How to Protect Your Possessions While They’re in Storage
Have stuff you need to store? You’re not alone. According to the Self Storage Association, 10% of American households currently rent some type of storage unit. And many of them overlook a very important factor in storing their possessions. Insurance. Here are some important questions to ask:
Does the storage facility offer coverage?
Most do offer some type of coverage, but ask what damages will be covered (such as floods or fire.) Also be sure to check limits and the type of reimbursement offered. (Is it actual cash value or replacement cost?)
Does my homeowners policy cover my items in storage? Check with your insurance professional on the terms of your policy. Most homeowner policy’s will extend 10% of your personal property limit to storage units.
Damage from mold, mildew, and animals isn’t covered.
Will I be storing particularly valuable items? If so, you may need to add a floater to your policy to cover items beyond the limits of your coverage. You may also want to consider specialized storage for them, such as a safety deposit box.
Does the facility include the following? • Proper security: Fencing, 24-hour video surveillance, fire and flood procedures.
- Climate control: Protection against extreme temperatures, dampness, and precipitation.
- Thorough maintenance: Well-kept facility and grounds and a pest extermination contract.
- Insurance: Your current policy may provide the protection you need, or you can purchase additional coverage from the storage facility.
Being Home Alone on Halloween: Now That’s Really Scary!
Some people are scared of snakes; others are scared of clowns. But that’s nothing: 77% of respondents to a recent www.Houzz.com survey are scared of being alone in an empty house.
Being home alone involves facing your fears…alone. For example, the Houzz survey found that people were scared by all manner of things. But just imagine how much scarier to face these things on your own. Especially on Halloween. Following are some fears uncovered in the survey: • Fifty-four percent of urban dwellers said the possibility of break-ins was the scariest; 46% of respondents who live in rural areas said the same thing.
- Fire was the scariest possibility for 35%.
- Creepy-crawly things-spiders, to be specific-freaked out 24% more than anything else.
- Carbon monoxide or gas leaks-a threat with very scary consequences-topped the list for 22%. If you, too, feel nervous when you’re home by yourself, you may want to stay away from the backyard (especially at night), the garage, and the basement. Those were ranked the three scariest places in or near a house.
Sometimes all it takes is an unidentifiable noise to set off an imagination. Howling winds and creaking floorboards were rated the most fear-inducing noises by survey respondents. What to do on a quiet evening with no one else around? Make sure all windows and doors are securely locked, identify mysterious noises, and put on a funny movie. And for Halloween: Get into the “spirit” and hope your night visitors are all human.
Confusion at the Hardware Store: Light Bulbs Aren’t Just For Light
Just as watches, phones, and household appliances have gotten smarter and become more versatile thanks to technology, so, too, have light bulbs. Lightbulbs are evolving rapidly from objects that simply illuminate dark rooms to smart, multipurpose devices.
Lightbulbs are commonly available today with built-in features that regulate brightness and scheduling. Using a smartphone app or a Bluetooth connection, you can dim these bulbs, turn them off and on, or even direct them to change direction or color; special features allow you to conserve energy and enhance a home’s security.
Beyond that, there are specialty bulbs with built-in speakers that can be controlled with an iPhone or Android device, and bulbs that have integrated Wi-Fi radios, which extend the coverage of a wireless network.
Other ideas that are currently on the drawing board include LED lightbulbs with built-in security cameras and smoke detectors, including a prototype smoke detector that has its own battery so it works even when the light is off or the power is out.
In today’s market, smart lightbulbs are still a bit pricey, and some may also be a little buggy, requiring special apps that are not universal and do not work with all systems. Nevertheless, the market is growing for enhanced lightbulbs.
And as with all things technological, the cost will likely come down and standards will probably be adopted over time. Just imagine: One day we’ll wonder how we ever got by with a bulb that just turns off and on.
Do You Need Landlord Insurance?
Increasing numbers of homeowners are considering turning a second home into an investment property by renting it out. If you’re thinking about this alternative, depending on the type of rental you’re considering, you may need landlord insurance.
If you are planning to rent all or part of your primary residence for a short time (a week or less), you may not need a landlord policy. Often your homeowners policy will cover this situation. However, check with your insurance advisor to see if any additional endorsements are required.
If you want to start a bed & breakfast in your primary residence, you are then considered a business and will need a business insurance policy.
But when you decide to make a second home into an investment property to rent to tenants over the long term, you have become a landlord, and you will need landlord insurance. The policy may be customized to suit your needs and will provide the additional protection you will need as a landlord.
Options typically include:
• Standard structure protection. The home, any other structures on the property, and any owned items on the premises, such as appliances, are covered.
- Liability. As a landlord, you will need greater liability coverage to protect against claims for injuries on the property.
- Fair rental value coverage. This option reimburses you in the event of a disaster where tenants can no longer live in the home and aren’t paying rent. Your loss of rental income is covered while the home is being repaired or rebuilt.
- Some companies offer extra coverage options such as lock replacement and emergency repair service. Because landlord policies provide the higher coverage you need, they typically cost about 25% more than a standard homeowners policy. However, discounts such as multipolicy and new/renovated home discounts may be available. Contact your insurance advisor for the option that’s best for you.