Tips for Creating a Home Inventory

home_inventory

Do You Really Know What You Have In Your Home?

The other day I was talking with a friend about some fall cleaning that she was doing around her house. She was telling me how she found a bunch things in boxes and closets that she had completely forgot about. It’s always fun to rediscover…sort of like shopping without spending money.

Of course, my insurance brain kicked in, and I asked her if she had done a home inventory in case she had a fire. “No…when do I have time to do that?”, she said. Being an insurance person, it’s sort of an occupational hazard that I look at life through a lens of potential risks and “what if” scenarios. In all honesty, it’s been about 5 years since I’ve updated my own home inventory, and I need to get it done because I know that I couldn’t name everything I own from memory.

Given our busy lives and how much stuff we all have, it can seem like an impossible task to put together an inventory of everything. But, doing so helps you can make sure that you’ve got enough insurance to cover your personal property, and if you experience a loss, you’ll be able to settle a claim quicker and be more likely to get reimbursed for what you have.

The easiest way to start is by going through each room in your house, one at a time, making a list of items as you go. Don’t try to do it all in one day. That’s a sure fire way to get overwhelmed and give up before you get started. Break the project down over several days or weeks into manageable chunks.

A few quick ideas to help you create your inventory:

  • Take pictures with a time stamp on the image. On the back of the image, list the value, serial number, make and model number. If you’re storing it electronically, name the pictures and reference the description.
  • Take a video camera through your home and verbally describing all the items in your home.
  • If you have an iPhone® download a free app from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, myHOME Scr.APP.book app. It guides you through capturing images, writing descriptions, saving bar codes and serial numbers, and stores them all electronically.
  • Download a home inventory spreadsheet at http://www.vertex42.com/ExcelTemplates/inventory-spreadsheet.html .  A simple format for getting organized plus other tips on getting your inventory done.

As you go through your house, take note of any high value items that may need to be “scheduled” on your home insurance such as expensive jewelry, antiques, fine arts and collectibles, and contact your agent to discuss getting them listed.

So, as I tackle my own home inventory update, I hope you’ll join me it doing your own. Don’t put off getting started on your inventory. It’s easy to procrastinate, but just think of how good you’ll feel when it’s done!

P.S. Don’t store the only copy of your inventory in your home. If there is a fire, you don’t want your inventory destroyed along with your stuff. Make a copy and give it to a family member, friend or put it in a safe deposit box.

 

 

Source: Wayne Texeira Marketing Director, CFMP, AINS, AIS, API

 

Homeowners tips: Water Backup Endorsement, what does it cover?

Raspberry Hill Flood 9Water backup is one of the most common causes of loss for homeowners but also one of the most misunderstood.

What’s covered, what’s not?

Homeowners policy provides coverage for water that backs up through sewers or drains as long as it originates on premises. As this chart shows, the optional endorsement expands the coverage to provide better protection. This optional endorsement is called Escape of Water from a Sump, Sump Pump or Drain on the Residence Premises.*

Covered by  homeowners policy Not covered by  homeowners policy Covered by the  optional endorsement
Toilet or shower drain gets clogged and  overflows causing damage Sewer line in the street backs up and  causes the overflow. (Exception: in Texas, this is covered by Safeco’s Homeowners policy.) Coverage is expanded to include backup or  overflow from causes originating off premises as long as the backup or  overflow itself occurs on the premises
Water that escapes, overflows or discharges  from a sump pump, sump well or any other system designed to remove water  which is drained from the foundation area Coverage is provided when water escapes,  overflows or discharges from a sump pump or other similar system

What’s never covered?

  • Flooding is the most common excluded coverage. Whether the result of a river overflowing its banks or a dam breaking, water damage caused by surface water entering the house is not covered.
  • Overflow originating off-premises is not covered. This would include a sewer line breaking in the street and causing water to flow over the surface into the house.
  • Sub-surface water is excluded. For example, if a swimming pool or sprinkler system leaks underground and causes water to seep through the foundation, there is no coverage under either the base policy or the optional endorsement.

Learn more about optional coverages by contacting Long’s Insurance Agency today!

Winterize Your Home and Property

Winter Home

Ice, snow and wind can have devastating consequences on your home. The time to winterize is when the leaves begin to turn and not when the snow begins to fall.

Homeowners should take the following precautions:

Maintain gutters

Remove leaves, acorns, sticks and other debris from gutters so melting snow and ice can flow freely. You may also consider installing gutter guards. Available in most hardware and home stores, gutter guards are screens that prevent debris from entering the gutter and direct the flow of water away from the house and into the ground.

Trim trees and remove dead branches

Ice, snow and wind can cause weak trees or branches to break, damaging your home or car or injuring someone walking on your property.

Check insulation

Add extra insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. If too much heat escapes through the attic it can cause snow or ice to melt on the roof. The water re-freezes causing more snow and ice to build up. This can result in a collapsed roof, and can contribute to ice damming. Ideally, the attic should be five to ten degrees warmer than the outside air. Well-insulated basements and crawl spaces will also help protect pipes from freezing.

Maintain pipes

Wrap pipes with heating tape and insulate unfinished rooms such as garages that frequently have exposed pipes. Also, check for cracks and leaks. Have minor pipe damage fixed immediately to prevent much costlier repairs in the future.

Keep the house warm

The temperature in your house should be at least 65 degrees. The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. A temperature lower than 65 degrees will not keep the pipes from freezing.

Check heating systems

The proper use and maintenance of furnaces, fireplaces and wood-burning stoves can prevent fire and smoke damage. Have furnaces, boilers and chimneys serviced at least once a year. Make sure that smoke and fire alarms are working properly and consider installing a carbon monoxide detector.
Maintain steps and handrails

Broken stairs and banisters can become dangerous when covered with snow and ice. Make repairs now to prevent someone from falling and seriously being injured.
Get to know your plumbing

Learn how to shut the water off and know where your pipes are located. If your pipes freeze, time is of the essence. The quicker you can shut off the water or direct your plumber to the problem, the better chance you have to prevent the pipes from bursting.

Hire a licensed contractor Have a professional survey your home for any structural damage. If damage is discovered, have it repaired immediately so further damage will not occur during the winter. Also, find out about ways to prevent water damage due to snow-related flooding. Plastic coatings for internal basement walls, sump-pumps and other methods can prevent damage to your home and belongings.

Plan for being away If you are not going to be in your home this winter for an extended period of time, have the water system drained by a professional to keep pipes from freezing or bursting. Also, have someone check on your home on a regular basis. If there is a problem, it can be fixed quickly, thus lessening any damage. Activity at your home will also reduce the likelihood that it will be burglarized.

Damage to homes caused by flooding is usually excluded from most standard homeowner policies. Flood insurance is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (http://www.fema.gov/business/nfip). Ask your insurance professional about flood insurance, as well as specific advice about winter-proofing your home.

Source: Travelers

Help Prevent Common Household Fires

Electrical Fire

Using our claim data, we have developed a list of the most common causes of fire-related losses as well as some things you can do to help prevent them.

Faulty wiring and outlets are one of the top causes of house fires.

  • Check the electrical cords throughout your home for signs of fraying, and replace all frayed wires.
  • Do not pinch or cover electrical cords with items such as rugs.
  • Be aware of the capacity of your home’s electrical system. Do not overload your outlets. If you have questions about your home’s electrical system, you may want to consult a licensed electrician.
  • Understand the difference between surge protectors and power strips – both allow you to plug in multiple electronic devices, but only the surge protector will help guard these devices from a power spike. Use surge protectors to protect valuable appliances, such as computers and televisions.


Carelessness in the kitchen may also lead to a house fire.

  • Never leave your pots or pans unattended on your stove.
  • Keep a kitchen fire extinguisher readily available and know how to use it.
  • If a grease fire erupts, turn off the heat source. Do not throw water on the fire because it may cause the fire to spread.
  • If a fire starts in your oven, close the over door and turn off the heat to smother the flames.
  • If a fire starts in your microwave, turn off the microwave, and do not open it until the fire is completely out. Unplug the microwave only if you can safely do so.


Clothes dryers are another common source of house fires.

  • If you are installing your own dryer vent, follow the directions in the manual. If you are unsure about how to properly install the vent, consider hiring a professional to do the installation.
  • Clean out the dryer vent regularly.
  • Clean out the lint filter after each load.
  • Lint may also collect under and behind your dryer, so do not forget to clean these areas.


Alternative heating sources may also create a fire hazard.

  • Avoid using an older space heater, if possible. When purchasing a new space heater, pay attention to the safety features.
  • Do not place a space heater near furniture, curtains or other objects that could easily catch fire.
  • If you plan to install an alternative heating system, such as a wood or pellet stove, follow the instructions. If you are unsure about how to properly install the system, consider hiring a professional to do the installation.
  • Before installing a wood or pellet stove, check to ensure it complies with the laws of your state and municipality.


Dirty chimneys also pose a fire hazard.

  • Have your chimney inspected annually by a CSIA-certified chimney sweep. Have a professional clean and repair the chimney as needed, especially before the cold months, when you will be using it frequently.
  • Use seasoned wood only. Never burn green or damp wood.
  • Never burn cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, trash or trees in your fireplace – these can all spark chimney fires.

 

Source:  Travelers.com