Category Archives for Home Insurance

What to Know Before You Buy That Fixer Upper

What You Should Know Before You Buy a Fixer Upper

In the Lakeland and Plant City areas, many homes have crossed the century mark. These beautiful old southern homes can be enticing, but restoring them can have hidden costs. Several factors should be considered prior to taking on a fixer upper; do-it-yourself or contracted home renovation.

Is it Right for You?

A lower priced listing on a two-story Victorian home can be tempting. Restoring a fixer upper and increasing its value is an excellent way to increase your net worth. But, do you really know what’s involved? Renovating a home takes time, effort, and capital. The size of a renovation will dictate how long it takes; a fixer-upper can take up to a year to finish. As the home is worked on there will be hammers hammering, saws cutting, voices shouting and footsteps on the roof.

If all of this sounds like too much of a disruption for your family, you should avoid taking on the project. However, if you can take the bang and clatter of renovation, it can be rewarding both personally and financially.

Searching for a Home to Renovate

Where to Buy

The saying “location, location, location” carries just as much weight now as it did a century ago. You want to find a fixer upper to restore in an area where real estate prices are on the upswing, not the opposite. Factors like crime rates, school ratings, and undesirable things like liquor stores or strip clubs all should be considered before making your decision.

Timeworn or Trashed?

The condition of the home you are going to purchase makes a difference in the success of its renovation. Is weathered and only needs a coat of paint and new shingles, was it ravaged by termites, did squatters use it as a drug den before it was put up for sale?

The difference between cosmetic repairs and having to replace 70% of the structure can mean thousands of dollars more. Electric wiring should be factored into the cost if the home is over 50 years old. Fuse boxes and old wiring can’t handle the load that today’s electronics and appliances put on them and will have to be replaced.

Floor Plans

Do you want a 19th or 20th-century floorplan in the 21st century? Do you like the charm of a room that is centered around a fireplace, or do you want wide open areas where a high definition TV is the center of attention? If the latter is the case, support walls in an older home may not be able to be knocked out for expansion.  Air conditioning may not flow well in a house that was never intended to have it. Make sure the layout gives you enough square footage for your family to live comfortably. Lifestyle is a significant point to consider when deciding to live in a home that has been around since the Civil War.

The Cost of Renovation

Before you embark on your journey to restoring an old home, you should create a realistic budget.  Make sure there are allocations for the cost of unforeseen issues, this will save you from going over budget.  Here are a few of the things to consider in your budget:

  • Replacing the roof.
  • Patching and painting walls.
  • Refinishing or replacing old flooring.
  • Repairing foundations.
  • Putting in tile or removing the carpet.
  • Installing new plumbing or sewer lines.
  • Replacing light fixtures and switches.
  • Replacing doors.
  • Fixing or replacing air conditioning.
  • Painting the exterior of the home.
  • Replacement windows.
  • Repairing or replacing the bathroom.

Remember to shop for the best financing on your home; or seek a Federal Housing Administration 203k loan which lets borrowers purchase a property and also finances the cost of renovation. Once you have received financing, don’t gold plate your renovation project. Don’t add a new wing or an addition that will put you over budget and ruing the aesthetics of a home.

Saving a piece of history by renovating a home can be a rewarding experience, just be sure it is an experience you are prepared to have.

Should you have any questions about Homeowners Insurance in regard to older homes, contact us via email here or call us at (863) 646-LOCK.

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Home Robbery

Simple Ways to Deter Burglars from Breaking into Your Home

Do you live in an area where crime is on the rise? If you live in Lakeland, the answer is yes. According to the FBI, property crimes in 2017 were 48% higher in Lakeland than the rest of Florida and 58% higher than the national average.  You’ve worked hard to purchase your home and furnish it; you need to protect your investments. With that idea in mind, here are some tips on how to protect your home from would-be burglars.

Secure Means Safe

A recent study at the University of North Carolina ‘s criminology department found that burglars avoid homes that have security systems or that they believe have security systems. If the robber sees multiple cameras situated in various angles, they know there is a greater chance the authorities will apprehend them. Having a home security system can give you both peace of mind, and in some cases bring discounts on your homeowner’s insurance. 

If you don’t want to spend the money on a home security system, then signs and decals placed around the home can act as a deterrent, but experienced crooks may not fall for the ruse. Remember, most burglaries take place between two and three in the afternoon when most homes are empty. Be sure that if you decide to install a security system, it not only alerts the police but you as well.

Home Security Technology

Many of the new “doorbell” type security systems have speakers that allow you via your smartphone to warn encroaching burglars that you are aware of the situation and that the police are on the way. Motion activated lighting on the exterior of your home is another simple way to deter burglars. Experienced burglars may spot motion activated lights and know how to get around them, but given the choice of a home with motion activated lights, or a neighbor’s house without them, most of the time criminals will avoid a home with lights.

Make sure that your home has secure locks that cannot be easily picked; this in of itself can act as a deterrent to burglars.  A big loud dog is also an excellent deterrent to burglars; they do not want the hassle of placating your dog and will move on. Make sure that things that could tempt a burglar are not in plain sight. Having expensive tools left out on the driveway will entice crooks to investigate further. If you have an expensive piece of art or collectible, don’t place it where it can easily be seen from the street. Likewise, easily visible TVs, computers, gaming consoles, and computers should be placed in areas that conceal them.

A Safe Means Secure

If you have valuable jewelry or keep large amounts of cash on hand, you should be using a safe to protect them. The type could be a wall safe, drop safe, or a safe bolted to the floor. It is also an excellent place to store financial documents, data storage devices, and family heirlooms.

Fake-Out Burglars

If you are going on vacation a simple way to deter burglars is to make them think your home when you are not there. In the digital age which we find ourselves, it has never been easier to fool criminals. Smart devices in your home can be activated remotely through your home’s Wi-Fi even when you are not there. Smart plugs can let you turn lights, TVs, stereos, appliances and other things on and off while you are away giving your home the appearance that it is occupied.

Be sure not to post vacation or travel photos on social media until you return home; this is especially true if you have a lot of friends or followers on your social media accounts.

Make sure you document all your home’s valuables in the event your home is broken into, and items were stolen. There are many apps that let you create a home inventory right from your smartphone and make the task easier.

Keeping burglars away from your home is simpler than ever. Should you have any questions about homeowners insurance coverage for burglaries, contact us via email here or call us at (863) 646-LOCK.

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Home Inventory List

How to Create a Home Inventory List for Insurance

Living in Central Florida your home is at risk from a number of natural things such as hurricanes, lightning, flooding, sinkholes, and tornados. Natural disasters are not the only thing that put your home at risk, a grease fire in the kitchen has burned many homes to the ground over the years.  Faulty electrical wiring can be the source of a fire, and old natural gas lines have caused entire homes to be leveled by an explosion.

With so many ways your home could be damaged, and your property lost forever, it is crucial that you create a home inventory list.  Having a detailed inventory of your possessions can make things easier when you file a claim, and it can also guide you on what kind of coverage you want.

Creating a Home Inventory List

Creating a home inventory list to submit to insurance is not a difficult thing to undertake, but you can’t cut corners when creating the list and still hope to receive reimbursement for your lost property.  Here are a few steps.

Chose a Starting Point

You should follow Nike’s advice when deciding on which room should be your starting point when composing a list “Just do it.” The room does not matter; what matters is that you start the process of compiling a list of your possessions. The logical choice would be a room with items which are the most valuable; but it really does not matter, what matters is you have started creating your list.

Documenting Property with Apps

In the digital age, we currently live in documenting your possessions has never been easier or had more ways you can capture them.  Apps like Sortly, Memento and Nest Egg can help you create list organize them and record details about each item on the list. These apps use your phone’s camera to add pictures to the list.

Apps are preferable to creating a physical list for two reasons. First, your phone is portable and likely to be on your person when you flee whatever disaster is damaging your home. Second, an app stores your list in the cloud, should you lose your phone in a fire or other emergency, you can log in to the app from another phone and retrieve your list. Be sure to include serial numbers, purchase dates, photos of receipts (if you have them), SKU numbers. With the technology available now there is no reason that your possessions should not be fully documented.

Lock Insurance has its own app that has an inventory list built into it. Our agents have access to the data in the app and they can send the list for you to the insurance company in the event of a claim.

Insurance Agent Demo Agency’s” mobile app

Download the Insurance Agent mobile app below:

Apple App Store

Google Play Store

Make Sure Your Coverage Matches the Value of Your Possessions

Things like art, jewelry, antiques, and collectibles may have increased in their worth and will require individual coverage apart from your standard homeowner’s insurance. You should research these items value and speak with your agent about coverage before they are lost to a disaster.

Don’t Forget the Attic and Garage

When documenting your possessions, it is easy to forget the attic or garage. Your tools, exercise equipment, golf clubs, and other valuable items may all be stored in your garage. Antiques and your children’s old toys may be stored in the attic, so don’t forget to climb up there and document items.

Clothes Count

Remember to document your clothes along with your other possessions.  Record how many of each article of clothing you own such as jeans, shoes, and shirts. If you have a coat or other item of clothing that is valuable, be sure to record details about it.

Document Storage

Items in your rented storage unit may also be covered by home insurance, ask your agent to be sure if your policy covers them.

Keep it Safe

When it comes to financial documents, family photos, and other important documents, be sure to store them in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box. Make sure to include a copy of your list as a backup to your home inventory app.

Creating a home inventory list doesn’t have to be a monotonous chore; it can be quick and easy if you just follow the above suggestions.

Should you have any questions about home inventory list, contact us via email here or call us at (863) 646-LOCK.

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Lower Hurricane Deductible Options

Lock Insurance has been in business quite awhile and have been through several hurricanes, but hurricane Irma really showed who and what was covered.  A lot of insured do not realize how high their deductible was for Hurricanes. We also found that they did not know there was a lower hurricane deductible option.

2%, 5% and 10% Deductible

In Florida the 2%, 5% and 10% deductible is a calendar year deductible, which means that it is a percentage of your structure amount dwelling. For instance, $100,000 thousand dollar house with a 2% deductible would result in the homeowner being responsible for the first $2,000 dollars from a named storm event.

Calendar Year Deductible

What happens if there are multiple named storms in a single calendar year and you have to file more than one hurricane claim?  Once your deductible has been met, you have no further deductible responsibility for that year.

In the past few years some carriers have started offering Hurricane Deductibles as low as $500.00 dollars.

Contact us today and find out more so you will not be caught with High out of pocket cost for minimal difference in price when the next storm is coming in.

I want a quote for $500.00 deductible for hurricanes.   Click Here.

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Homeowners Insurance Claims

Whether its damage due to a natural disaster, an unexpected accident or break-in, knowing when you should file a home insurance claim and what the consequences will be either way, is important.

So When Should You File a Homeowners Insurance Claim?

When should you file a homeowners insurance claim? What will that mean for your future rates or eligibility for a new policy with a new carrier?  Here are some things to consider before contacting your insurance company.

Look First At Your Options

The first thing to consider when making a home insurance claim is whether your current policy will cover the claim or not.  You should know exactly what your insurance covers before you ever need to make a claim; however, checking on the specific claim you are going to make-before contacting your insurance company-will give you the upper hand.

Is a Claim Necessary?

Once you have determined whether you are eligible or not, the next thing to consider is whether a claim is necessary.  There may be instances when the deductible for your particular claim is higher than the costs.  In that case a claim would be a waste of time.  You may also want to consider if the overall cost is worth any potential rate increases that may result from a claim.

When Your Contacting Your Insurance Company

If you do decide to make a claim, arming yourself with all the necessary information will make the process go quickly and smoothly.  Be sure you have all your insurance policy documents readily available.  You should also gather as many documents that relate to the claim-repair estimates, police reports, and photographs.  It is also a good idea to keep track of all contacts with your insurance provider, in case a dispute occurs.

In most cases, making a claim on your home insurance is a good idea.  Keeping calm, organized, and informed can make the process stress free as well, most importantly contact us for advice.

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How Much Homeowners Insurance Do You Need!

Homeowners insurance is an essential part of owning a home and is a cost usually considered as part of the regular maintenance and protection of your house. In most places it is also required by your mortgage lender, but how much home insurance do you really need?

The minimum coverage may suit some homeowners, but most need additional types of coverage that the minimum policies do not include. So what are the types of coverage home insurance policies typically provide, and how do you determine how much home insurance you really need?

Do I Need Disaster Insurance?

While disaster insurance that covers natural occurrences such as floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes can be expensive, if you live in an area where these types of events occur frequently the cost of replacing your home will certainly far exceed the cost of the insurance. In the case of disaster insurance it is a matter of balancing risk, financial situation, and peace of mind.

Do I Need Additional Content Coverage Insurance?

While most basic home policies include content coverage, the amount of this coverage and the cost of the deductible may not be appropriate for your particular situation. If you have a number of valuables, such as jewelry or rare items such as antiques, your basic coverage will not protect these in case of theft or damage.

On the other hand, if you have few belongings, choosing a policy with a high deductible to save money may not be worth it, as the value of your items may not be much more than the deductible itself.

Do I Need Theft Protection?

Again, most basic home insurance plans do not offer extensive coverage for loss from theft or damage due to a break-in. If having the peace of mind that comes with this kind of protection is important to you, then this additional coverage will definitely be worth the cost.

Do I Need Liability Insurance Coverage?

If you have a home-based business or own a condo, having homeowners liability insurance is important. If a client had an accident on your property or your negligence caused damage to a fellow condo owner’s property, liability coverage would protect you from the potential costs associated with this, including legal costs.

Seeking the professional advice from a Lock insurance expert can help you determine how much home insurance you really need.

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What Is Force-Placed Home Insurance?

Unless you are very lucky, you probably have a mortgage on your home.  Your mortgage company, also known as a lien holder, has a vested interest in the protection of your home.  If you fail to carry he correct homeowner’s insurance and a loss occurs, their monetary loss will be much greater than yours.  This is the reason the lien holders require that you carry homeowner’s insurance.  You won’t be able to close on a purchase without it, and if it lapses, your lien holder will step in.

Force-Placed Insurance!

Forced-Place insurance is a policy that your lien holder takes out on your home when your policy has lapsed or you have not provided them with proof of a policy that is acceptable to them.  In order to protect their interest in the property, your mortgage company will obtain a policy and attach the payments on this policy to your mortgage.  This insurance will remain in place until you provide proof of an alternate insurance policy.

The Reason You Don’t Want It

It doesn’t seem like such a bad deal to let the mortgage company handle placing insurance on your home.  The problem is that this type of policy exists only to protect the mortgage company’s interests-not yours.  There is no coverage for your personal property, and in the case of a claim you will get nothing-only the mortgage company will receive payment.  In return for this limited coverage, force-placed insurance is very expensive-much more so than traditional homeowner’s insurance.

How Can I Avoid It?

First of all, make sure your homeowner’s insurance coverage doesn’t lapse!  Make your payments on time.  If you have trouble remembering, consider rolling the insurance in with your mortgage payment, or having it automatically withdrawn.  Another important consideration is to make sure that the insurance company has accurate information regarding your lien holder, including their address.  This will ensure the insurance company provides proof of insurance to the correct lien holder and there is no question that you already have insurance in place.

Force-placed insurance isn’t what the mortgage company wants, nor is it the best choice for your interests.  Be sure your homeowner’s insurance stays in force and proof is provided so that your interests, as well as those of the mortgage company, are protected.

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Record Keeping

Keep Good Records For Your Insurance

You have homeowner’s insurance to protect your home and everything in it from an accidental and unexpected incident that causes a major loss. If something catastrophic like a fire should occur, you will be called upon to provide a list of everything that was in the house, and in some cases, even proof.

To protect the insurance company from paying out fraudulent claims, an insured may be asked for photographic or other evidence of valuable possessions. Here are some easy ways to be sure you keep good records of your home and its contents.

Documented Evidence

For expensive and valuable possessions, it’s a good idea to keep purchase receipts and appraisals where appropriate. These things, being paper, won’t survive something like a fire, so purchase a fireproof box in which to keep them or arrange for storage off-site. Ask a friend or relative to hold onto them for you, or place them in a safety deposit box if you have one. Some insurance companies will also scan these items for you and keep them in their computer system for future reference.

Photographic Evidence And Video Evidence

One of the most popular ways to keep records of your personal property is to take photographs, and again, keep them somewhere safe. When taking photos of your items, bee sure they are clear and where possible get close-up shots of model and serial numbers, especially on electronics.

Digital cameras have made it easier than ever to store large numbers of photographs, and you can backup your photos to a server where they can be kept safe in case they are needed and the original files have been lost or destroyed.

Photographs can also be used to document the features of your home so that should it need to be rebuilt, you can return it back to its original state.

Video cameras are also a popular choice for documenting your home, as you don’t need to snap a picture of each individual item, but can pan the room, zoom in where necessary, and just keep one file with all of the evidence you need. Again, digital video makes it easy to store the files in a safe place where even a total loss of your home won’t damage it.

A good record of the things inside and outside of your home helps your insurance company to restore you to your position prior to the loss. The more information they have, the easier it will be to reconstruct your home and replace your possessions. It’s up to you to create and store this evidence, so take the time to make sure the records are created and kept safe.

Lock Insurance is proud to introduce our premier mobile app “Insurance Agent”

Manage, update and protect your family, business and property right from your smartphone.

“Insurance Agent” is designed to put you in control and provide help:

  • Quick Agency Access.
  • Electronic Auto ID.
  • Easy Policy Management.
  • Convenient Claims and Bill Pay connections.
  • Auto Accident Claims Kit – make sure every driver in your house has this app!
  • Effortless Property/Home Inventory tool – Invaluable for policy reviews, claims, estate planning.
  • Important Alerts and Notifications.

These mobile services are free to our valued clients and friends.

Download the Insurance Agent mobile app below:

Apple App Store

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Florida Condo

Important Things When Shopping for Condo Insurance

If you are looking into buying a condo, you might not consider the cost of condo insurance.  Condos are not like houses – there is no backyard, no basement, and generally you have a homeowners association, or HOA, that takes care of fixing things around the property.  But you will still have to provide some insurance for a portion of your property.

It is important to look at your master policy in order to find out what kind of insurance you need, and what the condo association already covers.  There are two main types of insurance that will be discussed in the master policies: bare walls-in and all-in insurance policies.

Bare Walls-In Insurance

Bare walls-in insurance covers all real property, but does not cover the fixtures and installations in the condo unit, including countertops, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, and flooring.

All-In Condo Insurance

All-in condo insurance refers to the type that covers fixtures, installations, or additions within the interior surfaces of the perimeter walls, floors, and ceilings of individual units.

It is important to check the individual condo association’s master policy in order to see if there are any specific details or variations in it.  Generally, the cost of the condos master insurance policy is included in the HOA fees.

What Kind Of Coverage Do I Need?

In order to decide what kind of coverage you will need, you should consider how much coverage to acquire.  Look at what other owners are paying for upgrades, such as flooring, cabinetry and countertops, in order to determine what kind of coverage will be needed if you are under a bare walls-in insurance policy.

Also, you have to decide if you want cash-value or replacement-cost coverage.  It is generally recommended to get replacement-cost coverage, as this will generally pay more (the entire value of getting the item replaced at today’s cost standards).

You also need to decide if the coverage will be for content, structure, or both items.  Content coverage looks at furniture, area rugs, electronics, jewelry, valuable artwork/collectibles, while structure items include the flooring, cabinetry, countertops, carpeting, and lighting.  You can look at what you have and what you want covered in order to also decide how much coverage to acquire.

Other Things to Consider

Other things to consider are flood and wind damage coverage.  While the condo association flood coverage will cover the floors and structural issues for the most part, it is highly unlikely it would cover any of your property that was damaged.

Once you have figured out the type of coverage, as well as the amount of coverage, you are looking for, it is time to start getting quotes and make sure that your condo is full protected from any potential damage it could receive.

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