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.
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.
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.
Americans are taking to the outdoors in record numbers this summer, mostly because of COVID-19 indoor restrictions and the cancellation of organized sports.
So, this summer you and/or your family and friends may be hauling a trailer. It secures your ATV, boat, a second car, camper, horses or camping gear. Before you hit the road, make sure your trailer is properly insured.
Why do you Need Trailer Insurance?
Many states accept your auto insurance coverage when you haul a trailer behind your insured vehicle. Your homeowners or renters insurance policy may cover the items you haul. However, this coverage is typically only for liability. Plus, you face several risks when you haul your trailer on the road.
- If you’re not used to hauling a trailer, your risk of causing an accident increases.
- You may turn too sharply and damage someone’s property.
- You could hit a slippery stretch of highway that causes your trailer to slide into another vehicle and damage it or push it off the road.
- While unloading or loading your trailer, you could damage it or the item you’re hauling.
These and other accidents are possible. Trailer insurance adds valuable protection that gives you peace of mind as you travel.
What Type of Coverage is Available?
The type and amount of trailer insurance you need depends on your trailer’s type and size and on the value of the items you will haul. Typical trailer insurance provides several valuable coverages.
- Liability – Cover the costs associated with bodily injuries or property damages your trailer causes to other people or their property and belongings.
- Comprehensive – Repair your trailer if it is damaged from theft, vandalism, fire or weather.
- Collision – Repair your trailer if it is damaged during a traffic collision.
- Contents Coverage – Pay to replace damaged items that are stored on or hauled in your trailer.
How do you Purchase Trailer Insurance?
Talk to your auto insurance agent about trailer insurance. He or she will review your auto insurance policy’s current types of coverage and limits to ensure it’s adequate for your trailer. Your agent will also review your homeowners or renters insurance policy and ensure it covers the items you are hauling.
If your current policies are not adequate to cover your trailer and its contents, increase your coverage types or limits or purchase a separate policy. You may need to shop around for trailer insurance if your current agent does not carry it.
With trailer insurance, you can travel this summer with confidence. If your trailer causes property damage or bodily injury or if the items you haul are damaged, you can pay for the liability or repairs. Talk to your agent before your next trip to make sure you’re properly covered.
Mold growth in your commercial building can cause health concerns and compromise your building’s integrity. Because mold grows quickly in damp conditions and thrives on wood, insulation, carpet, paper, and other organic surfaces where moisture and oxygen are present, it’s especially problematic during the spring season. Prevent health concerns like asthma, respiratory infections, breathing difficulties, itchy eyes, nasal congestion, and skin irritations when you reduce mold in several ways.
Inspect your Building for Mold Growth
Mold thrives in damp, dark and humid areas, including basements, crawl spaces, bathrooms, carpeted areas, and storage spaces. Inspect your entire building, including secluded areas, at least once a week. Look for visible mold growth that may be green, black or brown, and note any spotty or fuzzy stains, another sign of mold.
If you notice damp areas in your commercial space, look for leaks that could cause and encourage mold growth. Repair broken pipes, wall cracks or unsealed windows so that the area remains dry and mold-free.
Damp areas and condensation could cause mold to grow, so install dehumidifiers where necessary. These appliances reduce moisture and keep the area dry and free of dangerous mold.
Clean the HVAC System
The heating, ventilation and air conditioning system could spread mold spores throughout your building and increase health risks. Clean the system thoroughly and maintain it as you protect your employees, customers and vendors.
Treat Mold Properly
Small areas of mold growth can be cleaned and treated with bleach or another mold cleanser. Remember to wear a respirator and protective clothing as you perform this task to protect yourself from an allergic reaction.
If your building requires more extensive remediation methods, hire a professional to access the mold, determine the extent of the damage and create a removal plan. Depending on the growth, treatment could require renovations like drywall or sub-flooring replacement. In this case, hire a reliable professional to remove the mold and treat the area properly.
File an Insurance Claim
Your commercial property insurance policy may cover mold removal, especially if it stems from a covered peril, such as a storm or act of vandalism. Check the policy or talk to your agent as you determine if you can file a claim and cover the mold removal and treatment.
Implement an Ongoing Inspection Program
After removing and treating the mold, schedule regular inspections of the area. Look for evidence of mold growth and excessive moisture as you prevent hazardous mold growth.
Mold damages your commercial building and affects the health of your employees. This spring, reduce mold and protect your assets with these tips. For more tips, talk to your commercial property insurance agent.