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Express Financial & Insurance Services

3222 Santa Monica Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90404

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Most Forgotten Home Insurance Basics

You have maintained home insurance for most of your homeownership journey- congratulations! But as they say, familiarity breeds contempt. Overfamiliarity can lead you to forget the basics of home insurance. Fortunately, Express Financial & Insurance Services is here to remind you of home insurance basics that you should have in mind to get the most out of your coverage.

Failing to read your policy

Whereas reading a home insurance policy isn’t everyone’s favorite hobby, this doesn’t let you off the hook. Your home insurance policy contains crucial information regarding what is covered and what isn’t. Before rushing to sign the dotted line, liaise with your insurance agent regarding any clause that you are unsure of. Misunderstanding your insurance policy can result in a bad experience during the claim process.

Using actual value instead of replacement value

Instead of using your home’s market value, you must consider the cost of replacing your home if it were to be rebuilt today from scratch. Again, if you are not sure of the value to use, consult your agent to avoid disappointments in the future. 

Not having a home inventory

Failing to have a complete list of your possessions could plunge you into a financial hole when disaster strikes. An updated comprehensive home inventory ensures that all your assets are covered, and you don’t forget any item when making a claim.

Reviewing your home insurance

If you own a home in Santa Monica, CA or any other part of America, you should update your home insurance at least once every year. Besides, the below changes should signal you to sit down with your insurance agent to review your home insurance.

  • Addition of family members
  • Significant renovations
  • Changes in local building costs

Having a trusted insurance agent that reminds you about your home insurance basics can help you avoid a nightmare experience when filing claims. Thankfully, you can trust Express Financial & Insurance Services for all your home insurance solutions if you are in Santa Monica, CA and its environs. 

What happens to my home insurance when my house becomes inhabitable?

Our homes are susceptible to accidents and disasters, which in most cases, we may not control. Extreme situations and accidents such as fire and floods can render your home unlivable. However, devastating it may sound, you may need to vacate your Santa Monica, CA home, and find temporary housing to stay in the meantime.

What happens to your home insurance?

Fortunately, your home insurance covers such incidences, and this type of coverage is known as "loss of use". That is why at Express Financial & Insurance Services, we like to emphasize buying quality home insurance coverage to protect your home and loved ones. Your insurance company will take care of the loss and also provide you with alternative accommodation based on your policy.

You may need to top-up your loss of use coverage.

In most cases, loss of use coverage may not be adequate to cover the damage. Your insurance company may require you to add on extra costs or pay other things like utilities. Depending on how long you’re going to live in the new premises, your insurer may set a limit on how long they will pay for your accommodation.

How will your insurance company settle you?

Depending on your premiums, your coverage should find you alternative accommodation that is similar to your home. For instance, if you lived in a five-bedroom house, you should be re-housed in a five-bedroom house to allow you to continue with your normal lives as quickly and as soon as possible. Your insurer should find a home that is not far from your previous house so that work and school are not disrupted. 

Your home becoming uninhabitable is a whole new headache. Luckily, a home insurance policy can help take care of everything. At Express Financial & Insurance Services, we are here to make things smooth for you. For more information, quotes or queries, call us or visit us at our Santa Monica, CA offices today.

Are my pets covered under my home home insurance policy?

Pets are part of many families in Santa Monica, CA. The summer season is almost here, and many families are looking forward to taking their pets outdoors which can make them get a little wild, which could lead to accidents in the home. 

 Are Pets covered?

The good thing about home damages is that you can always purchase a home insurance policy to cover for losses or injuries that may occur. That is also to answer our title that home insurance does not cover your pets, but the injuries and damage they cause on other people who are not part of the home. When you choose a certified insurance company like Express Financial & Insurance Services, we ensure that you understand all the covered policies in your home insurance policy to avoid future misunderstandings.

Pet damages don’t exist.

It is imperative to understand that what your pet damages in your home is not covered, but what your pet damages in another house is covered. Pets are considered to be a privilege and that owners should own one at their own risk.

Policies do cover injuries.

Any injuries that happen in your home to other people who may have visited you are covered in your home insurance. This also includes bites or scratches from your pets. However, you are not covered if your pet bites or scratched you.

Specific Pets can affect your coverage

Some insurance providers regard some pets as ”dangerous,” which may prompt them to hike their rates. It is crucial for any pet owner to inquire about such details as not all providers follow these rules.

So, if you own pets and are wondering whether they’re covered, Express Financial & Insurance Services located in Santa Monica, CA will help you find a suitable solution that will enable you and your pet enjoy your summer.

5 Ways to Prepare Your Home for the Holidays

With the holidays fast approaching, now is a good time to prepare your home for visits from family and friends. It pays to prepare in advance so you can enjoy family visits when the time comes. Here are a few tips to getting your home in Santa Monica, CA ready for the holidays.

Declutter and Clean

Declutter your home to make it a safer environment and give you more space for entertaining your guests. Then start cleaning areas that visitors are bound to use or gather in. This includes the kitchen, bedrooms, living room and bathrooms. You should also include big projects like windows, carpets and floors. If you spread this work out over a few weeks, it will be done by the time visitors arrive.  

Stock Your Pantry

If you plan to do a lot of cooking over the holidays, stock your pantry with all the baking and food staples you’ll need. Having basic ingredients on hand makes it easier to whip up homemade desserts, appetizers and meals when needed.

Replenish Household Essentials

Replenish household essentials like toilet paper, napkins, paper towels, hand soap, toothpaste and shampoo and conditioner before guests arrive. You should also stock up on disposable plates, cups and silverware for snacks to simplify cleanup afterwards.     

Prepare Guest Bedding

Wash, fold and store guest towels and linens in a clean, dry place where they can be easily found. By doing this in advance, you’ll be well prepared to receive overnight guests at a moment’s notice.     

Update Home Insurance Coverage

Don’t forget to update your home insurance with Express Financial & Insurance Services before the holidays start. For help in renewing or updating your coverage, contact an agent from Express Financial & Insurance Services in Santa Monica, CA today.

What At-Home Businesses Should Know about Commercial Insurance

Many home-based businesses in Santa Monica, CA lack proper insurance, but it is important to know that even a home-based business needs the proper commercial insurance. It doesn’t matter how much a business sells, it’s the amount they could lose if anything goes wrong that really matters. Don’t wait to get insurance.

Regular home insurance or renter’s insurance won’t cover any business-related accidents, but it’s possible to get a rider to your home policy that gives you more coverage. This is a good idea for a small business that doesn’t have a lot of risks, valuable equipment or people visiting the business.

An in-home business policy covers more contingencies and can usually work for businesses with three or fewer employees. This policy will cover equipment and liability. If people are coming in and out of the business, having liability coverage is important. Agents at Express Financial & Insurance Services can help determine what you need based on your business.

If the home business is substantial enough, it should have a business owner’s policy just like a typical brick-and-mortar business would use. This coverage includes business equipment and assets, liability for any injuries, malpractice or professional liability claims, and loss of income for business interruption.  It may also cover a personal vehicle used for business, but there are also commercial vehicle policies available if you use your vehicle frequently. This type of policy gives more coverage than the other two policies, so it’s a good choice for businesses that have a lot of equipment or travel to other people’s homes often to do business or have people in their home.

As your business grows, speak with your agent at Express Financial & Insurance Services serving Santa Monica, CA to make sure you are keeping up with adequate coverage and to learn more about your home business coverage options.

How To Protect Your Home In Santa Monica, CA

When you live in Santa Monica, CA, it’s vital that you do all that you can to protect your home. At Express Financial & Insurance Services, our goal is to help you find a good home insurance policy. With a strong policy, you can file a claim with confidence knowing that insurance will take care of most of the financial aspects.

Secure Your Home

You should have a security system on your home. This includes sensors on the doors and windows so you know if they are opened. It should be monitored as well, thus telling you what’s going on, even if you are not at home. Systems are more advanced than ever before and you should have at least something in place.

Create a Home Inventory

If someone breaks into your home and steals something, you want to know what it is. Some items might be obvious while others might not be. A home inventory is a great way to protect your home in Santa Monica, CA. You go room by room to list all that you own. From there, take photos of high-value items and ensure that values are attached to them all. It makes it easier to get the right insurance and helps with filing a claim later on.

Choose the Right Insurance

There are all sorts of options when it comes to homeowners insurance. You want to make sure that you choose a comprehensive policy with a good insurance company. By working with an independent insurance agent, you get the help throughout the entire process. You can then enjoy peace of mind knowing that your home is protected to the highest level.

When you want to discuss home insurance and get the help from a professional insurance agent, contact us at Express Financial & Insurance Services so we can work with you. 

Home Renovations that can Cut Insurance Costs

Many homeowners today are looking for ways to cut back on their insurance premium. By making certain home improvements, it’s possible to qualify for reduced insurance costs. A talk with your Express Financial & Insurance Services agent in Santa Monica, CA can give you a better idea of how to take advantage of home renovations such as the following to lower insurance costs.

New Roof

By installing a new roof on your home, you reduce the risk of storms causing structural and/or interior damage to your property.  A new roof made of damage resistant materials could substantially increase your home’s protection, making you eligible for lower insurance costs.

Home Security System

A home security/monitoring system is yet another investment that could reduce home insurance prices. Modern security systems offer advanced protection against theft, vandalism, intrusion, fire, water damage and carbon monoxide poisoning. An automated security system will alert you and the authorities when these dangerous situations arise, reducing the risk of theft, health issues or having your property suffer from extensive damage. Lower insurance rate is one-way insurance companies reward homeowners for taking better care of their property.

Plumbing and/or Electrical System Upgrades

If you live in an older home, chances are your plumbing and/or electrical systems could use an upgrade. Outdated plumbing and electrical systems increase the risk of indoor flooding and fire. By updating these systems to modern standards, you can protect your property from burst pipes that can cause flooding or electrical shorts that can cause a fire.

There are numerous renovations that make a home a safer, more secure environment. Homeowners who make safety and security a priority are more apt to benefit from lower home insurance costs. At Express Financial & Insurance Services, we can advise you on ways to reduce the insurance premium on your Santa Monica, CA home without compromising your coverage.

Ways to Save Money on Home Insurance

Saving money is always a good thing, whether that involves cost savings on groceries, clothing, auto expenses or even insurance. There are definitely ways to save money on home insurance with Express Financial & Insurance Services in Santa Monica, CA. Here are some key strategies to consider.

Multiple-policy discounts

When you have more than one insurance policy with the same insurance company, you typically get a discount on both policies. So if you have home insurance plus automobile insurance with the same company, you get a discount on your policies. In many cases, the amount or percentage of the discount can be significant.

Safety features in home

Another way to save money on home insurance is by having certain safety features in your home. For example, if you have a sprinkler system that activates if a fire occurs, you will possibly get a discount on how much you pay in insurance premiums. The same goes for added locks on the doors to your house.

Special membership status

If you are a member of certain groups, an insurance company might give you a discount on your policy. This may include a membership in an alumni group, special interest organization such as an educational group or an auto club.

In some cases you can save a few dollars here and there on home insurance rates when you take advantage of cost savings available to you. In other cases, such as when you have multiple policies with the same company, the savings can be substantial. As the saying goes, every little bit helps, so don’t overlook what cost savings might be available to you when you are evaluating your home insurance needs. When it comes to cost savings, Express Financial & Insurance Services in Santa Monica, CA is here to help.

Tips for Preventing Water Damage

Water damage is something that no homeowner in Santa Monica, CA wants to deal with. It not only is something that you have to hurry to repair but it can also be time-consuming and expensive. You never want to waste time repairing it because it could become a bigger problem or turn into mold if left to sit. Instead of trying to take care of it when it happens, use these tips from Express Financial & Insurance Services to prevent it from happening. 

  • Watch your water bill for unexpected increases. If you do not have a reason for an increased water bill and increased water usage, you should be on alert if your bill is higher than normal. It could mean there is a leak somewhere and you will want to inspect it before it becomes a bigger issue. 
  • Watch where you plant trees. It may not be an issue now but if there are pipes close to the tree, they could become damaged as it grows and the roots get bigger. When planting, do not put them close to your pipes if they are underground. 
  • Never pour grease down your sink. Even if you take other precautions, it could still cause a blockage that could lead to water damage later. It is best to prevent this from happening by not doing it.

While these tips can definitely help you prevent water damage there is no way to completely prevent it from happening. The best way to protect yourself. your home, and your finances is by having a great home insurance policy with a clause that includes water damage. For more information on getting this type of insurance and to get a free quote, be sure to contact Express Financial & Insurance Services serving Santa Monica, CA today. 

Yes, California Homes Need Winterizing.

Living in Santa Monica, CA, you may not give a lot of thought to winterizing your home. The southern California weather remains mild throughout the year, unlike most of the country. You still have a few items to attend to though and Express Financial & Insurance Services would like to help. Winterizing on the southern west coast is easier than in other states, but you still have to know what to do and who to call to get it done. These tips will help you prepare your home for the upcoming drop in temperatures, rain, and morning frost. You’ll save money on heating bills, make your home more comfortable and avoid potential damage from faulty equipment. 

The Furnace

Have an HVAC professional inspect and test your furnace. The inspection catches worn or broken parts that could affect performance or blow out while running, causing further damage.  They should clean or replace your air filters. They’ll also check your attic vents and air ducts for obstructions and clear obstacles off of them in the attic or crawl space. Pinched pipes need replacing since they restrict air flow. Also, have them patch any gaps found. They may suggest you vacuum your ducts more regularly. You should vacuum them out at least every two years since dust, hair and other items clog them and restrict air flow. You may find this also helps with allergies. 

Windows and Doors

Check for drafts. Wherever you find one, caulk the window. Apply weather stripping. Try magnetic or tension seal weather stripping for double-hung windows. A draft lets in cold air and lets out your warm air so you can quickly make your home more comfortable this way. Sealing these drafts and wall cracks can save you up to 20 percent on energy costs. 

Your Fireplace

Have your chimney inspected and swept before using the fireplace. If you have a damperless chimney, have a chimney balloon installed. You’ll stop air leaks and save money on your energy bill. 

The Attic

Check your insulation to ensure it lays flat. A lumpy installation doesn’t provide adequate coverage. You also need at least 12 inches of attic insulation. Most ceiling joists are 11 inches or less, so if you see your joists, you need more insulation. While you are insulating, insulate your hot water heater, too, but with a cozy. Your water will heat faster and it’ll use less energy to stay hot. 

Winterizing a Santa Monica, CA home takes less work than in the rest of the country, but it’s no less important. Before winter hits, visit Express Financial & Insurance Services to review your home insurance coverage to make sure its meets your needs.