Insurance policies are full of language and terms that may not be clear right off the bat. Many terms are specific to the industry and to the specific type of insurance that is being purchased. Having a local insurance agent for all of your insurance coverage allows you to chat about all the details with your agent so you completely understand your policy. If you haven’t done this, there are many potential claims where it’s easy to assume you have full coverage.

EXAMPLE: Your $4,000 couch was ruined in a home fire. After filing a claim, you might assume you will be fully reimbursed for your couch since you have a homeowner’s insurance policy. However, it depends what type of coverage you have.

There are two such terms on a homeowner’s insurance policy: Replacement Cost and Actual Cash Value. These terms can be a bit confusing to decipher between.

  • Replacement cost is very simple: Your insurance company literally reimburses you for the covered personal property lost based on replacement cost at the time of loss with no depreciation. Replacement cost policies tend to be a bit more expensive since you are essential getting a brand new item for one that may have otherwise depreciated. Replacement costs are agreed upon by all parties before the insurance policy is finalized. If you have high-ticket items (jewelry, art, RV, boat, luxury vehicle or classic car) this may be the best type of coverage if you can afford it.
  • Actual cash value is the cost to replace the item minus any depreciation. For your damaged couch, if you had an actual cash value policy, your insurance would pay out the cost of the couch minus any depreciation. Therefore, your couch is worth less than what you paid. An actual cash value policy can put you in a tight spot if your items cost more to replace or repair than your policy pays out.

No matter which policy type you choose, the local experts at George A. Bell & Son can answer any questions and walk you through the different types of scenarios to see which policy type is right for your situation. Our local insurance agency can guide you through your homeowner’s insurance policy and more, like auto insurance. Our years of insurance experience can save you a bundle, and we live right in your area, so we know firsthand what your insurance needs might be.

Jewelry is valuable not only because of its beauty, but the special meaning behind it. Does it represent 30 years of marriage? Was it passed down from a great grandmother? Was it given to you to celebrate a special moment? Between its sentimental value, as well as financial value, our local insurance agency wants you to be fully protected.

Anything can happen to your jewelry, whether it’s stolen, damaged or accidentally slips off your finger while swimming in the ocean. While memories of the jewelry itself cannot be replaced, a good insurance policy can provide financial protection to an unfortunate situation.

If you own jewelry that’s valued over $1,000, consider getting an insurance policy endorsement to insure its value.

Like other valuables coverage, insurance for your jewelry can simply be added to your home or renters insurance policy on something called a “floater.” It’s a simple insurance policy extension. A good policy will cover everything from theft and damage. The cost of coverage varies, typically $1 – $2 per $100 in value for a yearly policy. So, for a $5,000 ring, you’d expect to pay $50-$100. By calling George A. Bell & Son, we will ensure we find the best coverage for your jewelry. We can also help answer any questions regarding ‘what if’ situations.

Here are some questions to discuss with our agents so you fully understand your insurance coverage.

  • If your jewelry is stolen, will you be reimbursed the full amount you paid? What happens if it was accidentally lost?
  • If your jewelry has appreciated over the course of owning it, will your insurance company honor its new value or what you paid for it?
  • What happens if you simply lost a small piece of your jewelry? Would you insurance cover the cost of replacing the stone?
  • Don’t forget to ask for discounts! If you plan to safely store your jewelry when you are not wearing it, you could qualify for a discount from some insurance companies.

While we hope you never have to experience an insurance claim for your jewelry, it’s always important to be prepared.

Items you need in case your jewelry is lost or stolen:

  • Original Receipt
  • An appraisal – if you don’t have the original receipt, at least have an appraisal.
  • GIA Certificate or similar reputable certificate
  • Take photos of all of your jewelry and store them on the cloud or a zip drive that’s stored in your safe.

Keep these items in a safety deposit box or safe in your home. If you’d like to know more about insuring your jewelry, contact an agent at our office. We’ll give you the best options for insuring your jewelry as well as answer any other questions you may have.

While buying a home tends to appreciate in value overtime, buying a vehicle is the opposite. Especially if you are buying a brand new vehicle, the moment you drive off the car dealership’s lot, your vehicle has already depreciated in value. For many vehicles, the more expensive the purchase, the faster the depreciation. New vehicles offer more safety features and conveniences, so we understand why people like them.

If you are financing or leasing a vehicle, you may benefit from Gap Insurance.

Imagine this scenario: While out enjoying your new car, you hydroplane and hit a guardrail damaging your new vehicle beyond repair. The insurance company is telling you that your new car is a total loss. If your car is totaled, that means it will cost more to repair it than the car is actually worth because of depreciation.

Gap insurance acts as additional car insurance coverage that will pay off your loan if your car is totaled or you owe more than your car’s new depreciated value. This coverage is usually limited to 25% of your vehicles actual cash value at the time of loss. Check with an agent about specifics for your company. 

What does your car insurance cover if you’re in an accident?

When you lease or finance a car, many lenders require you to have collision and comprehensive insurance coverage on your vehicle until you have paid off your car. If your vehicle was totaled, your insurance company will only pay what it is worth, not what you owe. This is what creates a gap between your current loan balance and what your car is actually valued at today.

Is gap insurance for you?

It depends how much you owe on your vehicle & if you could afford to pay the difference if your car was totaled. Let’s say you bought your car for $20,000. Over the course of your ownership, it’s now valued at $13,000. You currently owe $17,000 on your loan but were recently in an accident where your vehicle was totaled. Could you pay for the $4,000 difference out of pocket? Keep in mind, if you bought a luxury car, they can lose as much as 60% of its value over the course of five years. You may have an even bigger gap between your loan balance and current value of your vehicle.

Options for gap insurance: There are two options for purchasing gap insurance.

  • It can be purchased from the dealership or through an insurance agent. If you choose to purchase gap insurance through the dealership you purchase your vehicle from, the gap insurance will be built into your loan. The average price for gap insurance from a dealership is around $1,000, but add interest and taxes and it can add up to much more.
  • If you choose to purchase gap insurance from an insurance agent, on average it would add less than $10 per month to a policy! There may be certain stipulations associated with a gap insurance policy:
  • The loan may need to be through a financial institution rather than an individual.
  • Your current auto insurance policy may need to include Collision and Comprehensive coverage.
  • Your claim may need to be a covered Collision and Comprehensive coverage event.
  • Your vehicle may need to be determined as a total loss.

Before you purchase a new vehicle, make sure to check with your licensed insurance agent in to see how you can add gap insurance to your new vehicle policy.

The local, independent agents at George A. Bell & Son can assist you with adding or amending an existing policy or setting you up with a new policy. Our years of insurance experience can save you a bundle. You can also visit our insurance website 24/7 to learn more about auto insurance or the other insurance products they offer like motorcycle or home insurance.

The start of a New Year always energizes us to start off on the right foot. Whether it’s committing to spend more time with family, exercising more or saving money, New Year’s resolutions are common for everyone. But, what about your insurance policy? Is there something you can do at the start of every year to save money or keep yourself fully protected? We share four items to complete.

Actually Complete a Home Inventory Checklist

Sure, this is always easier said than done. But it doesn’t take as long as you may think. Plus, you would regret NOT doing this if you experience a disaster in your home. You can start by taking pictures of each room in your house. Always include your big ticket items like jewelry, art, electronics, antiques, furniture and anything else you highly value. Get into the habit of taking a picture of your receipts for big ticket items too. To keep your home inventory list safe, store it on the cloud or save your documents on a zip drive that’s stored safely.

Keep In Touch With Us

Always keep us up-to-date with your life changes. Are you driving less? Did you remodel your home to add value? Did you purchase big ticket items? By keeping us in the loop, we’ll keep your insurance policy updated, make sure you are fully covered and may be able to find additional discounts.

Ask Us Questions

When you use a local insurance agent instead of purchasing insurance online, you get guidance and professional advice. Do you know exactly what your insurance covers? If you want the cheapest insurance plan, you may not realize what risks you’re taking by opting for less coverage. We never want you to be surprised if you have to file a claim and find out you’re not covered. Did you know if your home experiences a flood or an earthquake, you would need a separate policy to be covered? Continuously ask us questions. You should always know what you are and aren’t covered for with your insurance policy.

Always Ask Before Shopping Around

Did your auto insurance increase $300 this year? It’s normal to think you need to shop your insurance elsewhere. However, being a local insurance agent, we have MANY insurance companies to quote from and it may be as simple as asking us to shop around for similar coverage with other companies. Let us do the shopping for you! As an independent insurance agent, we can review your coverage and ensure you have the best company for your current situation.

By following the four topics above can keep you informed and prepared for any unfortunate situation.

For answers to everything insurance, trust the insurance agents at George A. Bell & Son. George A. Bell & Son, Inc. is a full service property and casualty, independent insurance agency serving New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and various other states. Founded in 1880 as Bell Brothers Fire Insurance, we continue to be a family owned agency, with the fifth and sixth generations currently continuing the legacy of what those brothers started. We value ourselves on quality insurance, top notch customer service, and a focus on making sure our clients get the best value for their money.

The unfortunate reality of home or condo ownership is that over time you will most likely develop a leak that could cause major damage if it goes unchecked. If you own a home or condo, regularly check these places for leaks that can cause damage and may go unnoticed.

The Water Heater

Your water heater has a lifespan of approximately 10-12 years. Some go much longer, but that’s just betting that luck is on your side. When water heaters do fail, they unfortunately leak water out the base and all over. By nature, a water heater will continue refilling itself as it drains, so you could have quite a mess on your hands.

Toilet & Sink Lines

If you haven’t already installed braided stainless water lines, do it now! This is the simplest way to protect your home from water damage. The vinyl variety have a tendency to develop bulges, are easily damaged by getting bumped around or can develop cracks as the plastic ages. It also is not a bad idea to regularly inspect all lines in the house for drips.

Washing Machine Supply Lines

A washing machine supply line is typically accessible to view behind your washing machine. These lines are larger than most other supply lines in your home because they provide more water so it is especially important to monitor these and install braided stainless supply lines.

Refrigerator Ice Maker Line

This hidden water supply line can be a big problem! Because it is hidden behind your massive refrigerator, leaking supply lines can go unnoticed for months and be dripping onto your floor and into your crawl space. With the help of a friend or family member, make it a practice to pull out your refrigerator and inspect the lines at least once a year. While you have it out, you can clean your vents at the base of the refrigerator improving the efficiency of the unit.

P-Trap connections

P-traps are the connections for drains under your sinks. As many of us store items alongside these drains, they get bumped quite a bit! If a connection becomes loose or damaged, it can cause a slow leak under the sink. Check for leaks under your sinks regularly to avoid a costly water damage claim or ruining your cabinets.

Utilize Water Alarms to Help Monitor for Leaks

One quick way to continually monitor your home for leaks is to install an inexpensive water sensor. You can find a five pack of them for about $40. Water Sensors are inexpensive and can help you monitor the hard to reach areas like water heaters and refrigerator water supply lines. These sensors act similarly to a smoke detector and sound a loud alarm when the sensors come in contact with water.

Prevention is the best way to avoid a water damage claim in your home.

For answers to everything insurance, trust the insurance agents at George A. Bell & Son. George A. Bell & Son, Inc. is a full service property and casualty, independent insurance agency serving New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and various other states. Founded in 1880 as Bell Brothers Fire Insurance, we continue to be a family owned agency, with the fifth and sixth generations currently continuing the legacy of what those brothers started. We value ourselves on quality insurance, top notch customer service, and a focus on making sure our clients get the best value for their money.