What Is Gap Insurance?

Landscaping Losses: Are They Covered by Insurance?
Your neighbor’s teenager drove over your beautiful flower beds. That old oak finally fell, and it took out your fence on its way down.

If a disaster hits your landscaping, is this covered by homeowners insurance? In many cases, yes. As part of your home, your landscaping is often covered by your homeowners policy, but not always. Here’s the scoop:

Plant perils: Homeowners policies typically cover costs to replace plants, trees, and shrubs that are damaged by fire, lightning, vandals, or someone’s else’s vehicle. However, damage caused by weather and pests, such as flooding, wind, and insects, often is not covered by homeowners insurance.

Tree tragedies: Tree coverage can be a bit tricky. Coverage varies depending on the specifics of the situation. If a tree falls on a structure, your policy may provide coverage for the cost of removing the tree and the repairs to the structure. If it falls without damaging anything, you may have to pay for the tree removal yourself. Additionally, your coverage probably won’t pay to replace the tree in either situation.

Landscaping limits: As with most policies, homeowners insurance usually has limits on the landscaping coverage provided. Often, this limit is a certain percentage of the dwelling protection. The policy may also limit how much can be spent on each replacement plant. It may be possible to extend your coverage to include higher amounts and additional circumstances.

Reach out to our office to determine whether you’d like to expand your landscaping coverage. A quick review of your policy will reveal what protection you’re currently offering your plants.

How to Unleash Your Creative Genius

“Creative types” are a myth. It’s not because they don’t exist. It’s because we’re all creative. Some of us simply lose touch with our creative sides along the way.

We don’t all have to be artists and writers, but there are benefits to taking up creative endeavors. They help us express ourselves, relieve stress and anxiety, and give us a sense of freedom.

If it’s been a long time since you’ve doodled, painted, or written freely, you simply need to spark your creativity. Here are four ways to do so.

Put your phone away. Boredom or free time is great for getting creative, but we’ve gotten so used to taking out our phones whenever we have a free second. Try a digital detox for a few hours or a few days and see what happens.

Listen to or watch something creative. A documentary about an artist or chef or a TED talk by a creator can be a great way to inspire your own creative thoughts.

Go outside. Head out into nature for a walk or jog, or just to sit and reflect. Natural beauty and wildlife can help lift a creative fog.

Just do it. Set aside some time and grab a notebook and a pen, or watercolors and a canvas. Then dive in. Don’t think about what you’re going to write, sketch, or paint; just start and see what happens.

If you practice these techniques, you might be surprised at the creative juices that start to flow!

Are You Sure This Is a DIY Project?

A major remodel can be expensive, making DIY an attractive option. But as you ponder tackling a home improvement project on your own, here are a few things to consider:

How extensive is the project? A complete remodel might include relocating walls, reconfiguring spaces, and replacing floors, fixtures, and plumbing systems. A refresh could involve painting walls, refacing cabinets and countertops, and maybe changing out hardware.

How old is the home? Older homes often present bigger problems. Antiquated electrical and plumbing systems can be dodgy for a DIYer. And issues such as mildew, mold, asbestos, and lead paint require treatment and/or removal by an experienced contractor.

Are permits required? Are essential systems up to code? You may need a licensed contractor to obtain necessary permits.

Do you have the right tools? Before you start, determine what tools you’ll need and the cost to obtain them. You might find that hiring a contractor is more cost-effective than buying tools.

Are you able to transport and store tools and materials? Remodeling projects often require large tools and heavy materials.

Are you prepared to undertake the job, and are you resourceful enough to respond well if something should go awry? Mistakes can be expensive. In the end, you could end up saving yourself time, money, and frustration by hiring a pro to do the work. Alternatively, you might try a hybrid approach and do some of the before-and-after work yourself.

What Is Gap Insurance, and Do I Need It?
Have you ever purchased a brand-new car? It had that new-car smell. The odometer readout was near zero. The paint was bright and shiny. You were excited to drive off the lot and put the first miles on your untainted vehicle.

Guess what else happened as you drove off that lot? The vehicle started depreciating. According to Kelley Blue Book, most cars lose about 20% of their value in the first year.

This rapid depreciation could pose a problem for insurance claims. If your initial deposit on the car was small, the loan amount that you owe may be higher than the value of the car.

If your vehicle suffers extensive damage or is totaled in its early years (before you have paid down that loan), your insurance coverage may not provide enough to pay off the vehicle. Why? A standard auto policy typically covers the depreciated value of the car. In other words, it will pay what the car is currently worth on the market when you make your claim.

If this amount is less than what you owe on the car, gap insurance comes into play. It will cover this difference (the gap).

This extra coverage can be helpful in several circumstances.

Long-term financing: If you financed a vehicle for 60 months or longer, you might need gap insurance to provide adequate coverage.

Leasing: If you lease a vehicle, gap insurance is often required as part of the lease agreement.

Lost value: Some cars depreciate faster than others. If your model depreciates faster than average, gap insurance could prove useful.

Low down payment: If you put less than 20% down on the vehicle, this insurance will help cover the gap between the value and the balance of your loan that will most likely exist for a while.

Are you unsure whether you need gap insurance? Contact our office to review your current auto policy and determine whether this coverage makes sense for you and your vehicle.