With the tragic Marshall Fire destroying about 1000 structures at the end of last year, I figured it was timely to better educate my readers on things you need to look for in your home insurance to be properly covered. It seems as everybody wants the cheapest insurance when they’re shopping for insurance. However, when a catastrophe is on the horizon, they want to make sure they have the best insurance that you can find. Consumers need to find a balance between what they can afford and what kind of protection they have at the time of a loss.
1. Once a year video tape every square inch of your home. If your home is ever declared a total loss by a severe tornado or fire, you will be very thankful for this documented archive of your belongings. Don’t forget for video tape inside of drawers, under beds, inside of cabinets, etc. Imagine how difficult it would be to list every piece of personal property that is in your kitchen. You’d inevitably forget many things, such as that panini maker you got as a wedding gift or the expensive measuring cups you splurged on! Don’t forget to store this video offof your property. The video will do you no good if it is burnt up with your other belongings!
2. Take a look at your policy and make that your personal property is insured at a ‘replacement cost’ basis and not ‘actual cash value’. If you have an actual cash value policy, then you will get the depreciated value of your belongings. A replacement cost policy will cover your personal property for replacement, up to your policy’s stated limits.
3. Save receipts and appraisals for any unique items you may have. If you have any unusual items, it’s always a good idea to discuss these items with your agent, you you may need a floater to properly protect these items. You should always store your receipts and appraisals off the premises.
4. Purchase a fire safe or keep a safe deposit box at your local bank. Keep all of your important documents in a fire retardant safe. Keep important documents in your safe, such as passports, social security cards, stock certificates, bank notes, birth certificates, and any other paper that would be difficult to replace.
5. Conduct regular insurance reviews with your insurance professional. You should review things such as estimated reconstruction cost on your home, deductibles, liability limits, etc. Your insurance professional will help you come up with a reconstruction cost that is based on the cost to reconstruct your home, not necessarily the purchase price. Check out these other recommendations for home insurance.
6. If you or a family member sleeps on the second floor, or above, invest in a fire safety ladder. The best insurance in the world won’t matter if you or a family member dies in a house fire.
7. If your home is in a forested area, maintain your property to ensure a minimum of 75’ of defensible space around your home. Defensible space means that all brush and low lying trees have been removed from around your home.
8. If your home is in a forested area, install fire resistant materials on all the overhanging areas such as soffits and second level decks. During a wildfire embers can get trapped in an updraft under decks and soffits, which becomes a fire hazard.
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