Do All Texas Homeowners Need Dwelling Fire Insurance?

If you own a home in the Austin, TX area, fire insurance is essential to protecting one of your life’s biggest financial investments. Wild weather isn’t exactly unheard of in Texas, and there is some level of fire risk no matter where you live. You may be thinking, "If I have homeowner’s insurance, I should be covered in the event of a fire." 

While homeowner’s insurance covers your home in the event of a fire that is not your fault, fire insurance is an extra step of protection for fires caused by cooking accidents, bad wiring, or smoking, where you are technically at fault.

The team at Southwest Insurance Center understands how the variations in coverage can be overwhelming, particularly as a new homeowner who wants to fully cover a new investment. We’re happy to help you navigate the options in order to make the best coverage decision for your home. 

It’s obvious that a fire can cause serious damage to your home and surrounding property in Austin, TX. Dwelling fire insurance covers damage from a fire that occurs as a result of an accidental fire where you are at fault. The policy also covers any damage to your personal belongings. The peace of mind in knowing that accidents do happen and we can only be so prepared for them is the biggest motivator to invest in dwelling fire insurance. 

Whether you have an electrical issue in your home and something sparks, or there’s an accidental cooking disaster that leads to a fire, maintaining a dwelling fire insurance policy will allow you to breathe easier because you know you’re fully covered. 

If you’re interested in seeing what dwelling fire insurance we can offer, contact Southwest Insurance Center today. We’re here to help. 

How To Protect Your Home From Water Damage

Your home is probably one of your biggest and most important investments. At Southwest Insurance Center serving Austin, TX and surrounding areas, we want to help our clients understand all of the ways they can protect their homes. Keep reading to learn more about protecting your home from water damage. 

Don’t Ignore Leaks

One of the biggest contributing factors to water damage is leaks which are left unrepaired. A leak will often start out small, which makes it easy to ignore for a while. Wherever there is a leak, though, water damage can happen. If you see a leak, repair it quickly. If you are not aware of any leaks,  it is still a good idea to check your home twice a year for any leaks or collecting water. 

Keep Your Home Properly Sealed 

If there are parts of your home which are not properly sealed up, it can let in water during heavy rains. Parts of your home which could be vulnerable can include the basement, roof, or any area that is located downhill where rainwater can run into. You can have your home professionally inspected for these types of vulnerable areas by a home inspector or a construction contractor. 

Keep Proper Insurance 

It is important to make sure your home insurance policy has adequate water damage protection. You should note that most home policies do not include flood coverage, but that is different from water damage resulting from busted pipes or leaks. You can sit down with an insurance representative to discuss the details of your policy. 

If you would like to learn more about home insurance, please contact us at Southwest Insurance Center serving Austin, TX, and surrounding areas. 

5 Tips for Preventing a Fire in Your Home

House fires account for thousands of deaths each year and billions of dollars in property damage annually. It only takes roughly 30 seconds for a very small flame to turn into a significant blaze. Therefore, it is important that Austin, TX homeowners be familiar with how to prevent a fire in their homes. Here are a few tips that the team at Southwest Insurance Center wants to share.

Test the Smoke Alarms

Once per month, you should take the time to test your smoke alarms with the simple push of a [test] button. If it doesn’t sound or the batteries are 10 years old, replace them. You may even want to ensure you have the appropriate number of fire alarms throughout the homes as advised by the U.S. Fire Administration.

Identify Potential Household Fire Hazards

Your home is full of fire hazards, probably more than you realize. While you can’t do much about the oven, other than not leaving it unattended, there are others you can locate and remove or evaluate.

If you use a toaster frequently, make sure to shake it out regularly to get the crumbs out, as they spark easily. Dust is commonly flammable, especially if there is a buildup around an electrical outlet. Make sure to unplug hair straighteners, curling irons, and the like, as they can reach high temperatures if left plugged in and on. Candles may smell great, but they are very dangerous if left where a child or pet could knock them over.

Practice Safe Candle Use

Speaking of candles, they are a common cause of home fires. In fact, they result in more than 20 home fires every single day. However, more than three-fourths of those fires are completely preventable. Make sure you are using candles safely.

Inspect the Sources of Heat

Your furnace should be professionally serviced each year to ensure it’s working properly. Because if it’s not, it could result in an unnecessary fire. If a space heater is being used in the home, keep it away from flammable items, furniture, curtains, etc. If you’re using a wood-burning fireplace, have the chimney inspected and cleaned each year.

Store Combustible Materials Safely

It is imperative that any flammable materials are stored in a safe manner, which means away from the heat! Whether it is garden supplies, cleaning supplies, hairspray, or something else that is flammable, they should be kept in a cool, dark storage area. Kerosene, gasoline, and propane should be kept in their original containers outdoors.

Even with precautions in place, a fire may still occur. To ensure you are prepared and protected, make sure you have the proper home insurance. Contact us today to learn more. Southwest Insurance Center serves the Austin, TX area and can help you determine the proper amount and type of coverage for your situation.

What You Need to Know About Homeowners Insurance in Texas

Those shopping for homeowners insurance in Austin, TX have many options available to them regarding basic coverage and additional options. Before shopping for insurance, understand the amount of coverage and what is and is not covered by your policy. The experts at Southwest Insurance Center understand shopping for a homeowners insurance policy can be overwhelming and are ready to make the process go as smoothly as possible. 

Below are things you need to know and questions to ask before purchasing your homeowner’s policy in the state of Texas: 

Roof Repair

Depending upon the cause of the damage, some insurance policies cover the total costs to repair a damaged roof. Within an insurance policy, this is covered under “replacement cost coverage.” If the roof is older or showing signs of wear, the policy may pay less to repair the roof, taking into account the roof’s overall condition before the damage occurred. Paying based on condition is considered “actual cash value” coverage. When deciding on insurance coverage, consider replacement cost versus actual cash value to determine which coverage to purchase. 

Deductibles

Your insurance policy deductible is the amount of money you must pay before your insurance company pays for repairs or replacements. Deductibles vary for different types of damage, and the higher the deductible; the lower your premiums may be. 

Additional Coverage

It is possible to customize your homeowner’s insurance policy by adding additional coverage. For example, consider buying additional coverage if you have expensive jewelry and high-priced items in the home or if you have a pool or other buildings on the property. 

Austin, TX homeowners need to speak with their insurance agent about their insurance policy and coverage options. Understanding more about the policy and coverage options helps make the claim process easier should something happen at your home. For additional information about homeowners insurance coverage, call our agents at Southwest Insurance Center. 

How to create and store a home inventory

Austin is a great place to live. What’s not to like about "The Live Music Capital of the World".  But even in the greatest places, there are risks. About 1 homeowner out of 20 will file a claim every year. Nothing can make filing an insurance claim fun but if you have a home inventory, filing a home insurance claim will be less stressful. At Southwest Insurance Center in Austin, TX, we are an independent agency locally owned and operated. We take the time to compare our many carriers to find our customers the best deals. 

A home inventory is a listing of the contents of your home. When something happens that requires you to file an insurance claim on your home policy, you may need to provide information to the insurance company about what exactly was damaged or destroyed. When you have just been traumatized by a covered peril, you don’t need the added stress of trying to figure out what is missing. 

You can create a home inventory with a pad, pencil, and something to take photos with. Go through the rooms of your home and list the contents. Include as much detail as possible. Electronic models and serial numbers are a big help. Take photos of each room. Leave nothing unopened. Go to the attic, the basement, the garage, and into every closet, cupboard, and drawer. Attach any receipts you have. 

Storing your inventory is as important as making one. It needs to be in a safe place away from your home if possible. If it is in the house store it in a fire and waterproof box or envelope. Keep track of it so you will be able to find it if you need it. 

If you are in the market for home insurance and live in or near Austin, TX, Southwest Insurance Center looks forward to finding you the policy you need and want.  

Reasons a home insurance claim may be denied

Home insurance offers valuable protection you count on to cover you in the event something bad happens to your home. What could be worse than having your home insurance claim denied? Not much. Having to be responsible for repairing or replacing your home would be a nightmare and something you want to avoid. Knowledge is power so knowing what could cause a claim to be denied can help you to avoid letting those things happen. If you live in Austin, TX,  Southwest Insurance Center is the place to go when you are looking for a trusted independent insurance agency. 

The claim is under the deductible

Home insurance policies have a deductible. It may be $500 or it can be $1000. If the claim is not more than the deductible amount, the carrier will not pay on it. 

The type of damage is not covered

If you have not read your insurance policy you may not realize there are exclusions. Not every type of damage or loss is covered. The most common exclusion is flood damage. Damage due to mold, termites, and other insects is also not covered. You can often add a rider to your policy to cover additional damage. 

Wear and tear

Homes age and if your furnace dies because of old age it isn’t going to be covered. If your roof has reached the end of its useful life, any damage resulting from leaks, etc will not be covered. You are expected to maintain your property. 

Lapsed policy

It can happen, you forget to pay your premium and your policy lapses. It would be incredibly bad timing to have a claim you need to file when your policy is not in force. 

Knowing what can cause a claim to be denied helps you to make sure it doesn’t happen to you. At Southwest Insurance Center in Austin, TX, we will make sure that as our clients you understand your home policy. To discuss your home insurance needs give us a call for a no-obligation quote. 

What Happens When I File a Homeowners Insurance Claim

When you file a homeowner’s claim, it will be received and reviewed by your insurance company. Once an internal review is complete, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to your case and come to inspect the damage. As a seasoned professional, your adjuster will be able to determine the amount that the insurance company will reimburse for the damage once your deductible has been met. Depending on how busy the insurance company is or whether the claim is related to a weather incident that causes a spike in claims, this process is usually completed in just a few days. To help the adjuster make a determination of the damages, it is always helpful to request estimates from local repair companies that you can then present to the adjuster as a benchmark for how much the repairs will cost. 

Filing a claim is never fun, but reputable insurance companies can streamline the process and make it easy as possible for the homeowner. Remember that if you aren’t satisfied with the amount offered by the insurance company you can always appeal and present evidence to show why you should be awarded a higher amount. At Southwest Insurance Center in Austin, TX, we know that filing a claim is never fun and is often the result of a stressful situation at your home. That’s why we try to make the process as simple and easy as possible by always putting our customers first. To learn firsthand about the homeowner’s insurance process and answer any other questions you may have please give us a call to schedule a no-obligation consultation. 

Will Home Insurance Protect You If a Tree Falls On Your House?

Storms are happening across Austin, TX all of the time and it is important to know what your home insurance covers, and what it does not. Say you have a big wind storm, to the point where you have a tree that falls right at your house. While this is not an ideal scenario by any means, you are likely wondering whether or not you have coverage to get your home back together.  

There is not a black and white answer as to whether your home insurance will cover a tree falling on your home. It will depend on a variety of different factors that are in play. The cause of the tree fall is one of the things that will matter, as will the damage that was done to your home itself.

In the majority of cases, a homeowner’s insurance policy is going to help to protect your home if there is damage to your house itself, as well as a fence, shed, or other structures on your property. In the situation where the tree falls due to a wind storm, you will likely be covered up to the limits on your policy, while you are paying the deductible out of pocket.

What you will not have coverage for is going to be tree falls on your home due to negligence or maintenance problems. If the tree was ready to fall and you ignored it, that means you neglected to care for it and may not be covered. The same goes for if you cut a tree down on your own and it tumbles onto your home.

With home insurance, you want to know what you have coverage for and what you do not. Work with the team at Southwest Insurance Center to shine more light on the topic today!

What to do if your home becomes uninhabitable

There are many events that can make our home uninhabitable, from fires, wind and water damage, to situations caused by natural disasters. When your home insurance policy has coverage for these events you will have a greater number of options available to you. In fact, there are policies that can help you to find alternative housing so that you don’t have to worry about becoming a burden to your friends and family. The team at Southwest Insurance Center is here to help residents in the greater Austin, TX community have the coverage they need should there home suffer from damage that makes it uninhabitable.

Options if your home can no longer be lived in safely:

When your home is damaged to the point that it is dangerous to live there, you need to leave. The health and safety of your family are much more important than material possessions, even if your heart is breaking as you leave your home. A comprehensive home insurance policy will provide coverage for alternative housing if your home is damaged by a covered event. This is coverage that you will want to make sure that your home policy contains because it can help to ease the trauma of a catastrophic event. 

No one wants to consider the possibility of their home being damaged or destroyed to the point that they can no longer live there. However, we all know that it is better to be as prepared as possible for these types of situations. The team at Southwest Insurance Center is here to help you find the right home insurance policy that can protect you and your family.  Now is the time to ensure that your Austin, TX home insurance policy has the coverage that you need.

How Does Dwelling Fire Insurance Differ From Home Insurance?

Many home and property owners are confused as to the difference between dwelling fire insurance and home insurance, as well as when they need to purchase each type of insurance. At Southwest Insurance Center, serving Austin, TX, we want to help you ensure that you have the right type of insurance for your property. Here is what you need to know about dwelling fire insurance and home insurance. 

The Main Difference Between Dwelling Fire Insurance and Home Insurance

The biggest difference between dwelling fire insurance and home insurance is home insurance is designed to protect structures on property that you are living on. For example, home insurance will protect a home that you are residing in, as well as buildings on the property you are residing on, such as sheds, garages and barns. Dwelling fire insurance protects structures that you own but may not be living in, such as rental homes, rental property or a home that you are renovating to flip. 

Smaller Differences Between Dwelling Fire Insurance and Home Insurance

Another key difference between dwelling fire insurance and home insurance is what is covered by the insurance. Home insurance will cover the structure itself, as well as property that is stored within the building, such as furniture and clothing. Dwelling fire insurance only covers the structure itself against fire. It does not cover any of the personal property that you or a tenant may have stored inside of the home or building. 

Are you looking to purchase insurance for your property? Are you unsure whether home insurance or dwelling fire insurance is a good fit for you? Here at Southwest Insurance Center, serving Austin, TX, we can help you determine what type of insurance you need and then find the right insurance for your needs. Schedule an appointment with us today.