How to Spring Clean Your Insurance Policies
Warmer weather is finally here, and you’ve probably already started – if not completed – everything on your spring cleaning list. Or so you thought. In actuality, you need to do some “spring cleaning” of your insurance policies. It’s one set of chores that could save you from losing everything you own – something you won’t risk if you fail to power wash your home.
So put a hold on the other kind of spring cleaning: Here are three essential steps to spring cleaning your insurance policies.
Step 1: Read your policy
It may not be exciting reading, but you may be surprised at how much you don’t know. And you also may discover a coverage exclusion that you now need; for example, perhaps you’ve always assumed that homeowners insurance covers flood damage, and you live in a high-risk flood zone. Upon reading your policy, you’ll discover it’s not covered. Be glad you spotted it; being in a high-risk area means you should buy flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) immediately.
Step 2: Ask about discounts
This is something you should do annually, because your insurer may have just added a new discount and…good news: You may be eligible for it. Also, if you’ve recently experienced a big life change, such as getting married, having children, or moving to a new city or state, ask about discounts.
Step 3: Understand what each coverage means
While reading your policies, note anything you don’t understand. Ask your agent about these so you’ll be able to identify any holes in your coverage or changes that need to be made. For example, many assume that having full-coverage auto insurance includes towing and labor, rental cars, and medical expenses. However, “full coverage” actually means you carry only comprehensive and collision coverage – which pays for damage to your vehicle – as well as your liability coverage.
Why Not Turn Your Green Thumb to DIY Landscaping?
A little landscaping can go a long way in transforming the look of a garden or yard. If you’ve got a green thumb and an eye for design, why not try DIY landscaping?
Plan: Don’t rip out plants and shrubs or rush to the nearest nursery without a clear, well-defined plan. Analyze your space and the growing conditions you have to work with.
Collect magazine and online images of gardens you like, but try not to yearn for something that may not be right for your space. Then sketch out a design that balances what you love with what you can feasibly do.
Start fresh: As Better Homes and Gardens magazine suggests, try to start with a clean slate. Remove overgrown plants or features you don’t like for a clearer idea of how your plan will apply.
Budget: Flowers, trees, and shrubs are not cheap, and it can be easy to spend a lot to make your space feel “full.” Decide on a budget before you shop. Take your budget and design to a garden center and ask their experts what they recommend for your growing conditions, plan, and available funds.
If your budget doesn’t allow for everything you need to achieve your desired look, consider completing the landscaping in stages.
Consider hiring help: For more complicated aspects of landscaping, such as installing a water feature or laying down stonework, consider using professional services. Hiring for one specific job while completing most of the rest yourself keeps costs down while ensuring a professional-looking result.
How to Find More Space in Your Home
The temperatures are warm, and April showers have brought May flowers. It’s spring. With summer on the doorstep, it’s also time to ready yourself for long leisurely summer days and outdoor entertaining; it’s time for spring cleaning and reorganizing
There are two sides to this battle: You’re either obsessed and want to rid yourself of everything that reminds you of winter, or you’re relaxed – cleaning and organizing when, where, and how you feel like it.
Either way, here are helpful tips from experts, including moving company co-founder Laura McHolm writing in the Huffington Post.
The pantry – get rid of excess packaging to create more shelf room. Instead of having dozens of oddly shaped boxes on your shelves, hold pasta and other dried goods in clear containers. Cut important info off the packaging and tape it to the outside of containers so you’ll have it at your fingertips.
The kitchen – think vertical. If you have large deep drawers, stacking pots and pans on their sides will maximize space, and help you find items quickly.
The dresser – speaking of vertical…by folding your clothes and placing them vertically in your dresser drawers you take up less space than if you stack them on top of each another. Plus, it’s easy to pick and choose. Note: You may need dividers to hold your stacks upright.
The closet – if you don’t have space for clothes or shoes in your closet, they end up as clutter somewhere else. Organize your closet shelves with see-through bins or pretty boxes.
The kids’ rooms – hey, kids have stuff. To cut clutter, buy bed risers and store bulky items in plastic bins under the bed.
Picture this – when you’re storing out-of-season clothes, take photos before you put them away so you’ll know what’s in each box when it comes time to pull them out again.
What You Need to Know About Insuring Your Vacation Home
The process of finding insurance for vacation homes is much more complicated than for city homes. Insurers seldom jump at the chance to insure these “risky” investments. So, why are vacation homes so difficult and expensive to insure?
Many vacation homes are located in areas which are particularly at risk for what is known as, “acts of God,” such as hurricanes, wind, and flood damage.
As well, many vacation homes, which aren’t rented out, are left vacant for long periods of time – meaning they are at greater risk from thieves and vandals. At the same time, vacation homes, which are rented when the owners aren’t using them, also present problems of theft and vandalism, plus liability claims.
So how do you get the protection you need for your vacation home? In this case, it’s even more important to compare insurance options. Vacation homes will cost more to insure than your average similarly constructed inland house because of the risks.
However, like other insurance products, companies have different ways of measuring risk proportionate to premium. Talk with your insurance agent. He or she may be able to suggest options you wouldn’t have thought of and suggest how to reduce risks.
For example, you’ll probably find more affordable rates if you don’t rent the property. Do the math; if the cost of your income from renting out the home exceeds the costs of insurance and upkeep, go for it. Otherwise, keeping it as your private sanctuary may be your best – and cheapest – option.