Do I need insurance for a vacant home in Atlanta?

It's important to get the right vacant home insurance to protect your house.

It's important to get the right vacant home insurance to protect your house.

Sometimes the housing market is hard when you’re trying to sell your home. Sometimes, you may need to move out of your house for an extended period of time. Regardless of your situation, you may need to leave your home for quite a while. Unfortunately, your regular home insurance usually won’t cover a home you’re not living in. But if there’s no one to watch or check up on the property and it’s not insured, how can you protect it from vandalism, theft, or any other sort of disaster? Find out here.

What’s the difference between an unoccupied and a vacant home?

First, it’s important to define the difference between a vacant and an unoccupied home. (Yes, it can matter to your insurance company.) An unoccupied home is one where there’s furniture in the house, the utilities are turned on, and the place is generally ready for anyone to turn the key and live in.

A vacant house is one where the lights are not on and nobody’s home. There’s no furniture to see, the utilities are turned off, and the house is pretty much the husk of a building with no one living in it.

When is my house considered unoccupied or vacant?

It’s important to talk to your insurance agent, then, about the amount of time your policy will cover between each tenant living in the house. Usually, normal home insurance policies can cover an unoccupied home for 30-60 days after someone moves out.

However, if you’re on an extended vacation, going through long-term medical treatment where you’re away from your house, or having renovations done where you can’t physically stay in your house, your insurance policy may include a clause that will allow your coverage to continue through your life event.

On the other hand, if you’re having trouble selling your house when you’ve already moved out, most home insurance policies will have certain exclusions for vacant properties once the time limit is up.

Talk to your agent about insuring your vacant home.

Why won’t my regular home insurance cover a vacant house?

The reason why is risk. Vacant homes create what is called an “attractive nuisance.” A vacant house can present golden opportunities for vandals and thieves. It can also present opportunities for people to get hurt or bring down neighborhood value.

Insurance companies prepare for the worst. In a house where no one is there to keep an eye on things, an unattended electrical fire could break out, a vandal could create an eyesore on your walls, or the neighborhood kids could break an arm in their new “playhouse.” Carriers don’t want to take on the same risks for a vacant house as they do for a property that has someone keeping an eye on the things that could go wrong.

Can’t I just tell my insurance that I am still living in the house?

You may be thinking, “Why can’t I just tell them that I’m still living there?” Well, if there is a disaster that takes out your house, your neighborhood or town will look to you to fix the damages. If someone is hurt on your property, it’s you that the injured person can decide to sue.

Whether you’re living in the home or not, it’s still your responsibility, and if the property is not properly covered, you’ll be stuck footing the bill yourself. Plus, if something happens and your carrier finds out that you weren’t occupying the building, they could very well drop your coverage or consider you as a case of insurance fraud.

How do I insure my vacant or unoccupied house?

While insurance companies aren’t eager to take on the risks of a vacant building on a general policy, it can be rather easy to get additional coverage for the building.

Some insurance companies will just let you add a low-cost endorsement to your existing home insurance policy. Some carriers require you to get an entirely separate policy (which means you can probably just change your insurance for that property from a regular insurance policy to a vacant home policy.) Either type of coverage will usually only kick in after the home has been vacant for 30 days and can cover the home up to a year.

If your current carrier doesn’t offer these options, it’s completely fine to ask your agent for recommendations. Whether you go with a specialty insurance company that your agent recommends or one that you find, do your research before getting their policy. Make sure they’re a reputable company. (The easiest way to check can be by checking their A.M. credit rating or BBB ratings.)

How much does vacant home insurance cost?

Since you’re not actually occupying the house that you’re insuring, vacant home insurance works a bit differently than a regular home insurance policy. If you’re considering an endorsement, most additions like this can cost under $100/month. Otherwise, insuring your vacant home can depend on:

  • The location of your home
  • The amount of coverage you need
  • The fire and weather-resistance of your home
  • Other risks that your specific home faces.

This is why it’s important to sit down with your agent and be straightforward with the conditions of your home and the types of risks you’re worried about. Your agent will make sure that your new coverage won’t violate your current contract with them and that you’ll have the right coverage while you’re away.

A vacant home presents certain risks.

Our insurance agents are experts at finding the right vacant home coverage for your specific home. We’ll help you find multiple quotes on the coverage and rates that work for you while you’re transitioning into your new stage of life. To get started, just give us a call or fill out our easy online form!


What’s the difference between market value and replacement cost?

Your home's market value is different than its replacement cost.

Your home's market value is different than its replacement cost.

When you’re shopping for Atlanta home insurance, you may be tempted to go for the cheapest option. After all, you’re spending tons of money on your mortgage already. So, you may want to go for a home insurance option that might cost less and include market value reimbursement instead of replacement cost. However, when it comes time to file a claim, you could end up regretting your decision. We’ll tell you why.

What is market value reimbursement for home insurance?

Insuring your home for its market value means insuring your house for the amount that someone would pay for it in the current real estate market. This includes the land that your property sits on and only the finished product of the house itself. We’ll tell you more about why that’s important in a moment.

What is replacement cost for home insurance?

Your home’s replacement cost is different than its market value. If your insurance policy covers the replacement cost of your home, it’s saying that your insurance can help you cover the costs of actually rebuilding your home from scratch.

So, what’s the actual difference?

Insuring your house for its market value means that your insurance may reimburse you for the amount that someone would pay for your house if they were buying it from say, a real estate agency. Insuring your house for its replacement cost means that your insurance can help you with the cost of everything that it takes to rebuild your house – demolition, materials, inspections, certificates, construction labor, landscaping, other structures, etc.

Keep in mind that the market value and replacement cost for your home are different than the Actual Cost Value (ACV) or Replacement Cost Value (RCV) on your home insurance policy. These terms refer more so to the personal belongings inside of your home rather than the house’s structure. So, it’s important to have the right amount of coverage for your belongings in your home insurance policy as well.

Why should I insure my house for its replacement cost value?

Here’s the deal – on average, the cost of a modest house in Atlanta proper (not in an Atlanta suburb like Roswell, Stone Mountain, or Douglasville) is about $250,000 to $300,000. The cost to construct or reconstruct a house of a similar size is about $500,000 – and that’s not including the cost of labor for your construction team, your electricians, your plumbers, or other workers that have to make sure the house can actually stand and function for you.

Plus, depending on the company, the average time to rebuild a house is about 7 months, and the company could charge by the hour or by the job. That’s also not to mention the fact that you’ll have some additional living expenses to handle while you’re unable to use your home (i.e.: restaurant bills, lodging, travel costs, etc.)

That means that if you’re only insuring your house for its market value, you could end up spending over $250,000 extra dollars on rebuilding a home that cost you or is only worth about $250,000. (Almost double the worth of your house.) So, only insuring your house for its market value may not be the best strategy, unless you have that kind of money lying around.

Also, make sure your agent is up to date about the changes you make to your house.

Any improvements to your home, including additions, pools, finished basements, and more, could add both market and replacement value costs to your house. That’s why it’s vital to let your insurance agent know about any life events. It ensures that you have not only enough coverage for everyday life, but also for a rainy day.

It may be intimidating to insure your home for its replacement cost value, but keep in mind that your home is an investment. And if disaster strikes, you want to make sure your home is protected properly. Plus, our insurance experts can help you find the best deals on the home insurance you need. We’ll work with you to make sure you have the right coverage limits for the prices that fit your budget. To start comparing quotes on the perfect Atlanta home insurance for you, just give us a call or fill out our easy online form today.


7 things you need to know about Atlanta flood insurance

Here are some facts to know about Atlanta flood insurance.

Here are some facts to know about Atlanta flood insurance.

Water is necessary for life, of course, but when it gets into your home it’s suddenly less about giving life and more about causing destruction. Water doesn’t have much regard for property or non-waterproof things that are in its way when it decides to flood. But that’s exactly why Atlanta flood insurance exists – to help the homeowner recover from a flood-related loss. What exactly is flood insurance and what does it do? We’re going to explain 7 things you need to know about flood insurance.

7 things you need to know about flood insurance.

1. First things first – home insurance and renters’ insurance does not cover flooding.

Many homeowners only find this out too late – meaning after their home is underwater. Plenty of people assume that flooding is covered by Atlanta home insurance or renters insurance, but it’s not. Flooding is the most common – and most expensive – natural disaster in the United States, which is why it’s important to consider protecting your home with flood insurance. The damage from just one inch of floodwater can be over $20,000.

(Keep in mind that the insurance definition of flooding boils down to this: there’s a lot of water on the ground where there usually isn’t water and it infiltrates homes.)

2. You have to get flood insurance through the NFIP through an agent.

To get Atlanta flood insurance, you will most likely have to go through an agent and purchase a policy from the National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP. You can discuss your insurance needs with the agent to make sure that you have enough coverage to protect both your house and your belongings.

3. The price is the price.

Okay, here’s what we mean by that:

Since you’re purchasing insurance from the NFIP, the price is not going to chance from agent to agent, or from agency to agency. You may have heard that it’s important to shop around and get multiple quotes for insurance, and usually that’s great advice. But when you’re getting flood insurance, you’ll get a quote and that’s what the price tag is. (So, in a way it’s a little less work!)

4. There’s usually a 30-day waiting period with few exceptions.

This one is extremely important:

Your policy won’t go into effect until 30 days after you purchase it. Lots of people have a bit of panic when there’s a big storm in the forecast and a lot of rain is predicted (like during hurricane season.) But if a huge storm is going to strike in a week, your brand new flood insurance policy isn’t going to help you much. You’ve got to wait out the 30 days.

There are a few exceptions – and we mean a few. One possible exception is if you need flood insurance to get a mortgage loan, extend a mortgage loan, increase a mortgage loan, or renew a mortgage loan.

Bottom line is this: be sure to talk to your agent about when your policy is going to take effect.

5. You have to pay all in one go.

Unlike other lines of insurance coverage, such as auto insurance, you have to pay for a year of flood insurance upfront in one installment. That’s just the way it works.

6. You can get flood insurance even if you’re not in a “high-risk” flooding area.

Even if you’re not in an area that’s considered “high-risk” for flooding, you can still purchase flood insurance. It’s not exclusively for those folks who live in flood-prone areas.

And check out this stat: FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) states that more than 20% of all flood-related claims come from homes that are in areas considered to be low or medium-risk for flooding.

You can get flood insurance from the NFIP as long as your community participates in the NFIP. More than 22,000 communities nationwide participate, so chances are pretty good that you won’t have any problems finding a flood insurance policy.

7. If you’re not in a high-risk flood area, you might be able to get a preferred risk policy.

If your home isn’t in a high-risk area, you might qualify for a fancy flood insurance policy called a preferred risk policy. Basically, it acknowledges that you’re not a high risk for flooding, so the policy might be less expensive. If you’re in a low or medium-risk flood area but you want to get flood insurance for those just-in-case scenarios, ask your agent about a preferred risk policy.

So, there you have it – seven things you need to know about Atlanta flood insurance. If you’re interested in getting a flood insurance policy to protect your home, we would be happy to help. Our team of insurance agents can assist with getting quotes and helping you get the coverage that you need. To get in touch with us, you just have to fill out our online quote form or give us a call.


Online shopping tips to protect yourself during the holiday season

Prevent identity theft while you're online shopping.

Prevent identity theft while you're online shopping. From cyber-attacks to phishing scams to scammers, there are tons of ways that your information could be compromised during the holiday season. Just as holiday shopping has evolved a lot over the years, so have thieves evolved into hackers. As technologically savvy as you are when shopping for online deals, scammers have become even savvier on ways to steal your personal data. So, ’tis the season to start protecting yourself from cyber-attacks! Here are 9 tips on how you can protect your information and prevent identity theft while you’re online shopping for that special someone.

How to protect your identity while shopping online.

1. Fuel Your Firewall

This is something you should keep an eye on year-round, but it’s especially important to make sure you have a strong computer security system. One of the first things that hackers look for when stealing information are holes or weak points in your firewalls so that they can use malware to sneak a peek into all of those card numbers you’re putting into websites.

There are 4 ways that hackers are usually able to get personal information:

  • Viruses – programs that can negatively change or remove computer software.
  • Trojans – programs that can create backdoors in your security systems by disguising itself as or inside of a legitimate software. These programs are some of the ones that watch your online activity.
  • Spyware – programs that hide in the background of your computer or browser and, well, spy on you. It can record your online activity, keystrokes, passwords, chats, card numbers, and even use your webcam and microphone.
  • Keyloggers – a less invasive type of spyware, but still a program that can record exactly what you type and exactly where you type it.

So, how do you protect yourself? Make sure your firewall and computer operating systems are up to date before doing any online shopping. If your computer systems are current, they’ll more than likely be able to catch, alert you to, and delete any potential threats from websites, pop-ups, or downloads.

2. Keep Track of When & Where You’re Using Your Card

When you’re buying for a lot of friends and family, it can be easy to use different cards for different purchases so that all of your spending is spread out evenly. Just make sure that when you’re using different payment methods, keep a mental or physical tab of which websites you’re using your card on and even which gift you purchased on that card. If your data is compromised, keeping track of that info can make pinpointing the perp a whole lot easier.

3. Use a Secure URL

Most internet browsers and websites have made it a lot easier for users and consumers to keep their websites secure. Secure websites are one of the ways that webmasters are keeping the web safe. See that little “s” at the end of the HTTP in your website’s URL? That extra letter, combined with the padlock symbol before it, means that the website you’re on is located on a secure connection.

There’s a lot of tech-speak and processes involved with explaining how websites make their connections secure. Basically, a secure connection means that all the information you share with that website is encrypted. Encryption is kind of like a secret code that only the owner of that website has the tools to crack.

4. Know how your bank handles fraud cases.

Do a bit of research on your bank and how they handle suspicious charges. Do they alert you? When do they alert you? How do they alert you? Do they have you set up travel notices? If you are the victim of fraud or stolen identities, is there a hotline to call? How responsive is your bank? How do they handle the stolen funds? How will they handle your account and cards connected to that account? What is their customer service like? Are they able to stop the charge or get your money back? How are they protecting you now and in the future?

Keep track of which payment method you're using on which site while online shopping.

These are some of the vital questions you should know about your bank’s fraud process. You should also make a mental note of the steps you’ll need to take in your bank’s fraud process to make your case as smooth as possible.

5. Use More Credit and Less Debit

It can be scary to ring up a big bill on your credit card, but it’s a lot easier to argue and resolve a balance on a credit card than to restore lost money in a bank account. Plus, if you do already have the money to buy your gifts with your debit card, you can just pay off the credit card bill that you run up immediately after you’re done shopping.

6. Do Your Research!

If you don’t know or haven’t purchased from a retailer or their site before, check out their reputation. You can do a quick Google search for the retailer’s name + scam, look for online reviews, or search the shop in the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) website.

7. Don’t use Public Wi-Fi.

Think about it – password protecting your internet connection at least puts an extra obstacle in front of a hacker. Without that protection, your Wi-Fi connection can be an open gate for a hacker to put all kinds of malware into your computer. It can also be a lot easier for them to openly see what sites you’re using, what you’re doing on those sites, and any personal information you input or send through those sites.

8. Don’t Skip the Privacy Policy.

Look, we get it. Privacy policies, terms and conditions, terms of use, and all of the other mumbo-jumbo that comes along with using a website can be a pain to read. So, most of us just don’t bother. However, knowing how a website, even if it’s the site of a well-known retailer, uses and protects your information can help you fill in any gaps that their policies let slip through. So, at the very least, give it a quick skim before you click “Accept” when you’re online shopping.

9. Trust Your Gut.

Finding an online shopping website can be very similar to finding the perfect gift. If you’re not sure about it, don’t buy (from) it. If a link, ad, or website looks sketchy, it probably is. If the price on a perfect gift is too good to be true, it probably is. If you feel like a website is asking for more than the required amount of information for a purchase (like your full SSN), it’s fine to go elsewhere. The internet is filled with tons of retail websites. So, more than likely, you’ll be able to find the same thing from a different, reputable seller.

If you’re looking for Atlanta home insurance quotes, we can help. Our agents can help you get quotes for your insurance so you can get the coverage you need to protect yourself from risk – and save money on home insurance. You can give us a call or fill out our online quote form.


11 tips for holiday decorating safety (and avoiding home insurance claims)

Make sure to avoid fire hazards when you decorate for the holidays.

Make sure to avoid fire hazards when you put up holiday decorations.

If you’re gearing up for the holidays, you’re probably already scheming how you want to decorate your Atlanta home. You’re thinking lights. You’re thinking lawn decorations. You’re thinking festive holiday cheer. It’s all starting to take form. But the thing is that holiday decorations can go horribly awry. We’ve got 11 holiday decorating safety tips to help you avoid a catastrophe – and a potential home insurance claim. Don’t let an unexpected fire ruin your holiday cheer.

Tips for holiday decorating safety

1. Check all your lights before using them.

Whether you’ve bought new lights or you’re pulling your tried and true set out of the attic, make sure to check all the strings of lights. Look for cracking in the cord, broken cords, fraying, exposed wires, and loose connections. Get rid of any lights that could be unsafe. (This can help you prevent electrical fires.) You definitely don’t want an electrical fire to get in the way of the holidays.

2. Follow all instructions for electrical decorations.

Yes, instructions aren’t super fun to read. But it’s important to follow all the proper directions for using and installing your decorations. Just do what the manufacturer tells you to – improvisation is not a great strategy when electricity is involved.

3. Don’t connect too many lights to a single extension cord.

Don’t put more than three sets of lights on a single extension cord. You could overload it. These things are only designed to take so much strain.

4. Check for the UL testing label on all decorations.

Make sure the decorations have a label certifying that they’ve been tested by the UL (Underwriters Laboratory) – this is a consumer product testing laboratory that makes sure various products are safe for use.

5. Be careful with your outdoor lighting.

If you’re plugging in lights outside, make sure that you’re only using GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupting) outlets. These are designed to protect the outlet from exposure to water. (Remember – water and electricity do NOT mix.)

Also, don’t use staples or nails on your outdoor lighting cords. While you want the lights to be secured to something stable so that they won’t sustain wind damage, it’s probably not a great idea to stab them with metal things.

6. Watch your indoor extension cords.

If you’ve got extension cords inside the house, avoid putting them under furniture, rugs, and so on. These things can cause the cords to get really hot, and that can lead to problems of the fiery variety.

(On a bit of a side note, getting Atlanta home insurance means that you can protect yourself financially in the event of a fire or another loss. Need some help getting quotes? Just give us a call or fill out our online quote form and we’ll be happy to help you find the coverage that’s right for you.)

7. Set your tree up carefully.

First of all, use a sturdy tree stand to keep your tree standing. Anchor it to the wall or ceiling with guy wires if you have to. (Curious pets do love to climb on trees…potentially causing them to crash to the ground.)

And think about where you’re putting the tree. It needs to be at least three feet away (preferably farther) from anything that could produce heat. Think about it – trees are wood and needles. And wood burns. Yup. Make sure your tree isn’t going to go up in flames.

If you’re going the artificial tree route, make sure that it’s made out of a fire-resistant material.

8. Be careful with your ornaments and decorations.

It’s a good idea to make sure all ornaments or decorations are made of flame-resistant material. If you have kids or pets, you probably don’t want ornaments that could break into sharp pieces that could slice someone. You also probably don’t want to have ornaments that are small or are made of small parts, as these present a choking hazard. Be mindful of what you’re putting up around the house and what tiny fingers or paws could reach and eat and/or destroy.

9. Unplug lights before bed or leaving the house.

Yes, your lights look beautiful at night when it gets dark. But turn them off before you head to bed or before you leave the house. You don’t want any fires to start while you’re either sleeping or not at home. It’s best that you’re at home and alert when your lights are lit because you’ll be able to notice any problems with the lights or outlets sooner rather than later.

10. Don’t put the wrapping paper near the fire or other heat sources.

Presents are exciting. But make sure that you don’t let the wrapping paper get too close to the fireplace or any heat sources. Paper is made of trees, and as we’ve established, trees are flammable.

Also, don’t burn wrapping paper in the fireplace or in a bonfire. That’s just not a great idea. It’ll probably get a bit more out-of-hand than you were hoping it would.

11. Only keep your tree for two weeks.

While you might want to keep your tree up forever – it’s so pretty! – it’s best to only have it for about two weeks. If you keep it longer than that, it’s going to dry out a lot. And a dry tree is way more flammable than a fresh tree. Unfortunately, trees just don’t last that long when you keep them inside.

The holidays are a great time of year, but it’s important to decorate safely. Get into the holiday spirit safely to avoid having the joy and cheer interrupted by a fire or accident. (And, as a general rule, it’s also a good idea to avoid a home insurance claim.) Anyways, stay safe this holiday season!

If you’re looking for home insurance quotes, we can help. Our agents can help you get multiple quotes so you can compare rates and save on your Atlanta home insurance. You can get started with your quotes by filling out our online quote form or giving us a call today.


Atlanta home insurance terms to know

Check out these helpful home insurance terms.

Check out these helpful home insurance terms.

Buying a new home can be a scary prospect. Sure, it’s great to finally have a place to call your own, but you want to make sure that everything is protected. In fact, most mortgage lenders will want you to have proof of home insurance before you buy the house. So, how do you know what types of coverage you need? How do you know you’re not being gypped? What do all of those words floating around the home insurance space mean? Here’s are 7 basic home insurance terms to help get you started.

What is a Premium?

Of all the home insurance terms in our list, this one may be the one you’re most concerned with. Your home insurance premium is the amount you have to pay monthly just to have insurance coverage. Some premiums may seem a bit expensive, but your monthly payment amount usually depends on the amount of your deductible as well (more on that in a minute). It also depends on a few factors about your home, such as:

  • Location
  • The amount it will take to replace your home (again, more on this later)
  • Your claims history
  • Your credit score
  • The age of your home
  • How close you are to a fire department (nope – we’re not kidding.)
  • Your roof (still not kidding)
  • If you have a pool or a trampoline

What is a Deductible?

The deductible for your homeowners’ policy is the amount that you’ll have to pay out of your pocket before your carrier will start covering your claim.

But wait, why am I paying for insurance if I still have to pay for the damages to my house?

Say a tree falls onto your roof, and the combined cost to fix your roof and remove the tree is $8,000, BUT your deductible is only $1,500. Yes, you would have to pay the full $1,500 deductible for the first part of the repairs, but you won’t have to pay for the other $6,500 (which is pretty nice!).

When talking about how your deductible relates to your premium – it’s a bit of a balancing act. Usually, if you have a high premium, you’ll have a lower deductible; and if you have a high deductible, you’ll usually have a lower premium.

This is because your insurance company assumes that you’re willing to take on smaller issues yourself and leave the bigger stuff to them, instead of filing a claim for each little thing. For example, if you have a $1,600 claim and your deductible is $1,500, you’re more than likely just going to foot the cost of the bill instead of processing it through your insurance.

What is My Declarations Page?

I do declare! – that your declarations page is the general summary of what your homeowner’s insurance policy covers. It tells you the who, what, when, and why something is covered, from structures on your property to the belongings inside. However, your declarations page only offers a general idea of what your insurance covers. If you want to take a deep dive into your entire policy, you’ll have to look at your Insuring Agreement (which is next on our list of home insurance terms.)

It's important to know a few home insurance terms when you're looking for insurance.

What is an Insuring Agreement?

The insuring agreement of a homeowner’s policy is the more detailed list of the ways your coverage can handle losses. For instance, your declarations page may tell you that your policy can help cover storm damages, but your insuring agreement may outline certain types of storms that are covered. In this example, the types of storms listed would be considered a “peril.”

What is a Home Insurance Peril?

A peril in insurance terms is simply anything that can cause damage to your home. Perils will usually be natural disasters, but they can be anything that is making you file a home insurance claim. It’s important to take the definition of “peril” seriously, though. Filing a bunch of home insurance claims for small damages to your home, like a single broken pipe that’s didn’t cause any larger damages, can raise your rates when you renew.

There are two main types of perils plans that can be a part of your homeowners’ policy: Named Perils and Open Perils. Named perils policies can help you repair or replace items and fixtures in your house, but only for the perils specifically listed in your home insurance policy. Usually, named perils policies can help you cover damages due to:

  • Fire
  • Windstorms
  • Lightning
  • Rain damage
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Explosions
  • Riots
  • Vehicles & Aircrafts

However, named perils policies usually don’t list and won’t cover things like flood and earthquake damage. For those types of damages, you could either add an endorsement to your policy, or you could opt for an open perils policy.

Open perils policies can help you cover the repair or replacement costs of your belongings in any perilous event, as long as it doesn’t explicitly exclude that event. For example, say your home is a part of the Marvel universe and the Hulk happened to smash through your walls. If you have an open perils policy, your insurance plan can help you pay to repair your home if superhero damage isn’t specifically listed as something that your carrier won’t cover.

What is ACV or RCV?

When replacing the items in your home, your policy will either cover it for ACV or RCV.

ACV stands for Actual Cash Value, which means that your insurance can help reimburse you for the value of the items at the time of the loss – meaning that you would get the depreciated value of the items. For example, say you bought an oven 5 years ago for $900, and it was damaged by a covered peril. An ACV plan could only reimburse you for $500 because the value of the oven has depreciated since you’ve been using it.

RCV stands for Replacement Cost Value, which means that your insurance could reimburse you for the cost of replacing the items you lost with similar models at today’s prices. So, you would be able to replace that oven you lost with a similar model without having to worry about how much your original oven depreciated in value.

What is an insurance endorsement/rider?

In the insurance world, an endorsement or rider is just a fancy name for a plan add-on. They’re pretty handy if you want to increase your coverage or add something on to your insurance policy, but you don’t actually want to increase the entirety of your coverage.

However, endorsements can also limit your policy. For example, you can add an endorsement to your plan to cover an engagement ring, but the insurance company can add an endorsement that says they won’t cover the ring if it’s older than 60 years old.

What is a limit of coverage for my homeowners’ insurance policy?

This is a very important one on our list of home insurance terms. Like with all things, there are limits and boundaries to your homeowners’ insurance. The limit of coverage for your home insurance plan is the maximum amount of funds that your insurance company can provide for you during a policy period (or the amount of time that your policy is effective).

Some insurance policies may have overall coverage limits while others may have certain coverage limits for certain parts of the plan. Coverage limits will depend on your home, but most home insurance policies have limits of thousands and/or millions of dollars. Limits of coverage also vary from carrier to carrier and from plan to plan, so it’s important to take a look at your declarations page if you want to know an exact dollar amount.

These are just some of the basic home insurance terms you may hear when talking about insurance with your agent. There are tons of other insurance names and phrases to consider, and it can be daunting to try to navigate them all on your own.

That’s why our insurance experts are here to make things easy. They’re the best at breaking down any other home insurance terms you want to know to best protect your house. They’re also masters at breaking down the risks that you face, finding multiple quotes for the policies you need, explaining clearly why these plans fit you, and saving you money through it all!

Call us today or fill out our online form to start speaking with an expert about the easy, affordable, customized homeowners’ insurance you deserve.


5 common Thanksgiving Day hazards (and how to avoid them)

Avoid these five Thanksgiving Day hazards.

Avoid these five Thanksgiving Day hazards.

Thanksgiving is great. There’s delicious food, time with family and friends, and the bracing Atlanta autumn air. But the only thing is that Thanksgiving is actually more dangerous than it might appear at first glance. What could be so dangerous about a turkey, you might ask? Well, it’s not just the turkey. We’re going to explain a few of the top Thanksgiving Day hazards and give some quick tips for how to avoid them.

5 Thanksgiving Day hazards.

1. Fires.

Yep, this one might not be too much of a surprise, right? With a million things on the go at once and the truly heroic amount of multitasking that goes into a Thanksgiving dinner, fires happen. According to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency), Thanksgiving is the leading day for house fires related to cooking – in 2015, fire departments responded to an estimated 1,760 cooking fires.

The NFPA also reports that unattended cooking was the leading cause of these cooking fires.

So, be careful as you’re running around like a chicken – ah, turkey – with its head cut off this Thanksgiving. Check out these tips to prevent a fiery inferno this Thanksgiving – and avoid the resulting home insurance claim.

  • Stay in the kitchen and don’t abandon the food while it’s cooking, whether it’s in the oven or on the stove.
  • Establish a kid-free zone and keep the kids out of the kitchen so no one gets run over, burned, or splashed with hot water or food.
  • Keep the floor clear so no one trips over anything.
  • Keep flammable items – oven mitts, food packaging, wooden spoons, and so on – away from the stovetop.
  • Keep knives, matches, and other pointy or flammable items out of reach of children.
  • Make sure your smoke detectors have working batteries and function properly.
  • Skip the deep-fryer. Sure, a deep-fried turkey might taste delicious, but turkey fryers are super dangerous. You might turn your turkey into an explosion.

2. Cooking accidents.

Large knives, high-speeds, too many “helpers” in the kitchen creating distractions, hot surfaces…it’s an absolutely foolproof plan, right?

On Thanksgiving, everyone wants to pitch in to lend a hand with dinner, right? (Well, hopefully, people want to be helpful.) The only problem is that cooking involves a lot of sharp, pointy objects and hot surfaces. It’s all too easy for inexperienced – or experienced – chefs to accidentally slice a finger instead of a carrot or brush a hand against a hot oven or stove. Make sure that everyone assisting is comfortable wielding their weapon of choice and make sure everyone takes their time. Slow and steady wins the race…and can avoid a situation in which someone loses a finger.

3. Food poisoning.

Turkeys are delicious. But if the turkey isn’t cooked thoroughly, there’s a risk of some not-so-delicious food poisoning. Turkey can be rife with an icky bacteria called salmonella. It’s pretty nasty stuff.

Follow these steps to safely and completely cook your turkey.

  • First of all, read the label. Determine whether it’s a frozen turkey or a refrigerated turkey.
  • Have a refrigerator thermometer to make sure the turkey is stored at 40˚F or just below that and a meat thermometer to make sure the turkey reaches 165˚F when it’s cooked.
  • Thaw the turkey properly.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water before cooking and after handling the turkey.
  • Don’t wash the turkey. You’ll only end up smearing the germs and turkey-nastiness on your kitchen surfaces.
  • Don’t let the raw turkey mix with any of the other food.
  • Have separate utensils, cutting boards, dishes, and so on for the raw turkey. This will help you avoid accidentally contaminating other food.
  • Use warm water and plenty of soap to wash anything that’s touched raw meat or turkey.
  • Remember that 165˚F is the magic temperature. Use your food thermometer to check your turkey’s temperature in the thickest section of the breast, the innermost section of the thigh, and the innermost section of the wing.
  • Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

4. Car accidents

Thanksgiving is also a potentially dangerous time to drive, as weather conditions could get a bit scary and alcohol is often a guest at dinner. It’s important to check your car before you head out to visit family and make sure it’s ready for the winter weather. And if you’re planning to drive home after dinner, appoint someone to be the designated driver. Or just plan to stay the night at your family or friend’s place.

Anyways, be careful if you’re hitting the roads to see family or friends. Drive safe and take care.

5. Heart issues.

So, Thanksgiving dinner is kind of the biggest meal of the year. The food is super rich, and we may eat more than perhaps is wise. The volume and richness of the food (and the alcohol) can increase the odds of having a heart attack. One study of nearly 2,000 heart attack survivors that was presented to the American Heart Association showed that the odds of having a heart attack were multiplied by four during the two hours following a big, rich meal.

Those are six potential hazards to watch out for this Thanksgiving. Though of course, it’s important to relax and enjoy the time spent with family and loved ones, it’s also important to take care to stay safe during the holiday season. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving, Atlanta!

Looking to save money on your home insurance? We can help. Our agents can help you get quotes for Atlanta home insurance so you can see different coverage options and pricing. Get started with our online quote form or give us a call today.


What is additional living expense coverage in Atlanta home insurance?

Your home insurance likely includes additional living expense coverage.

Your home insurance likely includes additional living expense coverage.

Have you thought about what would happen if you had a massive fire? Of course, your homeowners insurance would cover the damages to your house, but what about you? Where will you live while repairs are going on? How will you eat if a disaster wipes out your access to food? How do you afford to live when your living space isn’t available?

Here’s where additional living expense insurance comes in.

What is Additional Living Expense Insurance?

Additional living expense (ALE) coverage is a part of most homeowners insurance, condo insurance, and renters’ insurance policies. It is the portion of your policy that will help you cover living expenses if you can’t live in your dwelling after a covered loss or dwelling damage – most likely a natural disaster.

ALE coverage will also actually cover a little more than your typical living expenses if you’re kicked out of your home for repairs. For example, an extended stay in a motel, hotel, or AirBnb is going to cost way more than what you spend normally. If you don’t have a way to store food at your temporary location, ALE insurance can also help you cover the cost of eating at restaurants while everything is being fixed.

ALE insurance may also help cover:

  • The costs of doing laundry
  • Storage costs
  • The cost of moving if you’re displaced by a natural disaster
  • A place for your pet to live if you can’t take them into your temporary living situation
  • Relocation mileage
  • The cost of renting furniture you’re used to having in your home

How Much ALE Coverage Do I Have?

Don’t go ripping off your roof just yet! ALE coverage does have a limit, and it depends on whether you have home, renters, or condo insurance.

  • Homeowners ALE will be about 10-30 percent of your dwelling coverage limit.
  • Renters ALE will cover up to about 30 percent of your personal property limit.
  • Condo ALE will cover up to 50 percent of your personal property limit.

Another caveat is that additional living expense insurance only covers the expenses needed to maintain the living conditions you have already been accustomed to in your current home. It’s also important to highlight the importance of the coverage title: Additional. This means that your insurance will only cover whatever cost is left over after you pay for what you can.

For example, let’s say you normally pay $900 for rent. All of a sudden, a fire breaks out in the building and destroys your apartment. You landlord tells you that you don’t have to worry about paying rent for a unit you can’t live in, so that’s $900 that you would be able to use to find a place to live. So let’s say you find a place to stay that looks and feels about the same as your apartment – similar square footage, included appliances, patio, etc. – but the neighborhood or complex of this dwelling charges $1,200 a month. Your insurance would pay the additional $300, not the full $1,200. So, if your temporary living plans include living in the lap of luxury in a $2,000/month dwelling, your insurance will probably determine that that’s not your usual standard of living.

Restaurant Expenses & Reimbursements

Filing a claim for your loss in food expenses can be a sticky situation. Your carrier will want to know how much you spend on a regular basis to figure out the additional money they’re willing to give you. Also, depending on your insurance carrier, they could give you a lump sum as a part of the additional living expense payout for food or you’ll end up being reimbursed for your food expenses.

In either situation, insurance companies usually have an average maximum limit that they pay out for food expenses. If your normal food expenses are above that average, then you’ll have to pay special attention to the amount you spend while you’re displaced from your home. You’ll need to consider and keep paperwork or proof for a few things:

  1. Your normal food expenses – everything from groceries to fast food to sit-down restaurants
  2. Your food expenses while your home is being repaired
  3. How the two amounts differ – because the insurance company will want to know that you’re using your normal expenses as a baseline for the extra amounts that you’re paying.
  4. Written documents from the insurance company if you have permission for expenses outside of the normal realm.

Don’t get carried away with your restaurant spending either! If you normally cook at home, even if you’re used to eating a bit lavishly, your carrier will already take that into account when they give you ALE funds. If your insurance places you in a temporary space that has the kitchen you need and are used to, they probably won’t foot the bill for the additional cost of eating restaurant lobster every night.

It is a bit tricky to know exactly what your insurance carrier will cover since hotels, motels, hostels, restaurants, and extended stay complexes can cost more than a rent payment or a mortgage. So, it’s important to talk to an insurance agent about exactly what your ALE coverage allows.

Our insurance experts are always here to walk you through what your ALE will cover if you’re displaced and present you with a network of temporary living spaces that won’t max out your ALE budget. Call 404.352.0304 or fill out our online quote form to get a quote on the type of home, renters, or condo insurance that will give you the treatment you deserve when you’re in a pinch.


Atlanta insurance tips for Halloween ghosts and ghouls

Home insurance protects your house - even on Halloween!

Home insurance protects your house - even on Halloween!It’s that time of year again where ghosts and ghouls roam the night. That’s right – Halloween can bring along some unsavory characters and some weird happenstances. But did you know about the kinds of Atlanta insurance coverage that can help you deal with even the most supernatural of situations – and more everyday concerns? Here are some tips on how to handle a few other-worldly worries.

Poltergeists (Or Vandals)

Perhaps the most well-known creature to cause spooky disturbances, a poltergeist can cause some major mayhem and destruction. Some tell-tale signs of an angry spirit in your home can be doors mysteriously opening and slamming shut, hot wind in a normally cool room, and oddly aggressive bumps in the night. Their activities can get especially out of hand on All Hallows Eve, though. During this time of year, you may also find new wall marks and a few fragile items thrown across the room and shattered.

Luckily, the personal property portion of your Atlanta home insurance, renters insurance, or condo insurance can help you replace any broken or damaged items due to vandalism. If you’re covered for the Replacement Cost Value (RCV) of your items, your policy will give you the full amount it will take to replace any valuables your angry spirit is not too happy with.

On the other hand, if your policy only specifies coverage for the Actual Cash Value (ACV) of your items, your insurance will only cover the depreciated cost of your belongings. So, make sure you review your declarations page for the type of personal property coverage you have. You should also make a home inventory of the items you want to cover. Otherwise, you could end up paying out of pocket for a new set of fine china.


Even though there will only be a half moon this Halloween, there are tons of different types of werewolves that could show up at the end of the month. (And tons of havoc your pet pooch could cause throughout the year.) Here’s how to handle their specific brand of destruction.

They could jump on your car roof (Or a rogue tree branch could fall).

Even though there’s no full moon, when has a canine ever needed an excuse to howl? Werewolves are fast, furious, and most of all, heavy, whenever they transform. If one decides to leap onto your car’s roof, it’s going to leave a dent (and maybe some broken windows). So, you’ll need to look at your Atlanta car insurance policy to see if you have comprehensive coverage should a Lycan (or a falling tree) crumple your vehicle like a tin can.

The werewolf (or your dog) could bite someone on your property

When the creature comes to, they probably won’t remember nibbling on someone’s foot or gnawing on someone’s arm. Plus, they’ll probably be a little too strapped for cash from buying new clothes after they’ve ripped out of theirs so much. So, for them, covering an injured person’s medical bills is completely out.

Even if it’s not your werewolf, you could be found liable for their actions if they cause harm on your property. Luckily, your homeowners insurance will usually include personal liability, which can help you cover the victim’s medical costs and your legal fees should they decide to sue you. (This type of coverage can also help cover dog bites if your Halloween hound gets a little too excited around kids.)

Our agents know exactly how hectic the holiday season can be, especially one that starts off with a few Halloween spooks. We also know that finding the right insurance for your home or vehicle can be more than a little terrifying. That’s why we’re here to help. Call us at 770.497.1200 to talk to an insurance expert who can help protect your household – haunted or not.


And of course, we have the potential Halloween zombie infestation. Logistically, if the undead were running around (or limping, depending on what type of zombies we’re talking about), your local police department, SWAT team, or militia would neutralize the situation before it turned into a national epidemic. However, there would be a few casualties to the zombie virus before any of the authorities are called into action.

Car Insurance for a Zombie Apocalypse (or if I hit an animal like a deer)

While you’re putting the pedal to the metal to get you and your loved ones out of town, you may have to plow through a few of the undead to safety. If the impact dents your front bumper, you’ll fortunately be covered by the collision portion of your car insurance. (Or, you know, if you hit a car or a fence or telephone pole to escape the zombies, collision coverage could help with repairs or replacement too.)

However, this does depend on how your insurance carrier categorizes zombies. If your insurance classifies the creature as a corpse, collision insurance will cover damage caused to your car by hitting an object. If your insurance company defines the zombie as an animal, though, you’ll need to have comprehensive insurance to cover damage that’s out of your control. (Comprehensive coverage would also cover you if your car caught fire or if someone stole it to escape said zombie apocalypse.)

Will My Homeowners Insurance Help If I Can’t Live In My House?

So, after you’ve finished fighting through your undead neighbors and you’re driving into the sunset, how do you wait out the small infestation? You’ve had to abandon your home, so how will you afford to eat for the next few weeks? Where will you sleep?

If you have the right homeowners policy, your Atlanta home insurance will help cover living expenses while you’re away. If you don’t have a relative a few towns outside of the corpse-covered area, the Loss of Use/Living Expenses portion of your homeowners can help you pay for things like hotel rooms, restaurant bills, and even essential supplies like soap and drinking water.

But Take Heed…

Keep in mind that this coverage will only apply if the loss that drove you from your home is covered under your policy and if the home is uninhabitable. (So, if your policy doesn’t list zombie infestation as a covered peril…you may be out of luck. But you’re probably covered for something like a fire.)

Living expenses insurance can also be found in renters and condo insurance, but you will want to keep an eye on how much you spend each day. Most carriers have a limit on the amount they’ll provide for your expenses, and they’ll only help out with the additional amount of money you’ll need to survive. So, ask your insurance agent how much you’re covered for, budget wisely, rescue as much of your cash as you can, and keep your shopping trips short to avoid those pesky corpses.

Whether you’ve been a victim of a vengeful Halloween spirit or an angsty teen, a fire or a freak of nature, a fluffy wolfman or a fuzzy deer, it’s important to have the right type of insurance coverage. We want you to have total confidence in how your policies will protect you in the scariest of situations. We also want to help you save money while doing it! Call our insurance experts, who will help you compare affordable quotes on Atlanta insurance to address even your wildest fears, or fill out our online quote form.

Happy Halloween!

What is other structures coverage in my Atlanta home insurance?

Other structures coverage can provide insurance for detached structures on your property.

Other structures coverage can provide insurance for detached structures on your property.

Other structures coverage is just like it sounds – it covers the other large structures that are on your property besides your house. Most times, other structures coverage will be included in your homeowners policy, but sometimes it needs to be purchased as an endorsement. The best way to know if you have this coverage already is to look at your insurance declarations page and see if you have something called “Coverage B,” which is another term for other structures insurance.

Other structures coverage was originally created for detached garages. However, as home prices increased and less developed land became available in the 1970s, builders began building attached garages. That still doesn’t mean that other structures coverage is completely useless.

What Does Other Structures Insurance Cover?

If you have one of the following structures, you should look out for other structures coverage in your homeowners insurance policy:

  • A detached garage
  • A pool or pool house
  • A shed
  • A gazebo
  • A guest house
  • A barn
  • An outdoor dining hut
  • A fence
  • A paved driveway
  • A patio

It’s important to note that just because you have other structures coverage, the complete cost to replace a structure may not be covered by the insurance. Other structures coverage is based on a percentage of the value of your home. So, depending on your policy and carrier, the maximum coverage limit could range anywhere from 5 percent to 20 percent of the value of your house.

Also keep in mind that just because you have other structures insurance or even a general homeowners policy, the belongings inside of your home or other structure may not be completely covered. Personal property coverage, or “Coverage C,” is also usually only a percentage of the value of that item or of your home. So, it’s important to review your homeowners declarations page and talk to your insurance agent about what you’re covered for and how much the coverage is.

Our agents are experts at not only breaking down what’s in your homeowners insurance but giving you the best coverage and pricing that’s personalized to your needs. Call us at 770.497.1200 or fill out our online quote form to get free quotes on your homeowners insurance and compare the coverage you can get on the other structures on your property.

Can I Remove Other Structures Coverage to Save Money?

I hear some of you saying, “Wait, I don’t have anything else attached to my house or on my property,” or “I don’t really care about insuring my other structures.” So, can you take off other structures coverage to save money on your homeowners?

Homeowners insurance is usually not the piecemeal that other types of insurance can be. Whether you have an HO-3, an HO-5, or some other type of homeowners coverage, it usually comes as a bundle – a bundle that will more than likely already include other structures. This is because insurance companies want to be able to offer coverage to the vast majority of people, who will usually have at least a shed or fence.

That being said, if there’s anything on your property that falls into the “other structures” list, you should probably keep your other structures coverage anyway. Your insurance carrier may exclude some structures from the coverage if they decide that it needs too many repairs or if it’s too dangerous to use due to a lack of maintenance, but those cases are few and far between. Your carrier could also include other structures in your dwelling coverage, which will lump everything on your property together in terms of coverage anyway.

If you don’t have any other structures on your property, taking off other structures coverage could mean that you’ll have to skimp on your homeowners coverage altogether. So, you may not be paying for other structures coverage that you’ll never use, but you could also be missing out on coverage that you need for your actual home.

If you’re really worried about saving money regarding this part of your homeowners, there are a couple other options:

Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost Value

You could consider insuring your “other structures” under “actual cash value (ACV)” coverage. This means that if something happens to the structure, you’ll receive the depreciated value of the structure. ACV coverage is usually less expensive than homeowners insurance with Replacement Cost Value (RCV) coverage.

The drawback is that the ACV coverage could be for just the other structure or for the entirety of the policy. So, if something happens to your house or belongings, your insurance will only cover the amount that your home and property are worth, not what you paid for them. Depending on your insurance carrier and your policy, you may be able to have RCV coverage for your home and ACV coverage for other structures, but definitely talk to your agent to make sure that one can be covered for ACV and not the other. It’s really important that you have enough coverage to completely rebuild your home from the ground up in case it’s destroyed by something like a fire.


Talk to your insurance agent to make sure you’re getting all of the discounts you possibly can. Ask about common discounts like loyalty and bundling. Ask about carrier specific discounts. Ask about home improvements like a security system or an impact-resistant roof that may qualify you for a discount.

You can also ask one of our insurance experts! We’ve formed relationships with multiple, trusted insurance companies so that we can get you the best rates on the specific coverage you need. We’ll help you compare quotes on policies that cover only the property you want to cover and find ways to save you money on all the rest. Call us at 770.497.120 for a free quote or get started with our online form.