Top 10 tips to save water this summer in Atlanta

Check out these ten tips to save water this summer.

Check out these ten tips to save water this summer.

Atlanta summers are well-known for being very hot and very humid. Along with protecting your family from the summer sun and hiding indoors with the air-conditioning turned up, you also have to remember to be conscious of the environment, especially your water consumption. The heat causes water to evaporate at hyper-speed, so we need to think about our water use and how to save water. And here’s the thing – saving water isn’t just good for the environment. It’s good for your bank account!

So, without further ado, here are our top tips for how to save water this summer – and how to lower your water bill.

1. Think about when you’re watering your lawn/plants.

Here’s the thing:

The sun is strongest in the middle of the day. Sunlight causes water to evaporate quickly. So, if you’re spraying water on your lawn at high noon, chances are your grass won’t be getting as much of that H2O as you were hoping. The water just disappears into the air so quickly, especially with the Atlanta sun.

The ideal time to water? The morning or the evening when the sun is a little weaker. Or, you could just not water your lawn. That’s the pro way to save money!

(Oh, and another tip – when you set up your sprinkler, make sure it’s actually angled at your lawn and plants and not the driveway. Concrete doesn’t need to be watered.)

2. Shower smarter.

Nothing feels better than a nice, refreshing shower in the summer. But there are a few things you can do to save water as part of your shower routine.

  • Take a shorter shower. Shorter shower, less water.
  • Turn off the water when you’re shampooing your hair or shaving.
  • Get a big bucket and use it to collect the water as you wait for the shower to warm up. Then you can take this water and toss it on your plants to give them a drink. This is a super easy way to reuse water.
  • If you want to save your soapy water, make sure you’re using an eco-friendly soap that’s safe for plants.

3. Check the toilets.

Your toilets could be wasting a lot of water if they’re broken. If the tank is leaking water into the toilet bowl, you’re practically flushing money down the drain.

Test your toilets for leakage by putting some food coloring into the tank. Wait a while. Then check and see if the water in the toilet bowl is the same color as the food coloring. If it is, you need to get your toilet fixed. It may be time to call in a professional.

(While you’re at it, you may as well go on the hunt for other leaks from pipes and faucets around the house. Get any leaks repaired – leaks can cause water damage to your home.)

4. Think about getting water-saving appliances.

There are a lot of new products nowadays that are designed to save water, and the other cool trick they do is save you money on your water bill. For example, showerheads, faucets, dishwashers, and washing machines can be switched for water-saving versions.

5. Don’t hand-wash your dishes or car.

So, here’s a surprising fact:

It actually takes less water to run your dishwasher than to wash all of your dishes by hand every day. The dishwasher exists for a reason. Just make sure to only run it when it’s completely full.

And it’s the same thing for your car. If you really must get your car washed (which, since we’re in Atlanta, might be a little silly in the summer with all the rain and pollen making it dirty two seconds after you get it washed anyways), go to a car wash instead of dragging out your hose, buckets, and sponges.

Save water by being smart about when you water your plants or lawn.

6. Get rain barrels to save the rain.

Collect rainwater by getting rain barrels. Set them up under your gutters and catch the rainwater that pours off your roof. Then you can take that water and use it to water plants or your lawn. May as well take advantage of the perfectly good – and perfectly free – water that falls from the sky!

7. Think about your drinking water.

Here’s a tip:

Instead of grabbing a glass and waiting for the tap water to get cold enough – and watching the water flow down the drain – fill up a pitcher of water from the tap and stick it in the fridge. It’ll be cold and ready to drink instantly, and you won’t have to waste water while you wait for the tap water to get cool.

Oh, and another thing. Rather than using disposable plastic water bottles, get a refillable bottle and use that instead. You’ll be saving energy and consuming less plastic. Consider getting a water filtration system so you don’t have to buy water bottles.

And since we’re on the topic of consuming less, be sure to recycle your paper. It takes a lot of water to make paper, so by recycling, you can help save water.

8. Wash your veggies in a bowl.

Summer is a great time to eat fruits and veggies. But, of course, these foods have to be rinsed before you eat them or cook them. Instead of running the water in your sink and rinsing all those carrots one by one, fill up a bowl and give your carrots a bath. It’s an easy way to get your veggies clean and save water at the same time.

Or, an alternative is to rinse the veggies and collect the water in a big bowl. Then you can use this water for your plants.

9. Wait to do your laundry.

A lot of our water consumption comes from doing laundry. If you wait to run the washer until you have a full load, you minimize the water you’re using to wash clothes.

10. Use native plants in your garden.

Plants native to the area where you live will actually need less water than a species or plant that is not. Plus, they require fewer chemicals and less attention to keep them alive.

We need to be especially conscious of saving water in the summer when it’s so hot outside. Try these simple tips to help the environment and conserve water. You’ll also be able to lower your water bill – a major plus! It’s quite easy to make a few quick changes around the house so you can do your part to save water.

Looking to save money on home insurance? We can help. Our team can help you shop your home insurance rates so you can get the best coverage at the best price. All you have to do to get started with multiple home insurance quotes is fill out our online form or give us a call today.


7 sun safety tips to protect your family from the Atlanta summer sun

It's important to practice good sun safety in the summer.

It's important to be safe in the sun this summer.It’s no secret that Atlanta summers can be brutal. The heat and sunlight can get very intense – not to mention the humidity. The intensity of Atlanta summers makes sun safety (and severe weather safety) super important. Since summer is right around the corner, now seems to be an appropriate time to review sun safety. In between all of the picnics, barbeques (grill safety is also important, by the way), swimming excursions, and sports events, don’t forget to take the time to protect your family from the sun. Check out the following tips.

7 sun safety tips

1. Try to prevent sunburns.

This one is super important.

Sunburns and too much time in the sun can increase your chances of getting skin cancer (which is actually the most common type of cancer in the US.) Skin cancer can be serious. According to the CDC, the sun’s ultraviolet rays can cause damage to your skin in fifteen minutes.

So, do yourself a favor – prevent your skin from turning a shade of lobster red by staying in the shade, staying indoors, or putting on a lot of sunscreen. Beat the Georgia heat and protect your skin from ouch-worthy sunburns.

2. Apply sunscreen. A lot.

Make sure that you and your kids slather on the sunscreen. Sunscreen is kind of like an invisible sun shield – it will either absorb the sunlight or bounce it off your skin to protect you from ultraviolet (UV) rays, so it’s a sun safety must. Adults should use at least SPF 15 (sun protection factor) and children should have sunscreen of at least SPF 30.

Now, here’s the trick to sunscreen success:

You have to keep applying it throughout the day. This is especially important if you’re swimming or sweating. It will wash off. So, make sure to wrangle the kids and ply them with sunscreen, even if they wiggle and giggle. Put on sunscreen wherever your skin is exposed to the sun. Reapply every two hours or after swimming, seating, or toweling off.

Oh, and be mindful of the expiration date. Sunscreen doesn’t last forever, and it lasts for less time if it’s exposed to high temperatures.

3. Stay inside from about 10 am – 4 pm.

The sun is particularly strong in the middle of the day. If you’re planning to be outside, try to arrange your schedule so you’re outside in the morning or evening when the sun isn’t quite as powerful.

Sun safety goes hand in hand with preventing skin cancer.

And at any rate, it’s Georgia during the summer. Embrace the air-conditioning and stay comfortable. The middle of the day is an ideal time for inside chores, anyways. Take a break and have the kids play inside for a little while. Sun safety can be fun!

4. Dress appropriately.

No, that doesn’t mean shorts and a T-shirt, tempting as that is in the heat. If possible, wear lightweight, loose, long-sleeved clothes made with a tight weave to cover your skin. Top off your outfit with a wide-brimmed hat, which will protect your hand, face, and neck. Pick a hat that’s made of a tight weave, too, to really block out those UV rays. If you’re at the pool or beach, at least throw on a cover-up or a T-shirt for some extra protection.

Now – keep in mind that this is not a substitute for sunscreen. You still need that.

5. Be aware if you’re at a higher risk.

Anyone can get skin cancer, but there are some people who may be more susceptible to it and who need to take extra care to protect themselves from the sun.

  • People with light hair, light eyes, pale skin, and freckles
  • People who simply burn easily whose skin doesn’t tan
  • People with lots of beauty marks or moles
  • People who are on medication that could make them more sensitive to the sun

6. Keep an eye on any suspicious moles.

It’s not a bad idea to see a dermatologist if you notice any moles that look strange. If you have any new moles or any moles that have started to look different, you may want to get them checked out.

7. Don’t go tanning.

Tanning beds can be very bad for your skin. In fact, it can be just as harmful as going out into the sun. Indoor tanning exposes the person to high levels of UV rays (which are known to cause cancer.) Besides, tanning beds can spread icky germs and cause skin infections.

Sunscreen is a key part of sun safety.

Summer is prime time for outdoor fun and games, but don’t forget to follow sun safety practices. Apply and reapply sunscreen. Wear long-sleeved, tightly-woven clothing to cover your skin. Chill out inside during the middle of the day when the sun is strong. Don’t underestimate how dangerous the sun can be and take steps to stay safe.

Do you want to get multiple home insurance quotes so you can save money on your premium? We would be happy to help you with your insurance shopping. We work with several of the top-rated carriers in the country, so we can help you get the best coverage at the best rate. All you have to do to get started with your quotes is fill out our form or give us a call.


What kinds of water damage are covered by Atlanta home insurance?

Certain types of water damage are not covered by home insurance.

Certain types of water damage are not covered by home insurance.

Okay, so you have a slight problem: your kitchen is underwater. As much as you enjoy swimming, you would rather not swim…inside your house. In the kitchen. There’s something not quite right about that. At any rate, the question you’ve got now is what types of water damage are covered by home insurance?

We’ll explain what types of water nightmares are and are not covered by home insurance.

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What do I do if my Atlanta homeowners insurance gets canceled?

If your home insurance is canceled, you can seek out new insurance.

If your home insurance is canceled, you can seek out new insurance.

You know how important it is to have home insurance to protect your investment in your house. But what if your insurance company cancels your policy? You might feel very vulnerable and stressed without your home insurance, but maybe you’re at a loss for what to do now. What’s your next step?

Well, it’s a bad-news, good-news situation.

The bad news is that it can be difficult to get new insurance after your policy is canceled or nonrenewed, depending on your company’s reason ending your policy.

The good news is that there are things you can do to find new insurance, and we’ll explain our tips. Not all hope is lost!

What to do if your home insurance is canceled.

1. Get a copy of your CLUE report.

The CLUE is the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange. It’s a record or database of the claims history and coverage inquiries of homeowners. You have a CLUE report detailing your claims and losses, and insurers use it to find out how much of a risk you are (so it plays a part in your premium.) Your insurer may have decided that you present too much of a risk, leading to them canceling your policy.

As a place to start if your home insurance got canceled, you can request a copy of your CLUE report and give it a thorough read. You should make sure that all the claims and losses presented there are correct. If you notice any errors, you can have them fixed and explain what happened to your insurance company.

Now, you can get a free copy of your CLUE report if you’ve been canceled or nonrenewed for a reason other than the insurer leaving your area entirely. That’s just bad luck.

2. Apply to other insurance companies.

You can always shop around and look for new insurance. Insurance companies are all comfortable with insuring different amounts of risk, so you might find coverage that suits your needs elsewhere. There are a lot of home insurance companies in Georgia, after all.

It would be helpful to understand why your original company canceled your policy. Was it because of nonpayment? Do you have a dog on the insurance “dangerous dog” list? Have you made lots of claims? Having all the facts can help as you embark on your quest for new insurance – finding new homeowners insurance after being canceled can be difficult, but at least you’ll be prepared.

3. Go to the state for a FAIR plan.

Okay, what if applying to other companies doesn’t work? You’re pulling your hair out and at this point, you’re over it.

In that case, you can go to the Georgia Underwriting Association and ask about getting a FAIR plan. Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) insurers are required to provide insurance to high-risk homeowners, so you might have more luck finding insurance from one of them.

There are still conditions you have to meet in order to get a FAIR plan. Most likely, you will have had to try to get insurance on the standard market. You may have to make improvements to your house, such as getting a new roof, to reduce your risk. (But if the improvement means you could get insurance on the standard market, you might want to go that route – you’ll probably get more competitive pricing and more coverage options.)

4. Go to the insurance commissioner and file a complaint.

Let’s say you feel that your original insurer’s reason for canceling or nonrenewing you wasn’t right or fair. You can file a complaint with the Georgia Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner. They can investigate the situation and help you with how to proceed.

5. Go to the insurance company.

You can also present your case to the insurance company directly and see what happens. You will need to present a strong argument against having your insurance canceled. Explain any changes in your lifestyle or any events that have made your risk go down.

You’ll also want to provide possible solutions that you can implement to be less of a risk to the insurer – for example, taking a higher deductible to accept more responsibility. Or maybe there’s a way to exclude a particular type of loss if you’re continually having problems with a specific type of loss. Then you’re taking the risk for that loss, not the insurance company. And they might be good with that. Getting basic insurance that excludes your “problem loss” might be a better option than getting high-risk insurance or having no insurance at all.

If your home insurance gets canceled, your initial reaction might be to get stressed out. But don’t worry – there are things you can do to get new insurance so that your home is protected. You can shop with other carriers. You can seek out a FAIR plan. You can go to the Insurance Commissioner’s Office to ask if they have any recommendations.

In other words, don’t panic. We can also help you as you try to shop for new insurance. Our agents are experts at helping people find the insurance they need that fits within their budgets. All you have to do to get home insurance quotes is fill out our quote form or give us a call.


Is termite damage covered by homeowners insurance?

Unfortunately, termite damage is most likely not covered by home insurance.

Most people aren’t too fond of bugs. And Atlanta has plenty of them. As far as your home goes, one of the more destructive bugs out there is the termite. Termites can wreak havoc on your house – it’s estimated that termites, the creepy crawly little fiends, cost Americans over $5 billion dollars each year. Yikes. So, what if termites take up residence in your home? Does home insurance cover termite damage?

We’ll answer this question, explain how to prevent a buggy nightmare, and tell you some signs of termite infestation below.

Does home insurance cover termite damage?

Unfortunately, the answer to that is most likely no, homeowners insruance will not cover termite damage.

There’s a reason:

Home insurance is intended to protect your home from sudden and accidental loss – for example, a fire. It’s not meant to cover maintenance issues or “preventable” gradual losses…and unfortunately, termite damage fits the bill of “not covered.”

Something to know about termites:

Termites eat wood from the inside out and leave the surface pretty much untouched. So you may not even detect them until you’ve got a problem. Termite damage can be severe and can even cause structural damage to your home.

And that leads us to our next topic of joyous, bug-related discussion.

How can I prevent termite damage to my home?

Myth: Homes have to be mostly wood to be affected by termites. Brick homes are fine.

Fact: Termites can affect any home because they eat through plaster, metal, and siding. Then they move on to devour wooden items inside the home – cabinets, furniture, anything.

Termites are typically most “active” in the late spring and summer. They actually swarm – meaning, fly from their former colony to descend on a new place. Different types of termites swarm at different times of the year. Subterranean termites move in spring, dry wood termites move in late summer, and damp wood termites move in summer. They typically like these times of year because of the rain and humidity.

Now, we say all that not to gross you out – yes, termites can fly – but to explain that now is the time to fortify your home.

Here’s how to do that:

1. Take away the termites’ food and water.

Make sure your home isn’t a termite buffet by…

  • Placing firewood at least 20 feet from your home
  • Leaving a 6-12 inch gap between mulch or soil and wooden pieces of the house (mulch attracts them because it retains moisture.)
  • Making sure any plants are at least three feet away from the house
  • Angling sprinklers away from the foundation

2. Don’t bring home wood.

Don’t bring wood or lumber to your home unless it’s been specially treated to deter termites. Most lumber is, but it never hurts to make sure.

3. Keep your vents clear.

Making sure your vents are clear can help you get dry air circulating through your home. Termites like moisture, so you can thwart them by keeping the air fresh.

4. Air out your attic and basement from time to time.

By airing out your attic and basement, you introduce clean air to places that can get damp or moist, helping them to dry out.

5. Fix any possible “doors.”

You’ve got to fill in or fix any cracks in your home’s foundation to prevent any unwanted guests from moving in.

6. Prevent moisture from accumulating along your home’s foundation.

Termites love moisture. Make sure the ground or landscaping slopes away from your house, your sprinklers point away from the house and your downspouts are arranged properly. Fix any leaks that could be causing a buildup of moisture.

The signs of termite damage

It’s important to recognize termite damage so that you can call in professional pest control folks early on. The sooner you catch the infestation, the better.

Here are some warning signs:

  • Drywall that looks discolored or funky
  • Walls that look water damaged
  • Small holes in your drywall
  • Loose tiles or super squeaky floorboards
  • Decimated wood
  • Doors and windows that won’t stop getting stuck
  • Maze-like patterns over the walls or furniture
  • Termite droppings
  • Wings that look like scales (termites drop their wings after they swarm and land at their new home)
  • Mud tubes along the side of the house
  • Airborne termites

It’s generally a good idea to have a termite inspection once a year. That way you can catch a termite disaster before it gets out of control.

So that’s the scoop about termites. Unfortunately, termite damage is not typically covered by home insurance. However, there are steps you can take to prevent a termite infestation. Be sure to keep your home safe from this many-legged peril.

Looking to save money on home insurance? We would be happy to help with that. Our team of home insurance agents can help you shop so you get the best coverage at the best possible rate. To get in touch with our team, all you have to do is fill out our online form or give us a call.


Here’s what you should know about bundling your Atlanta home and auto insurance

You could save money on your premium if you bundle your home and auto insurance.

You could save money on your premium if you bundle your home and auto insurance.

If you’ve got a home or a car, chances are you’ve heard about bundling your home insurance and auto insurance. Maybe you’ve even heard that bundling can help you save money on your insurance. But is that true? Should you bundle your home insurance and auto insurance? It almost sounds too good to be true. We’ll tell you what bundling is, the reasons for bundling, and some things you should check before you make your final decision.

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What home insurance discounts am I eligible for?

Home insurance discounts are an easy way to save money on your premium.

There’s a lot of responsibility that comes along with owning a home. You have to maintain it. You have to cut the grass so that HOA won’t send snide letters. You have to manage the bills. And you have to get home insurance. But that sounds expensive…so you’re probably trying to find out how to save money on home insurance. Well, have we got some good news for you – discounts are an easy way to save on your premiums.

And it just so happens that we’ve got a list of 15 common home insurance discounts that you could qualify for.

15 common home insurance discounts

Before we start, we have an important note:

Each home insurance company offers different discounts and different levels of savings. In order to find out how discounts could help you save, you need to find out what discounts your particular company offers.

That being said, below are 15 common home insurance discounts that you could qualify for.

1. Bundling.

Bundling is when you get multiple policies from the same company. If you get your home insurance and your auto insurance from the same carrier, you may be able to get a discount. In many cases, bundling is less expensive than getting each policy separately.

Pro tip: Make sure you get the coverages and limits you need on both your home and auto insurance.

2. Home security system.

There are many reasons why a home security system can help you qualify for a discount. Many carriers offer a discount if you have a monitored burglar alarm because alarm systems serve as deterrents for burglary and help the police respond more quickly to a break-in.

3. Claims-free.

Some insurance companies will give you savings if you’ve gone a long time without a claim. Check and see if your carrier will lower your premiums for being claims-free and how many years you have to go without a claim.

4. Roof.

There are a few potential discounts that depend on your roof. You could get a discount if you have a new roof or if you have an impact-resistant roof. Be sure to let your agent know if you get a new roof or if your roof is resistant to hail damage.

5. Loyalty.

Some insurance companies will offer a discount to customers that have insured their homes with them for many years.

6. New home.

If you purchase a home and thus become a new customer to the insurance company, you could qualify for a “new customer” discount. Normally you must have purchased the house within the past 12 months to be eligible.

Different home insurance companies offer different discounts.

7. Home improvements.

Home improvements that make your home safer or stronger might help you get a discount. For example, new wiring, new plumbing, a new air-conditioning unit, or a new roof could qualify you.

8. Home fire safety.

You could get a discount if you have home fire safety measures at your home, such as a fire alarm system. The faster the fire department can respond to the fire, the less damage your home will sustain. And thus the discount.

9. Non-smoker.

Fire is definitely not something insurance companies like. Many house fires are started by smoking or smoking materials, so some insurance companies offer a non-smoker discount. (Just keep in mind that the percentage of savings will vary from company to company.)

10. Gated community.

If you’re in a gated community, there’s less risk of burglary. You’ve got some extra security. And since your home is more protected against theft, you might get a discount from your carrier.

11. Mature homeowner.

Those who are retired tend to be home during the day more often than someone who works. Most burglaries occur during daylight hours – contrary to popular belief that nighttime is a burglar’s prime time – for that very reason. But if you’re home during the day, your presence might deter a thief (most thieves look for the easiest target.) Plus, if you’re home you can head off a catastrophe like a burst pipe before it turns your kitchen into a swimming pool. You’ll also be able to raise the alarm if there’s a fire.

12. Homeowner’s association.

Your community’s HOA most likely has strict standards for home maintenance. Plus, many HOA communities have neighborhood watches that can deter crime.

13. Married/widowed.

Some carriers offer discounts for homeowners who are married or widowed. If that’s you, it could be worth looking into.

14. Water/Natural gas leak sensor.

Some homes are high-tech and have sensors that will alert you to a water leak – and the sooner you find out about a leak, the better. Some sensors even turn off the water if they detect a leak, reducing the potential damage even further. And some homes have detectors for natural gas leaks.

15. Paying in full.

Some home insurance companies offer a discount if you pay for the policy in one go rather than paying your bill monthly. The insurance company will be happy to have all their money.

If paying in full won’t work for you, that’s okay. You could also get a discount for setting up automatic payments.

So, those are some common home insurance discounts that you could be eligible for just by being you. Be sure to talk to your agent and ask them if there are any discounts you could be eligible for. And keep them informed of any significant changes to your home – for instance, getting a new roof or a home security system. And let them know about life changes, like getting married. Remember, they can’t give you a discount if they don’t know you qualify for it!

Looking to save money on home insurance? We would be happy to help. We can shop for the best coverage at the best rate so you get some peace of mind. All you have to do to get in touch with our team of insurance experts is fill out our online quote form or give us a call.

What you need to know about Atlanta condo insurance

If you're going to get a condo, it's important to consider condo insurance.

The COA's master policy does not cover the inside of your condo, which is why condo insurance is necessary.

Atlanta has been growing in a lot of ways. The film industry is booming. Business is flourishing. Amazon might consider us as a contender for their second headquarters. And something else that’s increasing in the city? Condo sales. According to a Curbed: Atlanta article, Midtown’s condo sales are up, with 1,450 resales in 2017 and a ratio of list-to-sale prices of 99%. Most units spend less than a month on the market (28 days, actually.) Now, that’s all fine and good, but if you own a condo or you’re one of the many thinking about getting one, you have to consider something other than location and number of rooms.

Yup. We’re talking about condo insurance. Now, condo insurance can get a little tricky, but we’ll explain what condo insurance is, what it covers, how much you need, and how much it costs.

What is condo insurance?

Insuring a condo is different than insuring a house, which is why they invented condo insurance. Specifically, the form is called an HO-6 policy. The issue is that as the owner of a condo unit, you don’t own the land and property or the building itself. You do, however, own the inside of the condo, meaning the appliances, furniture, cabinets, lighting plumbing, electrical wiring, and so on.

Basically, you own the inside of your unit, minus the floor, walls, and ceiling. Yeah…we understand that it’s confusing.

Bear with us:

The reason this matters is that the condo association (we’ll call them the COA for simplicity’s sake) has their own master policy that covers the building itself and any common areas, like hallways, pools, tennis courts, and the lobby. That policy, however, does not extend to the inside of your condo unit.

Hence the invention of the HO-6, or condo insurance.

At any rate, it’s vital that you understand your association’s master policy so you can see what is and is not covered.

What does condo insurance cover?

Now. As far as what types of losses are covered by condo insurance, fire and smoke, wind and hail, theft, vandalism, lightning, and burst pipes are usually covered. As far as the unit itself, the condo insurance policy will cover a few different things:

1. Damage to the unit’s interior.

As we mentioned before, you own the inside of the unit. Condo insurance will help cover losses to the inside of your home, like if you have a burst pipe. However, this is where you really have to review the COA’s master policy.

  • If the master policy is all-in, it will cover all original items built into your place (for example, cabinets, lighting, fixtures, plumbing, and wiring.) So, you wouldn’t need coverage for those things. But take heed: it won’t cover things that aren’t original to the unit. Any additions or alterations (like new floors) will need to be covered by your personal condo policy.
  • If the master policy is bare-walls, that means you have to insure everything besides the floor, walls, and ceiling. Nothing’s covered besides the bones of the unit.

2. Your belongings.

Your personal possessions won’t be covered by the COA’s master policy. That means that if you have a fire or a burglary, your clothes, furniture, electronics and other treasures would not be covered. But your personal condo policy provides coverage for your belongings so that you won’t end up facing a major loss.

Pro tip: Insure your personal belongings for their replacement cost, not their Actual Cash Value (ACV.) Replacement cost (RC) allows you to replace your belongings at today’s prices, unlike ACV, which reimburses you for the value that your belongings were worth at the time of the loss.

Your possessions will be covered under your condo insurance policy.

3. Your liability.

If a guest gets hurt in your unit, your condo insurance can help cover their medical expenses and the legal expenses if they choose to sue.

4. Additional expenses.

When a disaster strikes, you may not be able to live in your condo while the repairs are being done. If it’s a covered loss, your policy may cover you for “additional expenses” that you accrue because you had to live elsewhere (for example, hotel bills and restaurant bills.)

5. Loss assessment coverage.

Let’s say there’s a big loss to the condo building. It’s a big enough loss that it goes above the HOA’s master policy limit. Each condo owner may need to assist with the expenses that are left after the policy is exhausted. If your personal condo policy has “loss assessment” coverage, the potion you have to pay might be covered in part or in full.

What does the HOA’s master policy cover?

We touched on this briefly before, but let’s just recap quickly. The HOA’s policy will typically cover…

  • The building’s exterior
  • The common areas (ex. The lobby, pool, gym, elevators)
  • Liability for common areas (ex. Someone falls in the lobby and is injured)

Again, it’s essential that you understand what your particular COA’s policy covers. Every policy is a little bit different, so don’t assume something’s covered by the master only to find that it’s not.

One way you can start figuring out what the COA’s policy covers is by carefully reviewing the COA’s by-laws. The by-laws are basically the rules and regulations of the COA, and they often list very useful information, such as the COA’s insurance deductible. It’s a good idea to review the COA’s by-laws (which you might find on the association’s website or simply by asking to see them) before you close on the condo to make sure you’re comfortable with all of the rules and expectations. And this is also a good chance to check out the insurance situation.

Actually, let’s dive a little deeper into the topic of the COA’s deductibles – more specifically, their water damage deductible…

Water damage, the COA policy, and your condo policy.

Be sure to find out how the COA’s policy treats water damage. Find out what’s covered and what’s not – since you’ve got neighbors all around you and water damage in one unit can often affect several, it’s important to know. What’s covered? What’s not covered? What would you be responsible for if, say, your washing machine spontaneously decided to flood your unit…and the units below and next to yours? As you can imagine, water damage often becomes a big mess in more ways than one.

Another important consideration is whether the COA’s policy has a “per-unit” deductible for water damage. Let’s say they have a $10,000 per-unit water damage deductible. That means that the COA’s policy will only cover damage exceeding $10,000, so the resident of the unit is usually responsible for any damage until that $10,000 kicks in. And imagine if your washing machine’s mishap also affected your neighbor’s unit. You could be on the hook for covering not only your expenses but theirs as well.

So. We know this is a lot of information, but water damage is extremely important to consider when you’re getting your own personal condo insurance and figuring out what coverage you need and what’s already covered by the COA’s policy.

How much condo insurance do I need?

To figure out how much condo insurance you need, you have to factor in all of your belongings and the expenses of repairing or replacing the inside of the condo.

Taking a home inventory is a helpful way to get to this estimate. You have to take into account…

  • Fixtures
  • Cabinets
  • Plumbing
  • Wiring
  • Appliances
  • Your belongings

Pro tip: It’s important to get advice from a trusted insurance advisor because COA policies and state laws vary widely. An experienced insurance agent can help you evaluate how much condo insurance you need to protect your home.

How much does condo insurance cost?

The cost of condo insurance varies greatly from person to person. There are many factors that influence the cost, such as…

  • Where you live
  • What material the condo is made of
  • What’s covered by the COA’s insurance
  • What coverages you choose
  • The limits you choose
  • Deductible

What losses are not covered by condo insurance?

There are a few things that are not covered by condo insurance. Wear and tear will not be covered. Earthquakes and flooding are also not covered – you would have to purchase separate policies to protect yourself against these losses (you can get flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program through an agent.) Sewer backup or damage from underground water is also not typically covered, but you can add an endorsement to your policy (an endorsement being an addition that adjusts your insurance) to make sure that you’d be covered.

If you're going to get a condo, it's important to consider condo insurance.

Okay. That was a lot of information about condos and condo insurance. If you have any questions about what condo insurance will and will not cover, please feel free to reach out to our team. We would be happy to help you with your insurance needs. And if you’re looking to get a quote for condo insurance, we’re here to help you get the best coverage at the best rate. All you have to do to get started is fill out our online form or give us a call today.


8 things you need to know about tornado safety in Atlanta

It's important to be familiar with tornado safety.

It's important to be familiar with tornado safety.As April approaches, it’s a good time to go over severe weather safety – in particular, tornado safety. March, April, and May are the peak months for tornadoes in Georgia, with April taking the prize for most tornadoes. Chances are we’ll experience a good amount of severe weather alerts in the upcoming weeks. Tornadoes are terrifying vortexes of doom, it’s true, but we’ve got some tips that will help you stay safe and get ready for tornado season.

1. Take all weather warnings seriously.

Living in Georgia, we get our fair share of tornado watches and warnings. We may have grown a little desensitized to them, but it’s important to respect all weather warnings. Be smart and take measures to ensure your safety and that of your family.

Which actually brings us to our next tip…

2. Know the lingo.

When you get the alert from the National Weather Service that your area is under a weather advisory, you need to know what the various terms mean.

A tornado watch means that weather conditions are ideal for the formation of a tornado and that one could occur. Be prepared to take shelter and stay tuned to local news stations, radio, or emergency radio.

A tornado warning means that a tornado will either imminently occur or that one has touched down or been sighted. It’s time to get to your safe place as soon as possible.

Speaking of safe places…

3. Know where to go.

When a tornado is impending, there’s no time to deliberate. You need to know where to go. Take some time to figure out what your safe spots are at home, work, or school so that you’re ready to shelter if need be.

  • If you’re at home…
    • Go to the lowest level of your house and shelter in an interior room, such as a bathroom
    • Choose a room with no windows
    • Crawl under a strong table or desk if you can
  • If you’re at work or school…
    • Follow the institution’s emergency plan as instructed
    • Avoid open rooms with high, large roofs, such as cafeterias, auditoriums, and the like
    • Preferably move to the interior room on the lowest floor
    • Do not take an elevator – if the power goes out it could get stuck
  • If you’re outside…
    • Seek shelter in a sturdy building immediately
    • If you can’t get to a shelter on foot, drive there
      • Pull over if debris and strong wind become dangerous. You have to evaluate what the safest course of action will be for your circumstances. Depending on your situation, you can…
        • Stay in the car with your seatbelt on, keep the engine running, duck under the windows, and cover your neck and head with your hands.
        • Go to a place that’s lower than the roadway, such as a ditch, and lie down flat on the ground. Go far enough away from the car that it won’t get swept onto you.
      • Avoid bridges and overpasses, which are highly dangerous during tornadoes.

April is peak tornado month in Georgia.

4. Coach your family on what to do if there’s a tornado situation.

Make sure that everyone in your family knows the plan ahead of time and knows where to go, especially the kids. Tornado warnings can be scary for them, but if you talk about it and tell them how to stay safe ahead of time it can help.

5. Know how your community spreads the word about severe weather.

You need to be familiar with the way that your community will alert you to a tornado. Some cities have tornado sirens that will sound, others have text message alerts, some might use the radio. Know what to expect and stay tuned for news of the weather if the skies are looking dark.

6. Be aware of the danger signs.

Maybe you think that it would be kind of hard to miss the swirling vortex forming near you. But the thing is that tornadoes, which form when a rotating column of air reaches from a thundercloud to the ground, can be virtually invisible until they start picking up debris and dirt or a cloud forms in the funnel cloud.

So, you need to know the danger signs that mean you need to be on high alert for a tornado. Some things to watch for…

  • Dark clouds that are tinged green
  • Wall clouds
  • Debris or a cloud of dust
  • Hail
  • Loud, freight-train-like sounds
  • Funnel clouds

If you notice any of these things, you might need to take shelter. Nature – and tornadoes especially – are not to be trifled with. When in doubt, seek shelter and try to find out what the weather situation is for your area.

7. Before severe weather hits, prepare your home.

Since we’re heading into peak tornado time, it’s probably a good idea to take some time to get your home ready. To minimize damage to your house in high winds, you can…

  • Move outdoor furniture inside (chairs and tables can become projectiles in high winds)
  • Remove dead or diseased trees from your yard
  • Clean debris away
  • Strengthen your garage door (garage doors often take a beating during storms, and if your garage door gets damaged it can allow the winds into your home, causing the roof to tear off)

8. Make sure you have the home insurance you need.

Home insurance will usually cover damage from tornadoes, but it’s important to make sure that you have enough insurance to completely cover the cost of rebuilding your home and replace all of your belongings. Protect your house and your investment with the right insurance.

Tornadoes can often be unpredictable, but by being prepared you’ll know how to act quickly to keep you and your family safe. Have a tornado plan and go over it with your family. When it comes to natural disasters, preparation is key.

Want to save money on your home insurance? Our agents are here to help you get the best coverage at the best possible rate. We want to take the time to get to know you and your specific situation. To get your home insurance quotes, all you have to do is fill out our online form or give us a call today.


The anatomy of an Atlanta homeowners insurance policy

It's important to read through your home insurance policy thoroughly.

It's important to read your home insurance policy carefully.

As a homeowner, you want to protect your investment, and home insurance was designed to do just that. Your coverage protects you against the risks you face every day.

There’s just one problem:

Your policy looks like it belongs on a shelf next to the dictionary. It’s long. It’s boring. It’s wordy.

Despite all of this, it’s extremely important that you understand your home insurance policy. And that means reading your policy carefully. Thing is, your policy is an important legal document that defines the agreement between the insurance company and you (the insured.) There are a ton of important details about your coverage, your obligations, and exclusions packed into that paperweight. And those details could mean the difference between something being covered…and something not being covered.

At any rate, to help you understand how your policy is broken down, we’ve laid it out section by section below.

1. First of all, we present your Declarations Page:

The declarations page (a.k.a. the dec page) is the first portion of your policy. Its job is to give you an overview of what the policy is and what it covers. The dec page tells you:

  • Who’s being insured
  • What the policy protects you from
  • The property that’s insured
  • The dates that the policy is effective

Pro tip: Your auto policy also has a dec page that functions in much the same way.

2. Continuing on, behold: your Insuring Agreement.

Now we get into the good stuff.

The insuring agreement explains what the insurance company will do if you have a loss and end up filing a home insurance claim. This section will also lay out what’s covered by your policy. When you paid for your insurance and finalized everything, the insurer agreed to specific things – for example, paying for covered losses or providing legal defense for liability lawsuits.

You can have one of two different types of insuring agreements: named-perils and all-risk.

Named-perils coverage will only protect you from losses that are specifically written out in the policy.

All-risk coverage will protect you from all losses except for those that are excluded by the policy. (Many life insurance policies are written out like this.)

3. Well, there had to be a catch somewhere – here comes the exclusions section.

This is a really important part of your policy. Exclusions are losses that just aren’t covered by your insurance. What that means is if you ever experience one of these losses, your insurance company will not take care of the expenses.

You can see why you need to really understand this section – you don’t want to have a loss only to find out that it’s excluded. (Flooding is a common insurance exclusion – but there are many home insurance exclusions you should know about.)

But don’t worry: we’ll explain how you can add coverages to your policy in a second.

4. So, moving onto the conditions section.

Okay. This is another section that you need to pay attention to. The conditions section lays out situations in which the insurance company may not have to pay out a claim when you file one. The conditions mostly have to do with things that you as the homeowner have to do. The insurance company may not have to pay out a claim if the conditions of the policy have not been met.

For example, you might be required to file proof of loss with the insurance company within a certain amount of time. If you fail to do that, the insurance company may not accept the claim. To make sure that you’re meeting all the requirements of your home insurance policy, take some time to read through the conditions section. Ask any questions you have about them so that you understand your responsibilities as the homeowner.

5. Definitions, definitions, definitions.

This section could be on its own, but it could also be hiding in another section. This section exists to help you understand all the fancy words in your policy – how helpful! Insurance vocabulary isn’t always the most intuitive or the clearest, which is why your policy may have this handy-dandy section.

6. And for the grand finale, we have the endorsements and riders section.

An endorsement is basically an addition to your policy. It can add coverage, take away coverage, or change coverage. This is how you can add various coverages that are otherwise excluded. For example, if sewer backup is excluded, you can add an endorsement to make sure it’s covered. You can also add coverage for jewelry or other valuables here.

Something to keep in mind:

Every year when the insurance company renews your insurance, the coverage or language might be slightly different. So, be sure to review this section carefully to make sure you have all of the coverages you need.

Okay, that was a lot of information! The above is just a general outline of the sections included in your policy. Yes, there are many, many words included in your policy, and it’s not the most riveting read. But it’s still an important thing to do.

If you have to save money on your home insurance, we would be happy to help you with that. Our agents can help you shop for your insurance so that you can make sure you’re getting the best coverage at the best possible rate. All you have to do to get home insurance quotes is fill out our online form or give us a call today.