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    Tips to Winterize Your Home

    Posted: February 10, 2020
    We all know that living in Illinois we can experience temperatures and wind chills that are below -20.  Our heating systems are not designed for. -20º to -30º temperatures with wind chills down to -50º, and can create a lot of damage to your house.

    Homes can struggle to keep up, and the temperature may drop while the heating system is working at full capacity. To help your home make it through the winter without any mishaps, here are tips to properly winterize your home, inside and outside. 
     

    Inside The House


    • Keep your house heated to a minimum of 65 degrees. The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. A temperature lower than 65 degrees might not keep the inside walls from freezing.
    • Identify the location for the main water shutoff in your home. Find out how it works in case you have to use it.
    • Open hot and cold faucets enough to let them drip slowly. Keeping water moving within the pipes will prevent freezing.
    • If you use fireplaces, wood stoves and electric heaters, watch them closely and make sure they are working properly.
    • Remember to close the flue in your fireplace when you’re not using it.
    • When traveling, ask a neighbor to check the house regularly. If there is a problem with frozen pipes or water leakage, attending to it quickly could mean far less damage.
    • If you plan to be away for an extended period of time, have the water system, including pool plumbing, drained by a professional to keep pipes from freezing or bursting.

    Outside The House


    • Keep sidewalks and entrances to your home free from snow and ice.
    • Watch for ice dams near gutter downspouts. Ice dams can cause water to build up and seep into your house.
    • Clear gutters of leaves and debris to allow runoff from melting snow and ice to flow freely.
    • If you own a swimming pool and temperatures are expected to dip below freezing, run the pool pump at night to keep the water flowing through the pipes.
    • Make sure all hoses are disconnected from outside spigots.
    • If your garage is attached to your house, keep the garage doors closed. The door leading to the house is probably not as well-insulated as an exterior door.
    • If ice forms on tree limbs, watch for dead, damaged or dangerous branches that could break loose when stressed by ice, snow or wind and damage your house or car, or injure someone on or near your property.
    • If your home suffers water damage, it is important to make sure that it is properly dried and repaired to prevent any potential problem with mold. Remember, mold cannot survive without moisture. 

    Frozen or Burst Pipes


    • If you discover that pipes are frozen, don’t wait for them to burst. Take measures to thaw them immediately, or call a plumber for assistance.
    • If your pipes burst, first turn off the water and then mop up spills to avoid further damage.

    Your Insurance Coverage


    • Standard homeowners policies will cover most kinds of damage that result from a freeze. For instance, if house pipes freeze and burst or if ice forms in gutters and causes water to back up under roof shingles and seep into the house. You would also be covered if the weight of snow or ice damages your house.
    • Most policies do not cover backups in sewers and drains or flood damage, which can also happen in winter. To be covered for flooding, you need a separate flood policy from the National Flood Insurance Program.

    Q&A with Kelly – Insurance Claims

    Posted: August 13, 2019

    Insurance is there for you when you need it. It’s your the safety net. But when something happens to your house or car, it can cause a lot of stress not knowing what is covered or how to file a claim. Depending on what kind of damage you’re facing, filing an insurance claim might help relieve some of the financial problems.

    What Is an Insurance Claim?

    Filing an insurance claim means you’re making a formal request to your insurance company to receive funds to help you pay for repairs and other expenses caused by an event (car accident or a home burglary) that is covered by your insurance.

    Every situation is different, and as an Independent Agent, I can help you outline the specifics and assist in filing a claim.  Below, I have provided common questions and answers to help you understand filing insurance claims for home or auto insurance.

    Insurance Claims-AUTO


    Q. What I am in a car accident and not at fault?

    •  Be sure to obtain the other person’s insurance card. Taking a picture with your phone is the easiest and most acceptable.
    • File the claim with the other party’s insurance carrier. If you file it with your own, you will be obligated to pay your deductible (typically $500). Your carrier will fight to get this back, however depending on the other party’s carrier (i.e. substandard) this could take months to get your money back. Once the money is returned to the carrier, they will send it back to you. This is often referred to as subrogation.
    • If you file with the claim with other party, you will be able to obtain a rental car at the expense of the other insurance carrier.
    • Do NOT wait for the other driver to file the claim. If you want to get the ball rolling, use the information from the ID card they provided to file the claim. The carrier will require a statement from you and the other driver.


    Q. What if I am in a car accident and at fault?

    • Provide the other party with your ID card. If your car is damaged and you want it fixed, contact your carrier. If not, you can choose to pay the damages out of pocket or file it with your insurance carrier. I recommend NOT providing your ID card if you plan on paying it out of pocket. Any time you contact the carrier direct to ask about a claim or file the claim, only to pay it out of pocket, the claim will be on your record for 5 years.
    • If you are at fault, rental car reimbursement is only provided if you have rental reimbursement on your policy. Many people with liability only coverage or more vehicles than drivers do NOT have rental reimbursement. If this is important to you, may sure your policy covers it. The additional is cost is normally $30 per year per vehicle.

    Q. What if I need rental car coverage?

    • Rental car reimbursement only provides coverage when your vehicle is damaged due to an accident.  It does NOT provide coverage due to your vehicle breaking down.
    • The car rental company will ask if you want to purchase their insurance coverage.  Please note, your policy will provide coverage to the rental vehicle.  If you had to file a claim, the claim will be listed on your record and may affect your rate in the future.

    Q. What if I am injured in a auto accident?

    • If you are injured in an auto mobile accident, the carrier (yours or the other party’s, depending who is at fault), will pay for medical damages, lost wages, etc.  I recommend contacting an attorney to help you through the process.  If you do not have an attorney, I am happy to recommend one as I work with multiple.
    • If the other party’s coverage does not provide enough coverage, your policy will cover for any additional expenses, under your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

    Insurance Claims-HOME


    Q. What if I have water damage?

    • If the damage is caused by water, take many pictures, and get the water out ASAP.  The longer the water sits, the more damage will incur, and many policies have a limit on water damage (i.e. $5,000 or $10,000). 
    • The carrier will provide you a check for the initial damages, less depreciation.  Once the damages have been repaired you must show proof to receive 100% of the payout.  Receipts or construction contracts will work as proof.


    Q. What if I have a claim on a rental property?

    • If the claim is on a rental property, the carrier will ask for proof that the property was/is occupied.  If the property is insured as tenant occupied and is actually vacant, they will deny coverage.  Call me if your property is vacant as we will adjust coverage immediately.

    Q. What if someone is injured on my property?

    • If someone is injured on your property, they will receive payout from your medical coverages (typically $5,000 max) if it is worse than that they will sue you for the limit of your liability coverage/umbrella.  This limit is typically $300,000 for a single-family residence and an additional $1 million with the umbrella.
    • Liability coverage protects you in the event anyone is injured on your property.  Invited or not, you can and will be sued due to an injury.

    Q. What if I have fire damage?

    • In the event of a fire loss, the carrier will ask for a list of ALL of your personal possessions.  If it is not a total loss, they will be able to obtain pictures of the remaining items, but I ALWAYS recommend taking pictures/videos of your personal possessions; open drawers, closets, under beds, etc.  You will NEVER remember everything you own without some sort of documentation.

    Q. What if I need replacement costs for personal possessions?

    • I write ALL of my home/renters’ policies to include replacement cost of your personal possessions.  This means the carrier will provide you the full value to replace your personal effects.


    Q. What if my dog bites someone?

    • Your home/renter’s policy does provide coverage for dog bites.  Depending on the severity of the dog bite, the medical portion will pay out first (typically $5,000 limit) followed by your liability (typically $300,000) and umbrella (if you have one).  However, depending on the type of dog you own (Pit Bull, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinchers, etc.) the carrier may deny coverage.


    If you have questions about how to file a claim or wonder if you should file a claim feel free to call me at 708-444-0050.  I normally recommend you obtain quotes for the damage(s) before you decide whether to file. It does not make sense to file a claim if the damages are less than or just over your deductible. 

    NOTE: The questions asked to me will not go on your record. 

    As a reminder, all home claims and at fault accidents are subject to the deductible.  This means the carrier will collect the deductible before anything is paid out.

    Advantages of Bundling Your Home and Auto Insurance

    Posted: June 17, 2019

    There are many benefits to using an Independent Insurance Agent such as Kelly Burke Insurance to combine your Home and Auto Policies.    A customer can save as much as $1,000 by bundling your policies together.  
     

    Benefits of Combining Your Home and Auto with an Independent Insurance Agent.

    Lower Costs: Often, you pay a lower rate due to the multi-policy discount.  This discount ranges from 20-30% depending on the produce type (i.e. home or auto) and carrier.

    Renewal Savings: Each renewal, I review your rate to confirm you are still receiving the best possible package.  This means I review rates with other carriers to confirm your rate is in line with industry trends.

    Best Package: I review the total package.  Some carriers will offer a great rate on the auto, but a much higher rate on the home.  By reviewing the total package I confirm you are paying the lowest possible premium.

    Convenience: It makes it easier for you to call or email one office for all of your insurance servicing needs.  There is nothing worse than trying to figure out which person to contact to add a vehicle to your policy, update your mortgage information, etc.

    Along with outstanding coverage and savings, you’ll receive dedicated and personalized service you would expect from your insurance agent. Please contact Kelly today at 708-444-0050 or Kelly@kellyburkeinsurance.com to see how much you could save.

    Q&A with Kelly-Homeowners and Rental Insurance

    Posted: March 15, 2019

    Insurance is difficult to understand, whether it’s the confusing descriptions, understanding coverage, or the different types of plans offered. Because of how complicated insurance can be, many people are reluctant to buy it, fearing they’ll make the wrong choice.  As an independent agent, I can help navigate you and your family through all of the confusing information presented in plans.


    Homeowner’s and Rental insurance policies, for instance,  can be difficult to understand. But have no fear, I have compiled some of the commonly asked questions and answers about Homeowners and Rental insurance.

    Homeowners Insurance Q&A

    Q: What are some practical things I can do to lower the cost of my home insurance?
    A: Look for any discounts that you may qualify for. For example, many insurers will offer a discount when you place both your car and homeowners insurance with them. Other times, insurers offer discounts if there are deadbolt exterior locks on all your doors, or if your home has a security system. I can also help you find out bout any discounts that you may qualify for.

    Another easy way to lower the cost of your homeowners insurance is to raise your deductible. Increasing your deductible from $250 to $500 will lower your premium, sometimes by as much as five or ten percent.

    Q: What does homeowners insurance cover?
    A
    : The typical homeowners policy has two main sections: Section I covers the property of the insured and Section II provides personal liability coverage for the insured. Usually, homeowners insurance is required by the lender to obtain a mortgage.

    Q: What is the difference between “actual cash value” and “replacement cost”? 
    A: Covered losses under a homeowners policy can be paid on either an actual cash value basis or on a replacement cost basis. When “actual cash value” is used, the policy owner is entitled to the depreciated value of the damaged property. Under the “replacement cost” coverage, the policy owner is reimbursed on an amount necessary to replace the article with one of similar type and quality at current prices.


    Q: What factors should I consider when purchasing homeowners insurance? 
    A: Determine the amount and type of insurance you will need. The coverage limit of your house should equal 100% of its replacement cost. If your policy limit is less than 80% of the replacement cost of your home, any payment from will be less than the full cost to replace your home – you’ll have to pay the rest out of your own pocket. Also, decide if the personal property and personal liability limits are adequate for your needs.

    Decide which, if any, additional endorsements you want to add to your policy. For example, do you want the personal property replacement cost endorsement, sump pump or sewer back up endorsement, or a jewelry endorsement?

    I will be able to help you determine if there are any gaps in coverage that you might not have been aware of, explain the details of the policy’s exclusions and limitations, as well as recommend an insurance company that will live up to your expectations.

    Q: What are the policy limits (i.e., coverage limits) in the standard homeowners policy.
    A: Note: this answer is based on the Insurance Services Office’s HO-3 policy. The home and other structures on the premises are protected on an “all risks” basis up to the policy limits. “All risks” means that unless the policy specifically excludes the manner in which your home is damaged or destroyed, there is coverage. The policy limit for the home is set by the policy owner at the time the insurance is purchased. The policy limit for the other structure is usually equal to 10% of the policy limit for the home.

    Losses to your personal property are covered on a “named perils” basis. “Named perils” means that you have coverage only when your property is damaged or destroyed in the manner specifically described in the policy. The policy limit on the coverage is equal to 50% of the policy limit on the home. Limits for the coverage of additional expenses that the policy owner may incur, when the residence cannot be used because of an insured loss, is equal to 20% of the policy limit on the home. Find out more about coverage options


    Q
    : Where and when is my personal property covered?  
    A
    : Personal property (except property that is specifically excluded) is covered anywhere in the world. For example, suppose that while traveling, you purchase a dresser and you want to ship it home. Your homeowners policy would provide coverage for the “named perils” while the dresser is in transit – even though the dresser has never been in your home before.

    Renters Insurance Q&A


    Q: Why would I want to buy renters insurance? 
    A: A standard renters insurance policy protects your personal property in many cases of theft or damage, and may pay for temporary living expenses if your rental is damaged. It can also shield you from personal liability. Anyone who leases a house or apartment should consider this type of coverage


    Q: How does a renters insurance policy protect my personal property?
    A: A renters insurance policy provides named perils coverage. This means that the policy only pays when your property is damaged or destroyed by any of the ways specifically described in the policy. These usually include:

    • Fire or lightning
    • Windstorm or hail
    • Explosions
    • Riots
    • Aircraft
    • Vehicles
    • Smoke
    • Vandalism or malicious mischief
    • Theft
    • Falling objects
    • Weight of ice, snow, or sleet
    • Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam
    • Freezing
    • Sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current
    • Volcanic eruptions (but this doesn’t include earthquake or tremors)

    Renters insurance coverage applies to your personal property no matter where you are in the world. This means you’re covered when you are on vacation as well as at home. 


    Q: Why do some apartment complexes require tenants to have renters insurance?  
    A: Owners of apartment complexes buy insurance policies for their liability in order to cover their buildings and personal property. However, these policies do not cover any of the tenant’s property or liability. By requiring their tenants to have renters insurance, the apartment owner is assured that the tenants will not mistakenly believe the apartment complex owner’s policy will provide coverage for a tenant’s property or personal liability. Although this type of requirement benefits the apartment complex owner, there are benefits for the renter as well.


    Q: What if I share my apartment with a roommate? Do we both need to have renters insurance?
    A: Standard renter’s policies cover only you and relatives that live with you. If your roommate is not a relative, each of you will need your own renter’s insurance policy to cover your own property and to provide you liability coverage for your own actions.

    Have questions about Homeowners or Rental Insurance?
    Contact me at 708-444-0050 or click below.

    It’s Spring Cleaning Time! Tips to Make Your Life Easier!

    Posted: April 19, 2018

     

     

    Although it may not feel like it outside, March 21 was the first day of Spring.

    Spring is considered a time for new beginnings, cleaning and organization around the house.

     

    If you’re ready to tackle that monumental chore, here are some great Spring Cleaning Tips:

     

    Take it one room at a time. Deciding to clean or organize your entire home can quickly get overwhelming. If you focus on just one area or room, then move to another only when you’re finished, you’ll likely work more efficiently.

    Follow the six-month rule. Generally, if you haven’t used something in six months (with the exception of seasonal items), it’s a good idea to consider throwing it away or donating it.

    Don’t forget the kitchen. Just like other rooms, your kitchen likely has things that haven’t been used in some time — and this includes food in the refrigerator or freezer. Give those appliances a thorough cleaning and get rid of anything you won’t be eating.

    Set yourself up for success. Paper clutter is something we all could probably cut back on pretty easily. Setting up a few recycling bins throughout the house gives you a convenient alternative to just setting that old magazine or paperwork down somewhere and watching the pile grow.

    Make some money! Of course, the spring cleaning garage sale is a tradition for many homeowners, and can be a great way to bring in some extra income. Talk about a win-win situation — you get rid of stuff you don’t need, and someone pays you for it!

    Stay safe. When you’re cleaning or maintaining your home, be mindful of the physical risks involved. Lift with your leg muscles, not your back. Avoid prolonged repetitive motions. Use ladders, lawnmowers and other dangerous tools with caution.

     

    Contact Us!  For further questions and assistance, please contact Kelly Burke Insurance at 708-444-0050 or kelly@kellyburkeinsurance.com

    Questions
    Questions

    Feel free to email or call me with any questions or comments about my services or if you have any insurance related inquires.

    Contact
    Contact

    Phone: 708.444.0050
    Email: kelly@kellyburkeinsurance.com

    Availability
    Availability

    Monday - Friday: 10am - 5pm
    Evening and weekends
    available upon request