3 Ways to Keep Your Car Secure Against Theft

Located just on the outskirts of Auburn, Opelika, AL is home to quite a few thousand cars and plenty of traffic for those venturing to the university nearby. With lots of visitors and the area attracting a variety of folks to the area, our customers at Elliott & Associates Insurance want to offer you multiple ways to keep your car secure against theft. 

Park Bright

Wherever you choose to park your car, make sure it is in a well-lit area. Dark spaces encourage thieves to break into vehicles because it is more accessible to work and allows limited witnesses. Most will avoid your car in a lit and secure parking lot to prevent the risk of getting caught. 

Get an Immobilizer

If you do not already have one, an immobilizer is a physical device that you place on your car to prevent them from hot-wiring your car and stealing it. This device is complicated to remove without the owner, so most thieves who are looking for a quick snatch will move right past your car when they see it. 

Lock your Steering Wheel

Another device that you can place in your car is the steering wheel lock that requires a key to remove. With this lock in place, the vehicle cannot be driven. For most criminals seeking out a car, they will walk right past yours because of the time and risks these locks create.

Get Premium Security

The best security for your car is auto insurance. When you add comprehensive coverage to your policy, you are covered in the event your vehicle is stolen. If you live in or around Opelika, AL, contact our agents at Elliott & Associates Insurance today for more information about our policy offerings. 

How to Set Up Your Home to Be a Rental Property

By Dylan LeCompte

Renting out your house instead of listing it on the real estate market is a common, and even profitable, way to hold on to your property when you aren’t currently living in it as a primary residence. Some homeowners choose this direction when they want to wait to sell when their second home’s value increases or the market turns in their favor. Others may want to come back to this property for retirement or are holding on to it for their family’s future use.

Whatever your reasons for deciding to rent out your property, some planning and preparation need to go into your home — not to mention your new role as a landlord — before you can start advertising it to the world. The first decision to make is determining if you want this to be a long-term rental, as in asking for year-long leases from tenants, or a short-term rental, such as listing your property on Airbnb or VRBO. This guide will walk you through:

  • Setting up your house as a short-term or long-term rental
  • How to find out how much to rent your house for
  • Knowing your legal rights and responsibilities
  • Putting on your landlord hat
  • Pros and cons of short-term vs. long-term renting

Setting up your house as a rental

Whether you’re setting up your home for a long-term or a short-term rental, you’ll need to be sure that it’s ready for your renters to move into. Either way, you want to double-check to make sure that:

  • All appliances are safe and in working order.
  • Entry to the house, whether by key or lock pad, is secure and accessible.
  • The house is clean, and if furnished, the furniture is not broken or damaged and in good condition.

If you’re going to be renting your house for short periods on a site like Airbnb, you’ll want to take the right steps to set up your profile correctly. You will need to include information like:

  • Your home type and how many people your space can accommodate.
  • If you allow children and pets, and if there are any additional fees for them.
  • An overview of your home and the area nearby, along with highlighting any amenities that guests can expect to enjoy when they stay in your house.

How to find out how much to rent your house for

When renting out your house, you’ll need to understand how much rent to charge to make sure you cover all of your costs — mortgage, property taxes, insurance, utilities — and be able to set aside some funds to put toward maintenance and upkeep. You’ll also need to cover costs associated with rental applications like conducting background and credit score checks on tenants, as well as hiring cleaning services, a property manager, and contacting referrals.

However, once you determine a price that covers your needs, you’ll need to search and compare it to other rental homes of the same or similar quality in your zip code area; this applies to both short-term and long-term rental properties. Redfin offers a rental estimate that will help you in determining how much to rent your home for.

When getting your business and finances in order to list your home as a short-term rental, you’ll want to:

  • Do your research on Airbnb or VRBO to see the price range that other homes in your area rent for.
  • Consider offering a discount for extended stays. Also consider increasing the rent on weekends, holidays and other high-travel seasons.
  • Factor in cleaning costs, pet deposits, and other upfront non-refundable fees.
  • Protect yourself and your property with insurance.

Pro tip: For new hosts, Airbnb recommends listing your price lower than the suggested rate, so you can get a few immediate reviews and build up your credentials.

When organizing your finances and business to offer your home as a long-term rental, you’ll want to:

  • Determine the length of the lease you’ll offer.
  • Set a price for security, pet, and other deposits.
  • Consider hiring a rental manager such as a property management company to handle rent and late fee collection, take care of repairs and deal with vacancies and evictions.
  • Protect yourself and your property with insurance.
  • List your home on applicable rental sites such as Craigslist, Facebook, etc

Once you have settled and secured the business aspects, you’ll want to speak with a lawyer or real estate company to make sure you not only understand your legal responsibilities but that you have them all covered.

Know your legal rights and responsibilities

The essential contract for a long-term rental is a lease agreement. As a landlord, you need to be sure all of the terms of the rental situation are outlined on paper and signed by all parties involved. You’ll want to make sure your lease outlines the following:

  • Length of lease
  • Security deposit amount
  • Rental due date and penalties for late or missed payments
  • Responsibilities for repairs, basic upkeep, and maintenance — be sure to be specific about lawn care and pest control
  • List of names of all tenants
  • Policies about pets, painting, noise levels, homeowners association dues and rules, and smoking
  • All related deposits
  • Eviction terms
  • Consequences for damaging the property

When thinking about the length of the lease, keep in mind that a month-to-month lease gives you the flexibility to sell when you’re ready, while an annual lease is a more stable option for those holding on to the property. Either way, have a lawyer look over the lease to make sure you’ve included all of the necessary components. You also need to research the landlord and tenant laws in your state. When it comes to disputes, some states automatically favor the tenant over the landlord, so it’s important you know the laws, rules, and regulations for your specific state.

When it comes to a short-term rental, signing a lease is usually not involved, but you still need to make sure that your renters understand and follow your policies. You want to be specific about cancellation policies, adding additional guests, steps for clean-up or check-out, and roles around any amenities like swimming pools, hot tubs or kitchens.

Put on your landlord hat

When you decide to rent out your home, you have to be sure to separate yourself emotionally from your renters. While it’s important to be flexible when you can, remember that this is a business. A good landlord is someone who is firm but kind, understanding but not easily taken advantage of. Other qualities of a good landlord include:

  • Good communication with quick response times
  • Reliable and responsible, and always acts honestly and with integrity
  • Well-organized and thorough, paying close attention to detail

Utilizing and developing all of these qualities will enable you to establish a strong, cordial and candid landlord/tenant relationship.

Pros and cons of short-term vs. long-term renting

There are many reasons to rent out your property, but deciding how to rent it out can be just as challenging as deciding who to rent it to. How do you know which is the best choice for you?

Short-Term Rental Pros

  • More lucrative, especially if you live in a tourist destination
  • Adjustable in regard to time and money in order to fit the demand
  • Flexible with scheduling so you can use the property for vacation when you have the time
  • Possible qualification for tax breaks & deductions that are specific to short-term rentals, like the 14-day rule
  • Generally less wear and tear on your property

Short-Term Rental Cons

  • Necessary to furnish and clean on a frequent, regular schedule
  • Some states, cities or municipalities require short-term rental landlords to complete complex paperwork and hike a mountain of red tape
  • Accounting for negative financial gains during slower periods
  • More competition from surrounding properties
  • Typically more tasks and items to manage

Long-Term Rental Pros

  • More stable and reliable tenants with less rental turnover
  • More consistent pay & income
  • Fewer bills that need to be covered by the landlord
  • Generally does not need to be furnished

Long-Term Rental Cons

  • Potentially larger gaps between tenants
  • Less control over the property
  • Finding the right tenants may take time
  • The eviction process can be time-consuming and costly

You won’t find a one-size-fits-all package when it’s time to decide on a short-term or long-term rental plan. The benefits — and shortcomings — associated with both are clear. It’s important to always keep sight of your goal: maximizing your property’s return on investment.

Originally published on Redfin

Does Home Depreciation Affect Your Home Insurance Policy?

You have probably heard about depreciation with respect to things such as your car or your electronics, but not a lot of people talk about home depreciation in the surrounding area of Opelika, AL. Elliott & Associates Insurance can help you navigate through the advantages and disadvantages of a home depreciation assessment of your policy. 

Your home may lose its value as things start to break, furniture becomes outdated, or possibly a neighborhood’s property value decreasing. It’s important to note that there are cases where homes may increase in value due to inflation or desirability of a location. 

Benefits and Drawbacks of Home Depreciation

There are benefits and drawbacks to home depreciation. It’s important that you talk to someone at Elliott & Associates Insurance so that we can help you navigate through the benefits and drawbacks. 

Many times clients decide to have their home assessed for depreciation so that their home insurance premiums are lowered. You could save money on your home in this way, but decreasing the value of your home may make it so that rebuilding and increasing the value later is harder to do. 

How to Get Your Home Assessed for Depreciation

Getting an assessment for depreciation is simple. After your appraiser comes, they will determine the current value of your home and how much it would cost to rebuild it. Then a statement is issued to your insurance agent. 

Recoverable Depreciation Explained

Recoverable depreciation is the cash value of your home and its replacement value’s difference. In order to limit fraud or frivolous claim payouts, the homeowner’s insurance claims are paid from the actual cash value and then recoverable depreciation. After you make the claim to your property and repair it, your insurance will pay you a check for the recoverable depreciation. You will only be able to recover depreciation if your policy has replacement cost value coverage. 

If you have any more questions about home depreciation, reach out to Elliott & Associates Insurance at our office or call us at 334-745-0888 for service in the Opelika, AL area. 

 

What makes classic car insurance different?

At Elliott & Associates Insurance, we see a lot of vintage and antique vehicles. Many people in the Opelika, AL area come to us wanting to know whether they should purchase classic car insurance or standard auto insurance. This blog explains the key differences between classic car insurance and standard auto insurance.

Classic car insurance covers classic, vintage, and antique vehicles. A classic car might only have come off the line ten years ago, but could qualify because of limited production or some other collectible nature of the vehicle. This means you might still want to drive it as an everyday car. Standard insurance lets you do that. Classic car insurance does not. You have to agree to garage your car under a classic policy.

A classic policy also limits the number of miles you can drive. Typically, you’re allowed about 1,000 miles of driving. You can putter along in parades or park it at an auto show, but commuting in your classic would be a no-no.

What makes a classic policy superior to a standard policy is the replacement value payout. You can obtain a policy that pays the actual replacement value of your vehicle, not the fair market value. That means that you could go to an auction or vintage car lot and buy a new vehicle that’s the same year, make, and model as the one you lost in an accident.

These policies also cover all of your parts and labor to repair the damage. Some agents will even help you find vintage replacement parts.

Despite the driving limits, a classic car policy lets you protect your investment better. Contact Elliott & Associates Insurance serving Opelika, AL for more information on classic car insurance.

What Does Renter’s Insurance Cover?

For those renting a residence, it is always best to take the time to consider the proper insurance coverages for your particular situation. You can find the right renter policy to help you make sure your possessions are protected even if you are dealing with a catastrophe in your rental space. For those that live in the Opelika, AL area, the agents with Elliott & Associates Insurance can help you to find the right policy for your rental space.

Renter’s insurance does a few different things starting with protecting your possessions if there is a fire or other disaster in which your possessions are destroyed. Though you do not have to have any sort of insurance on the property itself, it is always beneficial to have some sort of policy in place in case your apartment or rented house catches on fire or is destroyed by some other means. It is helpful to note that a renter policy may also help cover injuries to people that you have in your residence, it may help to cover injuries to your pets, and it may also cover issues with damage that your landlord is not going to pay.

Though you are not required to have a renter policy, they are incredibly helpful in cases where something terrible happens and you are required to recover and to get back to where you were before the issue occurred. A renter policy can help you to make up for your belongings being destroyed and can certainly make it so that you do not have to start over at ground zero if something does happen to your rental property or to your items within. For those in the Opelika, AL area, the agents with Elliott & Associates Insurance can help you to find the policy that works best for you.  

Finding RV Insurance If You Love Traveling

If you own an RV in Opelika, AL, you may like taking frequent trips with it. And riding with your RV should be a fun and joyful situation but can be an issue if you don’t have great insurance for regular traveling. So please make sure that you contact us at Elliott & Associates Insurance to find a policy that features options such as those outlined below.

Full-Time Coverage 

People who live in their RV as a permanent residence need this coverage to protect themselves. Think of it as a type of home insurance to get an idea of what it covers. 

Consider Travel Expenses Coverage 

If you’re regularly on the road with your RV, you’ll want this option to help you pay for a hotel and other expenses if your RV breaks down during a trip. 

Full Liability 

Talk to your RV insurance provider about the type of liability coverage that you’ll need. Most states require a certain level, and you need to match or exceed it to protect yourself. 

Replacement Costs 

If – horror of horrors – your RV is stolen or totaled while on a trip, this coverage option will replace your RV at the price it was worth at the time it was lost. 

Uninsured Protection 

When you get into an accident with somebody who has inadequate insurance or no insurance, this coverage option will help protect you from severe financial loss. 

Other Coverage Options 

You’ll need collision and comprehensive coverage, medical payment coverage, storage protection, and much more to ensure that your RV is protected while you’re on the road. 

Talk With Us 

So if you live in Opelika, AL and need high-quality RV insurance to protect yourself from serious issues, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Elliott & Associates Insurance. We will work with you to protect your RV and keep your financial investment safe. 

Motorcycle insurance: more than just a helmet

Many motorcyclists are real motorcycle enthusiasts. They will often talk passionately about their experiences and what they don’t like; helmets. While the fact that most riders can never ride without one, it really doesn’t mean they like them. They put them on because it gives them a form of protection. 

Motorcycle insurance

If you’re passionate about motorcycles, then you probably have already figured out that a motorcycle insurance policy provides more protection than your helmet. At Elliott & Associates Insurance, we always call it a ‘more than just a helmet’ type of insurance, and in Opelika, AL, it is not just about staying safe but also a law.

Accidents happen every day, which we cannot control, and the least we can do is encourage motorcyclists always to put on a helmet and get motorcycle insurance. That way, we can be confident that you are ready to hit the Opelika AL roads doing what you enjoy most. 

The coverages

A helmet covers your head and prevents major head injuries in case of an accident. A motorcycle insurance policy on the hand protects you from a wide range of financial challenges. Here are some universal basic coverages: 

  • Bodily injury liability 
  • property damage
  • Underinsured/uninsured motorist
  • Collision
  • comprehensive
  • Medical payment 
  • Accessory coverage

The Alabama Mandatory Liability Insurance Law has outlined the amount of insurance a motorcyclist is expected to carry on the roads for one to be riding safely and legally. At  Elliott & Associates Insurance, we help you choose the most suitable policies that best fits you and make sure that you have at least the minimum insurance that is required by the Alabama law.

Call or visit us in Opelika, AL today for inquiries, quotes, policy discussion or for more information on motorcycle insurance.

The Top 3 Benefits of Short Term Rentals

Short-term rentals in Opelika, AL are becoming extremely popular among investors. Throughout the years, these rentals have spurred positive economic growth by increasing tourism activity. This is of particular advantage in cities that don’t enjoy high levels of tourism. Elliott & Associates Insurance specializes in short-term rental insurance. Let’s take a closer look at the advantages of short-term rentals.

What Are Short-Term Rentals?

Short-term rentals are most often described as vacation homes. Tenants can rent them anywhere from one night to three to four months. Some even choose to rent them for longer, but the longest rental is usually around six months. Think to vacation in Florida for the summer. A family rents the vacation home at the end of the school year in May through the summer up until August. One of the most common types of short-term rentals increasing in popularity these days is known as Airbnb.

Increased Flexibility

For owners of short-term rentals, you can the flexibility to rent as you please. If you want to use the home for six months out of the year, you can while renting it out the other six months. Short-term rentals maximize flexibility, making it easy to rent according to a schedule that fits your lifestyle.

Increases Earning Potential

Short-term rentals are extremely lucrative when compared to long-term rental properties. You set the rental rate based on demand, which will be incredibly high during certain parts of the year. Ideally, you want your rental in a location where people like to vacation.

Less Wear and Tear

People taking advantage of short-term rentals usually stay only a few days at a time, and during those days, they are typically out and about exploring the nearby areas. This means they don’t put much wear and tear on the rental unit. This makes it easier to keep the property in optimal condition.

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of short-term rentals, please contact Elliott & Associates Insurance serving the Opelika, AL area.

 

What Are The Benefits of Lake Life Insurance?

The agents at Elliott & Associates insurance serve residents who live near Opelika, AL and enjoy what many people refer to as the "lake life". They provide a variety of insurance policies including ones that are available for individuals who live in or on the water. Houseboats, recreational vehicles, jet skis, and boats are all common items when you live near water. When you live that close to any body of water, you need to have insurance that will protect you from losses associated with that lifestyle.

Liability Insurance

If you live on a boat or spend a lot of your free time onboard a boat, you will need to have your watercraft properly insured. This includes having liability coverage to protect you against someone being injured if they are out on the water with you. Accidents do happen and can be rather costly if you don’t have the proper coverage in place at all times.

Safety First!

If you live on the shore of a lake or river, you should always take precautions to keep your friends and family as safe as possible. This means having plenty of life jackets and personal floatation devices on hand for when everyone jumps in the water for a swim. Encourage your children and guests who visit you regularly to take swimming lessons so they know how to maneuver while they are in the water. 

Residents who live in Opelika, AL and spend their lives on or near the water enjoying lake life can call the agents of Elliott & Associates Insurance if they need answers about insurance. Lake life insurance refers to the insurance needs of those who live near the water. Always make sure you have the coverage you need! Call and schedule an appointment today!

 

Does Flood Insurance Cover the Cost of a Hotel Room During Clean Up?

Floods are acts of nature that we cannot predict and often cannot avoid. That being said, if you live in an area where the flood is common, having a supplementary flood policy is often the best way to make sure you are protected from floods or any other issue that may pop up. For those that live in the Opelika, AL area, the agents with Elliot & Associates Insurance can help you to find the right flood policy for you.

Being Away from Your Home

Aside from things like replacement and repair of your home and belongings, your flood policy also covers a range of other things. These policies help with the cost of cleanup, the cost of replacing items, and even the cost of repairs to the home after a flood. Some policies are going to cover a portion or the entire cost of a place to stay when they are working to repair and clean up their home. Most policies are going to have some sort of coverage built in to help cover the cost of the hotel room that you need to stay in while the home is being cleaned up. If you are looking for a policy that has this type of coverage, you may want to take the time to talk with an agent about what kind of coverage you have and if there are any built-in coverages for hotel costs.

In areas where flooding is common, a flood policy is a must to make sure that your home is protected and that you are not going to have to pay for the full rebuild if your home is damaged by the flood. For those that live in the Opelika, AL  area, the agents with Elliot & Associates Insurance can help you to find the right coverage for you.