Category: Storm Proofing


9 Things You Won’t Believe Home Insurance Doesn’t Cover

Read the fine print on your homeowners insurance policy to ensure that you’re covered for everything. If you're not careful, these 9 high-risk liabilities might not make the cut.

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Most homeowners insurance policies get squared away in the early stages of home buying and aren’t much looked at again until the time comes when they’re needed, say, after a burglary or significant storm damage. But don’t wait until the day you need to invoke it to learn what your policy doesn’t cover. A number of liabilities—ranging from trampolines to certain pests, and from out-of-the-home businesses to certain dog breeds—may not be included. So, before you’re caught off guard in a worst-case scenario, double-check your policy to make sure you’re protected for the following scenarios.

 

1. You Run Your Business Out of Your Home.

What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover - Not Home Businesses

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Typically, home insurance covers only minor damages on at-home work equipment, up to a $2,500 loss limitation for business property, such as computers. Yet, for those who keep large amounts of inventory on their premises, such a small payout in all likelihood wouldn’t cover the cost of replacement. So, for business conducted in your home—not to mention liability for potential lawsuits—it’s wise to purchase a separate business insurance policy.

 

2. The House Sustained Flood Damage.

If you, like many homeowners, mistakenly believe that your homeowners insurance policy covers your property for flood-related damage, you’re not alone. Most people are surprised to learn that floods are excluded from coverage on almost every standard homeowners policy. Those who want protection need to apply through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program, which is run by FEMA.

3. Your Sewer Backed Up.

With a strong El Niño predicted for 2016, torrential downpours could cause sewer backups into your drains and basements, causing thousands of dollars in damage. Most sewer backups, however, are not covered under a standard policy, nor are they covered by flood insurance. The good news: You may be able to purchase a separate rider for protection.

 

4. You Own a Certain Dog Breed.

What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover - Not High-Risk Dog Breeds

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According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than $500 million in homeowners insurance liability claims paid out in 2014, constituting more than one-third of all homeowners insurance claims. While most injuries caused by pets are covered by home insurance, some policies exclude those caused by certain “high-risk” breeds, like German shepherds or pit bulls. Check with your agent to be sure your dog’s breed won’t compromise your coverage.

 

5. You’ve Detected Termites.

According to the National Pest Management Association, in the United States termites cause an estimated $5 billion in damage each year—none of which is covered by homeowners insurance. While you can sometimes obtain something like termite coverage through a pest removal service, you’re much better off taking measures to prevent the problem. Trim back trees, keep your roof in good repair, and avoid ice dams caused by snow accumulation in order to keep these pests from penetrating your property. If your home is prone to termites, schedule a regular inspection with a pest professional.

 

6. Everything Is Under Construction.

What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover - not poor remodels

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Considering a remodel this year? It’s nearly impossible to collect on a claim from your homeowners policy for faulty, inadequate, or defective workmanship, materials, or maintenance. That means, if you plan to hire a contractor, it’s important to confirm that he is licensed for liabilities. Request a physical or digital copy of any contractor’s insurance certificate from his insurance company. In the event that a contractor does something that injures someone or damages your home, he’ll be liable to pay for it—not you. You may also want to invest in additional coverage, such as a “builder’s risk policy” (also called a “course of construction” policy), to protect the premises during the construction process from damages including wind, rain, and even theft.

 

7. Burglars Found the Cash.

Let this be a lesson: Don’t go stashing significant cash underneath your mattress or between couch cushions. A standard homeowners insurance policy offers very limited coverage on lost paper money, typically capped at $200 (although the amount of coverage depends on the individual insurance company and the specific policy). Cash often gets lumped into the same category as collectibles, coins, medals, and banknotes, as “personal property,” with an aggregate limit in a standard homeowners policy. Unless the policy specifically states otherwise, don’t expect to be reimbursed for those bills lost during a burglary.

 

8. Your Pool Rivals a Water Park.

What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover - Not Diving Boards

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While you could jump from a diving board at nine out of 10 in-ground swimming pools about 15 years ago, today those boards are a much less popular addition—with good reason. Depending on the policy, premiums may increase significantly or liability claims may be denied due to these “high-risk” pool features. Such equipment may even disqualify a home from coverage altogether. Weigh the risks against the rewards before walking the plank.

 

9. You Set Up a Trampoline.

Similarly, while kids consider trampolines a blast for the backyard, most insurance companies call them a liability. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission cites that trampoline-related accidents account for nearly 92,000 emergency room visits each year. Some homeowners insurance policies will not cover trampolines at all, meaning that if you, your kids, or any neighborhood kids get injured on the trampoline, your insurance company is not liable for the claim. Adding a trampoline could even result in non-renewal of your current policy. Before you buy or install a trampoline or any other “high-risk” playground equipment, you’ll want to read the fine print on your policy.


Bob Vila Radio: Fending Off the Next Flood

With a small handful of home upgrades, you can gain control over an influx of floodwater, going a long way toward preventing the most devastating damage. Keep reading to learn more.

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With severe weather events becoming ever more common, it may be wise to prepare for the possibility of your home being subject to a major flood.

Flood Control Tips

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Listen to BOB VILA ON FLOOD PREVENTION or read the text below:

Before doing anything else, consult literature from the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) to learn whether or not you live in a flood-prone area. If you are located in a vulnerable zone, don’t delay purchasing flood insurance, bearing in mind that many policies take at least 30 days to go into effect.

At home, there are a few other protective measures you can take. For one, make sure to label all the circuit breaks in the electrical panel. That way, you don’t waste any time in an emergency. Further, consider using bricks or pavers to raise up any appliances in the basement, and that includes the furnace and water heater.

An additional option: Hire a professional to add check valves to your plumbing system as a means of preventing wastewater from backing up into your drain lines. Another smart move is to set up a sump pump (or two) that would discharge any groundwater that enters the basement in the wake of a storm surge.

Finally, if you live in a particularly risky area, you may even want to think about constructing a levee. Neighbors might be willing to partner up for the project.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!


Staying Safe: 5 Home Must-Haves for Storm Emergencies

Don't wait for storm clouds—or warnings—before taking steps to keep your family safe. Here are 5 things you can do today to keep you safe and storm-ready should rough weather strike tomorrow.

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The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is especially true when it comes to storm emergencies. Almost everyone knows you should have batteries and water on hand when the weatherman sends out the warning. Still, so many people end up scrambling at the last minute, with wind and rain bearing down, waiting in long lines at stores that are already sold out of storm essentials. Don’t get caught unprepared. Here are five home must-haves to keep you—and your family—safe should a storm emergency occur.

Energizer Weatheready Area Light

1.5-Volt Energizer Weatheready® 360-Degree Area Light at The Home Depot for $17.97.

1. Light & Batteries. When the power fails, it’s essential to have an alternative light source—and the batteries to power it. Consider something that is compact, yet offers abundant light, like the Energizer® Weatheready® 360-Degree Area Light, available at The Home Depot. The 1.5-volt lantern powers an LED bulb and operates on either AA or D batteries. (You can also use it for camping or wherever an additional light source may be required.) Make sure to have an ample supply of batteries not just for it, but for flashlights and portable radios as well.

2. Food & Water. You should keep a supply of food and water set aside for storm-related emergencies. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends storing at least one gallon of water per day for each member of your family, and to store a two-week supply. If you can’t store that much, store what you can. You should also consider storing a two-week supply of food. Include foods that are high in calories and nutrition, and that don’t require refrigeration, water, or special preparation. Canned food, dry mixes, and cupboard staples are all good to stock. Keep your stores in a cool, dry place—dark, if possible. Monitor the expiration dates, and be sure to use things before they go bad, replacing as necessary.

Sentry Safe

Sentry®Safe Waterproof, Fire-Safe® Security Chest at The Home Depot for $28.97

3. Protection for Documents & Records. Storms and natural disasters can displace people from their homes, and sometimes destroy their homes altogether. It may be unpleasant to think about, but prepare for the worst. Recovering from disaster is hard enough—it’s even harder if you can’t prove who you are. Protect your important identification documents, such as birth certificates, Social Security cards, marriage certificates, adoption papers, passports, and naturalization documents, in something like a Sentry®Safe Waterproof, Fire-Safe® Security Chest. It will keep everything safe from water and fire damage, and, because it is compact and portable, you can take it with you if necessary. Other documents you should protect are wills, living wills, powers of attorney, and property deeds and titles. You can also store important DVDs, portable disks, and flash drives.

4. Plan for Evacuation. Should a big storm come your way, it may be necessary to evacuate. You’ll fare better if you are prepared, so develop an evacuation plan before your area is threatened. In devising your plan, keep a few considerations in mind:
- Be aware of low-lying areas on your evacuation route, and prepare for ways to circumvent them if necessary.
- Choose a destination to evacuate to that is outside of the affected area, preferably with family or friends who live close to your home, but who won’t need to evacuate. Hotels and motels fill quickly in evacuations, so if you do need to stay in one, make a reservation as early as possible.
- If you can’t get to family or friends or a hotel or motel, plan to go to a shelter. But be prepared to bring your disaster supply kit with you, and make arrangements for any pets, as shelters will not accept them.
- If you’re evacuating by car, be sure your tank is full of gas. Traffic jams are a given, and fuel supplies on the road could be very limited.

3M First Aid Kit

3M™ 169-piece First-Aid Kit at The Home Depot for $19.97.

5. First-Aid Kit. Be ready to handle minor injuries, because emergency workers will be stretched thin during a major storm. Have a first-aid kit on hand, such as the 3M™ First-Aid Kit, which comes in a portable carrying case and includes bandages, gauze, a cold compress, scissors, tweezers, and more.

With proper preparation, you can ride out a storm or natural disaster in relative comfort, with a modicum of inconvenience. So, don’t wait for the governor to declare a state of emergency.  Stock up now, be ready, and have peace of mind.

 

This article is sponsored on behalf of The Home Depot. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.