Check for Storm Damage

How to Check Your Property for Damage After a Storm

When a big storm hits in Louisville, you hunker down inside, relying on your home to protect you and your family. Once that storm passes, though, it’s time to repay the favor — identifying damage and protecting your home from further issues.

The National Storm Damage Center has a number of resources and tips for homeowners. Here are four major things the agency – and we here at Commonwealth Insurance Services– recommends you check after a storm:

  1. Your roof: If you see holes, split seams or missing shingles on your roof or if you notice leaking inside or out, it’s a good idea to have a qualified inspector come assess the situation.
  2. Your exterior: Siding, brick and stucco are all vulnerable to storm damage. Look for cracking, chipping, dings and dents in siding, and look for holes in stucco. Look closely and at different times of the day. Some homeowners don’t notice damage until it’s too late to file a claim, and different lighting can reveal damage you didn’t see before.
  3. Driveways and walkways: Cracking and splitting can create safety hazards, as well as reduce the lifespan of the concrete. Assess any damage to your driveway or sidewalks and call an inspector if you suspect cracks or splits may be dangerous for your family.
  4. Trees: According to the National Storm Damage Center, fallen trees and limbs cause more than $1 billion in damage annually. Check roofs, vehicles, fences and machinery for fallen limbs that may have caused damage or could pose a risk. Clean up what you safely can and rely on a reputable tree removal service to handle the rest. Depending on the circumstances, your homeowner’s insurance policy may help with tree removal and damage repair costs  if you experience a covered loss.

A few more helpful tips:

  • Keep trees well maintained and trimmed. Also notify neighbors if you see any overhanging branches on any trees on adjacent properties.
  • Know your insurance. Take a look at your policy so you know what’s covered, what your limits and deductibles are, and who to contact in the event you need to file a claim. This will prevent any surprises during the claims process.
  • Take pictures. Photographs help you show the cause and extent of any storm damage that occurs.

Of course, if you’ve suffered through a major storm, don’t hesitate to call us at Commonwealth Insurance Services for help with an insurance claim or with finding a professional property inspector.

Avoid Parking Lot Accidents

5 Ways to Avoid Parking Lot Fender Benders in Louisville Kentucky

Parking lots in Louisville – we love the convenience but hate the frustrations, especially when people drive too quickly, back out of spots without looking and otherwise exhibit bad parking lot etiquette.

These behaviors are the cause of many a door ding and irritated driver. Even worse, careless behavior can cause a collision or injury.  So, let’s all slow down and follow these five tips to make parking lots safer for everyone:

  1. Don’t Speed
    Speeding decreases the amount of time you have to react when a child runs out in front of you, another driver stops suddenly or a car begins backing out unexpectedly. Is a collision – or even a fatality – really worth the price of getting to your destination just a bit sooner?
  2. Use Your Eyes – and Mirrors and Cameras
    Keep a lookout for perils at all times, even if the lot seems empty. When you’re pulling into a spot, watch for doors being opened. When backing out, turn to look through your rear window as well as in your mirrors and in your rear-view camera, and then proceed slowly.
  3. Give Yourself – and Others – Some Space
    Parking in between the lines and in a spot sized for your vehicle helps to minimize dings and scratches. Better yet, park in a less-crowded area and enjoy the stroll into the store – just don’t park where you feel unsafe, and always park away from stray shopping carts.
  4. Expect the Unexpected
    Assume things will happen: someone will dart out in front of you, a cart will come rolling toward you, or that someone backing out of his/her spot won’t see you backing out of yours. When you’re on guard, you’re better prepared for those who aren’t.
  5. Be Respectful
    A little kindness goes a long way in a parking lot or parking garage. Stop for pedestrians, don’t cause traffic jams waiting for a spot and, above all, don’t lose your cool.

Remember, when you’re watching for dangers, you have a better chance of avoiding them. If an incident does occur, we here at Commonwealth Insurance Services are ready to help.

The 4 Most Commonly Asked Questions About Flood Insurance

Flood Insurance is one of the most confusing and frustrating insurance policies for Home buyers. If you are interested in buying a home, and it is determined to be in a flood zone, you will most likely have to buy a Flood Insurance Policy to satisfy your Mortgage Loan Company. When you get a quote for the Flood Policy and it turns out to be really expensive, it can totally shoot down a contract to purchase the home. Some people already own a home and have a flood insurance policy still are not sure what it covers.

I have listed some of the most common questions we get about flood insurance to try to help you be a more informed buyer and homeowner!

What is the difference between Flood and Sewer backup?

Water flooding in from outside is flood water excluded from coverage on a homeowner’s insurance policy. Backup of sewers is when a sump pump fails allowing water to flood your basement. This can be covered on a homeowner policy if you have the endorsement. It is good to review your homeowner’s policy to make sure you have this coverage if you have a basement. A homeowner’s policy WILL NOT cover water that leaks in through a crack in the foundation. This is considered deterioration and that is not a covered cause of loss.

Who insures flood losses?

National Flood Insurance Plan (NFIP) insures all flood risks. There are private insurers that have a system in place to quote and issue flood policies through the NFIP. These may have the name of the company on your policy, but it is still insured through the NFIP. Hurricane Katrina caused all private insurers to stop insuring properties for flood, due to the risk of catastrophic loss. The government stepped in through the NFIP to offer this coverage to property owners in the vacancy of private insurers.

Is my property inside the home covered?

Flood insurance will not cover any property kept below grade. This means if you have a below-grade basement that you have property in, the belongings will not be covered. It will cover above grade property. If you have a slab foundation or crawlspace and the water enters the first floor of the home, the property will be covered if you have property coverage on your policy. You can have property coverage for an extra premium or exclude it for a premium reduction. Again, review your policy to make sure you have property coverage.

Who determines if my home is in a flood plain?

There are local authorities that work in conjunction with FEMA to determine if your property is in a flood plain. In the Louisville area, Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) is the local authority. The look at thing like elevation of the land, location near a body of water, and if there has been flooding at that site in the past 100 years.

Remember, if you are unsure about your coverage or your quote, review your quote or discuss your policy with your Insurance Agent. Don’t wait until something happens and then have a loss that is not covered!

3 Ways to enjoy a Claim-Free Summer Vacation!

Summer vacation time is here! Most people have a checklist when they are going on a trip. They want to remember things like swim suits, sun screen, etc. They want to remember things that will make their trip awesome! It is also smart to have a checklist to help prevent bad things from happening while you are on your trip. An Insurance Claim can be one of those things. While your insurance company will prevent you from having a major financial loss, a claim can still be costly. You have to pay your deductible and then worry about your premium increasing or even worse, getting non-renewed!

No need to fret though! I have compiled a short and simple list of a few things you can do to prevent a costly insurance claim from spoiling your Summer Vacation Memories!

  1. Turn off the water going to the house if going for extended time. If you have a pipe leak or your hot water heater bursts while you are gone, it can cause major water damage which often leads to large insurance claims. Remember, you don’t want to come home from vacation to a house full of water!
  2. Close all your window blinds and have a neighbor or family member collect mail. Thieves look for signs that people are not home. If they see mail or newspapers piling up, this could be inviting to them. You also want to make sure they can’t see in the windows to see valuables. Alarms are great, but if they see something they could take quick, they may try it!
  3. If you are renting a car, your insurance will cover it like it is your own. If you have full coverage on your auto insurance, it will provide full coverage to the rent-a-car with your deductible applying. This saves you money by not having to buy the extra insurance the rent-a-car company can provide. With this said, treat the car like it is your own car. Lock it up, park in well-lit areas, and don’t leave items in full sight in the car. Also, when picking up a rent-a-car, make sure to do a thorough examination of the car for any existing damage so that when you turn it in, you are not blamed for it!

Remember if you have any questions or you are not sure of your coverages, you can always call your Licensed Insurance Agent and they will be glad to answer your questions.

Have a Great, Claim-Free Summer!