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Guaranteed Replacement Insurance

What is Guaranteed Replacement Cost?

Guaranteed Replacement InsuranceThere are few things in life worse than losing your home to fire or a natural disaster.

Except, that is, discovering in the aftermath that you don’t have enough homeowners insurance coverage to rebuild the house back to the way it was before trouble struck.

If you get guaranteed replacement cost coverage, that is unlikely to happen. Why? Because guaranteed replacement cost will pay for the full cost of rebuilding your house back to its previous size and specifications* – right down to the granite countertops, custom bookshelves, and gleaming hardwood floors that you so love.

“Guaranteed replacement cost gives you peace of mind,” says Bob Buckel, vice president and product manager at Erie Insurance. “The reality is that it’s almost impossible to estimate to the penny what it’s going to cost to rebuild a home. We take that worry away from you.”

In fact, the vast majority of ERIE’s homeowners insurance policyholders opted in to guaranteed replacement cost coverage to protect their most valuable asset – their home.

Keep in mind that guaranteed replacement cost isn’t available in all states. In North Carolina, ask about Enhanced Replacement Cost. For specific questions or a personalized estimate for your home, talk to a local insurance professional like an Erie Insurance agent.

How Much Coverage Should I Have on My House?

When you purchase a home and start thinking about protecting your investment, this is often the first question. The answer is often: More than you just paid for it, Buckel says.

“People naturally gravitate to how much they paid for the house, but we’re not insuring it to buy it from you – we’re insuring it to rebuild it in case something happens,” Buckel says. “The question you need to be asking is, ‘How much would it cost if a builder needs to rebuild it?”

See also: How Much Does Homeowners Insurance Cost?

This is why replacement cost is often more than market value for your home, or even what you might be able to sell it for.

Figuring out rebuilding costs can be elusive, as a range of factor contribute to what that actual cost might be. Guaranteed replacement costs takes the guesswork out, assuring that you’re covered – even if you need to rebuild your entire home*.

As A Homeowner, You Have Choices

Guaranteed replacement cost is one of a range of choices – called “loss settlement options” in the business – which insurance companies offer to homeowners. Common loss settlement options include:

  • Replacement cost
  • Extended replacement cost
  • Actual cash value
  • Guaranteed replacement cost

Each one works a little bit differently. Different insurance companies offer different things, too. (For example: ERIE does not offer actual cash value loss settlement for the dwelling on your primary home – it’s only available for secondary homes and contents. You’ll learn more about actual cash value below.)

Here’s a breakdown of some of those key differences:

Replacement Cost vs. Guaranteed Replacement Cost

That one word – guaranteed – makes a big difference if you’re facing a total loss of your home.

When you’re issued a policy with just replacement cost, the insurance company works with you to project how much it would likely cost to fully replace your home. You can see the replacement cost and the specific limit for your policy on your declarations page. Replacement cost is provided up to the limit shown on the declarations page.

The replacement cost amount usually gets increased annually – usually by 2 to 5% based on inflation in your area.

Yet, if your home is destroyed and a builder actually estimates that the cost to rebuild is more than that replacement cost figure… then you, as the homeowner, are responsible to make up the difference. That’s why it’s important as a home owner to make sure you know and are comfortable with how much your home is insured for.

Here’s an example: If your home is insured at a replacement cost of $200,000, and in reality it is going to cost $250,000 to rebuild, then you either need to come up with an additional $50,000 or find ways to reduce costs… which could result in a smaller, less-appointed house than you originally had.

The premium amount you pay for replacement cost compared to guaranteed replacement cost is typically about the same, although some factors unique to your situation may make one or the other more expensive.

Extended Replacement Cost vs. Guaranteed Replacement Cost

With extended replacement cost, your insurance company assures that a financial cushion exists in the event that cost of rebuilding is more than the estimated replacement cost.

Specifically with Erie Insurance, that cushion is 25 percent above the dwelling amount, as shown on your declarations page. So for a home insured at $300,000, extended replacement cost would give you an extra $75,000 to work with. Yet again, if costs go beyond that extra $75,000… you are on the hook to make up the difference, or rebuild a smaller home. While 25 percent may seem like a lot, there are often circumstances that cause costs to soar well beyond that.

“When a hurricane or tornado does a lot of damage in a specific area, the cost to rebuild skyrockets,” Buckel says. “Everyone is trying to rebuild, and the cost of lumber, labor and building supplies all go up. If you don’t have the right coverage, you are not going to have nearly enough to rebuild.”

            Related: How Named Storms Affect Your Insurance Coverage

Premium costs for extended replacement cost are generally comparable to guaranteed replacement cost, although some factors unique to your situation may make one or the other more expensive.

Guaranteed Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value

In simple terms, actual cash value is basic coverage. While there’s no doubt that actual cash value is typically your least expensive option, there is also truth in the old saying, you get what you pay for.

With actual cash value, you get coverage for a pre-determined set amount, and no more. Further, some policies also factor in depreciation of things such as an aging roof – so you may end up with even less than the policy states.

Compared to guaranteed replacement cost, actual cash value often offers the least attractive option as you will likely be required to pay out-of-pocket costs if you aim to restore your home to its previous design and condition.

As we mentioned above: ERIE does not offer actual cash value loss settlement for the dwelling on your primary home – it’s only available for secondary homes and contents.

Better Safe Than Sorry

Of course, the ideal scenario is that you will never need to use guaranteed replacement cost coverage. That’s why it’s so vital to be proactive in protecting your home.

Yet, if you do need it, you can rest assured that guaranteed replacement cost coverage will provide the money necessary to rebuild without requiring you to shell out additional cash.

“If it’s a covered loss and costs run high, we will pay whatever the difference is,” Buckel says. “It’s on us, not you.”

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Life Insurance FAQs

Weird Life Insurance Questions

Life insurance, by its very nature, is deeply personal. It transforms the vulnerable into the secure.

It can also leave you wondering – how does that all work, anyway?

Keep reading for answers to a few curious questions you’ve probably wondered about life insurance… but were too afraid to ask.

Q: I HAVE A DANGEROUS HOBBY. CAN I STILL GET LIFE INSURANCE?

A: In many cases, yes – but expect to answer some questions and (probably) pay a little extra to account for the additional risk.

Before giving you a quote, your local insurance agent may ask you to fill out a written questionnaire to understand more about your hobby.  At ERIE, that includes hobbies such as:

  • Rock climbing
  • Vehicle racing (stock cars, drag racing, motorcycles, etc.)
  • Aviation
  • Sky diving
  • Scuba diving

The questionnaire will ask you some basic information to understand your hobby. This could include:

  • How long you’ve been doing this hobby
  • How frequently you participate
  • Any training, education or certifications you’ve received
  • If you ever get paid or hired for your hobby (as opposed to just doing it for fun)
  • Future goals or plans for your hobby

It’s important to be honest when filling out your questionnaire. If you fudge the details in an attempt to seem less risky… that could be grounds for denying a claim later on. Your completed questionnaire is sent to the life insurance underwriter, who determines the scope of the risk – and ultimately helps calculate the rate you’ll pay.

For example: Let’s say you’re into rock climbing. Does that mean you climb indoors with friends once in a while at the local gym? Or are you planning a trip to the Himalayas to go ice climbing alone? Similarly, if you have a private pilot license – are you taking occasional short trips for business? Or are you regularly stunt flying in air shows on the weekends?

You get the idea… it’s all about calculating that risk.

Q: IF I QUIT SMOKING, CAN I GET RE-RATED TO SAVE MONEY ON LIFE INSURANCE?

A: First things first: Good for you!

As for your life insurance: Generally speaking, yes – you can ask your local agent to get your existing policy re-rated.  Before you do, though, you’ll likely have to show some stability in those lifestyle changes for a year or two to prove that you’re in this for the long haul.

What happens next may differ, depending on the circumstances. (Your agent can explain the specifics as they pertain to you.)

If you quit smoking because you’re just ready to live a healthier lifestyle – great! With no complications, you could get bumped from the “smoker “to the “nonsmoker” rate classification (and likely save some money in the process).

But, if you quit for a medical reason – such as a diagnosis of COPD or lung cancer – that’s a health concern that could impact the cost savings you’d otherwise see from quitting smoking. Your agent will ask you to fill out a questionnaire to get the specifics on why and how you quit.

Q: WHAT IF I LOSE 50 POUNDS? COULD I GET RE-RATED THEN?

Similar to the smoking example above, expect some follow-up questions about your weight loss. For example: “How and why did you lose the weight?” There are risks that come with weight loss surgeries, such as gastric bypass or lap band surgeries. Similarly, if you dropped a bunch of weight without even trying to… that could be the sign of a worrisome chronic illness or depression. If you start or stop taking certain medications because of your weight loss, that could also affect your rate.

If your weight loss is the product of good ol’ fashioned discipline, diet and exercise: Once you show you can keep it off (and provide any necessary test results and information), you could get bumped to a more favorable rate class.

Remember, insurance rates are all about data and probability. When it comes to weight loss, most carriers will add at least 50% of the weight back when they calculate your new rate. Why? Statistically speaking, if you drop a bunch of weight, studies show you’re likely to gain at least some of it back.

Ask your ERIE agent about re-rating your policy if or when your circumstances change.

TALK TO A LOCAL ERIE AGENT FOR A LIFE INSURANCE QUOTE

Have a weird or embarrassing insurance question? Don’t be shy: Our local agents are licensed professionals – they’re not here to judge.

Find a local ERIE agent near you to get the conversation started, or request a life insurance quote online.

LEARN MORE ABOUT LIFE INSURANCE

Read about ERIE’s life insurance offerings or check out these related blog posts:

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Duane Long - Monte Long

Duane Long + Monte Long

We provide Property, Casualty and Life insurance for personal and commercial needs.
Individual: Home, Auto, Life, etc. … Business, Prop., Casualty, WC, etc.

See https://www.facebook.com/DuaneLongInsurance/ for local news!

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Lost Insurance Policy

Lost Life Insurance Policy

It’s estimated that $1 billion in benefits from forgotten and lost life insurance policies are sitting unclaimed in America, says Consumer Reports. Could you be among the estimated 1 in 600 people who may be the beneficiary of an unclaimed life insurance policy?

If so, there are ways to find out. Here are some tips to help.

5 WAYS TO LOCATE A LOST LIFE INSURANCE POLICY

  • Comb the house. Sometimes the thing we’re missing is right under our nose. First, go through any files or safe deposit boxes where the lost life insurance policy may be before launching a full-fledged investigation.
  • Think back to the beginning. Which insurance agent may have sold it? Which insurance company may have issued it? What was the name and Social Security number of the person who bought it? Was the policy a term or permanent life policy? Any information you can remember will help the insurance agent and/or customer representative you contact.

    Related: What’s the Difference Between Term and Whole Life Insurance?

    You might also have to contact any attorneys, financial advisers, accountants or other advisers who might have had something to do with issuing the policy.

    Also consider contacting the deceased individual’s former employer. Many times the policies are group policies that were originally taken out through an employer.

    If the policyholder passed away relatively recently and you have the authority or permission, take a look at the deceased person’s bank statements for premium payments or policy-related material.

  • Contact your state’s insurance department. Generally, an insurance company that is unable to locate a policy’s beneficiary is required to turn over the benefits to the state’s unclaimed property office after a certain number of years have passed. Think about the state in which the policy could have been issued. Then visit the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website to learn how to contact your state insurance department.
  • Look it up online. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has a free website that makes it easy to search a number of life insurance and annuity companies at once. You can run a search if you’re the executor or legal representative of a deceased person, or if you have reason to believe you’re a beneficiary.

    Submit a request or read the FAQ at the Life Insurance Policy Locator Service website. You can also check in with the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, which operates the website MissingMoney.com.

  • Watch out for scammers. There are life insurance scams out there whereby an “insurer” promises to reunite you with unclaimed funds. Don’t immediately respond to someone claiming to be the representative of an insurance company. Instead, call that insurance company’s claims number to see if the offer is legit.

HOW TO PREVENT A LOST LIFE INSURANCE POLICY IN THE FIRST PLACE

Life insurance is a powerful agent of relief. Taking care of the future needs of your loved ones makes you feel capable, purposeful and satisfied.

Spare yourself and your beneficiaries from the hassle caused by a lost life insurance policy by following this advice:

  • Clearly name your beneficiaries on the policy.
  • Let your beneficiaries know about the policy. Also tell them the name of the insurance agent and company that issued the policy.
  • Keep your insurance documents in a safe, logical place like a fireproof safe or bank safe. Not sure what kind of safe to buy? Read our guide to safe storage of important documents.

When you count on ERIE to help plan for the future, we’ll help you consider the variables, lay out the options and make the process comfortable and efficient.

Learn more about our flexible and affordable life insurance* options, or find a local ERIE agent to talk it through in person.

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Winter-Stay-Warm

Ways to Stay Active This Winter

Looking outside and seeing snow-covered roads can make the decision to stay in bed a lot more tempting. We all know winter weather can get you in a rut – but there are plenty of ways to liven up when you’ve got cabin fever. (Read our list of 21 ways to beat cabin fever.)

Ready to break a sweat? Check out this list.

HOW TO EXERCISE DURING WINTER

One of the best ways to beat the boredom and stay active is to get outside. So, don’t curse the weather… bundle up and enjoy it! Here are some outside winter fitness ideas to try.

Outdoors:

  • Snowshoeing/snow hiking: Snow on the ground doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your area parks and trails. Many state and local parks stay open year-round in any weather. These hikes can be an easy walk or an intense workout, depending on how hard you push yourself.
  • Skiing/snowboarding/sledding: Making your way to a ski resort or your local hill can make for an exciting trip with friends or family. And it’s a great way to burn calories — especially if you’re walking back up the hill, too!
  • Snowmobiling: If you’ve got the space and the gear, snowmobiling is an intense way to get out and enjoy the winter weather. Don’t have a snowmobile of your own? A quick online search can help you find rental options in your area.
  • Ice skating: Ice skating is good for cardio and building lower body strength. If you can keep your balance, this is another fun activity for friends, family or couples.
  • Ice fishing: For outdoor enthusiasts, ice fishing is an excuse to catch fish year-round while tackling a new challenge. Just make sure you’re prepared before you drill through the lake. Read this how-to guide for safe ice fishing.
  • Walking: A walk through light snow can be just as beautiful as any other season. As long as it’s not too cold, bundling up for a 15-minute walk will get you active and out of the house. In fact, many find the cool winter air to be especially refreshing.

Of course, there are still going to be times when the snow’s thick and the air’s chilly. If you’re stuck inside, there’s no need to worry! Here are some ways to keep active indoors, too.

Indoors:

  • Join a gym. A gym membership will give you a place to go when you can’t get your exercise in anywhere else. It’s an easy way to get a full workout, since gyms have a wide range of equipment that wouldn’t fit in your home.
  • Take the stairs. Not ready to join a gym? Start with something a little less intimidating. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator can help you burn a few extra calories, and will build cardio stamina over time.
  • Join an indoor sports league. Just because winter starts doesn’t mean team sports stop. Check your local gym or community center for indoor sports leagues like soccer, tennis or basketball.
  • Use free weights or resistance bands. Don’t want to leave the comfort of your house? There’s plenty of equipment you can use at home to break a sweat. You can get a full-body workout with resistance bands or free weights, and they don’t take up much room.
  • Watch online workout videos. Even without weights and bands, online workout videos can get you into shape in your own living room. Whether it’s cardio, yoga, pilates or strength training, there are dozens of options available to find the workout that’s right for you.

As the seasons change, your options for staying active do, too – whether it’s a walk through the snow, gliding on an ice rink or other activities that only last for the season.

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Winterizing your Home

Winterizing Your Home Checklist

There’s no denying it: Winter is on its way. 

Winterizing your home can help lower your energy bills, prevent bigger more costly repairs later on, and reduce the risk of accidents like a home heating fire. (Side note: That’s why having the right homeowners insurance can give you peace of mind, too.) 

Ready? Let’s walk through the big list of projects to tackle this fall.
 

FALL HOME MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST

Indoors:

  • Windows and doors: Prevent chilly drafts (and pricey heating bills) by checking and replacing any worn weather stripping, and caulking any cracks. For loose-fitting doors, slide a draft guard or rolled-up towel underneath to fill the gap. For old or drafty windows, consider peel-and-stick window insulation film – it might not be the most elegant look, but it can keep up to 70% of heat from escaping.Related: A dozen easy ways to keep cold air from entering your house
     
  • Fireplace: Check your fireplace and flue system to remove soot or ashes. Check for cracks that could be a fire hazard. Also, examine the fireplace for drafts. If it’s cold despite the damper being closed, the damper itself may be need to be repaired or replaced. If you’re not planning on using your fireplace at all, invest in a chimney balloon to block the opening. (Just remember to take it out before you build a fire next season.) Most importantly, know what fixes are safe for you to tackle and what should be in the hands of a certified chimney sweep with training and proper equipment. Related: What’s a professional chimney inspection, and why do I need one?
     
  • Furnace: Before you turn up the heat for the season, start by changing (or cleaning) your furnace filter. It’s also a good idea to have an HVAC professional check your furnace once per year. And if you can’t remember the last time you had your heating ducts checked for leaks and efficiency… an HVAC professional can help with that, too. Related: How often does my furnace filter need changed (and how do I do it?)
     
  • Thermostat: For every degree lower your home’s temperature during the winter, you can save as much as 1 percent on your energy bill (according to the U.S. Department of Energy). If you have an older thermostat, consider replacing it with a smart model to save on heating costs. Many new thermostats have algorithms to learn your comings and goings so you’re not paying to keep your home toasty warm when you’re not around. Related: 10 energy-saving tips to prepare your home for cold weather
     
  • Other home heating: We know they’re cozy, but be extra cautious when using a space heater. Space heaters cause about one-third of all winter house fires and 80 percent of all winter heating fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Related: Must-know safety tips for fireplaces, space heaters and wood-burning stoves 
  • Drafts and cracks: Cold air will take advantage of any opportunity to sneak into your home. Here’s a list of quick fixes for drafty places:
    • Outlets and switch plates: Use foam-insulating sheets to block cold air coming in from exterior walls.
    • Exposed ducts: Check your attic, basement, and crawl spaces and use sealant to plug up any leaks or cracks on exposed ducts.
    • Floors: Don’t underestimate the power of a thick, cozy rug. Your floors can account for as much as 10 percent of heat loss in a house. 
    Related: A dozen easy ways to keep cold air from entering your house 
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: While you’re in the process of prepping your house for the long winter, check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are in good working order. Also, with the increased risk of fire in winter, it’s important to have a family escape plan. You can create one using the National Fire Prevention Association’s online guide.

Related: How to prevent a dryer fire

Outdoors:

  • Gutters: Start by clearing debris from gutters and downspouts to prevent them from leaking or sagging. Clogged gutters and subsequent water issues can cause foundation problems, wall and ceiling damage, or even insect infestations. Just make sure you do it safely – use a tall, sturdy ladder (and never stand on the top three rungs!), and don’t forget protective eyewear, gloves and long sleeves to protect yourself against debris, bacteria and pests.Related:5 Common Problems Caused by Clogged Gutters

  • Roof: Snow can be a heavy burden for an old or damaged roof to handle. Before winter hits, inspect your roof for signs of potential problems, like missing, broken, blistered or curling shingles; cracked caulk or rust spots; or large patches of moss and lichen. Any damaged, loose or missing shingles should be repaired right away.

  • Trees and landscaping: It’s a good idea to trim any branches hanging near electric wires before they become a problem. Also, know how to spot the signs of a diseased or dying tree. Heavy snow and strong winter winds can knock down weak branches (or whole trees), so it’s best to do the prep work while the weather’s still mild.Related: What happens if my neighbor’s tree falls in my yard?

  • Lawn equipment: Drain the oil and gas from your mower before storing it for the off-season. Gasoline can separate and spoil in only a few weeks, which could potentially damage your engine.

    Related: How to extend the life of your lawn mower

  • Snow removal supplies: Before the first snow, you’ll be glad you thought ahead and bought supplies early. Inspect the bolts, belts and parts on your snowblower; make sure your snow shovel is in good shape; stock up on ice melt or sand; and invest in a snow rake to help clear your roof. Snow accumulation on your roof that exceeds 20 to 25 pounds per square foot can be dangerous.

Related: How to remove an ice dam 

Does your homeowners insurance keep up with your life?
From weekend projects to major renovations… you’ve worked hard (and invested a lot) to make your house a home.

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