What insurance do you need for a rental home in Atlanta?

It's important to get the right insurance for your rental home.

It's important to get the right insurance for your rental home.

There are all sorts of circumstances that lead to someone renting out a home. You may have turned your attention from selling your old home to renting it out. You could have decided to downsize to an apartment or condo, and you’re using your old Atlanta house as income. Or you might have just purchased a second home for the sole purpose of renting it out. However, a normal home insurance policy isn’t quite the right way to protect the rental home. Here’s a look at how to insure your Atlanta property the right way if you’re putting it up for rent.

Why won’t a normal home insurance policy work if I rent out my home?

Here’s the thing. A traditional home insurance policy by itself is only built to handle the risk of a primary owner living there and that primary owner’s guests. It’s not made to handle the risk that comes with different groups of people living in the home on rotation. Renters come and go, so they have less invested interest in taking care of the property than someone who purchased the home and plans to live in it for much longer. Insuring a rental home is a different type of risk because there’s a lot more variety in situations, personalities, and overall traffic to the home that may cause more damage to the property than a typical homeowner.

So, what type of insurance do I need for renting out a home?

You’ll need a dwelling fire policy (or DP policy) that accounts for your rental property’s varying occupants. A dwelling fire policy is very similar to a home insurance policy in how it can cover liability and property damage for the home itself. DP policies are generally written on a yearly basis.

Does my insurance cover my tenant’s belongings?

It’s important to note that a dwelling fire policy only helps protect you as a landlord and your investment in the house’s structure. If something were to happen to your tenant’s things inside the home, it probably wouldn’t be covered under your dwelling fire policy.

That’s why it’s important to talk to your tenants about getting their own separate renters’ insurance. That could offer the type of coverage they need to repair or replace their things if they’re damaged by an event like a fire, theft, or even falling objects. Renters insurance can also give your tenant their own liability coverage.

What if I can’t find a tenant for my rental home?

Sometimes the rental market isn’t all that friendly to landlords. However, even if your insurance company knows that the home is a rental, you may not be covered for perils that happen to the home when it’s vacant. That’s why it’s vital to check your insurance policy to make sure you know how long the policy will cover a vacant house.

Typically, a policy will allow at least 30 days of vacancy. So, while you do have a buffer of time for your tenant search, don’t cut things close!

What factors affect my rental home insurance rate?

Some of the factors that might affect the cost of your dwelling fire policy are:

Rates can also greatly differ from carrier to carrier and from plan to plan. Usually, it’s a good idea to have your DP policy with the same carrier as your primary home insurance since doing so could help you get a better rate. Plus it’s just easier that way.

Consider umbrella insurance

You may also want to consider personal umbrella insurance if you’re renting out your house. Hospital bills can get expensive. So, if one of your renters is hurt on your property, it’s nice to have a bigger cushion of coverage with those medical bills if necessary. Personal umbrella insurance can help provide liability coverage that goes above and beyond the coverage offered by your underlying insurance policy. (It essentially sits on top of your underlying policy…like an umbrella! Get it?)

Overall, if you’re renting out a second house in Atlanta, you want to make sure that you and your money-making investment are protected for years to come. There are plenty of risks to consider when different people rent out your home year after year. And our insurance experts can help! Call us today, fill out our online form, or LiveChat with an agent to find out just how much you can save while you rake in the dough on your Atlanta rental home!

6 summer driving hazards to look out for in Atlanta

Summer driving comes with some unique hazards.

Summer driving comes with some unique hazards.Everyone knows about the hazards of driving in cold weather, but there are a lot of dangers that drivers overlook during the summer. Temperature changes can affect your car and your driving ability no matter what the extreme. So, it’s vital to understand all the risks in extreme weather seasons like winter and summer. So, here are 6 summer driving hazards to look out for, whether you’re going on a trip or getting to and from work.

6 summer driving hazards to look out for this summer.

1. Glare

Just because you’re not staring directly at the sun doesn’t mean it can’t damage your eyes and become a summer driving problem. Although asphalt is a pretty dark material, it has the uncanny ability to reflect the sun’s rays. Those rays can bounce back into your windshield and spread out over the glass, making everything you see seem washed out. This vision wash-out can quickly tire out your eyes and even cause vision damage if you’re exposed to it for a long period of time.

So, be sure to protect your eyes with the proper sunglasses, especially if you’re on an elongated road trip or if you have a long commute. Look for sunglasses with UV A, B, and C protection, and purchase glasses with polarized lenses if you can. The UV protection can help protect your eyes from visual diseases and the polarization of the lens will cut the glare from the road and keep your eyes focused on the colors, lights, and signs that you’ll need to focus on.

2. Road blindness

Speaking of concentration, don’t fall victim to road blindness – basically where you’ve been driving for so long that everything starts to blur together. You may think that the tons of fast-moving cars around you are enough to keep you alert, but brains are tricky. Especially on long trips, your brain can start to filter and ignore the constant view of the cars and the markings on the road as white noise. Your body can then fall into a routine instead of taking in all of your surroundings while driving to avoid obstacles.

To prevent road blindness on road trips, take at least a 15-minute break every one or two hours to allow your eyes to adjust. It’ll be a great opportunity to stretch your legs and return your focus.

3. Mechanical issues

Make sure your car is prepared for summer driving. Even if your car is built to navigate through the roughest terrain, all vehicles can fall victim to a rise in temperature. Hot air can cause rubber to weaken and air to expand. So, it’s vital to not only regularly check your tire pressure, but to make sure that you have a spare tire and the proper tools and knowledge to change it if need be.

Additionally, regular maintenance is important. If it’s been a while since you’ve had a tune-up, take your car to a trusted mechanic to make sure there are no holes, cracks, or leaks in your car’s hoses, belts, and fluid tanks. Have them check your tire treads and brake pads so that you can replace anything that’s in danger of losing traction, especially in inclement weather. Regular preventative maintenance now can mean avoiding a hefty auto repair bill later.

4. Harsh weather

Even though we think of the summer season as bright, clear skies and hot weather, the occasional flash flood may pop up. In fact, both hurricane and hail seasons start during the summer. So, keep an eye on weather forecasts and keep a solid disaster plan nearby for any (literal) rainy days. Plus, disaster kits aren’t just for your home. Make sure to keep items like:

  • A rain poncho
  • A flashlight
  • A reflective vest and triangle
  • A first-aid kit
  • Emergency water

in a safe and dry place that’s easily accessible in your car in case of emergency. Overall, if the weather looks too bad, postpone any trips that aren’t absolutely necessary. If you’re already on the road when a storm hits, don’t be afraid to pull over onto a shoulder or obey radio traffic safety instructions until you feel comfortable getting back on the road. Weather can become a big summer driving hazard.

5. Distracted/Drunk drivers

Summer can be the time for some people to get a little wild and carefree. School is out and many people can choose to take vacations to unknown locations that may just include Atlanta.

While you can’t do anything about their choices and driving behavior, there are certain actions you can take to keep you and your family safe.

  • Know the signs of drunk and/or distracted driving. Move over and away from drivers who are swerving, suddenly braking, or jerking their vehicle to course correct.
  • Try to drive in the middle or right-most traffic lanes. This will put you farther away from any reckless drivers on a two-way street that may cross yellow lines.
  • Be patient. Whether they have out-of-town license plates or not, you may be dealing with a new driver or someone who just isn’t familiar with the area. Give other cars enough room to merge, stop, and navigate safely.

6. Construction, roadwork, and traffic

These three things aren’t new concepts to Atlantans, but it bears repeating that summer can be peak season for major roadwork. Again, it’s important to be patient whether you’re commuting to work or traveling in or out of the city. Take special notice of roadwork signs, especially those for closed lanes – which can back up your normal traffic route, and workers on the side of the road. If you have to drive through one of these work zones, give yourself a little extra time to get where you’re going or search for a different route around the construction.

Hopefully, these tips will help your summer stay fun and free from accidents. By staying alert, maintaining your vehicle, and getting the right auto insurance coverage, you’ll be able to travel almost anywhere safely and soundly throughout the city.

Plus, when you work with our car insurance experts, you can get great rates on the coverage you need, no matter where the roads may take you. Call us today, fill out our online form, or LiveChat with an agent now to start saving tons on the best car insurance for you.

How to get insurance for an Airbnb in Atlanta

It's important to get the right insurance for your Airbnb.

It's important to get the right insurance for your Airbnb.If you’re thinking about turning your Atlanta home into an Airbnb, you’d be in good company. Tons of people in the U.S. alone have decided to start earning fairly easy money by renting out their homes to travelers. However, many Airbnb hosts start their experience without truly knowing the risks. So, how can you protect yourself as an Airbnb host? How do you insure an Airbnb? Let’s take a look.

Will my home insurance cover me as an Airbnb host?

A typical Atlanta home insurance policy is only built to handle everyday risks, such as visitors getting hurt or disaster perils. Even if your policy does allow you to have temporary tenants, insuring any space in your home as an Airbnb will be a bit different because of the sheer volume and variety of visitors you’ll have.

This means that you’ll need to insure the Airbnb as a type of commercial rental property. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need as high of a coverage limit or premium payment as an apartment complex. In fact, there are a few ways to go about insuring your home as an Airbnb. Each way, though, will depend on how much of your home is being rented out and how often you plan on listing the location.

Host Protection & Host Guarantee vs. Insurance for your Airbnb

It’s important to note that Airbnb does offer host protection and host guarantee plans per guest booking. These plans can cover up to $1 million in general liability claims and property damage to your home.

However, Airbnb specifically states that these plans DO NOT take the place of insurance. In fact, there are tons of conditions and exclusions that must be fulfilled for Airbnb before a host can be compensated using the guarantee. One of the conditions even suggests that the host would have to file a claim with their own insurance first before the guarantee would apply.

At any rate, it’s usually better all around to talk to your insurance agent first so you can get the coverage you need and not depend solely on the host guarantee.

Make sure you have the right insurance for your Airbnb.

How can I get insurance for an Airbnb?

The type and cost of commercial property insurance you’ll need for your Airbnb will mainly depend on your house’s primary use.

  • If you still live in the home and are renting out a few rooms: Some carriers may require you to add an endorsement that lets them cover the risk of increased occupancy.
  • If you’re using the property solely as an Airbnb: You’ll probably need a separate commercial rental property policy. Remember, though, that insuring a single house or rental unit usually isn’t as expensive as insuring an entire apartment building, even if you rotate guests on a regular basis.

How much insurance do I need for an Airbnb?

Most carriers will require you to insure your house’s structure at its replacement cost value (RCV) if you have a mortgage. If you don’t have a mortgage, you can choose to insure the structure for its Actual Cash Value (ACV.) Insuring your house for its ACV, though, might mean that you won’t have enough funds to properly rebuild your home if there was a total loss.

When insuring personal belongings or decorations inside of your home/Airbnb, your carrier may let you choose how high your property damage coverage limit is. This is why it’s vital to take a home inventory so that you know which belongings are in which rooms and the condition that they were in previously if something happens to them.

Also, keep your deductible in mind if you do want to file a claim in the future. If the damages to your home or property are less than your deductible, then your home insurance may not be able to help anyway. In any case, check with your agent about your insurance requirements, what your policy already covers, and how high of a coverage limit you’ll need to choose to properly protect your home.

What will an agent need to know to get a quote for Airbnb insurance?

An Airbnb will face more risks than a typical owner-occupied house. So, there are specific details that your insurance agent may need to know when signing up for insurance or adding coverage to your policy. These are some of the questions you should be prepared to answer when insuring your Airbnb:

  • Is the property deeded in your name or under a business organization?
  • How many units are you renting out in the home?
  • How long will each guest be staying on average? What is the minimum amount of time a guest will stay?
  • What is your address?
  • What is the square footage of the home?
  • How many bathrooms are in the home?
  • What kind of finishes are in your house? (i.e. custom, builder-grade, etc.)
  • If the home is over 40 years old, have the plumbing, electrical, and A/C systems been updated? When?
  • How old is the roof?
  • What deductible would you like?
  • How much personal property coverage would you like?

Local laws and regulations.

As Airbnb and other sharing services grow, more and more city governments are regulating their practices. Some cities and towns may require specific notice or permits when running a short-term rental. Other towns may not allow Airbnbs at all. So, check your local laws on short-term rentals before setting up your home as an Airbnb.

Overall, Airbnb can be a great way to earn money and open up your home for travelers to experience more of your city. As a homeowner, though, it’s important to keep your house, as your investment, safe. While Airbnb’s host protection and guarantee plans may offer extra protection, it’s important to have the right insurance for your short-term rental so that any hosting-related claims aren’t denied when you need it most.

Our experts can help you find affordable rates on Atlanta home insurance whether you need a typical owner-occupant policy or you need to add specific coverages. LiveChat with us, fill out our online form, or give us a call today to stop missing out on great home insurance coverage for the rates you deserve.

11 motorcycle safety tips

Motorcycle safety is extremely important.

Motorcycle safety is extremely important.

Buying a motorcycle can be the end goal to a lifelong dream, or maybe you just want a zippier way to get around town. Whatever your reason, a motorbike can be a rewarding mode of transportation. However, riding can be quite dangerous. So, it’s more important than ever to know how to stay safe while riding your motorcycle. Here, we’ll take on some of the most vital safety tips for your motorcycle trips.

11 motorcycle safety tips.

1. Take the right courses

Just as there are drivers ed courses, motorcycle education courses can teach you the ins and outs of your motorbike, plus how to operate it safely. Like most drivers’ ed classes, these courses will have written and on-the-road tests to gauge your skill level and qualify you for the proper license. To get the most out of your course, make sure you find a school that is supported by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and/or has a Rider Education & Training System (RETS) curriculum.

2. Get the right license

While it may not be mandatory to obtain a motorcycle-specific license, the safest practice for operating a motorbike will be to take the proper courses and obtain a motorcycle-specific license. Typically, these licenses are classified as M1 or M2 licenses and should be obtained in addition to your Class C drivers’ license. Some states have different requirements in order to get your motorcycle licenses. However, they may also give you the option to skip the written and road tests for the license if you take the proper courses. So, check your state laws for motorcycle licensing. (Georgia, by the way, does require you to have a Class M motorcycle license.)

3. Always wear motorcycle safety gear

This may or may not go beyond just a helmet. Make sure that when you ride, you’re wearing gloves, pads, and proper clothing. Safety gear like helmets should always be checked for cracks, rips, and imperfections that could compromise the effectiveness of its protection in a crash. Make sure that your safety gear fits snugly, but not so tight that it impairs your movement on the bike.

Long-sleeved shirts and long, think pants can be helpful in an accident, but also while riding your bike. Pants made with thick/durable materials (like a sturdy set of jeans) can reduce the risk of skin burns from parts of the bike that get too hot. Long-sleeved tops or jackets can create a barrier in an accident and prevent more severe cases of road rash.

4. Don’t drive under the influence

Driving a motorbike requires you to be even more alert and aware of other drivers. Motorbikes are obviously a lot smaller and offer a lot less protection than the cabin of a four-wheeled vehicle that’s surrounded by metal. So, make sure you’re not altering your senses by operating your motorbike while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

5. Practice, practice, practice

Again, this goes beyond when the bike is actually in motion. Know where the various gears and controls of your bike are. Practice using and switching between them while your bike is turned off and safely parked.

You can consider taking a motorcycle safety course.

6. Follow the speed limit

It might be tempting to give the throttle all you’ve got, but speed limit signs are there for a reason. They were designed to be the best speed for that specific road in ideal conditions. So, keep an eye on your speedometer and be even more cautious when conditions on the road are less than ideal. This is an essential motorcycle safety thing.

7. Look out for hazards

Again, motorcycles are a lot smaller and offer a lot less protection than the cabin of a car. This means that small inconveniences to a car can cause much bigger problems for a motorbike. So, keep a close lookout for road hazards like debris, animals, potholes, cracks, bumps, and uneven spaces in the road. Pay attention to warning signs and learn the proper defensive riding techniques to safely avoid these hazards if you find yourself face to face with one.

8. Be hyper-aware of other drivers.

Remember, drivers of four-wheeled autos don’t have the full field of vision that you would on a motorbike. Try to stay out of vehicles’ blind spots (especially larger vehicles), avoid riding too close to vehicles, and pay special attention to how the drivers around you maneuver. Give yourself plenty of stopping distance between cars and plenty of room to account for erratic driving behavior.

9. Make your intent clear

Although a motorbike is small, avoid weaving between traffic and squeezing through tight spaces on the road. Most states inform drivers to give motorcycles the same space that they would give another car. So, do your best to define your motorbike’s “bubble” and drive according to the space you need.

Use your turn signals while turning and merging, and make sure you give the drivers around you enough notice of your intent to move.

10. Be especially careful when carrying passengers

Finally, if you’re taking someone else along for the ride, take special care to follow all traffic laws and safety measures. Make sure they know the rules of your bike and proper motorcycle safety as a passenger. You’re responsible for their life too if they’re tagging along!

11. Get the right motorcycle insurance

Unfortunately, accidents do happen, and with a motorcycle, those accidents can have more severe effects on everyone involved. So, you want to make sure that you have the proper coverage to protect yourself from anything that comes your way, on or off the road.

Our insurance experts know exactly what types of coverage you’ll need for your motorbike and your unique riding situation. We also know the best ways to save you money on only the coverage you need. So, stop missing out on great savings on quality motorcycle coverage. To start getting cheaper rates on the motorcycle insurance you need, give our insurance specialists a call, fill out our online form, or LiveChat with an agent today!

Does Atlanta home insurance cover meteorites?

Does home insurance cover meteorites?

Does home insurance cover meteorites?

As Space X puts us closer and closer to colonizing other planets, it’s natural to wonder if we’re truly prepared for all the dangers of space. Well, the home insurance world may be a little more prepared than you think. Insurance policies are created to help you in worst-case scenarios. But can your Atlanta home insurance or even your car insurance help you if you’re hit by space stuff like meteorites, asteroids, or falling satellites? Let’s find out.

Why should I be worried about asteroids, meteors, or meteorites right now?

First, it might help to break down what each of these terms mean. (And no – scientifically, they aren’t the exact same thing.) Let’s start big and go small.

Asteroids are huge chunks of rocks that orbit the sun, hence why we use the term “asteroid belt.”

A meteor is a piece of asteroid that breaks off and gets caught in Earth’s atmosphere.

A meteorite is a piece of a meteor that actually makes it through the atmosphere and crashes to Earth.

Many, many meteors make it to Earth’s atmosphere each year, but not a lot of meteorites are actually big enough to leave any kind of mark by themselves. One of the biggest things to worry about if a meteorite comes to Earth is not the impact of the rock itself, but the shockwave of it breaking apart in the atmosphere.

So, even if a meteorite actually hitting Earth is a rare happening, you may want to be a little more prepared for the danger that you can’t see in the shockwave.

Does my home insurance cover an asteroid, meteor, or meteorite hitting my house?

As odd as it sounds: More than likely, yes.

Normal home insurance policies could help you cover damages to your house caused by asteroids, meteors, meteorites, and all types of other space debris that physically hits your home. That’s because home insurance policies typically cover falling objects in general. However, you’ll want to check your specific policy for any specific scenarios in which they exclude falling object damage. It’s also important to note that your insurance probably won’t cover repairs to your home if it’s damaged by a meteorite crashing near your home. (More on that in a second.)

Usually, this type of coverage is used for falling trees. But you know, it’s nice to know that your home insurance can cover random space stuff too. It is your carrier’s job to expect the unexpected, after all.

Does my home insurance cover damage from the shockwave of an asteroid, meteor, or meteorite?

This is where things can get tricky. (As if a shockwave hitting your house isn’t a tricky enough situation.)

Damage to your home from the shockwave itself actually would NOT be covered by a typical HO-3 policy.

HO-3 policies are the most common type of homeowners’ insurance. But these plans mostly operate on a named perils basis for coverage, meaning that damages can only be covered if the policy specifically lists the event as a covered loss. These perils are typically:

  • Fire/Lightning
  • Smoke damage
  • Freezing
  • Damage due to the weight of ice/sleet/snow
  • Windstorm damage
  • Explosions
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Vehicle & aircraft damage
  • Falling objects
  • Volcanic eruption (yep, your homeowners’ insurance can cover you for the next Pompeii too.)

So, a meteorite directly striking your house could be covered under the “Falling object” peril. However, if all of your windows shattered because of the shockwave from an exploding meteorite, you’ll probably have to pay that bill on your own. Unfortunately, shockwaves are usually classified as a form of Earth movement, not a form of explosion, and is excluded from most homeowners’ insurance policies. (Yes, we checked.)

If you have an HO-5 policy, however, you could be covered for a meteorite shockwave if your policy doesn’t specifically exclude that event. HO-5 policies usually operate on a more open-perils basis, meaning that if a peril isn’t specifically listed as not covered, you could be covered for it! Nonetheless, you would still have to check with your carrier about how your insurance classifies meteorite shockwaves in particular since some HO-5 policies specifically exclude earth movement as well.

If we do end up colonizing other planets, the home insurance premiums to have meteorite coverage will probably be a lot more expensive. There’s a much higher risk of getting hit with meteors when you’re actually in space; so, insurance rates will probably go up because of the heightened risk. So, if you’re planning on living in a meteorite-prone area (or if you already live in one), you’ll want to talk to your agent about getting meteorite coverage sooner rather than later.

So, that’s the rundown on how your homeowners’ insurance might cover meteorites and other space debris. Like many other scenarios, your coverage will depend on your specific plan and your specific carrier. Therefore, it’s important to talk to your agent about any special concerns you have.

Whether you’re headed to space or keeping yourself Earth-bound, our experts can help you find great rates on Atlanta home insurance that fits your unique needs. So, make sure you’re not missing out on the best rates and coverage for you, and call us to start your free quotes, or just fill out our online form.

Does my car insurance cover a hit and run?

UM/UIM coverage can help you if you're the victim of a hit and run.

UM/UIM coverage can help if you're the victim of a hit and run.Hit-and-run drivers aren’t the most responsible people in the world, and they can leave you with a massive repair bill. In a typical accident, that repair bill could be handled by the other driver’s insurance company. But if there’s no other insurance company to contact, who’s in charge of paying for your expenses? Here, we’ll take a look at how your car insurance might be able to cover a hit and run or if you’ll have to pay for everything yourself.

Will my car insurance cover a hit-and-run?

If your auto insurance policy includes uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, it could help you cover vehicle damage from a hit-and-run driver. Usually, UM/UIM insurance is used for drivers that hit you and don’t have enough insurance to cover repairs and injuries. However, hit-and-run drivers can also be covered under the “uninsured” portion of the coverage.

Think about it: If someone hits you and speeds off, you don’t have any way of contacting their insurance company. So, there’s no one to help you pay for your medical bills and other expenses resulting from the accident. That sounds a lot like an uninsured motorist, who also won’t have any insurance info to give you or your auto insurance company.

It’s important to note, though, that UM/UIM coverage isn’t the same as your collision and comprehensive car insurance. Those coverages work a little differently.

Will my collision or comprehensive insurance cover a hit-and-run?

Collision insurance is typically used to cover the damages to your car in the event of an accident, whether you’re found to be at-fault or not. So, if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run, you may be able to get the damages repaired under this coverage even if the other driver is long gone.

Comprehensive coverage is usually used for if something else damages your car besides another driver. Namely:

Technically, another driver that doesn’t have insurance won’t fall into the category of what comprehensive insurance covers. So, a hit-and-run driver probably isn’t covered by that either.

Pro Tip: Georgia doesn’t require collision and comprehensive coverage, which can help cover your car in an accident. However, you may have been required to get this coverage to get a car loan. So, check your policy.

So, what do I do if I was in a hit-and-run-accident?

Don’t leave the scene.

Even if the other driver sped off, don’t leave the scene. The position and location of your car could be important to the police report or your insurance claim later. If staying in the same spot as the accident is dangerous or will block traffic, try to pull into a safer place like a parking lot, a road shoulder, or a turn lane while you call the police.

Call the police.

Even if the damages or the injuries were minor, responders still recommend calling 911. The operator can tell you whether or not it’s an emergency situation or if they will just send an officer to the scene. Regardless of the response, it never hurts to have an officer respond and to have a police report to file with your insurance claim.

Pro Tip: If you see a hit-and-run, and you can’t stop to be a witness, call 311. The 311 operator can then either transfer you or give you the number for your local traffic non-emergency line.

Take pictures.

When it’s safe to do so, it’s vital to take pictures (or even video) of the damages and any injuries you may have. It’ll help you file a more accurate insurance claim and get the proper payout or reimbursement. Make sure the footage and photos are kept somewhere safe and secure, like an external hard drive or a cloud service like Google or iCloud for easy reference.

Gather information from witnesses.

If there are any witnesses that are willing to stick around until the police come, write down or record their account of the incident. Also, write down their names and best contact numbers in case your insurance carrier, the police, or your lawyers need a second-hand account.

Keep a record of your medical expenses and treatments.

If you notice any bumps, bruises, broken bones, aches, or pains within 2-3 weeks of the accident, be sure to document any medical treatments, medications, or physical therapy costs you have as a result of the injury. Keep track of how the injury affects your state of living as well. This can help your auto insurance more accurately pay for the results of the accident.

Get a property damage evaluation.

An insurance adjuster may come to evaluate the damage to your car. If you disagree with their repair cost estimate, feel free to get a second opinion from a repair shop or a mechanic that you trust.

Make sure that you have UM/UIM coverage BEFORE the accident.

Overall, you’ll want to consider UM/UIM coverage before you’re involved in a hit-and-run. That way, you can rest easy when you drive, even if someone were to hit you. Make sure the coverage limits fit the value of your car and any injuries you might have so that your car insurance can work for you, not against you.

We know how important it is to have the right car insurance coverage to fit your needs and your situation. We also know that it’s not fun to spend a fortune on your coverage. So, give our insurance experts a call. We’ll help you find the best rates on the auto insurance you need. All you have to do is give us a call or fill out our online form to make sure you’re not missing out on the rates and coverage you deserve.

What is staged accident auto insurance fraud?

Be aware of staged accident auto insurance fraud.

Be aware of staged accident auto insurance fraud.

A car accident can be a scary ordeal for everyone involved…except if someone planned it. Staged accident fraud, unfortunately, happens more than you would think. In fact, it’s estimated that staged accident fraud costs the insurance industry over $20 billion a year. So, how can you tell if someone has staged an accident or if it was just a mistake? Let’s take a look.

How do I know if someone tried to cause an accident?

There are actually a few tell-tale signs that a driver was trying to cause an accident. If you remember any of these signs, you may have been a victim of one of three of the most common types of accident fraud:

1. The Drive Down

Let’s say that you’re trying to merge into the next lane, and the driver behind you motions over or slows down to let you into the lane. However, when you start merging, that car speeds up and hits you. When the police arrive, the other driver denies ever giving you a signal to move over.

2. The Swoop & Squat

This is a staged accident scenario that involves two drivers – one that rides beside you (let’s call them Driver B) and one that swoops in front of you (we’ll call them Driver A). Driver A will drive behind Driver B while Driver B pulls ahead. This allows Driver A to “swoop” in front of you. Driver B then slows down to drive beside you. Driver A will then slam on their brakes. Since Driver B is blocking your ability to swerve out of the way, you’ll more than likely rear-end Driver A.

Accidents like this can be especially bad for you because the drivers and passengers of both cars could testify that you were at fault. If no other witnesses stuck around, you’ll probably have trouble convincing the police and your car insurance carrier that you weren’t responsible for the event. Passengers in the other vehicles could then file bogus injury claims. These claims could drive up your insurance rates at best, and leave you to pay the fraudsters out-of-pocket at worst.

3. The T-Bone

This one is simple but sometimes effective. Another driver waits until you’re crossing an intersection and T-bones your car. When the police arrive, the other driver and several other planted “witnesses” say that you ran a red light or a stop sign.

How can I protect myself from staged car accidents?

The tactics that a fraudster may use may be smart, but here are some ways to be smarter if you’re in an accident:

1. Call the police immediately.

Don’t settle the matter on-site with cash, and don’t admit fault. It may be a reflex to try to apologize to the other driver, but try not to say anything that can be taken as you admitting fault. Wait for a lawyer, court, or your insurance company to determine who is responsible.

2. Photograph or video as soon as you can after the accident.

This can be especially helpful with the last fraud technique if you can take a photo that proves you had the right of way. However, this is a good idea to do when you’re involved in any accident, staged or not. Take pictures or videos of both cars, passengers involved, any damages, etc. Be as detailed as you can. You never know what important information could be revealed in a photo later.

3. Take detailed notes

If possible, take detailed notes of the incident. Take down first and last names, VINs, phone numbers, license plate numbers, the name and phone number of the driver’s insurance company, auto policy numbers, and the year, make, and model of both cars involved. Note: This is the ONLY information another driver should need from you as well. Giving any other information could be used to steal your identity. So, keep your information safe!

Also, write down your detailed account of what happened. Memory can sometimes play tricks on you. So, having a first-impressions account of what happened can help you stick to the story of what happened instead of saying something that could be misconstrued or misremembered later.

4. Drive defensively

Don’t tailgate and be mindful of the actions of other drivers on the road. Look for any odd or erratic driving behaviors. If you don’t feel comfortable driving behind or next to another driver, don’t be afraid to change lanes or take another route.

Hopefully, these tips can make you more aware of when you’ve been in a staged accident. These incidents don’t just affect the people involved. It also contributes to insurance rates rising by an average $100 to $300 per year. So, knowing the signs and taking the proper measures after an accident can help you in filing a car insurance claim, and it can help your rates in the future.

We can also help you find lower rates when you’re getting car insurance. Our insurance experts know exactly how to get the coverage you need for an affordable rate to fit your situation. To make sure you’re not missing out on these great rates, just call us or fill out our online form to start getting free quotes on car insurance.

What is an HO-5 insurance policy?

An HO-5 policy is slightly different than an HO-3 policy.

An HO-5 policy is slightly different than an HO-3 policy.

When you’re talking about home insurance with your agent, they may mention a series of letters and numbers that can make your head spin. To start off, they may mention an HO-3 insurance policy, which is one of the most common in the U.S. However, what if you want more coverage than that policy has to offer? Introducing the HO-5 policy! Here we’ll tell you what it is and what exactly it can cover.

Read moreWhat is an HO-5 insurance policy?

10 tips if you’re renting out your home in Atlanta

If you're renting out your home, keep these tips in mind.

If you're renting out your home, keep these tips in mind.

In the modern age of AirBnBs and temporary rentals, it’s easier than ever to earn money with your property when you’re not even using it! However, there are several things you’ll need to know before diving headfirst into renting out your home. Here are 10 tips to keep in mind if you’re renting out your home while you’re away.

10 tips if you’re renting out your home.

1. Get references.

Home sharing and temporary rental apps will have star ratings for each guest that plans to rent out your home. However, if someone will be living in your home for more than a few days, you’ll want to have a couple of references from your guest’s former lessors. Ask your renters for a few contacts who can vouch for their sense of responsibility and trustworthiness.

2. Have a rental agreement.

As with anything, it’s best to have important arrangements taken down in writing. That way, you and your renters are clear on what your expectations are for the length of the lease. Your rental agreement should at least include:

  • The terms of renting the space
  • Any restrictions
  • Who is liable for which incidents
  • How many people can visit or live in the house at once

Your rental agreement can be as long or as short as you need it to be, but remember, it’s your house! Set guidelines that you know will protect your property the way you want.

You may also want to recommend that your tenants get renter’s insurance (since any insurance that you have as the landlord will more than likely not cover their belongings, just the structure of the house itself. )

3. Have a safe, secure place in your living space for the items you’re leaving behind.

If the lease or agreement is super temporary, you’re probably not going to take everything with you when you leave. So, make sure that you have a safe place to lock up any valuables or precious belongings. Define which spaces are okay to use and which ones are off limits to your tenants.

4. Take pictures of everything.

Before the rental period begins, take pictures of everything as you left it. Turn into a smartphone photographer and snap pictures of everything from full rooms to small scratches and scuffs. You never know what small detail can matter later on! Save your photos with an external hard drive or through a cloud service like Google Drive. It could make a great companion to your home inventory too.

5. Provide your contact information.

Make sure your tenants have a way to contact you if anything does go wrong. Hopefully, they won’t have to use your contact info. Still, even if your renters are the type to call you for small issues, you’ll at least know what’s going on in your house. You may also want to leave your current contact info with your neighbors in case they notice anything suspicious.

6. Take care of your mail.

Stopping by every once in a while to pick up mail from your tenants may seem easier for you. However, for your renters, having a mailbox stuffed with their mail as well as yours and then sorting through it can get old quickly. Check with your post office to see if you can have your mail forwarded or held until you get back home.

7. Consider having a property manager

If you’re going to be away for a while or you plan to use the house solely as a rental property, consider hiring a property manager to keep an eye on things. Again, hopefully, they won’t have anything negative to report. Nonetheless, it can give you a greater peace of mind to know that someone is consistently keeping an eye on things.

8. Request a security deposit.

People who put money initially into property are more likely to take care of the space. Plus, if you do find any damages caused by tenants, you have a fund to draw from to get everything repaired. If there are no damages to report, then you can give their deposit back. It’s a win-win!

9. Talk to your insurance agent.

There are tons of different rental situations. You may be living in the home while tenants are renting a separate space, or you could be renting out the entire home. Either way, it’s important to talk to your insurance agent to make sure you have the right coverage.

A normal home insurance policy usually only covers you, as the homeowner, if you’re the one living in the house. If you ever need to file a claim with your insurance company, and they find out the damage was done by a tenant they didn’t know about, they could outright reject your claim and leave you with a hefty repair bill.

Different carriers cover different rental situations in different ways. So, make sure you give as much information on your specific situation as possible. Then, your agent can determine if you just need to add an endorsement to your policy, or if you need to get a whole new policy.

10. Get rental property insurance.

If you do need to find a separate policy as a landlord, our experts can walk you through the types of coverage you’ll need to include. Plus, we’ll even help you find great rates! Call us today to start getting free quotes for affordable rental property insurance or just fill out our online form.

Is my car totaled or can I repair it?

totaled or can i repair

totaled or can i repair

Whether you’re in a really bad car accident or a random act (like a tree falling) damages your car, it can be tough to know whether your vehicle is now a lost cause or if a body shop can bring your car back to life. Many people think that a “totaled” car simply means that the airbag deployed, but that’s not necessarily true. Here’s how to truly tell if your car is totaled or repairable, and how your car insurance handles either situation.

Is my car totaled or repairable?

The technical definition of a totaled car is a vehicle that has a repair cost that is close to or greater than the fair market value of that car. A car’s fair market value is the amount you would be able to sell the car for the day before the accident or damaging incident.

For example, let’s say you were able to sell your car at $8,000 the day before the accident, and the cost of repairs from the accident total $6,000. The fair market value of your car would be $8,000, but because the repair costs are so close to the market value, your vehicle could be considered “totaled.”

Will my auto insurance help cover repairing or replacing my car after it is totaled?

Your auto insurance can only help you repair or replace your vehicle if you have the right coverage. If you’ve opted for only the minimum car insurance requirement for Georgia, you may be out of luck. The state minimum coverage is only built to handle your legal obligation to the other driver if you’re found to be at fault in an accident. It won’t help you cover the damages or injuries that you have.

So, if your car is damaged by an accident, your only hope to have your costs covered would be if the other driver was at fault AND they have the proper insurance to fully cover the repair or fair market value costs of your car.

However, if you have collision and comprehensive coverage, you may not have to depend on the other driver’s insurance  – which can be especially good news if you’re dealing with an uninsured driver. The type of coverage that can handle the costs depends on the type of incident, though.

Collison vs. Comprehensive car insurance

If you’re in a car accident that damages or totals your vehicle, collision coverage is the part of your policy that can help you.

Comprehensive coverage is the part of your policy that can help you cover repairs or vehicle replacement if almost anything else happens. Comprehensive coverage can usually help you cover incidents like:

Whether you’ve been in a car accident or not, though, to have your car repaired, you’ll have to pay your deductible before your insurance pays for the rest. This means that if you have a $500 auto insurance deductible and the cost to repair your car is $6,000, you would have to pay $500 of the repair bill and your insurance would cover the remaining $5,500.

Keep in mind that your insurance company will do their own evaluation of the repair costs and fair market value of your car. So, it’s important to also get second opinions and do your own research on the repair costs and market value of your vehicle.

Can I debate the fair market value of my car?

There are times where an auto insurance company may price a repair at a higher rate or assign a lower market value to your car than it was actually worth. This is because car insurance companies use certain software programs to estimate repair costs and car values.

These programs may not search as widely as you can for the best prices. So, your carrier may price your repairs closer to your car’s fair market value. They may also assign a lower market value to your car so it’s closer to a reasonable repair cost. In either case, the insurance company could end up totaling out your car when it’s not necessary and more expensive for you to get a new car.

For example, let’s say that your insurance company says it will be $6,000 to repair your car after an accident. Then, they say that the fair market value for your car was $7,000. However, Kelley Blue Book or a used car lot actually values your vehicle at $10,000 because they took other factors into account that contribute to the true value of your vehicle.

If you completely relied on the insurance company’s software, they would probably total out your car and may only pay you $7,000. So, you would have to pay an additional $3,000 out of pocket to get a similar car to the one you had.

How to prove the fair market value of your car

Using our example, if you were able to bring your claims adjuster proof that the fair market value for your car was actually $10,000, you may then only have to pay $500 out of pocket for the repair. Then, the insurance company would pay the remaining $5,500. That way, you would only have to spend $500 instead of $3,000 in the long run.

So, if your insurance wants to total out your vehicle, make sure that you’ve done your research by:

  • Looking up prices for comparable vehicles in the area
  • Checking online resources for the value of your vehicle and for the pricing of your repairs
  • Going to a used car lot for a written appraisal of your vehicle
  • Getting prices from multiple body shops (They may be able to repair your car for less than the insurance company quoted you for.)

Get quotes for the car insurance you need.

It can be scary and overwhelming when you’re handling the aftermath of an accident. It can be even more challenging if you don’t have the right coverage. That’s why our insurance experts are here to help. We use our expertise to get you quotes on the best car insurance for your specific situation and the risks you may face – for great rates! Don’t miss out on getting cheaper rates for the car insurance you deserve. Fill out our online form, give our experts a call, or click the chat bubble in the bottom right-hand corner to connect with an agent today.