How to Protect Your Home Office

Today’s home offices far surpass their predecessors. No longer simply furnished with desks, file cabinets and sticky notes, modern home offices often serve as extensions of a jobsite workspace, complete with expensive computers, monitors, scanners and printers.Have an office in your home? Protect it. Whether you work full time at your house or occasionally bring work home, you need the proper insurance. Just because you work at your house doesn’t mean your home insurance policy covers your equipment or machinery. In fact, it probably doesn’t.Here are a few options for home office protection.

Your homeowners insurance policy

You rely on your homeowners insurance to safeguard the structure of your house and its contents, why not use the same policy to cover your home business equipment? Actually, a standard home insurance policy — if it protects business equipment at all — typically limits the replacement value of business equipment to at most $2,500. For many, that’s not enough for a laptop and printer, much less a desktop computer, scanner and whatever else you may need to get the job done.

If your home office represents an extension of your regular office space, you can cover it with homeowners insurance, but understand that your policy has strict limits for high-value items such as electronic equipment. If you work from home full time, it’s another story. You may have to purchase an endorsement to raise coverage limits. Let your agent know about your home office and get professional advice on how to proceed.

Home policy endorsement

If you run a business from your home, even if you simply sell candles or print stationary, tell your insurance provider. Filing a home insurance claim for a business item could put you in hot water with your carrier and your claim could be denied.

Conversely, purchasing a home policy endorsement could strengthen your relationship with your provider and raise your limits for business equipment or inventory.  Typically an endorsement will increase limits from about $2,500 to $5,000, but it can boost your limit to $10,000.

Homeowners liability endorsement

Though a policy endorsement raises limits for property and equipment, it doesn’t help with liability. A liability endorsement can raise your legal protection for slip-and-fall accidents that may arise from reception of business deliveries or clients on your property.

This additional liability coverage only is available for businesses with few on-site customers. If your business relies on regular clients coming to your house (if you’re a hair stylist, for example) your carrier most likely will deny coverage.

In-home business or business owners policy

An in-home business policy provides more extensive protection for property and liability. It also typically includes coverage for lost documents and important records, lost income should your house become damaged, and liability for certain products and services. This policy is only available if you have fewer than three full-time employees, and its limits typically are $10,000. If you need more protection, check out a business owners policy, or BOP.

No matter what kind of work you do, the space in which you complete it probably matters to you. As needs for business equipment and machinery evolve, choosing the proper way to safeguard your workspace can get tricky. Nonetheless, fully covering it can keep your job happy, healthy and productive. Who wouldn’t want that? Blankit is here to help, just a click away.

Think You’re Covered? 6 Problems Your Home Insurance May Not Pay

Standard home insurance doesn’t handle these situations, so be sure to upgrade your policy.

If you’re like many homeowners, you bought your home insurance policy, got standard coverage and haven’t given it another thought. Unfortunately, that type of thinking could lead to gaps in your coverage.

standard homeowners policy offers coverage for a wide variety of perils — theft, vandalism, fire, wind, lightning and ice, among others — but not for everything. Here are six situations where you need to bolster your policy to get help.

Mold

Mold in your home is bad news. It can cause major health problems for you and your family, and can even make your house uninhabitable. Insurance providers handle mold in a variety of ways. Some limit coverage for damage caused by mold, while others don’t cover mold at all.

Every state except Arkansas, New York, North Carolina and Virginia has adopted an ISO mold limitation for homeowners insurance coverage, which allows insurers to exclude coverage unless the condition results from a covered peril. For example, if the water from a burst pipe in your home causes mold, your insurer might cover it.

The solution: If you find out that you aren’t sufficiently covered for mold, you can purchase a separate rider to cover mold in your home.

Pests

From mice and rats to termites and bed bugs, standard home insurance policies do not cover damage from pests. That means if a rat chews through your electrical wiring or termites destroy the wood support for your roof, you’re on your own.

The best way to tackle this issue is through prevention. Keep an eye out for signs of pests around your property. If you see something suspicious, call an exterminator before the problem gets out of control.

The solution: Schedule annual termite inspections. By the time you see damage, it could be too late.

Sewage back-up

Backed-up sewers can wreak havoc on a home, causing thousands of dollars in damage. Most agents will ask you about this coverage when you’re buying a home insurance policy, but many consumers ignore the topic.

The solution: Add this coverage to your policy — it generally only tacks $40-$50 onto your premium, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).

Floods

That’s right, standard home insurance policies do not provide coverage for flood damage. For flood coverage, homeowners must purchase a flood insurance policy through a private insurance carrier for through the National Flood Insurance Program.

While many mortgage lenders require flood coverage as a loan condition, homeowners in moderate- to low-risk flood zones may have the option to forgo it altogether.

Before you decide to take a chance, you should know that 25% of all NFIP claims come from people outside of mapped high-risk flood areas.

The solution: Purchase a flood insurance policy; they start at as little as $129 a year in low-risk areas.

Earthquakes

When the earth shakes, don’t expect your home insurance provider to pick up the tab on damage to your home. Earth movement or earthquakes are not covered by standard home insurance. Homeowners who live in shaky parts of the country should see if their insurer offers a rider on their current homeowners policy, or search for a separate policy all together.

The solution: Add earthquake insurance — the cost varies widely according to the risk in your region.

Sinkholes

Common in states like Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, sinkholes can cause cracks in walls, floors and even in your home’s foundation. However, sinkholes are not covered by standard home insurance. Sinkholes are defined as earth movement and, therefore, would fall under earthquake coverage.

The solution: Add earthquake coverage. In some states, insurers offer specific coverage for sinkholes, but you should talk to your insurer to see if it’s an option.

If you aren’t sure what’s covered by your specific home insurance policy, call your provider and review your coverage with a licensed agent. An agent can not only help you better understand your policy, but also assist you in adding coverage if necessary.

How dangerous is my water heater to my house and family?

What’s the Life Expectancy of a Water Heater?

Florida seems like its always hot out, but we cant live without our hot water. Second only to air conditioning, water heating is the second highest user of electricity in a Florida home.  Accounting for as much as 18% of utility bills. And while it may seem as though your water heater can withstand the test of time, it’s not made to last forever.

It’s not a matter of if, but when your water heater will eventually stop working and worse, LEAK! Make sure your Insurance has your back.

The Problem with Aging Water Heaters
Blankit HeaterWater heaters typically contain a sacrificial anode rod, which is a magnesium rod several feet long  that’s screwed to the top of the unit to prevent rusting. Over time, these rods get smaller and smaller, without this protection the tank will rust from the inside out. The outer shell you see on the outside is merely a cover for insulation around the true steal pressure tank on the inside. Even a ‘glass lined’ tank will begin to rust, an example of this is your bathtub, how many times have you seen rust around the ‘glass’ porcelain on a tub? Never trust the outer tank and never underestimate the age of the water heater by its outside appearance.

According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, water heater failure is one of the top five sources of residential water damage, costing an average of $4,444 per incident after the deductible was paid. Remember that water damage can quickly lead to mold and health problems. No flood is ever easy to deal with.

As a result, most home insurance companies require a four-point inspection for older homes – and if the water heater is over 25 years old, they will request that it be replaced for the owner to obtain or renew coverage. The cost of a new heater is a fraction of the damage an old one can cause. A new heater will also have better insulation and can produce more heat.

How Long Do Water Heaters Last?
Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to this question. In addition to factors like water quality and general maintenance, water heater life expectancy depends a lot on the type of unit you have. Don’t risk it, change it. Most water heaters will leak before the elements stop heating.

Conventional Storage Water Heater
Conventional storage water heaters are the most popular type of water heating system for the home. They operate by releasing hot water from the top of the tank when you turn on the hot water tap. Meanwhile, cold water is replaced through the bottom of the tank, to eventually heat up. The true storage tank will be on the inside and needs to drained every six months to prevent sediment build up and reduced capacity.

Water Heater Life Expectancy: 10-15 years ESTIMATED- Usual Manufactures Warranty 6-10 Years

Tankless Water Heater
Tankless water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank, and provide hot water on an as-needed basis. When you turn on the hot water tap, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit, where it is then heated and released. Tankless Units are a great option if your electrical panel can handle the increases electrical load of an tankless unit. Usually this requires at least a 60 amp dedicated breaker. Please consult a licensed electrician and plumber before installing a tankless unit.

Water Heater Life Expectancy: 15-20 years ESTIMATED Usual Manufactures Warranty 10 Years on Water Carrying Components, 1 Year Electrical.

Heat Pump Water Heater
Working like a refrigerator in reverse, a heat pump water heater uses electricity to transfer heat instead of generating heat directly, making it more energy efficient than a conventional water heater.

Water Heater Life Expectancy: 10-15 years ESTIMATED- Usual Manufactures Warranty 6-10 Years

Solar Water Heater
Solar water heaters use the sun’s heat to provide hot water in a home. They are a cost-effective way to generate hot water since the fuel they use – sunshine – is free.

Water Heater Life Expectancy: ~ 20 years ESTIMATED- Usual Manufactures Warranty 10 Years

Tankless Coil and Indirect Water Heater
Tankless coil and indirect water heaters use a home’s space heating system to heat water. A tankless coil water heater provides hot water on demand without a tank, while an indirect water heater requires a storage tank.

Water Heater Life Expectancy: 10-11 years

Is It Time to Replace Your Water Heater?
Here are six ways to detect if you need to replace your water heater:

The water is a rusty or non-clear color
The water isn’t getting hot enough, or isn’t getting hot at all
The water has a strange odor or metallic taste
You hear loud popping noises while the water heater is operating
There are leaks surrounding the water heater, which could indicate a serious problem
The water heater is more than 10 years old or nearing the end of its life expectancy
If you need to replace your water heater, we recommend hiring a professional to install it. This will ensure that the equipment is installed properly and to code.

Preventing Water Heater Failures
While there are steps you can take to improve the overall health of your water heater, like draining it twice a year and testing the pressure-relief valve, the best way to prevent a water heater failure and subsequent water damage is to replace it when it has neared its life expectancy or if it has continuous issues. Know where your water heater is. Your water heater may be in your garage, in a closet, under your ac unit in a closet, under your kitchen counter, or in a laundry room. Find where yours is today and check the manufacturing date. Remember, the outside tank will show no signs of the inner tanks true condition.

Blankit has created a homeowners guide to help answer all of your most pressing questions about your homes mechanical systems. Sleep safe and sound knowing your protected with Blankit!

 

My teen is about to get his License, what do I do?

How much will my new teen driver cost me?

Your teen is about to start driving and they will be on your policy. How much more is your policy going to cost? Well an insurance study found that adding a teenager increased annual premiums substantially. However the magnitude of the increase has been falling over the past few years.

myblankit

Blankit is here for you

Adding a single teenager to a policy caused annual premiums to increase an average of 78 percent, or $671. But the impact of adding teenagers to a policy can be a shock to families, especially those adding boys. Putting a male teenager on your insurance policy increased rates an average of 89 percent. Compare that  with 66 percent for a female teenager.

Younger drivers have more accidents than older, more experienced drivers, and file more insurance claims. Nearly 1,900 drivers aged 15 to 20 died in car crashes in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, up 9 percent from 2014. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As with most insurance costs, the impact of adding a teenager varies by state. Blankit is here to explain how your teen can impact your insurance premium.  Blankit will also review the coverage you have now will be sufficient for your family and your new teen driver. Contact Blankit today with any of your questions about any of your polices. Make sure your protected with Blankit.

 

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Ultimate Physicians Disability Insurance Guide

Introduction to Disability Insurance for Physicians

As a physician or dentist, it is critical that you insure the possibility of becoming disabled with the right insurance policy. According to the AMA’s Annual Physician Financial Preparedness Survey, approximately 70% of physicians purchase an individual disability insurance plan. However the products available and process to do so can be complex and full of misinformation. For that reason, Blankit has put together the ultimate guide to Disability Income Insurance for Physicians and Dentists. Throughout this guide, we will provide tips and advice for selecting the best disability insurance policy based on your unique needs in your specialty. Blankit will provide recommendations on ways to save money when buying and choosing the right amount of coverage for you and your family.

When is the best time to purchase disability insurance for physicians?

NOW.  Insurance companies evaluate and price premiums based on multiple factors including your age and overall health. The older you are, the more risk the insurance company takes on to cover you in the event you become disabled, therefore the more they may have to pay in monthly benefits. All else equal, the premiums you pay over the life of the policy will be less expensive if you purchase a policy at 30 than they will at age 35, 40, 45 etc. Blankit is here is answer all of your questions, but as each day goes by, your policy premium goes up.

How much coverage do I need?

For doctors in residency or fellowship, benefits are typically capped between $5,000 and $6,500 regardless of your specialty and current annual income during training. When you complete your residency or fellowship, your monthly benefit from your disability insurance policy can be increased based on your new earnings. Doctors should determine their monthly living expenses and amount of income needed to be replaced in the event he or she becomes disabled, and is unable to perform the duties of his or her medical specialty. Generally, up to 60% of your annual income can be replaced.  Use this quick tool here to help determine your shortfall.

What happens if I become disabled?

Hopefully this never happens, but in the event the insurance company determines you qualify for disability income, they will pay the agreed upon monthly benefit based on your Disability Income policy. However, this process can be daunting if you are unaware of what to expect. The insurance company will request documentation from your physician and will need to consider the language of your  individual policy. For instance, there is a big difference between “temporary” and “permanent”, “total” and “partial”, and “qualified occupation” and “any occupation”.  Luckily, if you own an individual disability income policy, the monthly benefit you receive will be tax free. It is important for everyone, not just physicians, to consider purchasing a disability income policy if you haven’t already.  Contact a Blankit insurance specialist to determine the right policy for you.

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Buying my Health Insurance through the Marketplace?

We all know the Affordable Care Act requires most Americans to enroll in a health insurance plan or face steep penalties.

Many Americans buy their plans through the government-run online health care exchanges, but health insurance exchanges aren’t the only game in town. You are free to buy health insurance outside your state’s exchange. People who qualify for subsidies may be enticed into buying from the exchanges — if your plan isn’t from the exchange, you won’t get your tax credits as subsidy. But, for everyone else, the free market awaits with a multitude of options.

Greater choice off exchange with myblankit

The primary  reason for buying off-exchange is greater choice. Every health plan on an exchange in your state must be offered off the exchange at the exact same price. However, the opposite is not true. Health insurance companies can and do offer lots of health plans that are not on the marketplace. By law, all plans must offer 10 essential benefits no matter inside or outside the exchange. But if you’re looking for a specific set of benefits beyond that, shopping off-exchange could give you a wide range of choices and opportunity to better tailor a policy to your needs.

Who’s in the network

Another reason to shop for your health insurance off-exchange is the network of health care providers included in the plan.

In some cases, health insurance companies are controlling their costs by limiting the provider networks for exchange plans. Your preferred doctor or hospital may not be included in the plan that looks best to you on the exchange.

Some health plans such as EPOs and HMOs won’t provide coverage if you go outside of their networks for care; others provide only limited coverage, certainly less than you would get if you go to providers in network.

Buying off-exchange can give you access to larger provider networks.

Cost of Deductibles

Off-exchange plans also may give you a greater choice when it comes to deductibles, the amount you pay out of pocket before your plan begins to pay. Off exchange plans offer greater flexibility to the cost of your deductibles.

Some plans simply aren’t available

The exchanges don’t offer every category of health insurance that you can buy elsewhere. For example, you cannot buy short-term medical insurance or long-term care insurance from an exchange. These more complex coverage’s must be procured through an agent like Blankit.

Also, some health insurance companies such as Aetna and UnitedHealthcare have opted not to participate in exchanges in some marketplaces. If you prefer these companies, you will have to buy plans from them outside the exchange though Blankit.

How to buy outside the exchange

One easy step. Just contact Blankit Today!

Got a Ticket? What should I do about my insurance now?

Why me?

I think we can all agree no one in history has gotten a ticket without leaving a bitter taste in one mouth. Followed by a worry about your insurance costs.

Market research studies have found that car insurance premiums can climb by as much as 96% after a single moving violation on average nationwide. While this sounds scary, it is vitally important to talk to your experienced agent about how your unique violation may impact your policy premium.

We here at Blankit pride ourselves on being your personal independent agent with all the knowledge and all the insurance options you will ever need. We are here to educate you and afford you with all your options possible on your policy and the effects a ticket may have.

tickets-advice

Don’t be worried, Blankit is here

How Much is this going to cost? myblankit can help.

The economic impact on one’s insurance premium varies significantly among different types of violations and among different states. It is important to trust an agent with the experience in the state in which you live. You can rest assured that Blankit is well versed in all of your insurance questions and needs throughout Florida. We can also help in other states.

What You Can Do to Help Reduce Premiums?

  • Focus on safe driving. Above all, drive carefully! According to the Insurance Information Institute, the better your driving record is, the lower your premium may be.
    • Even if you’ve had one speeding ticket, avoiding more may help to keep your car insurance costs lower.
  • Consider changing your coverage. If your car insurance premiums have increased, you may be able to reduce those costs by changing your coverage.
    • Whether this option is right for you will depend on your personal insurance needs. Blankit can provide more information to help you make a decision about your insurance coverage.
  • Take a safe driving course. In some states, you may also be able to reduce your premium by taking a defensive driving or accident prevention class.
    • For example, an approved Defensive Driving Course earns Florida drivers an auto insurance discount, whether it is a Basic Driver Improvement Course (for drivers not yet 55 years-old) or a Mature Driver Program (for drivers 55 and above).
      • You will be entitled to a certain amount of premium reduction under Defensive Driver Discount – or equivalent discount of different name depending on your insurer – as it is your legal right to receive one. Alternatively, you can also take the class to reduce the number of traffic points on your record.

We here at Blankit believe with education comes less fear. If you know how your policy will be impacted with different occurrences, you should be able to sleep well at night knowing Blankit has you protected. Contact us today even if your policy isn’t with us for more information. Blankit is here for you, drive safe and don’t text and drive.

 

How much does your windstorm deductible actually cost you?

The Atlantic hurricane season is here, so now is a good time for homeowners along the coast and inland to check their insurance coverage. The annual hurricane season runs for about six months, from June through November.

“A good place to start is your deductible,” said Chris Orletski, President of Blankit Insurance Group, an agency that works on behalf of consumers with insurance. “It’s really helpful to know what the dollar amount is and the true out-of-pocket expense.”

Most homeowner insurance policies for coastal properties now have separate deductibles for damage caused by hurricanes, and the amounts are generally based on a percentage of the home’s insured value, rather than a flat dollar amount. Details of a policy’s hurricane deductible will typically be explained on the policy’s “declarations” page.

It’s always a good idea to check with your insurance agent if you do not fully understand what your policy requires, so you can plan for out-of-pocket costs in the event of a storm.

 

Is it a good idea to increase my deductible percentage to save on premium? 

While a deductible of 2 percent may not sound significant, if the home’s insured value is $350,000, that means the deductible is $7,000; with a 5 percent deductible, it’s $17,500. The math is simple, but the cost may be high.

For that reason, consumers should be cautious about increasing hurricane deductibles to lower their insurance premiums.  A percentage deductible for some, could cause a serious financial shortfall if you weren’t expecting a large bill. Some insurers include the dollar value of the deductible, along with the corresponding percentage, to eliminate confusion.  A Blankit Insurance representative will also take time to explain these details to you.

A hurricane deductible is distinct from the deductible for other sorts of damage to the home and usually goes into effect when a storm is categorized as a hurricane by the National Weather Service — or, in some cases, when a storm is named, even if doesn’t become a hurricane. (Some policies have separate windstorm deductibles that apply even for unnamed storms.)

For these reasons, Blankit Insurance Group wants you to carefully consider the outcome when selecting a proper homeowner policy. As always, we are here to answer any of your questions, whether the policy was procured through us or not. Blankit is here for you.

Do you have coverage for that new puppy or rescue dog?

Do you have a dangerous dog your insurance policy wont cover?

If you’re a dog lover, you probably look at your dog as part of your family. Your insurance company, on the other hand, probably sees danger signs. This is especially true if the dog’s breed happens to be prohibited under homeowners insurance policies.

Known by insurance companies as “excluded dog breeds,” “aggressive dog list,” “dangerous dogs list” or simply “bad dog list,” this collection of prohibited dogs consists of breeds that are widely considered to be a financial risk to insurers.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, claims related to injuries from dogs account for one-third of all homeowner liability dollars insurance companies pay out every year. In 2016, that figure was $602 million from more than 18,000 claims—an average of $33,000 per claim. That’s a lot of money.

This makes insurance companies wary of dogs that traditionally display a propensity for aggression, so homeowners whose dogs fall into that category will pay higher premiums. In some cases, depending on the homeowner’s location and the insurance company, it may even be impossible to obtain coverage.

Bad Dogs? or Bad Risk’s? Blankit’s here for you

The specific dog breeds prohibited by insurers vary from company to company, but at least five appear on every list. Note that not only pure-bred dogs are banned, but any mixed breeds as well:

  • Pit Bull
  • Rottweiler
  • Doberman
  • Presa Canario
  • Chow Chow

We know you love your dogs just like we love our Blankit K9, but we have to write this article and talk about this topic so we can rest assured that our clients have as much importation to them as possible. If you have concerns whether your policy may not cover your dog, please contact us so we can review your policy and make sure that you and your family are protected. Don’t be afraid of the dog, be afraid of lack of coverage, myblankit is here for any questions.

Should I teach my kids about Insurance and how?

Why Kids & myblankit?

Every parent worries about their kids. Are they eating well? Getting enough sleep? Studying like they should? Dating the right person—or not dating the wrong person? Learning how to be an adult?

Part of becoming a contributing member of society is learning how to properly manage financial affairs. And although it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves, insurance is a key piece of personal financial management.

– Are you prepared for realities of personal auto coverage for new drivers? How much will your

– Is a child going away to college, getting their first job or first apartment, getting married? .

– Your teen just had their first accident, are you on the hook even if they are on a separate      policy? Do you have enough coverage in place?

– Just had a new baby? Do you have enough life insurance?

– Any coverage for my new pet or what if my new pets bites someone?

Educating kids and their parents about the realities of insurance helps us create and cement long-term relationships with while concurrently developing contacts with future clients—your kids who will one day grow up and buy insurance of their own knowing they are protected with Blankit. Insurance is a relationship business, so we build the relationship before the kids are in the market for insurance and need the protection so they are never lost or alone. We will always be here for you and them. We can deal with teenagers even if you cant, Blankit is here for you and family in whatever capacity you need.

Just remember: Blankit’s goal is to teach, not sell.

As parents, you  want your kids to be prepared for life, and insurance is an important part of life—especially when something bad happens. As independent agents, we strive to help our communities through coaching, volunteering and more. Why not use our knowledge to increase our entire community’s insurance IQ? Blankit is here for you whether you purchase a policy through us or not. We are here to educate you and your family about any and all of your insurance needs.

Let Blankit provide you with the tools to teach your kids about the importance of insurance and the value it provides to your family. We are always here for you; https://myblankit.com