Fire Safety and Prevention, What You Need To Know

Fire Safety

Fire SafetyHome is where the heart is…it’s also where your family, prized possessions and most fond memories are. Home is also the same place that has the greatest risk of fire. Nearly 80% of fire deaths in the US each year occur in the home. Are you taking steps to keep your home and family safe?

Fire Safety

  • Check all electrical appliances, cords and outlets. makes sure they are all in working condition, without loose or frayed cords or plugs.
  • Use caution with portable heaters. Never place one where a child or pet could accidentally knock it over, and keep it at least 3 feet away from flammable objects.
  • Be careful in the kitchen. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires. Always practice safe cooking habits, such as turning pot handles to avoid being knocked over, and supervising children while cooking.
  • Check the fireplace. It should be kept clean and covered with a screen to keep sparks contained. Burn only wood in a home fireplace and never leave a fire burning unattended.
  • Beware of cigarettes. They are the number one cause of fire deaths in the US. Most are started when ashes or butts fall into couches or chairs, so use caution if you smoke in your home.
  • Use candles safely. Keep them out of the reach of children, away from curtains and furniture, and extinguish them before you leave the room. Do not allow children to use candles when unsupervised by an adult. 
  • Be aware of holiday dangers. If you use a cut Christmas tree, be sure to keep it watered daily, and inspect all lights yearly for worn or frayed cords.

Fire Prevention

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home.
  • Use the smoke alarm’s test button to check it every month and replace the batteries at least once a year. 
  • Replace smoke alarms every 10 years. 
  • Plan escape routes by determining at least two ways to escape from every room. 
  • Caution everyone to stay low to the floor while escaping and never open doors that are hot. 
  • Select a safe location outside your home where everyone should meet, and practice your escape plan at least twice a year so everyone knows it well. 

Do you need to discuss homeowners insurance with one of our agents? Click here to learn more or Click here to contact us. 

Share these tips with everyone you care about, you can never be too careful! 
Your friends at Rinehart-Walters-Danner Insurance.   
 
 

Replacement Cost vs Actual Cash Value, Which Do I Choose?

Your homeowners insurance policy can offer financial protection in the event of an unexpected disaster involving your home or personal property. But how you will be reimbursed following a claim depends on the type of coverage you have. There are two main valuation methods when it comes to homeowners insurance for you to choose between. Replacement cost coverage vs actual cash value coverage. By understanding the difference between these valuation methods, you can make informed decisions about your homeowners insurance and secure coverage that meets your needs.

Key Differences Between Replacement Cost vs Actual Cash Value

Although replacement cost coverage and actual cash value coverage can both offer financial protection in the event of a claim, the amount that your policy will pay out differs between these two valuation methods. Here are the key differences to help you weigh replacement cost vs actual cash value:

  • Replacement cost coverage can offer compensation for the cost of replacing your stolen, damaged or destroyed property with a brand-new version (as long as it’s similar in kind and quality to the original). For example, if your couch is destroyed in a house fire, replacement cost coverage would reimburse you for the cost of purchasing a comparable new couch. In other words, replacement cost coverage will replace your property without any deduction for depreciation.

    This form of coverage can be especially beneficial in protecting against major losses. Examples would be  significant damage to the physical structure of your home or expensive items within your home. However, keep in mind that replacement cost coverage typically requires you to pay a higher premium. In addition, remember that you will only be compensated up to your policy limit amount. If you experience a covered loss that exceeds your policy limit, you may have to cover the difference. If you are concerned about the risk of a covered loss totaling more than your policy limit, be sure to consult your trusted broker to discuss additional policy options. This would be options such as guaranteed replacement cost coverage or extended replacement cost coverage—which can provide further financial protection.
     
  • Actual cash value coverage can offer compensation for the depreciated value of your stolen, damaged or destroyed property. This value is determined by the age, condition and expected remaining useful life of your property. Under this coverage, you wouldn’t be reimbursed for the full cost of replacing your destroyed couch from the above example. Rather, you would be compensated for current market value of the couch, based on the condition it was in before the fire. That being said, even if you initially purchased the couch several years ago for $2,000, you might only be reimbursed $1,000 for your loss due to depreciation.

    Although this form of coverage typically offers reduced compensation in the event of a covered claim, you will likely save money on your policy premium. Actual cash value coverage can be more suitable for individuals that live in low-risk areas. For example locations where incidents such as heavy winds, fires or theft are less common, or own fewer expensive items.

Which Coverage Is Best for You?

There are pros and cons to both replacement cost coverage and actual cash value coverage. In order to select the best coverage that meets your specific homeowners insurance policy needs, follow these steps:

  • Determine what you can afford by assessing the impact of both coverages on your financial stability. It’s important to consider the difference in premium costs and claim compensation amounts between each form of coverage.
  • Create a home inventory checklist of all of your belongings and their original value, as well as an estimate of their current value. Taking photos is a great way to capture and save information for your inventory. This practice will help you better determine which coverage offers the best protection for your unique belongings. Keep in mind that certain high-value items won’t be covered by your homeowners insurance policy and will require specialized coverage. This would include items such as jewelry, collectible items or fine art.
  • Calculate how much it would cost to rebuild your home if it were completely destroyed. Include added costs for labor, materials and any new or updated building codes in your community that you would be required to comply with. Avoid making a rough estimate for this cost. Be as specific as possible to ensure you know just how much coverage you need.
  • Analyze your personal risk. Be sure to select a coverage option that fits within your budget, risk profile and comfort level.

We’re Here to Help

There are several factors to consider when determining which type of coverage is right for you. But you don’t have to navigate this decision alone. Rinehart, Walters & Danner Insurance Agency is here to walk you through your homeowners insurance policy and provide expert guidance regarding which coverage option is best for you, your belongings and your wallet. For further coverage guidance, contact us today.

7 Tips For How To Stay Safe During Power Outages

power outages

power outagesYou can’t control the weather—but you can take safety measures to protect your family and home against the threat and hazards of power outages. If severe weather or intense winter chill hits unexpectedly, power outages can be dangerous if you’re not prepared. However, if you’re already in the dark, there are still steps you can take to keep everyone safe until your power is restored.

Stay Safe

Staying home and indoors is the best way to stay safe during power outages. Consider the following tips to cope during an unexpected or extended power outage.

1). Get The Essentials

In case the power outage lasts a few days, it’s important to have the following items on hand:

  • Three to seven-day supply of food and water (per person)
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered radio
  • First-aid supplies
  • Extra medicine

2) Conserve Power

When the storm is approaching or the lights are already out, consider unplugging or turning off electronics and small appliances.

3) Protect Your Water Supply

Some water purification systems may not function when the power goes out. Bottled, boiled or treated water is safe for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene purposes. Check with local officials to ensure your water is safe to drink.

4) Protect Your Food Supply

Remember to keep freezer and refrigerator doors closed as much as possible to maintain cold temperatures. During a power outage, food will stay cold for about four hours in an unopened fridge and about 48 hours in a full, closed freezer—24 hours if it is half full. If necessary, fill coolers with ice to keep food from spoiling.

5) Maintain A Normal Body Temperature

  • If it’s cold outside, layer up by wearing at least three layers of tops and two layers of bottoms. Look around your home for extra blankets, sleeping bags and winter coats to help you warm up. Learn more about how to recognize and prevent hypothermia.
  • If it’s hot outside, stay cool and drink plenty of fluids to prevent heat-related illness, such as heat stroke and fainting. To avoid heat stress, follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) heat safety tips

6) Avoid Carbon Monoxide

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, use generators outdoors only and at least 20 feet away from your home. Additionally, do not use a gas stove or oven to heat your home.

7) Check On Your Loved Ones

When it’s safe to do so, check in with people to make sure they’re OK or find out if they need assistance.

If you need to make a trip outside, keep it as brief as possible. Check with your local emergency authorities first to make sure it’s safe to drive or travel during severe weather.

Be Prepared For Power Outages

If you are not currently experiencing a power outage, consider the following tips to prepare for a sudden loss of electrical power:

  • Invest in a home generator. A portable backup power source can keep critical equipment like refrigerators, sump pumps and air conditioners running during a blackout.
  • Utilize surge protectors. A UL-listed surge protector can safeguard expensive electronic devices like televisions and desktop computers.
  • Develop a family emergency communications plan. It’s important to have a game plan so everyone knows what to do and when. Decide on a meeting spot, identify shelter locations and store the plan on your cellphone.
  • Assemble an emergency survival kit. Account for your pets, too. The American Red Cross recommends having the following items readily available:
    o One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days
    o Nonperishable food to last each person three days
    o Flashlight and extra batteries
    o First-aid kit
    o Sanitation and personal hygiene items
    o Copies of important personal documents (e.g., medication lists, passports, birth certificates and insurance policies)
    o Cellphone with both wall and car chargers
    o Pet food, supplies and water
    o Emergency contact information for family and friends

For additional emergency preparedness resources, visit the CDC’s Power Outage website.

What You Need To Know About Fireplace And Wood Burning Stove Safety

Winter is here along with the frigid cold temperatures! Have you prepared for this cold weather? Fireplace And Wood Burning Stove SafetyHow about your home? Did you know the largest source of fire in American homes comes from fuel burning appliances? That is why fireplace and wood burning stove safety is so important. 

Wood Burning Safety

Use these tips to practice fireplace and wood burning stove safety. 

  • Read the instructions for your wood burning stove and follow them carefully. 
  • Inspect the firebrick liner, if you have one. Should the liner show signs of wear, replace it immediately. Do not use that unit until the liner is replaced. 
  • Do not use flammable or combustible liquid (gasoline, kerosene, lighter fluid, etc.) to start a fire. 
  • Burn wood recommended by the manufacturer only. 
  • Do not burn plastic, wood or garbage that has been painted or treated with chemicals. 
  • Be sure to have properly maintained smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and an approved multi-purpose fire extinguisher in your home. 
  • Never close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. Doing so will cause the fire to heat up which will force toxic carbon monoxide into your house. 
  • Take extra care when disposing of hot ashes. Remember that these embers may still be hot for several days. 

Solid fuel units tend to require a lot more maintenance than other heating systems. Therefore, regular inspections and care are needed to protect your home and family against fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Chimney Maintenance

Both metal and masonry chimneys require maintenance so that smoke and flue gases are ventilated properly. At the very least, you should have your chimney inspected annually before each heating season. In addition: 

  • Have  your chimney cleaned on a regular basis to reduce creosote buildup. 
  • Make sure your masonry chimney has a flue liner in place to reduce the possibility that the masonry could absorb creosote. 
  • Replace cracked or damaged liners, as they will allow creosote to accumulate and heat to escape. 
  • When hiring someone to reline your chimney, only allow the contractor to use a product that has been tested and listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. 

There are two types of chimneys that require specific maintenance to maximize the dangers in your home. 

  • Fireplace inserts (hearth stoves):
    • Vent should be connected to the flue of the chimney. 
  • Factory-built metal chimneys:
    • Do not use natural gas, fuel oil vents, well casing, stovepipe or other material in the chimney, as they cannot withstand the heat in the wood burner. 

A few other tips

Do not vent more than one heater or appliance into a single flue. Doing so can cause major complications. If one fuel-burning appliance is connected to a flue and then you attach another appliance, such as a water heater, you are running the risk of the following serious problems:

  • Heavy creosote accumulation
  • Deterioration of the flue
  • Creosote blocking the lower heater vent
  • Carbon monoxide drifting into your home

 

When it comes to your home and family fireplace and wood burning stove safety is crucial. Make sure to practice the above safety tips to stay safe and warm. Now is a good time to review your homeowners insurance coverage to make sure your policy is up to day and adequate.

Click here for information on homeowners insurance.

Click here to learn more about chimney fires. 

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6 Tips To Help Avoid Frozen Pipes

frozen pipes

frozen pipes

One of the messiest and most costly homeowner repair is fixing a burst pipe. Water from a burst pipe can cause damage to carpeting, short out electrical appliances and ruin furniture. As temperatures drop, the risk of frozen pipes increases in your home. Luckily, we have 6 tips to help you avoid frozen pipes. 

#1 Your Thermostat

Set your thermostat to at least 55 degrees F. The lower the temperature of your home, the more likely your pipes will freeze. If you are away on vacation, have someone check on your home to make sure your furnace is running and that you home is at least 55 degrees F. 

#2 Insulate Pipes

Insulate exposed pipes with insulation material such as foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves.

#3 Open Cabinet Doors

Open any cabinets that contain exposed pipes to allow warm air from your home to circulate around the pipes. 

#4 Use your Faucets

Allow your faucets to drip or occasionally trickle a little water to help relieve pressure in the pipes and prevent them from bursting.

#5 Seal any Cracks

Seal any cracks in the foundation or any outside walls to prevent cold air from seeping into your home.  

#6 Shut-Off Valves

Locate all shut-off valves, so if  a pipe were to burst, you could quickly turn off water to prevent water damage. 

If you turn on a faucet and no water or only a trickle comes out, your pipes may be frozen. Turn off the main water valve and keep the faucet on. Apply heat to the pipe by using an electric heating pad, hair dryer or portable space heater, or by wrapping the pipe in towels soaked in hot water. You should apply heat until you regain water pressure. If this does not solve the problem, contact a licensed plumber to inspect your pipes.

Our friends at Encova Insurance also have some great tips on this same subject. Click Here to read what they have to say. 

Safety Tips For All Your Holiday Decorating Needs

holiday decorating








holiday decoratingIt’s cooling down and holiday spirit is in the air. For many, it’s time to start holiday decorating! While holiday decorating adds beauty to your home, it can also bring added risk. Trees, garlands, and lights can add extra fire hazards if not used properly. The last thing you want for Christmas is a homeowners insurance claim to deal with. But don’t worry, we have a few tips to keep your home and your family safe this holiday. 

Christmas Tree Safety

  • Keep a fresh-cut tree outdoors and cover the trunk in snow, or immerse it in a bucket of water until you are ready to decorate it.
  • When you are ready to put up a live tree, cut a 1- or 2-inch diagonal off the bottom of the trunk. The new cut will help the tree to absorb water, which preserves its freshness.
  • Select a spot for the tree that is at least three feet away from a heat source.
  • Put the tree in a sturdy, water-holding stand with widespread legs, and keep the stand filled with water.
  • Once a tree becomes dried out, do not keep it in your home or garage, as it is highly flammable.

Holiday Lighting Safety

  • Mixing and matching lights can create a fire hazard, so keep outside lights outdoors and inside lights indoors.
  • Always buy lights and electrical decorations bearing the name of an independent testing lab, such as UL, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and maintenance.
  • Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings before using them. Throw away any that appear damaged.
  • When hanging your lights, string lights together using built-in connectors. Do not join more than 200 midget lights or 50 larger lamps through one string or cord.
  • Do not connect more than three sets of lights to one extension cord.
  • Remember to unplug all decorations and lights, both inside and outside your home, before leaving or going to bed.
  • If you blow a fuse, unplug the lights from the outlet and immediately replace the blown fuse. If the replacement fuse blows again, a short circuit may be present. Throw the faulty light string or decoration away, or if it is new, return it for a refund.
  • When hanging lights outside use a ladder made of non conductive materials to reduce the risk of electrocution. 

Candle Safety

  • Place candles in stable holders and in a spot where they cannot be easily disturbed.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate your Christmas tree.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended, and always extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Avoid placing candles near flammable objects.
  • Keep burning candles out of the reach of children.

Taking extra precautions while decorating can be the difference between a relaxing holiday season or a tragic holiday season. 

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Should I Bundle My Insurance Policies Or Not?

bundle








bundleIf you’ve ever shopped around for insurance, you’ve likely been asked if you want to bundle your policies. In other words, combine your home or renters, auto and life insurance policies with the same carrier. Although you have the option to shop around individually for each policy, it almost always makes sense to have the same carrier cover as many of your policies as possible.

Click here to learn more about personal insurance options

Benefits of Bundling

  • The discount—Most policyholders bundle their policies because of the promise of a discount. The amount varies by provider but can generally range between 5-25 percent.
  • The option of a single deductible—With bundled policies, your deductible may be cheaper in the event of a claim that affects multiple policies. For example, if your home and auto policies are with two separate carriers, and a hailstorm damages your home and your car, you’re responsible for paying both your home and auto deductibles before receiving payment. But if you bundle your policies, your provider may offer you the option to pay only the higher of the two deductibles.
  • Less chance of being dropped—If you’ve made claims or gotten tickets, having your policies bundled with one provider can decrease the chance of them dropping you.

When It Doesn’t Pay to Bundle

It isn’t always better to bundle your policies with one insurance carrier. Here’s when it may be better to split them up:

  • If you have tickets or past claims that make your auto insurance expensive – In this case, it may be cheaper overall to buy each policy from separate providers.
  • When premiums increase—Bundling discourages people from price shopping, which makes it easier for providers to increase their rates. Most assume that you won’t go through the effort of shopping around when your policies renew.
  • If policies aren’t technically bundled—Some carriers may insure you with an affiliated company. Although you may get a discount with that company, you’ll lose the convenience of paying your premium with one familiar provider.

A Few Tips to Consider

Although discounts are the main reason people bundle their insurance policies, never assume that bundling is the cheapest option. Your needs and circumstances will dictate whether you should combine your policies with one carrier. Consider the following tips:

  • Shop for new coverage when your policies renew. Ask for the price of the individual premiums as well as the price of the bundled premium. Then you can decide whether it is worth it. Just make sure you compare the same coverage when shopping for quotes from each carrier.
  • Ask if the provider uses a third-party insurance company. Remember that you may save money but lose the convenience of dealing with one provider and a combined bill.
  • Ask an independent insurance agent to get prices from multiple companies so you don’t have to do the legwork. An agent that is loyal to a particular carrier may be able to offer discounts that you can’t get alone.

With multiple factors contributing to the price of your insurance premiums, it is important to shop around in order to get the best rate for your insurance needs. Feel free to contact us to determine if bundling is right for you and help you take advantage of all available discounts.








Do I Have To Pay If A Tree Falls On My House?

tree falls








tree fallsEvery year, storms are responsible for knocking over or breaking off limbs of numerous trees. Unfortunately, sometimes, a limb or tree falls on our house or other property. Cleaning up the damage from a storm can be a difficult task, both physically and emotionally. And things can become especially tense when you discover that it’s your neighbor’s tree that damaged your house.

To make matters worse, many homeowners are surprised to discover that if a neighbor’s tree falls on their house, it’s usually their own homeowners policy—not their neighbor’s—that will cover the cost of the damages. What follows are general guidelines for who pays what in various situations. However, you should also check your homeowners policy for coverages and exclusions. (Click here to learn more about homeowners insurance policies)

Your Property, Your Policy

Generally speaking, if your property is damaged, you are responsible for the damages. It doesn’t matter if the tree or limb came from your property, your neighbor’s property or even municipal property. Keep in mind that a windstorm isn’t anyone’s fault; it’s an act of nature. If a tree does damage your property during a windstorm, your policy will cover the damages. After all, that’s why you purchased a homeowners policy. To protect yourself against unforeseen losses like a tree damaging your house.

Their Property, Their Policy

It might seem unfair that if it’s your neighbor’s tree that damages your home, you should have to pay. Fortunately for you, that standard applies both ways. If a storm rolls through and your tree falls and damages your neighbor’s house, his or her insurance is going to cover the damages.

Negligence and Liability

So far, these scenarios have been fairly straightforward. But what happens when it wasn’t a storm that made the tree fall? Instead, your neighbor’s tree was hollowed out from years of disease, and he’d neglected to do anything about it. In fact, it was so diseased that you expressed your concern to your neighbor that it might topple over and damage your property. Unfortunately, one day, that’s exactly what happens. What then?

Your insurance carrier is still going to be the one paying your claim. However, if you can prove your neighbor knew that the tree was diseased and that he or she neglected to fix it your insurance carrier would probably attempt to collect from your neighbor’s insurance. If your carrier is successful, you could be reimbursed for your deductible.

Remember, though, this rule also applies the other way. If you have diseased or damaged trees on your property and they damage your neighbor’s house, he or she can try to prove your negligence. Your property is your responsibility. So it’s best to inspect your trees every year for signs of disease or damage. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, consider having a professional arborist examine your trees.

Other Structures

If the tree doesn’t damage your house but instead damages your fence, are you still covered? Generally, you are. Most homeowners policies distinguish between two different kinds of structures on your property. The “dwelling” refers to your house and any attached structures (like an attached garage), as well as any fixtures attached to the house. “Other structures,” including detached garages, sheds, fences or gazebos, are also insured, but typically only for 10 percent of the coverage on your dwelling.

Vehicles

If, in the aftermath of a storm, you discover that a tree has fallen on your car, your homeowners policy doesn’t apply. Instead, you’ll be looking at your auto policy. If you have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, your auto insurance carrier will pay for the damages, after you pay your deductible. The same rule would apply to a guest’s car. Hopefully, he or she took out comprehensive coverage, too.(Click here to learn about auto insurance)

Removal and Cleanup

What if the tree fell but didn’t hit anything? Would you be covered for removal costs? If the fallen tree blocks a path to your front door or driveway, then many homeowners policies would pay for removal. Generally, the maximum coverage is around $500. If the tree simply falls in the middle of your yard, your policy likely wouldn’t cover it. Unless the fallen tree damaged insured property, there is no loss to file a claim for.

Replacement

Replacing the trees themselves can be more complicated. Trees that have fallen due to wind damage may or may not be covered, so it’s best to check with your broker. Most policies offer limited coverage for trees that have fallen due to fire, lightning, explosion, theft, vandalism, malicious mischief or aircraft. Amounts and exclusions will vary. It’s important to read your policy and check with your broker if you have any questions.

Making Sure You’re Covered

Hopefully, your trees grow and endure. In the event that they fall, it’s important to know that you’re covered. Contact our office today to make sure that you have sufficient coverage for whatever might blow your way.








Important Insurance Tips For Your College Student

Insurance tips for your college student








Insurance tips for your college student

High School is over and it’s time for the next big step, college. The new students schedule is done, books are purchased and the day is approaching fast for the big move. New furniture, décor and electronics are all packed and ready to go. Before your college student can begin their next adventure you have one last item to complete on your check list. Talking with your insurance agent. While that may seem like an odd item to have on your checklist, it is probably one of the most important. Your insurance agent will have important insurance tips for your college student. When your child leaves home and takes up a new residence at college, that can affect how their belongings are covered. Below are a few questions you may have when it comes to insurance and your college student.

Will my college student’s belongings be covered by my homeowners policy?

Does your child lives in a campus dorm? There is usually a small amount of coverage that would be extended from your homeowners policy. If your child has expensive items, or a lot of items, you may need to consider purchasing additional coverage. Does your child lives in off campus housing? Their belongings may not be covered at all.

Is renters insurance really necessary?

Yes. Chances are your child’s belongings will exceed the amount provided by your homeowners policy, if they are even covered at all. Renters insurance will cover the possessions in your child’s housing at a small cost. You can purchase renters insurance for as little as $15 per month. This will not only give you the extra coverage, but peace of mind that that expensive new laptop or TV will be protected in the event of fire, theft, or other disaster.

In addition to your college students belongings, the move to college can affect your auto coverage and health coverage.

Will your child move more than 100 miles away from home?

If this answer is yes and they do not keep a vehicle at school, your insurance premiums could decrease by as much as 30%. If they are taking a car with them, be sure to review your auto coverage with your agent. Make sure you have the appropriate coverage and your child understands how it works in the event of a claim.

Does my child need to purchase health insurance?

In the state of Ohio, many health insurance carriers are now required to coverage children up to age 26. This rule applies regardless of full time student status. Be sure to review your health coverage to verify the dependent age limit on your plan. Also, make sure your child has an ID card with them if they should need to see a Dr or get a Prescription. They should also understand how the coverage works and if there is any copay they will be responsible for if they should have to use the coverage.

Sending a child to college can be a scary yet exciting time for everyone. When you add your insurance agent to your list of people to talk to during this transition, it can help give you peace of mind for you and your child’s future insurance needs. Remember, your agent is a great source for insurance tips for your college student.

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How to Avoid Underinsuring Your Home

Avoid Underinsuring Your Home

Avoid Underinsuring Your Home

Your home is one of your greatest assets and a significant long-term investment. As such, it’s vital to protect your home and its contents with adequate homeowners insurance. Nevertheless, recent research found that many homeowners lack proper coverage. In fact, nearly 2 out of every 3 homes in America are underinsured! That means that the home is protected to an extent by a homeowners policy, but that policy doesn’t have sufficient limits or coverage features to cover the full expense of a potential claim. What’s worse, the average underinsurance amount is over 20%, with some homes being underinsured by as much as 60%.

Don’t let your home become another statistic and suffer the devastating consequences of inadequate coverage in the event of a loss. Review the following guidance to ensure your homeowners insurance policy meets your unique needs and avoid underinsuring your home.

Coverage Elements to Consider When Insuring Your Home

Homeowners insurance offers financial protection in the event of an unexpected disaster or accident involving you, your home or your personal property. However, homeowners insurance policies consist of several different types of coverage. With this in mind, it’s important that you review each form of coverage included on your policy to make sure you are adequately insured for your specific risks. Here are some key coverage elements to look out for:

Dwelling coverage

Dwelling coverage is the portion of your homeowners insurance policy that can offer compensation for the cost of repairing or rebuilding the physical structure of your home if it gets damaged or destroyed by a covered event (e.g., a fire, a windstorm or vandalism). To secure proper dwelling coverage:

  • Make sure you have enough coverage to compensate the full cost of rebuilding your home in the current market. That includes construction expenses (e.g., labor and materials) and the associated costs of making sure your home is compliant with any new or updated building codes within your community. Many homeowners make the mistake of only purchasing enough coverage to compensate the real estate value of their home. That is typically far less than the cost of rebuilding.
  • Don’t forget any important features of your home’s structure when determining the cost of rebuilding. This includes the flooring, countertops and the type of or quality of materials used throughout the structure. Further, avoid making a rough estimate when determining the cost of rebuilding. Be as exact as possible and consider getting assistance from a qualified property valuation expert to ensure a correct calculation and adequate coverage.
  • Be sure to recalculate the cost of rebuilding your home and review your coverage needs whenever you make changes to your home. Examples would be things such as renovating the bathroom, remodeling the kitchen or adding an attached garage.

Other structures coverage
Other structure coverage is the portion of your homeowners insurance policy that can help cover the cost of repairing or rebuilding any detached structures on your property (e.g., a shed or fence) if they get damaged or destroyed by a covered event. Similar to dwelling coverage, it’s crucial to ensure that you have enough other structures coverage to compensate the full cost of rebuilding any of your detached structures. In addition, be sure to reevaluate your coverage needs whenever you make changes to any of your detached structures or add a new detached structure to your property.

Personal property coverage

Personal property coverage is the portion of your homeowners insurance policy that can provide reimbursement for the cost of stolen or damaged items inside your home, such as furniture or electronics. To ensure adequate personal property coverage:

  • Review your policy to ensure you have the best form of coverage for your unique needs. At a glance, there are two forms of personal property coverage—replacement cost and actual cash value. Replacement cost coverage can offer compensation for the cost of replacing your stolen, damaged or destroyed property with a brand-new version (as long as it’s similar in kind and quality) following a covered event. Actual cash value coverage, on the other hand, can offer compensation for the depreciated value of your property. This value is determined by the age, condition and expected remaining useful life of your property prior to the covered event. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of each form of coverage before making a final selection. Click Here to read more about Replacement cost vs Actual cash value
  • Maintain an up-to-date home inventory checklist. Be sure to include photos of all of your belongings and their original value, as well as an estimate of their current value. This practice will help you better determine just how much coverage you need to fully protect your personal property. However, keep in mind that certain high-value items—such as jewelry, collectible items or fine art—won’t be covered by your homeowners insurance policy and will require specialized coverage.

Loss of use coverage
Loss of use coverage is the portion of your homeowners insurance policy that can help pay for temporary living expenses in the event that you have to move out of your home while it’s being rebuilt or repaired due to a covered event. Loss of use coverage typically equates to up to 20% of the insured value of your home. That being said, make sure you consult your broker if you are concerned that such a value won’t offer enough financial protection for your temporary living arrangements. Also, remember that if you conduct business within your home, this form of coverage will not protect against any loss of income related to your business. You will need to secure specialized coverage for business-related risks.

Liability coverage

Liability coverage is the portion of your homeowners insurance policy that can offer compensation for the expenses that may result if you are found liable for injuring another person or damaging their property. These expenses include medical payments, pain and suffering settlements, lost wages, legal costs and death benefits. Because these expenses can be significant, it’s vital that you have adequate liability coverage tailored to your specific risks. Otherwise, a liability claim could wreak serious havoc on your assets and financial well-being.

Most homeowners insurance policies typically offer a minimum of $100,000 in liability coverage. But, depending on your personal risk profile, you may need to consider securing additional coverage. After all, various property features (e.g., having pets, a trampoline or a pool) can increase your liability risks and require further protection. You may even want to consider purchasing personal umbrella insurance, which can provide additional compensation if your liability coverage is exhausted following a covered claim.

Keep in mind

Lastly, keep in mind that some events—including overland floods and earthquakes—are not always considered covered events on your homeowners insurance policy. If you live in an area that has an elevated risk of these weather-related catastrophes, you will need to obtain additional, specialized coverage. Also, don’t forget that you will usually (with the exception of liability coverage claims) have to pay a deductible before your homeowners insurance kicks in. What’s more, each form of coverage is subject to a limit, which is the maximum amount your policy will pay for a covered claim. Be sure to review your coverage limits to ensure maximum protection. After all, you want to avoid underinsuring your home.

We’re Here to Help

There are a variety of factors to consider in order to avoid underinsuring your home. Rinehart, Walters & Danner is here to walk you through your homeowners policy and help you secure ultimate insurance protection for your personalized risks—ensuring full coverage in the event of a claim. For further insurance guidance, contact us today.