Homeowners Insurance Tips
We understand that you want the most protection at the best price when it comes to protecting your investment and the ones you love. This is why we created this handy homeowner’s insurance guide aimed at helping you make the best decisions when it comes to topics like safety or home improvement projects. You will find an assortment of remodeling and renovation tips and hints to help you along the way. We will tell you what remodeling projects will add the most value to your home and how to make your home more energy efficient.
Home Improvement and Safety Tips
We’ll give you pointers on how to choose a reputable and skilled contractor. We’ll also offer tips on burglary and fire prevention and other incidents that commonly lead to home insurance premiums. Utilizing our homeowners insurance tips will give you greater peace of mind and perhaps even earn you more affordable house insurance. We keep in touch with industry professionals who are knowledgeable in these areas and share their wisdom. We are continuously updating this section with new tips and helpful advice, so check back often to stay informed!
Tip #1 – Protect Yourself from Burglary and Theft
We no longer live in a world where it's safe to leave your front door unlocked. Did you know that, in 2006, one out of every 39 homes was a victim of burglary? Burglary can leave victims feeling ill-at-ease and frustrated at the ordeal of trying to replace their lost or damaged possessions. To replace these items, you will have to deal with your home insurance company. Most burglary victims can attest to the fact that making a claim on a home insurance policy after the crime occurs is no easy task.
The majority of insurance applicants provide only a rough and highly inaccurate estimate of what their belongings are worth when they apply for a home insurance policy. They view the estimate as a way to cut corners and save on premiums, but they don't realize the implications. Without an exact estimate and inventory of your belongings, you could be in hot water when it comes time to file a claim. Can you recite every item in your home from memory? Probably not. Especially if you're also dealing with the emotional aftermath of a burglary. There's a simple solution to this problem that we'll discuss in what follows.
Every year when your home insurance policy renews, you should update your personal property inventory. If you are considering switching insurers, you should first go room to room and take an accounting of your belongings. Do this before you even begin shopping around for home insurance rates. Take the inventory with the same amount of detail and attention you would if you had been burglarized. Get serial numbers of items whenever possible and record as many details as you can (e.g., where, when, and for what amount you bought each item). Burglary victims will tell you that a picture or video inventory along with receipts will be lifesavers in the claim process. Your reimbursement will be quicker and easier with these supplements.
Additionally, follow these simple tips to help protect your home and belongings against theft:
- Close your garage door at all times when you’re not around
- Keep your doors locked even if you’re home
- Tell your kids to keep their toys and bicycles out of the front yard
- Lock windows and sliding glass doors, especially in the evening
- Don’t leave valuables in your car or at least not in plain sight
- Don’t keep large amounts of cash on hand
- Talk to your local police…many stations offer free theft-prevention advice
- Install a burglar alarm
Tip #2 – Beware of Toxic Mold
Toxic mold has begun infesting schools, houses, and other buildings across the country and has garnered quite a bit of media attention. Toxic mold refers to mycotoxin-producing molds; namely, Stachbotrys chartarum. Such molds pose grave health risks to humans and animals. In fact, prolonged exposure can cause severe neurological damage and eventually death. In this post, we’ll discuss toxic mold in more detail, explain its damaging effects on health, and provide prevention tips.
Stachbotrys chartarum, or toxic mold, has become such a public health concern that the CDC has even created a website devoted to disseminating toxic mold facts. Toxic mold is a greenish-black mold that grows on fiberboard, paper, dust, lint, and other materials that have a high cellulose and low nitrogen content. Essential to the growth of toxic mold is some kind of constant moisture, such as from water damage, water leaks, condensation, excessive humidity, or flooding. The CDC contends that it is not necessary to determine what type of mold you have, as all molds should be regarded the same way as far as removal and health risks are concerned. With the number of mold-related claims exploding, home insurers are looking for ways to mitigate their liability. For example, Farmers Insurance, which had to dole out $85 million in mold claims in Texas during a single year, has stopped offering coverage in over 30 states. Insurance industry advocates claim that they are not guarantors of the public’s health and thus should not be held responsible for such issues.
Tip #3 – Safeguard Your Home While on Vacation
According to the FBI, a burglary occurs every 14 seconds in the U.S. In total, there were 2,179,140 burglaries in the U.S. in 2007. Contrary to popular belief, most of these offenses occur during the daytime because that is when homes are most likely to be vacant. Homes that appear unoccupied are prime targets for burglars, which is especially a problem for homeowners who plan on taking a vacation. If you plan to be away from your home for an extended period of time, you should take certain precautions in order to ensure the safety of your home.
- Use automatic timers on interior lights, such as lamps, and exterior lights.
- Have your calls forwarded. If you can, try to forward your calls from your home phone to a cell phone or another number. Otherwise burglars can verify that no one is home by calling your house.
- Have a neighbor collect the mail and the paper every day. Burglars target homes that appear vacant, and piled up newspapers and mail are red flags to thieves that no one is home. If possible, don't have your paper or mail stopped, as doing so will give away information about your absence to strangers.
- Keep up your landscaping and/or snow removal service. If you're going to be away for a substantial amount of time, make sure you have arrangements to have your lawn mowed or the snow shoveled from your driveway and walks.
- Ask a neighbor to handle your trash cans. If you will be gone on trash pick-up day, ask a trusted neighbor to put out your trash cans and take them back in. You might even ask your neighbor to use your trash cans while you are on vacation, as thieves sometimes check for empty trash cans as a sign that you are away.
- Get a timer system that will automatically open and close curtains. Homeowners can buy timer devices that will automatically open and close window draperies to fool thieves into thinking someone is home. Constantly open or closed blinds may alert burglars of your absence.
- Tell a neighbor you will be away. Even if you don't need him/her to do anything for you, let a trustworthy neighbor know you will be gone and for how long. He/she can keep an eye on the house for you to watch for any suspicious activity.
- Ask the police to patrol the area. If you plan on being gone for a extended period of time, request that your local police check on your home every once in a while.
- Put radios & TVs on automatic timers. Turn up your radios and televisions so they can be heard from outside the house and place them on timers that will turn them on and off periodically throughout the day.
- Turn down your phone & answering machine. A burglar might listen for an unanswered phone or a growing number of voicemails for a tip off that you're away. Turn down the ringer on your phone and the volume on your answering machine so they cannot be heard from the outside of your home.
Tip #4 – Toddler-proof Your Home
Any parent with a child older than 2 years old can tell you a horror story or two (dozen) about something that should have been out of baby's reach but wasn't for some reason. Be it a small coin that the child was found sucking on, or an uncovered light socket that sputtered, throwing a circuit breaker at the same time you heard a yowl and a cry of pain, toddlers have an absolutely amazing ability to find everything our grown-up eyes tend to miss. Believe it or not, toddler-proofing a home is a mini-industry unto itself to such a degree that various companies even sell little kits that include most of what you need to get the job done. Typically these kits will include cabinet door latches, childproof doorknob coverings, and electrical outlet plugs among other items. Taking an hour or two one day to install these items throughout your house is a good first step in toddler-proofing the home but it is not all that you must do.
Close the door! All doors, all the time. Not only is this a good habit to get into in order to help protect your toddler and keep them from going places they shouldn't be, having closed doors in your house is beneficial for other reasons as well; if you should ever have a fire, a closed door is a good mechanism for slowing the fire and minimizing damage to your home or danger to those who may be sleeping on the other side. A toddler-proof home is a boon in the sense that it also tends to be very clean and well-organized. Once you get in the habit of making sure small things stay off your floors and cords and cables are tight and out of the way, you will probably stay that way, long after your toddlers have grown older and begun to present you with other...challenges.
Tip #5 – Take Action in Earthquake-prone Regions
How much do you know about earthquake insurance? Many people know very little about it, unfortunately. If you live in an area that has earthquakes you will need some sort of insurance coverage for this. The following are some truths about earthquake insurance that you need to learn about before you get this insurance. You also should read through these tips if you are thinking about getting rid of earthquake insurance. You need your insurance, no matter its form, to work perfectly for you at all times. Take your time and see if you can discover some new information about earthquake insure that you did not know before.
Right off the bat, earthquake insurance will cover the cost to repair or even replace your damaged property. This is the basic form of coverage, however, there are more options. In your plan you must decide if you want the house itself to be covered or do you want the house and the accessory structures around it covered. You also need to decide if you want the contents within your home covered and if you require additional living expenses if the damage to your home is great. The deductible that you will pay before the insurance helps is also something that you need to figure out. In the end, you need to know if there are any major exclusions and limitations to your coverage. Those could really set you back if they take you by surprise.
It is smart of you to buy earthquake insurance that will cover the costs of rebuilding your home as well as replacing any possessions that might have been damaged. The market value should not determine the amount of coverage that you buy, the replacement and reconstruction costs should be the determining factor. Make sure you know how to properly file claims before you go any further with this insurance. Damage from earthquakes does not always show up right away. Your earthquake insurance agent needs to realize this. The coverage you buy is individual to your own needs, so take your time and get it right.