Debunking Some of the Most Common Myths About Life Insurance

Most of us don’t like to think about what happens when we die, it’s important to prepare ourselves and our loved ones whether we like it or not. Having life insurance on your side can only help for when the time comes, but there are some myths and fears about the plan that may deter people away from it. To clear up any confusion, we have debunked some of the most common myths about life insurance. The truth might surprise you!

 

Myth 1: It Costs Too Much

It is very understandable that when looking into investing in insurance, you don’t want it to cost you an arm and leg. While the coverage is important to have, you want it to fit comfortably into your budget. One of the main reasons people turn down life insurance is this belief that it’s too expensive, but that is not necessarily the case. According to a study performed by Life Happens, approximately 80% of people misjudge how costly life insurance truly is. In fact, plans such as term life insurance are more affordable than you might think. Plus, you can always change or add coverages to your plan over time. If you’re on a budget, give your agent a call to see what plan works best for you.

 

Myth 2: It’s Unnecessary If You Are Young and Healthy

There are many factors that go into how much your life insurance will cost, including your age and health. While many think that being young and healthy means you don’t need life insurance, it’s actually not true. Chances are you will need life insurance down the road when you are older and your health has changed. If you wait until then, your life insurance premium will be higher than when you were young and healthy. It’s best to go ahead and purchase life insurance so you don’t have to worry about major expenses later on. Take advantage of this part of your life so if you are not in good condition later, you don’t have to pay for it.

 

Myth 3: It’s Not Available to Those Who Have Health Problems

As stated before, your health does influence the cost of life insurance. While you may be paying more on life insurance for serious health problems, this does not mean it’s not available at all. However, it is true that if you have a terminal illness, some coverages may not be available. In any case, it would be wise to speak with your agent about your options when your health changes so you receive the best coverage for the right price.

 

Myth 4: It’s Not Available for Older People Either

While it’s true that health typically declines as you get older, this still does not mean life insurance isn’t available for the elderly. In fact, there are important coverages available such as final expense which can help with funeral and burial costs. While we may not like to think about this stage of life, it cannot be ignored. Therefore, the elderly are able to have life insurance available even in their final moments to help after they are gone.

 

Myth 5: Single People Don’t Need It

While it is true that life insurance is beneficial to those who have others depending on them, such as children or their spouse, that doesn’t mean single people don’t need life insurance at all. In the event that you are single and pass away, you can still be left with debt from loans that were previously drawn out. The expenses will be transferred to co-signers or immediate family to take care of which is the last thing that needs to happen after losing a loved one. However with life insurance, you don’t have to worry about anyone taking on your debt after you are gone. Life insurance will also handle any burial and funeral expenses so the family can properly grieve. Also, keep in mind that plans change throughout time. So while you may be single now, that doesn’t mean it is a permanent deal. In the event that you may have children in the future or get married, having life insurance now can benefit you later.

 

Myth 6: All You Need is Your Work’s Life Insurance Plan

While it is great to accept life insurance through your work, keep in mind that it is not transferable when or if you leave for another job. If you have your own life insurance account not through your work, you don’t have to worry about the possibility of not being insured when something changes.

 

If you have any questions about how life insurance works or what plan works best for you, get in touch with one of our agents!

How to Choose the Insurance Company that is Best for You

Did you know that there are literally hundreds of insurance carriers in the United States? Knowing this, how do you possibly know which insurance carrier is the best fit for you and your insurance needs?

While it’s tempting to make your decision based on price alone, there are other things to consider when deciding on your insurance purchase. This becomes even more important the more specific and unique your needs are, whether it’s for your business or personal insurance. Therefore, I put together five items that I believe you should consider when evaluating an insurance company.

#1: What is the insurance company’s financial strength? Will they be able to pay on your claim?

I recommend using a rating service, such as A.M. Best or Standard and Poor’s to give you an idea of an insurance company’s industry ratings and financial health. I really like A.M. Best since it is simple to use and is free. I often hear people say that they think “bigger is better” in terms of insurance companies. I don’t agree with this — the purpose of using companies like A.M. Best or Standard and Poor’s is to understand an insurance company’s ability to pay on a claim & financial strength, which is usually categorized by size.

#2: Is the insurance company licensed in your state?

If you reside in Illinois, you can check with the Illinois Department of Insurance to check whether or not a company is licensed.

#3: Does the company have major reported complaints in their claims process?

On top of using your state’s insurance department’s website, you can also check complaints and overall satisfaction with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) or JD Power and Associates. These sites will also help you check a company’s claims payment history and other financial information.

Langlois Insurance Agency also uses a great tool, ValChoice, which Forbes Magazine calls “The CarFax of Insurance.” ValChoice’s mission is to give every consumer in America a free analysis of their insurance company. Consumers have the power of big-data analytics available to see the good, bad and ugly of their insurance company. It shows which companies offer the best price, protection (claims payment history) and service.

 

#4: Consider a company’s claims process

This is the biggie. Claims. After all, this is why we all carry insurance — on the unfortunate chance that we have a claim. We want to make certain that the company we have insurance with offers an excellent overall claims process.
On top of checking ValChoice for overall customer satisfaction, don’t hesitate to contact the insurance company directly and ask them how they manage their claims process. Protecting your assets and guarding yourself from liability is a major life purchase to properly protect yourself, your loved ones, and your possessions. This is especially true when you have complex coverage needs.

#5: Take advantage of what an independent insurance agent knows

This is my favorite. Talk to me. Ask me questions. When you talk to a captive agent (an agent who works for only one insurance company), you’ll only get information on one company. Since I offer a wealth of knowledge for many different insurance carriers, I can use my knowledge of many different companies in order to serve your best interests in guiding you through the decision-making process.

I know that it is easy to get caught up on cost and big names. Big insurance brands don’t necessarily mean they are the best for carrying out your claims. The lesson is: do your due diligence and research the reputation of an insurance carrier. And lastly, don’t forget that, as your trusted insurance advisor, I am here to offer you a wealth of advice on different companies.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any of your insurance questions or needs. The entire team at Langlois Insurance Agency can help guide you through this process. I always love to hear from my customers!

Warmest Regards,
Matt Langlois

How to Save Money on Business Insurance

The last thing you want to focus on when starting or running your business is what could go wrong. While you aren’t necessarily going to face struggles right away, if you aren’t covered with a good insurance policy, you’ll likely experience some issues down the road. Since running a business is risky, you should plan on being prepared to handle anything that comes up with the proper business insurance policy. But how do you avoid spending too much? Here are some tips that could save you some money on your insurance plan.

Know What You Need

Not every business needs the same amount of coverage. It all depends on what your business does and the risks involved. At the minimum, most businesses are required by law to have policies for workers’ compensation, unemployment, and disability insurance. But that’s just the minimum. When looking at how much coverage you need, you can start by looking at general liability insurance which will cover your business for any third-party damages, legal defense costs, and reputation damage from libel, slander, or copyright infringement. In addition, also consider a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP) to cover your business’s property and typically cover more for less money that a general liability policy. Other coverages will depend on the nature of your business, which your insurance agent can discuss with you your options in more detail related to your situation.

Increase Your Deductible

For most insurance policies, not just business insurance, you can lower your premium by increasing your deductible. Paying a higher deductible means less money the insurance company will have to pay after you make a claim on your policy. Because of this, insurance companies are willing to offer coverage at a lower price. Your agent will be able to discuss with you whether or not this would be a favorable decision for your business and the pros and cons of each choice.

Bundle Your Policies

Bundling your policies means that instead of buying separate policies for every type of coverage you need, you can purchase a package that will offer the same coverage for a lower price. Think of it like going to a restaurant. If you order an entree, side, and drink separately, you’ll end up paying a bit more than if you had ordered the combo that includes those items at a lesser cost. Bundled policies are the “restaurant combos” of insurance.

Be Safety-Minded

The higher the risk of injury at your business, the higher your insurance premiums will be.The safer your work environment is, the better deal you’ll get with your insurance. To get a better price, follow all safety recommendations from your insurance company such as enforcing safety precautions to avoid having your premiums raised to cover the extra risk.

Review and Update Your Coverage Every Year

As your business changes, so will your coverage needs, which means you should review your policies each year around the time of renewal to see if there are better options for either coverage or price. Also, by reviewing your policy with your agent, they will be able to make sure you aren’t paying for any policies that you may have needed for the previous year but not the upcoming year.

Consult with Your Independent Agent

Remember when you are reviewing your policies or looking at what kind of coverage to get for your business, consult with your insurance agent to help you shop for the best deals. They know insurance policies inside and out and will be able to guide you through making the best decisions for your business. If you have any questions or think you could be spending less on insurance for your business, give us a call today.

 

 

Ways to Protect Your Business from Burglaries and Break-Ins

Owning and running your own business is an extraordinary achievement. The last thing you want is for that business to undergo any sort of harm, including burglaries. Break-ins can be expensive, stressful, and traumatic. They can even result in some businesses closing due to such high costs on top of the loss of whatever merchandise was stolen. There are various steps your business can take in order to prevent burglaries as best you can. By installing lights outside, keeping your exterior neat, reinforcing doors, installing alarm and video surveillance, and establishing a community watch, you can feel confident that your business is protected as much as possible.

 

Install Adequate Lighting

Adequate and secure lighting will deter many burglars away from your business. To ensure your business has preventative lighting, install lights in areas that are not in plain view. Often enough, this is where burglars will gain access to the inside of the building. Be sure to use durable, well-examined lighting so that your lights are both reliable and will stand the test of time. It’s also best to install these lights inside bulb cages that can prevent them from being easily broken, whether by a burglar or the elements. Finally, be sure you’re maintaining your lights and replacing them when they come out. Installing protective lights won’t do you any good if burnt bulbs aren’t replaced.

 

Exterior Maintenance

On top of ensuring your exterior is well lit, there are other preventative steps to take in order to impede burglars. Although you most likely already do this, shrubbery and trees should stay trimmed and neat — especially those in close proximity to the building — because they can provide excellent cover for someone attempting to break in. Your windows are also an easily accessible entrance into your building. Burglar resistant glaze can be purchased from various security companies. This glaze is built to hold against burglars attempting to break in, and is a wise investment as broken glass can ruin merchandise and is expensive to replace. This brings us to the next point, which is not to place valuable merchandise in your business’s windows. Unfortunately, paying customers are not the only kind of person this will attract, so it’s best to avoid the strategy altogether.

 

Burglar Proofing Your Door

Doors are another important factor in preventing break-ins. Having a sturdy, protective door will prevent many burglars from causing any harm to your business. Generally speaking, solid-core wood or reinforced steel will do the trick. In addition to this, installing deadbolt locks with heavy duty strike plates (the attachment to the door in which the lock itself goes into) will increase the security of any entrances very well. Of course, also be sure that the door hinges are located on the inside of the building so that they cannot be removed from the outside by potential burglars.

 

Purchase an Alarm System

An alarm and video monitoring system is the fail-safe plan to ensure that damage is minimized in the event of a burglary or break-in. With technology becoming more affordable every day, there is no reason why your business shouldn’t be reinforced with both types of security. Alarms are also versatile in use. They can be used to protect the perimeter or area of your business, where alarms are placed around the building and generally cover the outside surface of it. Area alarms will protect the inside of the building and are usually motion detectors of some kind. There are also object alarms which can help to protect against specific, valuable items like a safe. If any of these alarms go off, they will alert trained professionals who will contact the owner of the business and local authorities immediately to prevent as much damage as possible.

 

Video Surveillance and Monitoring

Another aspect mentioned above is video monitoring. These services used to be fairly expensive, but prices have dropped significantly as new technology is developing. For a perfectly reasonable investment, business owners can install surveillance on the inside and outside of their building. You can even go back and review the footage as often as you want, because these systems can store massive amounts of footage. Some are even saved directly to cloud databases, in which unlimited amounts of video can be stored digitally. This isn’t just great for preventing burglaries, it can also help you and your staff feel safer throughout the day. Anytime handling money is involved, robberies are a possibility both during working hours and at night.

 

Community Watch

Just like developing a good relationship with your neighbors at home, business owners should get to know those working in nearby buildings. By doing this, local businesses can keep an eye out for suspicious activity in the area. Much like a neighborhood watch program, this is a community system that has mutual benefits for anyone involved. Any time you get the opportunity to keep your community safe, do so! These tips are geared towards small business owners, but they’re also applicable to homes and anywhere else susceptible to burglary. Families can take similar steps to keep themselves safe from burglars. By doing so, they can feel secure in their own homes as well as their small businesses.

 

Big life events like burglaries are stressful, and having financial strain on top of emotional distress can be disastrous. It could mean the difference in whether or not your company stays afloat. Make sure you have the right coverage in place so you don’t have to worry about that if the time comes. Our risk managers are trained in these areas and can help you when assessing what kind of coverage will fit your needs. Take the time and think about what’s important to you. Give us a call today and let us help you in any way we can.

What to Do After You Have Hit a Deer

Accidents are sudden and very nerve-wracking. Although we try to avoid them as much as possible, they still occur in great volume. On average, there are almost 1.23 million deer-related accidents in the United States every year. This number grows around the later months when mating season is in session. This causes more deer to accumulate in populated areas, making some roads very dangerous for drivers. Hitting them is sometimes unavoidable because they appear in your direct path. While we hope this never happens to you, here are the steps you should take if it does.

Move Over

We understand that during a wreck you are so shocked that your priorities are all over the place. However, you should try to stay calm and pull to the side of the road as soon as possible. You are still at risk for being hit by oncoming traffic even though the wreck has already occurred. If you are able to move your car over, do so. Once you are safe, turn on your hazard lights, check your passengers, and take a deep breath.

 

Alert Authorities

Don’t wait to give the police a call. Alert them of the situation immediately so they can handle everything. If the wreck is bad enough, they will need to direct oncoming traffic out of the way so you and others are kept safe. If the deer is still at the scene, it could block traffic and needs to be removed. When authorities do arrive, you will probably need to fill out an official report with them. Having the details fresh from the scene will be handy when filling out your insurance claim.

 

Document the Incident

When the road is safe, it’s time to start documenting. Take pictures of the scene including your surroundings, your car, the road, and any injuries you or your passengers have sustained. This will all be important information for your agent to look over when filing your insurance claim.

 

Stay Away from the Deer

Although it’s okay to check on the deer, you might want to do this at a safe distance. If the deer survives the collision, it will be rattled up and might pose as a threat if it decides to attack out of fear. Deer are known for having powerful legs and sharp hooves that provide a damaging kick.

 

Contact Langlois Insurance Agency Immediately

Like with the authorities, don’t wait to give any of us at Langlois Insurance Agency a call. The sooner, the better. We can immediately get started on your claim when the situation is fresh on your mind rather than later when you might forget some details.

 

Examine Your Car

Although you are probably more than prepared to go home, take a moment to examine your car thoroughly. If it has sustained a significant amount of damage, you should not drive home in it. You could put yourself in even more danger if you do. Instead, contact someone you trust that will take you and your passengers home while you have your car towed.

 

When you are met with a tough situation such as a car accident, the last thing you need is added stress. Having the right agent on your side will give you peace of mind. Let us take care of you today. Give our office a call at #815-485-2106 to see how we can assist you and your family.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact any of us at Langlois Insurance Agency with any questions that you might have.  We always love to hear from our customers!

Sincerely,

Matt Langlois

What Expecting Mothers Can Expect from Their Insurance

Discovering that you’re going to be a parent can be the most exciting news you’ll receive in a lifetime! But underneath all that joy and excitement is another emotion just as strong: fear. There is a ton of responsibility that comes with bringing your child into the world and you want to make sure you are doing it the right way. Even though your baby won’t arrive for another nine months, planning ahead is imperative. A great starting point to be sure that you and your bundle of joy are taken care of is by letting your insurance company know the amazing news. When you do, you should expect the following areas to be covered through your insurance plan.

 

Prenatal Care Visits

For many parents, it feels as though over half of the pregnancy is spent constantly visiting the doctor’s office while the other small part is the actual birth. However, every visit is important and results in news about your baby’s development. Gender revealing ultrasounds, glucose testing, multiple screenings, and hearing your baby’s heartbeat are all included in your visits. As the trimesters continue, you will even see your doctor more frequently to track and make sure your baby remains healthy. Typically visits happen every two weeks, but once the baby reaches a certain size, you will instead start showing up weekly. That’s a lot of visits! Make sure you have an insurance plan that covers all of them.

 

Outpatient/Inpatient Services

Without a doubt, the most important part of your health insurance is to make sure the delivery of your baby is covered. No matter how you give birth–natural, cesarean section, water birth or otherwise–this will be very costly if you are not taken care of financially. And it isn’t just the birth that will rack up the bill; room and board also comes with a price along with your meals, medication, and more. Luckily, with the right coverage plan, you won’t have to worry and can instead focus on bonding with your newborn child.

 

Newborn Screening Coverage

Many have said that time stands still when their child is born, but unfortunately, it cannot remain that way. Once they are welcomed into the world, they immediately have to undergo several tests that weren’t possible when they were in the womb. This is all to make sure that your baby is healthy and ready to go home. Screenings include testing for congenital hypothyroidism, hearing problems, phenylketonuria (PKU), and sickle cell anemia. Although these screenings, as stated before, do help ensure your baby’s health, they are not going to be free. At least not without insurance. If you are unsure about whether or not this is included in your plan, make sure you have a conversation with your agent as soon as possible.

 

Newborn Baby Care

Delivering a baby is by no means a simple task. It can take a serious toll on you both physically and emotionally. As a new parent, you will need a lot of rest to combat the unbelievable amount of exhaustion you will feel. However, having a crying newborn baby in the room may not help in this situation, regardless of how badly you want to see them. Nurses offer to take your child back to the nursery to tend to them throughout the night while you catch up on your much needed sleep. Luckily, newborn care is also covered through health insurance.

 

Lactation Counseling and Breast Pump Rental

For mothers who choose to breastfeed their baby, lactation counseling is available at the hospital to teach new mothers how to perform the task properly. Many see this as a great benefit, especially since it is one of the first of many bonding moments between mother and child. Even after the mother has left the hospital, breast pump rentals are made available to help you further and, as you may have guessed, are covered under your health insurance.

 

As soon as your baby is brought into this world, you want to be sure to inform your insurance agency so that your son or daughter can be added onto your current plan. This way, they will continue to be covered throughout the rest of their life. To get started on the right insurance plan, give us a call at today and let us insure all your major life moments.

Why Life Insurance is Important for Single People

While it is true that life insurance is very beneficial for married couples and those with kids, that does not mean life insurance can’t be for singles too. Regardless of the fact that nobody is dependent on a single person’s income, there are still instances when life insurance is necessary for singles. Take a look at our top reasons that you may not have thought about at first.

It Will Help Cover Your Debts

Take a moment to consider all of your expenses. Are you paying off any loans or debts from college or a mortgage? Despite what some may think, if anything were to happen to you, that debt doesn’t disappear if you have a cosigner. Instead, the debt will go to them, whether it be your parents, your roommate, or your significant other. In some cases, the loaner (usually the bank) asks for the debt to be paid in full after a death. For the cosigner, this can be very difficult to take in, especially after losing a loved one. Nobody should pay off a debt that they may not have the expenses for while grieving. However, when you invest in life insurance, all lingering debts will be paid off rather than have the burden be handed to your grieving loved one.

 

It Helps Pay for Funeral Expenses

Although nobody wants to think about what happens when you die, your funeral service has to be paid for by somebody. Regardless of how big the funeral ceremony is, it will still be costly and not something your loved ones should have to worry about. In some places, small ceremonies are a large expense costing more than $7,000. Thankfully, your life insurance policy will cover the cost so your parents, partner, or family members can grieve in peace.

 

It Helps if Your Health Changes

There are two major factors that determine how much your life insurance will be: your health and age. You may be young and healthy now, but if your family has a history of serious health problems, you should look into purchasing life insurance before it becomes too expensive. If you wait too long, you may not be insurable at all which is why it is good to talk to an agent today rather than later.

 

Having It Now Will Help Down the Road

Although sometimes we don’t want to think about the future, for life insurance purposes, it would be wise. If you know that down the road you may have kids or you will take care of family members, save yourself the hassle by purchasing life insurance today. That way you know you will have the right support before it gets too expensive.

 

You May Not Be Single Forever

As we all know, not everything in life stays the same. Although you may decide that you are going to stay single, not everything goes to plan. There may be a point in your life when someone will depend on your income whether you want it to happen or not. That is why having life insurance now can only help you for any stage in life.

 

When you are looking into insurance policies, having the right insurance agent on your side can make all the difference. Let our expert team help you determine your best policy by giving us a call today. We can help you find the right coverage for any stage in life.

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

How Safe Is My Fireplace?

During the long winter months, there is nothing that my kids like more than cuddling up next to a roaring fire and reading books to each other. It’s one of our favorite family traditions. Warm Fire. A good book. Lots of love. This tradition always leads me down the path of thinking about fireplace safety. After all, I’m an insurance agent – this is just the way my brain works.

In the past few months, I have had multiple customers tell me of issues they have had with their fireplace, which could have led to a disastrous fire in their home. And, there is nothing that puts more fear in this insurance agent than the word F.I.R.E.

Therefore, before you turn on your fireplace next, ask yourself, “Is my fireplace safe?”

After all, your fireplace has been dormant during the summer months leading up to winter. And, birds, squirrels and debris have been in and out of the chimney at various points. In addition, the weather went from freezing to blazing hot, back to freezing. This all puts a strain on your chimney and the bricks surrounding it. Therefore, it is almost impossible to know how safe your fireplace is without performing some basic checks and balances.

Have you inspected your chimney?

First, you must safely get on your roof and inspect your chimney cap to ensure that it is free from debris and other possible obstructions. (I emphasize the word safely. If you, for example, have a very steep roof or have health issues that would not safely allow you to be on your roof, please call a professional for help.)
While you are up on the roof, remove the chimney cap and inspect the inside of the chimney with a flashlight. What you are looking for is something called “creosote”, which is a byproduct of burning wood that can catch on fire.

It is also a good idea to inspect the chimney for cracks or other structural problems that may have occurred, which could also lead to chimney fires.

In addition, if there are any tree limbs hanging over and/or near the chimney, make certain that these are removed before you used your fireplace.

Have you inspected your flue damper?

Flue dampers are the devices that trap the heat inside the house when you are not using your fireplace. They also allow the smoke to leave the house when a fire is burning in your fireplace. Your flue damper will open completely if it is working correctly. Now this is the important part – if the damper doesn’t open completely, fix it before you light a fire.

Good tip on this – from the ground level, you should be able to look up through the flue and see daylight when the damper is open.

Have you inspected the firebox?

The firebox is the area where you normally place your logs and then start the fire. You will inspect this to make certain there is no creosote buildup. And, you will want to look for broken bricks and/or mortar that needs to be repaired.

Good tip – before you inspect the firebox, clean this area first, and remove all the soot.

Another good tip – When your firebox is cleared, place the grate near the back of it to ensure as much smoke as possible goes up into the chimney and not into your home!

Is your fireplace area cleared of “stuff”?

During the holidays, my wife likes to decorate every square inch of our fireplace with Christmas decorations. Not a good idea. It is important to leave at least five feet of clearance around your fireplace.

Good tip – If you have a Christmas tree, place it as far as possible from your fireplace since those needles are highly flammable!

Have you checked your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors?

One of the most important things you can do for your home (after buying proper home owners insurance coverage, of course) is to make certain that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are properly functioning.
Good tip – replace the batteries to all of these devices when you change your clocks at daylight savings.

Do you burn anything other than firewood in your fireplace?

If so, stop! Never burn anything except for firewood in your fireplace since other materials may contain toxic chemicals. These chemicals may lead to health problems down the road, and they could also be very flammable and cause an explosion.

What to do if you do have a house fire.

If you are ever unfortunate enough to experience an incident from a fire, 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.

Sincerely,
Matt Langlois