Do You Have Enough Home Insurance?

Don’t let fire find you underinsured.

Being ready means being realistic.

A lot of fire precautions focus on making it harder for fire to reach your house or for embers to ignite when they land. But we also need to plan for the possibility of fire getting past even the most strategically laid out landscape, or slipping through a crack in the most carefully hardened home. At that point, the smartest precaution is an adequate amount of insurance.

Understand your policy.

Don’t assume the policy you purchased when you bought your house is enough. For instance, does it cover losses at current market value, or does it pay less for items based on their age? Learn the details. And don’t try to wade through policy language alone. Ask your agent to explain things in simple terms.

Know your home value.

Homes change, and coverage needs to change with them. Tell your agent about any improvements you’ve made that affect your home’s value. Whether you’ve added square footage or invested in pricey remodeling, your coverage needs to reflect the cost of recouping the money you’ve put into your home.

Document what you own.

Keeping a detailed inventory of your possessions, including your furniture, is essential. Make a smartphone video of each room in your house (don’t forget your garage and basement), showing and describing in detail what can be found in each room, each closet, and each drawer. Provide as much detail about value as possible. Then store your video where it can be easily retrieved, making sure to also upload a copy to the cloud (hard drives are great, but they can be destroyed in a fire).

Maintain a paper trail.

Receipts are invaluable, especially when it comes to understanding the cost of big-ticket items like computers and major appliances. Keep receipts and other important documents in a fire-proof box, so they can be quickly grabbed during an evacuation or retrieved in the aftermath of a fire. Or better yet, take photos of everything and store them in the cloud.

Be a smart renter.

Even if you’re not responsible for the replacement cost of the house you live in, all the possessions you have in the house need coverage if you expect to replace them in the event of a fire. Ask your insurance agent about bundling options for putting auto and renters insurance together in one policy.

Talk to your agent.

Get in touch with your insurance agent quarterly to ensure you’re keeping up with the value of your home and possessions. If you’re under the impression federal funds will help you rebuild after a wildfire event, understand such grants may not come anywhere near the funds you’ll need to rebuild a home and replace its contents. Plus, they can take years to get. Private insurance is your best get-ready-to-be-ready strategy.