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Take time to review your homeowners insurance coverage

Take time to review your homeowners insurance coverage

homeowners insurance


Homeowners Insurance, most of us don’t give much thought after we purchase our homes.  It’s easy to see why: For those of us with a mortgage, the cost of homeowner’s insurance is rolled into our monthly mortgage payment. And we don’t even have to write out a check for our premiums, our mortgage company handles it for us.

But taking some time periodically to review your homeowner’s insurance coverage is a great idea. Doing so can help you avoid any number of insurance blunders that can leave you under-insured or uninsured for different types of disasters. Here are the areas you’ll want to check:

Do you have enough liability coverage? Many people don’t realize that the liability portion of your homeowner’s insurance coverage covers you both at home and while you’re away. It also covers both you and any family members who live with you. This coverage is crucial because It protects against many types of accidents and events that can leave you and your family with a heavy financial burden. Did your child throw a baseball that hit your neighbor’s home – or your neighbor? Did your dog bite the postal carrier and send him to the ER? Did your neighbor slip on your front steps and break a leg? Oftentimes, it costs much less than you may think to increase the amount of your liability coverage.

Do you have flood or earthquake coverage? These two risks are not covered by standard homeowner’s insurance policies, yet only a fraction of homeowners are covered. Many homeowners simply don’t realize they are at risk. The problem with floods is that one-quarter of all flood losses are in areas deemed “low risk.” Wildfires and other factors can make an area that has never been prone to floods suddenly susceptible to flooding and mudslides.

Are you covered for rebuilding? It’s never a good idea to insure a home for its market value, the home’s purchase price or what you owe on your mortgage. You’ll want to make sure you have enough homeowner’s insurance coverage so that you can afford to rebuild your home and replace your belongings. Since construction costs can increase over time, this is one area that’s especially important to review.

Are you bundled? Bundling your insurance policies – buying coverage such as homeowner’s and auto insurance from the same company – can save you a substantial amount of money.

A checkup list for your home

Just like the people who live inside it, your home is happiest when it’s healthy, which means it needs a good checkup now and again. Some parts of your home need to be examined throughout the year while others need seasonal maintenance. Consider some of these helpful hints when diagnosing your home’s health any time of year.

  • Roof: Starting at the top and working your way to the bottom is one way to ensure your home is problem-free. Always be sure your roof is free of leaks by giving vents, skylights and chimneys a once over. Don’t let issues go untreated. The longer you wait, the more costly repairs can be.
  • Gutters: Keep your gutters clog-free and remember to drain pipes away from the house. This chore is common on many checklists just as fall sets in, especially in colder climates.
  •  Refrigerator: Get your wallet or purse out before you check out your fridge. Take a dollar bill and shut it in your refrigerator door. If it slips out easily, it may be time to readjust the latch. You don’t want precious cool air to leak out, causing your food to spoil more rapidly and your wallet to grow increasingly slim as you replace pricey grocery items. When you are stocking up, remember a full fridge uses less energy than an empty one.
  • Safety Equipment: There is no excuse for allowing safety equipment like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers to go unchecked. These devices might save your family and your home from a terrible tragedy. Be sure to test and replace batteries at least twice a year.

Check out these and other time-saving tips for keeping your home in tip-top shape.

A disaster plan … for your pets

No matter where we live, none of us are immune to disasters. We all need to have an emergency plan for when disaster strikes — and that plan should include our dogs and other pets.

Here is a checklist to help you prepare:

  • Put a rescue alert sticker in your window so emergency workers know there’s a pet inside during a fire or other disaster. If you evacuate with your pet, write “evacuated” over the sticker if you have time.
  • Pack a disaster kit for the whole family, including enough pet food and water for five days, a leash and waste disposal bags. Include a photo of your pet, too, in case you get separated.
  • If your pet spends time alone outdoors, bring him inside at the first sign of a storm or disaster. Left alone, a frightened or disoriented pet may run away during a crisis.
  • If you have to evacuate, take your pet with you. If it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for him. Take a comfortable pet carrier, large enough for him to stand up, because he may have to stay in it for hours at a time. Plan ahead where you will board him if he’s not allowed in an emergency shelter. Your veterinarian and local animal shelters may have suggestions.
  • Make sure your dog has an identification tag, including your cell phone number. Ideally, he should also have a microchip, in case he slips his collar.
  •  If you’re waiting out an emergency at home, keep your pet and disaster kit with you in the safest room in your house. That may be a room away from windows during a tornado or a room upstairs or with high counters during a flood.

For more suggestions, check out these excellent resources from ASPCA , the Humane Society of the United States  and the Top Dog vitamin website.

The Trouble with Trampolines

iStock_000008669797SmallMy neighbors recently purchased a trampoline for their children. Soon after they assembled the trampoline, my kids asked if they could jump. They were very surprised with my response.  Although many parents may see the trampoline as a fun and engaging way for their children to exercise, the potential for serious and catastrophic injury should make you think twice about this activity.


My neighbors were trying to convince me that the trampoline was a safe activity, especially with the protective netting. While the netting does reduce the chance of being thrown off the trampoline, it doesn’t make it safe. The truth is, most injuries occur due to collisions with other children, landing improperly, or landing on the side rail.  You’ve heard the expression, “what goes up, must come down,” and due to the laws of physics, the higher a child jumps, the harder the impact.

The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System estimates that 98,000 trampoline-related injuries occurred in 2009, the most recent year for which statistics are available, resulting in 3,100 hospitalizations. About 75% of trampoline injuries occur when multiple people are jumping, with children age five and under at greater risk for significant injury. That risk increases when you have a small child jumping with older children. Fractures and dislocations make up 48% of injuries. Common injuries in all age groups include sprains, strains, and contusions. However, severe, life-altering injuries such as spinal cord and neurological damage can occur.

Many people just don’t recognize the risks, or even the liability, associated with having a recreational trampoline. Most home insurance policies have trampoline exclusions, charge a higher premium, or mandate that they are within enclosed areas with restricted access. And let me be clear: I’m referring to backyard trampolines; not those in gymnastic centers under direct supervision and coaching or the small indoor models used for core-toning.

Here are some safety measures to lower the chance of injury while jumping on recreational trampolines:

  • Children under 6 years of age should not be allowed to jump.
  • Only allow one jumper at a time.
  • Allow no somersaults or tricks.
  • Jumping should always occur under direct supervision of a competent adult who is willing to enforce and moderate the trampoline rules.
  • Do not be lulled into a false sense of security just because a trampoline has safety nets or other protective equipment.

As you can guess, my answer was a firm “NO” to my children.  As parents, we have to make some unpopular choices. But providing a safe, loving environment where our children can grow into healthy adults is our most important role.

Do you have a trampoline?  What’s been your experience?

For more on this topic, see this article.

This entry was posted on Friday, August 2nd, 2013 at 8:11 am and is filed under CentralHomeLiabilityPersonalSafety Tips. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.