When you decide you want to buy your first home, homeowners insurance may not be the first thing you think about. However, most mortgage lenders require you to have homeowners insurance before they will approve your loan. There are a few things you should know about homeowners insurance.

Certain losses are excluded from most homeowners insurance policies. Standard homeowners insurance policies don’t cover floods or earthquakes. If you want coverage for flood or earthquake damage, you will need separate policies for those. If you are in a flood zone, your mortgage lender may require you to purchase flood insurance.

We all know that our credit score is important for many things. Did you know it can also affect your homeowners insurance premium? Some states have banned this practice; however, in most cases your credit score can affect your insurance premium. The better your credit rating, the lower your premium. So while you’re spiffing up your credit rating to get a good deal on your mortgage loan, you should maintain a good rating to save money on your homeowners insurance.

Poor home maintenance may cause a claim to be denied. Not all damages are covered by homeowners insurance. If the damage that occurred to your home is due to your failure to properly maintain your home, your claim may be denied. When it comes to home maintenance, don’t be a procrastinator!

While you are living in your new home, you will acquire new valuables, personal possessions, and may do some home improvements. You should always report these to us right away so we can ensure your coverage is sufficient for your investment. Enjoy your new home, you deserve it!

Source: https://www.hsh.com/first-time-homebuyer/facts-about-home-insurance.html

On average, the roughly 1.5 million to 2 million people in the U.S. who drive for both Uber and Lyft earn $18.15 an hour before expenses. Just one car accident, though, could easily eat up that money—and more. That’s why Uber and Lyft drivers likely need separate rideshare insurance to supplement both personal auto insurance and the coverage that’s automatically provided by rideshare companies. A driver’s financial stability could ride on whether they’ve got rideshare insurance.

To understand the insurance for rideshare driving, it’s important to know the three phases while a rideshare app is on:

1. Available: The driver is available to pick up a passenger.

2. En route: The driver has accepted a ride and is on the way to pick up the passenger.

3. On the trip: The driver has picked up the passenger and is on the way to the passenger’s destination.

When an Uber or Lyft driver’s rideshare app is off, their personal auto insurance applies. But when the app is on, Uber and Lyft provide some coverage on the driver’s behalf. Personal auto coverage typically excludes rideshare trips. That’s because your auto insurance company has priced the policy assuming you’re driving yourself, relatives and/or friends, and that you aren’t earning money from private trips and putting a lot of extra miles on your car.

As a result, a rideshare driver’s personal auto policy typically won’t supply coverage while you’re making rideshare trips. A rideshare driver might be happy with the insurance provided by the rideshare company, especially if the driver carries only the minimum personal auto insurance required by the state. In those cases, a million dollars in liability coverage from Uber can look like a major bonus.

But, there can still be gaps, which is where rideshare insurance comes in. For example, rideshare companies don’t provide collision or comprehensive insurance when the app is on and the driver is waiting for a ride request. And a personal auto policy that includes collision and comprehensive likely won’t cover that period. So, if you accidentally back into a pole, you’d have no insurance for the damage. Without additional rideshare coverage from their personal auto insurer, drivers may find their existing coverage may not apply to a loss that occurs while they are acting as a rideshare driver.

We can provide coverage from many insurance carriers so you receive the insurance for your budget and needs!

Source: https://www.forbes.com/advisor/car-insurance/rideshare-insurance/

If your home is left unoccupied for weeks or months at a time, your standard homeowners insurance policy might not provide coverage in the event of a claim. Any damages or losses that occur would have to be paid out of pocket unless you have vacant property insurance. 

Unoccupied and vacant homes present a greater insurance risk than an occupied home. The emergency response time is slower and there is an increased probability of a break-in occurring. This increased risk has resulted in the exclusion of these properties in a standard homeowners insurance policy. If you own an empty or vacant house, you should purchase vacant property insurance to protect yourself and your home.

Generally speaking, if your home is left unattended for 30 days or more you’ll want to purchase vacant property insurance. Before leaving your home vacant for an extended period of time, you should contact your insurance agent and discuss how your insurance carrier defines vacancy. Below are some scenarios where a homeowner might find the need for vacant property insurance.

  • You own a vacant home that you only visit a few times per year.
  • You’ve purchased a home, but won’t be moving in for several weeks.
  • You’re constantly traveling for weeks at a time.
  • You’re remodeling your home and won’t be living there during renovations.
  • You’re renting out your home and you’re in between tenants.

Source: https://www.valuepenguin.com/unoccupied-and-vacant-home-insurance

According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are an average of 385,500 residential fires every year. While taking out a Homeowners insurance policy with fire insurance coverage will help protect you from the costs incurred from a house fire, following these fire safety tips can help prevent a fire from starting in your home. 

Fire Safety Tip #1: Don’t Smoke Indoors

Smoking indoors can cause more damage than you may realize. Over 18,000 fires are started by smoking materials annually, causing $476 million of property damage. While it’s best not to smoke indoors or on exterior balconies or porches, if you do, be sure to completely extinguish any cigarettes and never smoke when there’s a chance you might fall asleep. 

Fire Safety Tip #2: Keep Your Dryer Clean

It may surprise you but completing common household chores like cleaning the lint trap in your dryer can help prevent fires. In 2010-2014, U.S. fire departments responded to almost 16,000 home structure fires involving clothes dryers or washing machines each year. In addition to keeping your washer and dryer clean, it’s best to only run them when you will be home to supervise, that way if a fire starts, you can take immediate action. 

Fire Safety Tip #3: Practice Summer Grill Safety

Over 10,000 house fires a year are attributed to grills and fire pits. Whether it’s because people use their grill too close to their home or they use the wrong fire starter to ignite the charcoal grill or fire pit, practicing summer grill safety can help prevent fires from starting. This includes everything from grill placement, making sure your grill is clean, safely disposing of charcoal briquettes, and never leaving your grill on while unattended. 

Fire Safety Tip #4: Don’t Leave Candles Unattended

Candles can create a relaxing ambiance for your home, but unattended candles can be incredibly dangerous. In fact, from 2011-2015, over 8,500 fires a year were started by candles, with $295 million in property damage. Never leave candles in a room unattended, especially if you have children or pets, and always make sure to clear the area around a candle of anything that could possibly ignite, including decorations, curtains, papers, etc. 

Fire Safety Tip # 5: Practice Firework Safety 

Fireworks and sparklers account for roughly 15,000 fires per year, including house fires, vehicle fires, and outdoor fires. To avoid injury and potential fires, it’s important to practice firework safety, including only using legal fireworks, having a designated area for setting off fireworks, only lighting off one firework at a time, only letting responsible adults use sparklers and fireworks, and properly disposing of firework remnants after they’ve been used. 

Fire Safety Tip # 6: Create a Wildfire Defensible Space

While wildfires are powerful and unpredictable, there are safety tips you can try if you live in an area threatened by wildfires to help create a wildfire defensible space, which could prevent the spread of wildfires. To do so, you might consider actions like keeping your lawn and plants watered, clearing away brush and debris, using fire-resistant shrubs and plants, storing firewood away from your home, and keeping your roof and gutters clear of leaves, needles, and debris. You’ll also want to practice additional fire safety if your area is experiencing a drought like nearly half of Washington state.

Smart technology and devices continue to revolutionize how we live. Most people want to stay up to date on the latest trends and technologies. It is estimated that there will be over 73 million smart homes by 2021. So if you want to be one of these trend setters, you will want to read this list of how you can start to make your home a smart home!

  1. The first, and most important, step to making your home a smart home is to get a smart home digital assistant. The two most popular home assistants are Amazon Echo (with Alexa) and Google Home. You can purchase either one of these at www.bestbuy.com 
  2. Adding smart light bulbs is another great way to make your home smarter. Using your smart home digital assistant you can control all the smart lights in your home via voice control or by the push of a button. You can also have different settings for the lighting in each room, and turn lights on and off when you’re not home!
  3. Installing a smart thermostat is a great way to automate the temperature throughout your home and can even save you money on your electric bill! Some smart thermostats can learn your favorite temperatures and even sense when people aren’t home to regulate the temperature.
  4. Replacing your regular doorbell with a smart doorbell is another step to making your home smarter and safer. Smart doorbells come with HD cameras so you can see who is at your door via your mobile device. You can also communicate through your smart doorbell if you need to.
  5. If you hate running the vacuum, you will definitely want a smart vacuum. High quality smart vacuums come with great sensors that allow them to navigate throughout your home and clean autonomously! Some also come with Wi-Fi connectivity so it allows you to control it via your smartphone.

Source: https://thesmarthomer.com/how-to-make-your-home-a-smart-home/

You don’t have to live in a flood-prone area to encounter flooding in your home. This can happen at any time to anyone! Flooding can be caused by more than just natural disasters. If you own a home, you need flood insurance. There are two different types of flood insurance: the National Flood Insurance Program and private flood insurance. The area you live in will determine which type of flood insurance is best for you. 

The National Flood Insurance Program is a flood insurance that is offered through FEMA. If you are located in one of the 21,000 communities that participate in this program, you should be eligible for both types of coverage offered by the National Flood Insurance Program. The two types are building property coverage and personal property coverage. Building property coverage is “replacement cost value” coverage. This means that building property coverage covers the cost to repair or replace your home up to $250,000. Personal property coverage replaces up to $100,000 of items in your home. 

The other type of flood insurance is private flood insurance. Private flood insurance premiums vary based on the insurance companies that offer it. Speak with your insurance agent regarding cost and coverage plans. 

You may qualify for both the National Flood Insurance Program and private flood insurance. Depending on the value of your home and contents in it, you might be better off getting both to protect yourself in the event of a flood. 

Flood Facts: 

  • Just one inch of water can cause more than $20,000 in damage. 
  • It takes just six inches of fast-moving water to sweep an adult off their feet and 12 inches of water to sweep a car away. 
  • Flash floods typically carry water between 10 and 20 feet high. 
  • If you live in a 100-year flood plain, your home has a 1% chance of flooding each year. 
  • Moving water at 10 mph carries the same pressure as wind blowing at 270 mph. 
  • If your home is in a flood plain and you have a federally backed mortgage, you are required by law to carry flood insurance.

Source: https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/need-flood-insurance

If you own a vehicle, you should own an auto insurance policy. Have you ever wondered how the cost of your policy is determined? There are a number of different factors that impact the cost of your auto insurance. While not all companies use the same parameters, we will help you understand what commonly determines the bottom line of your auto policy. 

First, your driving record – The better your record, the lower your premiums. If you have been in accidents or had serious traffic violations, it is likely you will pay higher premiums. How much you use your car is also considered while determining the cost of your premium. The more miles you drive, the more chance for an accident. Even where you park is taken into consideration. Do you park in a secure garage? Or do you park on a street?

Other factors taken into consideration while determining your auto insurance costs are: your age, your gender, the car you drive, and the amount of auto insurance you wish to carry. Mature drivers generally have fewer accidents than beginners. Statistics show that women are involved in fewer accidents, and when women are involved in an accident they tend to be less severe than men. The cost of your car and the amount of insurance coverage you want to carry are major factors in the cost of your policy as well.

Source: https://www.iii.org/article/what-determines-price-my-auto-insurance-policy

🌷Spring is here!  🌸  After a long dark and cold winter, the bright sun and warm winds of the spring are a breath of fresh air! The only downside? All that sunlight helps you see your leaf-filled gutters, cracked sidewalks, and dead plants in the flower beds. Get your home in shape for spring with this checklist!

1. Examine Roof Shingles: Examine the roof to see if any shingles were lost or damaged under the winter snow and ice.

2. Check the Gutters: Loose or leaky gutters can cause improper drainage, which can lead to water in your basement or crawlspace during the spring rain.

3. Inspect the Concrete: Inspect concrete slabs for signs of cracks or movement. Fill cracks with concrete crack filler or silicone caulk, power-wash, and then seal the concrete.

4. Remove Firewood: Firewood stored near the home for winter should be moved at least 18 inches off the ground and at least 2 feet from the structure.

5. Check Outside Faucets: Check outside faucets for freeze damage. While you’re at it, check your garden hose for dry rot.

6. Repair Window Screens: You will want to open the windows to let the fresh air in. Ensure small holes and tears are repaired so bugs don’t get in.

This is just a short list of items you can do to prepare your home for the spring. Winter was nice and cozy but, we are ready for the spring sunshine! While you are preparing your home for the spring, it is a great time to review your homeowners insurance! 

Source: https://www.hgtv.com/lifestyle/clean-and-organize/10-home-maintenance-tips-for-spring-pictures

winter driving

Icy weather can create challenging, and potentially dangerous, driving conditions in the winter months. Black ice forms on roadways and can produce a nearly invisible hazard. As temperatures approach freezing, icy conditions can develop, especially on roadways where elevation is higher, and bridges and overpasses. Adjusting your driving behavior for these conditions can help keep you, and others around you, safe on the road this winter.

Recognize Local Forecast

Changing winter weather can present hazards for drivers unaware of the local weather forecast. Knowing when ice may be present is an important first step. If you plan to drive in an area where snow or ice may be possible, check conditions in advance. You can sign up for weather alerts to receive text messages and optional alerts for your area. Just make sure not to use your smartphone while driving, as you will want your full concentration on the road.

Be Aware of Other Drivers

Even if you know the area and are familiar with driving on icy roads, other drivers may not be as experienced or aware of potential dangers. It’s important to increase your following distance to compensate for the increased stopping time it can take for you and other drivers to stop on slick surfaces. Be aware that larger vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, may require even longer to stop in adverse weather conditions.

Practice Caution in All Vehicle Types

While four-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, Electronic Stability Control and other safety features can help you to drive more safely in the snow and ice, they may not be able to help drivers to safely drive at regular speed limits during snowy, slushy or icy conditions. The National Safety Council recommends a three-second following distance during ideal road and weather conditions, and suggests slowing down and increasing following distances during adverse weather conditions or when visibility is reduced. Depending on your vehicle and where you live, you may want to consider whether snow tires are necessary in the winter months.

Expect Changing Road Conditions

Even the day after a storm, road conditions can remain challenging as road crews work to clear snow and ice. The roads may be clear in one area and icy in another due to elevation, road treatment and other factors. Freezing and melting precipitation can create new dangers overnight. As air temperatures rise above 32 degrees, roadways may retain pockets of ice that can be dangerous to drivers.

Know Where to Stop Safely

Deciding to stay home or to get off the roads when conditions turn icy can be a smart safety decision. Make sure that you choose a safe spot to wait for conditions to improve. Rest stops and parking lots are generally safer than the side of the road, where limited visibility may create hazards from snowplows and other traffic.

Encourage Safe Driving

If you have friends or family planning to travel during the winter months, offer them a chance to opt-out of travel if conditions appear hazardous. For parents of newer drivers, consider creating rules about driving in snow and ice, and talk with your teens about the importance of changing their driving behavior during the winter months.

Icy conditions may present challenges for drivers, but there are steps that you can take to stay safer and to anticipate potential hazards. Know the local weather forecast, slow your speed, increase your following distance, allow yourself extra travel time and be prepared for unexpected icy conditions on the road. Just like other people’s driving, winter weather can be unpredictable.

But even the safest, most experienced drivers can get into an accident. That’s why it’s important to have the right insurance to protect you and your vehicle. At A.C. Marmo & Sons, Inc., your road safety is very important to us. Call us at 973-340-9100 or visit our website at https://www.acmarmo.com/ to discuss your auto insurance needs.

Source: https://www.travelers.com/resources/auto/safe-driving/how-to-drive-in-icy-conditions

animals-dog-cat-crop

The holidays are filled with joy, laughter and time spent with family and friends. In the bustle of the season, however, it’s easy to forget these festivities aren’t always pet friendly. We at A.C. Marmo & Sons, Inc. know how important our pets can be to the whole family. Here are some reminders to keep your furry friends out of the vet clinic this holiday season, and visit us at https://www.acmarmo.com/ to consider us for your pet insurance needs.

When Decorating

Many traditional holiday decorations can be toxic to your pets. Plants that are typically used such as poinsettias, lilies, ivy, pine, and mistletoe can cause harm to your pets. Christmas trees can also be dangerous. Prevent your dogs or cats from chewing on limbs or pine needle droppings from the tree. Ingested pine needles could get lodged in the intestinal tract, puncturing the lining or bunching together and causing an intestinal obstruction. When decorating the tree, position your tree’s lights and tinsel draping away from the bottom of the tree where pets can get to them. The water base of a Christmas tree contains dangerous chemicals that could harm your pet. Don’t leave candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves, or accidentally knock them over and spill wax or start a fire.

Having Guests

Spending time with family and friends is part of the holiday fun. However; if you have guests coming in and out of your home this may be stressful to pets. Though the excitement of a party may overwhelm some pets, keep your pets inside during cold weather and provide plenty of toys to keep them busy. If needed, provide your cat or dog with a quiet room or crate during holiday parties and/or prepare ahead of time to discourage barking. Inform your visitors ahead of time that you have a pet.

Dinner Time

Holiday meals are a crowd favorite. Many guests may be tempted to share the goodies with your pets. Verify with them what is and is not safe for pets before they do. If your pets will be partaking in your dinner festivities, only share pet safe foods. Foods your pet can safely eat include: pumpkin, green beans, peas, carrots, apples (never the core or seeds), spinach, winter squash, corn (no cobs, as they can cause intestinal blockage), melon, berries, and bananas. Bones should not be given because they easily splinter and can cause serious health problems (even death) for your pet. Chocolate—which is toxic to dogs, cats and ferrets—and any candy containing the toxic sweetener Xylitol should be avoided. Keep foods containing citric acid away from your pets. Foods such as cherry pits, peach pits and apple seeds contain essential oils that have the ability to cause irritations and even central nervous system depression if a significant amount is ingested. Coffee grounds, beans and chocolate-covered espresso beans should be kept out of reach. Raw eggs, grapes and raisons, nuts, onions, and salt should also be kept out of your pet’s food dish.

We hope these tips can help you and your pets have a great holiday season. Visit us at https://www.acmarmo.com/ to view our pet insurance options for peace of mind with your pets safety all year round. Warm wishes from all of us at A.C. Marmo & Sons, Inc.

Sources: https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/holiday-safety-tips-pets and https://www.purina.com/articles/dog/care/5-holiday-safety-tips-for-pets and https://www.billingsanimalfamilyhospital.com/holiday-food-for-pets/