Renters Insurance


These days you can buy nearly anything online, even your insurance.  Although it may seem like you are saving time and money by obtaining a policy online, it may not be so convenient later.

One of the biggest advantages of working with an agent is that they have time to sit down and talk with you, in turn allowing you to establish a one on one relationship.  Just one visit with an agent can prove to be beneficial in respect to knowing what your options are and choosing the best possible coverage that fits your needs.  In addition to this, based on your answers to a few simple questions, an agent is able to find possible discounts that you may be qualified to receive.  Purchasing insurance can sometimes be stressful and an agent can alleviate some of that stress, if not most of it just by understanding and being able to relate to you.  After all, we are human and it’s comforting to know that someone has your best interest at heart.

Ben Franklin said it best, “Time is money”. Although an online agency provides you with a phone number where they can be reached, you may not be able to speak with a live person. I’m sure that we have all experienced the downfalls of 800 numbers and the “customer service” they provide.  One could spend 30 minutes or more being looped from one automated message to the next only to reach a live person who ends up transferring you somewhere else. Being able to reach your agent by phone without having to guess which automated option to choose can save you both time and aggravation.

One final advantage to working with an agent who is local is that they can work with you in regards to your coverage.  They can adjust your limits and/or deductibles without sacrificing the important coverage that you need resulting in a policy that is tailored just for you and your pocketbook.   Online agencies give you the freedom to choose the coverage you want according to what you can afford, but an agent can recommend coverage that will protect you and your family all while keeping you within your budget.

For example, the required liability coverage amounts in the state of Arizona are 15/30/10.  Sure, you may get a huge savings up front, but will you pay for it in the end?  If you cause an accident which results in bodily injury more than $15,000 or property damage more than $10,000, you are financially responsible.  Just to give you an idea, according to the National Safety Council, the average cost of injury in a car accident is $61,600 and the average price of a new vehicle is a tad over $30,000 according to Forbes.  Saving a couple of dollars by reducing coverage could cost you thousands in the long run.

With all of the decisions that you make in life, don’t let choosing the right policy overwhelm you when you have an agent right who is right around the corner.  Make an appointment today by calling us @ 480-288-5900.  We can help you protect what matters most!

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Be safe while bicycling this summer (image via The Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists)

Arizona’s natural beauty and climate make it the perfect place to ride a bike.  The blue skies, warm weather, and breathtaking vistas elevate a bike ride to a cycling experience.  But while you are out, relishing the feel of the wind on your face and the warmth of the sun on your back, make sure you are taking steps to stay safe and secure.

Be Safe

Whenever you are on your bike, safety has to be a top concern.  The dangers of cycling are inherent wherever you choose to ride, but here in Arizona you are also dealing with the dangers of the desert like dehydration and heat stroke.  Sharing the road with automobiles also increases the risk of riding your bike.  In 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that 2% of all traffic fatalities involved cyclists.  Be safe whenever and wherever you ride by following these simple safety rules.

  1. Use your head and wear a helmet.  Never, ever ride without a helmet.  According to the NHTSA, 70% of fatal bicycle accidents involve brain injuries and bike helmets are 85% effective at preventing these types of injuries.
  2. Follow the rules.  When you are on the road, even if you are on a bike, you need to follow the rules of the road just as you would if you were driving a car.  This helps keep you safe by making your behavior predictable to those you are sharing the road with.  Always stay as far to the right side of the road as you can safely ride.
  3. See and be seen.  The unfortunate fact is that some automobile drivers won’t see you which means you must assume that none of them see you and make sure you do everything you can to ensure motorists and other cyclists see you.
  4. Pay attention.  Don’t let yourself become distracted.  Don’t wear headphones which block out the sounds of oncoming traffic which could alert you to a dangerous situation.  Don’t talk or text on your cell phone.  Don’t try to visit with your friend while you are riding together.  The best way to stay safe is to stay focused and remain alert to potential dangers around you.

Be Secure

Even when you are not on your bike, security should be your top concern.  Bikes range in cost from a hundred dollars to several thousand dollars and are easier to steal and resell than a car.  The good news is that most standard homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies cover losses to bicycles.  Your policy should cover the same kinds of losses that are covered if you have comprehensive car insurance like damage caused by weather, fire, or theft.  Although this is generally the case, you should check your policy or speak to your representative to make sure this coverage is provided in your policy.

As part of this check, you also need to ask if there is a limit on the recoverable amount for bicycles under your policy.  Even though your homeowner’s or renter’s policy covers damage to bicycles, the amount of coverage may be less than the actual limits on your policy.  This is especially important for anyone with expensive bicycles.  Don’t assume your policy will automatically cover the cost of a new bike.  If there is a limit, ask your agent to explain what options are available to you to increase coverage to cover the full cost of replacement.

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Are your belongings insured while they’re stored in a storage unit? (image via google)

Being able to rent storage space can be a godsend in certain situations.  You might be downsizing to a smaller home but want to keep family heirlooms for your children.  You may be moving from one place to another and need a temporary place to keep your stuff safe and secure.  You might have outgrown the house you have now and need the extra room while you search for a house that better meets your needs.  No matter the reason you need it, having the option to store your things in a rented space can be the difference between keeping things you love and being forced to sell, giveaway, or toss things you would really rather keep.

When it comes to solving these problems, self-storage units and even those storage solutions that offer amenities like climate control and added security provide an easy solution.  This is why so many of us, nearly 1 in 10 according to the Self Storage Association, have rented storage space separate from our primary housing.  When looking for the right storage space, many of us consider things like location, cost, security, and the reputation of the company managing the storage units.  We often go to great lengths to ensure we are storing our belongings in a safe, secure location without ever asking the most obvious security-related question: “If there is a fire and the items I store in my storage unit are damaged, will my loss be covered by insurance?”

The answer is… it depends.

1.     Storage Company

Start with the storage company where you are planning to store your possessions.  It is important to ask the right questions because the answers provided may be true but may lead you to believe you are protected when you are not.  First, ask about if the company is insured.  You are trying to determine if the company is covered by basic insurance policies any business should have like liability and property.  Once you have established that they are insured, ask if their policy provides any protection for your property in the event that fire, nature, or theft damages or destroys your property.  If the answer is yes, verify how much coverage your personal property is provided under their policy and check that against what you plan to store to ensure it is enough to cover any potential losses.

2.     Homeowner’s and Renter’s Policies

If the storage company does not have insurance that covers your property, this is your next stop.  Any items that you store off your property may be covered by your homeowner/renter policy which makes that a good starting point.  Talk to your agent to find out if offsite storage is covered by your policy.  If it isn’t, you will need to secure this coverage somewhere else.  If it is, you aren’t out of the woods yet.  Some insurance companies limit the value of property that can be stored offsite and still covered.  In order to determine if you have the insurance protection you need, you will need to know if your policy includes this provision and what that maximum value is.  You also want to make sure that there aren’t any other provisions in your policy specific to stored property like higher deductibles.

It isn’t difficult to protect all of your property, regardless of where it is kept.  You just need to make sure you have proper coverage or take the steps to get the coverage you need.

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Renters

Have you ever wondered why you need renters insurance? Read more to find out. (Image via Intermedia Images on Flickr)

If you are like the majority of renters in the U.S., you do not currently have a renter’s insurance policy.  In fact, the Insurance Information Institute claims that only about 43% of those who rent their living space have an insurance policy protecting their property.   The reasons so many renters are uninsured vary but there are some common themes.  Some have never really thought about needing a policy that will cover the loss of their property if the place they live is damaged.  Others assume the cost is too high and decide to take the risk rather than obtain a policy.  Another group believes that the insurance their landlord carries on the property also covers their belongings as long as they are in the rental property.

The problem with all of these reasons is that they leave renters exposed to the loss of all their property and no avenue for recovery.  Let’s look at why each reason trades short sighted thinking or misinformation for security.

1.     I Never Really Thought About It

If you are a first time renter, you may fall into this category.  Unfortunately, life doesn’t come with an instruction manual and unless someone points the need for this type of coverage out, you may not realize this is something you need.  Many people never really think about what will happen if there is a fire or a flood and they suddenly lose everything they own.  Many people assume there is some government agency or charitable organization that will help them rebuild their life.  While this may be true, they will help make sure you have clothes on your back, food in your stomach, and a roof over your head but they aren’t going to buy you a new computer, replace your designer wardrobe, or pay to repair the damage to your antique armoire.  If you live in a rental property and do not have insurance to cover your property, call your insurance agent tomorrow for a quote.  Don’t wait until you have to deal with it to do something about it.

2.    I Can’t Afford It

Renter’s insurance generally costs less than $20/month.  If there is a fire and you cannot live in your apartment, are you going to find a hotel that will cost you less than $20/month?  Replacing all your belongings, even if you don’t own anything you consider valuable, is going to cost far more than $20 or $200 or even $2000, which would cover the cost of a renter’s insurance policy for 10 years.  This is an excellent example of being penny wise and pound foolish.

3.    My Landlord has Insurance

While this is very likely to be true it is also very likely that your landlord’s coverage offers you no protection.  Most landlords have a policy that covers the structure and any property they have in the home like appliances.  It doesn’t cover your property or provide you with any liability protection if someone sues you.  If there is a natural disaster like a hurricane or a flood, you will have to bear the full cost of replacing any of your possessions that are damaged or destroyed unless you have a renter’s insurance policy protecting you.

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Marriage

Are you properly insured after a major life-changing event? Image via cheesy42 on Flickr

Many people don’t realize that different life events can have an impact on their insurance needs as well as their insurance premiums.  You might think that turning 25 will bring your auto insurance down or realize that getting married means you need to combine your coverage into a single policy, but there are many other ways that major life events can impact your insurance.   A survey conducted by Trusted Choice and reported in Insurance Journal found that more than 30 million U.S. households have insurance policies and/or coverage that don’t fit their current needs.

Here are 3 of the major life events that can change what kind of insurance you need, how much insurance you need, or how much your insurance costs.

1.     Getting Married

When you tie the knot, your insurance needs and costs can change in a couple different areas.  First, your car insurance rates may go down because you are married and combining policies may qualify you for a multi-car discount.  If you are purchasing a house, you will need a new homeowner’s policy.  If you are moving in together but renting, you will want to combine your renter’s insurance and make sure the coverage limits of the policy are enough to replace both of your possessions.  Regardless of whether you are a renter or a homeowner, you may want to make sure your property replacement coverage will cover your wedding rings.  Finally, now that you are married, your life insurance needs may be drastically different and should be reviewed.  Even if you have enough insurance, you will likely need to make beneficiary changes at a minimum.  Talk to your insurance agent to make sure the coverage you have is the coverage you need and that you aren’t paying more for it than you should be.

2.     Getting Divorced or Becoming Widowed

A change in marital status can mean that you need to make changes to your insurance coverage.  Going from two cars to one, moving to a smaller house, selling valuables, and splitting assets can all result in the need for less coverage and lower limits.  This can be a big cost savings for you that you may not think of during such a difficult time.  You will also want to change any beneficiaries on life insurance or other policy payouts.

3.     Having Children

Becoming a parent for the first time or the last time is a big change and it can mean you need to make changes to your insurance coverage.  According to a life insurance fact sheet put out by LIMRA, almost 70% of U.S. Households with children under 18 would be in jeopardy and destabilized financially if the primary bread winner died.    If you have added a new family member by birth or adoption, it is a good idea to sit down with your insurance agent and make sure you have enough life insurance coverage to meet the needs of your family and that beneficiaries are designated properly.  You may also want to review your auto and home insurance policies to ensure that coverage limits are adequate for your larger family.

While these are 3 of the major life events that can affect your insurance costs and needs, there are several other events that should trigger a review of your policies with your agent.  If you have a new teenage driver, buy a vacation home, have a significant change in income, buy or inherit valuable property, or as you get ready to retire, sitting down with your agent can make sure you and the ones you love are protected.
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Apartment

Do you know what mistakes to avoid when renting? Image via AugustRode on Flickr

Moving out on your own for the first time can mean freedom, but it also mean financial responsibility.  While living at home, you likely had a little leeway in covering your expenses, a leeway that will no longer be there once you sign that first lease and settle into your first place.  Make this process as painless as possible by not making these common mistakes.

1.     Not Purchasing Renter’s Insurance

The number one mistake first time renters make is not understanding the importance of purchasing renter’s insurance.  Many believe that the loss of their property in a fire or theft would be covered by any insurance policy the landlord has on the property.  However, most homeowner’s insurance policies relating to investment or rental property specifically exclude property owned by tenants.  In the event of a loss, not having a renter’s insurance policy means you won’t have any help replacing the personal items that are lost or damaged.

2.     Not Knowing How Much You Need

For those moving out on their own for the first time, there are lots of unexpected expenses that can creep up and bite you if you aren’t prepared.  In order to determine how much rent you can afford, you will need to create a budget that shows all the money coming in and going out.  The consequences of breaking a lease can be expensive and breaking a lease can make it difficult to get another lease in the future.  Before you sign a lease, make sure you can afford the rent and all other expenses relating to the property.

3.     Not Paying Attention to How Much You Have

Now that you are going to have a financial obligation, you need to pay attention to where your money is going.  It is great to have a budget, but you also need a way to track that budget and make sure you are spending your money where it matters most.   Living on your own means you will need money for things you haven’t likely been responsible for before like toilet paper, groceries, and gas.

4.     Not Reading the Lease

Just like with any other legal document that you must sign, you need to read the lease in full before signing.  This is important advice for all renters, not just those who are renting for the first time.  The lease is the contract between you and the landlord and outlines all the conditions and exclusions associated with the rental agreement.  In order to be sure you know what you are responsible for and what the landlord expects from you, you must read the lease prior to signing it.

5.     Not Completing a Formal Move-In Inspection

Prior to moving into your apartment, it is critical that you perform a walk-though with the landlord that results in a documented list of any defects in the property.   You need to take this step to protect yourself before you take possession of the property.  Documenting any flaws or damage before you move in ensures you won’t be held accountable for those damages when you move out.

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Insurance Mistakes

What mistakes might you be making with your insurance policies? Image via cybrarian77 on Flickr

When you are just starting out, there are so many new things you have to handle, things that your parents have always taken care of for you.  You may be moving into your first apartment, starting your first job, buying your first house, or leasing a new car.  It’s normal to experience a few growing pains as you make missteps and mistakes but some mistakes, the ones with a dollar sign attached, can be more painful than others.  One of the most common mistakes young adults make is not having insurance to protect the life they are building.  Insurance may seem like a luxury or like something you will worry about when you are older, but it is one of the most important things you can do now to protect yourself now and in the future.  

Here are 4 of the most common insurance mistakes young adults make.

1.    Not Having Insurance

The biggest mistake people in their 20’s can make is not having insurance.  If you live in an apartment and own anything you didn’t buy at a yard sale, you need a renter’s insurance policy.  If you drive a car, you need an auto insurance policy that covers liability and uninsured/underinsured motorists at a minimum.  If you don’t have a trust fund, you need personal disability coverage that provides income if you lose your ability to work.

2.  Not Having the Right Insurance

Another big mistake young people make is not having the right insurance.  You may have auto coverage that doesn’t protect you from an uninsured/underinsured motorist.  You might have life insurance but not disability insurance, even though you are more likely at this age to experience a temporary disability than you are to die.  Having the right insurance to protect yourself is one of the most important things you can do to protect your financial future.

3.    Not Having the Right Amount of Insurance

It is great if you have insurance, but if you don’t have the right amount, you may still find yourself in financial freefall.  For example, look at the limits on the liability coverage provided with your auto policy.  Now imagine that you are in an accident deemed to be your fault and the person in the other car dies.  Will the upper limit on your liability policy be enough to pay for a wrongful death lawsuit?  If not, your wages for the rest of your life can be garnished to pay for that one accident.  This is why having the right amount of insurance matters as much when you are 20 as it does when you are 40 with a family and a house.

4.    Not Shopping for Their Own Policies

Another common mistake people make when they are just starting out is to buy the same policies that their parents have from the same companies that their parents use.  Regardless of how great the company is or how good they have been to your family over the years, it is always a good idea to shop around for your own policies.  Some companies offer better rates for newer drivers or provide more comprehensive rental policies at more reasonable prices.  Make sure the insurance you pay for is meeting your needs and that you are getting the best possible price in the process.

One of the most challenging things about moving out and moving up in the world is avoiding the most common mistakes.  Understanding your individual insurance needs and purchasing the right policies with the write amount of coverage allows you to protect your future while you work to build it.

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