Trick or Treat– Step Back Six Feet
Thank you for tuning in for Halloween hacks! And check in next week for more cool tips!
“Trick or Treat — Step Back Six Feet” Show Notes for On The House with the Carey Brothers aired October 31, 2020.
Missed our live show? Don’t worry! Because we have a podcast of the show. It’s the same thing we aired on the radio, but ready for you whenever and wherever you are! Check it out here.
The Worst Home Insurance Claim Mistakes You Can Make
Since home insurance can be a complicated thing, it’s no surprise that filing a claim on your homeowners insurance can be, too—especially if you have extensive damage or a complex claim. But you can avoid some of the worst home insurance claim mistakes.
Your odds of filing a claim in 2020 might seem higher than ever. The eastern United States is heading into the peak of hurricane season, and the western U.S. has already started its annual fight against wildfires and whatever else Mother Nature throws in its path.
Nearly 6% of insured homeowners filed a claim in 2018, according to the most recent data from the Insurance Information Institute. About 98% of those claims were related to property damage (including theft).
If you suffer a loss and have to file a claim, there are a few things you can do on your end to help make the process run as smoothly as possible. Here are some common home insurance claims to avoid.
Home Insurance Claim Mistake No. 1: Failing to Read Your Policy
You could be forgiven for not reading your home insurance policy. After all, insurance policies can be impossible to read. But that doesn’t let you off the hook. At the very least, understand what the coverages in your policy mean.
For example, some policyholders assume that “water backup” coverage is the same as flood insurance. It isn’t.
“Water backup is very specific to only limit coverage to damage caused due to a backup of a sewer drain or a sump pump. Misunderstanding (or failing to read) your policy can lead to disappointment and almost always results in a poor customer experience during the claims process.
Home Insurance Claim Mistake No. 2: Not Having the Right Coverage
One of the worst mistakes a homeowner can make happens before a loss occurs, it’s not having the right coverage.
If you don’t have the right insurance, you could find yourself in a significant financial hole. A thoughtful conversation with an insurance agent can help you avoid these errors.
For example, if your policy has only actual cash value coverage for your possessions, and you’re expecting to be paid replacement cost, you’ll be very disappointed.
Some homeowners assume that damage from hurricane wind and flood water is covered by their home insurance policies. But that assumption could be a costly mistake. Insurance companies in hurricane-prone regions might exclude wind damage, and flood damage is generally excluded from a standard home insurance policy. A good hurricane insurance plan might actually be made up of three separate policies to ensure you have the right coverage in place.
The bottom line is that a policy’s exclusions can come back to bite you, especially if you live in an area that’s affected by natural disasters.
Home Insurance Claim Mistake No. 3: Not Having a Home Inventory
Another claim mistake that starts long before you have any damage: Not having a home inventory. This complete list of your possessions will be especially crucial if you have extensive damage. If you have to work from memory, you’re likely to forget some items and fail to include them in your claim.
Sure, you’ll remember your living room furniture. But will you remember all your kitchenware and items stored in drawers and closets? A home inventory will make your claim easier and faster.
Home Insurance Claim Mistake No. 4: Failing to Maintain Your Property
Home insurance is for unexpected damage, not problems that could have been dealt with.
Neglecting to maintain your home can lead to problems that won’t be covered by home insurance. For example, damage from a water pipe that suddenly bursts is covered. But a roof leak that you don’t fix could be denied because you didn’t take action to stop damage.
Not noticing and reporting a potential claim, like a slow leak, can lead to a claim denial.
Home Insurance Claim Mistake No. 5: Poor Communication
Most home insurance claim mistakes are the result of poor communication. When filing a claim, homeowners can oftentimes be unclear when describing the damage to their property.
Poorly communicated claims by the homeowner typically result in delays, which can bog down the entire claims process. Homeowners be as clear as possible about the damage when reporting the claim.
Home Insurance Claim Mistake No. 6: Waiting
Another mistake is waiting to file a claim. Damage doesn’t get better with time. Reporting a claim as soon as possible can help get repairs going sooner, lessening the time the insured is dealing with the repair process.
You may have up to one year to file a claim (it depends on the state). But there’s no benefit to waiting. If your house gets hit by a tornado or singed by a wildfire, don’t wait.
Home Insurance Claim Mistake No. 7: Trying to Tackle a Big Claim Alone
Large and expensive claims can be very complex and take months to resolve. In the meantime, you can be dealing with multiple insurance adjusters and stacks of paperwork.
If you have extensive house damage, you may want to hire a public claims adjuster early in the process. This is someone who works on your behalf to deal with the insurance company’s adjusters, make sure you have the right documents and to meet deadlines.
A typical fee for a public insurance adjuster is 20% of the insurance settlement. Since they’ll help you get what you’re entitled to and lower your stress, it can be well worth it.
Home Insurance Claim Mistake No. 8: Not Documenting the Damage
A failure to document damage is the No. 1 error in claims. Its not taking pictures—documentation at the moment the damage is discovered.
Photos are your friend when you’re filing a claim. Ideally, you’ll have “before” and “after” photos that show the extent of the damage to your home. This can go a long way in processing the payout.
Home Insurance Claim Mistake No. 9: Cleaning Up Too Fast
After an accident, you might be in a rush to clean up the mess. But cleaning up too fast can be a big financial mistake.
Homeowners sometimes throw away items that were damaged in a fire or flood before the total damage is documented. And they discard receipts that they need to support a claim. If you’re filing a claim for a damaged item, keep it until you have sufficient documentation that it’s been damaged, such as photos or repair estimates.
It’s important to keep a thorough paper trail during a claim. Not doing so could be a serious home insurance claim mistake.
Home Insurance Claim Mistake No. 10: Filing Too Many Claims
Insurers will take a look at your claims history when setting your rates. Homeowners and auto insurance claims submitted in the past seven years can be found by insurers in what’s called the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) database. The more home insurance claims in your history, the more expensive your home insurance premiums will likely be.
That’s because insurers correlate claims to a higher risk of filing more claims in the future. Risky customers get higher premiums. So, if you can, it may be better in the long run pay for small repairs yourself rather than filing an insurance claim.
Baby, Make It Warm Outside!
How to Choose a Patio Heater
Winter is coming, and so is the uncertain future of warm weather-friendly activities like outdoor dining and drinking, picnics and socially distanced backyard hang outs. With the coronavirus cases spiking across much of the country, you might preparing for another season of staying at home and staying in.
If you’re fortunate to have an outdoor space, whether that’s a patio, deck, balcony or yard, you might be looking to make the most of it, even during the colder months. Sometimes, a rechargeable hand warmer just won’t cut it.
Just like indoor space heaters, outdoor heaters and heat lamps are used to warm up a small amount of space. Most outdoor space heaters are powered by propane or are electric. Depending on the style of outdoor heater, they can usually be placed on the ground, raised surfaces and even some, like heated lamps, can be hung from the wall or ceiling.
Outdoor heater styles include heater lamps, tabletop patio heaters, pyramid patio heaters, mushroom outdoor heaters and, of course, an outdoor fire pit.
Natural Gas Patio Heaters
Patio heaters fueled by natural gas are often pricier than electric versions, but the long-term ownership costs are considerably less, and they’re easier to maintain. These are connected directly to your gas line and offer continuous heat for as long as needed.
Natural gas patio heaters are most widely available as standing units. They are not as portable as other versions, as they need to remain connected at all times for operation. Use these for larger and more open outdoor areas so the fumes have space to safely aerate.
Tip: Energy output for gas-fueled patio heaters is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs).
Propane Patio Heaters
Since operation is not dependent on a gas line, propane heaters are convenient and portable option for many patios.
These heaters usually feature a basic shape and a larger base that houses the LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) tank. The LPG tank connects to removable propane tanks, which must be purchased separately as needed.
There are two common types of propane patio heaters to choose from:
- Standing – great for outdoor spaces of all sizes, can be moved as needed to accommodate your setup
- Tabletop – ideal for outdoor dining tables and patio sets, designed to heat a smaller surface area
Electric Patio Heaters
Electric patio heater energy output is measured by the wattage.
Infrared heaters release energy using infrared rays. The energy is absorbed by people and objects nearby and then dispersed to keep temperatures warm and comfortable. This quickly and efficiently warms your outdoor space without using excess electricity.
Halogen heaters use halogen bulbs warmed by an electrical current to release shorter heat waves. They can operate at higher temperatures, but the exterior remains cool to the touch. This makes them a safe option for pets and young children.
There are various styles of electric patio heaters to choose from:
- Hanging – great for overhead heating on smaller patios or gazebos
- Umbrella-mounted – perfect addition to patio seating, attaches to standard umbrella center poles
- Wall-mounted – can be installed using a bracket mount on your deck or against the siding of your home
- Standing – great for outdoor spaces of all sizes, can be moved as needed to accommodate your needs
Choosing A Flood Prevention System
When you think about floods, what comes to mind? Torrential rains? Levees breaking? Sandbags? What about washing machine hoses? A failed pump? Sewer backups? We tend to underestimate the potential for disaster that exists in our homes, and those not living in a flood zone may think themselves fairly safe from the massive damage that just a few inches of water can produce. This is not even true when it comes to natural floods (they can happen anywhere), and such a mind set leaves a homeowner unprepared and vulnerable.
Every home is plumbed with a network of pipes that connect to a water supply, and any one of the fittings, tubes, fixtures, or appliances found within it or connected to it are susceptible to damage or failure. If they do fail, that water has nowhere to go but out of the damaged area and throughout your home – damaging almost everything in its path, including floors, furniture, and belongings, some of which may be irreplaceable or of significant sentimental or monetary value. There’s little that can be done to prevent these types of accidents – man-made machines fail and leaks happen – but there are plenty of relatively inexpensive ways to prevent or mitigate the damage unchecked water flow can cause when these incidents occur.
- Backwater Valve
- Back-up or Secondary Sump Pump
- Hi-Lo Pump Switch
Whole House Protection
- Flo-N-Stop Solenoid Valve
- Washing Machine Flood Stop
Appliance Specific Systems
- IntelliFlow Shut-Off Valve
- WasherWatcher Shut-Off Valve
Other Appliances & Fixtures
- WaterWatcher System
How To Keep Trick Or Treat 2020 Safe and Fun
Whatever trick or treat looks like for you and your family this Halloween, here are a few tips to make it safe and fun for everyone:
What would Halloween be without costumes and candy? Keep these social distancing best practices in mind to keep everyone safe.
- Stay home if sick
- Trick-or-treat with people you live with
- Remain 6 feet apart from people not in your household
- Wear a face mask covering BOTH your mouth and nose (even under/over your Halloween mask)
- Hand sanitize (with sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol) frequently while out, especially during key times like before eating or after coughing/sneezing
- Wash your hands as soon as you return home
The traditional Halloween decorations might look a little bit different this year. Check out these tips to create a safe celebration setup for your neighborhood ghosts and monsters.
- Do not hand out candy if you are sick
- Wear a face mask covering BOTH your mouth and nose
- Take the Safe House pledge and register as an official Halloween Safe House
- Use duct tape to mark 6-foot lines in front of your home and leading to you driveway/front door
- Position a distribution table between yourself and trick-or-treaters
- Distribute candy on a disinfected table to eliminate direct contact
- Wash hands often
If you’re like most parents, safety is always top of mind this time of year. Here are a few tricks to keep your children safe and ensure a fun time is had by all.
- Stay home if sick
- Talk with your children about safety and social distancing guidelines and expectations
- Guide children to stay on the right side of the road always to ensure distance
- Carry a flashlight at night and ensure your children are wearing reflective clothing
- Wear a face mask covering BOTH your mouth and nose
- Wash your hands as soon as you return home
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