Your dog just took down the neighbor’s fence while chasing a squirrel (and your neighbor isn’t happy). Will your homeowners insurance cover the damage? The short answer is, “it depends.”
Policy coverage and exclusions can vary, and when important factors like pets are involved, the fine print matters.
Want to know more? Here are a few common questions about pets and home insurance.
Does your policy cover damage caused by pets?
Many home insurance policies do not cover damage your pets cause to your own property — like a torn sofa or broken TV. However, liability insurance may cover damage your pet does to other people’s property.
What if your dog bites someone on your property?
Most home liability policies offer coverage for damage a person may suffer on your property, including dog bites (up to a certain limit and provided you’ve disclosed you have a dog). Note that after the first dog bite, you may face additional exclusions.
Are different breeds treated differently?
Some insurance policies may offer limitations on coverage if you have what is considered a high-risk breed. When you share what kind of pet you have we can let you know what to expect.
Are backyard animals covered?
Home insurance policies don’t provide coverage for damage your pets, including backyard animals like goats or chickens, cause to your property. However, liability coverage may still apply (with some limitations).
Will your home insurance pay your pet’s medical bills?
Unfortunately, you’re likely on your own for your pet’s medical bills even if they are hurt during a covered incident (like breaking through your neighbor’s fence).
Have questions about your coverage? Reach out anytime.
Home Insurance Coverage is provided — subject to a $1,000 limit — for debris removal of fallen trees.
The ISO form limits coverage to the insured’s trees felled by windstorm or hail or the weight of ice, snow, or sleet, or to a neighbor’s trees that are felled by a coverage C peril.
However, before there is any coverage under this provision, the tree must damage a covered structure or block a driveway which prevents a motor vehicle registered for use on public roads from entering or leaving the residence premises.
Additionally, the fallen tree could block a ramp or other access device used to assist a handicapped person from entering or leaving the dwelling.
The limit is the most that will be paid for any one loss, subject to a limit of $500 for removal of any one tree.
A question raised by the additional coverage for removal of trees is whether the limit applies to the cost of removing the part of the tree that rests on the damaged structure, or whether that cost is considered to be part of the cost of repairing the structure.
For example, if a tree is felled by windstorm and falls onto the dwelling, causing extensive damage, no repairs can begin until the parts of the tree resting on the building are cut away, so it would seem logical to categorize such costs as repair costs. However, the policy language, if strictly interpreted, would include those costs within the $1,000 limit.
The policy provides that the insurer “will also pay [the] reasonable expense, up to $1,000, for the removal from the -‘residence premises’ of” trees felled by the described perils. “Residence premises” is defined in the policy as “the one- to four-family dwelling, other structures, and grounds…where [the insured] reside[s].”
Thus, the $1,000 limit appears to apply to the removal from the dwelling and other structures as well as to removal from the grounds.
However, under this arrangement, the cost of removing the tree from the structure should still be considered part of the repair cost. If the insurance coverage for repairs is insufficient, the “additional coverage” (coverage in addition to that otherwise provided for in the policy) may be called upon.
The Cape Cod Reopening Task Force released a statement regarding the outlook for Summer 2020 today, after Governor Charlie Baker announced the reopening plan for the Commonwealth on Monday.
“We are cautiously optimistic that our friends, relatives and guests will return to the Cape this summer for respite and a return to a traditional vacation,” said Wendy Northcross, CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce and Facilitator for the Cape Cod Reopening Task Force. “This optimism is supported by our recent traveler sentiment survey. The volume and pace of this summer is expected to differ from prior summers, but 67% of our opt-in visitor database is reporting they are likely to visit the Cape this year.”The Chamber is the region’s tourism council, which promotes Cape Cod and the Islands to visitors from around the world.
While beaches officially open statewide May 25th, most town-owned and Cape Cod National Seashore beaches on Cape Cod have remained open and will be open this Memorial Day weekend. There is hope that restaurants will begin to serve dine-in customers and expand to outdoor dining where able, beginning at some point in June. Many restaurants are open for take-out service with new safety and ordering protocols including dozens of the region’s famous take-out seafood establishments, clam shacks, and ice cream parlors. Accommodations of all types are clean, stocked with supplies and are scheduled by the state guidance to reopen in early June as well.
Governor Baker’s reopening plan lists a return to dine-in for restaurants (with a possible restriction to outdoor only seating) and allowance of leisure accommodations in phase 2 of his reopening plan, which would begin no earlier than June 8th. The Governor has made clear that decisions on moving to phases 2, 3 and 4 of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan will be dictated by public health surveillance data including rates of hospitalization, positive tests, and morbidity.
While Memorial Day has traditionally been the unofficial start to summer, this year’s calendar is creating an ironic opportunity, with 14 more days of summer in 2020, Northcross reported. Memorial Day falls this year as early as possible on May 25th, and Labor Day falls as late as it can, on September 7th; the additional 14 days of summer provide a cushion to summer business cycles that may be muted by stay at home orders just now lifting.
“Over the past several weeks as we have planned for reopening on Cape Cod our aim has been to save lives and livelihoods,” State Senator Julian Cyr (D- Truro) Member and Public Information Officer for the Cape Cod Reopening Task Force. “We all know that the 2020 summer season will be different than what we are used to; indeed we expect a muted season. But opportunities to enjoy this special place will still be plentiful this summer with all Cape Cod has to offer.”“Moving out of the ‘stay at home’ phase into the ‘start’ phase of reopening, allows everyone to plan, knowing there are at least three weeks between phases,” said Wendy Northcross. “Currently, accommodations and restaurants are serving guests under restrictions in Phase 1. Phase 2 plans for restaurants and accommodations and some attractions to reopen with guidelines.” Those guidelines include social distancing, hygiene protocols, staffing and operations training and cleaning rules, which apply to all business and social organizations. Northcross is participating in a working group organized by the Governor’s office on restaurants, accommodations, and tourism to advise on safe reopening prior to Phase 2, when these sectors are expected to begin reopening.
Given the highly seasonal nature of many businesses on Cape Cod, which serve their guests on a leisure travel experience during the warm weather months, the Cape Cod Reopening Task Force has been instrumental in pushing for advancement of the reopening date and guidance for the region and state’s many tourism amenities,” said State Representative Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown) Member of the Cape Cod Reopening Task Force. “If we do this right, giving confidence to the consumer and ensuring the health and safety of our workforce and residents, we expect to have the reawakening of our tourism businesses in just a few weeks’ time.”
In order to help businesses follow best guidelines for mandatory safety practices, Sean O’Brien, Director of Barnstable Health & Environment and Member of the Cape Cod reopening Task Force has marshalled county resources to prepare information for businesses to access for best practices on cleaning and operations.
“We will be publishing FAQs on topics like testing, best practices for entities ranging from boating to farmer’s markets and everything in between,” said Sean O’Brien.
The County’s Department of Human Services will compile health metrics, and the Cape Cod Commission will publish a new economic data dashboard and track business impact through a new survey tool. All will be on one central Cape Cod website which will launch in the coming days.
“Guidance to towns on how to quickly ramp up outdoor dining, accommodate more pedestrian flow and town-regulated activities that may need adjusting at this time is being vetted and shared with the 15 towns,” said Kristy Senatori, Executive Director of the Cape Cod Commission and Member of the Cape Cod Reopening Task Force.
“The single biggest determinative factor for what’s possible this summer season depends on the personal responsibility of residents and visitors alike,” said State Senator Julian Cyr. “That means everyone covering their nose and mouth with a face covering when unable to keep distance between others, washing hands and surfaces, maintaining distance from others, and watching out for symptoms. Adherence to these health precautions will both prevent spread of coronavirus and allow us to safely reopen.”“While we expect this summer to be different from any we’ve experienced in our lifetime, we do believe the lure of Cape Cod’s plentiful and beautiful beaches, miles of hiking and biking trails, 47 golf courses, boating and outdoor recreation are the right prescription at the right time. We will be here to safely and warmly welcome our guests,” said Wendy Northcross.
The kitchen is perpetually full of dishes, the living room is overwhelmed by abandoned pillow forts, and the laundry baskets are bafflingly full every day of the week.
“Homes are absolutely on overdrive,” said Dan DiClerico, a smart home strategist for HomeAdvisor. “It’s like having a newborn in the house.”
We’re using our homes differently now and it shows. The kitchen counter may double as a home office. The living room may now serve as a preschool playroom. Reset your thinking about how your home functions, and it is possible to find a rhythm that reduces the amount of grunt work you’re doing to keep the household running.
Bring order to this new configuration by designating spots for specific tasks. If the breakfast nook is now a tele-school classroom, dedicate the space to that task. If space is tight, and the area still needs to play double duty, clear the table of all schoolwork items before anyone eats, storing the materials in a bin or basket on a shelf until they need to be used again. (Of course, no one is coming over, so make do with what you have in the house.)
“Keep things grouped and corralled and contained — it helps,” said Clea Shearer, a co-owner of The Home a Nashville, Tenn., home organizing company. “With no system, it’s a free-for-all.”
If the children need a craft area, choose a table for the activity so glue sticks and glitter do not end up on the coffee table or sofa. Set specific times of day and locations for those messier activities, like finger paints or Play-Doh, and clean up immediately after playtime. If sticky hands do meet the wall, cleaning products like a Magic Eraser can help.The same goes for the living or dining rooms. Designate certain areas for play and others for lounging. Create a reading nook, and stock it with a cozy blanket and plenty of books. Everyone in the household should know that this is a space for quiet reading, and only such items belong there.
Get Control of the Kitchen
With everyone home all day, the kitchen may now feel like a 24-hour restaurant. Put a stop to that. Set times for meals and snacks, so everyone in the household eats together as much as possible. Make a rule that anyone who eats at off hours needs to clean their dishes and the counter before they leave the room.
To keep control of the dishes, limit how many the family uses each day.
Give each family member a set in the morning — a plate, a bowl, a mug and a glass — and they are responsible for rinsing it after each meal and reusing it throughout the day. With fewer dishes, you’ll run the dishwasher less often, extending the machine’s life and your patience.
You are likely using your kitchen differently, with on-the-go breakfasts replaced with morning pancakes, and takeout night swapped for slow cooker creations. All this extra cooking means more dishes to wash and more counters to wipe. Take a step back and reconsider the space and how you use it now.
Start with the pantry. Items like flour or rolled oats that once lived in the back may now be daily staples. Move those items to a more accessible spot and rotate the stuff you’re not using much anymore.
“If you’re making pancakes every morning, maybe your skillet is kept right on the burner,” said Faith Roberson, a Manhattan home organizer.
Plan meals ahead of time, taking advantage of multipurpose ingredients. This will also help you use what you have, and limit your trips to the supermarket. If you’re chopping carrots for a recipe, chop up a few more and store them in a tightly sealed container for tomorrow, or grate a few to use in a carrot salad another day. Aim for dishes that freeze well, too, like chili or stews: Double the recipe and freeze the leftovers for another dinner the following week. By thinking ahead, you reduce the work you’ll do later, and make the most of the time you do need to spend on the task at hand.
Give the Appliances a Break
Your dishwasher, washing machine, dryer and water heater may all be getting more use than they bargained for. Now is not the time for anything to break down. You need them to be workhorses.
“It’s not like everything is going to start breaking down at once,” said Mr. DiClerico of HomeAdvisor, “but it is important to stay on top of preventive maintenance to avoid having to bring a repair man into the house.”
Your dryer is probably the riskiest appliance because the vent needs to be periodically cleaned of lint once or twice a year. Clogged dryer vents can cause house fires.
Normally, this is a task best left to professionals, but Mr. DiClerico recommends using a Lint Lizard, a flexible vacuum cleaner attachment designed to suck up lint, as a temporary alternative. Your washing machine should be able to handle the extra loads. However, to sanitize it every few weeks, run an empty cycle on hot with a cup of bleach.
If your dishwasher is getting extra use, sanitize it every few weeks by running an empty cycle with a bowl of white vinegar on the bottom rack. Clean the filter monthly — or every two weeks, if it’s running double time. If you have a hood over your range, change the filter if you’ve been doing a lot of cooking. (Check your manufacturers websites on how to change filters.)
Your water heater may also be working extra hard. Read the instruction manual for maintenance recommendations, as many heaters should be drained periodically. This can usually be done with a hose attachment at the bottom of the cylinder.
Less stuff means less to clean up. In a home with small children, limit the available toys at any given time, setting the rest away in a closet to cycle through later. With fewer toys available, you may find that the children are more likely to focus on one for a longer period of time.
“Be deliberate about what is accessible and what is not,” said Karri Bowen-Poole, the chief executive of Smart Playrooms, a Westchester design company. Store the toys in easily accessible bins so the children can play (and tidy up) independently. Label the bins with words or pictures to make cleanup easier for small children.
Resist the lure of online impulse buys. More stuff means more clutter. Instead, hunt for activities among the items that already exist in your home. “Recognizing that less is more can be beneficial,” Ms. Bowen-Poole said. “Put a stapler out for a 6-year-old. Show them how to make books.”
Set Schedules and Dole Out JobsWith no one ever leaving the house, days can bleed from one to the next, making it difficult to keep on top of chores, activities and tasks. But people crave order, especially at a time when nearly every routine has been upended. To stay on top of all that needs to be done, add some structure to the day, and to how the home will be used.
Figure out the chores and divide them among the members of the household — anyone who’s old enough to walk is old enough to do something. “Systems and schedules are going to save all of us,” said Regina Leeds, a Los Angeles organizer and the author of “One Year to an Organized Life.” You can either rotate through responsibilities with a chart, or everyone can choose ones they like and be responsible for getting those tasks done. But agree as a household about how you will go about collectively getting the work done.
Monday could be laundry day and Saturday bathroom cleaning day. Daily household rules help, too. If you finish an activity, put it away. If you take cereal out from the cabinet, put the box back and wash the bowl immediately. Before bedtime, everyone in the family helps tidy up the living spaces so they’re ready for the next day.
“Do a pass at the end of each night,” Ms. Shearer said. “It takes five minutes to tidy up your living space at the end of each day.”
Liken the task to making the bed in the morning — end the day with a clean slate and the next one will start more smoothly. Perhaps, with a little order, the work will feel more manageable.
The average cost to wall off a room can run you anywhere from $2,000 to a whopping $10,000. It’s certainly one of the more effective and permanent options, but not everyone’s existing budget is that flexible, nor is everyone able to renovate their space (we’re looking at you, renters). Whether you’re in the process of saving up for a true wall or you’re simply seeking creative, decorative room divider ideas, consider these seven designer suggestions.
1 Tall, Closed Shelving
Short of building an actual wall, a very tall closed shelving unit will instant create division between two spaces in a room. Alessandra Wood, the vice president of style at Modsy, recommends something akin to the Ikea Billy System (starting at $69; ikea.com) or Ikea Pax System (starting at $330; ikea.com). “These pieces come in an extra tall version, so they sit just below the ceiling giving the illusion of a wall. They also add a ton of additional storage, so they’re super useful,” she says.
Since the units will be floating in a room, you’ll want to make sure everything is anchored in so it doesn’t tip over. “When I did this in my former studio, I actually put a desk on the backside, bolted everything together, then bolted it to the wall,” says Wood.
2 Open Shelving
If you want to create division without completely enclosing a space, then open shelving could be the perfect room divider idea.
“I love this option because the bookshelf itself lends the height and depth of what a wall would naturally provide, but it offers you more opportunity to add storage or decor to a room while letting light flow through,” says Lindsay Pumpa, an interior designer based in South Florida. “Installing this is as simple as deciding where you want the room divide," she says. "Because this is a piece of furniture, you don't have to worry about it being permanent and you can move or adjust it as your needs change.”
A heavy, wide piece will help prevent the shelf from toppling (bolting it down is also a great safety measure). Pumpa recommends the Modloft Pearl Bookcase ($1,099; modloft.com), and the CB2 V Bookcase-Room Divider ($799; cb2.com) is another option.
3 Metal Chain Link Curtain
“When you want to break up a room and make an impact, a chain curtain will accomplish both,” says interior designer Katie Stix, the design director at Anderson Design Studio. “I like this wall alternative because it’s groovy, different, and luxurious feeling, and it can even be considered art. At the same time, it breaks up a large space to add drama and some privacy.” You’ll likely need to have a piece custom installed by a local metal artist, or you can consult a company such as Boegger, which offers a variety of metal curtains to choose from.
4 Sofa and Credenza Combo
Strategic furniture placement is a simple way to organically divide your room. For instance, a sofa paired with a console table or credenza can create an intimate living room on one side and whatever your heart desires on the other—say, a dining space, reading nook, or children’s play area. Or if you’re in a studio apartment, an extra tall headboard also offers a sense of division.
“By utilizing furniture rather than building a wall, you have the option of moving the items around and it won’t block the natural light, which ultimately makes a space feel larger,” says Diana Weinstein, an interior designer and founder of DW Design in New Jersey. “When creating the illusion of division within a room with furniture, I recommend investing in quality pieces that you can have for years and move to different rooms if you get tired of the design layout.”
One option Weinstein recommends is pairing CB2’s Avec Emerald Green Sofa with Brass Legs ($1599; cb2.com) with the Coyne Credenza ($999; cb2.com).
5 Floor to Ceiling Light Installation
Let there be light and artful division. A floor to ceiling light installation is similar to the metal curtain idea, only it doubles as an ambient light source. Kelly Dunn, the head interior designer at Fathom Design Company, says one of her favorites is the Abacus Floor to Ceiling LED Linear Suspension ($2600 to $3700; lumens.com), which isn’t as cost effective as some options, but still offers a striking solution.
“This particular piece can be customized to any height or width and each of the bulbs move on a vertical slide, so you can use it as a living element to add a unique vibe depending on your needs for the evening,” she says. You can also DIY a series of down-lit strings or install curtain string lights, such as Twinkle Star 600 LED Window Curtain String Lights ($32; amazon.com), if you’re seeking a less expensive option.
6 Wooden Dowel or Rope Installation
For a similar floor-to-ceiling room divider idea that doesn’t involve plugging anything in or working with an electrician, opt for a DIY wood or rope installation. "Working in NYC residential, I design a lot of small spaces. One of my favorite recent techniques is to hang wood dowels from the ceiling,” says Dunn. “It separates the space organically while adding texture and filtering light nicely. It also helps your overall space look larger, keeps your natural light intact, and still gives you the vibe of multiple spaces in a single room.”
Pumpa agrees, adding that rope also works. She says, “I love a rope wall because it divides the space and adds a unique decorative element. Plus, you can take creative liberties in the way you fasten the rope—straight tie versus a zig-zag design—and choose whether you want a cleaner rope versus a looser hemp weave.” She says you can either create a movable stand-alone piece, or anchor the rope to the ceiling and floor for a more permanent feel.
7 Plants and Large Planters
Those with a green thumb can utilize plants and large planters to create a faux half wall. “Not only will you be creating a sense of privacy within a space, but you are bringing in color, a feeling of life, and great energy with live plants. And it’s no secret that plants are also great for the quality of air,” says Weinstein. “There are a ton of great options in a variety of sizes, and by playing with the height of plants you can create as much division to a space as necessary.” Try West Elm's Citycape Planters, Tall Double ($299; westelm.com) with your favorite plants.
One of the biggest home decorating dilemmas is how to arrange your accessories, whether it be a bookcase, shelf, or tabletop. Here is a three step system that will transform your boring or cluttered spaces into charming vignettes!
Harmony and Contrast
When arranging a space with accessories, one has to keep in mind that the most important thing to avoid here is boredom! This has a lot less to do with the objects you choose than how you choose to display them. To keep an arrangement from putting the neighbors down for their afternoon nap, remember to keep a balance of harmony (things that feel like they go together, like similar colors or styles) and contrast (things that spice things up by being different…smooth against texture, round against straight line, et…) You want a bit of both in your arrangement. Perhaps you could create harmony by repeating a square shape or the color purple, and then add contrast by sitting a smooth candlestick next to a rough basket.
Scale and Shape
Make sure that the items you are using fit into their new homes scale…you don’t want one tiny paperweight on a large kitchen table, and you want to steer clear of using a huge ceiling high arrangement of flowers on a tiny end table. Most people tend to use things that are too small for their surroundings however. If you have small accessories you would like to display, but need to give them more oomph in the arrangement, try grouping them on a plate or a fabric covered box. You can also give them height by perching them atop stacked books or baskets.
Layer and Soften
Once you’ve chosen your objects for the space following the design principles above, now it’s time to layer and soften. Start with a larger, taller piece slightly off center…this will be the defining piece in your arrangement. Now work to the outer edges in layers…Add a taller background layer, a middle sized medium height layer, and your tiniest objects in the front. Keep the eye moving up and down as it purveys the arrangement from left to right for interest. Add some fabric or twisted ribbon to soften the edges of the shelf or table, to bring in color, and to highlight certain objects.
Above all, keep trying new combinations of items until you find an arrangement that works for you. Use things in unusual ways. Tuck flowers or a live plant into an arrangement that seems too static. Even professional designers will occasionally be surprised by trying things in a new way! And remember, if your arrangement still looks cluttered and lost, chances are you are trying to display too much. Develop a prop box or closet where you can keep some of your treasures, and switch them our a couple of times a year for a fresh new look without spending a dime! For an example photo of accessory arrangement, visit this page on our website at http://www.thebudgetdecorator.com/arrange_accessory.html