Fencing Off Your Commercial Property

If you own a business and the land it is situated on, you should consider fencing it off right away. There are many benefits to having a fence around a commercial property in the Olathe, KS area, and they are listed below. 

Maintain Privacy

One of the best things about a fence is the privacy it offers your business. This is ideal for businesses that need to protect their work while maintaining the privacy of their clients. Large, solid fences are great for privacy concerns. 

Improve Security

It’s much easier to manage who comes onto a property with a fence. If you have your property enclosed and only allow certain entrances to the building, you’ll find that you can reduce the amount of vandalism and break-ins that could happen on your property. You’ll want strong fences that can keep people out and make them hard to climb. 

Develop An Identity

Some businesses are very close to others, and it may not be easy for potential customers to identify your business. With a fence outlining the property’s perimeter, you can quickly develop an identity as your business and not get lost among the others in the area. This can also give you some seclusion in the area, which customers may seek. 

Improve The Look

One of the best benefits of having a fence is how it looks and how it improves the overall look of your business. An attractive business will attract customers, and having a fence lets you keep any materials on the property secured and out of sight. 

If you want a commercial insurance quote, contact our AHI Group team today. 

Why should we think of insurance as a last resort?

To some, having insurance only as a last resort can sound a little odd. You’re paying for it, so why shouldn’t you be using it? In today’s struggle for financial security, it can seem like a slap in the face to keep paying for something you won’t end up using unless you need to.

Treating insurance as a universal safety net, even when it isn’t necessary, can lead to excessive premiums and even more money out of your pocket. Let’s dig into that.

What is insurance used for?

Insurance is a financial product that is designed to protect against specific types of risk. Car insurance, for example, is usually designed to protect against physical repair costs, liability claims, and temporary arrangements for a replacement vehicle. By paying your premiums, the insured transfers over their risk of a larger, more uncertain loss to an insurance company. This model works based on the pooling of risk across many policyholders, allowing the insurer to pay out claims from the accumulated premiums.

Insurance limitations

Insurance isn’t a catch-all. Not all insurance policies are considered the most cost-effective method of reducing risk, especially when considering the risk’s magnitude and likelihood. Policies also have exclusions and limits, so not all scenarios are covered.

Another thing to consider is reliance. Insurance creates a dependency culture, where over-reliance can discourage businesses from managing their risks proactively.

Filing too many claims can increase your premiums

The more claims you file, the more you’ll pay for your insurance. Here’s how that works:

Individuals, entities, and households that have made numerous claims are perceived as likelier to make future claims. This is because they’ve created a pattern of dependence on insurance and are statistically likelier to need to file a claim again. Making plenty of small, unnecessary claims is generally not recommended since this causes your insurance to pay out more, and your insurance company, as a way to combat the risk for themselves, may raise your rates.

You might be thinking, “then what’s the point of insurance?” Well, for one, in many situations, it’s required. Two, it’s meant to be used for losses that would otherwise be financially damaging—not the occasional block of hail breaking a window or two in your home. If your car was destroyed in a wreck when someone T-boned you while running a red light, your insurance would come into play.

The homeowner who filed multiple claims for the hail breaking their windows might end up paying hundreds of dollars more for their insurance down the line, which ultimately outweighs what they would have paid had they simply fixed the windows on their own.

What happens if you file too many claims?

Accidents happen. If you need to file a claim, you should file a claim. However, determining when it’s necessary to file a claim is also a good skill to have.

If you’ve experienced a loss, consult with your insurance agent. This doesn’t mean you’re necessarily starting the process of making a claim. Discuss the full implications with your agent, if the claim is necessary, the estimated damage cost, and how your insurance premiums could be impacted in the future. They’ll advise whether it’s worth filing or if you should pursue other options.

If you have a claims-free discount or accident waiver, you’ll lose those upon filing your first claim. Filing frequent claims will continually reset the clock on these discounts, which you’ll generally receive upon having 3+ years of being claims-free. Again, you should rely on your insurance if it’s a significant loss, but if you’re 50/50 on filing a smaller claim, then you may want to think twice about what it will cost you in the long haul.

Filing numerous claims also has the potential to impact your insurability. Since insurers will need to know your insurance history when buying a new policy, all your past claims in the last 3–6 years will be made known. Your insurer may assess your previous claims and decide to alter the terms of your coverage by reducing limits, increasing your deductible, or even excluding types of coverage that you were previously eligible for. This forces you to bear more of the risk yourself. This can also put you in a bad situation if, say, you were required to carry comprehensive and collision insurance per your dealership’s requirements but your insurer will no longer offer it to you as a result of your claims’ history.

Not sure whether to file a claim? Let’s talk

Experienced a loss but are unsure whether to file a claim? Talk with an agent. They should be able to give you the advice you need on whether it’s worth it to file a claim through your insurer, or if it’s better that you handle the damages yourself to avoid a potential premium increase. It’s always good to know you have insurance to fall back on, but knowing when and where to file a claim is key to keeping your premiums low!

How old is “too old” for a roof?

A lot of your home’s features will influence the amount you’ll pay for your home insurance, from its location and ZIP code to when it was made and its construction materials. But did you know that, of these features, your roof is one of the biggest factors? After all, it’s the first line of defense against the elements.

The newer the roof, the better your insurance rates. But there’s more to it than that. Let’s get into it.

Why is roof age a factor in home insurance rates?

Simply put, a newer roof has a likelier chance to hold up against the elements and can have unforeseen issues that can cause deterioration and later snowball into worse problems. As it is with the same way with car insurance, the “safer” something is, the less you’re paying for your auto insurance. Since roofs can be the first line of defense that your home has against things like fire, wind, hail, and rain, they’ll be more important from an insurance perspective when it comes to preventing huge claim payouts.

Roofs 20 years and older may even need to be inspected before an insurance company will offer coverage. This typically means that they’ll send out a team of professionals to check out your property and assess your roof’s “readiness” to handle unexpected issues. Other insurance companies will agree to cover your roof’s actual cash value if it’s a bit older, meaning that they’ll only cover what it’s worth now minus depreciation. And some insurance companies? They’ll just refuse to cover homes with roofs 20+ altogether, as the risk that older roofs pose might just be too great.

Shape of roof

The shape of your roof can affect your costs just as much as the age, but the shape that will save you money is dependent on the environment where you live. If you live in an area that sees a lot of wind or even hurricanes, a hip-style roof is best.

Flat roofs overall are more expensive to insure since they collect water easier and can accumulate damage with time. They also have a shorter lifespan than other roof styles.

Roof materials

Your insurer will also take into account the type of roof material your home has, as some materials can withstand the impact of nature better than others. Some roof materials are also better in certain environments – for example, wood shingles may not be priced favorably in areas prone to fire.

Asphalt shingles are generally an all-around decent choice, as they are easy to install over top of existing roofs. They are, however, slightly more susceptible to decay.

Slate can be a good option for areas that frequently experience high winds and are relatively low maintenance. They are expensive to install and can be more susceptible to impact damage, like from hail. Their high replacement cost can also mean higher premiums.

Metal is another (increasingly more popular) option. It’s durable, fire-resistant, and reflects sunlight, but it also dents easily from impact and has a high replacement cost.

Wood shingles are not a great idea for areas prone to wildfire as some insurance companies will refuse to insure homes with wood shingle roofs, but they are more affordable. Some people always enjoy the cosmetic appeal of them. Yet, on average, wooden roofs cost about $100-$200/year more than any other roof material to insure each year due to their fire risk.

Will renovating my older roof lower my home insurance costs?

How does a new roof affect your home insurance?

In theory, yes. Installing a new roof when your previous roof was 10–20+ years old can save you up to 35% on your homeowners insurance premiums, but discounts will vary depending on the type of roof that was installed (shape and materials). Some roofs are considered “impact-resistant” or have wind mitigation properties, which can qualify you for additional discounts.

Roof replacements themselves can be costly, however. Net savings are not guaranteed, and it’s wise to talk with your agent about how much you’d save by renovating your roof versus keeping the old roof and continuing with your current insurance rates.

Note as well that if you need a new roof due to a disaster, like an unexpected fire, and you replace your roof, it’s possible that your replacement could even increase your rates. This depends on the age and condition of your roof prior to the event.

Is roof replacement covered by my home insurance?

It depends on why your roof needs replacement. A typical replacement over lack of maintenance or because the roof has simply aged out won’t be covered by your home insurance, since home insurance is designed only for unexpected or sudden incidents. For example:

What is covered by home insuranceWhat isn’t covered by home insurance
Falling objects, explosions, and other accidentsPoor maintenance
Nature damage, like fire, storms, hail, etc.Non-functional repairs (cosmetic)
Roofs under 10 years old (full replacement)Older roofs, usually 10 or 20+ years (*)
Table 1. Roof replacement covered by home insurance

*Note that while some companies just won’t cover homes with older roofs, some companies will only cover them for their ACV, and some companies will insure them but only once an inspection has been complete.

If your insurance company says you’ll qualify for a discount upon replacing your roof, that doesn’t mean your roof replacement will be covered. You will, however, get a discount upon doing so as a thank you for prioritizing the safety of your home.

Have further questions about roof replacement and your home? Have you recently renovated your roof in the last 10 years or so? Let us know! We’ll be happy to go over the benefits with you and may be able to help you find eligible discounts and other home insurance savings opportunities, which can save you hundreds of dollars on your insurance each year.

Has climate change impacted your home insurance?

According to the Insurance Journal.com, homeowners are finding it more and more difficult to afford insurance on their homes as climate change creates an environment where the yearly cost and frequency of claims is increasing with no end in sight.

In short, climate change-induced weather changes, i.e., the increase in the severity and frequency of storms, wildfires, flooding, and other events, cause insurance companies to pay out more for claims, meaning they need to increase their home insurance premiums to offset the losses. This means that homeowners everywhere pay more for their insurance, even if they themselves have not faced a loss. Let’s explore how that works in further detail.

Assessing risk: Climate change’s influence on underwriting

An increase in severe weather, regardless of how it’s caused, may not directly impact all homeowners. They can impact a specific geographic area or even a city, but the impacts increase the overall “risk profile” for insurers. A risk profile is essentially the likelihood of making a claim; a lot of different things influence your risk profile, but your geographic area and its exposure to damaging events (like fires, storms, flooding, and so on). Other things can affect your risk profile too, like the age of your home, whether or not you’ve updated your roof in the last decade, your insurance history, and so on.

The frequency and severity of weather events can mean that insurance companies insuring the properties where those events have occurred face higher probabilities of having to pay out claims. This prompts them to adjust premiums accordingly. Keep in mind that this can happen on a small scale to a certain geographic area and on a much larger scale, impacting cities or even entire states.

The rising cost of re-insurance

Did you know that insurance companies need insurance too? Reinsurance serves as insurance to help insurance companies protect themselves if there’s a particularly large or sudden loss that their existing pool of payout money can’t cover. Reinsurers are having to pay more claims with rising climate-related disaster frequency and severity, therefore having to increase their insurance costs for primary insurers. Insurance companies may offset these rising costs by passing them on to homeowners through higher premiums as well.

Expanded risk zones and reassessment of property values

With the changing climate, previously considered low-risk areas may now be prone to flooding, wildfires, or other hazards. As a result, insurers are reevaluating risk zones and adjusting premiums accordingly. Homes located in areas now deemed higher risk may experience significant premium hikes, regardless of individual homeowners’ claims histories. This is true of all properties – cottage, seasonal property, and condo insurance rates may be impacted as well.

Sustainability concerns over the long-term

With climate change projections indicating continued increases in extreme weather events, insurers must ensure that their business models remain viable in the face of mounting losses. This may involve restructuring policies, increasing premiums, or even withdrawing coverage from the most vulnerable areas. All insurance companies refuse the right to write new business, so if you have purchased a new home in a wildfire zone, your chances of getting insurance may be much more limited.

Industry standards and regulatory pressures

As the climate change phenomenon evolves, government regulators and industry bodies are putting increasing pressure on insurers’ responses. This can manifest as stricter regulations, requirements for increased reserves, and mandates for companies to disclose their exposure to climate-related risks. Compliance with these standards may necessitate adjustments to premiums, impacting homeowners across the board.

Coverage gaps in your home insurance could cause financial vulnerabilities

Coverage gaps, usually as a result of failing to address shifts in home value over time or after renovations/upgrades, can leave homeowners vulnerable to unexpected expenses. This is even greater of an issue during a period where climate-related losses are so rampant, since insured homeowners may not get back the full value of what it would take to rebuild their home in the event of an unexpected loss.

In the absence of adequate coverage, homeowners could struggle to recover financially from a loss, potentially resulting in debt or financial hardship. Coverage gaps could also mean homeowners are exposed to risks that they might not anticipate.

Mortage lenders typically require homeowners to maintain adequate insurance coverage (even if home insurance isn’t required by their state), and it’s not unlikely that restrictions and regulations will continue to increase as we experience more and more severe weather. Coverage gaps can result in non-compliance with lenders in this case, so we advise working with an insurance agent to review your policy and ensure everything is up to snuff – both in terms of covering your asset and complying with any regulations you may be faced with.

Concerned? Call us

Climate change has had a multifaceted influence on the cost of home insurance for homeowners, even those who haven’t directly experienced a loss. This increase can be confusing, frustrating, and downright distressing for some people, especially with the cost of living so expensive as is.

If you’re confused about a recent increase in your home insurance costs, call us. We’d be happy to go over your policy, discuss home insurance savings opportunities, and provide our expert insight. Give us a call today or request a quote.

Safety tips for April’s upcoming solar eclipse

On April 8th, 2024, in many areas of North America, there will be a solar eclipse. Roughly 31.6 million people live in the path of totality, and according to NASA, every contiguous state in the U.S., in addition to parts of Alaska and Hawaii, will witness anywhere from a partial to a total eclipse.

The eclipse is a wondrous, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you and your family to witness; it serves as a great opportunity to teach your children about outer space! However, witnessing the solar eclipse comes with some caution. Before you step outside and prepare to watch the show, take the following tips into account to make sure you and your loved ones are safe.

Where will the solar eclipse be visible?

The solar eclipse will cross over North America on April 8th, but only some parts will be able to see the eclipse fully. Around the Kansas City Area, it’s said that the moon will cover about 90% of the sun by 2pm. You can check the exact time the eclipse begins and ends on TimeandDate.com.

Solar eclipses can be dangerous for your eyes

Looking at the sun directly is a no-go, but a solar eclipse is a unique event where many people may feel compelled to look directly into the sky without any protection. A true and total solar eclipse only lasts a few seconds! Once the sun returns into view, just staring at it for a few seconds can permanently damage your retina. The retina has no pain receptors and you may not even notice any damage for a few hours. Retinal burns from the sun are called solar retinopathy, and damage can be either temporary or permanent. Symptoms include loss of vision, altered color vision, and distorted vision.

Unfortunately, there is really no treatment to restore lost vision from staring at the sun. Children may be more at risk than adults, as their eyes tend to transmit more light to the retina than adult eyes. As a result, this may mean their eyes are easily damaged by intense light (like that from a solar eclipse).

Here are our main tips for witnessing a near-total solar eclipse:

  • Be sure to wear special glasses or research ways to witness the eclipse without looking directly at it. NASA has some great tips on their website for homemade eclipse-viewing theatres. Going the homemade route can be a great way to entertain the kids, too.
  • Before heading outside, apply sunscreen with high SPF. If you plan to stay out for a while, make sure to reapply it every few hours.
  • Consider wearing a hat that conceals your ears, face, head, and neck. Wide-brimmed hats do the job best, and a visor is fine for an overcast day.
  • Bring plenty of water to sip on while you watch the show. Again, if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors during eclipse time, practice proper outdoor safety etiquette and wear protective clothing or seek shade where possible.

Methods to view an eclipse

There are ways to look at the solar eclipse indirectly. You can, of course, watch livestreams online or on TV. You can also try any of the following:

Eclipse sunglasses

You can purchase eclipse sunglasses online. Make sure that eclipse sunglasses are fitted properly, used correctly, in decent condition, and free of any defects. Make sure to put them on before you look towards the eclipse, and turn away before you take them off. Always closely supervise any children using these types of glasses.

It’s also a good idea not to use eclipse sunglasses in combination with other lenses, such cameras, telescopes, binoculars, etc., as these will create more light intensity that the glasses aren’t equipped to handle.

Pinhole projections

You can create a pinhole protection through which to see the solar eclipse. Use a small piece of paper or a card with a single ~1mm diameter hole in its center to create a shadow on an additional screen or card about ~1m away. Make sure to not view the eclipse directly using this method and face away, only observing the event as the image is projected onto the screen/card.

With any method, children are always most at risk, so ensure that they are closely supervised. If you’re unsure if your child is willing to follow instructions or might be unable to use any outdoor viewing methods, consider watching a live stream online or on a TV.

Preparing your home for spring melt

As the snow begins to melt and the first signs of spring start to emerge, it’s crucial for homeowners to prepare their properties for the changing seasons.

This period, while often welcomed for its warmer temperatures and renewed outdoor life, also poses unique challenges to your home’s integrity. The annual spring melt can lead to potential water damage, foundation issues, and other costly problems if not properly managed. AHI Group understands the importance of safeguarding your home against seasonal risks, not only for the sake of preserving your investment but also for avoiding future impacts on your home insurance premiums.

Our top tips for protecting homes against spring melt

The transition from winter to spring can bring about an array of challenges, including water damage and structural issues. To ensure your home remains safe and intact during this period, we’ve compiled a list of top tips for effectively protecting your property. These strategies are designed to prevent the common pitfalls associated with the thawing process, helping you avoid unnecessary repairs and insurance claims. Let’s dive into these preventative measures to keep your home in pristine condition.

Clean gutters and downspouts

Ensuring your home’s gutters and downspouts are clear of debris is essential for proper water flow away from your property. Blocked gutters can lead to water overflow, causing damage to your roof, siding, and foundation. Regular cleaning before and during the spring melt can prevent these issues.

Inspect and repair roof damage

Winter weather can be harsh on your roof. Come spring, inspect your roof for any signs of damage such as missing shingles or leaks. Early repairs can prevent water from entering your home, safeguarding against structural damage and mold growth.

If you didn’t already know, recent roof updates – even within the last 10 years – can impact your insurance rates, potentially qualifying you for lower premiums. If you’ve modified or updated your roof within the last decade, give us a call.

Grade your lawn away from your home

Water pooling around your foundation can lead to significant issues. Ensure the ground slopes away from your house, facilitating water runoff to prevent foundation damage. This may involve regrading your lawn or adding soil to certain areas.

Install a sump pump

A sump pump can be a homeowner’s best defense against basement flooding during the spring thaw. If you already have one, test it to ensure it’s in working order. Installing a battery backup is also advisable in case of power outages.

Extend your downspouts away from your home’s foundation

Downspouts should extend at least 5 feet away from your home’s foundation. This helps direct melting snow and rainwater away from your property, preventing water intrusion and protecting your foundation.

Seal gaps and cracks in the foundation of your home

Inspect your home’s foundation for any gaps or cracks. These can be entry points for water, leading to leaks and moisture problems inside your home. Sealing these openings can significantly reduce the risk of water damage.

Insulate your pipes

Freezing temperatures can cause pipes to burst, leading to water damage. Insulating your pipes, especially those in unheated areas like basements and attics, can prevent them from freezing as the temperatures fluctuate during the spring thaw.

Create a clear path for snowmelt

Strategically shovel snow away from your home’s foundation while it’s still winter. Creating paths for snowmelt to flow away from your property can prevent water accumulation and potential damage to your foundation and basement.

How do spring melt insurance claims affect your premiums?

Water damage and foundation damage resulting from the spring melt are among the most common and costly claims homeowners face. When an insurance company receives these claims, it often indicates a higher risk of future claims, which can directly impact your insurance premiums. The rationale behind this is rooted in the way insurance companies calculate risk and determine premium rates. Each insurance company has its own database and statistics for how insurance premiums are gauged.

If a home has a history of water or foundation damage, insurers perceive it as more likely to encounter similar issues in the future. This perceived increase in risk often results in higher premiums for the homeowner, as the insurance company aims to offset the potential cost of future claims. This offset may be greater the more claims you file or even if the few claims you do file are severe in nature.

By taking proactive measures to protect your property, you can minimize the likelihood of damage and the need to file a claim. This can help keep your insurance record clean, which is beneficial for keeping your insurance costs low over time.

Have any questions about protecting your home against spring melt? Report a claim, or ask us about our advice on what to do about recent damages? Recently updated your roof? Give us a call here at AHI Group and we’d be happy to help you.