Be Prepared for Common Winter Homeowners Insurance Claims

Preparing for Winter

As we mentioned, the winter is a busy season for insurance agents due to the spike in claims. But what kind of issues are homeowners experiencing the most this time of year? Here are some examples.

Roof Damage

Most of us don’t pay too much attention to our roofs until they are caving in on us. The added weight of ice and snow can lead to a collapse if you’re not careful. Even if the worst doesn’t happen, it is possible to have to replace some  roofing.  Make sure your roof is in good condition before winter storms occur.

Fallen Trees

Branches and tree trunks can drop onto your house with little warning or notice, and the results can be devastating. Although you can’t always prepare yourself for this kind of occurrence, you can remove any old or decaying branches before the first snow falls. Look for any trees that may be leaning toward or over your house.  Talk with a professional about possible solutions.

Burst Pipes

The pipes inside our homes are not always built to withstand such temperature variations, which means that they could crack or burst if you’re not careful. Improper insulation and installation is usually the culprit, and the results could be a flooded home. Be sure that all pipes all insulated properly, and you might consider using spigot covers during cold months.

Fire Damage

As we mentioned in Preparing Your Home for Winter, your chimney could be a hazard if you don’t get it cleaned. When burning wood in your fireplace, use a fender (a short and long piece of metal that sits on the hearth to protect the rug or floor from flying sparks) and a firescreen.  If you are using  a space heater, leave plenty of area around the heater and be sure there are no flammable objects near it.

Are You Covered?

Before winter hits, do an insurance review with your agent to ensure that you’re covered from things like falling branches, “acts of God,” as well as other potential damages. You don’t want to wait until a pipe bursts to find out that you’re not covered for such things. Even if you’ve gone years without such a claim, you never know what the future holds. An insurance review could save you thousands of dollars.

Call 265-922-3111 or use our contact form to schedule your insurance review.


Preparing For Winter Series

How to Do Your Annual Insurance Review

Ben Johnson of Bob Johnson Insurance in TN

Doing an annual review of your policies could be as simple as sitting down with your agent and going over your policies. However, a little preparation can go a long way.  It’s always a good idea to do a review on your own time so that you can manage your coverage and come up with a list of questions to ask during your one-on-one with an agent.

Here is a step-by-step guide of what to do to review all of your insurance policies.

Step One: Organize Your Policies

Even if you have all of your insurance from a single provider, it’s necessary to compile each policy in a separate category. The critical items to pay attention to are:

  • Policy Number
  • Date Issued
  • Premium Payments
  • Who is Covered
  • Beneficiaries (if Applicable)
  • Policy Type

We recommend that you create a summary of each policy so that you can have it for easy reference.

Step Two: Read Through Your Policies

Although you will do an in-depth review with your agent, it’s best to get an understanding of what to expect so that your interaction is more streamlined. If your agent has to explain everything to you from scratch, the whole process will take a lot longer.

When reading through each policy, mark any areas where you have questions. Use colored sticky notes (instead of a highlighting pen) so that you can stay organized during your meeting.

Step Three: Make Copies

It never hurts to have extra copies of your policies. One should be on file, and another is what you’re going to take with you. Having a duplicate means that you can make notes and write on the margins without affecting anything.

Step Four: Arrange a Meeting With Your Agent

Once you have a summary sheet and a list of questions regarding your policies, then it’s time to make an appointment. To help you stay organized during the meeting, you should write all of your queries down in a list.


Let BJI Help

If you are a BJI customer, give us a call or fill out our contact form to schedule a review of your policies. It doesn’t take long and can help you have the peace of mind knowing that your coverage is sufficient, and it might even save you a little money.

If you are not a BJI customer, we can help you as well.  Because we are an independent agency, we can compare your current policies with the rates of multiple insurance companies so that you get the best rate for the coverage that you want.  Give us a call or fill out our contact form to schedule a review of your policies.


Previous: Why You Need to Review Your Insurance Annually

Next:  Questions to Ask at an Insurance Review

Why You Need to Review Your Insurance Annually

Ben Johnson of Bob Johnson Insurance in TN

For most of us, insurance is a necessary part of life. Whether it’s protecting our homes, our cars, or ourselves, having the right insurance can ensure that you aren’t put in a precarious position when something happens.

However, is your current insurance policy providing you with the best coverage? When was the last time you checked on it to see what is covered and what isn’t? According to experts, you should be conducting an insurance review every year, which most of us don’t do.

As such, today we’re going to be discussing the benefits of doing an insurance review, what it entails and what to pay attention to the most. Don’t wait until something happens to find out if you’re fully covered or not.

What is an Insurance Policy Review?

Simply put, this is when you sit down with your insurance agent and go over the specific details outlined in your policy. It’s best to do this with all of your insurance so that you can catch any gaps in coverage and solve that issue immediately.

The goal of an insurance review is to make sure that the policy you have is the one that’s going to provide you with the best protection. For example, if you have a homeowner’s policy for your house that hasn’t been updated in ten years, you could have a significant gap in coverage.

Fortunately, your insurance agent(s) will be more than happy to sit down with you and discuss your changing needs and see how you can adjust your policy to reflect any recent updates. This process is relatively quick and painless, and it can save you a lot of time, money, and headaches in the future.

Benefits of Reviewing Your Insurance Policy

Chances are that you haven’t thought about reviewing your policy since you started it. However, if there have been any significant changes in your life since then (i.e., marriage, divorce, family changes, income level, home improvements, etc.), it’s imperative that you look at your insurance to see if there is anything that needs to be updated.

Here are a few reasons why doing an annual insurance review is right for you and your family.

Fill in Gaps

This problem is most common with homeowner’s insurance since the market can appreciate in value over time. For example, if your house was worth $350K when you bought it and now it’s worth $500K, your policy needs to reflect that. If your payout is still based on the first figure, that’s a huge discrepancy that will come out of your pocket.

Combine Coverage

You may have signed up with several different insurance companies, which means that you have various agents looking over and securing your policies. However, it is usually beneficial to combine services with one insurance company so that you can either save money or get more comprehensive benefits. In addition, an independent agency such as Bob Johnson Insurance can let you compare the savings between multiple insurance companies instead of just one.

Reduce Rates

Although it’s more likely that your policy will have to be updated to reflect a higher payout (which may mean higher premiums), a review may enable you to save more money in the long term. Car insurance especially can be reduced if you’ve gone years without an accident or moving violation. Doing an annual review can help you make the most of your monthly payments.

Add Insurance

Do you know what you’re covered for right now? Does that account for everything that could happen? For example, does your policy cover everything from fire to floods? If not, then now is the time to add it. Even if you’re not sure what could happen to your property (or yourself) in the future, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Which Policies Should be Reviewed and Why?

When doing an annual insurance review, it’s best to look at any and all policies that you have. These can include life, homeowner’s, renter’s, and auto insurance, among others. It’s best to look at and take care of everything all at once so that no surprises are lurking in your coverage.

Even if you think that everything should be the same, it’s better to do a full review of all of your policies, just in case. You never know what other services you can qualify for that can improve your coverage and your monthly payments.

How Often You Should Review Your Policies

There is no “right” answer here, but there are some guidelines that you should follow to be safe. Based on expert recommendations, this is when you should review each kind of policy (beyond an annual checkup).

  • Health Insurance: if you are diagnosed with a chronic illness, or if you’re expecting to need more coverage, such as you’re planning on a pregnancy.
  • Life Insurance: marriage or divorce is a perfect time to review and update your policy. Also, income changes can affect your policy needs, so do a review if your salary varies significantly.
  • Homeowner’s Insurance: if you do any renovating or remodeling you should update your insurance to reflect that.
  • Auto Insurance: anytime you are involved in an accident you should do a review to see how it will affect your rates and your coverage.

Let BJI Help

If you are a BJI customer, give us a call or fill out our contact form to schedule a review of your policies. It doesn’t take long and can help you have the peace of mind knowing that your coverage is sufficient, and it might even save you a little money.

If you are not a BJI customer, we can help you as well.  Because we are an independent agency, we can compare your current policies with the rates of multiple insurance companies so that you get the best rate for the coverage that you want.  Give us a call or fill out our contact form to schedule a review of your policies.

Next:  How to Do an Annual Insurance Review

5 Tips to Avoid Insurance Mistakes

Tips to Avoid Insurance Mistakes

When we are shopping around for the best insurance policies, we aren’t always looking at the aspects of those policies that should matter the most to us. It is so easy to get caught up in the deductible, premium and getting a good deal that you forget about avoiding some of the most common insurance mistakes. Today, we are going to discuss some of the most common mistakes that most people make when shopping for insurance, and how you can avoid them.

Look at the Big Picture

One of the best things that you can do when you are shopping for a health insurance policy, car insurance, homeowners insurance or any other kind of insurance is to look at the big picture. Most individuals only look at what their premium and their deductible is, without ever exploring what kind of care and benefits they are going to get by enrolling in a particular program. Take a step back and look at your prospective insurance options from a “ten thousand foot view,” so that you can see all your choices with their advantages and disadvantages.

Understanding the big picture is not always easy.  That’s a huge benefit of having an independent agent like BJI.

Answers to… questions are all readily available and easily accessible through your independent insurance agent via phone, fax, email or even a visit to their office where a real person can help you. They are working in your best interest to help you find the best coverage at the best price for what you need.
~ from “Why should you choose an independent insurance agent over online insurance?

Learn How Your Policy Works

Another important concept that you need to keep in mind when you are shopping for insurance policies is that you can never ask too many questions. Whether it be for your health or your car, make sure that you discuss every aspect of your insurance plan options with your agent, so that you aren’t taken off guard by any fine print in your policy.

Update Your Insurer

You need to keep your insurer up to date on your health and your socioeconomic status. When it comes to your health insurance, make sure that you report any changes to your household or your income to them because you could be getting benefits or breaks on your insurance that you weren’t aware of.

Talk to Your Insurer

Instead of waiting until you have an emergency or issue before you have to talk to your insurance agent, make sure that you talk to them regularly. If you have any questions about how your policy works, consult your insurer. That’s what they are there for.

Don’t Over-Insure Yourself

If you believe that you may be using your car or health insurance fairly often, you may want to go ahead and pay for a high premium and the lowest possible deductible. The truth is that you you may not need or use your health insurance or car insurance that often. There is no need to be losing your shirt in paying for insurance if you rarely need it. In the end, that is for you to decide.

Have questions about insurance or need to get an insurance quote? Get in contact with us today.

3 Types of Insurance You Might Need

Ben Johnson of Bob Johnson Insurance in TN

Some types of insurance are required, while others may simply be nice to have. All insurance is helpful and can save you significant money if you need to file a claim. Depending on your specific circumstances and needs, some types of insurance may be a good fit. Here are three types of insurance you might need.

Disability Insurance

In the event you become injured and are unable to work disability insurance will replace your income. Depending on the policy the coverage will pay you all or part of your income for a specified period of time. In a single income household disability insurance is extremely important. If you are unsure if disability insurance is necessary, consider what your financial situation would be if you or your spouse or partner were unable to work for health reasons.

Life Insurance

Funeral expenses can add up quickly, and a life insurance policy can be used to cover those costs along with any other bills or expenses. More substantial policies can also serve to replace the income your family would no longer receive in the event of your passing. Life insurance is not mandatory, but if your death would cause financial hardships for your loved ones, a policy is worth considering.

In addition to funeral expenses and income replacement, life insurance can be used to help cover any loans you cosign. For instance, if you cosign a car loan or credit card or student loan for a relative or friend and you pass away, your loved one will be solely responsible for the balance due.  Life insurance protects them as it can be used to repay that loan.

Umbrella Insurance

This type of coverage goes above and beyond your existing insurance policies. Umbrella insurance provides additional liability should you max out your homeowner’s, auto or other type of insurance policies. For example, if you cause a car accident and someone is injured they will receive money from your auto insurance to cover medical expenses. If the maximum payout from your auto insurance does not cover all of their medical bills and lost wages they can sue you for the balance. At that point your umbrella policy would kick in and cover that expense.

Make Sure You Are Protected

The purpose of insurance is to protect your assets and cover unforeseen expenses. Disability, life and umbrella insurances all achieve these goals. Depending on your circumstances and other factors it is worth considering these types of coverage. If you have questions about the types of insurance you might need, or contact us.  We can help you understand how each of these policies work and can help you determine if you need them.  Call us at 865-922-3111 (local) or 800-624-3339 (toll free) or click here to contact us.


Series: What Kinds of Insurance Do You Need?

Part 1:  3 Types of Insurance You Need
Part 2:  3 Types of Insurance You Might Need
Part 3: 3 Types of Insurance You Probably Don’t Need

3 Types of Insurance You Need

Ben Johnson of Bob Johnson Insurance in TN

Insurance is necessary, as well as confusing and sometimes complicated. Understanding the types of insurance available and the coverage that best serves your needs can be difficult to decipher. In some instance specific types of insurance are mandatory. To help simplify things here are three types of insurance you need.

Homeowner’s Insurance

Homeowner’s insurance protects property and structures on the property from damage and complete lose. This type of insurance also provides coverage for liability against accidents that happen on the property. Essentially, if you have a house fire and the home and personal items are destroyed, or if a tree limb falls on the house and damages the roof homeowner’s insurance will cover all or some of the cost. Each homeowner’s policy is different and only disasters listed in the policy are covered. In some instances if a guest at your home is injured your homeowner’s policy may cover some or all of their medical expenses.

Many mortgage lenders require a homeowner to carry homeowner’s insurance. It is often necessary to have a policy in place before a closing.

Auto Insurance

Most states require drivers to have auto insurance. This coverage will cover all or part of the cost to repair your car if you cause an accident. An auto insurance policy will also foot the bill for damage to other vehicles damaged in an accident you caused. Many auto insurance policies also provide roadside assistance packages for an additional fee.

Medical Insurance

Medical insurance can save a lot of money in terms of routine care and especially emergency care. Coverage is available through most employers. When coverage is not offered you can obtain coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Failure to secure medical insurance or a policy that does not provide Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) will result in a penalty. The fee is calculated based on the total number of months you go without coverage and it paid when you file your federal income taxes.

Ensure You Have Adequate Coverage

Insurance protects your interests in the event of a problem. Lots of different types of insurance exist and there are different coverage options for each type that can make zeroing in on what you need a challenge. Ensuring you have homeowner’s, auto and medical insurance is the basic types of coverage you need. If you have questions about the type of insurance coverage you need or you are interested in setting up a policy call us at 865-922-3111 (local) or 800-624-3339 (toll free) or click here to contact us.


Series: What Kinds of Insurance Do You Need?

Part 1:  3 Types of Insurance You Need
Part 2:  3 Types of Insurance You Might Need
Part 3: 3 Types of Insurance You Probably Don’t Need

What is the Minimum Amount of Health Insurance Coverage that I Should Have?

How much health insurance do I need?

Health insurance can be difficult to understand, and it can be hard to determine how much coverage you need. The minimum amount of health insurance coverage varies from one person to another. There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing coverage and finding the right amount for you and your family.

Legal Requirements

Under the Affordable Care Act individuals are required to have health care coverage. If you are not enrolled in a plan that provides the Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) you may have to pay a penalty for each month you were not covered. The penalty is paid when you file your federal income tax return. Examples of plans that are considered to meet MEC include employer provided plans, government plans and individual plans purchased from an insurance company.

A qualifying health insurance plan must provide general coverage in order to be considered MEC. For instance, plans that offer discounts on medical expenses or plans that only cover vision and dental are not considered MEC. Simply having a plan that meets the MEC criteria is enough to exempt you from paying a penalty. The amount of coverage through your plan does not matter with regard to the fee.

Evaluate Your Specific Needs

Having medical insurance is enough to meet the requirement of MEC, but it is important to find a plan that fits your needs. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution to determining the proper amount of health insurance you should have for your situation. To find the right amount of coverage, look at your medical needs throughout a typical year. Write everything down to easily keep track of it all. Count how many doctor’s visits you go to in a normal year. Track both wellness visits and visits to a specialist if you have a chronic condition. Make note of any prescription medications you take. Do this for yourself and any dependents you have.

Find the Right Plan

Once you have an understanding of your specific medical needs you can find a plan that best serves those needs. The minimum amount of health insurance coverage that is ideal will allow you and your family to receive the amount of care you need based on what you tracked over the year (see above). If the cost of the insurance is less than what you would pay without insurance, including the MEC penalty, then that is the right amount for you.

Figuring out this number can be hard, so that is why Bob Johnson Insurance is here to help. Click here to contact us with any questions you may have.

Understanding Health Insurance Series
Understanding Health Insurance
The Basics that Every Person Needs to Know about Health Insurance

4 Reasons Everyone Needs to Have Health Insurance

What are the Different Types of Health Insurance and Why Do You Need Them?

3 Answers to Common Health Insurance Questions

What is the Minimum Amount of Health Insurance Coverage that I Should Have?


The Difference Between Types of Insurance Agents

Ben Johnson of Bob Johnson Insurance in TN

Those insurance commercials on TV can be so amusing, but when it really comes down to it, which kind of insurance agent do you want?  Let’s take a look.

There are three types of insurance agents:  independent, captive and direct through the internet.  Our post “Why should you choose an independent insurance agent over online insurance?” explains why getting insurance online may not be your best choice.

A “captive agent” works for just one insurance company.  The benefit is that they are very well-trained in their company’s products, and they usually will know fairly quickly if you qualify for a particular product. They also generally offer good customer service as well. They will be able to answer your insurance-related questions and help guide you through purchasing a policy. On the other hand, they are limited in options that they can provide to you, because they can offer products from only one insurance company.

Why an Independent Agent is the Best Choice

An independent agent stands out from the rest. Because they do not have an exclusive relationship with one company, they do not have the limitations of online insurance or a captive agent.  The result is you get more from an independent agent.

  • They can provide quick quotes across multiple insurance companies to help you find the best rate.
  • Based on their experience and knowledge, they can advise you about the differences between companies as well as the benefits of each insurance company so that you can choose the one that balances the coverage you want with the rate you can afford.
  • You get personalized service centered around your needs and wants.
  • If you need multiple policies (such as auto, home, and life), you are not limited to one company for all your insurance needs. Your independent insurance agent can provide you with information about your options so that you can make the best choice for which company or companies will provide your insurance.

We would like to help you!

We would love to answer any questions you may have or to provide a quote for you. For questions, please give us a call at 865-922-3111 or click here and fill out our contact form. One of our experienced agents will contact you as quickly as possible.  If you prefer, you can click any of the links under “Quotes and Information” (in the upper menu bar) to receive a free quote.

How Much Car Insurance is Enough: Liability Insurance

In Part 1, we discussed deductibles and what you should consider regarding a low vs. high deductible.  A second very important part of your vehicle coverage is liability.

What is Liability Insurance?

Liability car insurance covers damages to another person that result from an accident you cause.  It is one of the most base types of coverage and is also mandatory in every state.  The actual minimum limits of coverage can vary state-to-state.

Understanding Liability coverage

Liability coverage is represented by three numbers.  It might appear as 25/50/15 or 100/300/100.  Knowing what these numbers mean is very important.

The first number is maximum paid for “bodily injury” to the other person per accident. (Think in terms of medical expenses for this one.)

The second number is the “maximum paid per accident.” Add up all the costs the insurance pays, and it cannot exceed this amount.

The third number is the maximum paid for “property damage” to the other person’s vehicle as well as any other property damage done (such as fences, guardrails, buildings, etc.)

How much Liability Insurance Coverage do I need?

Although the minimum limit may be lower, a very common liability amount chosen is 50/100/50.  However, we recommend that you make your liability coverage as high as you can afford.   It’s in your interest to do so.

Let’s consider if you were in an accident in which you totaled the other person’s vehicle.  Costs might include:

  • The vehicle
    According to USA Today, in 2014 the average used car price was almost $17,000.
  • Ambulance to the hospital to get checked
    Ambulance rides can cost from $500-$2000 depending on where you are and what is required.  The L.A. Times reported that one lady’s insurance company covered $750 for her ambulance ride and she had to pay over $1500 for the rest of the cost.
  • Medical Costs (emergency room, hospital, x-rays, tests, etc.)
    One of our customers spent just one night in the hospital last fall.  By the time all the costs were added up, the bill was over $9000.  That’s just for one night to get checked out and monitored.

While all of these are very general numbers, they add up quickly. Liability costs from an accident can quickly reach $25,000 or more.  If you are carrying the Tennessee minimum (25/50/15), all those expenses would be covered.  However, what if it was a new car worth $35,000?  What if there are extensive injuries requiring a several nights stay in the hospital followed up by physical therapy and other doctors visits.  With the minimum coverage, the maximum the insurance pays is $50,000.  You are liable for the rest.

Being Realistic

We are not trying to be scary here.  It’s important to be realistic about what liability can mean. Your budget may determine how much coverage you carry. However, if you have the ability to carry more, we recommend that you do.

Our hope, of course, is that none of us has an accident.  How much Liability Coverage should you have?  Talk to your insurance agent about the right amount for you.  They can answer any questions you have about it as well.  If you would like, contact Bob Johnson Insurance.  We have several experienced agents who can help you decide what is right for you.

How Much Insurance Do You Need?

Low vs. High Deductible
Liability Insurance
Collision and Comprehensive Coverage