Do You Have Enough Coverage On Your Home Insurance?

How much is enough?  How much is too much?  What kind of coverage do you need?  These are all relevant questions for someone investigating their homeowner’s insurance options.  

Many people believe that their homeowners insurance should reflect the value of their home but this is not true.  Insurance is there to replace or repair damage caused by sudden or accidental occurrences.  And, the market value of your home doesn't reflect what it would cost to repair or replace your home.  What is needed to decide on the amount of coverage is a "rebuild value."  

In order to get a rebuild value each insurance company has a method or calculator it uses.  The estimates can be very different.  Sometimes thousands of dollars different.  The important part of these valuations is working with your insurance agent to be as accurate as possible when inputting the information about your home.  In other words, how many square feet is it?  What kind of garage does it have?  What kind of flooring, windows, systems, extras, attached or detached structures, etc.  The more detail you give the agent, the more accurate the valuation will be.

There are many other factors to consider when deciding on optional coverage as well.  Do you have an HOA?  You may need Loss Assessment coverage.  Does your city have sewer and drain issues?  You may need optional Sewer and Drain backup coverage.  Is your home older?  You may need Ordinance or Law coverage.  Do you want actual value on your contents or replacement cost?  Do you have high value articles that need Special Articles coverage? And, of course, what level of Liability coverage do you need?  But that's a subject for another article.

You can call us at 702-562-2886 and speak to a licensed agent to answer these or any other questions you may have.

Contributed by Victoria Sutherland, Licensed Insurance Agent

Distracted Driving

Do you talk on the phone while driving?  Even hands free you are distracted.  Do you text while driving?  Some research shows voice to text is more distracting than typing it yourself.   There are startleing statistics to back up the distracted driving phenomenon. 

In 2015 3,477 lives were lost as a direct consequence of distracted driving according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Even more alarming 391,000 were injured.  And distracted driving isn’t just mobile phones.  Anything that takes your eyes and or mind off the road while driving is a distraction. 

Some other ways you may be distracted:

·         Reaching for something you dropped or you need that’s out of reach

·         Reading directions

·         Putting on makeup or fixing your hair

·         Eating

·         Children crying or fighting

While none of those things are illegal they still pull your mind and your eyes from the road.

Here in Nevada it is illegal to text, access the internet or use a cell phone while driving.  The fines are $50 for a first offense, $100 for a second and $250 for a third.  But, the court has the ability to assess higher fines and add on administrative fees. 

There are some exceptions which include:

·         Reporting a medical emergency, safety hazard or criminal activity.

·         Using a voice operated navigation system affixed to the vehicle

·         2 way radios

·         Law enforcement, fire fighters or emergency medical personnel acting in the scope of their jobs

·         Utility workers responding to an outage or emergency and suing devised provided by the company.

·         Amateur radio operators providing communications services during and emergency or disaster.

How can you help eliminate distracted driving?

·         Be an example to your kids and friends.  Don’t use your phone while you drive.

·         Implement strict rules for your teen drivers.

·         Refuse to ride with someone who habitually drives distracted.

Distracted driving is a problem we can all help solve.  And better drivers mean fewer accidents and better rates for everyone.

Contributed by Victoria Sutherland, Licensed Insurance Agent

Life Insurance Simplified

Do you have Life Insurance?  Do you wonder why you need Life Insurance?

There are so many misconceptions about Life Insurance.  As an agent I’ve heard so many strange things.  “I don’t want her to benefit from my death.”  “I don’t have anything so why would I need it?”  “I’m young and healthy.  Why would I need Life Insurance?”  “That’s for people with kids.”  “It’s a rip off.” 

All those reasons are sad and untrue.

Do you have family that will miss you if you die?  Do you have a way to pay for your funeral so they don’t have to?  Do you have credit card debt, student loan debt, a car or house payment? Are you aware that Life Insurance can be used as part of your retirement planning?  Do you ever drive on a freeway, fly in an airplane, ride a horse, hike or rock climb, cross a street or get sick?  Are you so sure that even though you are “young and healthy” nothing will happen to you?  And that some Life Insurance policies come with long term care and/or disability benefits?

Life Insurance isn’t just about death.  It’s about life.  The quality of life of those you may leave behind, the quality of life you want to live when you retire and the quality of life you want to maintain if you are injured or very sick.

There are three kinds of Life Insurance.  Term, Whole and Universal.

Term Life Insurance is for a specific amount of death benefit over a specific period of time.  For example $100,000 paid for over ten years.  This is the least expensive however at the end of the term you must reapply and the price will be higher.  Remember the younger you are the less expensive life insurance will be.

Whole Life Insurance is paid for over your entire lifetime up to retirement age.  It “matures” at age 100, 120 or upon your death.  In most cases the “face value” received is not taxable.  It will be considered part of your estate.

Universal Life Insurance is not just a Life Insurance with a death benefit but also an investment account.  The more you put into it above the base line of the premium the faster it will grow.  Very much like a mutual fund.  If you die your beneficiaries receive the face value and the investment.  If you retire you can withdraw the investment portion tax free because you are “borrowing against” the life insurance policy. 

Each of these is important depending on your particular situation.  It is important to analyze not just your current situation but the direction your future is going as well.   How much you need depends on your assets and debts. 

Contributed by Victoria Sutherland, Licensed Insurance Agent

What’s an SR22?

An SR22 is Proof of Financial Responsibility and can be required by the DMV for a number of reasons.  A DUI, whether you plead it down or not, a 90 day lapse of insurance, failure to pay child support, accumulating 12 or more points against your license in a 12 month period, hitting a pedestrian or bicyclist, failure to appear, having an at fault accident while uninsured, if you are found guilty of graffiti vandalism, certain firearms offenses, street racing and driving under the influence of drugs. 

Any of these can lead to your Driver’s License being suspended. So can an incorrect or fraudulent application or if your payment for your license is returned for insufficient funds (NSF).  Once your license is suspended you may be required to have an SR22 for at least three years.  The date begins when your license is reinstated.  If you commit any of the above listed offenses while paying for the SR22 your date will be reset. Or if you have a lapse of SR22 coverage the date will be reset.  And, there is no statute of limitations on the SR22 requirement.

What does that mean?  If you need an SR22 in Nevada but move to New York (as an example) for several years then come back to Nevada you will need an SR22 to get your Nevada Driver’s License.  Additionally, New York (or any other state) may require you to have it to get their license. 

How do you get and maintain an SR22 if you need it?  Some companies will add it to your current auto insurance.  Others will not.  Contact us for assistance in either scenario.  

For more information on SR22s or lapse of insurance please go to the Nevada DMV website.   


Contributed by: Victoria Sutherland, Licensed Insurance Agent

Auto Liability and You

Thank you to our Agent, Victoria Sutherland, for contributing to our Blog!

Auto liability coverage is the insurance that pays out to the person or persons you injure in an accident that you cause.  Currently here in Nevada we are only required by law to carry 15/30/10 ($15,000 for one injury or death, $30,000 for two or more and $10,000 for property damage.)  But those limits were established in 1958.  Today one visit to an emergency room can cost $15,000.  Add in an ambulance ride or overnight stay and…. Well you see where this is going.

That changes as of July 1st.  SB308 was passed a few months ago and requires 25/50/20.  That is to say, $25,000 for one injury or death, $50,000 for two or more and $20,000 for property damage.   While this new law may seem punitive it was or is a necessary change.  Remember, the cost of care has gone up and along with it the number of litigations.

How is this going to affect your insurance if you currently have only 15/30/10?  Some companies are already requiring the higher limits for new or renewing customers.  Others will make the change when required.  While no one knows for sure what the new premium costs will be we can probably be safe in assuming they will be higher.

There are a few things you might be able to do to lower your cost.  Keep your credit rating as high as possible.  It’s a big rating factor but most people don’t realize it.  Raise your comprehensive and collision deductibles.  You might be able to give up optional coverages like medical payments or roadside assistance.  Talk to your agent about available discounts and do a thorough review. We are here to help you in anyway we can.  

Please feel free to call us if you have any questions.  Kelli, Gina and myself are available for you.


Nevada Minimum Car Insurance Limits are Increasing

The State of Nevada passed a bill increasing the minimum car insurance limits from $15,000 (bodily injury per person)/$30,000 (bodily injury per accident)/$10,000 (property damage) to $25,000/50,000/$20,000.  Nevada is one of eight states remaining that permitted such low limits. Unfortunately, Nevada rates have already been on the rise and this required coverage change will add to that.  

However, do not be disheartened - drivers will now have better coverage!  This coverage protects you if you are found negligent or at fault in an accident.  If you are a victim of an accident, the responsible party will now have more coverage to assist in paying for medical expenses, disability, pain and suffering and loss of wages.  

Some insurance companies will start increasing limits as early as January 2018.  Pay attention to your declaration page and your bill.  Feel free to contact us to discuss coverage options, billing, discounts and re-shopping your insurance with other companies.  

Aftermarket Parts aka Custom Parts and Equipment

Did you know that customizations done to your vehicle that do not come from the factory are typically NOT covered on your car insurance?  If you are lucky, your policy may cover $500 - $1000, but that may not be enough.  

Typical modifications are: custom paint, custom wheels/tires/rims, exhaust, stereos/tv equipment, grilles, winches, etc.  

Modified cars can be works of art with how they look and sound.  This art does not always come cheap so make sure you ask your agent if you are covered.  

If these parts are not itemized on your policy, your insurance company is paying you the cost of factory parts and no more than that.  Also, Aftermarket Parts are not covered by Gap Insurance.

Your must first carry Comprehensive and Collision coverage on your vehicle in order to cover these parts.  Second, you must add the specific coverage value for these parts.  Having Comprehensive and Collision alone will not fully cover you.  

It is possible to modify your car so much that the insurance company deems you too risky.  For example, some insurance carriers do not want to insure a vehicle that has been lifted over 4 inches.  

It is always good to have pictures and receipts of your Custom Equipment.  Your agent may even keep this on file for you.  Ultimately it is always wise to discuss with your agent how you will alter your car and how those alterations can be covered.  

Why are car insurance rates going up in Las Vegas?

Have your car insurance rates gone up this year? You may have no tickets or accidents, your cars are getting older and you have good payment history and yet you still experience rate increases.  Why?!!

We know any rate increase can be frustrating but there is much going on in the market that substantiates prices going up.  

Industry statistics have been provided by Safeco Insurance:  

As of 2015, there are nearly 17.5 million cars on the road.  The more cars on the road the more accidents there are.

3.148 trillion miles were driven in 2015 which is a 3.5% increase over 2014 and the largest annual increase in 25 years.

Bodily Injury Liability accidents have increased by 3%.  

Traffic deaths decreased 22% from 2000-2014.  2015 numbers show a 7.7% increase from 2014!

From 2005 to 2013, the average cost per paid Bodily Injury Liability claim increased by 32.1%. 

Drivers are more distracted. In 2014, 3179 people people were killed and 431,000 were injured as a result of distracted drivers.  Put the cell phone down!!

Safer vehicles mean more expensive claims.  Bumpers with sensors and video cameras cost more to repair and replace.  Side mirrors with blind spot monitoring are much more than a simple side mirror.

How can we save money?  There are several ways:

  1. Price your insurance out before buying a car - the higher the MSRP, the higher the insurance.  Sporty and large vehicles can also be more expensive.

  2. Participate in Telematics.  This is a device or an app that allows your insurance company to monitor the number of miles you drive, the time of day you drive, if you press your brake hard, and if you quickly accelerate.  The better the driver you are, the more of a discount you get.

  3. Talk to your agent about discounts!

    1. Paid in full

    2. Paperless

    3. Multi-policy

    4. Good Student Discount & Drivers Training

    5. Senior Drivers Training

  4. Carpool and drive less miles

  5. Pay in full discount - some companies will discount your premium if you pay in full for 6 months or a year

  6. Paperless discount - ditch the paper and get an e-bill for savings

  7. Multi-policy discount - combine your car insurance with your home, condo or renters insurance

  8. Do not let other people drive your car - your rates can go up if they are in an accident

  9. Buy your insurance at least 8 days before you need it - sounds a little strange but some companies give an Advance Quote Discount

  10. Education and Occupation - ask your agent if there is a discount for your education level and occupation


Why Do I Need an Umbrella Policy?

This is not your rainy day umbrella.  An Umbrella Insurance policy gives you additional coverage over your vehicles, homes and toys.  If you are ever held responsible for damages or bodily injury, an Umbrella helps protect your assets.  This policy covers you above and beyond your auto and home insurance.

If you or a household family member cause a car accident that results in significant damage, bodily injury or death, you want this protection.  Imagine you rear-end a surgeon and he breaks his arm in the car accident.  He has permanent nerve damage and cannot work in the same capacity any longer.  The surgeon will sue for medical, pain and suffering, and loss of wages.  Your car insurance will pay out first and then the umbrella kicks in up to its limit.  If you have $250,000 of Bodily Injury on your auto policy and he sues you for $1 million, where will you get the extra coverage?  An UMBRELLA!  

Need more examples of why you may need this protection: your dog bites your neighbor’s child, a guest slips on a wet floor or broken stair and breaks their leg, or a child is injured in your swimming pool.  If you own a rental property you definitely want an umbrella to protect you against the claims that can arise from the tenant’s guests.  Maybe while driving your boat you hit a water skier and cause serious injury.  Umbrellas may also cover you for libel or slander lawsuits.  

Your auto or home policy will always pay out first.  If the judgement against you exceeds the limits on these policies, this is where your Umbrella comes in.  Keep in mind, that your underlying policy limits must be kept at a minimum level (usually $250,000/$500,000/$100,00 on your cars and $300,000 on your homes) so check with your insurance company and be sure to maintain adequate limits.  Umbrellas will also cover your legal defense fees.  

If you own assets or earn a wage, we suggest having an umbrella.  This is another layer of protection that usually only costs a couple hundred dollars per year.  Most policies start at a minimum of $1 million in coverage but higher limits can be purchased.  You do not need a million dollars in assets to need a million dollar umbrella.  Liabilities and defense costs quickly add up, having an umbrella gives you peace of mind.