A list of your belongings will make filing an insurance claim much easier!
In the event of a fire or other disaster, would you be able to remember all your possessions? Having an up-to-date home inventory will help you get your insurance claim settled faster, verify losses for your income tax return and help you purchase the correct amount of insurance. Here's how to create one.
Start your home inventory now
If you're just setting up a household, starting a home inventory is relatively simple. If you’ve been living in the same house for many years, however, the task of creating a list can seem daunting—but it doesn’t have to be. Get started here.
Use technology to make your home inventory easier
A simple pencil and paper will suffice, but technology can make creating a home inventory much easier.
Keep your home inventory up-to-date and safely stored
Your home inventory is only useful if it's accurate and you can access it to provide information to your insurance company in case of fire, theft or other destructive disaster. Regardless of the medium you've used to create your list, keep it backed up and in a safe place.
Next steps: After you've taken your inventory, learn how much homeowners insurance you need.
Your home protects you from the elements, but heavy rains can weaken that protection. With a little maintenance and a lot of vigilance, it’s not hard to stay safe and dry.
The first step is finding and fixing any immediate problems as soon as it’s safe to do so. Then, you’ll want to take measures to prevent those problems from happening during the next downpour!
Where is all that rain going?
Your roof and gutters form a key line of defense for your home – and in a storm, they’re vulnerable, because so many things can damage them. Trees, hail, and other objects can create weaknesses that might lead to leaks in your roof, so check for missing shingles and other issues. And keep your gutters clear so all that water drains properly.
Are you checking everywhere?
Water dripping from the ceiling is hard to miss. Water in your crawl space, however, can easily go undetected because hardly anyone ever checks there. Don’t forget to look down there after a storm (or have a professional do it) to make sure everything is nice and dry. If you do see moisture, you’ll want to get it out with a sump pump as soon as possible.
And don’t just look up – another place to check is your home’s exterior, whether it’s siding, brick, or another material. Weak spots can be hard to see, so look at various times of the day in different lighting conditions.
Of course, you’ll want to make sure your doors and windows are properly sealed to keep the elements out, too.
What about around your property?
Storm water has to go somewhere, and if your property doesn’t drain well, or if runoff goes toward your foundation, you could have problems. So watch for patterns, and grade property so it drains away from your home if possible. Always be wary of hillsides and tilting trees after heavy storms, because the land might not be stable.
And don’t forget to keep storm drains clear of leaves and other debris. This can prevent flooding both on the streets and your own property.
What should you do during the storm?
During powerful storms, stay inside. This is not the time to check your roof, your exterior, or your property unless there’s an emergency and you know it’s safe to go out. Monitor your interior, making sure no water is getting in. If it is, do what you can to alleviate the situation in the moment, even if it means just placing something under a leak to collect the water. For more serious problems, though, remember that safety is the most important thing. If your basement is flooding, for example, don’t go down there – you could be trapped and even drown.
Thankfully, powerful storms only hit once in a while. Preparing for them, however, should be on your mind a lot more frequently, because the next one could be tomorrow.
This Thanksgiving Day, fire departments all across the nation will be called to nearly 2,000 homes for a cooking fire. Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fires and fire injuries, with Thanksgiving Day being the worst. Here are 5 ways to avoid having your holiday turn damaging, or deadly.
1) Never leave cooking unattended. It’s a contributing factor in 33% of the fires 49% of the deaths, and 46% of the associated injuries related to cooking equipment. “I just went to watch the replay” is all it takes for a fire to start and get out of hand quickly.
2) Have a kid-free kitchen zone. Children under age 5 were more likely to be hurt by touching hot cooking equipment or scalded by hot liquids than by actual fire. Create a 3-foot kid-free perimeter around anywhere cooking is taking place or that hot food is being staged.
3) Keep flammable materials away from burner. In 10% of cooking fires, something flammable was too close to the equipment. What’s most frightening, is this is also the cause of nearly 1/4 of all the deaths. Hot mitts, wooden utensils, curtains, and food packaging are all dangerous if too close to heat sources.
4) Don’t use power strips or extension cords for appliances. Small, temporary appliances like crock pots, electric skillets, Instant Pots and the like are very helpful to feed large numbers of people, but appliances like these should always be plugged directly into a grounded wall outlet to prevent overheating and overloading the circuits.
5) Don’t fry your turkey. Frying dominates the cooking fire problem, and FEMA recommends not using deep fat fryers for turkeys altogether. Oil spillover ignition and operating a fryer on wooden decks or too close to trees or structures are big hazards that must be avoided. (And when alcohol is involved, it can get even more dangerous.) To learn how to more safely use a fryer, visit the US Department of Agriculture’s website.
We hope these tips help you have a safe and fun Thanksgiving!
You probably don’t think your dog would ever bite someone, let alone cause a serious injury. But dog bites are more common than you might realize—4.5 million occur every year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And most victims are young children.
Those injuries also have a bigger impact on homeowners insurance than you might realize: The Insurance Information Institute says dog-related claims accounted for more than $600 million in insurance payments in 2016.
(Keep in mind that it’s not just bites that cause injuries. Dogs can knock down pedestrians or cyclists, too, which often leads to severe medical issues as well.)
With those numbers in mind, it’s understandable that insurance companies want to know if you’ve got a dog in your household. Some even will refuse to insure you if you have a specific breed with a reputation for aggressive behavior, regardless of whether your dog has ever bitten someone.
Despite that, you should never hide the fact that you have a dog from your insurance company. If you do, and your dog then causes an injury, your coverage could be invalidated—leaving you on the hook for potentially tens of thousands of dollars or more.
When a bite happens
OK, so your insurance company knows about your dog. But do you have to tell them if the dog bites or injures somebody?
That depends. If it’s a minor incident, you might consider paying out of pocket for any medical expenses in an attempt to avoid the claims process and a potential increase in your premiums. (In some instances, insurance companies will not renew your policy or will exclude your dog from coverage after paying for a dog-related claim.)
However, this might violate your policy, which probably requires you to report changes in your circumstances. If you don’t report a bite, and the dog then bites someone else later, the insurance company might deny you liability coverage for the second incident. Ask us to outline your options.
Another risk is the threat of future claims from the victim. Injuries aren’t always immediately apparent, and complications can arise later. The victim might decide down the road to sue you. And if you’ve waited too long to report the incident to your insurance company, it might be too late to make a claim and receive all the protection your policy was meant to provide—which can include help with attorney fees, medical bills and more.
A $33,000 mistake?
Ask yourself this: How would your budget look if you had an unexpected $33,000 expense? The average claim payment for a dog injury in 2016 was about that amount. And that’s with an insurance company working on behalf of the insured. If you’re on your own, you could wind up paying even more—a lot more.
Our advice? Start with your agent and discuss your specific situation. Even if you decide not to file a claim—which is always an option—you’ll get guidance from a professional on our team who can help you assess the risk.
Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.
Hurricanes are strong storms that cause life and property threatening hazards such as flooding, storm surge, high winds and tornadoes. Preparation is the best protection against the dangers of a hurricane. As forecasters track a hurricane the terms “hurricane watch” and “hurricane warning” will be used often. It is important to know the difference:
What Should I Do?
What Supplies Do I Need?
What Do I Do After A Hurricane?
Let Your Family Know You Are Safe!
If your community experiences a hurricane or any disaster, register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well website available through RedCross.org/SafeandWell to let your family and friends know about your welfare. If you do not have Internet access, call 1-866-GET-INFO to register yourself and your family.
Click here to download a Hurricane Safety Checklist provided by the Red Cross.
Click Here for How To Prepare for Hurricane Safety!
Here are 5 important auto insurance tips to consider ahead of this winter's major weather events.
1. Confirm your insurance is active and premiums are paid. Have a current copy of your insurance card in your vehicle or with you.
2. Select liability limits that are right for your financial circumstances. If you find yourself at-fault in an accident and have insufficient liability coverages, your personal assets are at risk for paying the remaining financial obligation.
3. If you rent a vehicle for a trip, check with your insurance agent to see if your policy includes coverage. Also, make sure you don’t duplicate benefits from your own policy if you decide to get rental insurance. A quick call to your agent should help determine that.
4. Verify that your homeowners or renters insurance covers the theft of personal items from your vehicle, especially if you are planning to haul more expensive items. Many people believe that vehicle insurance covers replacement of stolen items from their vehicles, but that usually is not the case.
5. Know if your policy includes roadside assistance, such as towing, fuel delivery, lockout service and jump-starts.
In addition to the insurance tips above, Department officials advise drivers to keep emergency kits in their vehicles, especially for long trips. A good kit should include a first-aid kit, batteries, flashlights, drinking water, snacks, jumper cables, ice scrapers, tissues and towels, a tow rope, extra clothing and blankets.
State officials also recommend checking in on family members ahead of dangerous winter weather events, and reassessing your immediate family’s insurance needs. Make sure that important insurance and legal papers are in a secure place that more than one person knows about. Assess personal insurance needs for yourself and your family. Needs for an older adult, for example, could be much different from those of a child or grandchild.
For more information, please visit PropertyCasualty360.