Here at Tucker Insurance Services, our team has earned the reputation of helping our local Manassas clients fully understand their insurance options. This enables our customers to make informed decisions -- purchasing personal insurance that is the best fit for them.
The following information is a only brief overview. Once you contact us, we'll gladly answer all of your questions, and assist you in identifying the most comprehensive and cost-effective insurance solution.
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Homeowners Insurance in Manassas
What is homeowners insurance?
When you obtain homeowners insurance in Manassas, you will be receiving financial protection against local disasters. A standard policy insures both the home itself, as well as the items you keep inside of it.
Homeowners insurance is actually a "package" policy, meaning that it covers both damage to your property and your liability -- or legal responsibility -- for any injuries and property damage that you or family members cause to other people. This includes damage caused by household pets.
Damage resulting from most disasters is covered, but there are some conditions (i.e. poor maintenance). Other exceptions are damage caused by floods and earthquakes. To be prepared for those two particular events, an individual would need to buy two separate policies: one for flood coverage and one for earthquake coverage. And, keep in mind that maintenance-related problems are the homeowners' responsibility and not covered by standard homeowners policies.
What type of disasters are covered?
The following types of disasters are covered under most standard Manassas homeowners insurance policies:
- Fire or lightning
- Windstorm or hail
- Riot or civil commotion
- Damage caused by aircraft
- Damage caused by vehicles
- Vandalism or malicious mischief
- Volcanic eruption
Coverage for these types of dangers is available but need to be added to most standard Manassas homeowners insurance policies:
- Falling object
- Weight of ice, snow or sleet
- Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam from within a plumbing, heating, air conditioning, or automatic fire-protective sprinkler system, or from a household appliance.
- Sudden and accidental tearing apart, cracking, burning, or bulging of a steam or hot water heating system, an air conditioning or automatic fire-protective system.
- Freezing of a plumbing, heating, air conditioning or automatic, fire-protective sprinkler system, or of a household appliance.
- Sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current (does not include loss to a tube, transistor or similar electronic component)
The following types of perils are generally not covered under most standard Manassas home insurance policies:
Floods - Flood damage is excluded under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. Flood coverage, however, is available in the form of a separate policy both from the National Flood Insurance Program - NFIP (888-379-9531) and from a few private insurers.
Earthquake Coverage - can be a separate policy or an endorsement to your homeowners or renters policy. It available from most insurance companies.
Maintenance Damage - It is your responsibility to take reasonable precautions to protect your home from damage. Your insurance policy will not cover damage due to lack of maintenance, mold, termite infestation and infestation from other pests.
How do I take a home inventory and why?
Would you be able to remember all of the possessions you have collected over the years if they were destroyed by a fire? Having an up-to-date home inventory is essential. In the event of such a disaster, having created this list ahead of time will help you to get your insurance claim settled faster and to verify losses for your income tax return. A home inventory list is also useful now because it will enable you to purchase the correct amount of insurance.
Start by making a list of your belongings, describing each item, and noting where you bought it, as well as its make and model. Attach sales receipts to your list, along with purchase contracts, and any item appraisals you have. With regard to clothing, count the items you own by category -- pants, coats, shoes, for example -- paying particular attention to possessions that are especially valuable. As for major appliances and electronic equipment, make sure to document their serial numbers (usually found on the back or bottom of the item).
- Don't be put off!
If you are setting up a new household, starting an inventory list can be relatively simple. However, most people looking for homeowners insurance have been living in the same home for many years. In that case, the task of creating a list can seem daunting. Keep in mind though that it's better to have an incomplete inventory than nothing at all. Start with recent purchases and then try to remember what you can about older possessions.
- Big Ticket Items
Valuable items like jewelry, art work and collectibles often have increased in value since you received them. Check with your agent to make sure that you have adequate insurance for these items. They may need to be insured separately.
- Take a Picture
Besides the list, you can take pictures of rooms and important individual items. On the back of the photos (or in the caption section of the electronic version of the picture), note what is shown and where you bought it or the make/model. Don't forget things that are in closets or drawers.
- Video-record It
Walk through your house or apartment video-recording and describing the contents. Or do the same thing using a voice recorder.
- Use a laptop/electronic device
Use your tablet, phone, laptop, PC, or other electronic device to make your inventory list. Personal finance software packages often include a homeowners room-by-room inventory program.
- Storing the list, photos, and records
Regardless of how you do it (written list, photos, video-recording, or audio-recording), keep your inventory along with receipts in your safe deposit box or at a friend's or relative's home. That way you'll be sure to have something to give your insurance representative if your home is damaged. When you make a significant purchase, add the information to your inventory while the details are still fresh in your mind.
Do I need special coverage for jewelry and other valuables?
A standard Manassas home insurance policy includes coverage for jewelry and other precious items such as watches and furs. These items are covered for losses caused by all the potential dangers included in your policy such as fire, windstorm, theft and vandalism.
However, there are certain limits of liability for some items, meaning that the insurer will not pay more than the amount specified in the policy. One important limit is for the theft of jewelry. Because jewelry can be easily stolen, the standard policy has a relatively low limit of liability for theft, generally $1,500. The benefit of this stipulation is that it keeps coverage affordable. If the coverage limit is too low, then a larger policy will be needed to cover those more expensive possessions.
If you own valuable jewelry or other items that would be difficult to replace, there are two ways you can increase coverage: by raising the limit of liability or "scheduling" your individual pieces through the purchase of "floater" policies. Raising the limit of liability is the cheapest option. However, there may be a limit on the amount you can claim for the loss of any individual piece, say $2,000, when the overall limit is $5,000.
Scheduling each piece or item may cost more in premiums, but it offers broader protection because the floater covers losses of any type, including accidental losses-such as dropping your ring down the drain of the kitchen sink or leaving an expensive watch in a hotel room - that your homeowners insurance policy will not cover. Before purchasing a floater, the items covered must be professionally appraised. The cost of this service varies depending on where you live.
How often should I review my policy?
There are four events that should trigger a review of your policy:
1. When your policy comes up for renewal
Don't just automatically send a check to your insurance company. Take the time to review your coverage and call your agent with any questions or concerns that you may have regarding your homeowners insurance. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Has the company made any changes in coverage since last year?
- Does my policy now include a separate deductible for risks like hurricane or hail?
- Should I raise the deductible to save money?
- Am I taking advantage of all available discounts?
- Do I need to raise the amount of coverage for liability, personal possessions or the structure?
- Should I comparison shop for a cheaper rate?
- Do I need flood, earthquake or an umbrella policy?
2. Major purchases or alterations/improvements to your home
If you have made any major purchases, make sure that you have the proper coverage. And, don't forget about gifts. If you have received a diamond engagement ring or if a member of your family has bought you expensive artwork or an electronic device, talk to your agent about either increasing the amount of insurance you have for your personal possessions or purchasing a floater/endorsement for these new items. A floater will give you higher and broader coverage for these items than you have under your homeowners policy.
If you've made major improvements to your home, such as adding a new room, enclosing a porch, or expanding a kitchen or bathroom, you risk being underinsured if you don't report the increase in square footage to your insurance company. Don't forget about new structures outside of your home. If you have built a gazebo, a new shed for your tools, or installed a pool or hot tub, you need to speak to your agent. Keep receipts and records in case you need to forward copies to your company.
3. You have made your home safer
If you have installed a state-of-the art fire/burglar alarm system or upgraded your heating, plumbing or electrical system, make sure that your insurance company knows about these improvements. You may qualify for a discount.
4. Major lifestyle changes
Marriage, divorce, or adult children who move back into the family home, can all affect your homeowners insurance. When people move in or move out, they take their belongings with them. And you may need additional coverage if there is a sizable increase in the value of the belongings in your home.
Starting a home-based business can also trigger changes in your coverage. You will need to get additional coverage for business liability and equipment. If the business is your primary source of income, you may need a Businessowners Package Policy (BOP). You may also need professional liability coverage, which is excluded under in-home business and businessowners policies.
Personal Insurance in Manassas
What does my credit rating have to do with purchasing insurance?
Credit scores are based on an analysis of an individual's credit history. These scores are used for many purposes such as securing a loan, finding a place to live, getting a phone, and buying insurance. Insurers often generate a numerical ranking based on a person's credit history, known as an "insurance score," when underwriting and setting the rates for insurance policies. Actuarial studies show that how a person manages his or her financial affairs, which is what an insurance score indicates, is a good predictor of insurance claims. Insurance scores are used to help insurers differentiate between lower and higher insurance risks and thus charge a premium equal to the risk they are assuming. Statistically, people who have a poor insurance score are more likely to file a claim.
As a result, establishing a solid credit history can reduce your insurance costs. To protect your credit standing, pay your bills on time, don't obtain more credit than you need, and keep the balances on your credit cards as low as possible -- ideally, try to pay off the bill in full each month. Also, check your credit record regularly, and request that any errors be corrected immediately so that your record remains accurate.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. For more information, go to the Federal Trade Commission's Web site on credit.Free annual credit reports can be ordered from AnnualCreditReport.com.
For more information on credit, go to our Credit section.