Will Insurance Cover My College Student?

During this time of year, Langlois Insurance Agency receives many phone calls from anxious parents who are sending their kids off to college. They have so many worries – the cost of room & board, how crazy expensive the textbooks are, the overall safety of the college campus, just to name a few. They are also worried about how this life change can affect their insurance. Here are some common questions that I often hear from parents as they send their kids off to college:

Will my child still be covered under my auto insurance policy?

College students are normally covered under their parents’ auto insurance policy, as long as they reside with their parents when they aren’t at school (ex. summer break). As always, please review your specific policy to confirm.

Will I see my auto insurance rates increase?

The short answer to this is “it depends”.

Rates may increase – or decrease – depending on the driving habits of the student. For example, if the student is driving the car in an urban-located school, you may see your rates increase. This is because drivers in urban locations generally pay more for insurance than those in rural areas.

On the flip side, if the student leaves the car at home versus bringing it to school, you may see a decrease in your insurance rates. I have seen rate decreases for college students called a “distant student discount”, which is for a student who is at a college at least 100 miles away and chooses to leave their car at home. As always, please review your specific policy to confirm.

(Check out this bad boy above – the car that I took to college back in the day.  It’s a classic beauty.)

Are there any “good student” discounts available?

You now have another excellent reason to push your student to study hard since students with good grades may qualify for a “good student” discount. As always, if you have a child either in college, or about to head off to college, please contact Langlois Insurance Agency to review your individual policy.

Will my homeowner’s insurance policy cover my student’s belongings if they live off campus?

If your child is living off campus, you may want to purchase a renter’s insurance policy for them. Renters’ insurance protects your student’s personal property and provides most of the benefits of home insurance, including liability insurance. However, it does not protect the dwelling or structure of the dwelling itself, which is the landlord’s responsibility to insure.

Our carriers can protect your college student and their property against the following:
Fire
Theft
Vandalism
Liability if someone is hurt or accrues damage to personal property in their rental home
Additional living expenses (ex. If your child has to live somewhere else while the home is being repaired)

As always, please don’t hesitate to give me a call if you have any questions regarding your child’s insurance coverage.  I always love to hear from my customers!

Warmest Regards,

Matt Langlois

Langlois Insurance Agency partners with ValChoice

In order to continue to provide our customers with exceptional service, Langlois Insurance Agency decided to partner with ValChoice. ValChoice awards recognize the best insurance companies, state-by-state. The company’s data analytics engine is the first to let consumers know which insurance companies offer the best claims handling, service, and value.

“I founded ValChoice to bring transparency to the insurance industry and help consumers find the protection and value they deserve from the insurance they must buy,” said Dan Karr, Founder and CEO of ValChoice.

One company that Langlois Insurance Agency sells for, Rockford Mutual Insurance Company, has won the prestigious ValChoice® award as A Best Value for car insurance in the states of Illinois and Wisconsin for the award year 2017/18. To win this award, Rockford Mutual provided their customers with a unique combination of excellent customer service, claims handling, and value in the car insurance products they sold over a three-year period.

“Rockford Mutual’s mission is to provide exceptional service, innovation, security, ease of doing business and pay claims promptly and fairly” said Kent Shantz, President and CEO of Rockford Mutual. “Receiving this award from ValChoice, an analytics company, is a welcomed recognition of our dedication and commitment to our agents and policyholders and serving them well in their time of need.”

“It’s great to see Rockford Mutual achieving such excellence in service, claims handling and value. The level of excellence Rockford Mutual has achieved is something in which both the company, and the communities they serve, can take great pride.”

About Rockford Mutual

Rockford Mutual Insurance is helping families, individuals and businesses today and during their time of need by helping to put their lives back together. Our mission is to provide exceptional service, innovation, security, ease of doing business and pay claims promptly and fairly. This is accomplished by hiring the best associates, cultivating their talents, living our core values while leveraging technology.

About ValChoice

ValChoice® is the only company to provide consumers, agents and advisors with information on which home and auto insurance companies offer the best value: price, protection (claims handling) and service. The company’s analytics platform collects and analyzes millions of financial and complaint data points and delivers the results in an easy-to-use service that Forbes Magazine describe as “Carfax for insurance.”. Using ValChoice, consumers are finally able to shop for insurance based on value rather than making decisions blindly based on price or advertising campaigns.

If you would like us to analyze your insurance company, please feel free to give me a call at #815-485-2106. I always love to hear from my customers!

Warmest Regards,

Matt Langlois

Why You Must Buy Home Insurance Before Closing on a Home

Buying a home isn’t as exciting of a process as it may look like on HGTV. It involves a lot of paperwork and finances to bring you to that happy closing day. For most homeowners, lenders are required to help them obtain the home of their dreams, unless you happen to have enough cash to purchase the home in full. However, if you are like most people, here’s what you need to know about buying home insurance before closing.

 

Do I Have to Buy Home Insurance Before Closing?

Just in case you are still thinking you can get out of home insurance, yes, you do have to purchase it for at least a year in order to close on your home. In order to protect their investment (your new house), lenders will require you to cover your home against disasters. Until you have paid off your mortgage, your lender as the stakeholder has the right to hold possession of your property to protect what is technically their property. Home insurance is designed to protect both you and the lender, which is why lenders typically will not agree to lend you the money for your home until they know it will be protected.

 

How Much Coverage Do I Need?

Home insurance policies can protect your physical house, your belongings on the inside, and the cost of medical expenses for a person injured on your property. The amount of coverage you need typically depends on your lender. However, the general rule is that you need enough to cover the cost of rebuilding your home from the ground up in case of disaster.

 

A standard home insurance policy will protect you against:

  • Damage from the weight of ice or snow
  • Explosions
  • Falling objects, such as tree branches
  • Fire
  • Frozen plumbing, heating, AC, or other household systems
  • Hail, windstorms, and lightning
  • Smoke
  • Theft and vandalism
  • Vehicles

 

By having homeowners insurance, you and the lender are protected in the event that the house is damaged or destroyed. Additional coverage can also be added such as flood or earthquake insurance, depending on your situation.

 

Types of Homeowners Insurance

 

Replacement-cost policy–  This type of policy covers the current cost to replace your home. For example, if you were to buy an older home that has unique features, the cost to restore it may be higher. A replacement-cost policy will cost more than a cash-value policy, but will cover the cost of rebuilding.

 

Cash-value policy– This type of policy costs less than a replacement-cost policy and covers the market value cost of your home and its contents. So rather than reimburse you the amount you paid for something, you will only get back its depreciated value amount, which is not something that Langlois Insurance Agency recommends.

 

While some types of insurance may be optional, homeowners insurance is a must if you want to own a home.

 

Please allow Langlois Insurance Agency to find the best policy with the right coverage and price. Let us know how we can help you by giving us a call today at #815-485-2106.  We are always happy to hear from our customers.

Warmest Regards,

Matt Langlois

matt@langloisinsurance.com

Home Insurance Tips for First Time Homebuyers

Home Insurance Tips for First Time Homebuyers

Are you buying a home for the very first time? This process will have you running the full spectrum of emotions: fear, exhilaration, confusion, extreme highs, coupled with some low points. These emotions definitely make sense since you are about to undertake what is, most likely, the single biggest purchase of your life.

(Actual photo of Matt and I the week that we purchased our first home.)

We work with many first-time homebuyers at Langlois Insurance Agency, and we have found that there are many things first-time buyers wish they knew before they made the jump into home ownership.  Below are some tips and tricks on how to navigate homeowners insurance for your first home.

1) How can I save money on this insurance policy?

One of the biggest questions that I get asked is, “How can I save some money on this insurance policy?”. One of the best ways is to bundle your policies. Bundling will help lower your rates by granting you savings when you purchase multiple insurance policies. For example, if you bundled your automobile insurance with your home insurance, this should save you money on both insurance premiums.

Another tip that I give to our first-time homebuyers is to not wait to purchase your home insurance until the last minute. We get it – the fun part of first-time home buying is with your realtor. The search for the perfect, dream house — that is the exciting part. But, there is a lot more to home insurance coverage than just signing up for a policy. Give yourself time to get a few quotes from trusted insurance professionals so that you can make the best decision and aren’t “surprised” with unexpected costs or issues at a future date.

2) Why isn’t my insurance premium the same as the previous owner’s insurance premium?

Another question that I often get asked is, “Why isn’t my insurance premium the same as the previous owner’s insurance premium?”. When a first-time home buyer is purchasing their new home, they often ask the current homeowner how much they pay for electricity, property taxes, etc…when deciding on buying the home. But, how much the current homeowner pays in insurance is not a good indicator of how much you will pay. This is because insurance policies take into account very personal information in order to establish a cost. For example, a person’s age, credit rating, etc…are all taken into account for your insurance rate. So, your price might be lower – or higher – for the same dwelling for homeowner’s insurance. Your best course of action is to meet with your trusted insurance agent and get a price on your insurance before you close the deal.

3) Review, and improve, your credit score

Let’s talk credit score. Credit Score. I can’t emphasize the importance of this enough to all my first-time homebuyers. Not only will a good credit score help you get a better interest rate on your mortgage, it should also help you save on homeowner’s insurance. In many states, including the state of Illinois, insurance companies use your credit rating when calculating your premium to help determine your level of risk as a policy holder.

So, if you have less than optimal credit, you should take the time to reduce your spending, get rid of debt, reduce as much debt as you possibly can, and pay your bills on time. If you take these steps, you can improve your credit score.
Also, we recommend running your credit rating at least once to twice a year to ensure that there aren’t any mistakes/errors on your credit report.

4) Why shouldn’t I just get the cheapest coverage?

Langlois Insurance Agency is an independent agent and we office a choice of multiple insurance carriers, coverages, and prices. Because of this, we might recommend that you purchase homeowners insurance that is a bit higher than the bare-bones-cheapest coverage. The reason is because our main focus is to find the insurance coverage that best suits your overall needs. And, this might not be the “cheapest” coverage. In addition to protecting your dwelling, personal belongings, and liability, there may be other optional coverages that we recommend, to fully protect your investment. Again, this is why it is important to find an insurance agent that you can trust; an insurance agent that will be there for you in case you have a claim and need to have your investment properly protected.

So, as you venture forward with your first home purchase, take a deep breath, have fun, and don’t forget to contact us with any questions you might have. We have many more tips that we can discuss with you in order for your dream home to be properly protected.

In the meantime, if you have a few minutes, you can watch the following video with your local real estate, mortgage, and insurance professionals. This video gives you some additional tips and tricks on how to better your first home buying experience.

And, as always, don’t hesitate to give Langlois Insurance Agency a call with any questions or comments. We always love to hear from our customers!

Sincerely,
Erin Haughton-Langlois
erin@langloisinsurance.com

Market Value vs Replacement Cost: Which Amount Should I Insure?

Before purchasing a home, you are required to purchase homeowner’s insurance as well. But how do you know how much to insure your home for? Most would think that they need to cover only the price they pay for the house. However, that price isn’t enough coverage to pay for your home in the event of a disaster such as a fire or storm. In most cases, your home’s real value is greater than its market value. That is because market value deals only with the buying and selling process, not rebuilding. And rebuilding costs are much more than the costs to build a home from scratch due to costs of demolishing/cleaning up the existing home, not being able to buy in bulk for supplies, and labor for a single rebuild versus multiple.

So which amount of coverage do you go with? Depends on the risks you want to take. Below we will go over the differences between a home’s market value and replacement cost, followed by the best option we recommend for the average homeowner’s insurance policy.

What is Market Value?

Market value is the price a home can sell for in its current condition. Knowing this price is beneficial when buying or selling a home, but not necessarily for rebuilding. As we said already, there are a number of factors that cause rebuilding the same home to be much more expensive than the home’s market value. Market value is affected by factors such as the location of the home, crime rates in the area, amount of land, proximity to schools, and the availability of similar homes. The most important detail to note about market value is that the price is rarely high enough to cover the cost of rebuilding it since materials and labor costs could be more than when the house was built and one-time jobs are typically more expensive.

Benefits and Risks to Insuring Your Home at Market Value

Benefits: Occasionally, a home may be worth more on the market than it would take to rebuild such as if the home were historical or consisted of elaborate artisanal work that would be worth a lot of money. If you have a home such as this, you can choose to purchase a historic home policy, but these are often more expensive. To save money, you could insure your home based on the market value in order to recover after a loss.

Risks: If your home’s value isn’t placed in the history or craftsmanship, insuring your home at market value puts you at risk for not being fully covered in the event of damage to the house. You would be required to pay the difference between your home’s rebuilding cost and market value in order to rebuild. The only other alternative would be to build a less expensive home elsewhere.

What is Replacement Cost?

Replacement cost is the amount of money it would take to rebuild your home after being destroyed. Coverage at this price will insure your home for the cost to repair any damage or even rebuild your home at the current prices. A building contractor can help you estimate the replacement cost of your home based on the property’s structure and associated items as well as costs such as plans and permits for rebuilding, labor, materials, fees, and taxes. Keep in mind that the land value is included in the market value only, not the replacement cost as the land will not have to be rebuilt.

Benefits and Risks to Insuring Your Home at Replacement Cost

Benefits: You will be able to experience minimal financial interruption should your home be destroyed. If you go with this option, it is best to insure your home for 100% of its estimated replacement cost.

Risks: The cost to rebuild your home can vary over time. There is no guarantee that you will be 100% able to rebuild your home at the estimated replacement cost. To increase your chances of keeping your home fully covered against destruction, we recommend reviewing your policy annually to make sure your amount of coverage is still appropriate for you. Factors that can affect your replacement cost include home upgrades and improvements, market conditions, labor and material costs, and transportation prices. For the maximum amount of protection, you can consider a policy that includes an inflation clause to automatically adjust and account for changes in construction costs.

Insuring Your Home

Unless you believe otherwise based on the benefits and risks listed above, insuring your home for its replacement cost is typically the best and safest option. While, yes, insuring your home for its market value is cheaper now, you will be more adequately covered down the road should anything happen to your home.

Ultimately, when you make your decision, research all your options and please talk to any of us at Langlois Insurance Agency about your situation.

As always, please don’t hesitate to give me a call with any questions or comments — I always love to hear from my customers!

Warmest Regards,

Matt Langlois

matt@langloisinsurance.com

Do I Need Water & Sewage Back-Up Coverage?

Do I Need Water and Sewage Back-Up Coverage Insurance?

Whenever the weather shifts in the Midwest from beautiful sunny days, to cold, rainy ones, the number one question that I get asked from my customers is, “Do I need water and sewage back-up coverage on my insurance policy?”

I always tell these customers to imagine this.

Imagine that you wake up to 3 to 4 feet of water and sewage backed up in your basement? The water damages the furnace and all of your belongings that are stored in the basement. Your sofas, exercise equipment, television, Christmas decorations, etc…all damaged.

Furthermore, the drywall and flooring needs to be replaced, furniture is too damaged to salvage, and the cost of clean-up is expensive. Sewage and water also causes damage to utilities, such as your gas and electric. The sewage contains bacteria, viruses and other organisms that could cause illness. Even electrocution is a possibility in situations such as this. Therefore, you need to hire a professional restoration company because of these issues and dangers.

Unfortunately, most homeowner’s insurance policies do not automatically include this coverage in a policy for this type of loss. But, the good news is that water and sewer back-up & sump-pump/ejector pump failure coverage can be purchased under your homeowner’s policy and it’s reasonably priced.

As with all of our customers, we recommend that the endorsement be added to your policy even if you have an unfinished basement; water and sewer back-up & sump-pump/ejector pump failure is one of the most common homeowner’s claims.

Having a water and sewer back-up & sump-pump/ejector pump failure coverage endorsement provides coverage for the damage to the home and personal property, as well as the cost for a restoration company to clean up the damage.

Should you ever be unfortunate enough to experience a water and sewer back-up & sump-pump/ejector pump failure incident, please call Langlois Insurance Agency immediately at #815-485-6676. We can provide a recommendation for a reputable water restoration company to ensure your home is back to its former self as quickly as possible.

Please note that insurance endorsements vary by company. Please contact Langlois Insurance Agency to carefully review coverage, exclusions, limits, and costs specific to your policy.

We always love to hear from our customers!

Sincerely,

Matt Langlois

Langlois Insurance Agency

matt@langloisinsurance.com

Can my Dehumidifier Cause a Fire?

Can My Dehumidifier Cause A Fire?

Fire.

That one single word can make an insurance agent break out in a cold sweat.  In fact, one of my greatest fears is having my home, or a home of one of my insureds, break out in a raging fire.

So, when I received a Consumer Alert on a dehumidifier recall, I knew that this was content that I needed to share with all of you to help keep you, and your loved ones, safe in your home.

I don’t want to be an alarmist — fires caused by dehumidifiers are uncommon.

But, the answer to the question, “Can my dehumidifier cause a fire?” is yes. Yes, it can.

Sometimes the fire is caused by a manufacturing issue and sometimes the fire is caused by poor owner maintenance.

So, the big question is, “What are the best ways to keep your home safe.”

Step 1: Check if your dehumidifier has been recalled

If you do have a dehumidifier in your home, check to make certain that it isn’t one that has been recalled due to possible overheating, smoking, and fire hazards by visiting GreeDehumififierRecall.com

Step 2: Properly maintain your dehumidifier

Issues with dehumidifiers are not only due to manufacturing defects. In most cases, the issues that occur with dehumidifiers are due to improper maintenance. This is why you should make sure that your dehumidifier is properly maintained. Most people are not fully aware of how to maintain a dehumidifier. If you are not sure of how to take care of your dehumidifier, you should follow these tips on properly maintaining your dehumidifier.

Step 3: Please the dehumidifier in an ideal operating environment

If your dehumidifier is not in a setting that will enhance its performance, there is a chance that it will not work properly and could malfunction. So, make every effort to place your dehumidifier in an area where it will function perfectly, which will also help in extending the life of the dehumidifier.

*Set the humidistat according to the level of humidity in the air. If you set it above or below the level required, the humidifier will not work properly, particularly if you set it higher. This would place undue stress on the machine, causing it to break down.

*Another thing to watch out for is the air leaks in the room, as any leaks will put extra strain on the dehumidifier. It will be same situation as when the humidistat is turned all the way up.

*Most people place the dehumidifier right alongside a wall when they should keep it at least 6 inches away from the wall, as recommended by most manufacturers.

Should you ever be unfortunate enough to experience a dehumidifier incident, please call Langlois Insurance Agency immediately at #815-485-6676. We can provide a recommendation for a reputable restoration company to ensure your home is back to its former self as quickly as possible.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact any of us at Langlois Insurance Agency with any questions or comments.

We always love to hear from our customers!

Sincerely, Matt Langlois
Langlois Insurance Agency

matt@langloisinsurance.com

Frozen or Burst Pipes? How to Prevent (and Fix) this Common Problem.

One of the most common homeowners claims that Langlois Insurance Agency receives during these cold, winter months are from frozen or burst pipes.

The words “frozen or burst pipes” can strike fear with any homeowner (and insurance agent!).

Why is this? It’s because when water freezes, it puts pressure on your pipes, which can then burst, releasing damaging water into your home. And, even after you repair your home and clean up the mess from the burst pipe, your home is at risk for rot, mildew, and mold.

So, how can you prevent frozen pipes? There are definitely steps that you can take to prevent frozen pipes, most of which are simple undertakings for any homeowner.

Take care of outdoor water hoses and faucets first
Drain your hose, detach it, and store it indoors for the winter. If you can, shut off the water source to any outside faucets, then turn the faucets on to empty the pipes of any remaining water. Cover your outdoor faucets with an insulated cover.

Use foam insulation
For indoor pipes in cold areas of your home, wrap the pipes with foam pipe insulation. We suggest using heat tape, which can help keep your pipes warm in freezing weather.

Leave your faucet dripping
You may already know to leave your faucets dripping during a freeze. This is because it makes the water less likely to freeze; a small trickle also helps prevent a buildup of pressure. So even if your pipes do freeze, that little flow of water can help prevent a crack.

Open your cabinet doors
Most of your plumbing may be along uninsulated outer walls. Opening your cabinets and letting warm air into the space underneath your kitchen and bathroom sink can help keep the water in those pipes from freezing.

Keep the heat on
Leaving your heat set at 55 degrees (or warmer) whenever you aren’t home is also recommended. Turning your heat down below 55 degrees puts your pipes at risk of freezing and bursting. The cost of heating your home is worth it compared to the cost of fixing burst pipes. I always tell my customers that this is one of the most important things to do if you ever leave your home for a long extended period of time, for example a winter holiday.

Now the big question – What do you do if your pipes do freeze?
If you turn on your water, and you only get a small drip, or worse, nothing at all, there’s a good chance you have a frozen pipe. Make sure you know where your main water cut-off valve is in case a pipe does burst. If the frozen section of pipe is exposed, you can usually locate it by looking for frost or feeling for especially cold sections.

Insurance Fact of the Day: Did you know that a pipe with even a tiny crack can unleash 250 gallons of water in a day.

It is also recommended that you turn on your faucet and use a hair dryer or space heater to thaw the frozen section. Langlois Insurance Agency advises against using a propane torch or other open flame, as that could boil the water in your pipes and cause a crack…and, it just isn’t safe!

Once your water begins flowing, allow your faucet to run for a few minutes to clear out any remaining ice. It is also recommended that you check the water line for leaks and call a plumber if you do happen to notice one.

OK – So Your Pipes Burst. What Now?
If you take steps to prevent frozen pipes but you’re still faced with a burst pipe, immediately turn off the main water valve right away. It is also a good idea to turn off the electricity in that area of your home to prevent electrocution.

And, should you ever be unfortunate enough to experience an incident from a burst water pipe, please call Langlois Insurance Agency immediately at #815-485-6676. We can provide a recommendation for a reputable restoration company to ensure your home is back to its former self as quickly as possible. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact any of us at Langlois Insurance Agency with any questions or comments.

We always love to hear from our customers!

Sincerely,

Matt Langlois

Langlois Insurance Agency
matt@langloisinsurance.com