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What is the Difference Between Replacement Cost and Guaranteed Replacement Cost?

We understand what replacement cost is: the estimated dollar figure required to rebuild your home from the ground up in the event of a total loss. Stands to reason, replacement cost is the cost to replace your home; but what about guaranteed replacement cost? What does that mean? Is there a difference? Which coverage is better? Don’t fret – we’re here to clear up confusion surrounding the difference between guaranteed replacement cost and replacement cost.

What is Replacement Cost?

With replacement cost insurance, your insurance company will pay to repair or replace damaged portions of your home without considering depreciation. For example, if you experience hail damage to your shingles, with replacement cost, the insurance company will not factor in that the shingles are seven years old and not worth as much as new shingles, they will simply replace the damaged shingles with new ones; this is replacement cost. However, the replacement cost is subject to a maximum amount.

For example, if your home’s estimated replacement cost is $250,000 and you experience a total loss, having to rebuild from the ground up, your insurance company will pay to rebuild your house, up to $250,000.

What is Guaranteed Replacement Cost?

What if it costs more than $250,000 to replace my house? What if $250,000 wasn’t estimated properly? Now what? This is where guaranteed replacement cost comes into play.

Guaranteed replacement cost is just that, it’s guaranteed. This means if you experience a total loss and must rebuild, the rebuild is not capped at the total amount of replacement cost, i.e. $250,000.

If your replacement cost is estimated at $250,000 and the rebuild costs $310,000, the total cost of the rebuild will be covered under guaranteed replacement cost coverage. Guaranteed replacement cost coverage guarantees that the insurance company will put you in the exact same position you were in before the loss; this means you can rest assured knowing that the beautiful home you’ve created will be protected and rebuilt, no matter the cost.

What Does Guaranteed Replacement Cost Cover?

That being said, guaranteed replacement cost is put in place for your protection; it ensures your home will be rebuilt without the worry of running out of funds. As with most insurance coverage, guaranteed replacement cost is designed to put you back in the same place you were in prior to the loss. The fact that funds do not cap out is a huge stress reliever.

Does a Guaranteed Replacement Cost Insurance Policy Cover Home Upgrades?

A guaranteed replacement cost policy is a guarantee that the home you had previously will be rebuilt, while the floors and finishes will be replaced using the same or as similar as possible materials that were in place prior to the loss. Should the homeowner decide to make some upgrades during the repair or rebuild as a result of a claim, then typically the homeowner would be responsible for the difference in cost between what was in the residence at the time of the loss and the upgraded material(s) and/or fixture(s). It is for this reason that a dollar figure is still attached to a guaranteed replacement cost policy.

Ensure Guaranteed Replacement Cost is Accurately Calculated

It’s imperative that your home’s replacement cost be accurately calculated. A guaranteed replacement cost policy is designed to ensure your home is rebuilt in the event that something unexpected happens, such as:

  • Perhaps excavation of the old materials from the home is more costly now than it was when your policy was first implemented.
  • Perhaps the price of metal has sky-rocketed over the last three months and your policy has yet to renew and adjust for new the new pricing.

It is for these reasons that guaranteed replacement cost was designed. Coverage to give you peace of mind that no matter what the economic climate, or unforeseen hurdles that may pop up during rebuild, your home will be erected back to its former glory.

Does Guaranteed Replacement Cost Come at an Added Cost?

When shopping for homeowner’s coverage, guaranteed replacement cost sounds like the obvious choice. Of course, as with everything, additional promises come at an additional price.

Depending on the specifications of your home, a guaranteed replacement cost policy can come at a rather large additional premium. Some companies will not offer guaranteed replacement cost for older homes or some state that their guaranteed replacement cost is subject to 120% of the stated replacement cost. It’s important to discuss these details and limits with your agent or broker before deciding which coverage choice is best for your home.

Guaranteed Replacement Cost vs. Replacement Cost Summary

  • Replacement cost is a predetermined estimation of how much an insurance company will pay you to replace your home in the event of a total loss.
  • Guaranteed Replacement Cost means that your insurance company guarantees that they will cover the costs to rebuild your home in the event of a total loss, even if that cost exceeds your policy’s limits.  

So which one suits you best? Talk with your independent insurance agent to find out which one is right for you.

The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906: An Insurance Perspective

The earthquake and fire that devastated San Francisco on April 18, 1906 was one of the most significant natural disasters in the United States, as well as in the history of insurance. It produced insured losses of $235 million at the time, equivalent to $6.3 billion in 2018 dollars. In 1906, just as today, shake damage from earthquakes was excluded from standard property insurance policies. Damage from the fire which followed the earthquake was covered and constituted the vast majority of insured losses.

In the 100 years since the earthquake San Francisco has grown and prospered. But the threat of a similar disaster remains. What if it were to happen again? Estimates of insured losses range from $30 billion up to $105 billion.

According to the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program estimates, 1906-type earthquakes occur at intervals of about 200 years. Thus, it is unlikely (a 2 percent chance) that a quake of the same magnitude (estimated at 7.7 to 8.3) would happen in the next 30 years. However, scientists predict that there is a 60 percent chance that a strong, magnitude 6.7 or higher, quake will hit the area within the next 30 years

Though commonly known as the San Francisco earthquake, the impact of the 1906 quake in fact stretched from southern Oregon to south of Los Angeles and inland as far as central Nevada; however, with the ensuing fires in the city, the majority of the fatalities occurred in San Francisco proper. Current estimates put the total death toll at over 3,000, well over the traditionally cited figure of 700-800.

In spite of the inevitability of a severe earthquake, few Californians (about 13 percent) buy earthquake insurance. Even fewer people living in earthquake zones in different parts of the country purchase earthquake insurance.

Insurance Facts

  • Of the $235 million in insured losses, only about $180 million was paid out in claims as many financially-strapped insurers could pay only a share of the actual losses.
  • Insurers settled approximately 100,000 claims.
  • At least 12 American insurers went bankrupt as well as one Austrian and one German company.
  • The amount paid in claims was roughly 100 times the amount paid for fire insurance polices that year.
  • The earthquake losses effectively wiped out the industry profit earned over the preceding 47 years.
  • The losses occurred despite the fact that earthquake exclusions were already standard in 1906.
  • Of the buildings destroyed, only 2 percent were from the quake, while the remaining 98 percent were destroyed by fire.
  • Dynamite was used to level buildings in the path of the fire in an attempt to create a fire break. This resulted in new fires and is believed to have caused more damage than it prevented. Dynamited buildings were covered under property policies.

How your selfie could affect your life insurance

Fidelio Desbradel and his wife, Leonor Desbradel, of the Dominican Republic, take a selfie in front of a Tulip Magnolia tree in Washington. A selfie reveals more than whether it’s a good hair day. A company has developed facial analytics technology to help estimate life expectancy by analyzing your face from a photo you upload online. Life insurance companies are interested in the product because it may help them reduce your wait for coverage and boost their sales.

A selfie reveals more than whether it’s a good hair day. Facial lines and contours, droops and dark spots could indicate how well you’re aging, and, when paired with other data, could someday help determine whether you qualify for life insurance.

Several life insurance companies are testing Lapetus technology that uses facial analytics and other data to estimate life expectancy, he says. (Lapetus would not disclose the names of companies testing its product.) Insurers use life expectancy estimates to make policy approval and pricing decisions. Lapetus says its product, Chronos, would enable a customer to buy life insurance online in as little as 10 minutes without taking a life insurance medical exam.

Life insurers already gather other data with your permission to get insight beyond the information you supply on the application. For example, they often pull motor vehicle records, prescription drug histories and reports from an insurance industry database of certain information disclosed on past individual life and health insurance applications.

Many life insurance companies are exploring how to use additional data, statistical models, artificial intelligence and other techniques to help make quick decisions to ease the policy buying process and boost sales. Consumers don’t like the wait on the typical application process, which can take weeks and often requires a medical exam.

Time and testing will tell which new approaches prove effective, says Robert Kerzner, president and CEO of LIMRA, a life insurance trade group. “This one may or may not meet the vetting process to make carriers comfortable,” he says.

It’s important for the consumer to feel comfortable, too. It’s one thing to post a selfie on Instagram, another to send it to an insurer for analysis. And it’s crucial for consumers that any technology an insurer uses works. Their claims may not be fully paid if insurers make inaccurate predictions and go belly up.

IT’S WRITTEN ALL OVER YOUR FACE

If Chronos is adopted by an insurer – which would need to get regulatory approval from states to use it in the underwriting process – here’s generally how it would work.

You’d upload a selfie to the insurer online and answer health and other questions. The facial analytics technology would scan hundreds of points on your face and extract certain information, including your body mass index, physiological age (in layman’s terms, how old you look) and whether you’re aging faster or slower than your actual age.

Ricanek says the program can detect makeup, but not plastic surgery. It verifies identity by comparing the photo to the one on your driver’s license.

The insurer would combine the results with your application answers and, if it chooses, any other information it typically pulls. If approved for coverage, you could buy a policy immediately online.

Several of the largest life insurers contacted for this story declined to comment on the Lapetus product or the potential use of facial analytics in the underwriting process.

Ricanek worked on facial recognition technology for the FBI’s Biometric Center of Excellence and is a computer science professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He started Lapetus with S. Jay Olshansky, a public health professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Lapetus launched Chronos, its first product, in November 2015.

SHORTENING THE WAIT

Insurers are in a tough spot because consumers are used to buying products instantly. But it can take a month or longer to approve coverage if the insurer requires a medical exam.

Exams cost insurers money, says Samantha Chow, a life insurance and annuities senior analyst for Aite Group, a research and advisory firm in Boston.

And fewer people are buying. In 2016, an estimated 9.4 million individual policies were sold, down from 17.7 million individual policies in 1984, according to LIMRA.

Consumers don’t like waiting. Only 42% of consumers said it was OK to wait a month for policy approval, and less than 18 percent said waiting for two months was acceptable, according to a 2015 study by LIMRA and Life Happens, another trade group.

Chow tested the Lapetus platform as part of research of automated underwriting for Aite. She says the ease of the process could appeal to consumers who want a quick way to buy coverage.

PHOTO OPS

Ricanek says his company’s market research found that consumers are willing to share photos with insurers if they get something back, such as the opportunity to buy coverage quickly.

Amy Bach, executive director of consumer advocacy group United Policyholders, says such technology could be good for consumers if it makes the application process easier.

But she says she is concerned that insurers may rely too heavily on new technology and find later that their risk projections were off.

Meanwhile, Lapetus is exploring how facial analytics may identify early signs of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease or dementia. And it’s developing a feature that it says will be able to tell whether someone ever smoked. Among the clues are early signs of crow’s feet around the eyes and under-eye bagging. “Smoking is going to be written on your face,” Ricanek says. “Even if you stopped smoking, once it’s written, it’s there.”

Would you like a life insurance quote – free and no onligation? Give us a call at 717-872-7756 or fill out this online request form.

Data Breaches: What Small Business Owners Should Know

A data breach is not something that just happens to mega retailers – small businesses are also at risk. From customers’ credit card numbers to employee tax information, it’s likely that your small business handles sensitive data on a regular basis.

All it takes is one convincing phishing email or a stolen laptop for that sensitive data to get into the wrong hands. Here are five surprising things to know about small business data breaches – and how you can protect yourself.

As A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER, HERE’S WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT DATA BREACHES

  • They affect any business, large or small: In 2020, almost a third of the data breaches involved small businesses. Larger businesses might have the money and resources to help them recover, but smaller companies face greater challenges in the recovery process.
  • They’re costly. If several records are compromised, you could easily be looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses. These expenses can include legal fees; costs to upgrade or replace your POS system (depending on the source of the breach) or even a forensic examination. Some of the more serious small business data breaches have led businesses to close. For those that do stay open, it can be costly to repair the damage to their reputation and restore customers’ trust.
  • They have multiple causes.  Small businesses can experience a data breach in a number of different ways. In 2020, 70% of breaches were caused by external sources. Phishing scams top the list. Phishing is a tactic scammers use to contact others by email, phone or text– acting as a legitimate institution – to lure them into providing sensitive data.  Another popular method for hackers is to install spyware to get into your system to steal private information.
  • They can take a while to detect. The complexity of today’s technology combined with the sophistication of many hackers can make a data breach fly under the radar for weeks or even months. It can be hard for a small business, lacking the resources that many big businesses have, to uncover a breach.
  • If it happens to you, take action and alert those involved. It’s important to let your customers and employees know what’s going on immediately. Be transparent and be prepared to address any questions from affected individuals. Several states even require that businesses contact any individuals whose private, nonpublic information is exposed through a data breach. For trusted advice, read this guide to data breach response for business owners from the Federal Trade Commission.

Having the right data security procedures in place can help reduce the risk of small business data breaches – but a data breach can still happen. But here’s the good news: Cyber liability insurance as a rider to your regular business policy can help protect you with specialized coverage to get things back to normal.

At Martin Insurance Agency, we’re here to protect everything you have worked so hard to build. Talk with us to learn more about our business data breach insurance coverage.

Checklist For Hiring A Contractor

Hiring the right contractor is not easy—and it’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make during a repair project. Whether you’re looking for someone to do a small repair or to help clean up after a damaging storm, it’s important to make sure you’ve hired someone you can trust to do the job.

Here are some tips for when you need help with a repair or even if you’re getting ready to hire for a home improvement project.

In both cases—a repair or a planned project—having the right homeowners insurance can give you peace of mind, too.

FINDING A CONTRACTOR

  • What’s your project? Are you looking to remodel one room or make minor updates to a small space? The type of project determines whether you’ll need a general contractor or someone more specialized.
  • Check with your local homebuilders’ association. You’ll be able to search contractors within your area and put together a list of potentials.
  • Get referrals. Ask your friends, family and coworkers who they’ve worked with in the past. They may have a great contractor you haven’t heard of — or know of a few you should stay away from.
  • Prepare ahead. Compile a list of reputable contractors before you need one. The stress of an emergency repair might impair your judgment.
  • Get multiple estimates. If price is a big concern, checking with only one contractor won’t guarantee you the best price. But the cheapest estimate also doesn’t ensure the best work. If you have the time, try and get a second or third quote.

VETTING A CONTRACTOR

  • Association check. See if the trade association(s) to which they belong stipulates a code of ethics, minimum hours of satisfactory work and trade exams.
  • Search for reviews (good or bad). Check in with your state Attorney General’s office and the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints against the contractor. Glance over their public company reviews on social networks or other trusted review sites.

Once you’ve selected a contractor, ask for proper documentation as you move closer to signing off on the job.

PAPERWORK TO SEE FROM YOUR CONTRACTOR

  • A copy of their contractor’s license. Licensing and certification requirements vary by state. Check with your local State Consumer Protection Office to view your area’s licensing laws to ensure your contractor is verified and up to date.
  • Certificate of insurance. Ask for both general liability, property damage and workers’ compensation coverage and make sure they are up to date.
  • A written warranty. You’ll want a warranty for the work they do, the materials they use and those who work for them.
  • A list of references. Have they done a project similar to what you are looking to have done?
  • A detailed quote. The quote should outline all material used and labor that is expected to be done.
  • The contract. Detailed within the contract should be the cost, work to be done, time schedules, guarantees, payment schedules, building permits and other expectations. (Keep this contract for future reference or if any questions arise after the job is complete).
  • A receipt. Make sure to get a receipt that is marked “paid in full” when a job is completed and you make the final payment.
  • Discuss the need for a lien waiver. This assures you that your general contractor is paying any subcontractors or suppliers they are working with, so you aren’t liable for additional costs down the road.

AS THE JOB COMES TO A CLOSE

  • Keep records. Find a place to keep all your paperwork, receipts and change orders. Consider making digital copies as well.
  • Snap a photo. Map your progress with weekly photos – or save them for a big before and after reveal.
  • Write a review. Good or bad, share details of the work they did, how well they stuck to the timeline and what the finished product looked like. This will help others in their search for hiring a contractor of their own.

Most contractors are trustworthy and are in this line of work for the right reasons. However, some scammers pose as contractors and don’t actually have your best interests in mind. Here are some signs that should make you think twice.

PROCEED WITH CAUTION IF…

  • The contractor asks you to pay the entire balance up-front.
  • The contractor only accepts cash.
  • The contractor avoids giving you a written contract.
  • A contractor goes door-to-door – or pops up right after a storm.
  • The contractor lists a P.O. Box instead of a street address.
  • The contractor uses a vehicle that doesn’t list the business name.
  • A contractor offers to pay your insurance deductible.
  • A contractor offers to arrange a loan for you.
  • You have little to no experience hiring home contractors.
  • You’re unable to access the areas of your home that a contractor claims are damaged. Ask a friend or family member or another trusted professional to inspect the area for you.
  • You’re not 100% clear about the contract wording. It’s OK to ask questions or have someone else review the contract with you.

Finally, let your Independent Insurance agent know when you’re planning a home improvement project and when it’s completed. If your project adds value to your home, you’ll also want to make sure your homeowners insurance policy is updated to reflect the right amount of coverage. Not a client, learn more about homeowners insurance on our website or ask us for a free, no-obligation quote today!

Back to the Office

As more and more companies bring their people back to the office, managers face the challenge of ensuring that their employees feel safe and comfortable. Although all workers have experienced the Covid-19 pandemic, they haven’t all experienced it in the same way. Employees have been going through a wide range of anxiety and suffering, leading to a variety of attitudes toward the pandemic and differences in the precautions people are willing to take to protect themselves and others. What can managers and employees do to manage the transition?

Managers

Managers need to accept that their employees may have changed during the pandemic. Although most professionals (55.2%) in one comprehensive survey were anxious about returning to the office, attitudes differed among different age groups. Sixty percent of workers said they would consider leaving their jobs if they could not work from home or were forced to work in the office more than they wanted to. However, a sizable number of 18-to-24-year-olds — 26% — said they might quit if managers cancelled work-related social events. Younger workers tend to gain the most from personal connections at work, whereas older workers who have been employed longer require less supervision and are more at ease with their position in the workplace. Older workers also have more to be nervous about if they’re exposed to Covid-19.

Given such differences, an all-purpose office policy won’t work for everyone. When employees are anxious, it is less likely that they feel safe speaking up about their concerns. Anonymous surveys can help to assess how workers are feeling but some employers are going further to put in place a visual system that allows workers to indicate their level of comfort with physical contact without saying a word. The system involves the use of color-coded wristbands or lanyards. Red means the person wants others to keep their distance and allow for ample personal space; yellow indicates they prefer using fist bumps and elbows to greet colleagues; while green signals that the person is comfortable with hugs and handshakes. The workers can switch colors anytime they want, giving them the flexibility to adjust their preferences according to different circumstances and their changing attitudes. Employers could also have the option to take away the green bands if Covid-19 cases are on the rise. By enabling people to identify each other’s comfort level quickly, this visual scheme helps to create a welcoming office environment where colleagues can express their personal preferences and be mindful of others’ safety concerns. Some workers may be happy to never shake hands or bump fists again, and such a scheme can help create this new reality.

Workers need guidance and flexibility to decrease their anxiety if they decide to return to the office. Managers can also provide regular updates about precautions they are taking and be transparent about the number of Covid-19 infections in the building. Providing a safe environment and allowing employees to feel heard can substantially decrease anxiety. Employees will expect compassion and flexibility from their bosses during this challenging time.

Employees

Employees can also take some concrete steps themselves to transition back to in-person work. The first is to monitor your anxiety. Figure out how you actually feel about returning to the office. Do you feel anxiety, nervousness, disappointment, anger, fear, or frustration? Naming the inner dynamic can help you regulate your emotional experience. Second, recognize when your energy is depleted. New procedures and health protocols all eat up mental energy, and being anxious subtracts further from our limited supply. Even if you prefer to prioritize work and to take care of others, now is the time to shift the framework around your own self-care. We can no longer push ourselves to the limit in the name of productivity. Recognize that you are human, irreplaceable, and worthy of rest.

A three-step framework can help reduce your anxiety when it starts to rise. Think about and write down:

  • What you can control: For example, you decide what to eat or drink, when to exercise, and when to rest more.
  • What you can influence: For example, you can ask your coworkers to keep a distance or wear masks at your meetings. You can’t eliminate all risk, but you might be able to mitigate it to feel more comfortable.
  • What is outside your control: For example, you cannot control whether the weather will stay dry during an outside meeting or whether your train will run on time. You can put in place contingencies if needed, but recognize your limits so you can save your energy for items you can control or influence. Try to avoid spending too much mental energy on any items in this category.

Both employees and managers can acknowledge their anxiety as well as some wonderful positives about the return to in-person work. After more than a year of social isolation and confinement in our homes, the social aspect of interacting with colleagues can greatly benefit the mental health and motivation of many, and reinforce a sense of purpose and emotional connection to work. Managers should strive to bring humor and joy to their employees, recognizing the breadth of experiences and loss people have endured over the last 18 months. With proper planning and precautions, as well as patience and flexibility, many can look forward to having the chance to reconnect with their colleagues in a safe and considerate way.

Original article written by by Sunita Sah for the Harvard Business Journal, October 26, 2021

Do You Really Need To Buy The Rental Car Insurance?

You’ve stepped off of the plane, collected your bags and are headed over to the car rental desk. Only a few signatures and a credit card swipe stand between you and the open road.

As you’re sorting through pages of policy acknowledgments, the inevitable question comes from across the desk: Would you like to purchase additional daily rental insurance?  With rental car rates getting steeper by the day, you may be wondering whether it’s really necessary to bump up your bill any higher than it already is.

It goes without saying that purchasing insurance is the responsible and prudent way to minimize unforeseen losses. That’s why, in nearly every scenario, you should jump at the opportunity to buy more coverage. But is there ever a time when more becomes too much?

Rental car insurance is a prime example of overprotection, and paying for coverage that you very likely already have. Paying over $10 a day for rental car insurance may seem like a smart decision, but before you make up your mind, let’s break things down:

Step 1: Before accepting any new coverage from a car rental company, it’s critical that you first review the insurance policies you have. You may not know it, but there’s a high probability you’re already insured if an accident occurs in your rental car.

Personal Auto-Policy: The liability coverage you have on your policy as well as any additional coverage you’ve purchased should be applicable to a rental car if you’re driving it for personal use.

  • Existing liability coverage would help you pay for others’ medical bills, as well as damage to others’ property in an accident where you’re at fault.
  • Existing comprehensive coverage would help to pay for repairs to your rental in the event of theft, fire and natural disasters.
  • Existing collision coverage would help pay for the repairs to a rental car if damaged when crashing into another vehicle or physical object.

Your Credit Card Company: According to the Insurance Information Institute, if you pay for a car rental using a certain credit card, there’s a chance that they will provide “secondary” insurance. This means that anything your primary insurer doesn’t cover from a personal auto-policy will be covered by the credit card company. This may include deductibles and expenses that exceed a coverage limit.

  • Keep in mind, however, that certain rental vehicles are not be covered by most credit cards. These include luxury vehicles, motorhomes, trucks and motorcycles.

Step 2: After reviewing the coverage you already possess, that expensive daily policy offered by rental companies probably isn’t looking appealing. However, there are cases when this insurance may actually be beneficial.

  • Your primary and secondary policy is limited in coverage or has exclusions (ex. it doesn’t have comprehensive or collision coverage, which is offered by the rental company).
  • You’re only insured under a commercial car insurance policy.
  • You’re driving outside of the country (besides Canada, most primary insurers and credit card companies won’t cover you for accidents outside the U.S.).

Step 3: No matter which policy you choose, you’ll never receive coverage for reckless behavior. Always remain extra vigilant when using a rental car – that means avoiding certain surfaces, being aware of its condition (locked, where it’s parked, etc.), and never driving while intoxicated. Safe driving is always in the best interest of your insurers, your passengers, and yourself.

Learn more about car rental insurance through the Insurance Information Institute.

10 Crazy Insurance Policies That Actually Exist.

Betty Grable’s legs were insured by her studio for $1 million as a publicity stunt. Describing her film career, Grable said “I became a star for two reasons, and I’m standing on them.”

As every insurance carrier, broker, and agency knows, risk is unpredictable. But then again, that’s why insurance exists.

While there are some forms of risk that are foreseeable—fire damage, car accidents, catastrophic hurricane damage—there are other types of losses that are far more surprising. And even more surprising – you can get insurance for them!

Here are 10 crazy insurance policies that actually exist (and why they’re not all that crazy).

1. Body Part Insurance

You would expect a NASCAR driver to have life insurance, but did you know that certain celebrities have specific body parts insured for millions of dollars?

  • $2.2 million for Heidi Klum’s legs
  • $27 million for J. Lo’s butt
  • $10 million for America Ferrera’s teeth
  • $6 million for Rod Stewart’s voice
  • $1.6 million for Keith Richard’s middle finger
  • $600,000 for Dolly Parton’s chest
  • $7 million for Tom Jones’ chest hair (You read that right!)
  • $1 million for Gene Simmons’ tongue
  • $393,000 for food critic Egon Ronay’s taste buds

It might seem ridiculous to have your derriere insured for such a whopping amount but it makes sense for celebrities.

If Keith Richards loses his middle finger in an accident, he can’t play guitar anymore. If that food critic can’t taste anything, he has no more career.

Celebrities aren’t the only ones who can have body parts insured, however. Anybody can get a policy on the body part of their choice. (Hand and foot models do this all the time.)

The bad news? It can come at a steep price. One Dutch winemaker who insured his nose for $7.8 million will pay roughly $23,000 a year for the policy.

2. Career Insurance

You can’t always point to a single body part as the one thing keeping your career afloat. That’s where some celebrities have taken out policies against their entire careers.

Abbott and Costello’s $250,000 policy protected them against partnership-ending arguments for five years. And if soccer star David Beckham has a career-ending injury, his insurance carrier will pay him $151 million.

Again, for people whose career paths are their only livelihood, an insurance policy like this makes sense. When the paychecks, endorsements, and speaking engagements end, celebs want to receive compensation.

3. Ghost Insurance

The term “ghost policy” has two definitions in the industry. While a Ghost Policy often refers to a situation where a business tries to cheat its way out of proper workers’ comp coverage, some insurance companies actually have a legitimate “ghost insurance” policy…to cover damage done by actual spirits.

After an alleged ghost sighting on his property, one British hotel owner took out a £1 million policy against death or disability caused by the spirit.

4. Alien Abduction Insurance

Worried about a close encounter of the third kind? Yep. There’s insurance for that too. At least three different insurance agencies sell alien abduction policies and some have even paid out claims!

The plans range from serious to “gag gift,” but if you live in fear of an alien abduction, this might be the perfect policy to set your mind at ease.

5. Falling Sputnik Insurance

When the Russians launched the Sputnik satellite in 1957, it created a worldwide panic.

In fact, some people were so scared of pending disaster that Lloyd’s of London actually wrote a $22,000 policy (almost $200,000 in today’s money) protecting against accidental death caused by “falling sputnik.”

It should be said, however, that there have never been any recorded incidents of injury or death by a falling satellite.

6.Thailand Riot Insurance

When political unrest began stirring in Thailand back in 2010, the country’s tourism numbers dropped by eight percent.

In an effort to boost the tourism industry, the Thai government offered $10,000 coverage on tourists who were injured as a result of a riot during their visit. Travel delays caused by riots and political demonstrations were reimbursable up to $100 a day.

7. “Cold Feet” Insurance

We’ve all heard about wedding insurance – and trust us, it’s well worth the cost (especially if you’re getting married during hurricane season). But what if your fiancée is the one calling it quits?

One company offers “Change of Heart” insurance if a bride or groom calls off the wedding.

The catch? The bride or groom cannot collect on this, only an “innocent party financier.” So if Melissa calls off the wedding, her parents can get back the cash they shelled out on the dress, venue, and flowers.

8. Multiple Birth Insurance

“Buy One Get One Free” is a great deal at the grocery store, but a little more intimidating when it comes to pregnancy.

Multiple birth insurance would reimburse pregnant mothers for the added costs of an “unexpected” arrival. (Diapers are expensive enough for one baby, let alone two.)

While it is something new in the United States, “twinsurance” is fairly popular in the U.K.

9. Lottery Insurance

Lottery pools are popular in the office, especially when the jackpot reaches the multimillions.

But, have you ever thought about what you would do if your staff were to actually win that jackpot?

This exact scenario really happened in the U.K., where seven office workers became the beneficiaries of £6 million each and handed in their notices the following day.

Lottery Syndicate Insurance protects business owners from the financial loss of having to replace all or most of their staff at once due to a jackpot win.

10. Bed Bug Insurance

Many people think their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance is comprehensive, only to be disappointed when they make a “non-covered” claim.

In Florida, you might be aware that flood damage isn’t covered, but did you know that bed bug remediation isn’t either? Treating a bed bug infestation costs the typical homeowner around $1,000-2,000, but if you own an apartment building, those costs could skyrocket.

Bed bug coverage would get your tenants the help they need without bankrupting you.

Protecting Your Life

Though they might sound ridiculous, these crazy insurance policies exist because someone, somewhere, feared losing something valuable.

You might not rely on a perfect sense of smell to do your job and you might not worry about a ghost affecting your business, but odds are, you have gaps in your insurance coverage that are making you financially vulnerable.

At Martin Insurance Agency, our goal is to protect whatever it is you care about. Call us today to see how we can help build a network of protection or request a quote by clicking here.

Original article written by Jason Levine March 26, 2019 by

Roof Insurance – Are You Covered?

Insurance claims concerning your roof can be complicated. That’s why it’s so important to have the right homeowners coverage for your roof.

Replacing a roof is one of the most expensive home projects a homeowner will encounter. According to FORBES, the national average a homeowner will spend on installing a new roof is more than $8,000, with most people spending between $5,500 to $11,000.

While you can save up over months or years to replace an old roof, sudden damage from something like a windstorm or hail doesn’t give you that option. Don’t wait until you need to submit a claim to understand what your policy can – and can’t – pay to replace. Keep reading for general answers to a few common questions. As always, as an independent insurance agency, we can give you more specific information (including a free quote customized just for your home).

HOW DOES HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE COVER MY ROOF?

Short answer: It depends on your carrier and policy; some offer more coverage than others.

Longer answer: Buying insurance is all about your comfort level with risk. A cheaper policy means you might pay a little less right now, but you could be stuck paying more out of pocket later if you need to file a claim.

With homeowners insurance, there are different ways you can choose to be compensated when you experience a sudden loss that’s covered by your policy. That is known as your “loss settlement option.” Simply put, it’s how your insurance company assesses the cost to rebuild, repair or replace your stuff.

With some carriers, coverage for your roof is factored into the cost to insure your dwelling. Loss settlement options for your dwelling may vary by carrier, so talk to your independent insurance agent to better understand your options.

Common loss settlement options for your roof include:

  • Actual cash value (ACV) which factors in the roof’s age and condition to determine how much it’s worth as-is when you file a claim. That’s known as a depreciation amount. When the bill comes in from the roofers, an ACV policy factors in depreciation and only pays up to the amount your roof is currently worth – even if the cost to repair or replace your roof is higher than that.
  • Replacement cost, which pays to repair the damage to your roof without factoring in depreciation.
  • Functional replacement cost is the amount that it would cost to repair or replace the damaged roof with less costly common construction materials and methods which are functionally equivalent to obsolete, antique or custom construction materials and methods.

Other loss settlement options, such as extended replacement cost and guaranteed replacement cost, are also available (and good to have) with your homeowners policy. These are designed to give you an extra cushion if you experience a total loss of your home. Generally speaking, they’re less likely to kick in if you experience a covered loss of only roof damage.

Not sure which loss settlement option you have? You can find your dwelling amount and policy limits on your declarations page.

So, when it comes to insuring a big investment like your roof – you can see how your loss settlement option can make a big difference in how you can be reimbursed after a loss.

AGE OF ROOF AND INSURANCE

Remember that homeowners insurance is designed to cover the cost of sudden and unexpected damage. Generally, your policy doesn’t cover damage from delayed maintenance or routine wear and tear to an old roof.

If your roof is worn or in poor condition, having a roof covered on an ACV basis could become a big financial burden if you have to file a claim.

For example, let’s say your roof has seen better days. Then, bam! Lightning strikes and your neighbor’s tree falls on your roof. What happens next?

  • If it’s insured on an ACV basis: If your roof is damaged near the end of its life expectancy, you’ll likely see a larger deduction for depreciation… but you’ll still get the same bill for what it costs to repair or replace it. That could leave you stuck paying the difference out-of-pocket.
  • With replacement cost: There is no deduction for depreciation. This means you may pay a little more in premium for that policy (vs. ACV) –but you won’t be hit with out-of-pocket expenses

One way to make a replacement cost policy more affordable is to increase your deductible. Your deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket after a claim and before your insurance company pays its part.

Ask your insurance agent to show you the cost difference with different deductibles so you can decide which dollar amount fits best with your budget.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN POLICIES

Since each insurance company covers roof damage differently, it pays to understand how your policy works so you don’t run into any surprises after you have to file a claim.

Here are a few factors – known as “provisions” – to look for:

  • Roof payment schedule or a breakdown of how your insurance company would pay for a roof claim based on factors, such as the age of the roof. (At ERIE, roof losses are paid based on the loss settlement that you select for your home.)
  • Mandatory deductible or an amount that you will have to meet before the insurance company will cover your claim. (ERIE allows you to choose your deductible for your home and property based on what’s comfortable for your budget.)
  • Wind or hail deductible or a separate dollar amount that applies to loss caused by wind or hail. Some carriers may require a higher wind or hail deductible without giving you a choice. At ERIE, it is an optional customization that can help lower your premium.

FILING A HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE CLAIM FOR ROOF DAMAGE

Uncertainty is part of life – but that’s why you have insurance. If you think your roof is damaged and you’re considering filing a claim, here’s what to do:

  • Prevent further damage. Once the scene calms down (such as a hailstorm), take action to prevent any further damage to your home and belongings if it’s safe to do so.
  • Document what happened. Take photos of the damage and list what was affected. (An updated home inventory can be helpful here.) List any date or timeframe that the event occurred.
  • Call your insurance agent. Your agent can explain your options and help you understand if and how to file a claim.
  • Know how to spot a scam. Sometimes, fraudulent or dishonest contractors – known as “storm chasers” – show up after severe weather hits. Storm chasers may point out pre-existing damage, create their own damage, or say that there is damage when there isn’t. Learn the signs to spot hail fraud and tips for hiring a reputable contractor.

HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE THAT PROTECTS YOU WITHOUT SURPRISES

If you are unsure what your home insurance can cover – and what it can’t – ask your agent. Or you can request a homeowners insurance quote from us, Martin Insurance Agency.

Then relax and enjoy more of what makes you and your family happy knowing that your home, the investments you made in your home, and the things you value most are protected.

Fastnacht Day

Whether you call it Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, or Fastnacht Day – tomorrow is the day before the Lent starts and it is a day that’s celebrated in different ways across the globe.

In the UK, pancake races form an important part of the Shrove Tuesday celebrations – an opportunity for large numbers of people, often in fancy dress, to race down streets tossing pancakes.

In Germany, people are donning costumes and celebrating in the streets and at lavish balls for one last day of “Karneval” or “Fasching.” In Rio de Janeiro, by shrove Tuesday, partiers dressed in feathers and sequins will have been dancing and parading in the streets for their 6th straight day. And in New Orleans, bead wearing revelers are downing Beignets and King Cake.

Here is Pennsylvania, the merriment isn’t as intense, but we do have Fastnacht Day. Fastnacht can also be spelled in various ways, such as “fasnacht”, “fassenacht,” or “faschnacht.” In German, the word “fastnacht” means “the night before the fast,” since the doughnuts are eaten the night before Lent, when fasting is usually observed by many Christians until Easter Sunday. Making and eating fastnachts was a way to consume all the rich food kept in your house pantry, such as butter, lard, eggs, and sugar, since these ingredients were seen as lavish and were not supposed to be eaten during the Lenten season.

You may want to try to make your own. There are various recipes out there – some even call for mashed potatoes as an ingrediant. But just about every grocery store and bakery in south central Pennsylvania will be selling them. So come on; what are you waiting for? Keep this Central Pennsylvania tradition going and have a fastnacht tomorrow!