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Insurance and Your Home Get Together

Are you hosting a family reunion or neighborhood party at your house or perhaps an apartment? Before you have that big event in your home, it’s wise in this litigious age to make sure you are protected.

You need to know what your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy covers in case of a guest being injured. You should also be aware of what is covered if your guest damage any of your property.

We all have that one uncle who drinks a little too much at Thanksgiving and then stumbles into something valuable and breaks it.  It would be unfortunate if you were under the impression such incidents were covered by your insurance policy when they were not.

Here are some things that you will want to make sure are in your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy.

How to Deal with Injuries to Guests at Your Party

Be Proactive

  • The first way to deal with injuries to your guests at your party is to prevent them. Here are some things to look for in your home:
  • Make sure that carpet or rugs are not bunched up where someone could trip.
  • Coil up any garden hoses so it will not become a trip hazard.
  • Mow your lawn so that there are no holes or trip hazards hidden by tall grass.
  • Make sure guests are not walking across a slippery surface.
  • Remove any objects with sharp edges or points that could cut or bruise a guest.
  • Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are used and have fresh batteries.
  • Be aware of impending severe weather that may make it unsafe for your guests to drive home. If necessary, end the party early to ensure guests can drive home safely.
  • Don’t allow too many guests on a small balcony at one time.
  • Ensure that furniture for the party such as folding chairs are sturdy and won’t break under the weight of a guest.
  • Make sure food that is being served is not undercooked or has been left out too long.
  • If alcohol is being served, make sure everyone drinking has a designated driver and know when to cut someone off. If a guest has been drinking and does not have a designated driver, offer to drive them home or call a cab or Uber for them.
  • Stop serving alcohol at least an hour before the party ends.

When an Injury to a Guest Happens

If an accident happens, take these steps:

  • Deal with the injury first, if it is severe call 911.
  • Make sure other guests are uninjured.
  • Take pictures of the injury with a smartphone or digital camera.
  • Quickly report the incident to the insurance company and include the names and contact information of the guest who witnessed the incident.
  • If you are able, preserve the scene for the insurance company to look at firsthand. If you cannot persevere the scene, take multiple pictures from numerous angles and distances.

When Damage to Your Home or Property Occurs

If the structure of your home or apartment is damaged, or any of the property inside of it, take the following steps.

  • Take pictures with a smartphone or digital camera.
  • Call the insurance company to see if the damaged is covered.
  • Just like the recommendation for an injured guest, if possible, preserve the scene for the insurance company to come and survey. As with an injured guest, if you cannot persevere the scene where the damage occurred, take multiple pictures from numerous angles and distances.

If you have taken steps to make your home safe and know what your policy covers, you can rest easy when guests arrive at your party that you are prepared.

Should you have any questions about Homeowners Insurance, contact us via email here or call us at (863) 646-LOCK.

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What to Know Before You Buy That Fixer Upper

What You Should Know Before You Buy a Fixer Upper

In the Lakeland and Plant City areas, many homes have crossed the century mark. These beautiful old southern homes can be enticing, but restoring them can have hidden costs. Several factors should be considered prior to taking on a fixer upper; do-it-yourself or contracted home renovation.

Is it Right for You?

A lower priced listing on a two-story Victorian home can be tempting. Restoring a fixer upper and increasing its value is an excellent way to increase your net worth. But, do you really know what’s involved? Renovating a home takes time, effort, and capital. The size of a renovation will dictate how long it takes; a fixer-upper can take up to a year to finish. As the home is worked on there will be hammers hammering, saws cutting, voices shouting and footsteps on the roof.

If all of this sounds like too much of a disruption for your family, you should avoid taking on the project. However, if you can take the bang and clatter of renovation, it can be rewarding both personally and financially.

Searching for a Home to Renovate

Where to Buy

The saying “location, location, location” carries just as much weight now as it did a century ago. You want to find a fixer upper to restore in an area where real estate prices are on the upswing, not the opposite. Factors like crime rates, school ratings, and undesirable things like liquor stores or strip clubs all should be considered before making your decision.

Timeworn or Trashed?

The condition of the home you are going to purchase makes a difference in the success of its renovation. Is weathered and only needs a coat of paint and new shingles, was it ravaged by termites, did squatters use it as a drug den before it was put up for sale?

The difference between cosmetic repairs and having to replace 70% of the structure can mean thousands of dollars more. Electric wiring should be factored into the cost if the home is over 50 years old. Fuse boxes and old wiring can’t handle the load that today’s electronics and appliances put on them and will have to be replaced.

Floor Plans

Do you want a 19th or 20th-century floorplan in the 21st century? Do you like the charm of a room that is centered around a fireplace, or do you want wide open areas where a high definition TV is the center of attention? If the latter is the case, support walls in an older home may not be able to be knocked out for expansion.  Air conditioning may not flow well in a house that was never intended to have it. Make sure the layout gives you enough square footage for your family to live comfortably. Lifestyle is a significant point to consider when deciding to live in a home that has been around since the Civil War.

The Cost of Renovation

Before you embark on your journey to restoring an old home, you should create a realistic budget.  Make sure there are allocations for the cost of unforeseen issues, this will save you from going over budget.  Here are a few of the things to consider in your budget:

  • Replacing the roof.
  • Patching and painting walls.
  • Refinishing or replacing old flooring.
  • Repairing foundations.
  • Putting in tile or removing the carpet.
  • Installing new plumbing or sewer lines.
  • Replacing light fixtures and switches.
  • Replacing doors.
  • Fixing or replacing air conditioning.
  • Painting the exterior of the home.
  • Replacement windows.
  • Repairing or replacing the bathroom.

Remember to shop for the best financing on your home; or seek a Federal Housing Administration 203k loan which lets borrowers purchase a property and also finances the cost of renovation. Once you have received financing, don’t gold plate your renovation project. Don’t add a new wing or an addition that will put you over budget and ruing the aesthetics of a home.

Saving a piece of history by renovating a home can be a rewarding experience, just be sure it is an experience you are prepared to have.

Should you have any questions about Homeowners Insurance in regard to older homes, contact us via email here or call us at (863) 646-LOCK.

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Home Inventory List

How to Create a Home Inventory List for Insurance

Living in Central Florida your home is at risk from a number of natural things such as hurricanes, lightning, flooding, sinkholes, and tornados. Natural disasters are not the only thing that put your home at risk, a grease fire in the kitchen has burned many homes to the ground over the years.  Faulty electrical wiring can be the source of a fire, and old natural gas lines have caused entire homes to be leveled by an explosion.

With so many ways your home could be damaged, and your property lost forever, it is crucial that you create a home inventory list.  Having a detailed inventory of your possessions can make things easier when you file a claim, and it can also guide you on what kind of coverage you want.

Creating a Home Inventory List

Creating a home inventory list to submit to insurance is not a difficult thing to undertake, but you can’t cut corners when creating the list and still hope to receive reimbursement for your lost property.  Here are a few steps.

Chose a Starting Point

You should follow Nike’s advice when deciding on which room should be your starting point when composing a list “Just do it.” The room does not matter; what matters is that you start the process of compiling a list of your possessions. The logical choice would be a room with items which are the most valuable; but it really does not matter, what matters is you have started creating your list.

Documenting Property with Apps

In the digital age, we currently live in documenting your possessions has never been easier or had more ways you can capture them.  Apps like Sortly, Memento and Nest Egg can help you create list organize them and record details about each item on the list. These apps use your phone’s camera to add pictures to the list.

Apps are preferable to creating a physical list for two reasons. First, your phone is portable and likely to be on your person when you flee whatever disaster is damaging your home. Second, an app stores your list in the cloud, should you lose your phone in a fire or other emergency, you can log in to the app from another phone and retrieve your list. Be sure to include serial numbers, purchase dates, photos of receipts (if you have them), SKU numbers. With the technology available now there is no reason that your possessions should not be fully documented.

Lock Insurance has its own app that has an inventory list built into it. Our agents have access to the data in the app and they can send the list for you to the insurance company in the event of a claim.

Insurance Agent Demo Agency’s” mobile app

Download the Insurance Agent mobile app below:

Apple App Store

Google Play Store

Make Sure Your Coverage Matches the Value of Your Possessions

Things like art, jewelry, antiques, and collectibles may have increased in their worth and will require individual coverage apart from your standard homeowner’s insurance. You should research these items value and speak with your agent about coverage before they are lost to a disaster.

Don’t Forget the Attic and Garage

When documenting your possessions, it is easy to forget the attic or garage. Your tools, exercise equipment, golf clubs, and other valuable items may all be stored in your garage. Antiques and your children’s old toys may be stored in the attic, so don’t forget to climb up there and document items.

Clothes Count

Remember to document your clothes along with your other possessions.  Record how many of each article of clothing you own such as jeans, shoes, and shirts. If you have a coat or other item of clothing that is valuable, be sure to record details about it.

Document Storage

Items in your rented storage unit may also be covered by home insurance, ask your agent to be sure if your policy covers them.

Keep it Safe

When it comes to financial documents, family photos, and other important documents, be sure to store them in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box. Make sure to include a copy of your list as a backup to your home inventory app.

Creating a home inventory list doesn’t have to be a monotonous chore; it can be quick and easy if you just follow the above suggestions.

Should you have any questions about home inventory list, contact us via email here or call us at (863) 646-LOCK.

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What to Know Before You Buy That Fixer Upper

The difference between Sinkhole and Catastrophic ground cover collapse

Sinkhole Coverageflhome

 

A sinkhole, also known as a sink, shake hole, swallow hole, swallet, doline or cenote, is a natural depression or hole in the Earth’s surface caused by karst processes — the chemical dissolution of carbonate rocks[1] or suffosion processes[2] for example in sandstone.

 

Sinkholes may vary in size from 1 to 600 meters (3.3 to 2,000 ft) both in diameter and depth, and vary in form from soil-lined bowls to bedrock-edged chasms. Sinkholes may be formed gradually or suddenly, and are found worldwide. The different terms for sinkholes are often used interchangeably

 

Catastrophic ground cover collapse

 

On the other hand, covers only a small portion of damages caused by sinkhole activity. Under Florida law, catastrophic ground cover collapse includes geological activity resulting in the following:

 

  • Abrupt loss of ground cover
  • A depression in the ground clearly visible to the naked eye
  • Structural damage to the building, including the foundation
  • Government condemnation of the insured structure and an order to vacate the premises
  • By the express terms of the coverage, catastrophic ground cover collapse only covers damages when the insured property is condemned by a governmental agency and ordered vacated.

Consider the damage that the property must sustain before a government agency would force a family out of their home, and it becomes clear just how worthless this coverage is.

 

There will be sweeping changes

 

Here in the near future to home insurance polices in the near future. To higher deductibles for sinkhole coverage to buy back option sometimes requiring an inspection and even excluding the coverage all together.

 

There are bills being passed as I write this, for more information contact me.

 

Don Westerfeld 4/29/2011 7:17:00 AM

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