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?

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 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 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 then 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.

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, 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.

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.

New House? You Need a Quality Home Insurance Policy

When you move into your new Olathe, KS house, there are many things to consider. Will your furniture fit? Do you want to repaint the bathroom? There are always questions and considerations. One of the items at the top of your to-do list should be working with an agent at AHI Group to get the right home insurance policy. You also want to have quality coverage that meets your needs and the peace of mind that goes with it. The right agent can help make all that so much easier.

Home coverage is designed to protect you and your belongings in the event of a claim. It can also help you get your home repaired after a disaster and make replacing your personal items easier and less stressful. If you’re buying through a lender, they’ll generally require you to have a policy in place before you can close on the house you’re buying, so they know they’re also being protected.

While it’s possible to shop for insurance on your own, the best option is to work with an agent who can give you quotes from multiple insurers. That makes it much more convenient to compare coverage and options so you can decide which policy is best for your needs. Even if the coverage is the same, the value of the policy can be different depending on which company you choose. Our agents will answer your questions and discuss your options so you can get the right coverage.

Contact us today at AHI Group if you’re buying a new house in the Olathe, KS area. We’re here to make sure you’re happy with your policy and that it gives you the protection you need to enjoy your new home.

Honesty is the best policy: Being upfront about your renting habits

As of 2022, there were nearly 44 million housing units that were occupied by renters in the United States. This number has steadily increased for a number of reasons, the main of which being the ever-rising cost of living. For many Americans, renting can be a more affordable alternative to home ownership.

At the same time, many homeowners have found themselves in a sticky situation when it comes to rising mortgage rates and general life expenses, and to combat their seemingly endless expenses have turned to renting out a portion or floor of their home. Careful – if your agent doesn’t know about your renting habits, they should. Here’s why.

Standard home insurance is limited when it comes to renting

Home insurance is designed to cover the home, its foundation, four walls, basement, roof, etc., as well as your personal liability (your legal expenses if anyone decides to sue you for injuries or damages to their property), your belongings, and even necessary living expenses if you had to live elsewhere for a time while your home was being repaired or restored.

But home insurance is designed to cover you and other household members, not guests or unrelated (and even related!) individuals renting out a room or floor in your home. It gets especially complicated when you’re renting out parts of your home in exchange for rent payments, which changes the occupancy of your home from simply being your dwelling to now being a commercial operation.

In short, the majority of home insurance companies will not cover homes if they are also being rented out. Some home insurance companies will, under the condition that the homeowner purchases a rental endorsement. Other companies won’t want to stay “on risk” at all, and you’ll need to go elsewhere to find the coverage you need.

Why you need to be honest about your renting habits

Being upfront about all your information, including the primary occupancy of your home, is crucial. Failing to disclose your renting habits to your insurance company borders the line of insurance fraud and can easily land you in hot water if you’re found out. At best, any claims you make will be denied. At worst, your policy could be cancelled, and you’ll later have a much harder time finding coverage.

Speaking strictly from a protection POV, not being honest about your renting habits may mean you won’t acquire the protection you need to cover your rental activities. This includes, but isn’t limited to, any liability associated with your rental habits, any damages your tenant accidentally does to your property, and any fair rental income you’re entitled to that you can’t receive as a result of an insured loss.

Will my rental activities increase my home insurance costs?

Yes, and this is often why homeowners hesitate to inform their insurance company. Adding an endorsement to cover your rental habits or even purchasing landlord insurance can cost more, but you’re likely better off disclosing your activities to your insurance company and paying the slightly increased cost than you are lying about your rental. If you’re found out, or even cancelled, your insurance costs could increase dramatically the next time you go to find coverage, and could end up costing you hundreds more dollars than you’d pay had you simply been honest about your renting habits.

Do you need to have landlord insurance?

If you rent out a part of your home, such as a bedroom or a basement, then no – not usually. Usually what will happen is your home insurance company will have you purchase a rental endorsement, which increases your protection to include landlord liability, dwelling coverage against tenant accidents, and fair income rental coverage.

If you had a second property that you didn’t occupy, such as a condo, you would need to purchase a landlord policy. You would never insure a property twice, i.e., you would never insure a property with both landlord and home insurance. Your primary home with a rental unit (bedroom or floor) can be insured with a home policy but all your rental activities may be covered under an endorsement included in your primary policy.

Do I still need insurance if I rent out my home through Airbnb?

Yes. In fact, many insurance companies will view hosting platforms, like Airbnb, as even riskier than longer-term rentals. Many insurance companies will offer short-term rental insurance as an endorsement, which you can add to your home insurance policy, or you can purchase a standalone policy for a home that is primarily used as an Airbnb property.

Note: many home-sharing platforms will offer their own insurance, which is free, but may be limited. It’s usually recommended that you purchase short-term rental insurance for more comprehensive coverage. Even if you have Airbnb-provided insurance, you’ll still need to loop your insurer in on your rental habits.

Confused?

If you are renting out a part of your home, considering doing so, or are confused about anything we’ve discussed in this article, reach out! Our agents are happy to discuss your home insurance with you and review your policy to ensure you have all the coverage you need.

Identifying home insurance savings opportunities

A storm of different market trends has caused property insurance prices to skyrocket. If you’re one of the thousands of Americans countrywide who have seen what appears to be an unprecedented difference in your rates, know that you’re not the only one who might be confused.

Multiple factors, including a shortage of skilled labour, low housing inventory, and historic demand for housing, has caused the cost of insuring homes for repairs and replacements to skyrocket. In this article with data from SafeCo, we’ll go over why this is all happening and how to identify savings opportunities despite the hard market conditions.

Why are home insurance prices so high?

With only around 980,000 unsold homes on the market in 2023 (down from 34% based on the past 3 years) the price of homes that have been sold in the United States has risen 42% since 2019.

*Source: National Association of Realtors, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

The price of homes, combined with a shortage of skilled labour to build (and repair or restore) homes, plus high material costs due to shortages not having fully returned to pre-pandemic levels, are all reasons for home insurance prices increasing. Homes simply cost more to replace and repair than they once did, making for a greater need for higher coverage limits and therefore costlier premiums.

Opting not to select coverage limits that would fully cover the cost of your home were it to be destroyed in a total loss is one “solution” many policyholders may feel drawn to, but doing so may leave your home vulnerable in the event of an unexpected loss and could cost you more out-of-pocket than you would otherwise spend on your premiums. Raising your coverage limits may not cost as much additional per month as you might think, and it’s worth having full coverage in the long run.

Savings opportunities

With current rate inflation, many homeowners may be pushed to focus on savings opportunities where possible. Allow us to help – with our partnerships with insurers like SafeCo, we can help you find excellent discount opportunities that may help to combat or fully nullify the rate increases many policyholders across the United States are experiencing. We may suggest:

Home and auto bundling

One of the more popular insurance discounts, bundling your home and auto through the same provider can save you between 5% and 20%, depending on the insurer. With SafeCo, for example, you can save up to 15% on premiums, and tacking on other polices (like RV, renters, boat, etc.) can help the savings add up even more. Ask an agent to see what policies qualify.

New or renovated home

Have a newer home, or a home that’s been substantially renovated recently? You can win big on tremendous savings. Ask your agent about what age of home or standard of renos qualifies for new/renovated home discounts.

Roof payment schedule

Companies like SafeCo offer coverage for roof damage which depreciates payout based on roof age/type, which can save customers up to 4% on average, but even higher savings with severe storm states and homes that have older, unrenovated roofs.

Protective device discount

If your home features an approved protective device, such as a sprinkler system or a burglar alarm (and said devices are properly maintained and charged/have up-to-date batteries) you could receive a substantial discount.

Extra protection for at-risk customers

Although adding endorsements to your policy can increase your rates, there’s value in considering additional coverages if you’re at-risk of certain losses, such as sewer backup, groundwater flooding, and more. Adding these coverages could, in the long run, actually help you to save more money, and with today’s unpredictable (and oftentimes severe) climate, it can be greatly beneficial to preserving your peace-of-mind and the sanctuary of your household.

Consider these endorsements, or discuss with an agent:

Water backup or sewer backup

This endorsement, added to your home policy, offers coverage when water escapes or discharges from a sump or sump pump/similar system and enters your home. Sewage is filthy and can seriously hurt the health of your household, but a mop won’t do the trick. This coverage covers the cost of cleanup and can help to pay off the cost of repairs to your home.

Personal property ACV

Should you experience a covered loss, this endorsement guarantees actual cash value for your belongings at the time of a loss, and then up to the full amount of what it would cost to replace with today’s market.

In unprecedented times, AHI is here to help

All things considered, between the hard market and COVID-19 ripples, it’s tough to be a policyholder. When you feel as if your rates have risen for “no reason,” you might feel tempted to even cancel your policy. We advise you give us a call to discuss your options. While cancelling your insurance might seem like the “right” decision, it can leave you massively exposed – and for many, could void the conditions of their mortgage agreement.

AHI Group is happy to discuss your insurance with you and go over your options. While we understand current rate fluctuations can be confusing and even upsetting, we’re here to provide you with ways to save and can help you comparison shop to find the best rates. Give us a call.

Weathering the storm: What to do after a major snowfall

Kansas recently experienced an unexpected snowstorm, burying the bulk of the metro area in 6 inches of snow. As the snow settles, the real work begins to ensure a smooth recovery process. While this particular storm may not have been “world-shattering” for many residents, it’s a fair reminder of our need to be prepared in the event of unexpected disasters. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the essential steps to take after a major weather event, offering valuable insights on how to restore normalcy to your living or working space.

And, for those seeking professional assistance in the cleanup after a snowstorm (even our most recent one), we’ve partnered with Sage Restoration, experts in emergency services such as water extraction, fire, and smoke cleanup. If you need to make a claim, we highly advise enlisting their services to get yourself back to normal ASAP.

Step one: Assessing the damage and taking stock of the aftermath

Begin by conducting a thorough assessment of your property, inside and out. Check for visible damages such as roof leaks, broken windows, or structural issues. Pay close attention to the foundation and ensure there are no signs of shifting or cracking. Additionally, inspect electrical systems and appliances for any potential hazards.

As you survey the exterior, be mindful of fallen trees or branches that may pose immediate dangers. Note any downed power lines and keep a safe distance. Take photographs or videos to document the extent of the damage for insurance purposes. This documentation will serve as valuable evidence when filing claims. And, perhaps most importantly, consider your own safety and if you are worried about re-entering your home after a major event, consult with professionals before re-entering.

Step two: emergency measures: Prioritizing safety and mitigation

Once you’ve evaluated the damage, focus on immediate actions to safeguard yourself and prevent further harm to your property. Prioritize safety by turning off gas and electrical utilities if necessary. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, evacuate the premises immediately and contact the utility company.

Mitigate risks by securing vulnerable areas. Cover broken windows with plastic or boards to prevent further exposure to the elements. Use tarps or buckets to collect water from leaks and reduce interior damage. If water has infiltrated your home, place towels or buckets strategically to minimize its spread.

Consider seeking temporary shelter if your home is unsafe. Local authorities often provide emergency shelters during severe weather events.

Step three: Dealing with flood and moisture issues

As the snow begins to melt, one of the primary concerns is water damage. Addressing this issue promptly is crucial to prevent long-term structural problems and mold growth. Start by identifying areas affected by flooding or excessive moisture. Remove standing water using pumps or wet vacuums, and open windows and doors to enhance ventilation.

After extracting visible water, focus on thoroughly drying the affected spaces. Use dehumidifiers to reduce humidity levels, aiding in the prevention of mold proliferation. Remove wet or damaged materials such as carpets, insulation, and drywall to minimize potential health risks and accelerate the drying process. Professional water extraction services, like those offered by Sage Restoration, can ensure a comprehensive and efficient restoration of your property.

Step four: Rebuilding and recovery

After mitigating immediate concerns, shift your focus to rebuilding and long-term recovery. Begin by developing a comprehensive recovery plan. This should outline the necessary steps, timeline, and budget for the restoration process. Engage with professionals, such as contractors and restoration experts, to assess the structural integrity of your property and create a detailed plan for reconstruction.

Coordinate with your insurance company to understand the coverage and file necessary claims. Keep all documentation from the initial assessment, as well as receipts and records of expenses incurred during the recovery process.

Partnering with the best

AHI Group is proud to partner with some of the best companies in KS, MO, and NE – like Sage Restoration. The restoration and recovery process is one unspoken part of insurance that often goes underappreciated. Insurance agencies and companies work with top-rated restoration services to ensure their policyholders’ expedited recovery and return to normal.

For further questions about recovering from a major weather event, like a huge snowstorm, give us a call here at AHI Group. We’re more than happy to discuss your needs or give you guidance when you need us most to help you get back to life as you once knew it.

Whose Insurance Covers Grandma if She’s Run Over by a Reindeer?

You know one of the more popular (albeit morbid) Christmas songs, “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” once originally performed by Elmo Shropshire in 1979? (We highly recommend not looking into the background of that song, by the way!) While totally fictional, it does remind us that the holiday season, while intended to be full of laughter, cheer, and merriment, exposes us to a lot of potential liability risks. Between icy roadways and drunken partygoers, whose to say someone won’t get hurt? If someone does, how does our home or tenant insurance help?

This article covers personal liability insurance and some ways to prevent injuries during the holiday season. If you have any questions about your insurance limits, call us here at AHI.

What is Personal Liability Insurance?

Both your home insurance and auto insurance contain a liability component. In this article, we’re erring more on the topic of homeowners insurance-offered personal liability insurance. This coverage may help you and your household pay for injuries and incurred legal fees if an incident occurs to another person on your property. Another type of liability insurance may also cover you if you hurt someone else, anywhere in the world, which is usually referred to as “voluntary medical payments.” Both coverages will pay out for insured losses up to a specific limit.

If your hypothetical grandma were run over by a reindeer, then in this instance we’d assume Santa Clause’s policy would cover her for her injuries (although whether that’d be his personal home insurance policy or a commercial insurance policy is a question for another day!) Similarly, if someone were injured due to your actions or on your property, your policy would help cover their medical bills or even death benefits up until the policy’s limits.

If Someone is Injured on Your Property

You could be held legally responsible if someone ends up hurt on your property, like a partygoer, a delivery person, or even one of Santa’s elves. This may also apply in scenarios where injuries have occurred on other people’s property, but due to your actions. Technically, a trespasser getting injured on your property is up for debate, but any guests are considered your responsibility, and you as the homeowner (or renter) is the one who should secure their property to prevent conditions which could result in an accident. Children are especially prone to these kinds of injuries, and the holiday season with all its bright decorations and attractions can entice younger individuals into entering your property.

If someone was injured on your property, then your personal liability insurance would cover you. This includes slips and falls, burns, dog bites, trampoline incidents, etc. You may wish to check with your insurer to see what your limits are, as well as what’s excluded from your coverage (ex: some policies will exclude certain dog breeds from coverage!) Most policies provide a minimum of $100,000.

If You Injure Someone Else

Medical payments is another type of liability coverage that is usually included in a home or tenant policy. This coverage offers payment for people who are injured regardless of whether or not you’re legally responsible. Medical payments limits begin at $1,000 per person in your household, but higher amounts are typically available to purchase.

Avoiding Injuries During the Holidays

The holiday season exposes us to unique vulnerabilities—ones we don’t see daily. Since there isn’t exactly a specific “holiday insurance” policy to protect us (apart from event insurance, if you’re looking to host a big bash) we must take proactive measures to avoid injuries. Here’s some advice:

Childproof both your yard and your pool

Install childproof locks on gates to restrict access to potentially hazardous areas, including any pools you may have, trampolines, or enticing decorations. Use pool covers or fencing to secure swimming pools and prevent unsupervised entry.

Shovel snow promptly from sidewalks

Do as much snow removal as often as you can, removing it from steps, walkways, and play areas to reduce the risk of slips and falls. Apply sand or ice melt to icy surfaces to enhance traction and create designated pathways for safe travel.

Post trespassing warnings signs

To avoid uninvited guests, ensure you clearly mark private or restricted areas to deter unauthorized access. Make sure that these are well-maintained and easily visible to visitors.

Use non-slip rugs to prevent slips and falls

Although there is no ice indoors, guests can still slip when alcohol is involved, when walkways are busy, and when people are having fun. Use non-slip rugs to improve traction and reduce this risk.

These measures collectively contribute to creating a safer outdoor environment, especially for families with children, by addressing potential hazards and minimizing the risk of accidents on your property.

At AHI Group, we wish you a very happy holidays and hope you get some well-deserved rest! If you have any questions or concerns about your personal liability insurance, or anything to do with your home policy, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Home Alone! What Does Insurance Cover After a Home Break-and-Enter?

After Kevin McCallister is mistakenly left behind over the holidays, he protects the family home against burglars by rigging his property with booby traps. Unfortunately with most holiday break-and-enters, the majority of households aren’t half as prepared as the Home Alone star.

Break-and-enters are unsettling, and it’s hard to pick up the pieces after you’ve returned home to discover your property has been emptied out. Here’s what you need to know about what your insurance covers following a home break-and-enter.

How does home insurance help after a break-and-enter?

Assume during this break-and-enter that multiple things happened. The thieves might have broken a window or a door in their entry attempt, busted locks, etc. They might have damaged your home while inside, turning the place inside out. Busted glass, broken cabinet doors, stained carpets. Odds are, they probably made away with plenty of your prized belongings as well.

With home insurance, there are multiple components of a policy that “activate” to cover a loss, and certain losses may fall under certain coverages. Below, we’ll address which “parts” of your home policy are likely to trigger after a break-and-enter.

Contents coverage

With most break-and-enters, burglars are after your stuff. So, if you’ve just returned from a nice Christmas spent in the Bahamas to find your home ransacked, it’s good to know you’ll have insurance for that. Contents coverage insures your belongings up until a certain limit, which varies by policy.

Belongings that are typically covered under contents coverage include:

  • Electronics and appliances
  • Furniture
  • Clothing, including shoes
  • Artwork and decor
  • Personal assets

High-value items may need separate coverage to be fully insured under your contents coverage due to their special monetary value. We recommend always keeping a home inventory list on-hand, complete with receipts, pictures, warranties, or any other kind of proof of ownership. This will make it easier when filing a claim for your stolen belongings.

Dwelling coverage

In the case of a severe break-and-enter where major property damage was done, your home insurance may also cover you for physical damages to your walls, doors, ceiling, floors, windows, etc. if the thieves broke, smashed, or otherwise damaged your property while inside your home.

Additional living expenses (ALE)

Additional living expenses, or ALE, may also come into play following a break-and-enter. If your home is so damaged following the break-and-enter that it is considered unlivable or an investigation is currently being done causing you and your family to leave the property, ALE may activate to cover hotel stays, meals, and additional necessary costs until you can return.

Preventing burglary and home theft during the holidays

Break-and-enters happen more commonly than you might think, with the burglary rate in 2021 at approximately 9 per 1,000 households (according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics) so it’s important to take the necessary steps to prevent a break in. Here’s some thoughts on protecting your home against burglary and theft, specifically if you go away for the holidays.

Hire a house sitter

Homes left unoccupied over the winter while the homeowners are away on vacation are extra appealing to thieves. By having a neighbor, friend, or family member check in and give the appearance that the home has been “lived in” (i.e., by removing mail, shovelling the driveway and walks, turning on lights) you greatly lessen the odds of having someone target your home.

Invest in an alarm system

Alarm systems have gotten increasingly sophisticated with time, and it’s no surprise that insurers want you to have them. Some alarm systems will even qualify you for an insurance discount!

Try a safe for valuables

If you have any extra sensitive information or high-valued items you keep at home, consider storing them in a safe in an area that is well-hidden.

Install motion-activated or timed lights

A well-lit house is far less likely to be the target of thieves, as it can make a home seem “occupied” and lived in. Consider investing in timed lights if you are planning to take an extended vacation as this, in addition to hiring a house sitter, can act as a deterrent for thieves wanting an easy target.

Get to know your neighbors

Not only is getting to know your neighbors an all-around good idea (especially when you need to borrow salt) but having your neighbors know your face means they’re likelier to call for help if they notice someone on your property who doesn’t belong.

What to do after a break-and-enter:

Despite all your efforts, if you do come home to discover your home has been broken into, here’s what you need to do ASAP:

  • Make sure you and your family are safe. If you have any reason to suspect that someone has broken in, prioritize your family’s safety first. Do not confront an intruder. Go to a neighbor’s home or a safe location.
  • Call the police. As soon as you and your family are safe, call 911 and offer the dispatcher as much information about the situation as you can.
  • Don’t tamper with evidence. Wait until police arrive before touching anything in your home, as police may want to take fingerprints.
  • Make a home inventory to file a claim. Determine, once you’ve had approval to do so, what was stolen from your home/what was damaged. Approximate values and include descriptions of the items that were stolen.
  • Contact your insurer. Once you’re safe and the police have been summoned to the scene, call your insurer and provide them with the police report plus whatever other documentation that they may need. From there, the claims process can begin.

If you have any more questions or want to discuss your home insurance coverage with an AHI agent, give us a call today!

Protecting Your Home Against Holiday-Related Liabilities

‘Tis the season! The season for joy, the season great meals, the season for family—but not the season for an unexpected (and costly) liability claim against you and your household! From unattended candles catching on the curtains to guests slipping on icy pathways, the holidays are ripe with potential liabilities. To spare yourself a costly headache or the annoyance of having to file a claim through your home insurer, we’ve compiled some tips on protecting your home against holiday-related liabilities.

Residential Fire

Fire is single-handedly perhaps the largest holiday-related liability that exists, ranging from residential fires resulting from dry wood from live trees being used as décor to unattended candles catching on decorative drapes. We all love the décor in our homes come the holiday season, as they add a note of festive cheer and truly make the holidays feel like—well, the holidays. But you need to be aware of the risks to protect your home and household.

Candle fires alone increase up to 4x during the holidays, killing over 10 people and injuring 175. The holidays invite a lot of flame-related decorations, dry paper, and lumber—all of which, when mixed, spell out a recipe for disaster.

Here’s some tips to prevent a residential fire this holiday season.

Watch your candle usage

If using candles, keep them in sturdy, non-combustible holders. Never leave candles unattended, and extinguish them before leaving a room or going to bed.

Water your live trees

If you have a live Christmas tree, keep it well-hydrated to reduce its flammability. Check the water level daily, and dispose of the tree promptly after the holidays.

Watch your cooking

Stay vigilant when cooking holiday meals. Keep flammable items, such as kitchen towels and curtains, away from the stove, and never leave cooking unattended.

Get fire extinguishers ready

Ensure that fire extinguishers are accessible and in good working order. Know how to use them, and ensure family members and guests know their locations.

Slippery & Icy Pathways

If it’s looking like a white Christmas for you this year, then great! More fun for the whole family. Having snow on the ground just in time for the holidays can seem like a festive movie scene come to life but know that your snowy or icy walkway can be a liability!

If you’re expecting guests this holiday season, or even if you aren’t but may have neighbours passing by your home or delivery people leaving presents at your doorstep (or Santa?) it’s a good idea to stay on top of your pathway’s condition. From the sidewalk in front of your home to your driveway and your front steps, make sure to shovel and salt accordingly to ensure the path leading up to your door is as clear and safe as possible. While ice is melting, consider marking any slippery spots. And, if you’re expecting elderly guests or guests with mobility issues, lend them a hand and help them to your front door to ensure they get there safely!

Serve Alcohol with Caution

Planning to serve booze this holiday season? There’s a lot of reasons why households might choose to incorporate liquor as part of their celebrations, and to each their own. However, consuming alcohol can seriously impair people’s judgement, and over imbibing may result in your party guests engaging in potentially risky behaviors, like unsafe cooking, impaired driving, or other activities that could result in accidents or injuries – which you, as the party host and server of alcohol, could be held liable for.

Alcohol can be the cause of numerous liability claims, from contributing to an increased risk of falls (or even fights, with the wrong crowd), an increased incidence of drunk driving, legal consequences, cooking mishaps, and more.

In order to mitigate these risks, individuals drinking during the holiday festivities need to manage their intake responsibly. However, as the host, you’re technically legally liable for their wellbeing, so make sure you’re providing alternatives for getting home such as designated drivers, cabs, or Uber. You should also encourage moderation and responsible drinking for all your guests.

Your Home Insurance and Holiday Liabilities

Although we’d like to do our best to prevent every possible mishap and ensure your holiday season goes off without issue, sometimes things happen. When they do, it’s good to know that you’re protected. As the host of your upcoming holiday festivities, make sure to cover all corners and review with your policy to ensure you have adequate coverage. Be mindful of unattended flames, paper-y or flammable décor, slippery walkways, and if you’re planning to make alcohol a part of your get-together, make sure that everyone who indulges does so responsibly and has a safe way to make it home!

And, as we roll into December, the team here at AHI Group wants to wish you happy holidays! However you choose to celebrate (and even if you don’t) we hope that you and your household stay safe, enjoy your time with your loved ones, and if you ever have any questions about your policy or what it covers feel free to reach out and discuss with one of our agents.