If you rent an apartment or home, you might not be thinking about insurance. After all, you don’t own the building and your landlord may have insurance in case something happens. But if your living room is damaged in a fire, your landlord’s policy likely won’t cover your brand new laptop or your vintage vinyl record collection.
Renters insurance helps protect your personal property inside your apartment — your electronics, furniture and clothing — unlike a homeowners policy that generally covers the building as well as what’s inside. In insurance speak, protection for your personal property is also known as “contents coverage.” And, as a renter, if you invest in updating items such as built-in appliances or bathroom fixtures, you may be able to apply a percentage of your contents coverage to repair or replace what has been damaged.
Renters insurance can also protect your personal possessions from theft, fire, vandalism and other hazards, both at home and anywhere in the world. So if there’s a theft at the hotel you’re staying at while on vacation, your renters insurance may help you replace your stuff the same way it would if your things were stolen from your apartment.
Protecting You, Along with What’s Inside Your Apartment
It’s not just your possessions that renters insurance coverage can help protect. It can also help protect you. In case a claim is brought against you or you are sued by a third party, your renters personal liability coverage can help to cover the legal costs and related damages. Many renters policies provide a minimum of $100,000 of financial protection that may help if someone claims injuries or damages while in your apartment, or caused by your personal activities or those of your household members.
For example, if you are found legally responsible for accidental fire damage to the building where you live, liability coverage in a renters insurance policy may provide financial protection. This liability protection may also extend to any vacation property that you rent.
Like homeowners insurance, renters insurance can pay for necessary additional living expenses if you are unable to live in your apartment due to a fire or other loss that your insurance policy covers. You can also opt to purchase additional coverage for your valuable possessions that might have limited coverage in a typical policy, such as jewelry, fine art or silver.
Things to Know About Renters and Landlord Insurance
So, while your landlord’s insurance policy may protect the building itself in which you live, it likely doesn’t cover anything inside your apartment that belongs to you. A renters insurance policy can help give you peace of mind that you — and your stuff — have protection from unexpected events, both at home and wherever your travels take you.
There are many common myths about potential dangers in and around the home that can keep some homeowners up at night. However, the gap between myth and fact can make all the difference when it comes to reducing risk in your house. So what does the data tell us are the biggest risks to your home?
From leaking valves to house fires, a look at Calfee Insurance Claim data reveals the facts about the most frequent causes of homeowners’ claims, as well as the costliest. The answers may surprise you. While some risks are common nuisances we are all too aware of, others can be catastrophic. To help keep your home, your valuables and your family safe, you will want to take steps to protect them.
Danger #1: Water Damage
Many people think of damage from hurricanes and heavy rains when they think of water damage. But according to Travelers Claim data from 2013-2020, more property losses resulted from non-weather water claims (23%) than weather-related water claims (15%)*. Non-weather water claims can involve plumbing-related losses, such as pipes, drains and valves, as well as appliance issues. Learn more about common causes of water damage and the steps that you can take to help prevent it.
Danger #2: Weather-Related Roof/Flashing Damage
Wind, hail and weather-related water damage accounted for more than half, or 53%, of all Travelers property loss claims between 2013-2020. Falling limbs and branches weighed down by snow and freezing rain can cause roof/flashing damage. It is a good idea to inspect trees on your property to help prevent damage caused by falling tree limbs. Learning how to identify and remove ice dams can also help you avoid costly damage in the winter months.
Danger #3: Frozen Pipe Damage
Frozen water pipes are considered a potential source for catastrophic property damage, and make the list of Travelers’ five costliest sources of homeowner claims. While a sub-item of weather-related water loss, it is so significant, it deserves special mention. The good news is you can take steps to help prevent your pipes from freezing by identifying pipes that are most at risk and taking steps before winter arrives to help insulate them. During the winter, you may consider using a smart thermostat to manage and monitor that your heat is set at a safe level to help avoid freezing, and to receive notifications if the temperature in your home drops unexpectedly.
Danger #4: Theft
Theft from the premises makes the list of top causes of property loss claims, accounting for 4% of losses. There are many steps that you can take to help make your home less attractive to thieves, including landscaping with theft prevention in mind, adding outdoor lighting and creating a plan to make your home appear occupied while you are away. There are a number of methods to monitor your home to help minimize the theft potential, including smart home alarm systems.
Danger #5: Fire
Although fires do not occur as often as other incidents around the home, the damage that they can cause puts fire at the top of the costliest types of claims, according to Travelers Claim data from 2013-2020. Fire and related damages accounted for 27% of claims as measured by costs paid out. Fires can start from cooking, overloading circuits, and improperly using a wood stove, among other causes. Learn more about the potential wood stove safety tips, and how to help protect your home.
A major winter storm with the potential for hurricane-force winds and heavy snow is threatening to slam the Northeast this weekend. The quickly-intensifying winter storm could develop into a nor'easter, and possibly a bomb cyclone, as it travels along the coast in the coming days, according to AccuWeather.
The heaviest snow is anticipated to hit New England, although snowfall is also possible in metro areas further south, including New York City and Washington, D.C., the weather agency said. Coastal northeastern cities could also be in for strong hurricane-force wind gusts between 40 to 60 miles per hour in the coming days, according to Accuweather.
In eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, up to 16 inches of snow could accumulate from a bomb cyclone — which occurs when a cyclone rapidly intensifies and strengthens due to the central pressure decreasing by at least 24 millibars in 24 hours. In Vermont and northern New York, wind chills could reach -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Southeast Connecticut could see six or more inches of snowfall.
A sump pump is an important component of your home's equipment that helps protect your property by controlling water and keeping your home dry. Typically found in basements, sump pumps are usually professionally installed in a specially constructed sump pit. When the water table around your home is high, your sump pump can help keep your basement dry and might even help minimize damage to your home if you experience a plumbing or appliance leak. As a homeowner, you'll want to maintain your sump pump to make sure it's working properly.
The sump pump's job is to pump water outside and away from the home. To help keep it functioning properly, your sump pump needs regular maintenance. Here are some tips to help make sure your sump pump stays in good working condition.
How to Help Keep Your Sump Pump in Good Condition
Learn more about the maintenance for your sump pump by referring to the owner's manual. Check on your sump pump and pit regularly, especially if a significant amount of rainfall is forecast. Keep the sump pit clean and free of debris. Don't forget to check and clean the inlet opening or screen. Unplug the pump when you are cleaning it, but don't forget to plug it back in when you are done.
If water backs up from a sewer or drain within your home or if water discharges or overflows from your sump pump, water backup and sump pump discharge or overflow coverage can help cover the loss up to a specified dollar amount. This does not include coverage for flood or surface water backup. Talk to your local independent agent representative about whether this coverage is right for you.
If damage to your home is covered by your policy, and you must leave it while it’s being repaired, where would you stay? Would the cost of a hotel or temporary apartment fit into your budget? Having loss of use coverage included in your homeowners insurance policy can help. If your home is damaged by a covered loss, loss of use coverage can help pay for your additional housing and living expenses while your home is being repaired or rebuilt.
What Is Loss of Use Coverage in Homeowners Insurance?
Loss of use coverage, also known as additional living expenses (ALE) insurance, or Coverage D, can help pay for the additional costs you might incur for reasonable housing and living expenses if a covered event makes your house temporarily uninhabitable while it’s being repaired or rebuilt.
What Is Additional Living Expenses (ALE) Insurance?
ALE insurance reimburses homeowners for additional living expenses stemming from temporary relocation after a covered loss. For example, if your house is severely damaged by a fire, your loss of use coverage would reimburse you for the cost of a hotel up to your coverage limit.
Many homeowners insurance companies include loss of use coverage in their policies and place a limit as a percentage of your dwelling coverage. For instance, if your limit is 30% and your dwelling coverage limit is $200,000, you would be covered for up to $60,000 under your loss of use coverage. Policy limits vary by insurance company and by policy, so if you have questions regarding your specific loss of use coverage limit, contact your insurance representative. Typically, you can increase your coverage limit for an additional cost.
Loss of use coverage only applies to damage caused to your home by covered perils. For instance, if your home is flooded and you don’t have flood insurance, your loss of use claim would not be covered as a result of this type of loss.
What Does Loss of Use Protection Cover?
As previously mentioned, loss of use insurance typically provides coverage for additional living expenses resulting from a covered loss. In simpler terms, this means you would be covered for expenses you wouldn’t ordinarily have if you were living in your own home. For example, let’s assume you typically spend $100 on gas per month, but that amount has increased to $150 because you live in a hotel that is farther from work while your home is repaired. In this scenario, you would be reimbursed $50, which is the incremental cost. A list of common additional living expenses that are typically covered under loss of use insurance is provided below.
What Is Not Covered by Loss of Use Protection?
Loss of use protection does not cover expenses that you were already responsible for before the loss. You will still be responsible for paying your mortgage, insurance, child care expenses and so on. The important thing to remember is that loss of use protection is for additional expenses you become responsible for because you can’t live in your home.
For example, if your family normally spends around $200 a week for food, but now you are staying in a hotel without a kitchen, you may need to eat out for most of your meals. Eating out is costing you $300 a week. Under loss of use coverage, the $100 additional expense per week would be covered.
Do I Have to Pay a Deductible on Loss of Use Insurance?
You may be responsible for a deductible for other parts of your claim. Your homeowners insurance representative can explain your deductible further and help you explore other coverages you may want to add to your homeowners policy. The goal is to make sure you have coverage that fits your needs.
How Much Loss of Use Coverage Do I Need?
Everyone’s insurance needs are different. Loss of use coverage is typically based on your dwelling coverage and calculated at about 20% to 30% of the dwelling coverage limit. Consider whether this is enough to cover any necessary increases in your living expenses if your residence is not habitable while damage is being repaired or replaced.
Consult your Calfee insurance agent about your individual policy to understand the amount of loss of use coverage you have; this is subject to coverage terms and limits.
To insure your personal property, get a quote or find an agent.
Going online has become part of everyday life, whether it is for everyday activities such as shopping, sending email or paying bills, and managing your accounts. But data breaches, in all their forms, can potentially expose the personal information that we share online, putting consumers at risk of identity theft.
According to the Consumer Risk Index, 57% of Americans worry about online identity theft. Fortunately, there are steps that consumers can take, including not opening unsolicited emails and avoiding unsecure websites, to protect their personal information while online.
The following tips can help you learn how to help stay safe online:
Emails and Attachments
General Online Safety
If you're working on your home or putting on a new roof, consider renovating to FORTIFIED standards.
Developed by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), FORTIFIED Home™ construction practices are designed to help homeowners and communities better weather future storms, including hurricanes, high winds, hail and severe thunderstorms. Building codes set a minimum standard for construction techniques and materials.
Building FORTIFIED means exceeding those requirements.
The goal of building FORTIFIED is to take action today to make homes and communities more resilient to natural disasters tomorrow. Using data from more than 20 years of storm damage, IBHS created a set of standards for new and existing construction that can be affordable and can be incorporated into your home’s building design.
Travelers Insurance allows you to customize your coverage to fit your unique needs. We focus on understanding you, so you'll feel right at home working with us.
Three Levels of FORTIFIED Home Designations
Adding Value and Safety
After a certified, third-party evaluator verifies that the home meets FORTIFIED standards, you receive a certificate and a unique ID number valid for five years. The FORTIFIED designation helps show you have made consistent and defined structural updates to your home.
To learn more, visit the IBHS website.
Learn more about Calfee homeowners insurance products, or if you’re ready to take the next step, click here to get a quote.
As you plan your next home renovation project, choosing the right contractor for the job is a critical first step in your planning process. You want to make sure you vet the quality of their work in advance, spell out in writing what work you want performed and agree upon the scope of the project, and inquire whether the contractor is properly licensed and insured in case something goes wrong.
This checklist compiles the top 10 tips to consider when selecting a contractor:
1. Get Multiple Estimates
Talk to several contractors and get written estimates from at least three. Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples when you get multiple estimates. Look at building materials, work methods, timelines and other factors that may vary by contractor. Be cautious of estimates that are too high or too low.
2. Hire Local, Licensed Contractors Whenever Possible
Local contractors are easier to contact if problems develop with the work in the future, and they are more likely to be familiar with building codes in your area. Ask the contractor for their local, physical address. Be suspicious of anyone who goes door-to-door or refuses to leave a contract overnight.
3. Check Their Past Work
How has their worked turned out in the past? Do they specialize in the kind of work you want done? Check references about the quality of their products, their workmanship and their customer service. Inquire about their professional reputation and years in business with the Better Business Bureau. A contractor with more than five years of experience is preferable.
4. Take Your Time Making a Sound Decision
Get multiple bids before making a decision. Don’t be pressured into making an immediate decision, particularly with regard to signing a contract. Be cautious when asked to pay a large deposit up front. Make sure to read the fine print on all estimates and contracts. If you’re having emergency repairs done and don’t have time to thoroughly research a contractor, ask neighbors, family or friends to see if they have had a good experience with an emergency services contractor.
5. Check Their Insurance and Bonding
Make sure the contractor is properly insured and bonded. Ask the contractor for a certificate of insurance (COI), which should provide the name of the insurance company, policy number and policy limits the contractor carries. You can contact the insurance company directly to verify the coverage and make sure the policy is still in effect. Do not do business with a contractor who does not carry the appropriate insurance coverage. If the contractor is not insured, you may be liable for accidents that occur on your property.
Travelers Insurance allows you to customize your coverage to fit your unique needs. We focus on understanding you, so you'll feel right at home working with us.
6. Get Everything in Writing
Secure a comprehensive contract before work begins. Get everything in writing, and make sure the contract is clear and well written. Consider having a lawyer review the proposed contract for your protection before you sign it if the project involves substantial costs. The contract should include:
Changes to the contract should be acknowledged by all parties in writing. Ask the contractor for confirmation that he or she has obtained all applicable building permits. If you decide to cancel a signed contract, you should follow the contract’s cancellation clause. Written notification of the cancellation should be sent by registered mail to ensure you have proof of the cancellation.
7. Understand Your Right to Cancel
Federal law may require a “cooling off” period, in which you can cancel the contract without penalty. Check with the Federal Trade Commission and the laws of your state to understand your rights. Be sure to follow applicable rules during the cooling off period. If you do cancel, consider sending the notice of cancellation by registered mail to ensure you have proof of the cancellation.
8. Don’t Pay Up-Front
Don’t pay for the entire project before it is completed. Make sure you make checks payable to a company, not an individual, and do not pay in cash. For larger projects, it is standard practice to pay one-third of the estimated costs as an initial payment. That way, you can retain your cashed check as a receipt.
9. Anticipate Delays
Delays happen, and may not be the fault of your contractor. In spite of the timeline outlined in your contract, circumstances such as weather may prevent the work from remaining on schedule. Be realistic and prepare to adjust your plans accordingly.
10. Keep a Job File
Keep your contract and all the supporting documents in one folder. Your file should also contain any change orders, plans and specifications, bills and invoices, canceled checks, and certificates of insurance and any letters, notes, or correspondence with the contractor.
After a fire, burglary or another event in which you lost possessions from your home, it may be difficult to remember the details of every one of the belongings that you have accumulated over the years. In this situation, having a current inventory of your possessions, including make and model numbers, may help you with any potential insurance claims. Taking the time to document your belongings now can help you recover faster after a loss.
Here are some steps you can use to help build your home inventory checklist.
Step 1: Take the time to walk through your property. Compiling a comprehensive home inventory takes time and effort. The more detailed your inventory, the more useful it will be if you have to make a claim. Document possessions inside your home and on your property that may be of value.
Step 2: Keep your inventory in a safe place. Creating a digital home inventory and storing it off-site will help ensure that it won’t be lost, stolen or damaged during any disaster at your home. You can also create a photo or video inventory and upload it to a cloud-based service.
Step 3: Update your inventory often. When you make a significant purchase, add the information to the inventory while the details are fresh in your mind. This is also a good time to delete items that you have replaced or no longer own.
Step 4: Remember your business assets. While most people think of their home when making an inventory, it is important to document the contents of your business, if applicable, as well.
Step 5: Consider valuable items. Valuable items like jewelry, art, and collectibles may have increased in value since you brought them into your home. Check with your agent, if you have one, to make sure that you have adequate insurance coverage for these items as they may need to be insured separately. Consider putting jewelry or other valuables that you don’t often wear or use in a safe deposit box.
To learn more about ways to protect your home and belongings, check out our homeowners insurance products.
Here's a look at three recent innovations in home security.
A home security system could make you eligible for a property insurance discount, too. Get in touch today to discuss your policy or anything else