Nashville insurance insight: making a home insurance claim

Nashville insurance insight: making a home insurance claim

Insurance is an odd purchase, really, in that you put a good amount of time and thought into buying a quality product, in the hopes that you’ll never, ever have to touch it.

Unfortunately, a time may come that you’ll have to make an insurance claim. My aim, if you’re one of my Nashville clients, is to make that process as clear and easy as possible — I’ll help and work with you every step of the way.

Still, it’s good to have an understanding of how the process works, just in case you ever have to jump into it, while dealing with a stressful situation.

Every type of policy has its own processes and details — small business insurance, life insurance, special event insurance. But for the sake of simplicity, here, let’s focus on one of the most common policies: home insurance. (I’ll tackle car insurance soon too.)

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Nashville insurance insight: Do I need small business insurance if I work from home?

Nashville insurance insight: Do I need small business insurance if I work from home?

In a creative, entrepreneurship-friendly city like Nashville, naturally, we have a lot of self-employed/work-from-home professionals. According to a recent study, it adds up to almost a quarter of us.

That’s a pretty significant number — and when you zoom out to the whole country, it makes that much more sense: More than half of all U.S. businesses are based out of the business owner’s home, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Another impressive factoid: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says 15 million people, or just over 10 percent of total U.S. employment, are self-employed.

So, here we all are, doing it for ourselves. Which leads to a question I get asked a lot, as an independent Nashville insurance agent: “Since I work from home, do I need small business insurance?”

The short answer: It depends, but probably. But let’s break down the longer answer.

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Nashville insurance insight: insuring old homes vs. new homes

Nashville insurance insight: insuring old homes vs. new homes

Funny thing happened with some insurance clients in Nashville recently: I stunned them with a home insurance quote that was less than half what they’d been paying.

Those clients came to me after selling their historic East Nashville home, and buying a new one in the area that cost almost twice as much. Their expectation, after years of homeownership but a relatively lax relationship with home insurance shopping, was to see their rate double too. Or at least shoot up significantly — certainly not drop.

I’d love to say I was working some kind of insurance-agent magic, but ultimately, what their savings boiled down to had little to do with the sales price of their home or my miraculous insurance touch, more to do with its age.

The headline, here: Insuring a new home is usually a lot less expensive than insuring an old one.

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Nashville insurance insight: Easy ways to keep a home inventory

Nashville insurance insight: Easy ways to keep a home inventory

A very important and oft-overlooked way to make your life easier, in the event of an insurance claim in Nashville: creating and maintaining a home inventory.

Whether you have homeowners insurance or renters insurance, an inventory ensures that a) you know what you have, and what you might be missing, b) you’ve documented pertinent details that could help law enforcement find your stuff and c) your insurers can access that same detailed info in the event of a claim. That tends to make a claim move faster, and more accurately.

Secondary benefit, too: With thorough documentation of all your belongings and valuables, you’ll be able to make sure you’re not under-insured. (Always more likely if you have particularly valuable stuff — anything from antiques to jewelry to high-tech tools.)

Think of it this way: If you’re home (or when you get home), look around your living room at all your electronics, your guitars and computers and stereo equipment. If it all disappeared in a flash, would you remember the brands, the models, the serial numbers off the top of your head? How confident are you that you wouldn’t miss anything if you had to write out a comprehensive list of all your belongings, while under emotional strain?

It’s a tedious exercise to document a whole house worth of stuff, but I strongly encourage it, not just as an independent insurance agent, but as a Nashville neighbor..

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10 small businesses in Nashville that show the strength of our entrepreneurial ecosystem

10 small businesses in Nashville that show the strength of our entrepreneurial ecosystem

One of my favorite things about living in Nashville: As a community, we tend to celebrate and support our own. So small businesses in Nashville get a lot of sustained, local love.

That probably helped encourage this: “Nashville's small-business owners lead nation in optimism.”

If you’re about to launch a business and you’re not sure where to land, you could certainly do worse than Middle Tennessee, with a supportive community, still relatively reasonable cost of living, vibrant creative culture and abundant natural beauty.

If you’re already in Nashville and you’re getting ready to take the entrepreneurial plunge: First, my respect and celebration; second, please let me know if you need help sorting out small business insurance. Aside of being a customer, helping entrepreneurs find thorough and affordable insurance policies is, I hope, part of my positive contribution to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Nashville.

About that ecosystem: Some of my favorite brands from every corner of the material world — food to shoes to beard-care stuff — come from here in our city. Below, just a few. Many will be familiar to longtime Nashvillians; all are making fantastic products, and making big waves in and out of Music City.

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Nashville insurance insight: 10 renters insurance horror stories from around the world

Nashville insurance insight: 10 renters insurance horror stories from around the world

The old “show, don’t tell” adage has broad applications. As an independent Nashville insurance agent, I can tell you about the benefits of renters insurance all the live long day — that it’s affordable, and easy to get, and covers a wide array of really awful and inconvenient things.

Much as I’d like to think my encouragement holds serious weight, though, I get that real stories from human beings who’ve felt its benefits — or struggled without it — probably hit a lot harder.

To give you a clear and fully rendered picture of why I think renters insurance is massively important for every renter in Nashville, I gathered stories from all across the country. Some have happy endings, some not so much. All are from renters who’ve dealt with catastrophes that renters insurance can help you bounce back from.

If nothing else, I think this’ll give you a deeper understanding of how broad renters insurance coverage can be.

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Nashville insurance insight: fast facts about water damage

Nashville insurance insight: fast facts about water damage

I try to pay a lot of attention to what the average Nashville homeowner and renter doesn’t know about their home, or their insurance coverage. If I grasp that, I can help share information, and get my clients better prepared, and protected.

So the new Homeowners’ Water Risk Survey from Chubb caught my eye. If you’re a Nashville homeowner, I’d point toward its findings for two main reasons:

It underlined a dramatic rise in water damage for homeowners, and a dramatic lack of education and preventative measures.

Since I know digging into a detailed insurance study can be a little tedious, here are a few fast facts that stuck with me:

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Nashville insurance insight: insuring an event or festival

Nashville insurance insight: insuring an event or festival

What with Nashville being one of our nation’s finest entertainment hubs, you can just about find a dozen events or festivals all across town, every weekend, all year. Local organizers and entrepreneurs cover it all, from live music to craft beer to crafts, from free weekly celebrations to ticketed annual confabs.

One thing they all have in common: the significant amount of risk that comes with planning an event.

Organizing an event or festival generally requires a pretty good investment, from venue deposits to marketing materials. To make good on that investment — and to make a profit — you depend on everything going off at least mostly without a hitch, come the day/weekend of the event.  

It’s impossible to predict and avoid all the things that can derail an event, unfortunately. Something as big as an act of nature or as small as a disorganized vendor can knock things off course, and put your profit in peril. Which is why we have insurance.

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Nashville insurance insight: What you should know about flood insurance

Nashville insurance insight: What you should know about flood insurance

The main thing on my mind this week, as south Texas is struggling in the wake of Hurricane Harvey: researching ways I can help from here in Nashville, like contributing to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee’s Harvey relief efforts and to All Hands Volunteers, who are putting helping hands on the ground as we speak.

Given what I do for a living, I also can’t help but think about how many Houston homeowners will be struggling not only with having their lives turned upside-down, but with the added financial difficulties that come with not having flood insurance in place.

 

Must-know flood insurance facts

 

Many of our neighbors were unfortunately surprised by this fact during the 2010 flood in Nashville: Standard homeowners insurance and renters insurance policies don’t cover flood damage.

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Nashville insurance insight: protecting yourself and your home against fire damage

Nashville insurance insight: protecting yourself and your home against fire damage

As a native Tennessean, I’ve been watching with awe as Gatlinburg has regrouped and rebuilt in the wake of the late-2016 wildfires. Tennesseans are tough and resilient and inclined to pitch in and help each other, and that catastrophe put that into the foreground once again.

Months later, we’re seeing a more clear picture of the damage that occurred as those wildfires moved through 16,000 acres around the Great Smoky Mountains.

The most heartbreaking: 14 lives lost. The fires also damaged or destroyed more than 2,400 structures, and led to upwards of $1 billion in damages. Fighting the fire cost more than $8.8 million, and in just the month of December, tourism revenue in the area was off by $19 million.

Some Gatlinburg residents and business owners still face extra struggles, too, because of uninsured or under-insured properties.

Every part of that is heartbreaking to me, but the latter is where I think I can be of some help, in sharing information about getting adequate insurance, and helping my neighbors in Nashville understand (and get) the coverage they need.

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Nashville insurance insight: craft brewery coverage

Nashville insurance insight: craft brewery coverage

I wrote a post recently about how focused small-business insurance options are available for just about every industry you can imagine.

One of the industries that I have a lot of personal love for — and which has some of the most complex insurance needs: craft breweries.

A lot can go right when you open a craft brewery in Nashville, and that’s been especially clear over the past decade or so.

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Nashville insurance insight: cool ways technology is changing the insurance industry

Nashville insurance insight: cool ways technology is changing the insurance industry

I’ve read more than my share of news stories claiming the insurance industry hasn’t changed much. And there’s a little truth to that — the fundamental function and approach, calculating risk and charging customers based on that risk — is pretty similar to the plans that protected London homeowners back in the mid-1600s.

That said, our industry, like every industry, is shifting and changing with technology. It’s often in really cool ways, too — ways that are directly beneficial to both insurers and insurees. I think that’s only going to become more true in the years to come.

Chronicling all the ways technology is changing (and improving) insurance would take a fairly lengthy book. So here, I’ll share just a few things that have grabbed my attention, and that I think are worth keeping an eye on.

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Nashville insurance insight: protecting yourself from car theft

Nashville insurance insight: protecting yourself from car theft

It’s already proving to be a busy year for car thieves here in Nashville — by mid-June, we’d seen an astonishing 87 percent jump in the number of stolen cars, year-to-date.

The rising car-theft rates have been consistent across all of Metro Nashville’s police precincts in 2017, with the biggest jumps in Madison (168 percent) and Hermitage (128 percent).

I bring all this up not to bum my neighbors out, but to bring up something important: A surprising majority of vehicle thefts happen because we make it way too easy for thieves.

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Nashville insurance insight: Errors and Omissions Insurance, and why you might need it

Nashville insurance insight: Errors and Omissions Insurance, and why you might need it

Across every business and every industry, all entrepreneurs have something in common: We’re human. We err. We err personally, and we err professionally.

The former is complicated enough; the latter brings the possibility of a lawsuit.

As diligent a professional as we all might be, we have to accept that oversights and unintended mistakes can happen, and that we need to protect ourselves against that possibility. That means Errors and Omissions Insurance.

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Nashville insurance insight: small business insurance shaped for your needs

Nashville insurance insight: small business insurance shaped for your needs

A useful entrepreneurship tidbit to know: Across the United States, independent business growth is in a good place. From the 2017 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity:

“In 2013 the Startup Activity Index was at its lowest point in the last 20 years. Today it has gone up three years in a row, reaching close to the peak before the Great Recession drop.”

As an independent insurance agent/small businessperson, that’s a factoid I’m happy to see. Unfortunately, here at home in Nashville, figures are a little less sunny.

Nashville, disappointingly, was on a downswing in Kauffman’s Metro Rankings, dropping from from a city rank of 16 in 2016 to 29 in 2017. We were one of the biggest drops among the cities cited.

I certainly can’t pinpoint what’s making the startup rate in Nashville stall, but I do know one thing: Starting a business is difficult, and complicated, with a grab bag of different pieces that need to be in place for things to start, stabilize, grow and thrive.

Having the right small business insurance in place is, to me, one of the most important parts of entrepreneurial housekeeping.

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Nashville insurance insight: You’re wrong about life insurance

Nashville insurance insight: You’re wrong about life insurance

I like to read insurance-industry studies — in part out of curiosity, but more so I can understand what my insurance clients in Nashville do and don’t understand, where their assumptions lie, and what they want from an independent insurance agent like me.

A few I read recently really opened my eyes. Largely to the fact that insurance brokers like me, in Nashville and everywhere else, need to do more to dispel false assumptions about life insurance.

Life insurance is valuable, and if you have a family, a business or considerable assets, I’d call it a must. But a lot of Americans are apparently skipping it, based on assumptions that are out of date, off-base or simply not true.

So I’d like to clarify a few things, and hopefully make getting life insurance in Nashville seem more approachable. 

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Nashville insurance insight: updating your home insurance policy

Nashville insurance insight: updating your home insurance policy

If there are two key things I want to try and drill into my Nashville neighbors’ minds, it’s this:

— It’s worth it to shop for and compare insurance policies.

— Don’t just set and forget your insurance — you need to keep things updated.

On the latter point: Let’s talk about home insurance.

I can’t tell you how many homeowners I’ve met in Nashville who find a home insurance policy when they purchase their home, then ignore it forever, unless they have to make a claim.

There are a bunch of reasons that’s not the best idea. First, you could be missing out on better rates by not shopping around. But more importantly, you could be leaving yourself with inadequate coverage that doesn’t reflect your home or your situation anymore.

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Nashville insurance insight: insuring your old car

Nashville insurance insight: insuring your old car

This week, I read a story from Nashville’s NewsChannel 5: “Why a fender bender can total your old car.” It’s a car-insurance story I’ve heard plenty of times before, and I know I’ll hear again and again.

The crux, in case you don’t feel like reading the whole story: A Nashville driver with an older car gets in a wreck, and has his dented-but-functional vehicle totaled. Which leaves him with a problem: The blue-book value payout isn’t enough for a reasonable replacement, but getting a “salvage” title and repairing the old car isn’t financially ideal either.

I really feel for the guy. The biggest bummer with all this: There’s no perfect solution, insurance-wise.

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Nashville insurance insight: storm damage and your homeowners policy

Nashville insurance insight: storm damage and your homeowners policy

Although spring tends to be the peak season for major storms here in Tennessee, we’re still getting a healthy share in Nashville now that summer’s rolling in. And the steady parade of downed trees in my neighborhood keeps that in the front of my mind.

 

Also at the front of my mind when winds are howling and thunder’s rolling: how these major storms affect my clients.

 

There’s good reason for someone in my line of work to be thinking about that, since weather leads to the bulk of homeowners insurance claims — 51 percent of all losses are traced to weather-related damage.

 

Are you clear on what is/isn’t covered at your place, and with your policy? Just in case, here’s a quick rundown of the most common stuff.

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Nashville insurance insight: What musicians, photographers and other creatives should know

Nashville insurance insight: What musicians, photographers and other creatives should know

Nashville is a unique place to live for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being our healthy congregation of professional musicians, songwriters, photographers and other creatives.

Even those of us with straight-laced jobs know how hard of a slog it is to stabilize a creative career, and I have immense respect for neighbors who make it happen, and appreciation for a city that supports the hustle.

A funny, frustrating thing about creative jobs like these, though: It’s necessary to amass loads of expensive equipment, and usually just as necessary to haul it around to less-than-locked-down locations, like dark rock clubs, open parks and Motel 6 parking lots.

The kicker:

Creative professionals tend to be chronically under-insured, and people in my industry don’t reach out to musicians and artists enough to change that.

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