Have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day weekend!
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that most burglaries occur during the summer months (and while people are away). While some burglars enter your home, others are interested in soft targets, the items stored outside of your home. One in three homeowners do not protect their soft targets, but you can with these tips.
- Vacant Properties
Thieves and vandals typically target vacant homes as they steal scrap metal or take other items to sell. If you’re on vacation, keep your windows and doors locked. Install outdoor motion activated lights and use a timer to turn on indoor lights at random times, too. You can also install a video camera that allows you to monitor your home while you’re away.
- Vehicles and Loose Items
Experienced car thieves can steal a vehicle in less than 10 seconds. Always keep your car locked inside the garage or make sure the alarm is turned on and install an anti-theft device that disables the ignition or locks the steering wheel. You should hide any loose items, too, including electronics, garage door openers, toll booth passes and parking garage passes, either in the glove box or trunk.
- Unlocked Sheds and Garages
Tools and lawn equipment are easy to resell. Always lock your garage, including windows, even if you’re working in your lawn. Be sure your valuable tools and equipment are stored inside the shed or garage, too.
- Sports Equipment
Whether your summer activities include baseball, kayaking or tennis, resist the urge to store your sports equipment outside. Secure it safely in a locked garage or shed, in a locked bin or in your vehicle’s trunk.
Ideally, you should store your bike in a locked garage or shed. If you have to store your bikes, don’t use thin bike chains and wheel locks that are easy to unbolt or cut. A heavy chain threaded through the bike’s wheels and frame and a thick padlock are more secure.
- Air Conditioning Units
Your outdoor air conditioning units contain copper coils and other metal piping that thieves can scrap for cash. Install a bright security light that’s motion activated near your outdoor AC unit or install a locked fence around it.
- Pool Pumps
Pool pumps are easy to resell. Remove the pool pump and store it inside during your vacation. If that’s not possible, install a bright, motion-activated security light near the pump. You should also install a fence around your pool and keep it locked at all times.
Protect your home from thieves when you take steps to protect these seven soft targets. Be sure your homeowners or renters insurance policies are up to date, too, as you protect your home and possessions.
Umbrella insurance protects insureds from financial devastation. It’s a common policy homeowners purchase because it protects their home and other assets when an insurance claim exceeds existing homeowners or auto insurance policy limits. However, it could be a smart investment for renters, too.
It Supplements Existing Liability Protection
Typically, basic liability protection only includes $100,000 in coverage. An umbrella policy can offer $1 million or more in additional coverage. Both types of coverage offer financial protection and peace of mind.
For $1 million in liability protection, renters could pay as little as $300 a year. Claude Lilly, Clemson University College of Business and Behavioral Science dean, also reminds renters that an addition million may only cost $100 more. This inexpensive investment protects a renter’s possessions, auto and other assets as it gives the insured peace of mind.
It Complements Exposures
The hobbies a renter enjoys can make an umbrella policy a necessity. For instance, the renter’s dog bites a contractor or guest, resulting in thousands of dollars in medical expenses and an expensive lawsuit. The umbrella coverage kicks in after the basic renter’s insurance policy funds are exhausted, and it provides the financial protection the renter needs.
Likewise, owning a swimming pool, hunting as a hobby or playing golf can each be fun activities, but they also have the potential to turn into expensive lawsuits. Renters should invest in an umbrella policy that covers expenses associated with a claim or liability related to the exposures they enjoy.
Consider Net Worth
Each renter can decide how much umbrella insurance to purchase. Overall, the renter’s current assets and net worth determine the basic coverage amount.
Buy Based on Future Earnings
A renter who’s found liable for an auto accident could face wage garnishment. Purchasing an umbrella policy that takes future earnings into account ensures the renter is adequately covered and can pay the judgment without losing his or her home and other assets.
Remember Slander, Libel and Invasion of Privacy Protection
Umbrella coverage does more than protect financial assets after an accident or lawsuit. It also protects renters who are victims of slander, libel or privacy invasion. The protection an umbrella policy offers against these challenges makes it a wise investment.
Overall, umbrella insurance provides beneficial coverage for every consumer, including renters. An insurance agent can offer additional counsel and advice regarding how much umbrella insurance to purchase.
Homeowner’s insurance protects your home’s structure and belongings since it can pay for costly repairs or liability after a natural disaster, break-in or accident. You’ll be stuck with a huge bill, though, if you don’t have enough home insurance. Follow these steps as you make sure your home insurance is adequate for your needs.
Determine the Home’s Value
When you first purchased a homeowner’s insurance policy, you told the agent how much your home was worth. That figure might have changed since then. Use a recent tax assessment and an independent contractor to give you a current and accurate value for your home.
Switch to Replacement Cost
Actual cash value calculates an item’s worth as the amount you originally paid for it minus depreciation. Replacement cost pays you to replace the item at today’s cost. Update your policy to replacement cost and give yourself more coverage for a few dollars more.
Inventory Your Home’s Contents
Over time, the contents of your home have probably grown, so take time to update your inventory list. Include all the valuable artwork, jewelry, electronics, firearms or collectibles you’ve acquired. Take pictures of your valuables, too, and include the receipt from its purchase, if possible, a written description, serial numbers and other identifying details.
If one of your valuables is super expensive, purchase an additional endorsement. It’s designed for items of significant value.
Consider an Umbrella Policy
Say you install a pool in your backyard or add an addition to your home. Check into an umbrella policy. It provides additional liability coverage that accounts for your home’s upgrade and protects your assets.
Check Into Flood Insurance
Most regular homeowner’s insurance policies do not include flood insurance. Add this valuable coverage if you live in a flood plain or if there’s any chance that your home could be flooded.
Insure Your Dog
Certain dog breeds, such as pit bulls and Rottweilers, are not insurable, and your homeowner’s insurance policy will not cover liability if one of these breeds bites someone. Tell your agent if you’ve purchased or adopted one of these breeds.
Check Your Condo Coverage
In case you live in a condo, read the association policy to understand what part of your building you must insure. Usually, that’s the contents of your home and any improvements you make to your condo.
Do an Annual Review
At least once a year, review your homeowner’s insurance policy. Ensure your coverage is adequate for your current needs.
Homeowner’s insurance is one way you protect your valuable home, belongings and other assets. Make sure you have enough coverage when you talk to your agent today.
You own your home, have your own business, and drive a new car. Though you are not rich, you are comfortable. It will be a shame to lose it all if someone sustains injuries by your car or at your home or place of business.
You have insurance you say; you have standard auto liability insurance. The limits are $100,000 for a single person and a total of $300,000 for multiple people. Suppose you are responsible for any accident involving a shuttle taking ten people to the airport. Three hundred thousand dollars allows on average $10,000 per person. That is hardly enough to cover the emergency room fees let alone any surgery, rehabilitation, lost wages and other medical expenses. If there is a fatality, you may consider bankruptcy.
Your business has a small storefront on a busy street. A middle-aged executive comes into your place of business following a rainstorm. Your floor is wet and slippery, and the executive slips and falls. He strikes his head, loses consciousness, and goes into a coma. Your general business liability insurance has the same limit as your auto insurance – $100,000. It may cover part of the hospital bill, but the official says he is permanently disabled and sues you for future wages for $1 million. Since your business is a sole proprietorship, bankruptcy beckons.
Your son invites a friend over for a swim in your pool. He dives into the shallow end strikes his head and suffers traumatic brain injury. Sadly, the damage is permanent — with standard liability limits of $100,000 — well, you know, bankruptcy stares you in the face.
The inexpensive, elegant solution to the problem is umbrella insurance. When a claim exceeds your standard liability insurance limits, your umbrella insurance policy takes over and pays up to your umbrella liability limits. Most people who buy umbrella insurance extend their liability limits to $5 million.
Though you hope never to use it, for a few hundred dollars per year, you can protect your assets, and avoid financial disaster. Umbrella insurance pays when you are responsible for an injury that exceeds your standard liability limits.
10 months ago ·
by Erin Carlson ·
October, Adopt a Shelter Dog month, is a great time to add a dog to your family. Be careful which breed you adopt, though. Insurance companies use data from insurance claims and public health studies to create a high risk dog breed list, and your homeowners insurance premiums can increase based on the type of dog you adopt. You can save money when you choose a dog that’s not on the high risk list.
Working Breed Dogs
Agile, powerful and intelligent, Akitas, Alaskan Malamutes, Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers and Siberian Huskies are also fiercely protective. If they’re not trained properly, these breeds could be potentially dangerous, especially to young children and small pets.
Loyal and protective, American Pitbull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers have been bred to hunt. These traits mean they can become aggressive and tenacious if they’re cornered or frightened by one of your family members or guests.
Police departments, military personnel and ranch hands appreciate this breed because the dogs are intelligent, hard-working and powerful. They’re also suspicious of strangers and won’t back down, which makes them a challenging breed for inexperienced owners to handle.
Independent and strong Chow Chows are often kept as companions. These fluffy dogs can be aloof and stubborn, though, and should only be adopted by experienced dog owners.
Wolf Hybrid and Presa Canarios dogs exhibit strength and protective characteristics. However, they can also be unpredictable and quick to attack, making them potentially dangerous breeds. Friendly and docile Great Danes are listed on the high risk list, too, because of their size.
A dog adds fun and companionship to your home and family, and adopting a shelter dog is socially responsible. Before you choose a new pet, though, consider whether or not it will increase your homeowners insurance cost. If so, you may choose a different breed or reduce your home insurance premiums by installing a dog fence or raising your deductible.
12 months ago ·
by Erin Carlson ·
With COVID-19 forcing non-essential workers to work from home, home prices are seeing an upward trend. Recent builders reports are showing a fast upward trend in new construction.
Inventory is dipping, prices are going up and people are looking to upgrade to slightly bigger homes so that they can work from home comfortably.
Most have heard the wise adage about not judging a book by its cover. However, like it or not, first impressions are lasting. For example, a potential buyer pulls up to your home for sale. Their initial judgment is based on if they like what they see on the exterior, or curb appeal. Since most buyers won’t even get to the interior if they don’t like the exterior, first impressions are of the utmost importance concerning real estate.
Updating the exterior of your home is an excellent way to add curb appeal to older, drab, and outdated homes. This is true whether you’re building equity in your home over the long-term, planning to sell, or just looking for a DIY project. The cost, time, and labor associated with curb appeal projects vary greatly. That said, there are multiple weekend warrior projects that will give your home a simple facelift, but not break your back or wallet during the process, such as:
1. Front Door. Replacing a worn, outdated door can add instantaneous curb appeal with just a few hours of work. A decorative door with hand carved elements or glass work can add interest and help set your home apart. A cheaper option is to update your existing door with a bright, fresh, complementary paint color. In most cases, you shouldn’t be afraid of bolder colors that, again, can help set your home apart. You can always consult a color expert or decorator if you’re unsure about how a color will work.
2. Entry Way. Consider staining or painting your concrete walkway, porch, and/or steps at your home’s entry, but be sure that the paint/stain you select at the home improvement store is specifically for concrete. You can rent or buy a power washer to thoroughly clean stone and brick entry ways. You can use paving stones, stepping stones, or brick to make a quick, relatively inexpensive walkway if you don’t already have one.
3. Trim, Shutters, and Molding. Adding a fresh coat of paint to the trim that frames your windows can help give your home character, an eye-catching pop of color, and highlight the size and number of windows. Adding shutters or window boxes can give the home some dimension and depth from the street. You might also consider adding prefabricated molding. It comes in a variety of different styles and easily attaches to the front of the home.
4. Greenery. Adding some attractive greenery is a cheap, quick, and easy way to add curb appeal. It’s okay if you don’t have a green thumb. Plant nurseries carry a variety of low-maintenance, ready-to-plant or ready-to-hang plants that will require little of you. On the other hand, if your yard is looking more like a jungle than a yard, then it’s time to get the yard equipment out. Foliage can be an asset when it’s complimentary, but can easily become a negative when overgrown and obstructive.
5. Welcome Home. Add some welcome home accessories that match the style of your home, such as light fixtures, a porch swing or seating area, door knob, mailbox, and welcome mat.