While renters insurance offers broad protection for tenants, it's important for consumers to choose the policy that best suits their individual needs.
A renters policy can cover your personal belongings and help cover legal costs in the event you are sued for accidental bodily injury or property damage of others. But not all policies are the same. Here are five questions to ask your insurance representative to help you make the right choice.
1. What's Covered and What's Not?
A renters policy generally covers your stuff against events like theft, lightning, fire, smoke, vandalism, explosions and windstorms.1 There's also liability protection against claims and lawsuits alleging that you caused bodily injuries or property damage. There may be coverage for certain kinds of water damage, such as leaks from damaged pipes. Your insurance rep can tell you if the policy includes additional living expenses if you're forced to move due to a covered loss.
A typical renters insurance policy does not generally provide coverage for damage from floods and earthquakes. Also, there will be limits on how much coverage is provided for your things. There could also be lower limits in the policy for different categories of your possessions. If you own expensive collectibles, such as jewelry or art, ask your insurance representative about buying additional coverage for these valuables.
2. Will a Renters Policy Cover my Roommate?
Renters insurance typically covers family members, but may not cover roommates. Calfee Insurance recommends that each occupant obtains his/her own policy to cover their individual stuff.
Some insurers allow roommates to be insured under a single policy. In these instances, roommates must agree to the level of coverage, based on the combined value of their stuff. If one roommate moves away, the remaining renter typically will need to obtain a new policy.
3. What's the Difference Between Cash Value and Replacement Coverage?
There are two types of renters coverage, one that pays based on your property’s actual cash value and one that pays based on you property’s replacement cost.
For example, a computer you bought for $1,000 eight years ago has significantly depreciated in value, let’s say to $200. If you have a cash value policy, the maximum amount you would be paid would be the lesser of the cost to repair it, or $200. If you have a replacement cost policy, the amount you would be paid would be the lesser of the cost to repair or replace the item with a similar new computer.
4. Will Owning a Dog Affect my Renters Coverage?
Some policies provide coverage if your dog injures someone, and some insurers exclude or limit coverage for customers who own a dog. It’s best to discuss this with your insurance representative when purchasing your policy.
5. Am I Covered if my Laptop Computer is Stolen from my Car Parked Outside my Home?
Renters policies generally include coverage for items stolen off-premises. That means belongings outside your home have insurance protection similar to the things inside your home. However, off premises coverage may be limited to a percentage of your total coverage for personal items. For example, if you have $50,000 in personal items coverage, the amount available for off-premises losses may be 10 percent of that figure, or $5,000. Also, keep in mind, there is generally a deductible that applies.
Top Five Dangers to Your House
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.
Is Your Home Insured to Its Replacement Cost?
If you lost your home in a fire, how much would it cost to rebuild it? The answer may be different than you think. And if your home isn’t insured to its full replacement cost, your homeowners policy may not cover the full cost for you to rebuild it in the event of a covered loss.
Rebuilding costs could differ from what you paid for your home and be more than its current market value what it would sell for today – especially in areas where the value of real estate has changed. A replacement estimate includes costs to rebuild your home component by component. Current costs for labor, materials and contractor fees may influence the replacement cost of your house.
Some key factors that affect the cost of rebuilding a home:
We are an insurance company that cares. We help you get the coverage that meets your needs to help protect the things that are important to you, so you don’t have to worry.
It’s important to have a current estimate for your home’s replacement cost, one that reflects any significant improvements that you have made to the house. For example, if you installed a central air conditioner or finished your basement after you took out your insurance policy and never updated the replacement cost, your home might not be fully covered in the event that you need to completely rebuild following a covered loss.
Here are some steps that you can take:
Making sure that your home is insured to its full estimated replacement cost is another way to help protect your home and the things you’ve worked hard to build.
Learn more about our homeowners insurance products, or if you’re ready to take the next step, click here to get a quote or find an agent.
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.
Home Water Hazards: Find the Leak
As a homeowner, you have a lot to think about when it comes to taking care of your home. But one thing you may not have considered is how water-connected appliances and systems can lead to water damage. Learn how to proactively defend against potential water issues. Just a few simple tasks can help you come home happy.
9 Home Areas to Keep an Eye on for Water Issues:
1. Refrigerator Water Supply Line
Look for kinks, cracks, and other signs of wear and tear in the water supply line. If you move your refrigerator to inspect the supply line, be careful not to damage or kink the line when you put it back into place.
2. Water Heater
Corrosion on the external pipe on the tank could be a sign of internal problems. Look for crystal-like deposits that may be white, blue, or green. And remember, water heaters don’t last forever. Check the manufacturer’s warranty for guidance about the lifespan of your water heater.
3. Main Water Shut-off Valve
In the event of a sudden water leak, the main shut-off valve can stop the flow of water to your home and help mitigate resulting damage. Take a minute to locate your main water valve before there’s an issue, and flag it with tape or a tag to help people spot it.
4. Sink Fittings and Connections
If you notice a drip or signs of a leak or other potential plumbing problems, immediately call a professional. To be alerted early to signs of a leak, install a smart water sensor under your sink.
5. Caulking Around Your Tub/Shower
Caulking used to seal the perimeter of a tub or shower can fail over time. Look for cracks, missing caulking or other signs of wear and tear. Regularly check sealants to ensure they are properly sealing against unwanted water intrusion.
6. Inside Your Toilet Tank
Look for corrosion, degradation or discoloration. Some cleaning products that can be added to the tank can prematurely degrade the components. Regularly check the components in your toilet tank. If they show signs of wear and tear, replace them.
7. Washing Machine Supply Lines
Supply lines are made of rubber or braided stainless steel. A cracked line could not just lead to damage to the room where the leak occurred, but also to the floor below. Turn off water supply, whether your washer is on an upper floor or in the basement, when you’re not running the machine.
8. Sump Pump
To test your sump pump to see if it’s functioning properly, pour water into the sump (pit) to make sure the pump kicks on. The float inside the sump will begin to rise with the water and activate the pump, an indication that it’s working.
9. Central Air Conditioning Unit Drain Pan
Extreme temperatures in an attic can cause plastic drain pans to crack and leak. An overflow sensor switch in the pan will shut off the air conditioning system if the pan is full. A leaking pan or malfunctioning sensor can lead to a bigger issue. Check the drain pan and test the overflow sensor switch regularly.
While you’re taking steps to help protect your home from a non-weather water disaster, it’s also a good time to make sure you’ve got the appropriate insurance coverage. Contact your local agent to review and update your homeowners insurance coverage.
If you’re a homeowner, you may be surprised to learn that the bulk of water damage to a home isn’t due to natural disasters or flooding. It’s actually due to unchecked plumbing issues that lurk on the property — things like slow leaks, corroded pipes, and degraded valves and supply lines. Even your water make-up can be a culprit.
Fortunately, many of these issues are preventable with some basic, proactive home maintenance.
Do you want to reduce the chances of water damage in your house? Here are some home maintenance tips that risk control specialists recommend:
1. Locate your main water shutoff valve and learn how to turn it on and off
Knowing how to turn off your main water valve is critical in the event of a burst pipe or other water emergency. In many homes, the valve is located on an exterior wall of the home, in the garage, or in the basement. If you have a public water supply, the main water valve is typically on the street-side of your home. For homeowners who have wells, the main water valve will most likely be located on the same side of the house as your well. Typically, to turn off the main water valve, you simply turn the valve handle clockwise until it stops. Closing the valve should shut off all water supply into your home in the event of a leak, or if a repair is needed.
2. Have your plumbing systems professionally inspected
If you’re unfamiliar with your plumbing system or have concerns about it, have a licensed plumber inspect it for any issues (or signs of impending ones). One good tip is to ask the plumber to tag your main water valve — as well as any other important plumbing valves — for example, with a red flag or piece of tape. This can help you locate them more quickly in an emergency.
3. Visually inspect your pipes regularly
You don’t have to be a professional plumber to recognize potential problems with your pipes. It’s a good idea to regularly walk through your home to take a closer look at any exposed pipes, fittings, valves and supply lines you can see.
You’ll want to look for signs of damage. These can include things like:
4. Watch for evidence of slow or weeping leaks
Not all leaks are obvious. In fact, slow leaks can be some of the most insidious, as they’re often very difficult to spot before a larger problem occurs. Routinely check your appliances, such as your washing machine, dishwasher, or even fixtures, and the area around your appliances for signs of leaks.
Look in cabinets and areas that have pipes connecting to appliances or fixtures (under the kitchen sink, for example) for telltale signs. Is there discoloration or damage on the wood below a pipe or fitting? Is the paint peeling? These environmental signs could point to a slow leak.
5. Tag or label any items you replace or repair
If you do end up having a licensed plumber replace a part or make a repair, be sure to label the item with the date it was replaced or repaired and keep records of the work done. Plumbing fixtures have a set lifespan and knowing when you last replaced or repaired a part can help you plan ahead for a maintenance check of that fixture.
6. Have your water tested
The chemical make-up of your water can lead to corrosion. Mineral content, pH, and chlorides are examples of water characteristics that should be measured and controlled to prevent issues with your plumbing system. This is especially important if you own a well. Consider having your water tested and treated, if necessary, by a certified professional to help guard against an often-overlooked threat to your home’s plumbing.
7. Inspect and replace toilet supply lines and valves proactively
Just as you inspect your exposed pipes, you should also check your toilet supply lines and valves regularly. Make sure the supply hoses going to and from your toilets are in good condition and consider replacing them if they have signs of wear and tear or are more than a few years old. Read the installation instructions carefully and do not overtighten connections. Many of these products are installed hand-tight only, which means don’t use a wrench. You should also open your toilet tank and evaluate the flushing valve for signs of degradation, including crazing, cracking, or discoloration of plastic components.
More Ways to Protect Your Home
Technology has made water loss prevention easier than ever. There are now “smart” water leak detectors and sensors you can install near or around your appliances and connection points that can alert users of leaks in their earliest stages.
These water leak detectors come in both DIY and professionally installed options, so there’s likely something for every budget and capability.
Finally, having the right amount of homeowners insurance coverage is also an important step toward protecting yourself from the potentially devastating costs of water damage. If you are not sure if your home and belongings are covered in the event of non-weather water damage, reach out to your agent or representative today. Calfee Insurance is here to help.
So what exactly is a “Bomb Cyclone?”
A bomb cyclone is defined as an area of low-pressure where the pressure in the storm rapidly decreases; losing 24 millibars in a 24-hour period.
This is closely associated with a rapidly strengthening system. Meteorologists term this as “bombing out,” hints the name. The general rule of thumb is the lower the pressure goes, the stronger the storm is. If a hurricane in the Atlantic were to rapidly lose pressure, we would be very concerned that we could see a major hurricane develop.
Category four hurricanes generally have a pressure in the 930’s or low 940’s, very low considering the standard atmospheric pressure is around 1013 millibars. So to see a non-tropical area of low pressure deepen that quick and observe a pressure that low is definitely superlative.
Thankfully, this storm is beginning to weaken as it pushes north towards Alaska. However, a piece of its energy will break off and become its own storm system Monday night into Tuesday and progress towards Texas. This will drag a front through here which will be accompanied by a strong line of showers and thunderstorms with hail and gusty winds being the primary threat.
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.
Buying renters insurance to protect your stuff may seem like an unnecessary expense, until you experience a theft or fire in your rented home or apartment and lose some of your most treasured possessions forever.
Whether you're a longtime renter or starting out in your first place, renters insurance policies provide important benefits and coverage. If a fire or similar incident destroyed your home and you didn't have renters coverage, it would be up to you to replace everything you own. Plus, if someone claimed you caused an injury or property damage, without adequate insurance protection, you could be at risk for an expensive lawsuit and paying that person for his or her damages.
As you consider whether to buy renters insurance, here are four things you need to know:
1. Renters Insurance Provides Off-Premises Coverage
Renters insurance does more than cover the cost of lost or damaged possessions in your home. There is coverage if your bicycle is stolen from a bike rack at the park, or if your laptop is taken from your car while you're at the supermarket.
2. You Can Be Compensated if You're Forced to Relocate
Most renters policies provide additional living expenses coverage if your home becomes uninhabitable due to an event such as vandalism, theft, fire or water damage from home utilities.1 This benefit usually includes the cost of living expenses, up to your policy limits.
This coverage typically is limited to 30 to 50 percent of your insured personal property. For example, if your belongings were insured for $100,000, the limit on additional living expenses would be $30,000 to $50,000, as outlined in your policy.
3. A Home Inventory Can Determine How Much Coverage You Need
Before you decide how much coverage you need, it's important to know how much it would cost to replace your possessions. You can calculate replacement costs by conducting a home inventory and checking with your insurance representative to make certain you're fully covered.2
4. You Can Reduce Your Renters Insurance Costs
There are a variety of ways to reduce the cost of renters insurance. An option is to select a higher policy deductible, the amount you must pay before your insurance coverage takes effect. Increasing a deductible from $250 to $500 could create an annual savings of up to 15 percent.
You also may want to consider buying all your insurance policies from one carrier. For example, when you bundle your auto and renters policies , you receive additional savings.
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: