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. 

First-Time Home Buyers Tips

You’ve waited a long time for this so it’s worth doing it right the first time. Buying a new home for the first time can be a little daunting, but with the help of a few tips, this difficult-looking task can be a worthwhile journey.

Pay Off Debt

It is expensive to buy a home. Depending on what you are looking for, it could cost AN AVERAGE OF $200,000 or more. Going into this investment, you don’t want to have any other debt hanging over your head. Pay off your car payments, credit card bills, and any outstanding loans. Your biggest loan will come from the mortgage company.

What Can You Afford?

Decide before going to see a realtor how much money you will be able to spend on a house. Trying to get a loan for more than you can afford will put you in a financial crisis quickly. Take into account your bills will be higher including your electricity and water. You will also need to have a security system, which many have monthly monitoring services and homeowners insurance. You can look for decent homeowners policies at Southwest Insurance Center in Austin, TX.

Down Payment

You should put down as much as you can when you first buy a home. The more you have down, the less you will have to pay later. The goal would be to put 20% down, but that is not always doable. Make sure if you have to pay less, get a fixed mortgage rate. That way your interest rate will stay the same for the length of the loan because a variable rate could increase your payments over the years.

Get to the Southwest Insurance Center to find out more information concerning a homeowners policy. These Austin, TX agents can also help you discover auto, commercial, and life insurance policies.

Home Insurance Protects You Even When You are Away

It’s vacation season and many people are busy planning trips to explore new places and spend quality time with their friends and family.  When you’re packing up, you might ask a neighbor to pick up the mail or water the plants but did you know that home insurance delivers quality protection even when you aren’t home?   

While you are out, your policy while continues to protect your home and your belongings.  Adding additional safety features, such as monitored alarm systems, can reduce your insurance payments.  For homeowners in the Austin, TX area, its’ important to ask your agent at Southwest Insurance Center if there are certain incentives available for security systems.  When you are away, security features will give you peace of mind, as well as, potentially save you money. When you know that you have reasonably utilized all available resources, you’ll be able to enjoy your travels and not worry about your home and belongings.  

Homeowners policies cover your personal belongings.  This includes personal property such as clothing, furniture, jewelry and electronic equipment.  If you have large valuable collections, such as furs, firearms, or artwork, you need to discuss this with your agent to ensure that you are adequately covered.  The interesting feature of your policy is that your items will be covered when you are away.  So, if your laptop is stolen from the local coffee shop, your homeowner policy will cover it.    

Home insurance policies cover such a broad range of topics, it’s wise to consult with the knowledgeable agents at Southwest Insurance Center.  They help residents in the Austin, TX area understand the available options and get the best coverage for their needs.  Good home insurance protects you and your property everyday even when you are away.

How Does Home Insurance Protect My Family?

When you think about protecting your family, you likely think about putting them in right neighborhood, getting the right health insurance, and making sure that they understand basic safety skills. What you likely don’t consider is how home insurance can be a major factor as well. If you live in Austin, TX, consider the following tips as to how home insurance can keep your family safe from Southwest Insurance Center.

Stress and Safety

Home insurance may not be the people to fix a broken leg if you suffer one after a major storm, but they may be the ones to help you the care that you need. Insurance can also be a lifesaver in terms of logistics. Let’s say you don’t have the coverage available to stay someplace else after a storm destroys half your home. You’d be reliant upon the goodwill of others, which can be a stressful situation. While nothing about disasters is very peaceful, home insurance can be what you need in your world when it’s at its darkest. This can save your family’s sanity during what is already a difficult time. 

Fewer Threats 

Neighborhoods in Austin, TX that aren’t strewn with litter or broken windows are neighborhoods that aren’t likely to see a lot of criminals on their block — if for no other reason than people are paying attention to what’s happening. Your family stays safe when repairs are made right away rather than being covered with cardboard or left in plain sight. For more information on all of this, Southwest Insurance Center is ready to give you the facts about keeping your family safe with the right policy. Give us a call today to find out more about getting more coverage or for a quote. 

 

Why Austin, Texas Homeowners need Home Insurance

Homeowner’s insurance is important in a place like Austin, Texas because it will protect the increasingly pricey home you bought in the Texas state capital, which is considered by many to be one of the hippest cities in the country. Below are some of the reasons you will need homeowner’s insurance in this fun and exciting city in the middle of the Lone Star State.

STORMS AND NATURAL DISASTERS

While tornadoes rarely ever go as far south as Austin in the state of Texas, there are other natural disasters that can affect homeowners in the central part of the state. Massive storms will hit the area a couple of times a year on average, leading to heavy rains and flooding across the area. Sometimes when rains are especially intense, homes will be washed away. There’s also the concern of trees falling on roofs and causing serious amounts of damage. Without homeowner’s insurance, none of these catastrophic events will be covered, and you will have to pay out of pocket.

THEFT PROTECTION

One of the other great aspects of a homeowner’s insurance policy is that it protects against all varieties of theft that could occur to your homestead. It not only protects the property itself but also the valuables within the home. While Austin’s crime rate is relatively low, it’s now the 11th largest city in America, meaning there is a better chance of a burglary occurring than in a small city or town.

PIECE OF MIND

Homeowner’s insurance in Austin, Texas also protects against things you could never expect to happen, like a pipe bursting or a fire breaking out due to frayed wiring. This piece of mind that comes with a good homeowner’s insurance policy from a broker like Southwest Insurance Center, serving the Austin, Texas area, allows you to enjoy your lifestyle in this town that is widely considered to be one of the best in the country.

How Does a Pool Affect Home Insurance Coverage?

Before adding a pool to your property, consider how this structure will affect your insurance coverage. Whether you invest in an in-ground pool or purchase an above ground model, it’s bound to raise your insurance costs. By discussing your options with a Southwest Insurance Center agent in Austin, TX, you can better prepare for the changes that a pool brings to your policy.

Coverage

Depending on your insurer, an in-ground pool may be covered under the property damage or replacement cost portion of your home insurance policy. In the event of damage to your pool, your home insurance will pay for its repairs in accordance with your coverage limits. The cost of coverage for your pool will be added to your homeowner’s insurance premium. A luxury in-ground pool setup may need additional coverage to fully protect your investment. An above-ground pool will more likely be covered as personal property due to being a portable structure.

A pool will also impact your liability coverage as it increases the risk of injuries and/or death on your property. Your insurance agent can help you determine how much liability coverage you need with a pool to continue to protect your assets. Increasing your liability coverage will raise the cost of your premium.

Stipulations to Coverage

Many insurers have stipulations to providing coverage to homeowners with pools. Homeowners must comply with local safety laws concerning pool ownership. Most cities require that the pool or home be enclosed by a fence to reduce the risk of accidental drowning. Some companies refuse to cover pools with slides or diving boards as these accessories increase the risk of accidents. Lack of pool maintenance and care can also result in your pool not being covered.

Learn more about adding pool coverage and protection to your homeowners insurance policy by contacting Southwest Insurance Center, Austin, TX, today. 

 

How Do I know If I Have Enough Homeowner’s Insurance Coverage?

If you are like most homeowners, your home is your biggest investment and largest asset. As a first-time home buyer, it can be difficult to understand your homeowner’s insurance coverage needs. How much coverage is enough? If you are under-insured you can be left dangerously exposed in the event of a fire, theft or personal injury. Here are some questions to ask that will help you determine how much coverage you need.

Do I Need Flood Insurance?

Flood insurance protects your home and property against damage caused by water. Does your house sit next to a storm drain channel or creek? Is it at the bottom of a hill or at the low point of a road?. This indicates that getting flood insurance is a good idea because homeowners insurance doesn’t offer protection for water-related events. If your home is located in a flood zone, your mortgage lender will typically require you to carry flood insurance.

Do I Have Enough Coverage For All My Personal Property?

When you get homeowners insurance for your Austin, TX home, it will not only provide financial reimbursement for any damage or loss to your home, it also protects the value of your personal property, including clothing, electronics, furnishings, and collectibles. More coverage may be needed for jewelry, art or antiques. If you are unsure of the value of your household belongings, an appraisal will help you determine how much insurance you will need.

Am I Covered For Liability?

If someone is hurt or suffers an injury while inside your home or yard, you may be liable for damages such as medical expenses and lost income, even if the injury didn’t involve purposeful negligence on your part. Make sure you are fully covered against liabilities to ensure you don’t have to worry about having people on your property.

How Do I Determine How Much Coverage I Need?

Every homeowner’s insurance policy is different and may have different events and incidents that are covered or not covered by that policy. To figure out how much coverage you require, and to learn what types of incidents you can insure, contact our office today. At Southwest Insurance Center, we’ll customize your homeowner’s insurance to your individual needs.

Top Homeowners Insurance Claims in Austin and Texas

Are you an Austin, TX homeowner with full homeowners insurance coverage? If you haven’t visited a firm like the Southwest Insurance Center and established your homeowners insurance policy, you may be placing your home and your finances at great risk. Without good homeowners insurance, many homeowners in Austin would be, so to speak, up a creek without a paddle.

The most common homeowners insurance claims in Austin, TX remain common at the national level as well. However, it’s important to see what affects the homes near you so you see why you need insurance. A home is an investment and one that can easily be taken away from you in a disaster if you’re not careful.

Nationwide, the most common type of homeowners insurance claim is wind damage on the outside of the house. Wind damage largely occurs during storms like tornadoes, but less violent storms can carry straight line winds and or winds at high enough speeds to rip off shingles. Other high-frequency claims include hail damage and theft.

In Austin, claims aren’t that much different from the rest of the country. Roof damage is the most common insurance claim for homes in Texas, often caused by high winds. Roof damage can also be caused by hail or water. Other common claims made by Texas homeowners include dog bites, water damage (like burst pipes), and fire damage. If you own a home in Austin or elsewhere in Texas, it’s important to ensure you have complete home insurance coverage by visiting a firm like Southwest Insurance Center. You never know when rainfall, which happens most often in the spring and fall in Austin, is going to add up to enough damage that you need some insurance coverage. 

Rules About Homeowner’s Insurance in Texas

No laws require Texas residents to invest in homeowner’s insurance. You may still need to seek out an indemnity plan as legislation allows for a bank or mortgage company to require assurance that protects their assets during repayment terms. With the ball being in their court, some financial institutions may take full advantage by asking for more coverage than necessary. Here, then are four elements of law concerning homeowner’s insurance that applies to Austin, TX, residents and others living in the Lone Star state. 

Banks cannot force you to cover the loan’s amount.

While it would be ideal to obtain insurance that pays off the mortgage in addition to funding damages, it is not necessary to have such excess. A mortgage company can only ask that you have indemnity that pays for property damage and personal possessions when tragedy strikes. 

Lenders may not factor in the home’s fair market value when determining the home’s replacement cost.

Some financial institutions use such tactic to raise the overall coverage requirement so that you end up paying through the nose for premiums. You as the consumer have the right to research quotes before agreeing to pay them, which may include getting a second opinion. Homes in Austin, TX, are relatively economical. You should, therefore, not find yourself paying tens of thousands in premiums for insurance coverage. 

"Special flood areas" may require additional coverage

Your lender has the legal right to require flood insurance if you reside in an area that has one percent higher chance of flooding. Individuals living near the Gulf Coast and in Zones V, VE, or V1-V30 are usually mandated to solicit to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Those residing in areas prone to hurricanes may also be required to enlist in NFIP before acquiring additional insurance from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA). 

Insurance is available for all

Austin, TX, residents who do not qualify for traditional indemnity can take heart in the Texas FAIR measure. Under the Fair Access to Insurance Requirements Plans, individuals living in high-risk areas can still qualify for primary insurance even if they were previously denied. Such measure is good news for those Texans living in older homes that may not come up to par with standard requirements.