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Everything You Need to Know About Home Insurance for First Time Home Buyers

Buying a first home is an exciting and emotional rollercoaster. Bidding against other buyers, some deals fall through, some homes don’t live up to expectations – it can take a toll the buyer. With all you have to think about, we do have one more thing to add to your list of things to check, and it’s a pretty important one.

Will your new home cost an arm-and-a-leg to insure it?

This is one of the things that most new home buyers don’t consider – they don’t think about the ramifications different features of their house will have on their insurance costs.

Here are a few parts of your future home that will increase your insurance bill:

Is the wiring updated?
Old, outdated wiring pose fire hazards and risks and will cost more to insure.

How old is the roof?
When buying an older home, ask how old the roof is. Has it been updated in the last 10 years? A 20 year old roof is considered “old” and will cost more to insure.

How up-to-date are the furnace and plumbing system?
The more up-to-date the furnace and plumbing are, the less it will cost to insure.

Where is the home located?
The home’s proximity to fire hydrants and a fire station play a part in insurance costs. If the home is located in the middle of nowhere, it’s more likely that the insurance will be higher because it’s far from easy access to water. The farther from water, the more at risk the home is to potential fire damage.

What’s do all new home buyers need to know?

Consider the cost of insurance when buying a new home or an older home.

A new home is going to cost $400-500 a year to insure, while an older home may cost around $700-1,000 per year to insure. If some of the things mentioned above, like a roof, plumbing and wiring, can be updated or replace prior to you completing the purchase and moving in, ask for it!

Updates can save you money on your home insurance for another 10-20 years.




What You Need to Know About Water Backup Damage

Imagine this:


You’re catching up on laundry on a late-Sunday-afternoon, watching your favorite Netflix series while you wait for your whites to finish, then suddenly you hear some noises from down in the basement that don’t’ sound familiar. You hurry down the stairs only to find water running all over the floor of your basement. What is this and how did it happen? More importantly, will you have to cover the damages?


To answer this question, first determine where the water is coming from. Is it water backup? Is this water stemming from a past home maintenance issue that you failed to fix?

What is water backup?


Water backup is an accumulation caused by a stop in water flow, when something has prevented the water from continuing down its path and it is forced to reverse direction and go back the other way. A collapsed drain pipe can cause a backup or a blockage can cause a backup; the blockage prevents the water from going forward, and the water has to reverse itself.

Are water backups covered in home insurance?


Most standard homeowners policies provide protection from water damage if the cause is sudden and accidental. For example, according to the Insurance Information Institute, you’ll likely be protected if your drywall is drenched after your water heater ruptures or an upstairs pipe bursts and water saturates the ceiling below. However, not all water damage is considered sudden or accidental.

What types of water damage isn’t covered by homeowners insurance?


  1. Damage from unresolved maintenance issues
  2. Replacing or repairing the source of the water damage. For example, insurance may help you repair the drywall or replace flooring, but it won’t replace the washer that overflowed and caused the flooding in the first-place.
  3. Water backup from an outside sewer or drain. It is possible to purchase additional sewer or water backup coverage to provide protection in case of such an event.
  4. Flood: No type of flood damage, no matter the source of the water, is covered by standard homeowners policies.

Do you need to purchase sewer or water backup damage coverage?


Whether or not you need to purchase this coverage mostly depends on the items that are in your basement. Do you have an unfurnished basement without much value? Do you store all your prized and inherited possessions in the basement? Your answer will determine whether or not you need to add water backup coverage to your insurance.




3 Insurance Resolutions for 2017


New Year’s resolutions are the opportunities we give ourselves to improve something in life or improve the way we live our lives– whether it’s exercising more, eating out less, spending less money or something simple like reading more books.


In 2017, why not test out a few of our insurance resolutions that can be better for your bank account and your peace of mind?


Here are 3 insurance resolutions to make for 2017:

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Top 10 Tips for Defensive Driving in Bad Weather


Driving your car can seem mundane — you get in it every day and drive it every place you go–it doesn’t seem like a special act or something to strike concern.


However, did you know that getting behind the wheel of a car may be the most dangerous thing you can do? In the United States, car accidents are one of the leading causes of death. [click to continue…]




How to Eliminate Risk From Your Electrician Company


Whether you’re an independent electrician or owner of an electrical company, working with electricity can be dangerous and unpredictable.


Electricians take precautions and protect themselves to ensure they can avoid as many accidents as possible by staying up to date on training’s and learning about new electrical technology, and they also protect themselves by having the right insurance.


After all, one accident without the right insurance can mean the end of an electrician’s business or career. [click to continue…]




5 Ways to Stay Active and Healthy This Winter

When the weather temperatures in Keokuk begin to drop down below 40 degrees, it becomes harder and harder to stay motivated to keep active; most find themselves burrowed under a cozy collection of blankets, or stocking up on delicious hot coffee at the local coffee shop.

While there is nothing wrong with getting cozy or drinking coffee, it’s also important to remember to stay active even in the winter months to stay healthy.

Overall health effects health insurance, and while you may not have control over the premiums you pay, you do have some control over how you take care of your body and you can avoid any health issues that being out of shape or inactive may cause. [click to continue…]




5 Things You Need to Know as a First-time Homebuyer in Keokuk


first-time homebuyers

If you’re a first-time homebuyer in Keokuk or the surrounding area, we know some of the most common mistakes that others in your position have made when making their first big investment. We put a list together so you can consider each of these 5 things before buying a house.


#1) Affording a home vs affording a mortgage

Most first-time homebuyers jump at the opportunity at homeownership the moment they qualify for a mortgage. But if you’re new at this, understand that there’s a difference between affording a home and affording a mortgage. Just because you can afford a mortgage, it doesn’t always mean you can afford to own a home. There’s a whole range of other expenses involved, on top of your mortgage payments which include:

  • Closing costs
  • Homeowners insurance
  • Property taxes
  • Homeowners association dues
  • Utility bills
  • Maintenance


Can you afford this long-term? A good rule of thumb for knowing if you’re ready for a mortgage is that your income should be at least 1/3 of the mortgage. Does that mortgage add up to your long-term capability to own a home?


#2) Get pre-qualified before looking for a house

Set your expectations straight from the start. If you’ve bought into the American Dream of owning a home, it can sometimes become an emotional roller coaster. It’s easy to get attached to a house while house-hunting. And while it’s good practice to shop around and experience different properties, what first-time homebuyers should do is get pre-qualified for a mortgage. From there, you can know which houses you can realistically pursue.


#3) Finances and Savings

If you’re buying a home, you’re well aware of the traditional route of paying down 20% of the mortgage. There are some programs in Keokuk where the required down payment is only 3.5%. Regardless of the down payment requirement, some new homebuyers make the mistake of depleting their entire savings to make a down payment.


If you pay less that 20% of the mortgage down payment, you’re required to pay for mortgage insurance. Some buyers prefer to pay the entire 20% of the down payment versus having to pay for mortgage insurance. Not having any savings cushion as a homeowner is very dangerous and would put you in a very delicate situation if you ever encounter any emergencies.


Also, during the time of the purchase, don’t make any other loan purchases. Since it takes 30 days for the home purchase to close, any big loan purchase made in that timeframe can affect the closing of your home.


#4) Trust the Experts and Ask for References

It’s important to get help from completely independent resources and professionals. Most new buyers are unaware of the difference between a real estate listing agent and a buyer’s agent. Listing agents will only show you what is listed with them, for example, so it’s to the new buyer’s best interest to seek information from independent resources across the board, whether it’s a mortgage lender, lawyer, realtor, or insurance agent. And don’t forget to ask for references.


#5) Consider Your Homeowners Insurance Premiums

Homeowners insurance can get complex. It’s good to get an estimate of what your premium might look like. Find a trusted independent insurance advisor and start to create a relationship with one. You can begin to understand the factors that affect homeowners insurance – this can include anything from location, previous claims filed, age of the home, and type of roof.


If you’re a first-time homebuyer in Keokuk, congratulations. We know it’s a very exciting time, and you’ve chosen a great community. We want you to be prepared and go through the process with as much as excitement and ease as possible.




Tips for a safe Fall season in Keokuk

fall in keokukSummer is officially over and headed our way is some great fall weather in Keokuk. With fall, however, comes a lot of changes. Kids are back to to school helping sickness spread easily, Halloween is almost here, and the sun sets sooner.


Here are five ways to help keep you and your family and friends healthy and safe this fall.


  1. Even though it is getting darker sooner, that doesn’t mean your children have to stop playing. Get your kids involved with fun indoor activities, like crafting or building forts, to keep their minds and bodies active. Here are some fun games to play indoors.
  2. Get the flu shot. Regardless of whether you have to drag yourself (or your kids) kicking and screaming into the doctor’s office, go get the flu shot. Also remember to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze to prevent spreading germs and always stay home from work if you get sick.
  3. Have a safe and healthy Halloween! If going out at night, be sure to bring a flashlight and try to mostly walk in well lit and populated areas. There are plenty of healthy snacks out there that kids love, so opt for healthy snack to give out, rather than the traditional sugar-filled candy.
  4. Test batteries. With the cold weather comes use of fireplaces. Check and replace your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors at least once a year.
  5. Remember food safety! With food being the main attraction at most get-together in the fall and winter, make sure you clean all surfaces and practice basic food safety rules, like thoroughly washing all items that touch raw chicken.


With the right precautions and planning, it’s possible to have happy and healthy fall and winter season. What happens during Fall and Winter in your neighborhood that could use some safety tips?




Small business owners in Keokuk – here’s how to protect your business from fraud



Keokuk is lucky to have so many successful and dependable businesses. There is no doubt that without trustworthy or hardworking employees, a business in Keokuk could simply not be successful. Because a business is so dependent on employees doing their job, it’s important to put practices in place that help verify the quality of work they are doing, as well as to verify trust.


Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon that business owners experience dishonesty or fraud from their employees. More often than not, employee dishonesty is discovered until it’s too late and the financial cost of fraud has become significant. After all, the average financial loss of a business due to fraud in America is around $145,000. That’s is a significant amount and could potentially put an end to a business, depending on their overall financial stability.


Here are four tips to protect your business in Keokuk from fraud:

  1. Create an ethical culture in your office and always encourage employees to speak out if they see something suspicious or wrong. Make it easy for them to come to you with open-door office hours or weekly one-on-one meetings.
  2. Use background checks. Just like a realtor background checks potential tenants, use a background check to show you how stable and responsible your potential employee may be. Financial decisions often reflect life decisions.
  3. You know how much your employee makes. If they suddenly begin living an extravagant lifestyle or come in with clothing or accessories that you know are out of their budget, take a second to have a conversation and ask them about it in a respectful way.
  4. Always divide up financial and accounting jobs. This creates a system of checks and balances so all financial information isn’t kept within one employee. In addition, have meetings to review financial documents and your business financial status.


Have you ever experienced fraud from an employee? What other things do you do to ensure your business and employees are honest and trustworthy?




What insurance does my child need for college?


insurance for college


Preparing for college is nerve-wracking whether your child is headed to University of Iowa or UCLA. There are plenty of worries that come to mind as a parent, from roommates, to food, to whether or not your child will remember how to do laundry. The list goes on.


Unfortunately, we have one more thing to add to your list and it is pretty important that you don’t forget it: insurance! It’s often unclear what your insurance covers when it comes to your grown, college-aged children. So here are some important things to consider before sending your child off to college.

Insurance checklist for your college-bound child:

  • Insure your computer, musical instrument, expensive jewelry and any other expensive items your child plans to take with them.
  • Have your child make a list of nearly everything they plan to bring. Having a list of all your child’s important items will help keep track of them and will make filing a claim easier if something is stolen.
  • If your child isn’t bringing a car to school let your insurance agent know, you may qualify for a resident student discounted rate on your insurance. On the other hand, if you child does bring your car, make sure to discuss rules about letting others drive. Any claim made under your insurance, regardless of whether your child was driving or not, will cause an increase in your insurance rate.


Preparing for college with the right insurance

Help your child prepare for college by protecting them and yourself financially with the right insurance. After all, there are already too many things to worry and think about with a child away at school, don’t add bad insurance coverage to your list. The only way to know if you have the right coverage is to do your research and ask questions.


Talk to your insurance agent to see if there are any other policies you may want to consider adding to your coverage or if there are any discounts you can take advantage of.





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