Mortgage Life Insurance – Is There a Better Way?

Posted by Alex Boyer on Wed, Apr 27, 2016

mature-couple 

Many of our clients are bombarded with mailed solicitations for the purchase of Mortgage Life Insurance. A common question they ask us, particularly those for whom we write homeowner’s insurance, is:

"Do I need, or should I get, Mortgage Life Insurance?”

Our short answer is that, like much life insurance, Mortgage Life Insurance can be helpful in the right circumstance. However, there may be far better alternatives for you and your family.

Let us share 5 reasons why you should speak to E & K about Term Life Insurance, as compared to Mortgage Life Insurance, if you are concerned about how to leave your family without the worries of a mortgage should something happen to you.

  1. Unlike most Mortgage Life Insurance, with Term Life Insurance your coverage amount will not decline as your mortgage balance declines.
  2. Your family may use the proceeds of Term Life Insurance for whatever they deem necessary.  This may be to pay off your mortgage, but it doesn’t have to be. Your family may use the proceeds for other important household, medical or college expenses  It’s nice to have that flexibility when you never know what life may throw at you.
  3. As the owner of your Term Life Insurance, you can pick the beneficiaries. The beneficiary doesn’t have to be the bank holding your mortgage.
  4. Even though you pay the premiums of a Mortgage Life Insurance policy, the bank, not you, usually owns the policy and is the beneficiary – not your family.
  5. You may have to replace your Mortgage Life Insurance policy if you refinance your home. Aside from being a pain, health changes may make you less insurable in the future. With Term Life Insurance, you don’t have to replace your policy just because you refinance your home.

Let E & K help you make the best life insurance decisions for your family.  We can help you structure protection with the flexibility you want that makes sense with your budget.

Please call us to speak to one of our life insurance professionals and, as always, thank you for giving E & K the opportunity to service your insurance needs.

This is not an offer of coverage or a solicitation of insurance to anyone outside of the State of New Jersey. Policy descriptions provided here are not statements of contract. Please refer to the policy forms for full disclosure of all benefits and limitations. Please note that any life insurance offered by insurance companies through E & K as an agent of the companies is not a deposit, not FDIC or NCUSIF insured, not guaranteed by the institution, not insured by any federal government agency and may lose value.

Tags: Homeowner Insurance, E&K Insurance, Homeowner, Insurance, Homeowners insurance, term life insurance, mortgage, mortgage life insurance, life insurance

Only 1 in 3 Know When Puppies Become Dogs

Posted by Alex Boyer on Tue, Apr 19, 2016

Please enjoy this article on dogs and pet safety, courtesy of Selective Insurance company.

dog1.jpg

Each of us may not see eye to eye on everything, but here's something we all can agree on: Puppies are pretty doggone precious. Who among us doesn't melt at the sight of a young pug's scrunched snout or fall to pieces looking into the doughy eyes of a tender-aged Labrador?

Where there's less like-mindedness, however, is exactly when puppies transition to full-grown pooches, according to a newly released survey.

Veterinarians indicate that puppies shed their pup status usually by the time they turn 1 year old. Talk to your average dog owner, though, and few realize that this is the case - even though they may think they know. Nearly half of respondents in a recent poll, conducted by pet food company Royal Canin, said they could determine when dogs moved into adulthood. In reality, however, less than 1 in 3 got the answer right.

Of course, age isn't the only thing that changes when young canines become dogs. Their behaviors do as well. In fact, a number of people wrongly believed that dogs' activity levels determined when puppies became adults, the poll found. Approximately 1 in 4 said it had to do with their teeth, specifically when their incisors and fangs grew in.

One-third of all home insurance claims relate to dog bites

Unfortunately, a number of people are all too familiar with just how sharp dogs' teeth can be, as thousands of bites happen every year, often affecting young children. You may be surprised to learn that nearly one-third of all homeowners insurance claims are dog bite-related, according to the Insurance Information Institute. For example, in 2014 - the latest year that data is available - the number of dog bite claims fell by 5% from the previous year. However, the cost of treating dog bite injuries rose, averaging over $32,000 per claim from $27,850.

While some dog bites may not penetrate the skin, even one bite is one too many. With National Dog Bite Prevention Week approaching, the following are a few basic things you can do to ensure your four-legged companion becomes a well-adjusted adult:

Seek out dog training
Hiring a dog trainer may be an expense, but it's well worth the investment, as both you and your dog will learn basic commands like "Sit," "Heel," and "Stay." Obedience classes can also help your puppy calm down and be less hyper. Excess energy can sometimes lead to a bite due to over aggressiveness or biting too hard during play.

dog2.jpgConsistency is a key element to effective dog training.

Be respectful of a dog's space
If you have children, make sure they understand that dogs are just like people, in that they don't want to be bothered during times when calm is necessary, like when they're eating or sleeping.

Socialize your dog
The more your dog is around people, the easier it will be for your pet to behave properly when prompted. However, if still a puppy, it's best to introduce new interactions at a more gradual pace rather than all at once, which may be overwhelming and result in overstimulation.

For more tips on dog bite prevention, visit the American Humane Association's website.

Tags: Homeowner Insurance, Insurance, Homeowners insurance, pet owners, pets, dogs, pet safety

If We Talked About Flood Insurance

Posted by Alex Boyer on Sun, Mar 20, 2016

78461323_flood
The transcript of an imaginary conversation between you and E & K Agency about a flood policy.

E&K: Are you aware that you don't have any protection for your home and its contents in the event of flood damage?

You: I buy my homeowners insurance from you. Doesn't that cover me for flood?

E&K: No. Nobody's homeowners policy covers damage caused by flood. What you need is a special flood policy to protect your house. And since your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you are eligible to purchase this coverage.

You: Why should I buy a policy now? Can't I just order it when the weather turns bad?

E&K: It doesn't work that way. There is a 30-day waiting period before coverage begins, so now is the right time to buy.
 
You: How much flood insurance should I get?
 
E&K: The NFIP allows you to purchase up to $250,000 on your home and $100,000 on your contents. A deductible applies. If you want more coverage than this, I can get you the numbers.

You: How much will an NFIP flood policy cost with those limits?

E&K: Your annual rate can be as low as a few hundred dollars or less for lower limits! Your actual cost depends on the location, construction and age of your home. Special lower rates apply to you because participates in the NFIP! 

You: Great. How do I sign up for the policy? 
  
E&K: It's easy. Just give me a call at 732-389-6000 or email
ProtectMe@e-kinsurance.com and I'll get everything started for you.
 

Tags: Flood, Homeowner Insurance, E&K Insurance, Insurance, Flood Insurance, Flood insurance policy, Homeowners insurance

Winterization and Preventing Ice Dams with MAPFRE Insurance

Posted by Alex Boyer on Sun, Dec 13, 2015

Winter's on its way, so make sure you're prepared to winterize your home with some help from our friends at MAPFRE Insurance. Be sure to take their Winter Challenge at mapfreusa.com! #prep4winter

See the full PDF version here.

Also see how to prevent frozen pipes this winter.

ice_dams

Tags: Homeowner Insurance, E&K Insurance, House, Insurance, home, winter, Homeowners insurance, ice dams, winterization

Halloween is Past, but the Mischief of Kids Continues: Why You Need a Personal Umbrella Policy

Posted by Alex Boyer on Mon, Nov 16, 2015

Real-World Case Study: Don’t Let this Nightmare Happen

kids


umbrella_policy

Zack couldn’t believe his luck: Discovering leftover Fourth of July fireworks in the garage just in time for Halloween. He couldn’t wait to tell his best friend, Fletcher.

While their parents were soundly asleep on Halloween night, the inseparable pair snuck out to give the neighborhood a midnight treat. Suppressing giggles, Zack lit the inaugural bottle rocket — it zoomed off-course and landed underneath their neighbor’s car.

The friends rushed over to try to kick it out, but they were too slow — the car caught on fire in moments and as they looked on in disbelief, the tree in the yard and the home followed. By the time firefighters were at the scene, extensive damage was already done.

Because of “vicarious parental liability,” Zack’s parents were on the hook for his actions, even though they weren’t present and didn’t know what he was up to.

After their homeowners liability limit was exhausted, their standalone personal umbrella policy covered the rest of the damage.

Claim: $620,000

Contact E &K for a quote. Policies start at about $20 a month.

Thanks to our friends at personalumbrella.com for this real-world claim experience.

Tags: Homeowner Insurance, Liability, umbrella policy, umbrella liability coverage, Homeowners insurance, homeowner policy, personal insurance, parental liability, vicarious parental liability

How to Prepare for a Hurricane

Posted by Alex Boyer on Tue, Aug 25, 2015

It's hurricane season, so we have some tips and information to get you prepared, courtesy of our friends at Travelers Insurance.

EK_content_full_width_prep_hurricane

Your level of preparation before a hurricane can determine how well you weather the storm and how quickly you recover from it. You should start preparing your home, inside and out, long before a storm is in the forecast. In the end, you can never be too prepared when it comes to protecting your loved ones and your property from extreme weather events such as hurricanes.

Know the Forecast

You may hear the terms "hurricane watch" and "hurricane warning" in your local forecast. Understanding the difference between them is essential to helping you prepare for a hurricane. As soon as a hurricane watch or warning is forecast for your area, it is important, depending on the type of alert, to immediately begin or complete your preparations.

A watch means hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours. You should begin to stock up on emergency supplies in the event a warning is issued. If you live in a coastal area, you also should be prepared to evacuate.

A warning is more serious. Hurricane-force winds (74 mph or higher) are expected to hit your area within 36 hours. You should seek shelter or evacuate, if notified to do so.

General Hurricane Preparation Tips

  • Prepare a survival kit that includes items such as water and non-perishable food for everyone, including your pets; medications; a portable radio; flashlights; batteries; and battery chargers for your cell phones and other portable electronic devices, which can be powered by your car.
  • Plan your evacuation route and leave as soon as an evacuation order is issued. Also, fuel up your car before you leave.
  • Build a content inventory of the items in your home or at your business.
  • Secure all outdoor objects or move them inside. Close your home’s storm shutters and board up windows and glass doors as appropriate.
  • If possible, bring in gas or charcoal grills, but do not use them indoors. Also, do not store propane tanks inside the house or garage. Chain propane tanks in an upright position to a secure object away from your home.
  • Secure your boat or move it to a safer place.
  • Fill your emergency generator fuel tank, if you have one, and have spare fuel on hand. Store generator fuel in an approved container in a garage or shed, away from open flames, heat sources and appliances such as natural gas appliances.

Five Tips to Help Prepare Your Home for a Hurricane

1. Help Avoid Water Damage

Heavy rains have the potential to cause significant water damage. These tips can help you prepare your home.

  • Closing and locking all windows and doors and removing any window air conditioners.
  • Removing valuable items from your basement or elevating them off of the floor.
  • Clearing debris from exterior drains and gutters.
  • Repairing damaged gutters and downspouts to make sure water can drain away from your foundation.
  • Checking your sump pump and the battery backup to confirm they are working properly.

2. Monitor Your Trees

In a powerful windstorm, trees can be a hazard. Broken limbs or fallen trees – even uprooted shrubbery – could damage your home and fences, or your neighbor's property.

Routinely maintain the trees around your home:

  • Prune tree limbs within 10 feet of your home.
  • Check for cracking or splitting in trees.
  • Remove dead limbs and weakened trees.

3. Roofs, Doors, Windows and Skylights

It is important to keep wall openings, such as doors, windows and skylights protected. The roof, doors and windows of your house are especially vulnerable to wind damage. When houses are exposed to hurricane force winds, roofs are most susceptible to damage, followed by walls and openings such as skylights.

Strengthen doors and windows by:

4. Secure Outdoor Items

If you live in an area that experiences high winds, outdoor items around your property that are not properly anchored can become airborne and cause damage.

  • If high winds are expected in your area, move as many outdoor items indoors well before the high winds arrive. As mentioned earlier, do not store propane tanks in your home or garage.
  • Adequately secure any remaining outdoor items that cannot be safely moved to protected areas.

5. Strengthen Your Exterior Structure

During a windstorm, wind forces are carried from the roof down to the exterior walls and then to the foundation. Homes can be damaged when wind and wind-driven water gets under the building’s exterior walls if proper controls are not in place.

Strengthen exteriors by employing a contractor to:

 

To read more about prevention tips and storm preparedness, visit travelers.com.

Tags: Hurricane preparation, Homeowner Insurance, E&K Insurance, Safe, Insurance, safety, Homeowners insurance, prepare, storm damage

E & K Applauds this Win for all Insurance Consumers

Posted by Alex Boyer on Fri, Apr 17, 2015

The Asbury Park Press reports that "buyers of homeowners insurance policies will receive an easy-to-read, one-page summary of their coverage starting in June, according to an announcement Tuesday from the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance."

Screen_Shot_2014-04-02_at_9.09.54_PM

The coverage synopsis is the result of a law passed in May 2013 as a reaction to some of the confusion surrounding homeowners insurance and superstorm Sandy.

E & K applauds this win for all insurance consumers.

 

"As we worked with New Jersey consumers following that devastating storm, we saw that some homeowners didn't fully understand their homeowners insurance policy," said Banking and Insurance Commissioner Ken Kobylowski in a statement. "For example, some consumers believed that that homeowners policy covers flood damage. It does not. Flood insurance must be purchased separately. This one-page summary is one way the state is working to raise awareness of insurance issues so consumers understand clearly what their policies do and do not cover."

Read the full article in the Asbury Park Press.

Tags: Hurricane Sandy, Homeowner Insurance, E&K Insurance, NJ, Homeowner, House, Insurance, New Jersey natural disaster, home, FEMA, Superstorm, New Jersey, Homeowners insurance, coverage, Emergency Storm Claim Center, homeowner policy, storm damage

It's Flood Awareness Week

Posted by Alex Boyer on Tue, Apr 07, 2015

 Screen_Shot_2014-05-01_at_5.03.27_PM

This week is Flood Awareness Week, and the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management had some tips and information regarding flooding:

Flooding is a coast-to-coast threat to the United States nearly every day of the year. New Jersey is no exception. This week we will talk about how to stay safe in a flood event. If you know what to do before, during, and after a flood you can increase your chances of survival.

Flood Basics

WHAT: Flooding is an overflowing of water onto land that is normally dry. Flooding may happen with only a few inches of water, or it may cover a house to the rooftop.

WHEN: Flooding can occur during every season, but some areas of the country are at greater risk at certain times of the year. Coastal areas are at greater risk for flooding during hurricane season (i.e., June to November), while the Midwest is more at risk in the spring and during heavy summer rains. Ice jams occur in the spring in the Northeast and Northwest. Even the deserts of the Southwest are at risk during the late summer monsoon season.

WHERE: Flooding can happen in any U.S. state or territory. It is particularly important to be prepared for flooding if you live in a low-lying area near a body of water, such as near a river, stream, or culvert; along a coast; or downstream from a dam or levee.

For more information, Northeast NJ residents and commuters to/from NYC, please visit: http://www.weather.gov/okx/.

For the rest of New Jersey, please visit: http://www.weather.gov/phi/.

To keep up with the latest in New Jersey emergency management, follow the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management on Facebook and on Twitter and Instagram @ReadyNJ.

And, of course, be sure to visit E&K for information on flood insurance and flood risks in New Jersey.

Tags: Flood, Homeowner Insurance, E&K Insurance, NJ, Insurance, New Jersey natural disaster, home, Flood Insurance, Flood insurance policy, New Jersey, Homeowners insurance, homeowner policy

Tips from the Governor's Office on Filing Insurance Claims

Posted by Kenneth Auerbach on Thu, Nov 01, 2012

In the aftermath of storm Sandy, one of the most devastating storms to ever strike New Jersey, the Christie Administration and Department of Banking and Acting Insurance Commissioner Ken Kobylowski today offered guidance to New Jersey consumers on filing insurance claims to restore damaged homes and repair or replace property.
“The first consideration is safety. People should wait until it is absolutely safe to return to their homes before doing so. Once people are safely able to inspect their property, there are a few basic steps they can follow to file their insurance claims, restore their property and move forward with their lives."
“Filing claims is a significant process, especially at a time when a resident has lost a home or suffered major damage to property as a result of Sandy," Acting Commissioner Kobylowski said. "But it is essential to getting all the help that consumers are entitled to under their policies."
"I urge consumers to contact their insurance carriers as soon as possible and get the process started. The State's insurance companies are facing an unusual event in New Jersey, but they are prepared for an increased level of activity."
The Acting Commissioner offered the following suggestions to New Jersey residents:

Following the Disaster
Once it is safe to return home, assess the damage and make temporary repairs or arrange for a qualified professional to do so in order to protect your property. Most policies cover these temporary repairs if the damage is due to a covered loss. Take photos of the damage and remove personal property if your home cannot be secured. Make a list of damaged property. Do not dispose of property until an insurance adjuster has reviewed it for your claim. Many policies include reimbursement for storage costs incurred until your home is repaired.
Make sure you know what is in your policy and what coverage options are available for your cleanup and repair efforts.  If you can still live in your home, talk with your agent or insurer about critical repairs that need to be made. Whether you make the repairs or hire someone, save the receipts for your claim and take pictures of the damage before you start the temporary repairs.
If you need to find other lodging, keep records of expenses and all receipts. Homeowners and renter's insurance generally provide limited coverage for expenses like: meals, rent,utility installation and transportation if the reason you must leave your home is due to a covered loss, but if the loss is not covered, you will not be reimbursed for these additional living expenses.
 Reporting Your Claim
Most insurance companies have a time requirement for filing a claim. The process will go faster if you can locate a copy of your policy, home inventory and have your insurer's contact information.
Call the company or visit a mobile claims center to start your claim. If you cannot find the company or agent's number, call the Department at 1-800-446-7467.
You will be asked to list all items destroyed, damaged or missing. If you do not have a home inventory, begin making a list of items going room by room from memory. Include as much detail as possible, like where and when the item was purchased, the cost, brand name and model. If your car is damaged while in your garage/carport, it is covered by your automobile policy —not your homeowners policy. If you are insured by two separate companies for these policies you must file a claim with both companies.

Handling the Claim
Your insurance company will send an insurance adjuster to survey the damage at no cost to you. Public adjusters may offer services to represent you, but you would be responsible for any related fees, which is normally a percentage of the amount the insurance company pays you. You do not need to hire a public adjuster in order for the insurance company to adjust your claim. If you choose to hire a public adjuster, check to be sure they are licensed with the Department and ask for references and qualifications before retaining a public adjuster.
Try to be present when the adjuster inspects your property. You may also wish to have a contractor present or ask a contractor to review the adjuster's inspection report before settling the claim.
Do not feel rushed or pushed to agree on a settlement. If there are disagreements, try to resolve them with your insurer. If you cannot reach an agreement, the Department can help you decide if arbitration or mediation is an option.
Your full claim may come in multiple payments. If you have extensive damage or cannot live in your home, the first will likely be an emergency advance and may include additional living expenses. The payment for your personal property and any additional living expenses will be made out to you. Payments for the structure may be payable to you and your lien holder if there is a mortgage on your home. Lenders may place that money in an escrow account to pay for repairs as the work is completed. If you hired a public adjuster, payment will also include the adjuster.
Repairing the Damage
Fraudsters often take advantage of the chaos following a disaster. When choosing a contractor to make repairs, check licensing and references before hiring. Always insist on a written estimate before repairs begin and do not sign any contracts before the adjuster has examined the damage. In some cases the adjuster will want to see the estimate before you begin making repairs.
Do not pay a contractor the full amount up front or sign over your insurance settlement payment. A contractor should expect to be paid a percentage when the contract is signed and the remainder when the work is completed.
If the contractor finds hidden damage that was not discovered in the original assessment by the adjuster, contact your insurance company to resolve the difference. For any disagreements that cannot be resolved, contact the Department about your recourse.
Things to Remember
Be aware that most homeowners or renter's insurance policies do not cover flood damage. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), through individual insurance brokers and carriers, provides this coverage separately from standard homeowners coverage.
If your insurance company delays in responding to your claim, call the claims department to verify if they have assigned an adjuster. Verify your contact details, especially if you have evacuated your home. Call the Department if the delay is unreasonable.
Even after settling your claim, if you think of items that were not in your initial loss list, contact your insurance company. Unless the company has paid the entire limit for the coverage of those types of items, it is possible the company will make an additional payment.
If your damages exceed the amount of your coverage, federal agencies will occasionally provide grants or low-interest loans to assist with recovery following major disasters.
General Guidelines
Please keep in mind that in the wake of a disaster of the caliber of Sandy, insurance companies are also experiencing difficulties, including handling the volume of calls they are receiving. If you cannot access your property, your insurer cannot access it either.
To be sure your claim is handled efficiently, whenever possible, make sure you have your policy number available when you report your claim. Once you have established a claim, make sure you use the claim number the company provides you in any future communication to ensure accurate claims processing.
After You Rebuild
When you re-establish your home following the disaster, take time to do a home inventory.

Once you have completed the home inventory, talk with your agent to make sure your homeowners or renter's policy is adequate to cover your new investments."

Tags: Tips from the Governor's Office on Filing Insu, Hurricane Sandy, Flood, Homeowner Insurance