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Archive for the ‘Home Insurance’ Category

Your Credit Rating And The Cost Of Home Insurance

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In New Jersey, and most states, your credit rating makes a big difference in the price of homeowners insurance.

The majority of insurance companies look at your credit score as part of their pricing for Home Insurance in New Jersey.  It may not show directly as your credit rating.  But most companies make credit history part of their process for reviewing your behavior as a home owner.

Insurance companies will charge more or less, sometimes much less, based on that combined scoring.  It can raise or lower prices by 50% or more, based on extreme cases.  We represent an insurance company that has 50 possible tiers, heavily affected by financial stability scoring.  That can really drop or raise your homeowners (or automobile) insurance price.  Others put less weight on those scores.

Two points:

1) We at GBW Insurance never see your actual credit score.  We do see the pricing tier to which that insurance company assigned you, but not the underlying factors.  The insurance company will give you an explanation of their general process; they have to in order to obey laws and regulations.

2)  Asking for a home insurance quote does not affect your credit score.  When a mortgage company pulls your credit score, that does go on your credit history.  An insurance company inquiry is a “soft” pull because it does not mean that you are taking on additional debt nor that you have done anything wrong with payments.  It does not have an impact beyond the price you would pay for insurance in that company.

A good credit rating can allow you to save a lot of money over time.

If you do have a bad credit rating, you can bring it up over time.  That’s important for a lot of reasons other than insurance prices.

You can eventually get your credit rating back to where it should be.  And in most states credit rating problems due to divorce or hospital bills can be changed for insurance scoring purposes.

If you have questions or need a quote, call GBW Insurance 800-548-2329.  Or click here to give us basic information to start a quick quote for you.

Swimming Pools and Your House Insurance

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there are about 10 1/2 million swimming pools in the United States.

Drowning is the number one cause of accidental death for very young children.  And the CDC statistics say more than 3,400 people drown in the US each year.

What can you do to protect people around your swimming pool?

Keep track of kids.  Don’t allow kids near the pool when they’re alone.  CDC statistics also show that drowning deaths of 85 year olds and older climb again.

Fence in the pool.  Have a locking gate.  Kids, whether little kids or local young people who come in without your permission, have no perspective on danger.  Insurance companies won’t insure pools without a fence.

Keep a safety kit.  Include a flotation device you can throw, your strainer with a long handle, first aid kit, scissors to cut clothing or hair free from a drain (or even to cut the pool cover).

Have an alarm that will go off if someone falls in.  You can save a child, or even a pet.

Diving boards.  Not every insurance company will insure pools with diving boards.  Again, children suffer the most diving board injuries.

Keep all equipment and covers in good repair.

Don’t leave toys floating in the pool when not in use.

Click here to check the CDC web site for more pool injury statistics and safety tips.

Thanks to the MSO insurance organization for much of this material.

Call GBW Insurance at 800-548-2329 extensions 112 or 117 if you would like homeowners policy information, advice, or insurance quotes in NJ.

Can you get Flood Insurance in time for a Hurricane?

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IMG_0692It’s too late when the flood arrives.  It’s too late when the hurricane is landing.  It’s too late two weeks before the hurricane arrives.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has a 30 day waiting period unless you’re buying a new home or re-financing.  So if the peak of hurricane season is in August and September (for NJ and the rest of the Northeast) you have to start a month before.

Floods can occur on the side of a hill, or miles from rivers or lakes or sea shores.  25% of all flood losses happen in non-flood zones.

Flood insurance is not expensive in the low threat zones.  For higher value homes, it may be possible to bundle home and flood insurance in one policy.   Check with your insurance advisor.

If you’d like to have us check several insurance companies for you (in New Jersey) call 800-548-2329, extension 112.  Or click here to send some basic info to us so we can get started for you.

And yes, the baby elephant in this picture did make it across the flooding river.  His mom and aunties helped.

Flood Insurance Maps in New Jersey

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Flood insurance takes 30 days to put into effect. So start now if you want it when you need it.  Try our site for quotes.  Click here, fill in what you can, and we will help you get a quote. (Remember to fill in the security code at the bottom.)

Here is a link to the new flood insurance maps in NJ. This uses National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) data (part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA).

While we can’t guarantee these maps, because we don’t control the site, they have been useful to us in counseling clients.  There have been winners and losers in the new maps; some New Jersey areas have been moved to lower risk designations, many have moved to higher risk and higher costs.

With new maps in place, individuals whose property was damaged by Hurricane Sandy now know how high they have to raise their property to qualify for lower rates.

But keep an eye on rate changes.  While the FEMA/NFIP program states that prices will rise under caps, the caps come off when you make certain changes.  That’s when you see the headlines about people whose flood insurance rate has gone up 100% or even 1,000%.

If you have questions, need some advice, want to change agents, or need to start a flood policy, please give us a call at 1-800-548-2329, extension 117.   Para Español, ext. 110

Tropical Storm headed toward you?

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Insurance companies prohibit adding or starting property coverage when named storms approach. A tropical storm is approaching the Atlantic coast of the US. If you want property coverage, if your coverage is inadequate, act now.

If you need help in with New Jersey insurance coverage, call us today. 1-800-548-2329. or http://www.GBWinsurance.com

If you want flood insurance, it may be too late for this month, but you should get started if you want it before September.  Hurricanes in the Northeast peak late in the season.

Flood Insurance – Hurricane Season Coming Soon

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The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) sent us this warning/outlook for flood insurance 2013.   In summary, another tough hurricane season forecast, which means more  flooding.  And flood insurance takes 30 days to get in place.  (Click here for our flood insurance page and quick quote page.)

Hurricane Season Outlook 2013
Experts are calling for an active Atlantic hurricane season, which means it could also be an active flood season. In their annual spring forecast, Colorado State University Meteorologists Philip Klotzbach and William Gray predicted 18 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 4 additional major hurricanes. They suggest there is a 96 percent chance a storm will hit the United States.
Hurricane season is the optimal time to speak to new and existing customers about flood insurance. The prospect of potentially damaging storms provides context for the flood talk, as it reminds consumers that flood risk is real. Homeowners still remember Hurricane Irene’s impact in 2011 and the destruction from Sandy last October. While flood risk is top of mind, you have an opportunity to target existing customers without a flood insurance policy and teach them how flood insurance can help them recover from a flood. For clients in a Non-Special Flood Hazard Area (NSFHA) who are within the “one mile buffer zone,” explain that floods don’t stop at a line on a map.
Show clients and prospects who don’t have flood insurance how they might be affected by hurricane season. Use the Flood Risk Scenarios tool to illustrate how tropical storms and heavy rains can cause flooding. Remind them that if it can rain, it can flood. It’s also important to let your clients know that most homeowners insurance policies do not cover floods; instead, only flood insurance provides the financial protection property owners need.
Help your clients protect their assets by encouraging them to obtain flood insurance today. There’s a 30-day waiting period before a flood policy takes effect, so don’t delay in communicating this important message.

Insurance Company Financial Stability

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Insurance companies are rated for financial strength.  Why does that matter?

Insurance is a promise to pay future losses.  If the company does not have a future, no payments.  And some losses are going to happen years down the line.

Property losses tend to be settled shortly after they occur.  You owned a building, it burned, the value is usually relatively easy to establish, you are paid for the loss.  The solvency of your insurance company is not of concern because of time, but because property is exposed to catastrophic threats such as hurricanes, which might bankrupt a small insurance carrier which has not prepared properly.

Liability losses, especially large losses, are usually litigated.  That can take years.  If an insurance company becomes insolvent, that will at a minimum complicate and delay settlement and payment.  An insurance company which misestimates its average losses far in the future will be in trouble.

So, how do you assess the strength of your insurance company?  While states review the strength of insurance companies within their supervision, day to day the best measurement is available from private companies that specialize in rating insurance carriers.

Without getting into a long discussion of the relative merits of the rating companies, one of the best is A.M. Best.  Ratings run from A++ to F, with additional notes for the future (stable, negative, favorable).  Here’s a link to Best’s explanation of their financial strength ratings.    You can sign into Best for free to get basic rating information on most insurance carriers.  (Some decline to submit their results for rating.  Not a great sign about the company.)

Or call GBW Insurance at 1-800-548-2329 and we can give you the information.  We are also paid subscribers and are therefore able to access detailed information as well.  www.GBWinsurance.com