Useful Tips for Homeowners Because We Care

Inside/Outside Your Home Considerations:

  • Shut off main water valve to help prevent a potential large water loss
  • Unhook all exterior hoses
  • Lock garage door manually
  • Double check that all doors and windows are locked
  • Check smoke detectors are working properly
  • Secure all valuables and place somewhere safe/hidden
  • Set Heat/Air to a constant temperature based on worst case weather scenario
  • Leave exterior lights on or confirm that your motion or timer exterior lights are working properly
  • Set home alarm system
  • Leave a couple lights on in the home so it looks like someone is there

Other Considerations:

  • Alert alarm company of your vacation dates so they know you are away
  • Think about not posting on social media that you are away or pictures that suggest it. Instead, post after your return that you had a great trip, glad to be back and then share your memories
  • Make sure lawn and snow removal needs are arranged
  • Let a neighbor or friend know you are leaving town so they may help keep an eye on things and make sure they have your contact information to reach you while you are away
  • Stop newspaper and mail delivery or plan for someone to pick up daily

Inside/Outside Your Home Considerations:

  • Shut off main water valve to help prevent a potential large water loss
  • If your home is going to be vacant for an extended period of time, consider winterizing the home professionally
  • Make sure all gutters and downspouts are free and clear of debris to avoid water damage
  • Close window coverings
  • Unhook all exterior hoses
  • Lock garage door manually
  • Double check that all doors and windows are locked
  • Check smoke detectors are working properly
  • Set Heat/Air to a constant temperature based on worst case weather scenario
  • Leave exterior lights on or confirm that your motion or timer exterior lights are working properly
  • Set home alarm system
  • Leave a couple lights on in the home so it looks like someone is there
  • Make sure trees around the home are properly trimmed and healthy
  • Stop newspaper and mail delivery or plan for someone to pick up daily

Other Considerations:

  • Check with your insurance company ahead of time. Most Insurance companies have written in the policy that homes that are vacant longer than 30 days may not be covered in the event of damages. Therefore, you may need to contact your agent and inquire about coverage.
  • Make sure you have your lawn care and snow removal set up
  • Alert the neighbors of the situation and leave them your contact information
  • Have a friend or neighbor periodically do a walk through

Potential Fire Hazards:

  • Candles
  • Clogged or dirty dryer vents, hoses and lint collectors
  • Fireplaces, keep chimney clean and free of debris
  • Ashes from grills or fireplaces not properly cooled and safely disposed of
  • Flammable liquids and products that are not safely stored or disposed of
  • Electrical cords that are fraying, wires exposed or kinked
  • Loose outlets
  • Too many devices on one circuit
  • Christmas lights improperly hung or near dry bristles
  • Electric space heaters
  • Smoking/ashtray disposal
  • Fireworks
  • Lightning strikes

Preparations and Preventions:

  • Have an escape plan for your family in the event of a fire, do a fire drill based on several scenarios
  • If you and/or members of your family are in upstairs bedrooms, consider getting a window fire ladder made for residential use as the fire may be blocking the stairwell
  • Keep fire extinguishers conveniently located on each level of your home
  • Safely store all flammable products
  • Do not store anything near a gas furnace or water heater
  • Keep electric space heaters away from anything flammable, turn off when not in the same room as the unit and make sure it is secure where it is set up so it does not easily fall over
  • Do not put items close to a stove
  • Do not leave food cooking on the stove unattended
  • Turn off Christmas lights before your go to bed
  • Do not staple Christmas lights to your home or deck
  • Make sure all your electrical and charging cords are in good shape
  • Loose electrical outlets should be attended to
  • Do not leave burning candles unattended
  • Check that all smoke detectors are in good, working order periodically

Homeowners insurance varies from insurance carrier to insurance carrier and state to state.  Please contact your insurance agent for advice.
Below are some questions to ask when speaking to a qualified insurance agent.

 

Did you know:

  • It is your responsibility to make sure you have enough coverage?
    • Review your policy at least once per year, at renewal time is the best way to remember
  • It may cost more to repair your home than its value?
    • So, check the structure coverage amount part of your policy. A home with an assessed or appraised value of $250,000 for example, can still cost more than that to repair your structure from a major fire loss. Your agent has an industry standard formula that will tell you  what coverage you actually need with some detailed information from you. Don’t be alarmed if its more than the value of your home, they are protecting you. Being underinsured is something we have seen in our industry countless times.
  • You have to provide a very detailed list of contents in order to get reimbursed from your insurance carrier for damaged personal property within your home or business?
    • Check the personal property section of your policy. Make sure it is a replacement cost coverage and is equivalent to the replacement value of your personal property. Also, we highly recommend you create a home inventory list, to keep pictures or video of everything in your home. Make sure to get every room, close-ups of more valuable items, open every cupboard, closet door, garage, etc…and then store in your phone, a fire proof safe or safety deposit box. This will make the process of filling out the paperwork or providing proof of an item much easier should you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of needing such evidence.
  • If your home is vacant, you may not have coverage?
    • Check your policy or contact your agent.  Often, if your home will be vacant longer than 30 days, you may not have coverage.  Contact your agent and inquire about whether or not you need additional coverage.
  • There are items and circumstances that may not be covered on your homeowners policy?
    • For example:
      • Jewelry, electronics, antiques, art, etc… over a certain price point may require an endorsement or rider for each item
      • Certain breeds of dogs living in your home may affect coverage
      • A pool at your home may affect coverage.
      • Acts of nature, such an earthquake, with most insurance companies requires an endorsement or rider? Yes, we do have them in Omaha. So far they are all minor, but that can change.
      • Unattached structures may need a rider or revised policy limits? (garage, shed, outbuilding, fences, etc…)
      • Building material matching varies among insurance companies too. Some companies require a rider to ensure that all 4 sides of your home match in the event only 2 sides are damaged. Or your roof is damaged but only on the front slope, not the back. Some insurance companies will only then replace the front slope, even if the roofing manufacturers have changed the color of your particular shingle
  • Liability insurance portion of your policy helps cover you against lawsuits for property damage or injury of another on your property where you are at fault?
    • If your dog bites the mailman, a neighbor slips on your side walk, make sure you have enough coverage to cover these potential lawsuits.
  • The section on medical payments to others, coverage is often set very low on most policies?
    • This section of your policy covers you for the medical expenses of others for injuries that happen on your property, regardless of who is at fault. Look at your coverage under this section and consider if that would be enough to cover a claim against you. If not, revisit this section with your insurance agent to increase the coverage.
  • If you want the added protection of additional coverages, you have an affordable option?
    • It is important to know that there are max financial limits on your insurance policy. Once you reach those limits, its possible someone will come after you personally for the additional overages. A personal umbrella policy covers you if in the event your expenses go beyond your limits. It is an added layer of protection. Also, this umbrella policy typically covers your auto policy as well.