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Category Archives: Home Insurance

7 Factors that Affect Home Insurance Rates

There are many factors that impact your home insurance rates. While your insurance provider can explain to you the factors that play a part in your specific premiums, it really all comes down to risk and how likely you are to file a claim. The key is to understand your risk and what you can do to minimize it. Here are a few factors that impact your home insurance cost. Replacement Cost Do not make the common mistake of under-insuring the value of your home, as this can lead to financial devastation if a loss occurs. Estimated replacement cost refers to what it would cost to build the exact same home where it currently stands. You can obtain an accurate replacement number by hiring a professional appraiser. This could be extremely beneficial in the settlement process if your home becomes damaged or destroyed. Deductibles A deductible is the cost of a loss before your insurer steps in to cover the claim. Choosing the right deductible amount is an important decision. The higher the deductible, the more you can save. However, depending on where you live, there may be other deductibles to consider when balancing your financial situation with the need to protect your house. Those living in a disaster-prone area may have a separate deductible for certain kinds of damage. Do You Own a Dog? The type of dog individuals own can significantly impact your home insurance rates. The liability portion of your insurance will protect you if you are sued by someone who is injured by your dog. Although, certain breeds of dogs are considered dangerous or might only be protected on a case-by-case basis, depending on whether an individual dog, regardless of its breed, is seen as vicious. To qualify for a policy, homeowners may be required to sign liability waivers for dog bites or take your dog to classes to modify bad habits. Be sure to provide details about your dog (breed and history) when discussing policy needs with your agent. Remodeling Any significant home improvement will likely raise the home’s value and therefore will require that increased value to be reflected in your policy. Keep your insurance agent up to date if you did some remodeling. Materials and construction costs will need to be considered for proper coverage. Age The age of your home is a…
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Have These Items in Your Home? You May Need Valuable Items Insurance

You may have many assets in your home that are high-value items either in terms of monetary or sentimental value, and you want to make sure that those items are protected. It is important to take into account that a homeowners insurance policy does not cover everything you own, and the items it does cover are only partially insured if they’re high-priced items. Instead, you’ll want to supplement your existing coverage with Valuable Items Insurance. Some homeowners don’t think about it until it is too late. Take the steps now so all of your most valuable and irreplaceable items are protected. These are a few commonly-owned items you should consider insuring beyond your normal policy. Jewelry Normally homeowners and renters insurance policies have a limit well below the value of more expensive pieces even if jewelry is an included coverage.  It is smart to have the jewelry appraised first and then add it to your policy or purchase a separate policy. Computer Equipment What is the purpose of your computer equipment? If it’s for personal use ,it is possible that it is already covered. If you use a computer for work, your employer likely has a policy covering the equipment. If you’re self-employed, you need a policy that covers your business assets. Be sure to properly insure any business-related computer equipment. Artwork There is certain artwork that may require special coverage. If you own expensive artwork that stays on your wall, insure it with a supplemental policy if your homeowners or renters insurance doesn’t cover it completely. If the art is ever on public display, it is beneficial to obtain a public liability policy to protect the piece from damage. Specialty Tools Certain lines of work require tools that should be insured. If you’re a mechanic or work in any trade that requires specialty tools, be sure to check your insurance policy for guidance. You may want to include the tools in your business insurance coverage if they’re stored at your home but primarily used for your business. Pets No animal lover would ever want to consider his or her beloved friend as property, but most laws recognize animals as something you own. Insurances related to pets include health and liability insurance.  It is important to note that sadly, depending on the breed, your pet may be excluded from your homeowner’s policy….
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The Realities of Owning a Home: Recurring Costs

Home ownership is one of the biggest goals in one’s life. However, more goes into home ownership than simply paying a mortgage each month. In fact, there are some other recurring expenses that can put you over your budget if you don’t plan accordingly. In this article, we’re going to cover some of the most common monthly expenses that you can plan for if you’re in the market for buying a home in the near future. Most importantly, protect your new dwelling with a tailored New York Home Insurance policy. Mortgage loan. This is the most obvious, and will vary in cost depending on the home’s price, how much you put down, and your interest level that you work out with your lender. If it’s a fixed loan, the price will remain the same over the life of your mortgage loan terms. Otherwise, an adjustable loan changes as your benchmark changes. Insurance. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average annual U.S. homeowners insurance premium was $1,132 in 2014. However, homeowners insurance premiums can vary from year to year based on changes in your home’s appraised value, your policy’s deductible and coverage amounts, your claim history, and your credit score. As with property taxes, you pay one-twelfth of your annual homeowners premium with your monthly escrow payment, says Money Crashers. Private mortgage insurance. If you put down less than 20% of the home’s price in your down payment, you’ll need to pay an additional monthly expense for private mortgage insurance (PMI). PMI protects your lender from financial loss if your home is foreclosed upon and sold at a discount relative to your purchase price. If you have good credit, your lender may assess PMI premiums until your loan-to-value (LTV) ratio (the ratio of your current mortgage balance to your home’s total value) reaches 78%. However, lenders generally honor borrowers’ PMI cancellation requests once LTV reaches 80%. If you pose a higher credit risk, your lender may require you to carry PMI until your LTV is lower. Property taxes. Depending on where you live, your city’s property taxes will vary each year. You will typically pay 1/12th of the total amount each year. Utilities/maintenance. Finally, you’ll need to factor in costs for utilities. Everything from water, gas and electricity to phones, internet and cable are recurring monthly expenses you’ll need to budget for. In addition, monthly maintenance is another…
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Westchester County Homeowners Insurance: High-End Home Insurance

Westchester County Homeowners Insurance: High-End Home Insurance You own a home; you need any standard home insurance policy right? Not quite that simple. For one thing, it is essential to know the value of your coverage. Homeowners’ policies may cover fire damage and theft, but their loss limits typically fall way short of the necessary range. Insuring luxury and high end homes requires a more carefully constructed home insurance plan than a standard house. High end homes often boast fine luxury features, extraordinary craftsmanship, technology, and expensive furnishings that could be extremely costly to repair or replace if damaged. When insuring your high end home, you want to take the time to thoroughly evaluate the property with your insurance agent. The cost of materials, fine art, jewelry, furniture, technology; everything should be analyzed and assessed. Often times, the program in place can have either duplicate or too much coverage, or not enough coverage. You want a comprehensive policy that represents the true value of your home and its content. A strong high end home insurance policy requires a thorough fact-finding and replacement cost analysis of your home. The policy should also reflect any exposures that could increase your liability, such as swimming pools, and tennis or basketball courts, so that if someone is injured on your property you are covered. Other factors that might be considered are excess flood insurance, incidental business coverage, identity theft, and if a structure needs to be rebuilt to “green standards,” to make sure you have the exact coverage your home requires. If you employ a staff, there may be a need for employment practices liability insurance or workers comp insurance. At A.J. Benet, we understand the intricacies of insuring high-end luxury homes. We will work with you to make sure you have a comprehensive homeowners insurance policy that ensures you and your family have the best protection. And in the event of a loss, you can be assured that a team of adjusters is available to you 24/7. Contact us today for more information about our Westchester County Homeowners Insurance.

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Westchester County Home Insurance: Keeping Critters Out

Westchester County Home Insurance: Keeping Critters Out Housing developments in former woodlands often have to contend with the areas previous residents. Squirrels, insects, raccoons, deer, and rodents all coexist with homeowners, often to the owner’s discontent. Westchester County Homeowners are looking for new ways to evict their unwelcome guests. According to the Wall Street Journal, about 30 percent of Americans used pest-control services last year, up from 20 percent in 2004. For animals, the suburbs is a win-win. The landscaping in suburbs, buffet line of garbage cans, and supply of food in the pantry are all enticing prospects for animals looking for a bunk. But the damage from critters can be significant. Deer forage your foliage and landscaping, raccoons ravage the garbage, and rodents including squirrels, rats, and mice chew their way into the house, damage soffits and electrical wires in the process. The threat of rabies and excrement from wild animals also raises health concerns. A rodent or animal infestation issue isn’t typically a reflection of the house’s years or cleanliness. In fact, sometimes newer houses are often the problem, being built with gaps allowing rodents to get in even when there isn’t a crumb in sight. Dangerous chemicals pose risks to homeowners, especially if they have pets or children. But there are other steps homeowners can take to rid themselves of unwanted house guests (at least the furry kind). Reinforcing houses, examining every nook and cranny to ensure there aren’t any construction gaps is one of the best ways to insure your house is fortified. Homeowners should check their dark garages and basements on a sunny day, looking for any hidden animals. Worn weather stripping around doors and spots where the cables runs through the wall are common entries for animals. And of course, if the problem persists and interferes with your daily life, it is best to hire an exterminator.

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How to Cope with Stress at Home

How to Cope with Stress at Home Our jobs are stressful. With endless amounts of paper work, harrowing deadlines, overbearing bosses and coworker spats, the daily grind can be pretty stressful. Without a doubt, work is one of the number one causes of stress. But what about when you head home? Home is our escape, our sanctuary. But, home life can be just as stressful as work. Job losses, economic difficulties, and conflicts with spouses or children can make a home incredibly tense. Stress at home can disrupt your daily routine and affect your mood and relationships with others around you. While it is unavoidable, there are tactics you can take in the home to manage stress. Declutter. Twice a year, schedule a time to go through everything that has accumulated in your home. Throw out clothes the kids have outgrown, file away that stack of papers. You will feel much better walking into a clean, de-cluttered space. Don’t let the small things build up. Every night, take the time to pick up that book you were reading or clean the plates in the sink. If you take care of small, menial chores little by little, it won’t pile up and overwhelm you. Let the light in. Natural light is an instant mood booster. Open the windows wide, and take away the blackout curtains so you get the maximum amount of natural light. Healthy snacks. A healthy diet can help reduce stress. Not to mention you feel better and have more energy to tackle those daily tasks. Designate a calm space. Find one room, or spare corner to call your own. Decorate it with personal mementos and things that make you happy. Disconnect. Turn off smartphones, tablets, iPads, iPods, the television, laptops, and every other technology gadget you have in your possession. Designate quiet time for you and your family. No email, no television, no texts. Even if it’s just during dinnertime, shutting out technology for an hour gives you a break, not to mention providing invaluable family time. The experts at A.J. Benet know how hard you work to protect your family year long. A package policy allows you to take advantage of benefits by consolidating multiple policies, such as  home insurance, with one insurance company. A.J. Benet offers Westchester County Home Insurance policies from top-tier insurance companies that are designed to insure…
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How to Remove Snow off Your Roof

How to Remove Snow off Your Roof As the Northeast digs their way out from Nemo, Westchester County can now remove snow off their roofs to help prevent any ice dams that might damage your home. With over 40” of snow dumped during Nemo, the Northeast has been hit hard by this blizzard. 650,000 customers over eight states had lost power making for an extremely deadly storm. Now that the worst of Nemo is over, it’s time to think about cleaning up with these simple tips on how to remove snow off your roof. Your roof is particularly vulnerable because of the sticky snow that piles on. Not only the weight of the snow can cause damage, but ice dams can also form due to lack of maintenance  By clearing the first three to four feet of snow will help prevent ice dams and take away the strain off your roof. Flat Roof – Flat roofs are one of the easiest to clean, but will allow more snow to pile up and damage your home. If you have a flat roof you may want to shovel the roof constantly to avoid damages during storms. Remember to put safety first any time you are on a roof, snow or sun.  To help prevent any further injury to you, we highly suggest calling a professional. Slanted Roof – If you have a slanted roof, a roof rake may be your best bet.  A roof rake is a long-handled tool designed specifically to help remove snow from your roof. One of the highest rated products that we’ve found was a Garant GPRR24U on Amazon. When using your roof rake, stand firmly on the ground and knock off as much of the snow off as you can safely reach. It is not necessary to remove all the snow; removing the first three to four feet of snow closest to the gutters can help the gutters properly drain. No Roof Access – If you cannot reach the roof, many home builders landscaping and roofing contractors, and property maintenance companies can remove snow from your roof. Always be sure your contractor is insured and bonded. If you have any doubt, leave it to the professionals. Using a ladder and walking on a slippery roof can be extremely dangerous is best left to professionals. The experts at A.J. Benet know how hard you work to protect…
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Home Insurance: Protect Your Home While Your Away for the Holidays

Home Insurance Protect Your Home While Your Away for the Holidays Whether you’re flying across the country or driving down the street, the holidays is one of the busiest travel times of the year. You’re focused on herding the kids, gifts, and family dog in the car, making sure no one and nothing is left behind. But what about your home?  Thieves are opportunists- they will break into homes left vulnerable and unattended. Take a moment to beef up your home’s security while you away. Just a few simple tricks can help put your mind at ease. Put interior and exterior lights on timers/motion sensors. Set the timers on staggered hours to turn lights on and off at different times. Install tapered deadbolt locks on entry doors. The taper makes it extremely difficult to use a wrench or other tool to twist the lock open. Get someone to maintain your property by removing snow or mowing the lawn. Suspend the mail service and newspaper delivery, or ask a neighbor or trusted friend to pick it up for you. Newspapers lying in the driveway is a surefire indicator that no one is home. Install a monitored security system. Inform the local police department that your house will be empty. Ask a neighbor or friend to watch your house for you and check on it every so often. If possible, getting someone to house sit would also be a great option. The experts at A.J. Benet know how hard you work to protect your family year long. A package policy allows you to take advantage of benefits by consolidating multiple policies, such as  home insurance, with one insurance company. A.J. Benet offers Westchester County Home Insurance policies from top-tier insurance companies that are designed to insure your liability risks and property under one master program, helping to mitigate the problems you can encounter when you have multiple policies with different insurers. Contact us today for more information. Source: Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety

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Holiday Safety Tips for a New York Winter

Holiday Safety Tips for a New York Winter String the lights. Decorate the house. Invite the relatives. Bake the cookies. Find a tree. Buy gifts. The holidays can be overwhelming and the to-do list seemingly endless. In the craziness of the season take a moment to read these holiday safety tips for a New York winter. Holiday Safety Tips #1 – Lights. There should be no more than three standard-size set of lights per extensions cord. If you have to use multiple strings of lights, use several power strips. Make sure to use higher quality models that have a built in circuit breaker. Check your lights. Frayed or exposed wires can easily overload your power once the weather turns bad. Always turn Christmas lights off before you leave home or go to sleep. Holiday Safety Tips #2 – The tree. Make sure to buy a fresh tree. It should be green with no signs of any brown needles, and the needles should be hard to pull from the branches and don’t break when you bend them between your fingers. Keep the tree away from the fireplace, radiators, or any other heating sources. If you choose an artificial tree, choose one that is “fire resistant.” Holiday Safety Tips #3 – Candles. Blow out all candles before you leave the room. Make sure all candles are secured in holders and on steady surfaces that won’t tip over. Make sure all smoke alarms are installed on every level of your home. Check them monthly to make sure they work. The experts at A.J. Benet know how hard you work to protect your family year long. A package policy allows you to take advantage of benefits by consolidating multiple policies with one insurance company. A.J. Benet offers Westchester County Home Insurance policies from top-tier insurance companies that are designed to insure your liability risks and property under one master program, helping to mitigate the problems you can encounter when you have multiple policies with different insurers. Contact us today for more information. Source: Institute for Business & Home Safety

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What To Do After Hurricane Sandy

What To Do After Hurricane Sandy Hurricane Sandy has come and gone. However, Hurricane Sandy did not leave New York untouched. This Hurricane shook and rattled the North East for days, leaving residents confined in their unlit homes without any available resources. Hurricane Sandy was unforgiving and left many individuals grieving & emotionally stirred. From the fires igniting in Queens to the explosions in Manhattan, the cost of damages are not quantifiable at the moment. Fortunately, the President has approved a disaster declaration for New York and New Jersey, providing them federal assistance to rebuild. Below we have some tips on what to do after Hurricane Sandy. Hurricane Sandy has left the community in anomie and all that have been affected are slowly recovering. Here a few tips on what to do after Hurricane Sandy. Although the storm has passed, be sure to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and your local news for any updates. If you have been evacuated, remain in your current location until officials state that it’s safe to return home. If you are unable to return home, contact FEMA or The Red Cross for immediate assistance. The government is here to help, so please utilize all their resources. Whether you are driving or walking, keep your eyes open for any downed electrical wires, loose power lines, falling objects, debris, and sinkholes. Contact the power company if you noticed any loose power lines, and only drive if absolutely necessary. Once at home or any building, immediately evacuate if you smell gas or feel your home shifting. If you are unsure have a structural engineer or building inspector examine the property. Refrain from turning on the lights and using candles or lanterns; instead use a battery operated flashlight. Discard any food that is spoiled or has come in contact with flood water. Drink bottled water and do not use tap water for drinking or cooking. Never use a generator inside your home and never connect it to your home’s wiring. Be cautious! Since 1964, A.J. Benet has been serving residents Westchester County insurance in Pelham, New Rochelle, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Harrison, Port Chester, Rye, Salem, Purchase, Bronxville, Bedford, Mt. Kisco, and Katonah, New York. We invite you to give us a call at your convenience at (888) 639-4560, or if you prefer email us or return the form on this page.

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