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.
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®.
As a homeowner, one of the most important aspects of your home isn’t something you use daily. And it isn’t something flashy you show off to friends. It’s your homeowners insurance policy, and it protects you in more ways than you may think, helping you rebuild your home or repair damage that results from a covered loss.
But, that’s not all. It can also help cover the costs of a lawsuit, help you pay for somewhere else to live when your home is uninhabitable, and much more.
Home insurance is typically very comprehensive, but all policies have exclusions and coverage limits. It’s vital to know what those are so you know what’s covered and what’s not. Fire damage? Typically covered. Flood damage? Typically not.
With this guide, you can begin to understand what a typical home insurance policy covers. Just keep in mind that coverage varies from carrier to carrier, region to region and even policy to policy. Only your individual home policy can tell you the coverage you have and that which you don’t. For an even better understanding of your home policy coverage, review it with one of our agents.
What Home Insurance Covers The typical homeowners insurance policy has six types of coverage. They are commonly known as:
Remember that, despite having all of these different types of coverage, you’re only covered up to the dollar amounts that you select and only for covered losses, as outlined in your policy. Typically, you can change these policy limits at any time if you’d like to purchase more coverage. This is a good idea if, for example, you’ve recently added on to your home, acquired some pricey personal belongings or made other updates to your property. If needed, you can also reduce your coverage, though always ensure you are adequately protected.
What Home Insurance Doesn’t Cover
It’s just as important to know what your homeowners insurance doesn’t cover as it is to know what your home policy does cover. For starters, your policy does not cover any damage or repairs costing less than your deductible. It also does not cover any costs that exceed the coverage limits outlined in your policy. You are solely responsible for excess costs, unless you have an umbrella policy to provide additional liability coverage for a covered loss.
More than likely, your policy also does not cover routine maintenance and repairs, as well as damage due to animals, termites, floods, earthquakes, sinkholes, sewer backups, and other incidents. These are often considered non-covered losses. If you experience a non-covered loss, as outlined by your policy, you will be responsible for the costs.
What Home Insurance May Cover
Outside of the typical home insurance coverage, optional or separate coverage may be available from your carrier or from a different carrier. For example, you may be able to purchase earthquake or flood coverage separate from your homeowners policy.
Other coverage options are add-ons to your existing homeowners insurance. These can include identity protection and equipment breakdown coverage, which covers the cost to repair or replace a range of appliances and other equipment, such as pool equipment, in your home. If this sounds similar to an extended appliance warranty, it is. The difference is that you can insure an array of appliances at once through this optional coverage rather than purchasing a separate warranty for each one.
This guide is a starting point for understanding your home insurance policy. Your own policy may vary greatly from the descriptions above depending on the state where you live, your carrier, and the coverage you have selected. So take a close look at your policy by reviewing your documents or viewing your coverage online. Or, even better, sit down with one of our insurance agents who can explain your coverage in detail, as well as discuss whether your policy provides adequate protection for your home, property, and belongings.
Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.
A ring from a loved one. A bracelet handed down through generations. A watch or necklace marking a special occasion.
Every reason why you treasure a piece of fine jewelry is a reason why it should be insured.
However, calling it “jewelry insurance” may be a stretch. You don’t need a separate policy to insure your jewelry. You just need to ensure you have the right personal property coverage from your homeowners, condo, or renters insurance.
Jewelry coverage helps protect the investment you’ve made in your favorite pieces by helping you replace them if you experience a loss that’s covered by your policy. But, the coverage is only for certain instances and set dollar amounts, so double check what coverage you have and learn more about insuring jewelry below.
Know What Your Existing Insurance Policy Covers
If you already have personal property coverage as part of a homeowners, renters, or condo policy, you likely already have some form of protection for your jewelry. The typical insurance policy will cover you, up to your policy limit, for jewelry that’s stolen or damaged in certain incidents, such as a fire at your home. However, the typical policy will not cover everyday damage, such as a stone falling out of its setting.
In addition to knowing when you’re covered and when you’re not, it’s also important to know how much you’re covered for. Your insurance policy may cover each individual piece of jewelry at a set amount, such as $1,000 per piece. Or, it may cover your jewelry collection as a whole, such as $3,000 for all pieces. Check your policy or schedule an insurance review with us to better understand what kind of jewelry coverage you have.
Calculate the Value of Your Jewelry Collection in Today’s Dollars
To determine whether you have enough jewelry insurance, you need to know how much your pieces are worth. Keep in mind that your pieces may be worth more now than when you bought them. The value of precious metals and precious stones can increase over time, so have your pieces appraised about every three years.
Use these appraisals, as well as receipts for recently purchased items, to add up the value of your collection. Then compare it to how much jewelry replacement coverage you have on your homeowners insurance, condo insurance or renters insurance.
Decide Which Items Require Additional Coverage
If the jewelry coverage on your policy is lower than the value of your collection, you’ll likely want to purchase additional coverage. For example, you may have a $2,000 pair of diamond earrings, a $7,500 engagement ring and an insurance policy that covers jewelry loss – no matter how many pieces – at $3,000. If both pieces are lost in a single incident, you’re short $6,500 of coverage.
To fill this gap, you can insure high-value items individually, as part of your homeowners insurance, condo insurance or renters insurance. This is known as “scheduling valuables” or adding a “rider” or “endorsement” to your policy. To do so, you will likely need a recent receipt or appraisal establishing the value of each item.
Once scheduled, if an item is damaged or lost in a covered incident, you’ll be covered for the full scheduled amount. Typically, scheduling an item also gives you broader coverage. A lost stone that isn’t covered under your homeowners policy, for example, is likely covered under a policy rider.
Catalog Your Jewelry in a Home Inventory
Once you arrange coverage for your high-value jewelry, it’s important to create a home inventory or update an existing one to catalog your valuable belongings. This isn’t as important for your scheduled pieces because your insurance company has a record of their value. However, for any unscheduled pieces that are lost or stolen, you’ll want a record of their worth.
Ideally, your home inventory will include photos, receipts, appraisals, descriptions, brand names, etc. of all valuable personal property, not just your jewelry. That way, if there’s a loss, you’ll already have the documentation needed for a personal property claim in place.
A home inventory can be as simple as a Word document (save it to the cloud or a flash drive in case your computer is damaged or stolen). Or use a Web program or mobile phone app, such as the home inventory app, to help you catalog your belongings.
Insuring jewelry is easy and affordable, so talk to us about it. If you get something special this year, in addition to flashing it to your friends, think about protecting it, too.
For more info, please visit Safeco Insurance®.
That oh-so-covetable experience of taking a dip in your very own pool? Millions of American households enjoy it, at least when the weather’s nice.
With the summer heat ratcheting up, you may be coming down with a serious case of pool envy, obsessed with having a pool right outside your door for cooling off and entertaining friends. A swimming pool can even increase the value of your home. But, will it increase your homeowners insurance rates too?
Before you dive in and add a pool to your property or buy a home that already has one, here are three important things to keep in mind:
Above all, ask us questions. Against which risks is damage to my pool covered? Is the pump covered too and under what circumstances?
Working closely with someone who understands your property and the local zoning laws is one of the best ways to fully understand how a pool may affect your homeowners insurance rates. We can help you find the right balance of coverage for your specific situation and help ensure your relaxing oasis isn’t an unmanageable risk.
Looking for a Homeowners Insurance quote?
Contact us to get the coverage that’s right for you, whether you have a pool or not!
For more information, visit Safeco Insurance®.
Home improvement: It’s a never-ending process for many people, and for those of us who aren’t necessarily handy, it can be a hassle, too.
But there are plenty of simple maintenance tasks and other improvements you can handle to make your home safer – whether you’re handy or not. And you won’t have to break out the power tools (or any tools at all in some instances) or worry about getting in over your head.
You need running water in your home – but not water running in your home, if you know what we mean. Even minor leaks can cause major problems, from higher water bills to damage requiring costly repairs (maybe even the kind you can’t tackle yourself). Here are some easy ways to make sure your water stays where it should:
Keep Your Family (and Your Guests) On Their Feet
Millions of Americans – many of them older adults – are injured in falls each year. About 2.5 million were hurt in 2013 alone, according to the National Safety Council and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Look around your home. Should you make some of these fixes?
Give Everyone Some Air
Pollution isn’t just an outside thing – the air in your home can be unhealthy, too. But helping people breathe a little easier isn’t hard when you follow these steps:
Home improvement doesn’t have to mean a kitchen remodel or finishing the basement. Making your home safer, in fact, just might be the best improvement of all.
Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.