What to Look For in the Right Homeowners Insurance

Choosing the right homeowners insurance is an essential part of owning a home. Things happen, so it’s vital to protect your most valuable asset from the unexpected. So what should you look for in a homeowners insurance policy? Read on to find out.

 

Make Sure You Know What’s Required from Your Mortgage Company

Depending on what type of mortgage you have, or the specific rules of your mortgage company, there may be certain policies you’re required to purchase. Make sure you know exactly what policies your bank requires you to have.=

Look for Value

When it comes to insurance, cheap isn’t necessarily better. Instead of looking for the lowest price, look for policies that give you the most for your money. Paying less per month or upfront may seem like the best option, but when an emergency hits, you’ll be paying more of the costs of damages out of pocket.

Consider Your Belongings as Well

Homeowners insurance policies can also cover what’s inside your home. Make sure you have an adequate policy for your valuables. Your insurance agent should be able to find you a policy specific to your individual needs.

Make Sure Liability is Included

Liability insurance is coverage in the event someone injures themselves on your property and sues you for damages. Most homeowners policies cover this but always ensure that it is included.

Be Aware of What’s NOT Covered

Most insurance policies do not cover events like floods and earthquakes, so if you live in an area where these events are likely, you’ll have to purchase them separately. Read through your entire policy and be aware of what’s covered and what isn’t covered so there are no surprises when the unexpected happens.

 

Homeowners insurance is meant to protect you financially, and give you peace of mind, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your insurance agent will help you find the best policy for you and your home.

Keeping Our Pets Safe in Summer Weather

 

Pets Hate the Heat Too!

We all love spending the long, sunny days of summer outdoors with our other family pets, but being out and about in the hot Summer weather can be dangerous for man and his best friend!

To prevent your pet from overheating, we pet lovers here at the Leigh Agency, Freehold NJ offer these simple precautions provided by ASPCA experts:

Visit the vet for a spring or early-summer checkup.

Make sure your pets get tested for heart worm if they aren’t on year-round preventative medication.Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot or humid outdoors. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful not to over-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.

Know the symptoms of overheating in pets.

Which can include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.  Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.

Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle.

Not only can it lead to fatal heat stroke, it is illegal in several states!

Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool

Not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals.

Keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed

Open unscreened windows pose a real danger to pets, who often fall out of them. Always remember to make sure adjustable screens are tightly secured.

Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog.

The layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. And be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.

When the temperature is very high, don’t let your dog linger on hot asphalt.

Being so close to the ground, your pooch’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum.

Commonly used rodenticides and lawn and garden insecticides can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested, so keep them out of reach. Keep citronella candles, tiki torch products and insect coils of out pets’ reach as well. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 if you suspect your animal has ingested a poisonous substance.

Remember that food and drink commonly found at barbeques can be poisonous to pets. Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression and comas. Similarly, remember that the snacks enjoyed by your human friends should not be a treat for your pet; any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments. Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol. Please visit our People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets page for more information.

 

Insurance Inventory

Take a Home Inventory to start the New Year.
The holidays are a time for celebration and family. Most people have a few extra days of vacation to relax and some use this time to play catch-up or finish projects that have been looming for the past year.
You can utilize this time to complete (what should be) an annual home inventory. But in case you have not done it, now would be a good time for it. This home inventory is geared toward helping you maintain an accurate record of your valuables for insurance purposes. A home inventory is a list and visual record of all your personal belongings, which will help you find replacement items if you ever need to do so.

Use this as a quick guide.
 Start from the purchase. Keep all receipts from large purchases like electronics, expensive artwork and jewelry. If you don’t have the receipts, use old credit card statements for proof of purchase.
 Take photos. You should take photographs and or videos of all of your possessions for your records, and keep them with your inventory list.
 Make note of serial numbers. Record serial numbers of items where applicable—you can provide these for police if your belongings are ever stolen.
 Keep copies of records. Maintain your records in a safe place, preferably a fire-proof safe alongside other important information. In addition, keep electronic records by either emailing the information to your personal email or uploading it to a secure place.
Not sure what goes on the list? Think about this, buying a new teapot does not warrant a spot on the inventory. But if you just gave your kitchen a facelift that includes everything from new cabinets to appliances, definitely add those items and the labor to your home inventory.

Once you’re finished with the “official” inventory, take some time to do the following:
 Stock up for the winter by preparing all your essentials in case the weather gets bad: shovels, sidewalk salt, candles, firewood, canned goods and frozen meats.
 Check all appliances—including your stove, water heater and thermostat—to make sure they are in good working condition before the weather gets too cold.
 Get organized. Sort through the photos on your computer, upload CDs to your iTunes account and get rid of the Tupperware with no matching lids. You will thank yourself once the New Year is here!
 Go through your clothes. Good rule of thumb: If you haven’t worn it in the last two years, get rid of it. Donate clothing to a shelter or go online to sell the items. You can use the extra space to make room for new Christmas gifts
If your home inventory reflects items that are not covered under your current policy, talk to The Leigh Agency, your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent for additional information about coverage you may need. Happy New Year!

Support the FoodBank

SUPPORT THE FOODBANK OF MONMOUTH & OCEAN COUNTIES
DONATE TO WIN THIS BEAUTIFUL HAND MADE ROCKING HORSE
ALL PROCEEDS WILL GO TO THE FOODBANK
$10 PER ENTRY
WE WOULD LIKE TO RAISE $500. MAXIMUM NUMBER OF ENTRIES WILL BE 50.
PLEASE COME INTO OUR OFFICE TO SEE THE HORSE AND GET YOUR TICKET.

Renters & college students need to protect their property

New National Survey Finds Nearly Two-Thirds of U.S. Renters Living Without Renters Insurance.  College Students Among Those at Possible Financial Risk in Event of Theft, Fire or Other Loss.

A recent independent consumer survey conducted for the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) has found that nearly two-thirds of those living in U.S. rental properties are currently risking severe financial loss by going without renters insurance.

The national consumer telephone survey of 1,000 people was conducted by International Communications Research (ICR)—an independent survey firm based in Media, Pa. When survey participants living in rental properties were asked whether they had renters insurance, 64.4 percent said no and 2.2 percent answered “Don’t Know.”

Consider the value of your furniture, television, stereo, computer, jewelry, clothes, and other items. They likely add up to more in value than your automobile and without renters insurance, what liability coverage do you have in the event someone is injured in your rental unit and sues you for damages?

More than 81 million Americans rent homes in the United States. A frequent reason many renters give for not purchasing renters insurance is the expense. However, renters insurance policies cost as little as $10 per month. The average cost of renters insurance is $12 per month for about $30,000 of property coverage and $100,000 of liability coverage.

The risks for our personal possessions are many: theft, vandalism, fire or lightning, hurricane or tornado, explosions, damage from smoke, damage by broken glass, water-related damage from home utilities … and the list goes on.

The most common misconception among renters is that they are covered under their landlord’s insurance in the event of fire or theft. Not so. The landlord’s insurance covers the building and the infrastructure of that building. “That coverage does not extend into the homes of the individual residents and the possessions they maintain in their units.

That’s where renters insurance comes in.

Renters insurance covers the items you have in your apartment, condo, or other rental home should those items be stolen, destroyed or damaged. Renters insurance also includes some liability coverage should someone be injured in your home and you are held liable, or even in the event you accidentally burn down your apartment and the landlord’s insurance company sues you for damages.

The survey results suggest that many families with college students could unknowingly put themselves at risk when they send their kids off to school. While homeowners coverage extends to students who live in campus dormitories, there is a gray area for students living in off-campus housing.  Students renting off-campus units need to check with their insurance agent to make sure their parents’ homeowners coverage extends to their possessions. If not, they would need to purchase a separate renters insurance policy.

Renters can obtain renters insurance by calling or visiting The Leigh Agency, an Independent Trusted Choice agency in Freehold, NJ.  www.leighagency.com or 732-780-8338.

Copyright © 2013 Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, Inc.

So you think you don’t need flood insurance!

Last month, the state of Colorado was the victim of devastating floods, estimated to have caused $1 billion in damages. And according to a FEMA spokesman, only about 1 percent of the state’s residences have flood coverage.  

The Colorado flooding resulted from a stalled cold front that dumped up to 17 inches of rain in some areas. Many would not expect flooding in this location, but the tragedy leaves an important lesson in its wake: flooding can happen anywhere, at any time. 

Remember, your homeowners policy does NOT cover floods.  Fortunately, it is possible to be prepared. Flood insurance is a necessary first step.  Contact The Leigh Agency today to get a flood insurance quote for your home or business.  Contact us at www.leighagency.com or call us at 732-780-8338.

 

Safe driving tips

The Leigh Agency, your Trusted Choice independent insurance agency wishes you all a safe and happy holiday weekend. The following road safety tips are brought to you courtesy of AAA Mid-Atlantic.

For Your Safety:
• Keep your doors locked, safety belts buckled and children safe and secure in properly installed safety seats.
• Don’t let your gas tank fall below 1/3 tank.
• Stay on main roads and highways, and don’t forget your AAA maps!
• Pack a flashlight, blanket and a first-aid kit. In cold climates, pack extra warm clothing.
• If you are going on a long trip, pack an emergency ration kit of water and nonperishable food items such as fruit or granola bars.
• When stopping for breaks, never let kids go to the restroom alone. Always lock vehicle doors, even if you’ll only be gone for a few minutes.
• Carry a cellular phone in case of emergencies.
• Do not stop to help a disabled vehicle. Instead, call for help from a pay phone or your cellular phone.
• If stopping during night-time travel, choose a well-lighted, populated facility. Park where your vehicle can be seen.
• If approached by someone while your vehicle is stopped, keep your doors locked and only roll your window down enough to hear what the person is saying.

If You Break Down:
• Move your vehicle off the road safely away from traffic.
• Stay inside your vehicle, and make all passengers stay inside, too. Keep doors locked.
• If you can’t move your vehicle off the road, ask all passengers to exit the vehicle when it is safe to do so, and stand away from traffic.
• If you must walk to a phone, keep your group together.
• Raise the vehicle’s hood, tie a white cloth to a door handle or use reflective triangles or flares. Warning devices should be placed far enough away from the vehicle to    give oncoming traffic time to react. A good rule of thumb: 3 devices at 100, 50 and 25 yards from the vehicle – or 300, 200 or 100 feet.
• Only roll down the window enough to ask any passersby to call police.

Protection for Homeowners from unscrupulous contractors

THE LEIGH AGENCY, your Trusted Choice insurance agency, is happy to pass along this important information. Please contact us for all your insurance needs.

Legislation sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem) that would revise the “Contractors’ Registration Act” to require state-issued identification badges for home improvement contractors was signed into law on August 19, 2013.

“As we continue to recover from the aftermath of Sandy, New Jerseyans must be on the look out for those who would look to take advantage of the situation for their own personal benefit,” said Sweeney. “By requiring a picture ID, we are adding another layer of protection for storm victims against fraud.”

The law, S2363, requires a home improvement contractor to wear a state-issued identification badge whenever the contractor is performing, engaging, or attempting to engage, in selling home improvements. They are required to have the badge in their possession while performing home improvements. The badge will issued by the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs within the Department of Law and Public Safety. It will include a color photograph of the contractor’s face, the contractor’s name, the contractor’s registration number, and the name of the contractor’s business. If a contractor’s license is suspended he / she will have to surrender the badge and it will be a fourth degree crime to use a badge not properly authorized by the state.

The law is intended to help consumers avoid fraud, particularly in light of Hurricane Sandy. The storm devastated over 300,000 homes in New Jersey, and 1,200 new applications for contractor registration have been submitted to the Division of Consumer Affairs, with many applicants coming from other states. In the aftermath of Sandy, New Jersey residents are even more vulnerable to unscrupulous, fly-by-night contractors who take advantage of residents in need of immediate home repairs.

This act shall take effect on the 365th day following the date of enactment which was August 19, 2013.

NJ Home Buyer Assistance Program

THE LEIGH AGENCY, your Trusted Choice insurance agency, is proud to bring you this public service announcement. It is also available in Spanish by contacting THE LEIGH AGENCY.

NJ HOMEBUYERS CAN GET UP TO $50,000 INTEREST FREE!
The SANDY HOMEBUYER ASSISTANCE PROGRAM will provide qualified low and moderate income borrowers with a forgivable, INTEREST-FREE loan of up to $50,000!*
• No required monthly payments
• Loan is forgiven in full after five years

HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM ELIGIBLE?
• Purchase a home in any of the nine Sandy-impacted counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean or Union.
• Have a minimum credit score of 620.
• *HUD income limits and other restrictions apply.

Applicants must work with an approved counseling agency and must pre-qualify for a first mortgage from an HMFA-approved lender. Stop renting and get on the path to home ownership today! Visit their website and apply online! Learn more about the Sandy Homebuyer Assistance Program at www.njhousing.gov or www.renewjerseystronger.org or call 1-855-SANDYHM (726-3946).

This program is made possible by funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program. The Sandy Homebuyer Assistance Program fund is being administered by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA). HMFA is a self- sufficient agency of state government that is dedicated to offering New Jersey residents affordable and accessible housing. HMFA receives no state appropriation.

Lower your insurance premiums with Snapshot® from Progressive

The Leigh Agency offers safe drivers a way to lower insurance premiums with Snapshot®
Personalized rates reward safe, low-mileage drivers with savings on their auto insurance

The Leigh Agency is proud to provide its customers with a new way to save on their car insurance premiums. The Leigh Agency is certified to offer Snapshot, an optional discount program from Progressive that helps safer drivers earn the savings they deserve.

With Snapshot, customers finally have the choice to pay for car insurance based on real-time driving behavior, without paying for others’ bad driving habits. People who drive less, during safer times of day and exhibit minimal sudden stops may save on their auto insurance.

Driving data has proven to be the most powerful way to determine what customers should be paying for insurance. It’s a better predictor of who will have an accident in the future than age, gender and other factors customers can’t change or control, but that are commonly used to determine the cost of auto insurance. Snapshot uses driving behavior to determine a discount percentage, which means changes in behavior can result in safer drivers and extra savings.

Powering this program is the Snapshot device itself, which easily plugs into the onboard diagnostic port. The device’s sleek design houses the latest advances in telematics and mobile technology, enabling the customer to automatically and wirelessly share their driving patterns with Progressive. The device doesn’t use GPS technology so Progressive does not know the location or speed of the vehicle.

After 30 days, the customer can log in to their policy or check with their agent to see how much of an initial discount they’re earning and what changes they can make to their driving habits to save even more. At the end of the policy term, typically six months, the customer returns the device to Progressive, and their ongoing discount is set.

Anyone can try Snapshot, even if you’re with another insurance company. It’s free to try and a great way to see if your safe driving could earn you a discount of 0-30%.

Snapshot is a good fit for people who don’t drive frequently and during safer times of the day. On average, those who earn a discount save around $150 a year. Since the program launched in 2008, drivers have saved more than $125 million with Snapshot. Contact The Leigh Agency today to see if you could start saving.

The Leigh Agency, in business since 1990, is located at 10 East Main Street, Freehold, NJ. The agents at The Leigh Agency provide personal advice for all your insurance needs and can be reached at 732-780-8338 or info@leighagency.com. Find us on the web at www.leighagency.com.

Progressive
The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies makes it easy to understand, buy and use auto insurance. Progressive offers choices so consumers can reach it whenever, wherever and however it’s most convenient—online, by phone, on a mobile device or in-person with a local agent.

Progressive offers insurance for personal and commercial autos and trucks, motorcycles, boats, recreational vehicles and homes. It’s the fourth largest auto insurer in the country, the largest seller of motorcycle insurance and a leader in commercial auto insurance.

Founded in 1937, Progressive continues its long history of offering shopping tools and services that save customers time and money, like Name Your Price®, Snapshot® and Service Centers.