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.

The holiday season is a joyous time, but unfortunately, it is also top season for theft. If you walk around your neighborhood, it isn’t hard to see all the holiday deliveries left on porches of unsuspecting homeowners. Protecting yourself from theft is all about prevention. To avoid being a victim of holiday theft:

  • Have your deliveries sent to your work (if allowed)
  • Request valuable shipments be held by the shipper for in-person pickup. Most major shipping companies even have apps now that can help streamline this process.
  • See if your shipping company has additional options. Amazon recently introduced “lockers” where they will place your shipment in a locker with a special code just for you.
  • Does a retired relative live nearby? Have packages delivered to them. It is always a great opportunity to see family anyway.
  • Sign up for delivery notifications. Many companies send this to you by email, but many carriers have text message notifications.
  • Install a home surveillance system that focuses on the area where your packages are delivered. A pricier alternative if you can’t always be there to monitor your home.
  • Discuss with your neighbors to keep an eye out for unfamiliar vehicles.

Enjoying the holiday season is easy, but preventing theft isn’t always. We hope your holiday season is free of criminal activity.

If you have questions about your home or condo 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.

According to the National Bike Registry, 1.5 million bicycles are stolen each year. With college campuses being the biggest source of bicycle theft, it would be great if there was a way to protect your investment that was quick and easy. The good news is that more than 48% of bicycles that are stolen are recovered, but of those, only 5% are able to be identified and returned to their owners.

The National Bike Registry and 529 Garage have partnered to create a database to track and store bicycle VIN numbers. Not only can you register your bike, but you can search their database for recovered bicycles in an effort to get yours back.

Bicycle theft is a rampant problem in the US and unless you want to submit a homeowner claim (please talk to your licensed insurance agent prior) you likely won’t see you bicycle again or be able to recover your losses. Bicycles are likely covered under your home, renters or condo insurance policy with your insurance carrier.

Register your bicycle today and rest assured that your bicycle is better protected and more likely to be returned in the event of being stolen.

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.

It seems like everywhere we go we have a chance to hear the sound of a UAV, also known as a drone, commonly sounding like a disturbed hornets’ nest. Drones are fun to fly for both kids and adults. They are seemingly harmless besides the risk of it becoming non-responsive due to other remote signals, the battery dying and falling out of the sky, or the control operator simply being inexperienced and crashing the drone into a parked vehicle. Many, if not most, drone operators have experienced a drone crash or close call while learning how to pilot the fun UAV. While our first concern is typically, “is my drone okay?” we should be asking ourselves the question of “What happens if I crash this into someone’s house or vehicle?”

The good news is that if you’re using your drone purely for recreational purposes and your drone is a hobby-grade drone, your home, condo or renters insurance policy likely covers you for liability from most drone usage. Now, if you’re using your drone for commercial purposes, you will absolutely need a separate insurance policy to cover you for liability for your drone. Additionally, commercial drone operators now need to pass a certification process to operate and be a commercial drone pilot.

If you’re using your drone for commercial purposes, ask your agent about a commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policy that includes drone usage.

If you’re a recreational drone pilot, talk to your local insurance agent to verify coverage before you have a claim. The best way to avoid a claim is simply prevention. Follow these tips to avoid a drone insurance claim:

  • Always fly your drone in an open space away from trees, power lines and other obstructions.
  • Be sure to follow FAA requirements and register your drone for flying.
  • Do not take your drone to restricted areas such as national parks
  • Do not harass wildlife or attempt to view wildlife up-close with your drone
  • Read your manual to ensure you’re familiar with the sounds and features that your drone has.

We want you to have fun with your drone, but also be sure you’re protected in the event you have a claim involving your drone usage. Call an agent in our office to discuss your plans before you experience a claim.

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.

Protecting and cleaning the interior of your car will improve resale as well as improve your overall enjoyment of your vehicle. With these easy to follow steps, you’ll have the interior of your vehicle in tip-top shape.

Vacuum

Remove your floor mats and using a high powered ShopVac type vacuum, clean your carpet with a vigorous back and forth motion to loosen dirt or small rocks that have become lodged in your carpet. Move your seats forward and backwards to get underneath the seats as well. You’ll be surprised what treasures might be found.

Clean the Carpet

Do you own a carpet cleaner? If not, they you can rent one at most home improvement stores. Using a carpet cleaning solution, wet your interior and vacuum up dirt that is stuck in your carpets interior. If you have kids, perhaps you’ll even be able to get out those cheesy snack stains! If you live in a wet environment, consider some all-weather floor mats to protect your carpet from moisture and mold growth.

Wipe Down & Protect Your Seats

If you have cloth interior, use your carpet cleaner on them. It works great. If you have leather or vinyl interior, use a specialized leather conditioner. Be sure to rotate your clean cloth multiple times to ensure you remove the grime instead of rub it further into your leather.

Clean Your Dash

Your vehicle’s dashboard is subject to more abuse than you think. During the summer, it bakes in the sun and dirt and dust that accumulates on the surface dries it out. Use a product like Armor All to protect and clean your dashboards surface as well as other surfaces of your vehicle. Be careful to avoid using it on a steering wheel as it can make it slick!

Clean your Windows

Your windshield will develop a thin film on it from condensation causing a glare during night time driving. It is important to keep your windshield clean and clear. Using a glass cleaner like Windex, clean and wipe down the windshield. If you haven’t done this in a while, you might need to do it a couple of times!

Change your Cabin Filer

If your vehicle has over 30,000 miles on it, consider pulling out your cabin filter and replacing it. Your cabin filter’s job is to clean the air of allergens, dust and dirt that enters your vehicle through the heating and air conditioning. Many cabin filters are located behind your glovebox and are easily changed yourself.

Keeping your vehicles interior clean and protected will improve your overall enjoyment of your vehicle as well as improve your resale value.

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.

According to FEMA, flood claims occurred in every state in our country in 2016 with the average claim cost in excess of $31,000. Just because your property doesn’t sit next to a stream, river or other body of water doesn’t mean you won’t be impacted. Our recent hurricanes are a great example. Heavy rains can overwhelm drainage systems, run-off from hillsides can seep into your basements and levees can fail. Pretty much anywhere rain falls is where flooding can occur, although, rain is not always the reason. Additionally, it is important to note that flood insurance is NOT included with your standard homeowners insurance policy.

If you do experience a flood claim and have flood insurance, keep these things in mind:

  • Report your claim as soon as possible and have open and frequent communication with your insurance adjuster.
  • Photograph your damages (great if you have before pictures also saved to the cloud, not on a computer hard drive). Your insurance company will likely come out and photograph the damages as well.
  • Keep a list of all of the items you lost in the flood. Receipts are great as well as lists.
  • Take a read through your policy to ensure you understand your rights and coverage.

If you’re considering purchasing flood insurance, we can help. Flood insurance isn’t necessarily expensive. If you happen to live in a flood plain or near a body of water, chances are you’re likely going to pay a hefty sum. If you live away from typical flood areas, your premiums can be much more reasonable. Considering the average cost of a flood claim, it isn’t a bad idea to assess your risk.

If flood insurance is on your mind lately, give us a call.

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.