Archive for the ‘home’ Tag

How to Create a Home Inventory   Leave a comment

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Would you be able to remember all the possessions you have accumulated over the years if they were destroyed by a fire or other disaster?

 
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.
 
Start by making a list of your possessions, describing each item and noting where you bought it and its make and model. Clip to your list any sales receipts, purchase contracts, and appraisals you have. For clothing, count the items you own by category (pants, coats, shoes, for example), making notes about those that are especially valuable. For major appliances and electronic equipment, record the serial numbers, which are usually found on the back or bottom.
 
  • Don’t be put off!  
    If you are just setting up a household, starting an inventory list can be relatively simple. If you’ve been living in the same house for many years, however, the task of creating a list can be daunting. Still, it’s better to have an incomplete inventory than nothing at all. Start with recent purchases, then try to remember what you can about older possessions.
  • Big ticket items  
    Valuable items like jewelry, art work and collectibles may have increased in value since you received them. Check with your agent to make sure that you have adequate insurance for these items. They may need to be insured separately and it is important that your insurance company know about these items before there is a loss.
  • Take a picture 
    You can also take pictures of rooms and important individual items to have a visual record of your belongings. On the back of the photos, note what is shown and where you bought it or the make. Don’t forget things that are in closets or drawers. If you use your phone or a digital camera, you may also be able to add a description of the item when saving the photo.
  • Videotape it  
    Walk through your house or apartment videotaping and describing the contents. Or do the same thing using a tape recorder. This can be useful for items such as clothing or kitchenware. You can simply open a kitchen shelf or closet and describe the contents. For instance, in the kitchen, it would be sufficient to state that you have a set of dishes for 12 that includes a dinner plate, salad plate, etch with when and where it was purchased
  • Create a digital record  
    Use your computer or mobile device to make your inventory list. There are many software options and mobile apps that can help you create a room-by-room record of your belongings. To make creating your inventory as easy as possible, the I.I.I. offers free Web-based home inventory software, Know Your Stuff® – Home Inventory. The software includes secure online storage so you can access your inventory anywhere, anytime. You can also download the Know Your Stuff app in the iTunes App Store (or search for “iii inventory”) or from Google Play. Information about your belongings can be entered either through the mobile app or online and your data will automatically synchronize between the two. All of your information will be kept in your personal, password protected account, on Amazon secure servers. And, like the online version, the Know Your Stuff® app is free of charge. 

 

STORING YOUR LIST 

Regardless of how you do it (written list, photos, computer hard drive, flash-drive, or in the cloud), keep a record of your inventory. If it is a physical document, store it along with the receipts in your safe deposit box or at a friend’s or relative’s home. If it is a digital file, make sure to back it up and keep a copy on an external drive or online storage account. That way it will be easily available to give your insurance representative if your home is damaged. When you make a significant purchase, add the information to your inventory while the details are fresh in your mind.

“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”

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Posted August 6, 2013 by leecountyinsurance in Uncategorized

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Shopping Tips for Property Insurance   Leave a comment

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The most important tip: Think rebuilding cost, not real estate value, when insuring your home. If your home is severely damaged or destroyed, it may cost more to rebuild it than its current sales price.

Shopping Tips For Property Insurance
 
  1. Insure for the rebuilding cost, not the real estate value.
    Real estate goes up and down, while building costs may not fluctuate as widely. You can check in your area for the price range per square foot of new construction or use one of the online building estimator tools. (Suggestion: Type how to estimate building costs in the search field.) You’ll want to purchase enough insurance to completely rebuild your home.
  2. Accurately estimate your home’s contents by doing a home inventory. 
    Remember to include your furniture, electronics, appliances and other contents so you can replace all your belongings if you suffer a major loss. Many people underestimate how much they own, and the Insurance Information Institute has free software to help you create an accurate home inventory. And, having an accurate inventory will help you settle claims promptly. The free software is available at http://www.knowyourstuff.org.
  3.  Don’t select an insurer on price alone. 
    Check the company’s reputation for service by asking people you know for recommendations. You’ll want to send your business to a company that is known for answering questions promptly and handling claims properly and fairly. You should also check on the company’s financial rating by checking with ratings organization. This information is often available on the company’s Website as well.
  4. To save money, take the highest deductible you can afford.
    The higher the deductible, the lower your premium. Since most people file a claim only every eight to 10 years, you will save money over time and preserve your insurance for when it’s really needed.
  5. Ask about policy exclusions, available discounts and additional coverage. Make sure you understand what is covered and what is not. Homeowner insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Some have exclusions for sinkhole coverage, and you may want to include this protection for an additional premium. There is also additional coverage you may wish to purchase to rebuild your home to the current building code, since new construction must comply with stronger codes. You earn discounts for security systems, some upgrades, wind-resistant shutters, and other improvements and safety features.
Another tip: Read your current policy before you have a conversation with your agent so you understand your coverage and make the best insurance decisions for your situation.
 
“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”

Posted July 31, 2013 by leecountyinsurance in Uncategorized

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Top 10 most common homeowners insurance claims and simple ways you can avoid costly problems   Leave a comment

hose bursting1

What can you do?

Insurance adjusters have ranked the most common, yet preventable, homeowners claims. Five of them – that’s half the list – are plumbing related. This is a busy time for everyone and the last thing you need is an unexpected plumbing breakdown. Unless you enjoy the excitement of a flooded laundry room or having a toilet take a one-way trip through the floor, the answer lies in smart preventative maintenance.

Top ten homeowners claims to avoid
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1. Burst washing machine hose – Plastic or rubber washing machine hoses eventually leak and even burst. Three bad combinations here: The machine jars and jumps; the lines get hot and cold repeatedly; laundry rooms are typically located in low-traffic areas, meaning it may go unnoticed a while. Damage is often extensive and expensive, which is why it’s ranked #1.
Precaution: Plastic hoses should be replaced at least every three years, and frequently inspected for leaks. Stainless hoses look substantially stronger and in many cases are but there are alos some that are not much better than the “cheapie” model.

2. Slow leaks around tub/shower grout and edges – Grout and caulking decay over time, and cracks can develop. Water seeps into walls and floors little by little, causing tub and shower pans to corrode or to actually sink due to softening wood supports. The problem greatly accelerates as more water intrudes, leading to major repairs in plumbing, carpentry, tile work and more. Insurance rarely covers these expenses.
Precaution: Make sure that all water from the shower or bath stays there. This means securing shower doors and tightly closing curtains. Also, frequently inspect and repair seals. A little time now can save thousands of dollars later. On a preventive maintenance trip.

3. Toilet seal leaks – If your toilet wobbles it could mean that the seal is worn, or that it was improperly installed. Since the seal prevents sewage gases and other wastes from leaking into your home, this is not just a costly repair—it’s a health issue. We’re not talking “maybe” here; sewer gases are a health risk and not to be taken lightly. Get this fixed.
Precaution: Periodically check the base of the toilet for water. If a leak is present, have it repaired immediately.

4. Refrigerator water-supply line leaks – The small water line that goes from your refrigerator—called a capillary line—can easily become kinked. Plastic lines also become brittle from use, which leads to leaks. These leaks are rarely noticed but can cause extensive damage to the walls, floor, and cabinets around the refrigerator.
Precaution: If lines become brittle, replace them as soon as possible. Be sure to check metal lines for crimps or kinks that can cause the line to form a leak.

5. Roof leaks – Weather, age, wear and tear — these conditions adversely affect your roof’s condition. Signs of a leaking roof include spots or stains that appear on the ceiling, or curled, upturned shingles around the edges of your home.
Precaution: Don’t try to stretch the life of your roof past its time. But to ensure a longer life, make sure that gutters are cleaned regularly. Also check for loose or missing shingles, especially after storms with high winds. Home owners insurance does not cover wear and tear. If your roof is leaking because it is old it is your responsibility to maintain and replace the roof as necessary. Most insurance companies in Florida allow up to 15 years on a shingle roof. Tile roofs are generally acceptable up to 20. Many companies now are settling roof claims on a depreciated basis based on the age of the roof.

6. Chimney/fireplace fires – It’s easy to think that starting a fire in the fireplace is as simple as throwing a few longs and matches together and watching it burn. Before your next family weenie roast, you should know that dirty or plugged chimneys regularly cause home fires.
Precaution: Practice fire safety: keep flammable items clear of the fireplace; be sure that children are supervised at all times; keep matches and flame accelerants in a safe, secured place. Before you start a fire, clean any excessive amounts of soot and ashes from the chimney. Also, maintain a regular chimney-cleaning schedule.

7. Hot water tank leaks – When was the last time you thought about your hot water tank? Probably not any time in the recent past unless you had a problem or repair. Since hot water tanks develop leaks and rust as they age, this “out of sight, out of mind” mentality can lead to major home damage. Sometimes, you begin to notice that you run out of hot water more quickly, indicating poor performance or maybe sediment in the tank. Both indicate a service or replacement need.
Precaution: Periodically check for water damage in the flooring around your hot water heater. If your water heater was installed more than five years ago, a qualified technician should check it at least annually. It may only need cleaning and servicing.

8. Electrical cord fires – Do you have a lot of “gadgets” and appliances plugged in throughout your home? Hiding those unseemly cords with throw rugs? Bad idea. Electrical cord fires result primarily from overloaded circuits, cords under throw rugs, and baseboard heaters.
Precaution: Minimize the number of appliances in use or plugged in at the same time. This will keep your circuits operating within their safe capacity. Also, route cords around throw rugs to reduce the likelihood of fire. Make sure all furniture is a safe distance from heaters, and that they are properly ventilated.

9. Unattended cooking or candle fires – Candlelight flickering shadows on the wall is relaxing, beautiful, soothing. Standing on the curb watching the flames flicker throughout your home is, um, something less than calming. Contained fires can become ‘uncontained’ quickly and violently. It’s from one thing: Lack of attention.
Precaution: Be aware of your candles or cooking fires at all times. Is a candle burning too closely to a flammable object? Is it in a non-flammable holder? Periodically monitor all candle and cooking fires and always practice fire safety.

10. Garage door opener theft – You want your home to comfortable, safe, and secure. You may lock your doors, but sly criminals often snatch garage door openers, gaining access to garages and homes.
Precaution: If you’re not parking your car in the garage, take the garage door opener out of the car. This one, simple measure substantially increases your home security. Thieves cannot gain access to your home easily, making break-ins more difficult and therefore less likely.

“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”

Lightning Safety Week – Surge Protection for Your Home   Leave a comment

lightning

At the first clap of thunder, seeking shelter indoors to avoid being struck by lightning is a priority. But it’s also important that what’s inside the structure is protected as well. According to the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI), a single bolt of lightning can carry over 30 million volts of electricity. A strike from a powerful charge like that could trigger a power surge that could damage expensive electronic equipment inside your home – or worse – spark a devastating fire.

As part of Lightning Safety Week (June 23-29), the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) advises homeowners to take precautions to reduce the chances of lightning-related loss and disruption from power surges.

To reduce the risk of damage from a lightning strike, homeowners should consider investing in a whole-house surge protector, which offers protection against electrical surges or spikes. Many utility companies provide and install whole-building surge protection systems. If this is unavailable in your area, consider hiring a licensed electrician to install the protector.

There also are relatively inexpensive ways to prevent significant damage from a power surge. Below, learn how to keep expensive electronics from being damaged or destroyed by a sudden spike in voltage. Find additional lightning protection guidance for both businesses and homes at disastersafety.org/lightning.

PREVENTING POWER SURGE DAMAGE TO YOUR HOME

1. Unplugging electronic equipment when there is lightning in the area is the most reliable means of protecting that equipment from a power
surge.

2. Know the important difference between a surge suppressor and a power strip. A power strip plugs into your wall outlet and allows you to
plug in multiple electronic devices. However, a power strip does not protect equipment from being damaged by a spike in electrical power.
Like a power strip, a surge protector also gives the user the ability to plug in multiple electronic devices, but it also protects your
electronic devices from sudden power spikes.

3. Connect telephone, cable/satellite TV and network lines to a surge suppressor.

4. Make sure the surge suppressor has an indicator light so you know it is working properly.

5. Ensure the surge suppressor has been tested to UL 1449, which should be indicated on the packaging.

6. Purchase a surge suppressor with a Joule rating of over 1,000. The Joule rating typically ranges from 200 up to several thousand the
higher the number the better.

7. Look for a surge suppressor with a clamping voltage rating (voltage at which the protector will conduct the electricity to ground)
between 330 v, which is typical, to 400 v.

8. Purchase a surge suppressor with a response time of less than 1 nanosecond.

9. Avoid cutting corners. You don’t want to protect a $1,000 television or computer system with a $10 surge protector. For $25 and up, you
can provide much better protection.

10. Consider hiring a licensed electrician or home/building inspector to review the power, telephone, electrical and cable/satellite TV
connections in your home. Have them check that you have adequate grounding of the power line connection and your power distribution
panel. All of the utilities should enter the structure within 10 feet of the electrical service entrance ground wire and be bonded to
that grounding point.

The Art of Coverage: Collectibles Insurance vs. Traditional Homeowners Policy   Leave a comment

stamp vase 1918 coin

The chances are good that you are a collector of something. So what makes something a collectible or when do you need to “Schedule” your personal belongings. The simple answer is: it depends.

Some of the most commonly collected items include fine art, sports memorabilia, wine, rare books, stamps and coins, antique rugs and tapestries, musical instruments, action figures, dolls, toys, auto and movie memorabilia, and guns.

Large private collections generally have proper risk management in place including fine-art insurance that covers the full value of the items. But many smaller collections (those valued below $1 million) tend to be insured under a traditional homeowners policy or have no insurance at all. If these collectors face a devastating event resulting in damage, they may discover too late that their coverage is not sufficient to address their financial losses.

In simple terms, the process of insuring collections of fine art and collectibles under a traditional homeowners policy tends to be time-consuming and difficult while possibly yielding lower limits and less expansive coverage when compared to obtaining coverage with a fine art and collectible insurance policy. The comparisons below address specific differences between the two types of policies.

Appraisals – Homeowners policies generally require appraisals for collections or individual items valued over $2000 as part of the underwriting process. Many collectibles insurance policies do not require appraisals at the time of application.

Deductibles – Zero-dollar deductibles are the standard for collectibles insurance policies with some offering additional deductible options. Homeowners policies may offer zero-deductible policies, but it is not as common.

Limits – The limit on fine art and collectibles coverage generally ranges from $500 to $2000 for a homeowners policy without the addition of a floater or rider. Even with an added floater or rider, homeowners policies tend to limit the level of exposure. A collectibles policy may offer coverage up to $1 million or more.

Coverage – One of the most important coverage differences between a homeowners policy and collectibles policy is the valuation of covered items. Homeowners policies tend to insure for actual cash value while collectibles policies insure the full collectible value of items in the collection. This distinction alone can reflect a startling difference in potential claims payments in the event of a loss. Homeowners policies generally cover named perils only, exclude coverage for items during transit, limit coverage on items stored away from the home to as little as 10 to 15 percent, and extend coverage to newly acquired items for only 30 days. By contrast, collectibles policies typically include all risk coverage and provide coverage for items in transit, items stored away from the home (such as in an office or storage facility), and newly acquired items for up to 90 days. Some collectibles policies may offer additional coverage benefits such as discounts for monitored fire and burglar alarms or items kept in a UL-rated safe.

Claims – In today’s insurance market, filing a claim against a homeowners policy may leave an insured vulnerable to premium increases at renewal or the possibility of non-renewal. With a separate collectibles policy, claims do not affect homeowner premiums or loss history. In addition, companies that offer collectibles insurance may have claims adjusters with a high level of expertise in this area. Adjusters with this specialized knowledge are better able to determine the value of unique or rare items, which should expedite the claims process and lead to a better outcome for the insured.

A detailed comparison of the benefits and limitations of standard homeowners insurance versus collectibles insurance demonstrates that specialty coverage can be very advantageous for even a small collector.

Standard homeowners policies have limitations for most common items such as Firearms, Jewelry, Furs, Silverware, Precious and Semi-precious stones, Money, Gold, Silver, Coin or Stamp collections etc. Anything that has a special value such as an oriental rug (worth more than an area rug you may purchase as a home improvement store), anything that is “one of a kind” that can’t be replaced by going to a local department store, a collection of things such a porcelain figurines, fine art, breakable art such as a vase or statue. These are things that may need to be insured by a personal articles policy. Sometimes referred to as “scheduling”, this is a policy that insures specific items at a specific value determined by an appraisal or other means of valuation.

If your $10,000 Persian rug is damaged but not insured for $10,000, it is a rug and can be replaced for about $150 at Home Depot. A 1938- 3 legged Buffalo nickel may appraise for several thousand dollars depending on the grade, but if it is not insured for that value, you guessed it, it’s just a nickel worth 5 cents. Sentimental value is dear to us and nothing can replace sentimental value but Grandma’s old wedding ring could be worth a few hundred dollars or a million bucks. Every insurance policy has limitations, exclusions and provisions that you may need to comply with before you are properly insured. Please contact Lee County Insurance Agency for additional information about insuring your valuables.

“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”