Insurance Blog

How to Insure Your Home


how to buy homeowners insurance


Owning a home in Southwest Florida is a blessing. But with the beauty of a tropical environment comes dangers that can take out your subtropical home. Homeowners insurance protects your home, the contents in your home and other assets in the event of fires, theft, or disasters. Things like floods and earthquakes are not covered by a standard policy and require additional coverage.

How much coverage do you need? Your home insurance policy should cover enough to rebuild and furnish your home if there was a problem.

It is a good idea to ask a home builder to walk through your home and give you an estimate of what it would take to rebuild. Point out unique or expensive details that would add to the replacement cost.

When you have determined the replacement cost of your home, you will need to know what kind of coverage you want.

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Guaranteed Replacement Cost Coverage— This means that the insurer will pay for the rebuilding of your home no matter the cost. These policies are hard to find these days. • Extended Replacement Coverage— Many insurers offer coverage that caps the payout at around 125% of your home’s insured value. • Inflation Guarantee (or Guard) — This feature makes sure that your home’s insured value stays current with the marketplace.

If you get a reliable appraisal, extended replacement coverage and an inflation guarantee, you should be in good shape. The appraisal provides a realistic starting figure and the inflation guarantee makes sure that your home’s price stays current. The 125% coverage means that, even if construction prices outpace inflation, they probably didn’t outpace it by 25%, so you should have enough money for whatever work you need done.

One last thing: The law requires you to have flood insurance if you live in an officially recognized high-risk area. To find out your flood risk and to find plans (which are offered by the government), go to

When it comes to protecting your possessions, you may want more coverage than your standard policy allows. If you have anything of exceptional value (a family heirloom, a piece of art, jewelry, etc.), you should insure it separately. Insurers will charge extra for this coverage (something like an extra $10 on your monthly premium per $1,000 of value insured), but it pays to be covered.

Also keep in mind that there are two different kinds of coverage when it comes to personal articles. There’s “actual cash value” and there’s “replacement cost.” You want coverage for replacement cost. Actual Cash Value Insurance is what you’d get if you sold your valuable today — a lower amount than what you initially paid. Replacement Cost Insurance pays you the amount of money you’d need to buy a brand-new item to replace your old one. Liability Coverage Say a guest stays at your home and slips on the floor and sprains his ankle. He decides to sue you. Your homeowners policy includes liability coverage in case you lose the court case. Generally speaking, standard policies offer $100,000 to $300,000 of liability coverage.

Supplemental liability coverage can boost your protection to $1 million or more. If you don’t own a car, adding that kind of coverage can be relatively cheap—less than $100 per year—and isn’t a bad idea. If you do own a car (putting you at greater risk for causing damage to people and property), expect to pay $300 to $400 a year. Check out your auto policy to see what kind of coverage you already have.

Your Deductible Like auto or health insurance, your homeowners insurance has a deductible (the amount you must pay before coverage kicks in). Like those other policies, you should opt for the highest deductible you can afford. If you do, the cost of your insurance premium (the monthly bill you pay) will surely be lower. Plus, a low deductible forces your insurer to cover more of your costs — costs they pass on to you in the form of increased premiums.

Remember: You should not use insurance to cover every conceivable expense, just the big ones. If reinstalling a gutter will cost you $200, pay the $200 — don’t start filing claims for it. Insurers hate it when you file too many claims, and may raise your monthly premium or even cancel coverage because they’ll view you as too risky. It’s not about gutters—you want the insurance when you have to pay for a whole new roof.

A good rule of thumb to follow: If you can fix anything for less than $1,000, don’t file a claim.


How to Get Your Pool Ready for Summer


cleaning your pool in the summer

When temperatures soar, a dip in the pool may be the cool down you need. Before you grab your towel and sunscreen, though, there are few things you’ll want to check. If you’re lucky enough to have a pool, it’s important to understand how to care for it. Here are four important things you should do to your pool before diving in.

1. Vacuum and Clean

Once you’ve gotten the cover off and used your skimmer to remove any debris from the water (or filled the pool with water), you’ll want to use a pool vacuum to clean the walls and bottom of the pool. Direct the nozzles on the pool jets downward, says This Old House, and then connect the vacuum to the hose and prop it so that the vacuum head is over the water. Next, using the free end of the hose and a jet nozzle, fill the hose until water pours out of the vacuum. This Old House says you can submerge the vacuum head at this point — placing your hand over the hose as you connect it to the skimmer.

You’ll want to vacuum the pool slowly, moving in overlapping lines across the pool, says This Old House. Also, if the hose starts floating, there may be a hole in the line or your filter may be full.

If there is any algae on the pool sides, you can brush it off using a nylon brush (a stainless steel brush will work for concrete pools), according to This Old House.

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2. Check the Equipment

For those living in in climates with cool or cold winters, most people turn their pool’s filtration equipment off for the season. Come late spring/summer, though, you’ll want to make sure that everything is in working order and repair any minor issues before the season gets into full swing.

Start by locating any O-rings — rubber rings used in a lot of pool systems as a seal throughout your system. Lubricate them with pool gasket lubricant to help protect them, or replace them if they’re ripped or cracked, says Swim University. Then flip your circuit breaker, and turn on your pump. Switch the valve to filter to take a closer look at the pump, and then take a closer look at your filter. Clean or replace it, as necessary.

3. Test Water Balance

When getting your pool clean and clear for the season, you’ll want to take a closer look at the water chemistry. First, check your pool water’s total dissolved solids (TDS), as water with high levels of TDS will look cloudy, cause corrosion, alter the pool’s pH balance and lessen the effectiveness of pool chemicals. (You can purchase a testing kit at a pool supply store or online.) TDS levels should be below 2500 parts per million (ppm), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If the levels are too high, your pool will need to be partially or fully drained and refilled.

Next, you need to test and adjust pH. The CDC says pH should be between 7.2. and 7.8. This Old House recommends using muriatic acid if the pH is above 7.6 or soda ash product if it’s under 7.4. You can purchase muriatic acid and soda ash at a pool supply or home improvement store. Follow the instructions on the packaging for how to mix and add the acid appropriately. Generally, though, you’ll add the muriatic acid to a bucket of water, mix the solution gently and then pour it into the deep end of your pool, according to Swim University.

You should also test the water’s chlorine. An appropriate chlorine level is between 1 and 3 ppm, says the CDC. You’ll need to “shock” the water if the chlorine is below 1 ppm or the alkalinity is less than 90 ppm, according to This Old House. You can do this by dissolving lithium-based chlorine and/or alkalinity increaser in a bucket of water and putting it in the pool water, says This Old House. Wear gloves and safety goggles before handling chlorine, and do not mix any other chemicals in the bucket you use for shocking as this can be dangerous, says Swim University.

If you have a saltwater pool with a chlorine generator, remove and clean the chlorine generator cell every few months. For this, you can use a hose to remove any mineral buildup and scrub off any residue with a cleaning brush, according to HealthLine. You’ll also want to check that your salt levels are in line with the specifications in the manual.

4. Safety Check

Now that your pool water is ready, you’ll want to help keep your family and friends safe. Pool Safely recommends making sure pools drains are protected by safety compliant covers and that the pool be surrounded by a self-closing, self-latching gate. Be sure to check or install these items before you open the pool for the season.

Now that your hard work is complete and your pool is ready for splash season, hop in and enjoy a swim — you deserve it.



When Is A Car Considered Totaled?


175 Highway Traffic Accident - When Is A Car Considered TotaledA car is considered totaled when the cost to fix the car exceeds the value of the car. Some states have laws that define a totaled vehicle by specific thresholds. In Alabama, for instance, a car may be totaled when the damage is greater than 75 percent of its value. In that case, if a vehicle is worth $5,000 and the repair estimate is $4,000, the vehicle would likely be considered totaled.

In other cases, the insurer determines whether a vehicle is considered a total loss.

Auto Traffic Accident - When Is A Car Considered Totaled 

Comprehensive coverage and collision coverage help pay to replace a totaled vehicle. These two separate coverages are typically required on your car insurance policy if you're leasing or financing your vehicle. If your car is paid off, they're optional. But, if your vehicle is totaled and you don't have comprehensive or collision coverage, you may have to pay out of pocket to buy a replacement vehicle.


If you're involved in a car accident, there are a few basic steps to follow before and after your vehicle is considered totaled:

  • Contact your agent and initiate an insurance claim.

  • Your insurer will determine whether the vehicle is a total loss, based on repair costs.

  • Your insurer will issue payment for the actual cash value of the totaled vehicle, minus your deductible on your comprehensive or collision coverage.


To determine your car's worth (the "actual cash value" in insurance terms) at the time of the accident, insurers typically use a number of factors to figure your car's actual cash value, including its age, condition, mileage and resale value, in addition to the selling price of similar vehicles in your area.


If you're financing a car that's been totaled, your insurance company will likely make the claim check payable to both you and your lender, which means you'll have to come to an agreement with your lender on how to release that money, the Insurance Information Institute (III) says. Typically, the lender will be reimbursed first, with any remaining money then being paid to you.

It's possible that you may still owe your lender more for the car than the insurance payment you receive. In that case, you are responsible for paying the remaining balance on the car lease or loan.

Adding loan or lease gap coverage to your car insurance policy is one way to help protect against paying a lender out of pocket for a totaled vehicle. Depending on your insurer, this optional coverage may be available as part of a package or as a standalone coverage. It may also be available only for brand-new cars.

Have more questions about car insurance coverages or a totaled vehicle? We would love to talk to you! Call us at (239) 593-7333.


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