There are many ways to be prepared for an emergency in your home, but have you considered how your insurance and home safety play a part in preparedness? Whether you experience a burglary, fire, or flood in your home, you’ll likely have damage to your home and personal property. Insurance makes a recovery from these tragedies more possible. Even if you think you’re totally covered with your current insurance and home safety, keep these things in mind.
Homes are such a large investment that insurance is an important part of helping to protect yourself from major losses. Homeowners insurance helps protect your home in many instances of emergency. From burglary to damage from wind or hail, home insurance allows you to recoup losses when your home and property are damaged or stolen. From 2012 to 2016, nearly 6 percent of insured homes had a claim and the average claim was $10,592, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
Even if you already have home insurance, it’s important to periodically review your coverage. Review what is covered to verify that you are not underinsured, which is one of the most common and costly insurance mistakes according to this Forbes.com article.
A 2016 poll found that only 41 percent of renters had renters or tenants insurance according to the I.I.I. Renters often believe that the landlord is responsible for insurance or that renters insurance is too expensive. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners finds both statements to be myths:
“If you live in a rented apartment, house or condominium, your landlord’s insurance doesn’t cover your personal property in the event that it is stolen or damaged as a result of a fire, theft, or other unexpected circumstances. The premiums for renters insurance average between $15 and $30 per month depending on the location and size of the rental unit and the policyholder’s possessions.”
You can often bundle renters insurance with your auto insurance to help keep costs low. Investing in renters insurance can help you receive compensation for your personal belongings in case of an emergency and can help protect you from personal liability in the case of an injury occurring in your apartment.
Flooding isn’t covered under standard homeowners or renter’s insurance. According to floodsmart.gov, an inch of water in your home can cause $25,000 worth of damage. Since flooding is the most common natural disaster in the U.S., you can be flooded even if you don’t live in an area that is typically prone to flooding. On average, flood insurance claims pay out $30,000 which can make a huge difference if you’re trying to recover from a flood.
If you’re not sure how prone your area is to floods, you can take advantage of the FEMA Flood Map Service Center and enter your address to understand the risk in your area. There are many factors that may cause a flood even if a current flood map doesn’t put you at a high risk. Chances are a flood in your home will be accompanied by other emergencies. Flood insurance helps you have one less thing to worry about during an insurance. Talk to your homeowners insurance agent about adding flood insurance for your home. FEMA also provides help through the NFIP Help Center if you call 1-800-427-4661.
Homeowners and renters in earthquake-prone areas should also look into special Earthquake insurance as earthquakes are often not covered by traditional policies.
Reducing the Price of Insurance
There are a couple of ways you can try to make your insurance more affordable. It’s important to start by shopping around for a good provider with good prices. Oftentimes, you can also bundle multiple insurances if you buy them from the same provider.
One way you might not think of to potentially receive a home insurance discount is by adding monitored home security. Insurance companies realize that monitored home security systems may deter potential burglars and you may get a discount of up to 20 percent off home insurance. Fire monitoring via monitored smoke or heat detectors may also get you a discount. Check with your insurance company to see if either of these would reduce your rates.
You can save up to 60 percent on your annual flood insurance premiums, according to floodsmart.gov. by elevating your home if it is in a flood prone area. This is a big investment, but the savings and protection may be worth it. Your community might also have discounts if they’re a part of the Community Rating System.
How to Inventory Your Belongings
Doing a home inventory can help you with any of your insurance coverage, but it can be overwhelming. According to the I.I.I., a little under half (48 percent) of surveyed consumers didn’t have an inventory in 2015.
If you keep an inventory as a regular part of your routine, however, you’ll have one less thing to worry about if there’s an emergency that effects your home like a burglary, fire, or flood. You can do an old- school inventory or use video, or an app for a more high-tech inventory. The I.I.I. recommends starting small in a contained spot and working your way through your home. If you’re moving, this is also an ideal time to create a home inventory.
Here are some things you should include in your home inventory:
- A basic description of each item, how old it is, and where it’s from
- Serial numbers where appropriate for technological devices and major appliances
- General categories for things like clothes, dishes, etc.
- Pictures or video footage of your items
- Proof of value for particularly valuable items
- Objects in a storage facility
- Newly purchased items that have significant monetary or sentimental value
Whether you’ve created a handwritten, typed, or app-based inventory, make sure that you have multiple copies in secure locations.