This post was written by Megan McClain. Megan is a freelance writer who spends her days balancing her love of social media with raising two boys. A former reporter in Southern California, she now points her camera at her kids. She writes about her life on her blog Sunshine Wonderland which you can visit at SunshineWonderland.com.
Buying a home is a major investment with a decades-long commitment that affects every aspect of your life, from lifestyle, to employment, to weekend chores. In June, 495,000 homes were sold, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Just as you would buy a warranty for a television or protective gear for that new camera, there are vital steps to protect your home financially and physically.
How to Insure Your Home
Homeowners insurance is an important purchase for homeowners. Most lenders require it for mortgages. Homeowners insurance can cover your home, your personal belongings, give you liability protection and provide additional living expenses in case you can’t live in your home following a covered event, such as fire.
There are two types of homeowners insurance. Guaranteed cost coverage will cover the costs to rebuild your home, even if the amount is greater than what is set in the policy. Straight replacement cost coverage is a cheaper option monthly, but will only cover the cost decided when the policy is written. Whichever choice you make, be sure the policy covers an amount equal to what will be needed to replace your home.
Companies that offer homeowners insurance also generally offer other insurance policies, such as car insurance, with deductions for multiple accounts with the same company. Talk to agents to find out the best insurance choices available for your budget, or visit a provider online.
To save a little money on your home insurance, look at a company’s list of deductions to help negotiate the best rate on your policy. Fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and other safety items can lead to possible discounts, while swimming pools and certain breeds of dogs can raise a policy’s cost, notes Family Handy Man.
Make Sure You’ve Got Everything Covered
Homeowners can insure their property for natural disasters or other specific circumstances using supplemental insurance. Consider what kinds of events happen in the area when choosing insurance. Is it a low-lying floodplain? Are there ever tornadoes in the area?
For instance, earthquake insurance is recommended for homeowners living close to faults or in certain states such as California, Washington and Oregon. Flood insurance can be bought through a private insurance company or through government programs. If the community is already partnered with the National Flood Insurance Program, homeowners can purchase flood coverage through the NFIP.
When Disaster Strikes
Even with the most careful planning, the unforeseen can happen at any time. The same fire extinguishers and smoke alarms that can save you money on your policy can also save you thousands of dollars in damage and help save your lives in case of a fire.
Make sure you have a disaster preparedness kit, which should also include items to help you take care of your home in case of natural disaster. Sandbags made out of burlap or plastic, unfilled, can be stored for years in preparation for water and erosion control. You could also keep plastic sheets, plywood for boarding up windows, and cleaning and sanitizing supplies to clean your home following a disastrous event.
Protect Your Possessions
It’s not the structure of the house that makes it a home, it’s the possessions inside of it.
Most homeowners policies cover personal property such as art, jewelry and furniture and generally cover 50-75% of the home’s insured value in the event of damage or theft inside the home.
A good way to keep track of the items inside your home is to take a home inventory. This could mean taking pictures or video of your goods, and storing them through an online cloud storage service, or by keeping photographs inside a safety deposit box.
You can also purchase separate insurance policies for expensive and important items in your home.
Safe and Secure
According to the FBI, a burglary happens every 15 seconds in the United States. A burglar can steal thousands of dollars worth of items in just minutes.
Home security systems are available off the shelf at hardware store, or purchased and maintained through a private company. From shrill alarms, phone calls to the company’s call center, or video coverage, there are a variety of options to suit every budget for the maximum security of the home.
Some companies even offer whole-house systems with smartphone applications that allow you to turn on lights, unlock doors or turn down the heater when you’re away from home.
No Visitors, Please
Keeping unwanted insect and vermin out of your home keeps your food and family safe and your home from damage. Learn what kind of pest you are dealing with before choosing a plan of action. From spraying insecticides outside the home, to simple catch-and-release, pest control options vary greatly.
Keeping a home clean is the best way to keep out unwanted guests, including clearing vegetation resting against the house, and keeping pipes underneath clean. Termites especially can be damaging to a home. Learn the signs of termite infestation, and if termites are a common problem in your area, have your home inspected yearly.
Signing your name on the line is just the first step in investing in a house. By insuring it , planning ahead for emergencies, preparing for natural disasters and keeping it secure and free of unwanted guests, you can make your investment a safe one.