A house is something that a person plans on building only once in his/her life. Most people don’t even think twice before pouring in all their life savings to buy a roof over their head. So, you can tell that building or buying is a pretty big deal generally and it should be that way.
To turn this house into a home, one needs to feel a sense of warmth and security there. While one can warm up a place by decorating it, the sense of security can be slightly hard to achieve. Safety needs to be maintained for the people living in the house, as well as the house itself.
We are assuming that you have taken enough measure to protect you and your family, keeping the current social scenario in kind. However, we understand that you don’t know much about safeguarding your house. Who can steal your house from you, after all? Allow us to tell you that the dangers and losses are not just limited to theft.
You need to have some provision for your house and your garden in case of any accidents or mishaps. Getting an insurance done for the same will instil a feeling of defense against hardships.
Insurance for homes usually comes as a pretty standard policy format covering the house’s structure and contents.
A recent article reminds us to include the garden as part of the home insurance policy. Your entire plot and garden may contain several valuable items that you’ll need to specify when taking out coverage.
This article looks into the steps to take to find the best insurance coverage for your specific needs. We also explore items from your garden to include that you may not have thought about.
Where to Start
With more than a million different insurance agents or brokers in the US alone, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting a service provider. It’s essential to work with a reliable company or agent and know what you can and can’t insure.
Don’t be afraid to keep asking questions until you feel comfortable that it’s a viable solution. Checking and understanding all the details and options upfront can save you money. Plus, it avoids unnecessary stress and surprises when you need to submit a claim.
Consider your budget and ‘shop’ around to find the best quotes or negotiate a rate that covers your needs and fits your pocket. If you’ve been claim-free for a few years, it could benefit you to get preferable rates, so mention that to your broker too.
If you have your previous insurance information available, this further helps you as you’ll have a base to work from. Keep in mind that circumstances change, and you’ll have to update it every time you move or make alterations to your home.
This refers to the insurance of the actual dwelling or structure, and it’s absolutely essential. If you have a mortgage, it’ll be compulsory for the same period or term as your loan.
Your cover must include the roof, electrical systems, plumbing, and any other permanent fixtures that make the house liveable. This is important and must not let it slip out of your mind, no matter what. You made for every little thing while you turned your house into a home, after all.
It’s essential to take special note of exclusions like forces of nature. Check if you can claim for damages due to earthquakes, hurricanes, or flooding and torrential rain if you live in a state where these occur.
If this applies, you could consider adding ‘loss of use’ insurance, which covers additional expenses and repairs while you’re not able to stay in your home.
Contents of Your House
Your assets and any other items in the house are covered under the contents of your home. It typically includes all the movable items like your furniture, appliances, and high-value items like jewelry and clothing.
When you’re looking into insurance options, consider if each item needs to be specified for it to qualify for cover. You’ll also insure these pieces for the value of replacing the damaged or lost item.
Best practice includes an annual review of all these pieces to check if they’re still needed on the policy. You may have upgraded devices or added more gadgets, so check those are listed.
Some mechanical appliances also have a warranty, usually up to a year. It’s possible to get it replaced if there’s a fault, but remember it’s only valid on malfunctions, within a time limit, and not loss or negligence.
Remember to state if you take your personal items out of the home on occasion. Indicate if your laptops, mobile phones, or cameras leave your property from time to time.
If you’re now working from home with assets belonging to your company, you’ll need to check first with your employer that they are insured. Then be mindful of where you use and keep these. It’s best to have a lockable drawer or secure space for when it’s not used to comply with the conditions.
Visitors and Tenants
In some instances, this also includes personal liability for anyone entering your property or hurt by your pets. Do you have a swimming pool or trampoline where someone can get injured? You must think twice about this one. Most people find it hard to think of an unsafe area in their own house but there’s always a little something like that.
It’s particularly important if you run a business from home or have tenants on site. You’ll be protected if you’re sued or held accountable for damages or financial loss experienced by a third party.
The ‘Not So Obvious’ Insurance
This includes items and tools that don’t form part of the articles mentioned above. However, you can’t afford to sleep on it. The mere fact that this heading is present in this article, says a lot about the importance of it.
When you have more than one building on the property that’s not affixed to the main house, you’ll have to specify the other structures on your policy. These could be freestanding cottages or offices, or a garage or storage facility on site.
You’ll have to list each of these buildings’ contents, too, for complete peace of mind. Remember to update this regularly again to keep it current.
Is your property walled or fenced? You may need to check how to detail this wall or fence, too, in case of an accident or damage.
If you have smoke detectors, a sprinkler system, or another form of a warning system, your insurer may offer a discount on your monthly payments. The same applies to a burglar alarm, security gates, motion sensor lights, deadbolts, or windows protection.
While your garden forms part of the property, you’ll need to consider the features and list these to ensure you’re fully covered. Don’t underestimate the value of your garden, regardless of whether you have any furniture or plants kept there or not. If you could bank on the value of grass, why shouldn’t you?
Suppose you have a shed filled with gardening tools, this needs to be specified. Don’t forget to list your patio furniture, your BBQ equipment, and your pool house’s contents.
Remember to mention in the policy documents how you lock your garage and tool shed when not in use, as the safety precautions you take against potential theft could reduce your monthly premium.
Do you do most of the gardening or employ a gardener? Consider specific insurance in case of a gardening injury while working or operating gardening tools.
You’ll also need to provide precautionary personal protection items like masks and gloves if they work with hazardous chemicals. The same applies to someone who operates noisy equipment, where safety standards require the use of earplugs.
If you have a dedicated conservatory with exotic flowers or expensive plants, you’ll need to tell your broker. It may not be covered under a general policy, and you’ll probably need a specialist version.
Earning an income from your garden and selling plants or produce also requires a different approach. You’ll need to consider a form of small business or income protection if it’s affected by damage or loss. Ask for guidance from an expert, as this isn’t included in the mainstream cover.
Unless you’re into commercial agriculture, you’re not able to secure your garden against climate damage. The best advice would be to keep track of seasonal changes and weather-proof where you can. Keep tabs on big trees and secure loose, large ornaments or garden furniture during foul weather.
While you’re the client, paying for cover, you also have a part to play. If you neglect your property or your garden, you’re at more significant risk of creating a potential hazard.
Attend to a leaking roof before it causes structural damage and keep your chimney clean to avoid a fire in the flue. Trim big trees seasonally and check your boundary or perimeter fences and walls for deterioration regularly. Also, keep a check on your neighborhood. Pay attention to any suspicious person or activity around. It has got a lot to do with your safety.
It’s not only a way to stay safe. It also preserves the value of your property and assets.
The best home insurance cover should be comprehensive and include as much detail as possible. Consider all the structures and risks, and ensure you understand what’s excluded.
Remember that you also have a role to play with regular reviews and inventory updates. Keep up the general maintenance of your entire property and its structures to avoid unnecessary wear and repairs.
Do your ‘homework’ upfront; this will help you find the best possible coverage options when you meet with a broker. Please don’t settle for a standard policy package; ensure it’s tailor-made for your unique home and garden setup.
Do an annual review of your policy. Check that it still matches your needs to ensure all your valuables in your home and garden remain adequately protected.