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Insurance Tips To Protect Your Home And Property




What does your credit rating have to do with purchasing insurance? Credit scores are based on an analysis of an individual’s credit history. These scores are used for many purposes such as securing a loan, finding a place to live, getting a telephone and buying insurance.

Insurers often generate a numerical ranking based on a person’s credit history, known as an “insurance score,” when underwriting and setting the rates for insurance policies.

Actuarial studies show that how a person manages his or her financial affairs, which is what an insurance score indicates, is a good predictor of insurance claims.

Insurance scores are used to help insurers differentiate between lower and higher insurance risks and thus charge a premium equal to the risk they are assuming. Statistically, people who have a poor insurance score are more likely to file a claim.

As a result, establishing a solid credit history can cut your insurance costs. To protect your credit standing, pay your bills on time, don’t obtain more credit than you need, and keep the balances on your credit cards as low as possible- ideally, try to pay off the bill in full each month.

Also, check your credit record regularly, and request that any errors be corrected immediately so that your record remains accurate.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion- to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.

For more information, go to the Federal Trade Commission’s Web site on credit. Free annual credit reports can be ordered from AnnualCreditReport.com.

Here are some other suggestions when planning and reviewing your insurance coverage:

•Examine your homeowners/rental coverage as well as auto policies to determine if you need to revise your policy to reflect any improvements or changes that will affect your coverage needs.

•Be sure you have adequate coverage and deductibles that are reasonable for your needs.

•A home inventory will assist in settling claims. Keep the inventory off-premises.

•Consider purchasing a flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program if you are eligible.

•Ask your insurance agent about whether a policy rider for flooding from sewer backups or sump pump issues is appropriate to add to your policy.

*Source: Ohio Dept. of Insurance

Keeping Your Basement Dry

•Homeowners with basements beware. The average roof sheds 1,000 gallons of water for every inch of rainfall. The old contractor adage, “if you dig a hole, it will eventually fill up with water,” means that most homeowners who haven’t done enough to protect their basements will eventually become the unhappy owners of an indoor swimming pool.

•Protecting a basement includes equipping it with an adequate, functional sump pump; grading the soil around the home to help drain water away from the foundation; maintaining a properly channeled rain gutter system; installing window covers around basement windows that drain properly; and caulking all cracks and openings in the basement wall.

•Sump pumps are a last, but important, defense against water incursions. Sump pump failure is perhaps the most common cause of water backup claims.

Homeowners are encouraged to test and service their pump(s) at least twice each year. Installing a battery backup or water-powered backup pump instills peace of mind, especially when power is lost during the heaviest storms.

Backup units cost money, but generally less than a deductible copayment in the event of a basement “pool party.” Water backup prevention should more than pay for itself.

Clean Gutters/Eavespouts

•Excessive debris may cause water in your gutters to spill over the sides, into the soil near your foundation of your home. This may eventually cause your foundation walls to settle, basement walls to bulge and crack, and water to soak in by hydrostatic pressure. This would cause a disasterous mold issue later on.

•In freezing temperatures the water that is unable to drain may freeze, damaging the gutters themselves, and sometimes may cause the roof to actually separate from the fascia.

•Upon cleaning your gutters, remember to scoop the majority of debris out by hand. Flushing out these debris with a water hose may lead to the downspouts clogging also.

•When cleaning it is always a good idea to make sure the eaves are firmly fastened to the house. Make any necessary repairs at this time.

•Place a couple feet of tile or concrete at the bottom of the downspouts. This allows the water to drain further away from your foundation.

Reducing Auto Insurance Premiums

•Raise your deductible. Increasing the deductible on physical damage can lower the premium.

Before raising the deductible, consumers should make sure they have enough money readily available to pay the higher deductible should something happen to their vehicle.

•Consider how you use your vehicle. Some companies base insurance rate on the number of miles that you use to drive to and from work.

•Examine comprehensive and collision limits on current policy. An older vehicle may not require comprehensive and collision coverage. Consider the age and value of your auto and whether or not you can afford to fix it yourself if you have an accident.

Also, consider your overall liability limits. Consumers must make sure they have enough coverage.

Having limits set at levels that are too low or just enough to meet state requirements may save money initially, but could end up costing thousands of dollars if something happens in the future.

Reducing Homeowners Premiums

•Raise your deductible. Higher deductibles usually lead to lower premiums.

•Make improvements. Adding items such as a new furnace, electric system, smoke detectors and security system can help lower insurance premiums.

•Don’t make unnecessary claims. Filing claims for minor damage or routine maintenance could possibly lead to higher premiums.

Take Inventory Of Your Personal Property

Can you imagine walking with an insurance adjuster through the rubbish of what used to be your house, and trying to visualize and list every possession you used to have? Here are some easy ways to efficiently get the job done:

•Go from room to room, categorize your possessions, (ie..furniture, clothing, etc..) and write everything down with a brief description. This is the time-consuming way. Other ways are:

•Take a still photo camera or video camera and pan each room, making sure to focus in on the more valuable items. Taping a description to still photos, or verbal narration on the video tape, would also help.

•Use a digital camera and make digital images of all your personal property. Print the images with brief descriptions below each photo, and save copies off site.

•For large appliances and electronic equipment, instead of writing a description, just jot down the serial number from the unit. These numbers are usually on the bottom or backside of the appliance.

•With some items you may have, it is a good idea to keep a receipt with each copy of your inventory. For example, it will be difficult to convince an insurance adjuster that that pile of molten fabric used to be an $8,000 couch, complete with builtin cooler, tv remote, and massaging unit. Although these “special” items are rare, they are around.

•Collections such as pottery, fine art, jewelry, firearms, etc., almost always have special limitations on coverage on a homeowner policy, if they are covered at all. Contact your agent about how to specifically “schedule” these items on your policy.

Keep Those Trees Trimmed

•Have a professional inspect your trees every couple of years.

•Every 5-8 years thoroughly trim dead and damaged branches to relieve unnecessary weight and load.

•Inspect new trees closely after a year or two. Sometimes it is a good idea to cut the tops off, so that the roots may catch up with the rest of the growth.

•Avoid planting small trees within ten feet of your house or outbuildings, and 20 feet for all larger trees.

•Consult with a professional to choose the best trees for your land.


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