Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Insure Your Snowmobile Property

It's getting to be that time of year, when motorcycles and ATV's are being put away in storage while the snowmobiles are being brought out.  If this winter shapes up anything like last year, than this will be another great year for outside snow-related fun (that should translate into another bitter cold and snowy winter for the rest of us!)

Most people typically know to get out the thick coats, hats, gloves, goggles, and scarves to protect against the worst winter has to offer us, but one should not forget about whether or not they've checked up on their snowmobile insurance to protect them from teh other elements that may occur during the recreational fun.

Just as motorcycles and ATV's have their own type of coverage, so to do snowmobiles.  We offer specially designed policies from industry leaders to make sure you can get the most out of your winter-time fun without the bothersome worries of whether or not you protected properly.

Whether it be physical damage protections to make sure your snowmobile is protected itself or the vast array of liability protection, we strive to make sure you are worry free for the season opener.

While we are not rooting for winter this year, we are rooting for you and the time you'll have this time of year to enjoy the best an Iowan winter has to offer.

Remember just as it is important to do occasional check-ups on your auto, home, motorcycle, and boat policies; it is also a good idea, and a good time, to explore getting or checking up on your snowmobile policy.

Monday, December 1, 2008

You've Got Some Q's: We've Got the A's

Q:  I am a pizza delivery driver and I hit another vehicle.  My policy will cover the damage, right?

A:  NO.  A personal auto policy will not cover a vehicle being used for delivery purposes.  The same policy will also not cover paid-for snowplowing or people transportation (i.e. taxis).

You would need to have a commercial auto policy in order to cover this vehicle and the liability properly.

If you engage in these types of business, call your Absolute Agent today to ensure you have the right policy!

Q:  I failed to pay the renewal, but companies have a grace period, right?

A:  NO.  If the renewal payment has not been paid, then there is no coverage at that moment.  There are no grace periods on renewal payments as the policy period has expired.  These are handled differently than regular monthly bills that do have a short grace period.

Q:  How often should I get my jewelry appraised in order to keep it as a separate rider on my insurance policy.

A:  You'll want to get such things appraised about every 3-5 years.  This is in your best interest as the price of gold and precious metals and stones have increased drastically over the past 2 years.  For instance, if you had a ring appraised in 2002 and it came to a value of $2,000 and now it would appraise at $10,000 in order to replace, then the company would only be responsible for providing the $2,000 in coverage.  As you can see, given the vast increases in value on these types of things, it is very important to update these every 3-5 years.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Get Your Snow Plow Covered Correctly

As the winter months approach with the memory of last year's crazy long wintery months still vivid in our minds, some folks will consider adding a snowplow to their trucks and make a little extra money. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it could turn into a nightmare if you don’t first consider how to insure yourself properly.

The private passenger insurance policy you have for your vehicles is not meant for things such as transporting people for a fee, deliveries, or paid snowplowing.  Your personal auto policy is meant for the purpose of insuring you against the standard perils of to and from work and recreational activities.

Once you get paid for snowplowing, you’ve left the door open for many possible consequences and liability concerns that are not wrapped into a personal auto policy. In the case of snowplowing, or  even delivery driving, you’ll need a commercial policy in order to cover the risks associated properly. While the premium may be a little more, it is worth it in the event that a claim arises as your personal
auto policy will rightfully deny a claim if the vehicles are being used in a commercial manner.

As with most things, careful consideration should be given when thinking about either of these types of activities. Talk with your Absolute Agent to find the best and most affordable way to insure yourself properly before engaging in these types of business pursuits. Often times, a few minutes of going through the in and outs may end up saving you big in the event of a claim or liability concern.

Let us help you find the right policy and price for your needs.  Call us today at 515-279-2722 to ensure you are covered correctly.

Monday, October 13, 2008

You've Got Some Q's: We've Got the A's

Q:  Why does it matter whose name is on the title?

A:  This is an important questions and the answer is because the owner (titled individual) is ultimately liable for the vehicle.  For instance, if you are driving your friend's vehicle, and you get into a horrible accident that is your fault, the owner could still be sued after all insurance has been exhausted.  As the liability of the insurance follows the vehicle, so to does the liability of the titled owner of that vehicle.  Most insurance companies will want the insurance named in the same way the cars are titled.

Q:  Flood insurance will cover my belongings in my basement, right?

A:  No.  Flood insurance has limited coverage in basements period.  In fact, Flood Coverage will only recognize food freezers, heat pumps, sump pumps, water pumps, washers, and dryers as covered property in the basement.  These are NOT covered to replacement cost either.

Q:  I was waved through while trying to get out of a parking lot and was hit by another driver.  Is this my fault since I was waved through?

A:  Yes.  This actually happens quite a bit.  To begin, never rely on another driver to be your eyes and ears on the road.  Often times, the other driver is not looking at all parts of the road to make sure you are safe to pass through.  As the first article in this newsletter explained, be wary that you might be waved through and then hit by the driver that did the waving!  Fact is, only you know when it is best to go through and you can never rely on the judgment of another driver.  Be cautious of these situations, and better to be slow or late than in an accident.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Steering Clear of Staged Accidents

It happens more than you think - a driver causes an accident to collect the insurance money - and you could become the victim.

The Sudden Stop:

  • "It happens like this," says Hartford Special Investigations Manager Odie Waters, "I'm driving along, minding my own business, in rush hour traffic, and the car in front of me inexplicably slams on (the) brakes.  I read-end that car and I get blamed for the accident."  The driver of the first car will claim that a "phantom" dog or child ran into the road, or that the car in front of them had stopped suddenly, although that car will not be involved in the accident.  Any witnesses will have driven off long before the policy arrive, and it's nearly impossible to prove a dog didn't dart out.
Inattentive Targets in Traffic:
  • The drivers in such a scam cruise clogged highways and city streets, watching in the rear view mirror, looking for someone not paying attention.  In the past, two cars might employ a tactic called the "swoop and squat," where one car would crowd the victim from behind and another would stop suddenly in front.
The Phantom Wave:
  • Another type of staged accident can occur when a driver is trying to merge.  The scam artist will wave you into the lane and then crash into the side of your vehicle.  This can also happen when someone is backing out of a parking space.  A second car will stop and wave the first car out, as if waiting for the space, but then drive into the first vehicle.  In both cases, the scam artist denies stopping or waving, and police find the victim at fault for failing to yield the right of way.

Tips to Avoid Staged Accidents
How you can avoid a staged accident:
  • Pay attention to the road - no applying make-up, shaving, texting, or talking on cell phone.
  • Be wary of "beater" cars - especially if they are changing lanes suspiciously.  Even if the driver has no ill-intent, the condition of the car might mean a poor driver
  • Maintain a safe following distance
  • Call policy and the insurance company promptly after an accident.  If the other driver discourages you from doing so, it is all the more important to call promptly
  • Tell your claims handler if the accident seems suspicious

Monday, September 1, 2008

Back to School: Kids in College

As the days slowly close out sooner and the weather begins to cool down, we know it is time for recent high school grads to ship off to college and start their higher education process.  This is a wonderful time for both parents and students alike, but also one that can be emotionally and financially depleting.  As your student goes away to school, some interesting problems can develop in terms of how to cover the property of the new student while living outside the home.

To begin, living arrangements for new students can vary widely, whether they must stay in the dorms or our living in an apartment, or rented home.  Some other issues may present themselves as to whether the student will return home for the breaks and summer, or will they have a permanent address while living in the college town.  Some of the answers to these situations may lead you down different paths for the proper coverage of the students property.

While most companies are willing to extend the personal property out to the student in the event that they are full-time students and their permanent address is still at home, there can be variances on how things are covered in the event that they live in an apartment and consider that their permanent mailing address.

Another aspect to consider is the fact that some of these students will be operating a vehicle while at school and it will become important to correct the vehicle garaging zip code.

Consult your Absolute Agent and describe your situation in order to ensure you have the correct coverage for you and your college student.

Monday, August 18, 2008

You've Got Some Q's: We've Got the A's

Q:  My wife lost her wedding ring while we were on vacation.  Is this covered under my house insurance?

A:  No.  It would have to be stolen in order to be covered UNLESS it was scheduled on the home policy as "Scheduled Personal Property"

Q:  A tree has landed on my house and has caused damage to my home.  Will insurance replace the tree?

A:  No.  Home insurance protects your home and detached structures.  Trees are not covered.

Q:  My vehicle was broken into and personal property was stolen, is this covered under my full coverage auto insurance?

A:  No.  Only items that were attached to the vehicle as stock items are covered.  Personal property losses would only be covered under a home, renters, condo/townhome, or mobile home policy.  Auto insurance never covers personal property.

Q:  Water came up through my sewer drain and destroyed my roommate's belongings.  Will my homeowners insurance cover this?

A:  No.  Your home insurance will cover only those things belonging to you or a family member.  Unless you have Water Back-up coverage, your home insurance would not even cover your belongings.  In this situation, your roommate would need to get a renters insurance policy to cover their belongings in an event of a loss, and in this situation, they would also need to have the renters insurance policy endorsed with the Water Back-up of Sewers and Drains coverage in order to be protected.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Life and Home: Similarities Galore

Why do some people buy houses for their primary residence instead of living in apartments?  In most cases, there are a number of reasons, ranging from the desire to own instead of renting to tax-advantaged growth to building equity to overall security.  Do any of those reasons sound familiar?

Permanent life insurance offers many of the same benefits as home ownership.  You buy a home because you want permanence, a place to put down roots, because you are always going to need a place to live.  Renting an apartment is generally a temporary solution to housing needs.  Buying permanent life insurance, whether it be whole life or universal life, is what one does to cover a need that will always be there.  Term insurance is temporary, and the premiums continue to increase, just like rent on an apartment.

Permanent life insurance also offers equity buildup, just like home ownership does.  The cash values will generally increase year to year and can provide equity that can provide equity that can be tapped for emergencies, for college funding, for additional retirement funding, or for many other needs, just like home equity.  The growing cash values in the permanent life insurance policy also offer tax advantages because you don't pay income taxes on the growth as long as it stays in the policy.  The earnings are income-tax deferred.  You can say the same about a home in that you don't pay income taxes on any increase in the value of your home as long as you live there.  Once you sell the home, you may have capital gains tax to pay on the growth if the gains exceed allowable levels and the money is not reinvested in another home.

Permanent life insurance also offers a peace of mind security, just like a home.  You know it's always there protecting you from whatever storms may come, financial or otherwise.  Term insurance, on the other hand, eventually will go away go away because the price gets too high to continue.

For more information on life insurance, contact your Absolute Agent today!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Off Season: Keep the Boat Insured

Summer is over, and you've taken your boat out of the water.  To save a few dollars, you cancel your boat insurance.  After all, what could possibly happen to your baby while it's hibernating? 

A lot, according to Progressive.  "You'd be shocked at the number of claims filed in colder months," says Dominic Mediate of Progressive.  "Nearly two out every 10 Progressive boat claims filed in northern states happen between Labor Day and Memorial Day."  Don't take a gamble on nothing bad happening.  Common off-season claims include:

  • Fire, theft, vandalism, and flooding:  Most claims are filed for one of these reasons, which can occur anytime of the year.  Without coverage, boats damaged by fire, theft, vandalism, or flooding aren't protected
  • Injuries that occur on or around your boat:  Some boaters don't realize they could be responsible for injuries that occur on or around their boat - even if the injured person was there illegally.  Without liability coverage, you could be responsible for the damages or the injured person's medical bills.  
Keeping your policy all year round might also save you a few bucks.  For example, Progressive's disappearing deductibles reduce your Comprehensive and Collision deductible 25 percent for every claim-free policy period.  Four policy periods in a row without a claim equals a $0 deductible.  Canceling your policy could mean paying more or the entire deductible, generally $500 or $1,000.

Check your policy and consult with your Absolute Agent before making any decisions.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Claims: Q and A

Q:  I own a home and my girlfriend just moved in, is her stuff covered under my home insurance?

A:  No.  Since she is not a relative, there is no automatic coverage for her belongings or liability.  In most cases, there is an endorsement that can be added to the policy to cover her.  In other cases the best thing would be to establish a renters insurance policy.  Either way you go, these are relatively cheap fixes to a little known coverage gap for both property and liability.

Q:  My basement wall is bowing and I'm afraid that it will eventually fall in.  Will my home insurance cover this?

A:  No.  This is a matter of neglected upkeep on the home.  Just as your home insurance will not pay to replace a roof that is deteriorated from normal wear and tear, it will not pay for the repair to the normal pressure of the earth against the foundation walls.  Insurance is protection against sudden and accidental risks, not risks that persist over time and have been neglected.

Q:  If I have an accident that is my fault, will my full coverage pay for a rental car?

A:  No.  Comprehensive and Collision coverage do not pay for rental car reimbursement.  That coverage needs to be endorsed to the policy in order for the coverage to be in effect.  The same applied to Roadside assistance or towing & labor.  Full coverage merely covers physical damage.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Spring Time Fun: Insurance for Toys

Insurance is not like the old one size fits all ball cap.  Rather, people with specialized needs will want to get a policy that provides coverage for those needs in specific.  Often times, especially with boat insurance, it is often overlooked or attached to a homeowners policy to cover liability, however, often times this is truly basic coverage that may not suit your situation.

Most often, it is better to separately insured your toys with specialized policies that can provide coverage for Custom Parts and Equipment or to add coverage to possible belongings, such as fishing equipment on a boat owners policy.

Much like an auto insurance policy, special coverage can be purchased for towing, roadside assistance, and rental reimbursement on many specialty lines products including motorcycle, RV, ATV, boat, and personal watercraft.

Another important, and often times, neglected coverage comes by way of the RV, with an optional replacement cost endorsement (if new) and vacation liability coverage.  These can be added to your specialty lines insurance coverage at reasonable cost and leave you worry-free.

We understand that these aren't just toys, they are a way of like.  Your life.  We pride ourselves in partnering with companies that hold this same view and offer competitive rates for specialty claims centers with representatives trained specifically to handle your custom needs.

Call your Absolute Agent for further details on coverage and rates.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Earthquake Coverage

While we don't live in California, with a constant barrage of information, warnings, and occurences, it is not unknown to the Midwest to have devastating earthquakes occur.

The fault line that we are most concerned with in this region of the US is the New Madrid fault line.  This fault line and Seismic Zone runs between St. Louis and Memphis.

According to some "Danger Zone" maps, most of Iowa would feel the seismic activity while indoors, while Southeastern Iowa could actually have unstable objects overturned.

While it may not lead to the same type of damage seen in California, a substantial amount of property damage could very well be evident in or around Iowa.  Unfortunately, earthquake coverage is not an automatic coverage on your homeowners policy.  It is an endorsement that can be added to your policy and normally functions with a percentage deductible.  By this, a person can have earthquake coverage at a 5% deductible, where the percent derived from your total dwelling coverage.  For example, if your home is insured to $100,000, your 5% deductible would be $5,000.

The cost of this endorsement ranges from company to company along with deductible options but is typically between $40 - $80 per year for this additional coverage being added to your existing homeowners policy.  Call your Absolute Agent for further coverage details.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Water Back-up of Sewers and Drains

As spring rolls in to an already saturated Iowa, make sure you know your risk for Water Back-up of Drains.

Water Back-up of Sewers and Drains is an optional endorsement on a standard home insurance policy that provides coverage in the event of water or sewage backing up through the drains or in the event of sump pump failure.  Neither of which are covered perils on a standard home insurance policy.

Typically, the cost for this coverage ranges between $40-$80 per year per $5,000 in coverage and some companies require that a sump pump be present in order to secure this type of coverage.  Also, many companies will not allow a current client to add the coverage during the term of the policy.  In these cases, it can be added at the time of renewal.  Other companies will have a 30 day waiting period before the coverage takes effect after the endorsement is issued.

The coverage provided is broad in nature and will cover contents, structural damage, and clean up.  Some companies have different deductibles for this type of coverage from the Named Perils deductible that shows on the Declaration page of your Home Insurance Policy.  There are some companies, however, that maintain the same deductible across the board.  Contact your Absolute Agent for further coverage questions and deductible options if you already have the endorsement in place.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Home Claims: How to Keep An Inventory

Keep an inventory of your belongings and updating it periodically is an important aspect to ensuring that the insurance company and properly compensate you for the loss of those belongings at the correct replacement cost.

Some individuals do so with simply keeping a written log of such in a safety deposit box in a bank or at a trusted residence outside their home.  Others will do about the same with photos and video.  These are all great examples of how to protect yourself from a low ball bid from an Insurance Adjuster, or to keep the supplemental checks to a minimum.

Now, as people and society is becoming increasingly paperless, there is a new way to create and save a household inventory.  At, individuals can keep a running log of their belongings and can be stored on your home computer or laptop.

This is a very helpful website that not only can help you in the creation of the inventory (there is a short video you may watch that shows the proper steps), the site can actually store the inventory in a secured "Vault".  This software makes creating a home inventory fun and easy.  Once you have completed your inventory, it is easy to keep your information up-to-date.

However it gets done, it is very important to keep and maintain a household inventory.  While insurance companies usually don't have any problems with that which is "usual and customary" additional items and rather unusual items may be disputed.  As a small caution to this, even though you may have an inventory on all your jewelry, guns, and artwork, that does not necessarily mean that you have adequate coverage.  Those items will still need to be scheduled separately to ensure that they are covered to the full replacement cost.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Scheduled Personal Property Coverage

This blog post focuses on Scheduled Personal Property (SPP) and how to insure it properly for the full replacement value.

As most readers already know, your home insurance covers personal property at a certain percentage of your dwelling coverage.  This percent is usually set at 70%, so if you have a $100,000 policy on your home, then your contents are covered up to $70,000.  While this is good coverage, there are limitations placed on certain types of property.  These types of property include (but not limited to):

  • Jewelry
  • Guns
  • Artwork
  • Antiques
  • Currency
Some of these limits are as low as $1,500 in total per class of items.  Also at stake when looking at these items is that they will fall under the total household deductible.  By this, if your $5,000 wedding ring was stolen, then the company would pay up to the $1,500 minus your deductible (nowadays, a standard home insurance deductible is $1,000).  By this, you would not be able to replace the ring with like kind and quality.  An easy way to get these to replacement value is to get an appraisal for each item that would exceed (or come close to) the limit and get it over to your Absolute Agent.  Not only will the pieces be insured to that value, but they would have a separate deductible of your choosing.  Give us a call today.