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
This may sound obvious, but selling a house sometimes comes down to just how appealing your home is to potential homebuyers. The attributes that make your house attractive to buyers can include price, the condition of your home and its curb appeal, as well as details like the number of bathrooms, bedrooms and whether the home appears dated. Discerning buyers typically want to walk into a house and immediately feel at home. How quickly you sell your home ‒ and at what price ‒ may depend on your ability to create that I’m-already-at-home feel.
Here are 10 easy home remodeling ideas that can help transform your home sweet home to the gotta-have-it house of your buyer’s dreams.
1. Replace the garage door.
The surprise most home sellers discover ‒ often too late ‒ is that most sellers won’t fully recoup the cost of a renovation when they sell their home. When it comes to getting some bang for your renovating buck, however, the garage door is one suggestion to consider; it also can give a boost to your home’s curb appeal.
2. Upgrade the front door.
A relatively inexpensive yet effective home improvement idea is a new front door ‒ one of the first things a home shopper will notice when they view online photos or arrive for a showing. For example, a new steel door can be both eye‒catching and energy efficient ‒ a boon for cost-conscious buyers-to-be. Or you could consider the pricier installation of a grand entrance ‒ perhaps a new front door with dual skylights ‒ which can help increase the attraction from upscale buyers.
3. Re-face the house.
Another way to help increase your home value is by improving the exterior of your home. A good pressure washing may cost a few hundred dollars and can reduce or remove the unsightly dust, grime and mildew that often clings to exterior siding. For a house with more exterior wear, new siding is a pricey project but one that can help add a dramatic boost and take years off your home’s exterior appearance.
4. Maintain your lawn and refresh landscaping.
You only have one chance to make a great first impression ‒ which is why renovations affecting curb appeal make our list. Home improvements that help add value and appeal to buyers include standard lawn care and landscape maintenance. Consider it a smart investment that can eventually turn out to be money well spent when you’re prepping your house for sale.
5. Refresh the kitchen.
For many homeowners, the kitchen is where guests and family gather, making it one of the top house renovation ideas that come to mind when preparing a home for sale. Still, a major kitchen renovation may not be worth the cost when it comes time to sell; however, smaller, cost-effective upgrades can help make the kitchen more attractive.
Consider replacing laminate countertops with granite and replacing a sink and faucet, for example. Leave cabinet boxes in place but replace out-of-date doors and hardware ‒ or hire a professional to give doors and drawers a fresh coat of paint. Finally, you can replace older appliances with slide-in, energy-efficient, stainless steel models. It’s your call as to whether spending money on these kitchen redo’s is feasible; think about your individual circumstances and what your goal is for selling your home. It also may be helpful to contact your homeowners insurance representative, to make sure that any renovations you’re considering will be covered.
A savvy refresh doesn’t have to include all kitchen elements. Instead, to help save on cost, pick and choose the features that can make the greatest impression within your space.
6. Deep clean and declutter.
When it comes to selling a home, you want to make a great first impression. Messy playrooms, cat or dog odors (even if Fido isn’t home), or an unmade bed can all be a turnoff to potential homebuyers.
That may be why many real estate agents suggest their clients declutter and deep clean before listing their house for sale. While the main living spaces should take center stage, potential homebuyers may open your cabinets, drawers and refrigerator, so be sure to give them a good once-over, too.
7. Hire a professional home stager.
When it comes down to it, the buyers who can envision themselves living in your home are the ones most likely to buy. That’s why staging your home to sell is such a popular tactic. A professional home stager will suggest removing personal items like photographs and excess furniture. Many professionals suggest storing or removing a quarter to half of your possessions, including sofas, bookcases, knickknacks, books and even clothes in your closet.
Still, removing excess stuff is just the start. Stagers may rearrange furniture to highlight features like the fireplace, a view or unique architectural details. They may even suggest that you use a rental service to bring in items to dress up your home and will arrange for that service if you decide to take that advice.
A professional home stager will often cost several hundred dollars, but the investment can help a home sell faster ‒ and often at a higher price than similar homes. To get the biggest bang for your staging buck, stagers recommend focusing on the living room, master bedroom and kitchen, in that order.
8. A fresh coat of interior paint.
Paint has the power to entirely transform a home, particularly if it’s been a while since you upgraded your color scheme or if you happen to love eclectic colors. Neutrals are typically a safe bet ‒ they can create that clean slate feel that give home shoppers a greater ability to see their own belongings in your space.
9. Optimize lighting.
High-quality lighting can help make a room feel larger, more modern and more inviting to potential homebuyers. For daytime showings, open curtains and blinds to bring in as much natural light as you can. Take advantage of accent lighting throughout the day and evening to emphasize art, a reading nook or any other interesting features in your home. If your home still feels dark, try strategically placing a mirror to reflect light and help make a room appear brighter. Alternatively, you can help brighten your space by bringing in a stylish floor or table lamp.
If your fixtures are dated, new dining room and foyer chandeliers can bring a more modern vibe to your space.
10. Make small repairs.
You may be accustomed to the inconvenience of that torn window screen or leaky showerhead but, to a new potential homebuyer, they may be red flags, prompting them to stay alert for any other necessary but unmade home repairs they’ll have to consider when it comes time to make an offer.
Help get ahead of potential problems by doing a walkthrough, looking for any damage or necessary repairs. Then, consider hiring a handyman for the day. To really head off problems, consider hiring your own home inspector to help alert you to unexpected issues you can repair before homebuyers start walking through your home.
Before You Move, Review Your Homeowner’s Insurance Coverage
Selling your home is a good time to review your homeowners coverage. Learn more with us at:
What is the deductible for flood insurance?
A flood policy comes with separate deductibles for the building and its contents. You typically get to choose the deductible amount. Common flood deductibles range from $1,000 to $5,000.
As with other types of insurance, a higher deductible on your flood policy will result in a lower premium; however, if you have a mortgage, your lender may not allow you to increase your deductible beyond specified limits.
What does flood insurance cover?
Flood insurance covers losses directly resulting from flooding or flood-related erosion caused by heavy or prolonged rain, snowmelt, coastal storm surges, blocked storm drainage systems, levee dam failure and similar events.
Flood insurers reimburse policyholders for structural damage, including:
The FEMA flood insurance guide is also a helpful resource that provides details on claims, coverage and costs.
Flood insurance coverage limits
The NFIP lets you insure your house for up to $250,000 and your personal property (contents) for up to $100,000. If you rent, you can buy up to $100,000 in coverage for your belongings. For non-residential property, you can buy up to $500,000 of coverage for the building and contents.
You've probably thought about what would happen to your home in the event of a disaster, but have you considered your personal belongings?
Fortunately, whether you're a homeowner or a renter, your insurance policy has you covered. The question is whether your current personal property coverage is enough.
If your possessions have multiplied over the years — or if you own special, high-value items — you may need additional protection.
What’s personal property coverage?
Personal property coverage, or contents coverage, protects your belongings, including furniture, clothing, jewelry, appliances, electronics and art. It insures the stuff that’s not part of your home’s structure (or permanently attached to it) against theft and accidental physical damage or destruction.
Personal property coverage also protects your belongings when you’re traveling or doing things around town.
How much coverage do you have?
Every policy will be different. For home insurance, your personal property limit is usually 70% of the insured dwelling value. In some cases, it can be more or less depending on your home.
If you rent your property or if you own a condo, it’s easier to tell how much coverage you have because your policy doesn’t cover the building. (The landlord’s or condo association’s policy covers that.)
Check your policy’s declarations page or get in touch if you’re unsure about your current coverage.
Should you increase your personal property coverage?
You may want to purchase extra personal property insurance through a rider or scheduled coverage if you own the following items:
Are you wondering whether something you own is valuable enough to warrant additional coverage? Reach out anytime.
Are you ready to spend more time outside? As the weather warms up, you can shift your eye to home improvements for your outdoor space.
A welcoming area can be the perfect place to relax during spring and summer days. And not only can upgrades increase your home's value, but they can also inspire you to keep up with regular maintenance.
From entertaining to unique lighting, here are this year's trends in outdoor living.
Want to make sure you have the right protection for your property? Or are you looking for more home improvement inspiration? Get in touch today.
Are you prepping for a move? You might be wondering if you should make any changes to your home or auto insurance.
While updating your paperwork might not be your top priority right now, doing so can keep you and your belongings protected during and after your move.
You can start by adding your new address to your policy. Here are some other key things to consider.
Your homeowners insurance premiums will differ when you move, even if you’re staying in the same area. Changes in home size, construction materials, natural hazards and property crime rates all affect policy costs. Reach out about your premium ahead of your move so you can budget accordingly.
Consider whether you have enough coverage for all the furniture, electronics and other items you acquired since you purchased your policy. It’s easy to underestimate the value of your stuff.
Also, replacement cost coverage is more valuable than actual cash value coverage and may be worth the upgrade if you don’t have it already.
Are your belongings covered while moving? Consult your policy or get in touch to find out. You may be able to purchase coverage from your movers or add it to your policy if you need it.
Your auto insurance premiums could also increase or decrease when you move. The risks of driving in your new location and parking at your new home may change because the weather, traffic and crime may be different.
If you’re moving states, premium changes can be more pronounced. One reason is that minimum coverage laws vary by state. Changing location also means you’ll need to re-register your vehicle.
Finally, avoid changing or canceling your current policies too early so you don’t have gaps in your protection.
Do you have questions about your coverage while moving? Get in touch today.
If you're planning a home renovation, you may want to call your insurance agent first because this decision can impact your homeowners insurance. Some home renovations will change the amount of coverage you need, while others could even help you qualify for a discount. We cover six common scenarios that could affect your insurance, so you can plan ahead.
1. Building a New Addition
When you expand and improve your home, you could likely increase its replacement value. This is the cost to repair or rebuild your home. Some additions that could increase your replacement value include: adding a second-story bedroom, expanding the living room or building a new garage.
After building a new addition, or making updates or other improvements, you may need to increase your coverage because the value of your home, and the cost to rebuild it will likely have increased. Most insurance companies require your Coverage A or dwelling coverage limit be at least 80 percent of the replacement value of your home.
Your insurance agent can recalculate your home value to determine whether you'll need more coverage because of the addition or improvement.
2. Building a Pool
If you're looking to add a pool, you will want to contact your insurance agent to review coverage for changes to your property's value, as well as any increase in risk. When people are swimming and running around the pool, there's the chance for an accident. If someone gets hurt, they could try to hold you responsible for damages. This can apply even if the accident isn't your fault.
Check with your agent to see whether your existing policy covers a pool and if you need to increase your liability coverage. This coverage can help pay damages to injured persons and provide for a defense if you are sued as a result of their injuries.
You should also ask your agent what steps you can take to keep your pool safe so you can avoid accidents.
Adding a fence with a lock is a smart move. You could also add lights with motion sensors or a pool alarm to discourage trespassers. Consider skipping the diving board, because this increases the chance of an accident and your insurance cost.
Calfee Insurance wants to help you protect the things that matter to you. We offer a wide breadth of products so you can be covered at home and on the road.
3. Adding a Deck
A new deck is another improvement that can add value but also risk, especially if the deck is attached to a second story or higher. You should let your agent know that you've added a deck, so he or she can adjust your policy as necessary.
4. Renovating the Kitchen
Upgrading the kitchen can significantly increase the value of your home, especially if you switch to higher-quality counter tops, appliances and new flooring. You should contact your agent to see if you need to increase your insurance coverage.
If your contractor upgrades the plumbing or electrical wiring as part of the renovation, ask your homeowners insurance agent if you qualify for a discount or if your coverage needs to be adjusted. These upgrades can reduce the chance of flooding water damage and fire, so check if your insurance company has discounts that can help to reduce your premium.
5. Finishing the Basement
Finishing your basement can also increase the value of your home. That means, yet again, you may need more homeowners coverage. Flooding can be a concern, especially for the lowest floor in your house. It is important to note that most homeowners insurance policies do not cover damage caused by floods. Ask your agent to review your coverage and look to see if there are steps you can take to help prevent future damage, like installing a sump pump.
6. Redoing the Roof
Before you redo your roof, ask your insurance agent whether this could qualify for a discount. Some companies offer a discount when you reinforce the roof or use stronger roofing materials that are wind, hail and leak-resistant. Your agent can explain how to qualify. At the same time, redoing the roof could increase your property value, which means you might need more coverage.
It is a good idea to contact your agent when you’re considering making home renovations. Their knowledge and expertise can help you get the most out of your discounts while making sure your home is adequately insured.
As a seasoned homeowner, you’ve been paying off your mortgage and are now considering buying a second home – a place you can retreat to on vacation, an investment property, or maybe even a combination of the two. You’ve been through the home-buying process before so you know what to expect, but there are certain factors unique to buying a second home that you'll want to consider. These factors will vary depending on how you intend to use the property, so it's a good idea to determine if the home will be for mostly personal use or if it will be occupied by tenants.
Here are six essential things you should consider before buying a second home:
1. Can I Afford It?
It may seem like an obvious question, but can you afford a second home? If you choose to take out a mortgage on a new property, take some time to carefully understand the requirements so you’ll be better prepared for the process when submitting your mortgage application.
As a homeowner, you're probably well aware of the strict credit requirements for taking out a mortgage, and things get even more serious when it comes to buying a second home. Your debt-to-income ratio will, of course, be a significant factor, and when it comes to holding two mortgages, you may find it a bit more challenging to balance this ratio. Also, be prepared to shell out a hefty amount for a down payment, since you'll be required to put at least 10 percent down on a vacation home and perhaps an even higher amount if it will be used as an investment property. And don’t forget that a second home will need to be protected, so you’ll want to talk to your homeowners insurance agent about getting a quote, once you’ve got your sights set on a second property to call your own.
2. How Will It Affect My Taxes?
Understanding the tax implications of your new property will be another challenge. If you intend to rent your place to tenants, that means you'll earn rental income throughout the year, and that income will be taxable. As the owner of the home, you also may be able to take deductions in the form of mortgage interest, property taxes, repairs, depreciation, and operating expenses.1 One of the most important things to do as the landlord is to maintain accurate records of your income and expenses throughout the year in order to properly report the information on your tax return.
3. What Home Expenses Should I Expect?
Just like your primary residence, your second home will also require you to shell out cash for expenses – both expected and unplanned. It’s helpful to have a budget set up for home needs, and with two homes, this may be an even more critical step, since your expenses will be elevated. In addition to the maintenance costs, remember you'll have property taxes, insurance, potential homeowners' association dues and more. If the property is at the beach or in a flood zone, you'll also need to consider things like flood insurance in addition to your regular homeowners policy. And finally, if you plan to rent the property, you'll also need to look into insurance that specifically protects you as a landlord.
Travelers wants to help you protect the things that matter to you. We offer a wide breadth of products so you can be covered at home and on the road.
4. How Will I Use the Property?
If the property will solely be used for personal vacations, this question isn't as critical. However, if you intend to rent the home occasionally or full time, you'll want to consider your strategy ahead of time. Keep in mind that for mortgage purposes, your lender doesn't consider the income generated from renting the home. Whether you can afford the second property is determined solely based on your credit and debt-to-income ratio. If you plan to rent the home, it's important to build your rental strategy as early in the process as possible to ensure you'll have rental income that can help offset the home's monthly expenses from the start. That will translate to less cash out of your pocket, as long as the tenants are diligent in paying the rent on time.
5. Who Will Maintain the Property?
You’ll want to plan for who will maintain the property to protect your investment. If the investment property is located near your primary home, it may be easy for you to provide the regular maintenance and upkeep of the home, if you’re handy and have the time – and the will – to do those tasks. However, if the property is far from your primary home, you'll need to think about how it will be cared for when you're not staying there. This is especially important if the property is located in an area that’s susceptible to strong storms and hurricanes. Severe weather events can pop up at a moment's notice, and your second home will need to be properly prepared to withstand such weather. If the home will be for your personal use, perhaps you can find a neighbor to keep an eye on the house when you're not there. If you plan to rent the home, consider hiring a rental management company to take care of the general upkeep so you won't have to worry about every little detail from afar.
6. Is the Property in an Ideal Location?
Whether buying a second home for your personal enjoyment or as an investment property, make sure you choose the right location for your needs. You may not get as much use as you’d like from a vacation home that requires extensive travel to get there. And, a rental home in an unpopular locale may lead to months of being unoccupied – which means you’re paying the second mortgage yourself rather than with income from renting it out. In either scenario, ensuring the home is in an ideal area can help provide you with a positive return on investment. If you do intend to rent the property, take some time to research the rental climate in the area before moving forward. The best places to own investment property are often popular vacation destinations and cities with an abundance of career options.
Buying a second home doesn't have to be daunting. In fact, with careful research and planning, it can be a smart investment for your future.
Millions of students in the U.S. are learning from home because of the coronavirus pandemic, and many parents may be feeling the stress of juggling working from home and guiding their children’s educations.
As the weeks at home with your kids continue to add up, you may have come across some unique or especially difficult challenges with this new setup. Here are a few recommendations to help guide you through some of the challenges that parents are facing during this time:
You may have made a daily or weekly schedule when your child’s school first closed its doors due to
COVID 19. Perhaps it worked well for the first week or two, but by now, that schedule may need adjusting as you and your family have settled into your temporary routine.
The truth is, creating a schedule for the entire week may not be feasible. Instead, during breakfast each morning, take a few minutes to talk with your kids about the day ahead and what schoolwork they need to accomplish ‒ and when. Encourage stability and regularity as much as you can. Setting daily expectations for your kids and making sure they meet them by the day’s end will help them stay disciplined.
In some schools, students aren’t allowed to use smartphones in classrooms. The same should be true at home, at least when they’re completing their schoolwork. Keep them focused on their education by limiting phone use to non-study time. This is likely to get harder as more weeks roll by without your kids having face-to-face interaction with their peers. Consider using screen time as a reward for an assignment well done or completed early.
Tip: Stay aware while your children are studying at home by looking out for unusual phone, digital or social media activity.
Equipping Kids for Success
Your kids need certain equipment and internet access to learn online. It’s a big challenge for some families, but help is becoming more available. For example, Everyoneon.org maintains a list of sources where students can access affordable computers and broadband.
Keeping Kids Connected
You may be concerned about your children feeling isolated from the social connections they normally have at school. While you don’t want screen time merging with school time, easing up a bit on your screen time rules and limits (if you haven’t already) may be the best way to get through this time.
Allow children to interact with friends via video to help them maintain the relationships they’ve built in the classroom. Partner with other parents to plan virtual play and activity dates. Supporting these connections can be vital to your children’s learning and will help to provide some balance in their lives.
Networking With Parents
Connecting with other parents has obvious social benefits. As the coronavirus pandemic wears on, networking can be a good way to learn about the approaches other parents are taking with at-home education and what successes they’ve had. Plan virtual events to talk with other families and share with each other how you are making it through this time.
Education is important, but the mental and emotional health of your children is even more critical. Check in throughout the day to make sure they’re doing okay. If something’s wrong, take time to stop what you’re doing and work with them to deal with their fears and concerns.