. Another way to make it look like you are home is to ask a neighbor to pull in and out of your driveway at some point if it snows giving the appearance that you have been in and out of your house.

2) Don’t show off to the Facebook world that you are on vacation. I know this can be tough for some but letting everyone know you are out of town on Facebook can be dangerous. We recommend waiting until you get home from your trip before you post vacation pictures.

3) Car travelers should be prepared for heavy snow at all times. The best way to do this is to make sure you have extra blankest, windshield washer fluid, ice scrapers and even a small shovel. You never know when you might need any of those things. Also, be sure to have your phone charged during the trip so that you have it in case of an emergency.
4) Don’t skimp on heat in your home: we recommend to keep the heat in your house at a reasonable level so your pipes don’t freeze.

Those are just a few simple tips. We here at Fey Insurance hope you have a wonderful Holiday and Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Home Security System

On a daily basis you see ads on TV for home security systems. We at Fey Insurance highly recommend the installation of a Home Security System to add additional protection for you and your family. Insurance will work to put your property back in place after a fire or burglary, but a Home Security System will work to prevent or minimize the effects of that fire or burglary. If you are interested in such a Home Security System, please call us and we will tell you our opinion of the various manufacturers and what features to consider. For example battery backups are usually included in Home Security Systems, but we would also recommend cellular backups for your system in the event your normal phone service goes down or even disabled by a potential burglar. We would include carbon monoxide detectors in your system especially if you have a natural gas furnace or hot water heater. Central station monitoring is preferable to systems that go directly into a police or fire dispatch. Both are considered superior to a system that only sounds a local alarm in your home. There are discounts on your Homeowner policy for the installation of a Home Security System. Please call us to review those discounts. But the most important reason, in our opinion, to install such a system is for additional security for your family and peace of mind that you are doing everything to protect your family and your property.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Alternate Sources of Home Heating

The high cost of home heating and the current recession have led many Americans to search for alternate sources of home heating.  Many of these sources of heating may be acceptable if appropriate safeguards are used.  However, be aware these supplemental heating devices are responsible for thousands of home fires each year.

Wood stoves cause more than 4,000 residential fires each year.  Carefully follow the manufacturer's installation and maintenance instructions.  Look for solid construction, such as plate steel or cast iron metal.  Check for cracks and inspect legs, hinges and door seals for smooth joints and seams.  Use only seasoned wood for fuel, not green wood, artificial logs or trash.  Inspect and clean your pipes and chimneys annually and check monthly for damage or obstructions.  Cleaning more often may be necessary.  Be sure to keep combustible objects at least three feet away from your wood stove.

Buy only heaters with the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) safety listing.  Check to make sure it has a thermostat control mechanism, and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over.  Space heaters need space, keep combustibles at least three feet away from the heater.  Always unplug your electric space heater when not in use.

Buy only UL-approved heaters and check with your local fire department on the legality of kerosene heaters use in your community.  Never fill your heaters with gasoline or cam stove fuel, both flare up easily.  Only use crystal clear K-1 kerosene.  Never overfill an portable heater and never fuel the heater when it is hot.  Use the kerosene heaters in a well-ventilated room.  Kerosene heaters pose perhaps the worst exposure largely due to improper use and the fact they contain a highly flammable liquid-not to mention potentially dangerous fumes.

Fireplaces and wood stoves regularly build up creosote in their chimneys.  They need to be cleaned frequently and chimneys should be inspected for obstructions and crack to prevent deadly chimney and roof fires.  Check to make sure the damper is open before starting any fire.  Never burn trash, paper or green wood in your fireplace.  These materials cause heavy creosote buildup and are difficult to control.  Use a screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs, and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks.  Do not wear loose fitting clothes near any sealed metal container outside the home.

Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. Always remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.

Source: US Fire Association

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Insurance Things to Consider on Rental Properties

Over the last few years many homeowners have turned into landlords.  With the real estate market drop, those that decided to purchase a new house also decided to not sell their prior home for fear of a financial loss on the property.  Instead, they have turned their prior house into a rental.  The trend still continues today even after the real estate market has rebounded some because landlords are seeing great cash flows from renting.  

Here at Fey Insurance Services we insure a number of these properties and on occasion we are asked by clients if we have any insurance tips in renting a property.  When asked we always mention these five things:

1.  Temperature Requirement in the Lease:  It is a good idea to include a clause in your lease that requires the tenant to keep the heat no colder than 59 degrees.  This is important because around the Holidays many tenants will travel and if they want to try and save a buck they may turn off the heat.  Pipes do not enjoy this especially with a polar vortex threatening again this year.  This way, if they do turn the heat off and pipes break you can pass that damage on to the tenant.

2.  Renters Insurance for Tenants:  Since you may have passed on the risk of pipe freezing damage to your tenant you then want to make sure they have insurance in place to pay for such damages.  Requiring tenants to have renters insurance is a good idea.  Not only does it protect their contents (which is excluded under your policy), it protects your property if they are negligent in causing damage to your property.  I would recommend they have liability limits at least the value of your property.

3.  Dogs:  Know your states laws on dog attacks.  For example, in Kentucky there was a law recently passed that could drag landlords into dog attack claims.  This may make it difficult to get insurance for a property that has a dog.  If you are going to allow dogs to live on your premises it is best to limit which kinds as some insurance policies exclude coverage for "vicious dogs".

4.  Loss of Rents Coverage.  Make sure your rental property insurance policy includes coverage for loss of rents.  If you sign a year's lease with someone and then have a fire a month later, you are going to be out 11 months of rent or at least however many months it takes to rebuild the house.  You can recoup this loss with loss of rent coverage.  Also, make sure that you have enough loss of rent coverage.  Many polices give  you 10% of your dwelling limit or give you a flat $25,000.  Add up your annual rents and make sure you have enough coverage.

5.  Certificates of Insurance from Contractors:  Unless you yourself are handy, you may be employing contractors to do fixes around your rental property.  We strongly recommend you ask these contractors for proof that they have insurance.  If they were ever to cause damage to your tenants contents or to your tenants person, you would want to make sure they have insurance to cover such things.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Road trip! Know the laws where you drive

Before you head out on your road trip, consider your itinerary. Traffic laws and enforcement in states that you visit may differ from the state where you live.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers a website with a map detailing state distracted driving laws. Click on the state to see restrictions on cell phone and texting use by age, in school zones or construction zones.

The Governors Highway Safety Association also offers a convenient map describing many traffic-related laws. Click on the state for a list of laws and restrictions connected to seatbelts, speeds, older or younger drivers, motorcycle helmet use, child safety seats, impaired or aggressive driving and driving in work zones. Another source for state traffic regulations is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Your automobile or travel club may also be able to provide information specific to the states you plan to visit.

Here’s a summary of some common traffic-related laws:
Speed limits for passenger cars vary from 55 to 75 mph on interstate highways, and limits can change between urban and rural areas.
Cell phone restrictions vary widely. In 11 states and the District of Columbia, all drivers are prohibited from using handheld cell phones. Several other states ban all cell phone use – handheld or hands-free –  for young drivers.
Texting while driving is a bad idea no matter who or where you are, but the penalties you may face for breaking the law could vary. In 41 states and the District of Columbia, text messaging is banned for all drivers. Some states put additional restrictions on young drivers.
Seat belt enforcement may be either primary or secondary. For a primary offense, a law enforcement officer can cite you directly for not using your seat belt. In states where enforcement is secondary, you would be cited only in conjunction with another traffic infraction.
Child safety seats are required in all 50 states for children who meet certain requirements, and all states except Florida and South Dakota also require booster seats for older children. Check the chart for weight limits and fines in each state.
Young drivers in some states are limited in the number of passengers they may carry, and passengers may be limited to immediate family members only.
Headlights may be required even during the day in some states if weather conditions require you to use windshield wipers or when visibility is restricted by fog. Look for a sign at the state line.
Stop light and speed cameras may be in use in some communities. Most states do not have laws restricting these enforcement measures, so don’t be surprised if you drive through a municipality that uses them. In most cases, the use of enforcement cameras is posted on signs at city limits.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Why "Spending 15 Minutes or Less" Can Hurt You

Buying insurance is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Who you buy it from can be the difference between devastation and recovery when disaster strikes.
We are grateful that you chose to buy through an independent insurance agent.
Today’s TV and media ads bombard you with the message that purchasing insurance is as simple as grocery shopping. In truth, it’s not. You can’t pick a product off the shelf and be on your way.
Finding the right coverage requires due diligence on your part and ours, something you can’t get from a 15-minute phone call, a celebrity or even a talking lizard.
Why do people prefer independent agents?
Consumers feel the difference. Almost 60 percent of consumers who purchased insurance through a direct channel 10 or more years ago reported switching back to an independent agent because they wanted more value, according to a 2013 study conducted by InsightExpress, an independent marketing research firm.
Consumers switched back to an independent agent because they wanted one point of contact to handle their insurance questions and needs. They wanted guidance from an experienced insurance professional, the study said.
That’s what we do. Independent insurance agents represent multiple insurance companies. We are familiar with underwriting styles and have researched the nuances of numerous policies.
Risk management is key
We also provide advice on the ins and outs of risk management, meaning we explain coverage options and how having or not having that coverage could impact your entire situation.
Our philosophy is to look at the big picture. We believe your insurance program is there to protect all of your assets. What you choose for one type of coverage, such as auto insurance, can have an impact on all of your assets.
Some competitors will lure you with a lower rate on a single type of insurance, but less coverage. You may think you got a deal, but you could get burned later.
When our clients ask for a quote, we don’t just do the comparison shopping and run the numbers – we strive to find the best coverage and rates for your particular needs.
How things go wrong
Independent agents offer a complete package, whereas some competitors are interested in only one piece. For example, they might sell auto insurance and tell you that insurance shouldn’t be “bundled.” Looking at it piecemeal instead of as an entire solution is where we’ve seen clients get hurt.
Imagine you purchased lesser coverage through a company that said they’ll take 15 minutes to save you money on auto insurance. When you signed up, the representative didn’t ask about the value of your home or tell you that your level of coverage should involve looking at the value of your assets. Later, you cause a major car accident. Your auto insurer writes a check that doesn’t cover the victim's expenses, and with that, the insurer’s obligation to you is over. But this doesn’t cover a hurt passenger’s expenses, so he sues you for $1 million. If your home is your biggest asset, you face losing it and your savings.
When you work with an independent agent
In that scenario, we could have helped and suggested umbrella coverage. But with a telephone or online quote, this may not have been an option. Our agency is here for you throughout the life of your policy. We answer questions, handle issues and adjust your coverage as needed. To file a claim, you call us, not an 800 number. We advise you and walk you through the process. Personal attention is part of the package.
Our competitors are at a disadvantage because they sell for a single insurance company and are limited to the options offered by their employer. Bottom line, our competitors represent their insurance company. As independent insurance agents, we represent you. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

How to Avoid Contractor Fraud

Starting a house project? Read these helpful tips before you hire a contractor.

                -Get a list of reputable contractors from your insurance company, the Better Business Bureau or a specialized consumer organization like Angie’s List.

                -Contact multiple contractors, and obtain more than one estimate.

                -Don’t allow a contractor to inspect your property if you’re not home.

                -When the contractor is inspecting your property, personally watch him conduct the inspection.

                -Obtain the terms and conditions of the project in writing, including details on specific supplies being used     and who will purchase and deliver them. Include an estimated completion date and a price-deduction schedule if work takes longer than promised.

                -Ask about warranties on work.

                -Make sure the contractor gets the necessary permits and puts them in his name.

                -Ask for references from recently completed work. Call them and look at the work if possible. Ask if there were issues and if the homeowner would use the contractor again.

                -Ask the contractor if he has liability insurance, and get the policy number and agency’s name. Call the agency, and ask them to provide you with a liability certificate of insurance. There should be no charge to you as a customer of a contractor.

                -Avoid signing the contract until the document is reviewed fully and/or discuss the terms of the contract with a legal representative or a knowledgeable source.

                -Pay the contractor by check or credit card rather than in cash.

                -Don’t pay for work in advance. If possible, don’t pay until the work is done. If you do agree to pay portions at different stages, make sure the bulk of the payment is made at the end of the project after inspections are passed.

                -Get these details in writing.  
        -Ask for proof of insurance and get certificates of insurance especially workers compensation.

Sources: Ohio Department of Insurance, PIAA of Ohio, and Ted Kinney, CIC, CPCU, ARM

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Insurance Tips Before and After A Disaster

“If only I knew.” Four words spoken after disasters by people who’ve learned they don’t have the insurance coverage they thought they had. In our agency, we never want you to be in that situation, so here are some tips to help.

Advice you need before a disaster

You might have purchased your insurance a long time ago. Do you remember the coverage choices you made and your deductibles, endorsements and exclusions? These details can make or break a family after a disaster, so take a few minutes to call us to see if your coverage fits your current needs. Be sure to report life changes and significant purchases or home improvements.

Do you know how much coverage you have if your home or possessions are damaged by rain, hail, lightning or tornadoes? If your roof was damaged in a storm, would it be repaired or replaced? How soon after a storm do you need to report a loss? Are you aware that most renters and homeowners policies don’t cover floods or earthquakes? Do you have loss-of-use coverage in case you have to vacate your home temporarily? If a tree falls on your car, do you have the right auto coverage?

If you don’t know the answers, it’s important to call us to learn what your policy specifies.  Another helpful tip is to create a home inventory every few years. It sounds like a headache, but anyone who has filed a claim will vouch for its value, and technology has made the process quick and easy. Videotape or photograph your possessions room by room. Get close-ups of valuable items, and keep receipts. Create an inventory by downloading an app or using a website like, recommended by the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness (OCSWA). Store this inventory on the web or somewhere outside your home to keep it protected.

Insurance tips for after a disaster

Inspect your property and vehicles. Make a list of what is damaged and how. Take photos for documentation. And report your loss in a timely manner. Also take steps to protect possessions from further damage after the disaster.

If you need to move out of your residence temporarily, provide us with a phone number where we can call you. Find out the monetary limit your loss-of-use insurance covers before you choose a hotel. When you file a claim, back it up with written estimates and your home inventory information.  Prepare now, and your family will be grateful if there ever is a disaster.

Friday, June 27, 2014

PIAA Takes Lead in Helping Fix Workers’ Comp Exposure for Ohio Employers

PIAA wrote the following article on 6/27/14 with news on the resent Ohio Workers Compensation program.  The article is as follows:


Did you know some states do not recognize Ohio’s workers’ compensation insurance coverage? Many Ohio business owners have no idea that they are at risk for compliance audits and fines when their employees travel to other states for business.

As of June 16, 2014, this issue is on its way to no longer being a problem. Gov. John Kasich signed House Bill 493 into law, which offers an insurance coverage solution for all Ohio employers whose employees cross state lines.
H.B. 493 permits the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) to enter into an agreement with an insurer to provide limited other-states’ workers’ comp coverage for Ohio employees who are temporarily working in another state. With this arrangement in place, Ohio businesses will no longer have to fear the repercussions of aggressive states like Pennsylvania and Kentucky that do not accept Ohio’s workers’ comp because they require local workers’ comp coverage for all work performed in-state, regardless of whether coverage exists in Ohio.

While local workers’ comp coverage can be obtained in these states, it is not necessarily cost-effective. In addition, obtaining blanket cost-effective out-of-state workers’ comp coverage has been a challenge in the current marketplace where such a product is hard to find. With H.B. 493, this will soon be an issue of the past, as BWC works to create the opportunity to provide guaranteed issue workers’ comp coverage to resolve the problems many Ohio businesses have faced due to other states workers’ comp requirements.

How did this issue surface?
Independent insurance agents throughout Ohio found their trucking, contracting, plumbing and other clients were being hit with audits, fines, taxes and other compliance enforcement actions from border states because Ohio’s workers’ comp insurance was not compliant with the insurance requirements of other states. These compliance issues were putting Ohio businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

The Professional Independent Agents Association of Ohio, of which your agent is a member, created a task force of independent insurance agents who serve a variety of businesses. These agents worked with the Ohio BWC and representatives from other industries, like trucking and contracting, to develop a solution to this problem.

What’s Next?
Now that the bill has been signed into law, BWC will begin the competitive bid process to identify an insurance carrier(s) to provide limited other states’ coverage for Ohio employers who need it.

While this process will take some time, the outcome will ensure that Ohio businesses will finally have guaranteed access to a workers’ comp insurance product that provides the type of out-of-state coverage that will protect their business and meet their needs. Furthermore, employers and insurance agents will no longer have the burden of trying to determine all the different workers comp requirements of each and every state where work is performed, since there will be access to a workers’ comp product that is accepted in all states.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Rental Car Insurance: Buy or Not Buy

During the summer our agency receives a lot of phone calls from clients who are sitting at the airport getting ready to sign up for a rental car. The rental car employee has just asked them if they wish to purchase the “extra” insurance from the rental car company, and they are not certain if their personal auto insurance protects them on rental cars or not. So they pull out the cell phone and call Fey Insurance Services. Our answer is always this, “It is not a black or white answer.

Unfortunately it is a gray answer so we recommend you purchase at least the “Collision Damage Waiver”. Normally the client is somewhat confused on what the “gray” answer is but the beach is calling and they want to get on their way. So, I thought with this blog article I would hit on two reasons why it is a “gray” answer when it comes to purchasing insurance from the rental car company on a rental car.
The first reason is contract language. Two contracts would be involved if you did not purchase rental car insurance from the rental car company. The contracts would be the one between you and the rental car company (the one you sign in order to rent the car) and the contract between you and your personal auto insurance company. Each of these contracts can be different depending on which rental car company you are using, which state you are in and which personal auto insurance company you have. Because of this there are all kinds of possible gaps in insurance coverage. An example gap is “loss of use”. A number of rental car companies will charge you for the loss of use of the car while it is in the repair shop after you caused an accident that damaged the vehicle. This means that if it takes a week for the car to be repaired they will charge you a week of rental. Some insurance companies do pay this extra cost and some don’t. Gaps like this can be avoided by just spending the extra money on “Collision Damage Waiver”.
A second reason we feel it is a gray topic and you should just purchase the extra coverage is that often times you drop off a car after your trip and no one from the rental car company is present to help you check for damages to the car. We have had a couple of cases where our clients received a letter from the rental car company seeking money for a ding or scratch. They swear they never caused any damage to the car. Unfortunately, when they turned the car in there was no one to sign off that the car was returned undamaged. So, when another vacationer in an unfamiliar car at an unfamiliar airport (who is late for their flight) pulls in next to you to drop off their rental car, and they bump into the car you had just dropped off twenty minutes ago, you have no way of proving you where no longer responsible for the vehicle when the damage occurred.
So we recommend you play it safe next time you rent a car and purchase at least the “Collision Damage Waiver”.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Auto Liability Basics

Auto insurance liability limits come in a few different forms as well as in many different levels. The two main forms of auto insurance liability are “Split Limits” and “Combined Single Limit”. One main thing to first understand about auto insurance liability limits is that these limits are what’s used by the insurance company to pay out on your behalf the damages that you cause to someone’s body and or property. Auto insurance liability limits are not used to pay money toward your injuries or property damage. Those coverages are auto insurance medical payments coverage, comprehensive coverage, collision coverage and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. We will not be addressing those items in this blog post.

Split Limits have three different ceilings or maxes that the insurance policy will pay out. Those three different maxes are “bodily injury per person”, “bodily injury per accident” and “property damage”. Often you will see insurance policies with split limits of $250,000 bodily injury per person and $500,000 bodily injury per accident and $100,000 in property damage. What this means is that if you cause an auto accident the most that one individual will get for their bodily injuries is $250,000 from your insurance policy. If there are multiple people in the other party’s vehicle then the most the policy will pay out is $500,000 in bodily injury to all involved. Accidents that you cause will usually result in property damage to others and $100,000 is the max that the above example limits will pay for someone else vehicle or property.
Combined Single Limit still covers bodily injury and property damage but there is only one lumped together limit for the policy. For example if you have a $500,000 combined single limit policy than the most the other party will receive for their bodily injuries (no matter how many people are in the vehicle) and property damage that you cause is $500,000. There is not a per person limit sublimit nor a property damage sublimit.

There are many different levels of auto insurance liability limits you can have. Each state has a minimum which means you at least have to have the amount they require in order to legally operate a vehicle. This limit is usually very low and in order to best protect your assets and help restore people that you cause injury and damage to we recommend much higher limits of insurance. Obviously the higher the limits of insurance you purchase the more money the insurance policy will cost but extra money you spend could be the difference in protecting your assets after a large claim or have the possibility of losing some of your assets.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Snow Emergencies Overview

With all the snow and ice today I though it would be good to have a refresher on what snow level emergencies meant. 

Find emergency classification details and Ohio law pertaining to snow emergencies online at: emergency levels and enforcement

LEVEL 1: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Roads may also be icy. Drive cautiously.
LEVEL 2: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Only those who feel it is necessary to drive should be out on the roads. Contact your employer to see if you should report to work.
LEVEL 3: Roadways are closed to non-emergency personnel. No one should be driving during these conditions unless it’s absolutely necessary to travel or a personal emergency exists. Employees should contact their employer to see if they should report to work. During a Level 3 emergency, drivers may be subject to arrest and/or fines.

When a Level 2 or 3 is issued, motorists are advised to seek public transportation. In a Level 3 emergency, conditions are not safe and driving is limited to emergency personnel and personal emergencies. One purpose for issuing a Level 3 snow emergency is to enable snow removal equipment to adequately clear roadways without the obstacle of motorists. Citations could be issued for reckless or unnecessary driving during a Level 3 emergency.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Small Businesses Need Liability Insurance

Today many small businesses are popping up.  The reasons for this vary.  Many want to be their own boss, some people are creating their own job since they are unable to find one or many corporate companies are encouraging their employees to become 1099 consultants to help save on benefits.  Either way, people are setting up on their own and it is to these people that I write this blog article.  

Start up costs are a difficult things to manage when you are just beginning your business.  Many demands are placed on your budget but one thing I would encourage you to put top on that list is liability insurance.  All business, big or small, should have liability insurance to both protect the business itself and its customers.  Here are four reasons I would strongly recommend liability insurance even for theone person shop.

1) Contracts:  Contracts are king these days.  Customers require contracts to do business with you.  In many contracts you will see insurance requirements so it is best to have that in place at all times to be able to meet those requirements, especially if you are bidding for a job.  Many start up business work out of their home but for those that lease space elsewhere you will find insurance requirements in your lease contract that need to be met.

2) Slip and Falls:  As I write this article Ohio is dealing with cold weather, snow and ice.  Already claims are coming in where people have slipped and injured themselves outside of businesses.  Whether you are negligent or not in these situations there is still a cost to defend yourself when someone comes to your door on crutches handing you their medical bill from the fall they took on your premises.  

3) Product Liability:  Retailers who sell products have the exposure of something going wrong with their products and causing injury.  Especially if your product is used in cooking or toys for children, this risk is always there and could be very costly.

4) Property Damage to Others: Contractors face this risk the most.  If you are mowing a customer's yard and cause rocks to damage near by cars or houses you will be liable to pay for the damages.  If you are a contractor working on a customers building and end up damage a portion of the building you are not working on, that damage will be your responsibility.  

These are just four examples of where businesses risk having claims.  Each of these would be covered by a general liability policy setup for your business.  Be sure to consult with an independent agent that can help pinpoint the type of coverages that best suit your business and stay protected from unexpected expenses.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Extended Dwelling Coverage on a Homeowner

Many moons ago all insurance companies used to have guaranteed replacement cost endorsement you could put on your homeowner policy. This endorsement would guarantee that the insurance company would rebuild your house exactly as it was prior to the claim even if your limit of insurance on the house was lower than the cost to rebuild. Today many insurance companies limit that endorsement to only homes that are considered high value (homes valued at $500,000 or more). The endorsements also require that the insurance companies send out professional reconstruction appraisers to figure out as best they can what it would cost to rebuild your home.

For those homeowner clients who have a house valued at less than $500,000 the endorsement that needs to be added to the homeowner policy is Extended Dwelling Coverage. What this endorsement does is give a percentage of the homeowner limit as extra coverage in case of a total loss on the home. For example, if you have 25% Extended Dwelling Coverage and your house is insured for $200,000 then you would actually have $250,000 if your home suffered a total loss ($200,000 X 1.25 = $250,000).

We feel this coverage is important for two reasons. One reason is we do not send out professional reconstruction appraisers to every house. Instead, insurance companies use in house software that helps determine reconstruction cost on your house using things like square footage, construction type, location, year built, etc. to come up with a value. These programs are usually very accurate but nothing replaces the accuracy of an in home visit with measuring tape and details of the type of amenities in the house. The Extended Dwelling Coverage endorsement helps make sure that if for some reason the calculations on the house are a little off, there is still enough insurance there to replace the house to its original state.

The second reason we encourage this endorsement is for catastrophe situations. Let’s say a tornado wipes out not only your house but two other neighborhoods worth of homes. Every builder and building supplier in town will be in demand. Economics 101 will tell you that if demand goes up and supply is the same, then prices are going to rise. That home that only cost $200,000 to rebuild just got a lot more expensive but if you have the Extended Dwelling Coverage on your homeowner you would be in a much better situation.

One thing to note about this endorsement, you can’t use it to underinsure your home. In our example above, you can’t insure the house for only $160,000 and add the 25% Extended Dwelling Coverage (which would put your total insurance at $200,000). That is not the intent of the coverage. The insure companies will use their software to figure out a good estimate of the cost to rebuild your house and you would have to have it insured for that amount in order to add the coverage.