Does Home and Auto Insurance Cover Hail Damage in Seattle?

Spring and summer bring wonderful warm (sometimes hot) weather. With that warmer weather, the potential for thunder and hail storms increases. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the U.S. saw more than 5,450 hail related weather events in 2013. While thunderstorms may rattle your windows a bit, hail can do serious damage to your home and vehicles. There are a few ways you can prepare and protect yourself, your home and vehicles before a hail storm hits.

Hail Preparation in Washington:

  • What the hail: As defined from weather.com, hail is “Hail is precipitation in the form of a chunk of ice that can fall from a cumulonimbus cloud. Usually associated with multicell, supercell and cold front induced squall line thunderstorms, most hail falls from the central region of a cloud in a severe storm.“ Hail can range from small marble-sized pellets to the size of a softball. While hailstorms may come with little-to-no warning, being prepared ahead of time is the best defense against hailstorm.
  • Prepare your home: Your home is a large target for hail. Roofs can be severely damaged and if they are not in good repair, large enough hail could leave holes. Making sure that your roof is in good repair and all shingles/tiles are in place. This may help mitigate the damage to the roof should a large hailstorm sweep through your area. Windows are also at risk for damage. Hail (even small hail) can crack or shatter windows. Having storm shutters (or even regular shutters) help protect windows from large hail damage. A homeowner’s insurance policy with may cover the damage from hailstorms, however you should check with your insurance agent for limitations.
  • Preparing your vehicle: Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to protect your vehicles (RVs, cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc) from hail damage. Damage to vehicles can range from small dents and dings to shattered windshields. The only real remedy is parking them undercover in a garage or carport. You can help reduce the cost of repair damage should your vehicle get dented in hailstorm with an auto insurance policy with comprehensive coverage. Your standard liability-only policy will not cover damage associated with hail damage. Of course, limitations and deductibles may apply.
  • Next steps: If your home or vehicle is damaged during a hailstorm, there are a few things that you should do.
  1. Take photos of the damage.
  2. Report the claim to your insurance carrier.
  3. Temporarily mitigate your damages (cover the damage with a tarp, etc.). Your insurance carrier should follow up quickly and often can provide you with recommendations for contractors and auto repair shops.

While large hailstorms are not a common occurrence in Seattle, WA, it is always good to be prepared. Ask the insurance experts at Secord Agency if your home and auto policy carry comprehensive coverage that can help protect you from inclement weather including coverage for hail damage. You can visit their insurance website 24/7 and your Secord agent can also assist you with adding additional insurance policies like flood or earthquake.

Simple Auto Maintenance Tips in Seattle, WA | Secord Insurance Agency in Seattle, Washington

When it comes to auto maintenance, there are some things that are best left to the professionals. While you may not be able to repair issues with your engine, transmission or other vital systems in your vehicle, you can perform some simple maintenance and save yourself at little bit of money!

Standard car maintenance you can do yourself in Washington:

  • Fluids: There are a number of fluids a car needs to keep running. Changing some of these fluids are as easy as filling up a reservoir, like water or antifreeze in your radiator or refilling your windshield washing fluid. Others, like changing your oil, can be a bit more time consuming. Before you embark on changing your own oil, make sure to read your cars maintenance manual to see what type of oil you need (synthetic, blend and the weight of the oil) and how often the manufacturer recommends the oil be changed. Oil and oil filters can be purchased from auto supply stores and even some one-stop-shopping retailers. You’ll also need to locate an oil disposal center. Some auto supply store will take used oil and dispose of it for free. While you are waiting for the oil to drain, you can also check your spark plugs! YouTube or websites like howstuffworks.com have great examples of how to change your plugs and what the condition of your old plugs may mean about the condition of your vehicle.
  • Tires: Tire maintenance is pretty simple and improperly maintained tires can affect your cars handling ability and gas mileage. Keeping your tires at the proper pressure level and having them rotated at a regular interval helps keep them in good condition. At some point though, you will get a flat tire. They usually happen at the most inopportune times, at night and while it’s raining. Tossing a spare tire on is actually fairly simple. You’ll need a jack, a tire iron and a container (or use your pocket) to keep track of the nuts/bolts that you will take off the deflating tire. You can often get all of this in a tire changing kit, if one is not included with your vehicle, which can be expensive upfront (typically between $100-$180) but cheaper than a tow. Once you’ve replaced the damaged tire with a spare, you can get yourself to a tire repair center to get the flat patched.
  • Brakes: Brakes in good working order are extremely important to your safety and the safety of others on the road. Brake pads can wear over time, which causes them to be less effective when slowing your car. If your brake pads wear too thin, an element on the back of the pad can come in contact with your rotor disc. Metal on metal grinding is never good and can result in having to replace the rotor (which could require the work of a professional). The average life span for brake pads is roughly 40,000 miles, however this can vary greatly depending on your driving style and your daily driving conditions. If you hear that telltale “squeak” of your brakes, it is time to give them a look. This is actually a built in “warning system” from your brake pads telling you they are running low. Your cars maintenance manual will let you know the type (size) of brake pad you need for the front and rear of your car. Changing out your brake pads requires you to remove the tire and the old pad. Other than that, it is fairly simple and can take under 20 minutes from start to finish per wheel. You should be cautious when breaking in new pads, it usually takes about 200 miles before the pads are working at “full strength.”
  • Keep it clean: Both the inside and outside of your vehicle should be regularly cleaned. Regular washings help keep dirt and other nasty stuff that can damage your paint, off your vehicle. A regular waxing can help extend the “shiny” look of your paint. Washing the exterior of your car on a regular basis also gives you the opportunity to check for dents, rock chips or damage that the layer of dirt was covering. Keeping the interior of your vehicle clean is not only sanitary, but it can diminish a safety hazard. Having things floating around your car like soda bottles, books, shoes, etc., can become projectiles and potentially dangerous if you are in a car accident. It is very easy to do a quick clean out, vacuum and wipe down of your interior when you clean the outside of your vehicle. A shiny car inside and out will put a smile on your face!

Another element of standard auto maintenance is a current auto insurance policy. Talk to the experts at Secord Agency in Seattle, WA. Your local, independent insurance agents can walk you through your current auto insurance policy or assist with setting up a new policy. Because they live in the Seattle area they can recommend auto repair shops should your vehicle need a professional. You can visit their insurance website 24/7 for more information about auto insurance or to check the other insurance products they offer, like renters insurance.

Travel Insurance in Seattle, WA – What to Consider | Secord Insurance Agency in Seattle, Washington

The case for Travel Insurance

While booking a family vacation there are some important things you should plan for and we’d like to discuss an insurance topic that many people do not know about or elect to not purchase: travel insurance. This is not a product that we (or most insurance companies sell) so this is purely for educational purposes. We want you, our valued clients, to have the best time on your vacation even if something goes awry.

What does Travel Insurance cover?

Travel insurance usually has a few different tiers. Some companies offer simple plans that include airline ticket reimbursement if you have to miss your flight for an approved reason, others offer the “Cadillac” package of airline ticket reimbursement, medical insurance coverage, medical evacuation and trip cancellation. There are a smattering of other plans in-between. Deciding which plan is right for your trip will depend on a few factors: cost of the trip, location of the trip and the pre-existing/potential medical issues that could arise from someone covered under the plan. If you are traveling domestically, typically your health insurance should allow for in-or out-of-network medical care. If you are traveling internationally that can be whole different story. Check with your health insurance provider for information about international health insurance coverage. If you purchase a travel insurance plan, make sure to look at the fine print, up to percentages and dollar amounts regarding coverage.

Why do I need travel insurance?

Buying travel insurance is entirely up to you. If you are taking a quick weekend trip and don’t mind losing out on the experience and money if you have to cancel, then no need for insurance. However, if you are spending a substantial amount of money on a vacation, then having a travel insurance plan could help offset the cost if the trip is delayed or canceled. Missing a flight due to traffic can set off a chain of events that could cost a lot of money to fix. Consider Mother Nature; a nasty storm like the recent Polar Vortex grounded several flights for days or volcanic eruption, like the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 caused severe flights days in and out of Europe for weeks. While some airlines will work with you on flights delayed or canceled due to weather, some will not.

Where do I buy travel insurance?

Travel insurance can be purchased through many booking sites like Expedia and travel guide sites like Lonely Planet and Frommers often have links to reputable companies. If you are booking through a travel agency, ask your agent about travel insurance options.

We hope that wherever you head for vacation that you have a wonderful time and that you do not have to use the benefits of your travel insurance should you choose to purchase it! For all the other traveling you may do this year, in your boat or your RV, give the experts at Secord Agency in Seattle, WA a call or visit our insurance website24/7 for great insurance rates! Safe travels!