Frequently Asked Questions

Home Insurance FAQs

What are some practical things I can do to lower the cost of my homeowners insurance?
The easiest thing to do is get a comprehensive review of your policy and needs from your local agent. It is not surprising to find quotes on homeowners insurance that vary by hundreds of dollars for the same coverage on the same home. When you shop, be careful to make sure each insurer is offering the same coverage.

For example, many insurers will offer a Bundling Discount when you place both your automobile and homeowners insurance with them. Other times, insurers offer security discounts if there is a security system or security devices installed. Hurricane shutters can also be considered. Be sure to ask us about any discounts for which you may qualify.

What is the difference between "actual cash value" and "replacement cost"?
Covered losses under a homeowners policy can be paid on either an actual cash value basis or on a replacement cost basis. When “actual cash value” is used, the policy owner is entitled to the replacement cost minus depreciation of the damaged structure or article. Under the “replacement cost” coverage, the policy owner is reimbursed an amount necessary to replace the structure or article with one of similar “like, kind and quality”.
What factors should I consider when purchasing homeowners insurance?

There are a number of factors you should consider when purchasing any product or service, and insurance is no different.

Here is a checklist of things you should consider when you purchase homeowners insurance.

  • Determine the amount and type of insurance that you need. The coverage limit of your house should equal 100% of its replacement cost. If your policy limit is less than 80% of the replacement cost of your home, any payment from your insurance company may be less than the full cost to replace your home — you’ll have to pay the rest out of your own pocket. Also, decide if the personal property and personal liability limits are adequate for your needs.
  • Determine which, if any, additional endorsements you want to add to your policy. For example, do you want the personal property replacement cost endorsement, an earthquake endorsement or a jewelry endorsement?
  • Once you have decided on the coverage you want in your homeowners insurance policy, consult us. We will be able to help you determine if there are any gaps in coverage you might not have been aware of, explain the details of the policy’s exclusions and limitations as well as recommend an insurance company that will live up to your expectations.
Do I need earthquake coverage? How can I get it?
The standard homeowner insurance policy does not pay for direct damages caused by “earth movement.” “Earth movement” is a much broader term than earthquake. It includes earthquakes, volcanic activity, and other earth movements. This coverage may be available by endorsement for an additional charge. If you live in an area that is more likely to have an earthquake, you’ll pay more than if you live in an area that is unlikely to have an earthquake. HorizonFirst Insurance can help you weigh the costs and benefits of this coverage before you decide to purchase.

Auto Insurance FAQs

I have an older car whose current market value is very low - do I really need to purchase automobile insurance?

Most states have insurance laws that require drivers to have a minimum amount of auto liability insurance. These laws were enacted to ensure that victims of automobile accidents fairly compensated when their losses are caused by the actions of another driver who was found at fault and/or the other driver who doesn’t have insurance.

It is often the case that the cost of repairing the damages to an older car is greater than its value. In these cases, your insurer will usually “total” the car and give you a check for the car’s market value less the deductible. Many people with older cars decide not to purchase any physical damage coverage.

What is the difference between collision and comprehensive coverage?
Collision is defined as losses you incur when your automobile hits something else. Comprehensive when something hits your vehicle. Fire and theft also fall under comprehensive coverage. For example, if you hit a car in a parking lot, your collision coverage the damages to your car will be paid under. Hail damage would be under comprehensive coverage.

Comprehensive provides coverage for most other direct physical damage losses you could incur, including theft. For example, damage to your car from a hailstorm will be covered under your comprehensive coverage.

What factors can affect the cost of my car insurance?
The type of car you drive, the purpose the car serves, your driving record, and where the car is garaged can all affect how much your automobile insurance will cost you. Credit score will impact it also.

Another easy way to lower the cost of your auto insurance is to raise your deductible. Increasing your deductible from $500 to $1000 will lower your premium, sometimes by as much as five or ten percent.

What discounts and programs are available?
Ask about discounts for taking safety classes or having multiple policies. Security devices would also be taken into consideration.
What are the steps for filing a car insurance claim?

Immediately following an auto accident, remember to stay calm, call the police, remain at the scene in a safe location, take photos, and exchange information with the other driver if possible. Car accidents can be traumatizing, but filing a claim shouldn’t be. Here’s what you should do if you file a car insurance claim:

Contact your insurance company with information about the accident right away.

Whether you file your car insurance claim over the phone, online, through a mobile app, or with an agent, your insurer will likely request the following details:

  • Location, date, and time of accident
  • Name, address, phone number, and insurance policy number for all involved in the accident
  • Weather condition
  • Photo(s) of the damaged vehicle(s) and other vehicles
  • Copies of the police and/or accident reports, if applicable

Review your policy’s coverages and deductible selections:

Knowing how you’re covered is essential and can set proper expectations for your claim. For example, if you have rental car reimbursement coverage, you may be entitled to a rental vehicle while your car is being repaired. Your policy’s deductible amount indicates how much you pay out of pocket on a covered claim, while your coverage limits represent the maximum dollar limit your insurer could pay out in a certain category. Additionally, loan/lease payoff coverage (also known as “gap insurance”) can cover the difference, up to your policy’s limits, if you owe more on the vehicle than it’s worth.

Work with your insurance adjuster:

Your insurance company will appoint an adjuster, or multiple adjusters, to investigate your claim. Typically, the adjuster contacts you within one to three days of the claim filing. Your adjuster arranges an inspection, assesses the damage to your car, and/or addresses any personal injury claims. Additionally, an adjuster could analyze police reports and interview witnesses to the accident.

Depending on your insurer, you could be required to get an estimate for the cost of your vehicle’s repairs and the repair shop will share that figure with your insurance company. Your insurer then makes an evaluation based on information from your adjuster and the repair shop.

Repair or replace your car, if necessary:

You have the freedom to choose which shop handles your car’s repairs. Assuming your claim has been approved, your insurer issues a payment to you or the repair shop, minus your deductible. If your car is damaged beyond repair, your insurer cuts you and/or your lender a check for the value of the vehicle, minus your deductible.

What should I do for a minor car accident with no damage?
Even a minor fender-bender may result in calling the police, exchanging information with the other driver, and notifying your insurance company (regardless of whether you intend to file a claim). It’s also a good idea to take photos of the vehicles and property involved — you may need documentation if the other driver files an insurance claim. Even if there’s no damage it’s best to have photographic proof of it.
How long do you have to file a car insurance claim?

Deadlines for filing a claim varies by insurer, state, and type of claim. Every state provides you more than a reasonable amount of time, but you shouldn’t delay in contacting your insurer. Local state law may dictate that you file an accident report within 14 calendar days.

Renters & Condo Insurance FAQs

Why would I want to buy renters insurance?
If you live in an apartment or a rented house, renters insurance provides essential coverage for both you and your possessions. A renters policy protects your personal property in many cases of theft or damage and may pay for temporary living expenses if your rental is damaged. It can also shield you from personal liability. Anyone who leases a house or apartment should consider this type of coverage.
Why do some apartment complexes require tenants to have renters insurance?
Owners of apartment complexes buy insurance policies for their liability and to cover their buildings and personal property. However, these policies do not cover any of the tenant’s property or liability. By requiring their tenants to have renters insurance, the apartment owner is assured that the tenants will not mistakenly believe the apartment complex owner’s policy will provide coverage for a tenant’s property or personal liability. Although this type of requirement benefits that apartment complex owner, there are benefits to the renter. HorizonFirst Insurance recommends that you purchase renters insurance regardless of what your landlord requires.

Boat Insurance FAQs

What discounts and programs are available?
Ask about discounts for taking boat safety classes or having multiple policies.

Motorcycle Insurance FAQs

What discounts and programs are available?
Ask about discounts for taking safety classes or having multiple policies. Security devices would also be taken into consideration.

You may also save money if you belong to a motorcycle association.

Life Insurance FAQs

How much life insurance should an individual own?
Calculating the correct amount of life insurance to buy is not as simple as it appears.

HorizonFirst recommends contacting us for help determining the right amount of coverage. As independent agents, we are unbiased advisers that will help you avoid buying too much, show you appropriate optional coverages for your need, and recommend a company that will best serve your interests.

Protect What Matters Most

We have the protection you need for your family, your home, your cars, and all of your valuable assets. Speak with a licensed agent today.

HorizonFirst Location Mount Pleasant South Carolina

Located in Charleston, SC, we are proud to serve clients throughout the Lowcountry, including:

  • Mount Pleasant
  • Isle of Palms  
  • Daniel Island
  • West Ashley
  • James Island
  • John's Island
  • Folly Beach