Prepping for Spring: Your Home

Spring is almost here!  The outdoors is already calling us to come and have loads of fun.  It’s important to be ready.

We previously posted some tips about getting your vehicles ready for Spring:

Now that your vehicles are ready for the season you should turn your attention to your house. Your living spaces are primed for spring cleaning, so follow these tips and get your home looking its best so you can enjoy the better weather even more.

Clean Your Gutters

Over the fall and winter, leaves and other debris collected in your gutters, and they are ready to be emptied. If you live in an area that gets a lot of Spring showers, then it’s crucial that you keep your gutters clear so that they can work properly. Now that the sun is out, you can take care of it in a day and be ready for the next rainfall.

Change Your Filters

Chances are that you have several appliances that use filters. A range hood, a built-in water dispenser for your fridge – all of them need to be changed regularly. Don’t forget your HVAC system. Springtime should serve as a reminder to get you to inspect and replace any filters that are looking worse for wear. Having this be a seasonal thing will ensure that you don’t forget about them.

Wash the Windows

Now that the sun is coming out and the weather is nice, you will want to let in as much light as possible. If your windows are still covered in Winter gunk and dirt, now is the time to make them spotless. Just be on the lookout for birds who may not realize that there’s glass in the way.

Take Care of the Lawn

You’ve been able to use the weather as an excuse to avoid mowing and raking leaves, but now you can’t keep avoiding it. When Spring arrives, it’s time to pull the lawnmower out and start trimming your grass.

In addition to the lawn, you should be checking all of your shrubs and plants to see how they fared over the Winter months. If they need treatment or pruning, you should take care of that now so that they can bloom well in the Summer.

Check Your Home Exterior

Take a few minutes to walk around your home and check for any damage, wear or other damage.  Make a note of all items that need to be done and schedule a day that you will complete the tasks.  This will ensure your house stays in top shape.

Make Sure Your Homeowner’s Insurance is Adequate.

Keeping your property in pristine condition is the whole point of Spring cleaning, but you still want to keep them insured adequately just in case.  If you did your annual insurance review back in January, you already know for sure that your home is covered.  If not, contact Bob Johnson Insurance (865-922-3111 or 800-624-3339)to schedule your insurance review.  Our agents can help you understand your options and make sure that you have the coverage you need and want.

 

What Should You Expect From Your Insurance Company After a House Fire?

An Insurance Guide to House Fires

Series: An Insurance Guide to House Fires

On your end, you want to recover quickly and get back on your feet. If you want to ensure that your needs are met, here are some things to consider. 

Assess Cost of Living Expenses

Even if you wind up staying at a family member’s house, you can still get money for their trouble. Have your family member draft a list of living expenses that they are providing (i.e., room and board, meals, etc.) so that you can include it into your claim. These are called “loss of use” funds, and they will help you out immensely.

Beyond the price of a hotel room, most insurance companies will only consider expenses that are generated as a result of the fire. For example, if your grocery bill is only $400 a month and you’re still spending that living elsewhere, you won’t be able to claim any additional funds. 

Getting an Advance

Because filing and processing a claim takes time, you will likely have to secure an advance from the insurance company to handle any immediate expenses or bills. Remember, you have to pay things like mortgage and utilities even if your house is under repair, so you need money to stay solvent. 

Don’t Throw Anything Away

It’s natural to think that ruined items should go into the trash, but don’t do anything until it’s been logged into your case file. If you toss something and the insurance company doesn’t know about it, that’s a total loss, and you can’t reclaim it in your settlement. 

Don’t Agree to Close the Case Immediately

Don’t close your case too quickly. It can sometimes take several months to assess all of the damage to the property. If your case is closed, and you find additional damage to your property, you won’t be able to do anything because the case is closed. Thus, wait a while before you make things final so that you don’t run into that situation. 

Contact Us Today

Don’t wait until it’s too late to contact Bob Johnson Insurance. Your home is one of the most valuable items you own, so it’s crucial that you have a policy that will replace lost or damaged items.

If you live in Knoxville, TN, and the surrounding area, call us today at 865-922-311 or click here to contact us to find out how we can protect you and your family. As an independent agency, we are able to offer a choice of carriers and options, plus personalized advice to help make sense of it all. And, we make it easy by doing the research and the work for you.

What Do Insurance Companies Expect from You After a House Fire?

An Insurance Guide to House Fires

Series: An Insurance Guide to House Fires

For the most part, insurers are mostly interested in the following:

  • Assessing the amount of your claim
  • Getting a comprehensive list of damages and lost items
  • Closing your claim quickly

To ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible, you should try to provide the insurance company with as much documentation and information as possible including:

  • Date and time of the fire
  • Location of the fire
  • Injuries and personal damage
  • Previous and current condition of the home
  • Repair costs
  • Cost of living expenses 
  • A police report

You should keep copies of everything in a centralized binder so that you can manage all of these documents neatly. Overall, the more disorganized you are, the more you have to rely on your insurer to assess the damage for you. Having proof of the damage to the value of the lost or damaged items helps work toward a more accurate claim amount.


Next: What Should You Expect From Your Insurance Company After a House Fire?

What You Should Do After a House Fire

An Insurance Guide to House Fires

Series: An Insurance Guide to House Fires

In the immediate aftermath of the fire, you will likely be shocked and stunned. However, the faster that you can start on the path towards recovery, the better it will be for both you and your home. Here are the steps you should take to ensure an efficient restitution plan. 

Find a Place to Stay

Chances are that your home will not be available for you after the fire, meaning that you have to either reach out to friends or family to provide a place to sleep and live in the interim. Only if there is extremely minor damage will you be able to remain in the home, but you have to wait for approval from the fire department. 

Call Your Agent

You want to get your agent out to the property as soon as possible to assess the damage and start working on your claim. You want to get things back to normal quickly, so the sooner you do this, the better off you’ll be. Not only can you get a settlement to repair the damage, but you may also be entitled to “loss of use” funds that can help cover immediate expenses, such as living arrangements. 

Work on Your Financial Situation

Recovery is the primary goal, but the fact is that banks and lenders won’t put a hold on your mortgage payments just because you had a fire. This is another reason to contact your agent immediately so that you can be sure that you can continue to make payments on time and in full so that you don’t have any financial problems afterward. 

Another thing to consider is if any financial documents were lost in the fire. If you lost items like credit cards, bank statements, or tax information it could create problems down the line. Contact these companies to ensure that you can avoid such issues. 

Take Inventory of Damaged Items

While the insurance company will run a comprehensive assessment of what was lost or damaged in the fire, you should make sure that all items are accounted for as well. If you have not done a policy renewal in the last few years, you could be sitting on more value than the insurance company may realize. (See Doing an Insurance Review: Why You Need It and What to Do.)

It’s imperative that you work with your insurer to get the funds necessary to replace everything, including those items that were totally destroyed. Overall, this process may take the longest, unless you have an itemized list of purchases and appraisals already. (See Why You Need a Home Inventory List and How to Make One.) Otherwise, you will have to determine the value after the fact so that it can go towards your claim settlement. 

Being Safe After a House Fire

No matter what, you should never go back into the house unless the fire department says it’s okay. The structural integrity of the property may not be intact, meaning that you could run into falling debris, further causing injury to yourself and others. 

When going back into the house, be sure to avoid sections that are waterlogged. Mold and bacteria will breed in these parts, which could create a health hazard.

As we mentioned, smoke damage can also include dangerous chemicals, so avoid touching items that have soot on them, as well as breathing heavily in sections of the house that have significant smoke stains. If necessary, wear a breathing mask. 


Next: What Do Insurance Companies Expect After a House Fire?

What to Expect After a House Fire

An Insurance Guide to House Fires

Series: An Insurance Guide to House Fires

For many homeowners, one of the worst things that can happen is a fire in the home. Whether it’s a small flame or a destructive blaze, the damage can be both catastrophic and emotionally scarring. 

However, if you do experience a house fire, it’s imperative that you understand what options you have for recovery. Homeowner’s insurance is designed to protect you against this kind of damage, but it requires input from you to ensure that the process moves smoothly. 

If you live in the Knoxville, TN area, then contact Bob Johnson Insurance today to find out how we cover house fires. We provide excellent policies that will keep you and your family protected, no matter what happens. 

What to Expect After a House Fire

If your home goes up in flames, a lot of things are going to happen. The more you know what to expect, the better you can react to ensure that you are both safe and informed. Here’s an overview of what can happen after a house fire. 

Wait for the Fire to be Fully Extinguished

The fire department will be the ones handling the blaze, and it’s up to them to decide when the area is safe and the fire is out. Until they give the all clear, you should avoid getting close to the fire at all. 

Injury Assessment

Hopefully, no one will be hurt in the blaze, but that’s not always the case. If you or a family member are injured either by the fire itself or other circumstances (i.e., smoke inhalation), the paramedics will probably rush you to the emergency room to figure out the extent of the injury. 

Going Back Inside

Depending on how big and how destructive the fire was, you may be able to go back into your house or you may not. Again, it’s up to the fire department to determine how safe the property is, so don’t try going back in unless you have been instructed to do so. Otherwise, you could be putting yourself at unnecessary risk. 

Water and Smoke Damage

Just because part of your house was not engulfed in flames doesn’t mean that it wasn’t damaged. Water hoses and fire extinguishers are necessary for putting out the blaze which can leave lasting effects on parts of your property (as well as the stuff inside). In some case, you may have items that need replacing because they are waterlogged. 

Smoke can also require more extensive recovery. Because the ash can contain harmful chemicals, it will have to be cleaned to avoid inhalation. Again, even if the section was not touched by fire, you can still be facing a lot of damage from the smoke. 


Next: What You Should Do After a House Fire

An Insurance Guide to House Fires (series)

An Insurance Guide to House Fires

For many homeowners, one of the worst things that can happen is a fire in the home. Whether it’s a small flame or a destructive blaze, the damage can be both catastrophic and emotionally scarring. 

If you do experience a house fire, it’s imperative that you understand what options you have for recovery. Homeowner’s insurance is designed to protect you against this kind of damage, but it requires input from you to ensure that the process moves smoothly. 

Part 1: What to Expect After a House Fire

Part 2: What You Should Do After a House Fire

Part 3: What Do Insurance Companies Expect After a House Fire?

Part 4: What Should You Expect From Your Insurance Company After a House Fire?

Insurance Tips for Adults Just Starting Out

Insurance Tips for Adults Just Starting Out

You keep your car filled up with gas so you don’t get stranded on the side of the road. You ensure your phone is charged so your loved ones can reach you. But, what kind of safety measures do you have in place for more extreme scenarios?

What if you lost everything you owned in a fire at your house or your apartment? What if your car were stolen? These situations are scary, but your insurance can help you through them, and much more, so long as you have the right coverage in place.

So, what’s right for you? Whether you’re starting out on your own or starting a family, these tips can help you begin to understand the level of insurance you may need.

Consider What You Own – And What It’s All Worth

Could you imagine having to replace all of your personal belongings at once? What about having to do so from memory and on your own dime? It would be both a difficult and a costly task. There are a couple of things you can do to be prepared.

First, make an inventory of your belongings and their value so that you know what is lost if they are lost in a fire or other emergency.  (The free Safeco Home Inventory app can help.) Want to know more about how to do one?  Check out Why You Need a Home Inventory.

Second, be sure you have enough insurance coverage regardless of whether you rent or own a home. It’s known as “personal property coverage,” and you want enough of it to replace all of your belongings if it were to come to that.  Checking your coverage is easy by doing an insurance review.  Check out Doing an Insurance Review: Why You Need It and What to Do.

Take Your Lifestyle Into Account

Drive an expensive car? Repairs are likely costly, so be sure to carry full coverage. Own a home with a lot of custom features? Be sure your homeowners policy takes them into account. The way you live can help you save, too. For example, if you take public transportation to and from work even though you own a car, you may pay less for your insurance.

Talk to Your Independent Agent for Ease, Choice and Advice

At Bob Johnson Insurance, we care about you and helping you protect the ones you love as well as the things that you need.  As an independent agency, we are able to offer a choice of carriers and options, plus personalized advice to help make sense of it all. And, we make it easy by doing the research and the work for you.

Remember, we’re here to help. Contact us today at 865-922-3111 with your insurance questions and needs.

Why You Need a Home Inventory List for Insurance, and How to Make One

Why You Need a Home Inventory List

When you purchase and furnish your home, you probably don’t think about what might happen to those items if disaster strikes. Like almost any homeowner, you pay your insurance premiums and just assume that in the event of theft, fire or other loss, you will be reimbursed the expense of those possessions. 

In reality, many homeowners are surprised and saddened when disaster does strike, and their insurance requests documentation of every item in their home. They find themselves trying to make a list of what was lost while attempting to remember how much it cost and where they purchased it. Inevitably, items are forgotten or insurance denies certain claims due to lack of documentation. 

Every homeowner can avoid this by keeping a home inventory list. Home inventory lists help owners easily find and document their items to insurance companies in the event of the need to make a claim. 

Creating and Inventory List

If the idea of creating a list of everything you own is daunting, the process is really straightforward. Read on to find out how you can easily make your own home inventory list:

  • It’s easiest to start when you first purchase your home. If this isn’t possible, pick a room that has the most valuable possessions and start there, working your way to the least valuable rooms. Don’t forget storage and closets.
  • Include basic information about every item. This includes where and when you purchased it, a make or model number, and the amount you paid. 
  • Sets purchased together do not need to be listed separately. For example, instead of listing “Bed (price) Dresser (price)”, you can simply write “Bedroom set: Bed, Dresser, Mirror (price)”
  • Clothing can be counted as a group. An example of this would be : “Jackets (brand and Price) 3”, and so on. Keep in mind this only applies to items of the same brand or approximate value.
  • When you make new purchases, try to scan the receipts as you enter the item to your inventory. If you don’t want to print a paper copy of your home inventory list, you can make the document shareable with a trusted friend, attorney or family member so that you may be able to retrieve it in the event that your computer is stolen or damaged.
  • When you’re done, make a cover sheet that lists the rooms and their page number for easy reference. 

If you would like an example of a home inventory sheet, you can see one here.

As a special note, most homeowners insurance has a limit on the amount of money that will be reimbursed. If you own expensive items such as jewelry, furs, designer purses, heirlooms, art or other luxury items, be sure to discuss the possibility of an additional rider to your policy to help insure these items.

Don’t be intimidated by the thought of creating your home inventory list. With a little time, you’ll have the extra reassurance you need to feel secure that your insurance coverage is adequate and your possessions are counted. 

Of course, we at Bob Johnson Insurance are here to help. If you have any questions, give us a call at 865-922-3111 or click here to contact us.

Insurance Tips Every College Student Should Know — Tip #1: Personal Property

Insurance Tips for College Students

In these two weeks, we are discussing insurance tips that every college student should know.  Our first tip deals with personal property. Know what you have AND that your insurance will cover your student’s possessions.

Know What You Have:  Make a List

Keep a list of all of the items the student is taking with them to school to make sure you have enough coverage for everything. It’s also helpful to have photos and receipts if possible.

Make Sure Your Coverage is Adequate

Personal Property Coverage.

Personal property can add up quickly. The student may be taking gaming consoles, expensive clothing or jewelry, laptops, tablets, smartphones, TVs, MP3 players and other things that have high value and could be easily stolen. Depending on the item, it may need special coverage due to its higher value.

Most policies provide ten percent of personal property coverage for property owned that is kept at a residence other than the insured’s. What this means is that if the parent has $100,000 worth of personal property coverage, it will cover up to $10,000 worth of coverage for the student’s property while living in a dorm.

Liability Coverage

Life happens.  Sometimes events are within our control and sometimes they are not.  Although most homeowners insurance policies cover personal property, they do not usually cover damage to property rented.  In the majority of cases, any damage to a dorm room or an apartment wouldn’t be covered.

Renters Insurance.

If the college student is living off-campus in a rented home, the policy of the parents may not provide coverage for the student’s property. This is where renters insurance comes in. In most cases, the landlord’s policies usually only cover the structure itself and not the possessions of the renters.

Personal Property Questions for Your Insurance Review

  1. How much personal property coverage is available for my student who is away at college? Is it adequate?
  2. Does my student have liability coverage in case there is damage to the dorm or the residence (apartment, house, condo, etc.) where they are staying? If so, how much coverage and is it adequate?  If not, how much do they need?
  3. My student will be living in a [dorm, house, apartment, etc.]. Does my student need renter’s insurance?  If so, how much?

How Long Will It Take to Get Answers to My Insurance Questions?

You should be able to get most (if not all) of your information with a phone call or two.  At Bob Johnson Insurance, we are always ready to provide the answers to your questions.  Give us a call at 865-922-3111 or click here to contact us.

How to Keep Your Home Safe From Fire Series

How to Keep Your Home Safe From Fire

In 2016, there were 352,000 residential fires. These resulted in almost 3,000 deaths, 11,000 injuries, and over $6.5 billion in damages. Although these numbers have been getting lower over the last decade, they paint a harrowing picture.

Don’t be a statistic.  Read these articles to help you keep your loved ones safe from a house fire.