How to Create Your Home Inventory

Maintaining a home inventory is an important part of keeping your homeowners or renters insurance updated — and ensuring you have sufficient coverage.

It can be difficult if you wait until something happens to your home to try and remember what you own and its value. Instead, it may be a good idea to create a home inventory that could make the claims process easier if disaster strikes.

Find out more about why a home inventory is important and how to make your own:

What is a home inventory?
A home inventory is a list of your possessions and their estimated or appraised value. You may also want to include photos and receipts.

Having a home inventory will make the process of filing a home insurance claim easier in the event of an emergency, like a covered natural disaster or theft. You can refer to your list instead of trying to remember each item in your house when you’re already in a stressful situation.

How do you create a home inventory?
Prevent yourself from being overwhelmed by breaking it down by room and category. For example, you could start in the living room with categories like furniture, art and electronics. Cover high-cost items first, as these will be your top priorities to replace. You can estimate the worth of items you own or have certain valuables professionally appraised. As you make purchases, save receipts to record the value of new big-ticket items.

You can use an app or spreadsheet to keep your inventory organized. Record the serial numbers of electronics and appliances, and consider taking pictures for further documentation.

How often should you update your inventory?
Find a safe place to keep your home inventory, and update it quarterly, annually, twice a year or when you make a new large purchase — whatever works for your schedule. Put it on your calendar or set a reminder so you don’t forget.

Creating a home inventory can also make you wonder if you have the right home insurance coverage. Reach out if you have questions about your policy.

How to Protect Your Car From Break-Ins

Car thefts and break-ins are nowhere near as common as they were in the early 1990s or 2000s, but they do still happen sometimes. Having your window smashed or your car stolen isn’t just an inconvenience; it can also be expensive to repair or replace.

So, what can you do to protect your vehicle from a break-in? Read this for eight ways you could protect your car, its parts and your belongings.

  1. Keep windows closed and doors locked. No matter where your car is parked, double-check that doors and windows are closed and locked before you walk away. This can protect it from thieves who count on cars being unlocked.
  2. Don’t leave your keys in the car. Leaving keys in your car, whether it’s off or idling, is an invitation to thieves. And if you have other keys on the ring, those spaces are also vulnerable to theft.
  3. Keep valuables out of sight. As with keys, you don’t want to leave belongings visible in your car, including your phone, laptop bag or other items someone might want to take.
  4. Be careful about parking. Park in well-lit areas. The visibility can help to ward off criminals who don’t want to get caught breaking in.
  5. Protect your car’s wheels. Yes, sometimes thieves will leave your car but run off with the wheels. Protect yourself with lug nut locks to prevent their quick removal.
  6. Use security cameras at home. Whether you park in your garage or driveway, installing a visible security camera can be a deterrent to theft. If something does happen, you’ll have caught it on video.
  7. Prevent catalytic converter theft. While not every make and model is a target of this kind of theft, it’s an expensive repair if it happens to you. You can set your car alarm to respond to vibrations or ask your mechanic to install a lock or shield.
  8. Make sure you have enough auto insurance. Having comprehensive coverage will help ensure you’re compensated for your loss if your car is stolen.

If you have questions or want to update your insurance policy, reach out today.

Get Your Property Ready for Spring

As your home begins defrosting from winter’s chill, it’s a good time to get everything ready for spring.

Take advantage of the burst of energy you get from spotting that first flower or songbird to deep clean and maintain your property, from the bedrooms to the backyard.

Does your home need some upkeep? Continue reading for five tasks that should be on every homeowner’s seasonal to-do list.

HVAC Readiness
Whether you have central air or use window units, you should:

  • Inspect panels to make sure they’re still secured and undamaged from the winter.
  • Remove debris such as leaves, twigs and grass from the compressor.
  • Replace the air filter.

Consider scheduling a professional tuneup visit if you’re unsure what shape your system is in.

Tree Trimming
Prune and trim shrubbery and trees as needed. This will boost the appearance of your landscaping and protect your home by keeping overgrowth away from doors, windows and HVAC units.

Look for trees that have been damaged or died over the winter. You may need to have them taken down to prevent risks to your property (or a neighbor’s).

Cleaning and Decluttering
Now is the time to donate or sell unwanted items, dust and mop your whole home, wash your porch or deck and finish other seasonal or annual cleaning tasks.

Roof and Gutters
Check for buildup in your gutters, make sure downspouts are pointing away from your home, and look for holes or cracks. If you don’t feel comfortable cleaning your gutters, you can hire a professional.

You should also survey your roof to see if there are any damaged or missing shingles, and contact a roofing expert if there are repairs to be made.

Drain Your Water Heater
Sediment can build up in your water heater, which reduces efficiency. Draining and flushing it once a year can help the unit last longer, and it may also reduce your utility costs.

If you’ve got questions about home upkeep or your homeowners insurance policy, get in touch today.

When should you file an insurance claim?

When should you file an insurance claim?

No one wants to be in the position of filing a car or home insurance claim, but it may be necessary from time to time.

Whether your home sustained damage or you were in an accident involving another vehicle, filing a claim starts the process of getting reimbursed. This may include repair costs, the value of lost or stolen property, or associated expenses (such as a rental car or hotel stay).

Keep reading to learn when you should or shouldn’t file a claim and how the process works.

When should you file a claim?
Generally, it can be a good idea to file a claim on your homeowners or car insurance if:

  • The damage is covered under your insurance policy.
  • Someone was injured.
  • The other driver is at fault, or the fault isn’t clear.
  • Your home or vehicle is a total loss.
  • Your car was damaged by something other than an accident, and you have comprehensive coverage.

When is it not necessarily worth it to make a claim?
There are times when you may not benefit from filing an insurance claim; for example, if the damage to your car or home isn’t covered by your policy. Additionally, if the damage is so minimal that it doesn’t meet your deductible or isn’t worth potentially higher premiums, you may not want to make a claim. Filing several claims in a short time frame could result in higher rates.

How to File a Claim
If you do decide to file a claim, it’s important to do so as soon as possible. You should provide photos and relevant details and respond to requests for additional information.

Call the police if you’ve been in a car accident or if your home has been burglarized. Obtain a copy of the police report to submit with your claim.

Stop using the damaged vehicle (or part of your home) until it can be inspected. You don’t want to cause further damage while your claim is active.

Reach out if you have questions about your insurance coverage.

How to Keep Your Teen Safe on the Road

Is your teenager ready to get a driver’s license?

This is an exciting milestone, but it’s also natural for parents to worry about their child’s safety on the road. And, as with other important topics, you are your teen’s best mentor for safe driving.

By talking honestly with them, ensuring their car is safe to drive and setting a good example yourself, you can help set your child up for driving success.

Keep reading to learn four things teen drivers should know to keep themselves safe while driving.

Don’t use your phone while driving.
Talk to your teen about the importance of keeping their phone out of sight and out of mind while driving. The danger of texting while driving may be well-known, but even hands-free and voice recognition technologies can pose a hazardous distraction. It’s always best to pull over safely before sending a text or making a phone call — and parents have to set that example, too.

Don’t eat or drink while driving.
Drivers (especially inexperienced ones) need their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road. Fiddling with food and beverages may seem harmless, but it can be just as distracting as using a phone.

Don’t drive at night.
Driving in the dark can be dangerous for drivers of all ages. Headlights provide some visibility, but on many roads, everything outside your headlight beams is harder to see and react to. Teen drivers should avoid driving after dark until they’ve gotten more experience behind the wheel.

Know your state’s laws.
Many states now have a graduated driver’s license policy, which is a three-part process for receiving an unrestricted driver’s license at age 18. If your teen has a learner’s permit or junior license, make sure they know the rules. These laws could include limits on the number or age of passengers, whether there’s a curfew and more.

Curious about how a teen driver will affect your car insurance? Reach out so we can discuss changes to your policy.

Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Is your home ready for cooler weather? As summer winds down, it can be a good time to check seasonal home tasks off your list.

Then you can kick back and enjoy your home with whatever makes you feel like fall — decorating with pumpkins, drinking seasonal beverages or other activities.

Complete these six maintenance chores before fall and winter arrive to get your home ready for the changing seasons.

  1. Clean your gutters.
    You should clean out the gutters twice a year to prevent clogs. Clear gutters keep water flowing away from your house, which helps prevent exterior damage.

  2. Get your heating system serviced.
    It’s a good idea to schedule an annual furnace or HVAC inspection and cleaning. Catching a small issue early could prevent a larger repair down the line. You also don’t want to discover that the heat isn’t working when you need it most.

  3. Have your chimney cleaned.
    If you have a fireplace (gas or wood-burning), schedule an appointment with a professional chimney sweep before lighting the first fire of the season.

  4. Prepare pipes and garden hoses.
    Water left in outdoor pipes and hoses could freeze and cause damage over the winter. Drain and disconnect garden hoses and cover external faucets to protect them from low temperatures.

  5. Inspect fire extinguishers, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
    Replace dead batteries and any devices that are more than a decade old. If you have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, make sure the pressure gauge is charged, the lock pin is in place and the discharge nozzle is clear.

  6. Seal leaks around windows and doors.
    Keep cold air out and warm air in. Sealing leaks will make your home stay at a more comfortable temperature, and it can also help lower your energy bills.

Maintaining a safe home is important no matter the time of year. If you have questions about your homeowners insurance, you can always get in touch to ask about your policy.

The Truth Behind 5 Car Insurance Myths

Have you always thought the color of your car affects your premium? Or that one traffic ticket could send your insurance costs skyrocketing?

These and other assumptions about car insurance may be common, but they aren’t accurate.

Keep reading to learn the truth about these five popular auto insurance myths — then you can make more informed decisions about which vehicle to buy next or what kind of coverage you need.

Myth #1: Car color impacts your premium.
Have you avoided buying a red car because you thought it would be pricier to insure? Luckily, car color doesn’t factor into your policy premiums. What’s important when it comes to insurance is the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle after an accident, and the hue isn’t a factor.

Myth #2: Personal insurance covers business use of the car.
Whether you’re self-employed or drive for a ridesharing company, personal car insurance isn’t sufficient. If you’re using your vehicle for commercial purposes, reach out to make sure you’re properly insured.

Myth #3: Your credit score doesn’t affect your insurance.
Your credit score is one factor (among several) that may be used to determine your reliability. Too many negative events on your credit history can result in higher premiums.

Myth #4: Traffic violations automatically increase your premium.
One minor traffic ticket won’t necessarily increase your insurance expenses; however, a record of violations or a few severe ones could result in higher premiums.

Myth #5: Another driver in your car is covered by their insurance.
Auto insurance follows the car, not the driver. If a driver who isn’t on your policy uses your car, your insurance will still be the primary one used to cover any damages. It’s best to review your auto policy before letting anyone else drive your car.

Get in touch if you have questions about your car insurance coverage.

Solving a Pest Problem in Your Home

Do you have uninvited guests in your home? Depending on where you live, pests could be a year-round or seasonal issue, but they are never welcome. Nothing shatters your sense of peace and comfort in your home like discovering mice, termites, ants or other pests looking for food and shelter.

Luckily, there are tried-and-true methods for dealing with bugs and rodents in both the short and long terms. Keep reading to discover the best pest control solutions for your home.

Short-Term Pest Control Solutions
Once you’ve spotted signs of an infestation in your home, here’s what you can do to control the problem immediately:

  • Use poison and traps to eliminate ants, roaches, flies, mice or whatever pests you’re dealing with.
  • Treat your pets with flea medicine.
  • Seal entry points to keep bugs and rodents out.
  • Keep your home clean, and don’t leave food out.
  • Remove standing water that could be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Long-Term Pest Control Solutions
Once you get things under control for now, you’ll want to address the root cause to keep pests away for the long run.

  • Fix moisture issues or leaks that may be attracting pests.
  • Patch up cracks or gaps in your home’s structure.
  • Insulate your attic to keep mice and other rodents from getting in.
  • Proactively schedule regular pest inspections and treatments.

While no one enjoys dealing with pest issues, regular maintenance and prevention can help keep your home a haven — but only for you and your human guests.

Have questions about homeownership or insurance? Reach out so we can discuss your coverage.

Common Sense Home Security Essentials

Is your house as secure as it could be? 

With so much technology in the home security space, it can be easy to overlook commonsense tactics that protect your home. Simple measures are often the most effective, from exterior illumination to reinforcing doors and windows.

Here’s a list of home security essentials every homeowner should implement.

Choose a security system.

Options range from DIY security cameras to professional monitoring systems. Consider the upfront and monthly costs of different security systems. 

You can also add smart-home abilities and smoke and carbon monoxide monitoring. 

Generic security and “beware of dog” signs may also deter burglars. 

Lock doors and windows.

You may be surprised by the number of home burglaries involving an unlocked front door or open window. 

Take inventory of your windows and doors: Are any locks broken? Do any doors need to be reinforced or replaced? When moving into a new home, it’s always a good idea to change the locks so you can be sure you’re the only one with a key.

Store spare keys in a lockbox and place the box in an inconspicuous location that only you know how to find.

Light up your home’s exterior at night.

Someone looking for a house to rob will prefer the cover of darkness. So, you can scare off would-be burglars by investing in outdoor lighting. 

Whether you opt for motion-activated or solar-powered lights, keep your open areas and paths well-lit. You can also use a timer or smart light bulbs to control when your outdoor lights are on and off.

Store valuables in a safe.

While plenty of big, fancy and expensive models are on the market, a small safe works fine for most valuables. Be sure to bolt your safe to the floor or wall. Wall safes can also be covered with artwork or framed photos.

Have questions about your home insurance? Just reach out to us for help.

How to Tell if You Need a New Roof

When’s the last time you looked at your roof? Most of us take for granted the shelter a roof provides … until something goes wrong. 

While a typical roof can last as long as 25 to 30 years, individual shingles may fall apart, and small leaks can occur in the meantime. With spring in full bloom, April is a good month to examine your roof. 

Here are six signs that your roof needs repair or replacement. 

1. Missing or Cracked Shingles

A missing shingle means the adhesive holding shingles in place has started to weaken and separate. Cracked shingles are the result of expansion and contraction in hot and cold temperatures. 

Either situation means the structural integrity of your roof may be compromised and puts you at risk for water damage to your home. 

2. Water Damage

If your roof has sagging or bulging areas, it could be a sign of a weakened roof deck, which can be caused by water damage or rot.  Water stains and noticeable leaking in your attic are signs of water damage to your roof. This is usually due to missing or damaged shingles.

3. Age of the Roof

Look at your home inspection report or home improvement records to check the age of your roof. If it’s been more than 20 to 25 years, it’s probably time for a new roof.

4. Algae or Moss Growth

Seeing green on your roof is an indicator that it’s retaining moisture, which can cause damage over time. You can use a removal service or clear the moss yourself, using a stiff brush.

5. Light Shining Through

If you can see daylight through your roof, this is probably the clearest sign of damage that needs to be immediately repaired. 

6. Granules in Your Gutters

While it’s normal for some grit or granules to fall off your shingles, excessive amounts of grit in your gutters may be cause for concern. This could be a sign that your shingles are breaking down, which is another indicator that your roof needs to be replaced.

Have questions about your home insurance coverage? Just reach out to get help.