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

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