Why a Home Inventory Is Important
Let’s try a little exercise: Can you list everything you own from memory?
Didn’t think so.
The fact is most people own more things than they realize. It’s easy to remember the cars, the computer, the TV. But what about that holiday china in the garage? Or every pair of shoes?
All of it is regarded as personal property for insurance purposes. And if your home is destroyed by fire or some other disaster, having a list of your possessions makes filing a claim easier — and helps you put your life back together.
Why should I complete a home inventory? What’s the best way?
Comparing the value of your belongings to the “contents” limit listed in your policy helps you make sure you have enough insurance to replace them if they are lost, stolen or destroyed as a result of a covered loss. The easiest way to take an inventory is to use a video camera, recording and describing items as you walk through your house. Or, you can use a regular camera and create a home inventory checklist.
Here are a few tips for completing and storing your inventory:
Though the task may seem daunting, it’s important to try. An incomplete inventory is better than nothing at all.
How much insurance do I need?
We can assist you in analyzing your insurance needs and help you decide how to most effectively protect your personal property. You should consider full-value coverage, which will pay for the replacement value of your personal belongings. A standard policy typically covers personal property only up to its actual cash value, determined by taking the replacement cost and deducting depreciation, which can be substantial. (For example, a 5-year-old TV is usually worth much less than what it would cost to purchase a new one.)
Finally, remember your homeowners policy covers valuable items such as jewelry, furs, art and antiques, only up to set dollar amounts. If the cost of replacing them exceeds these limits, you may want to purchase scheduled personal property coverage.
The Insurance Information Institute has a FREE online tool that can help you create your inventory. Just visit www.knowyourstuff.org for more details.
We hope you’ll never need the home inventory, but preparing for the worst can prevent a lot of hassle later!
May 23, 2017
Burglary Prevention: Should You Leave the Lights On?
Posted by Safeco October 27, 2016
February 20, 2017
How to Use Outdoor Lighting Effectively for Home Security
It seems like a no-brainer to leave the lights on outside your home to deter burglars while you’re away (or even while you’re asleep). But, does that really work? Or, is it just a waste of electricity — particularly this time of year, when the days keep getting shorter and shorter?
Those answers can differ depending on a number of factors. However, one thing is clear: With more than 1.5 million residential burglaries in the U.S. in 2015, according to the FBI’s Crime in the United States report, it takes more than flipping a switch to prevent property crime.
So, if you are relying on lights as part of your home security routine, be sure to put some thought into how you’re using them. Here are recommendations about when to light things up — and some instances where it may be better to go dark. Contact your local law enforcement if you’re curious about recommendations specific to your area.
When to Keep Your Lights On
There are plenty of instances when it makes sense to leave your outdoor lighting on:
When you’re home (and awake). This doesn’t simply alert people to the fact that someone is home; it allows you to see anyone approaching or prowling around outside. Having a variety of interior lights on, of course, also shows that the home is occupied and not the best target.
When you go out at night. You’ll be able to get to the door easier and unlock it more quickly when you get home — which is nice, but also important if someone happens to be lurking nearby.
If possible, combine a porch light with other lights. If you have outdoor lighting in your back yard, for example, or by the garage, use those in conjunction with the one by your front door and interior lights. This can add to the appearance that someone is home.
When to Keep Your Lights Off
Despite what many people think, having your lights on all the time likely isn’t helpful. In fact, it may actually attract burglars. Here’s when you should think about leaving them off:
When it’s light out. Exterior lights left on all day can give the impression that nobody is home. After all, wouldn’t someone turn them off during the daytime?
When you’re on vacation. The same principle applies here — if a burglar notices lights on for several days at a time, that’s a pretty clear sign that you’re gone.
When you go to sleep. This seems counterintuitive, but most residential crime happens during daylight hours, according to SecurAmerica, a firm providing security personnel for businesses, schools and residential communities. So, that porch light at 3 a.m. might not make much of a difference.
If you live in a rural area. In this instance, security lights might help burglars more than deter them by providing light to help them see. And, unlike in an urban area, there are few people around to spot them milling about suspiciously in the glow of that porch light.
An Even Better Option: Automate Your Lights
The goal of lighting, at least from a security standpoint, is to make burglars think someone is home. The most effective way to do that is through lights, both inside and out, that are turned on and off at varying times. You can accomplish this through systems that automatically turn lights on after sundown, or even new options that allow you to control lights from your phone or other mobile device.
And, don’t forget motion-sensing lights. They’re affordable, and they can startle burglars and even impair their vision in the moments after they illuminate.
Other Things to Consider
However you use your lights, it might not matter if you don’t take other security measures. For example, are your trees and shrubs trimmed, or do they instead provide cover for someone casing your home? Do you have a good relationship with your neighbors? Will they notice if someone suspicious is outside? Do they even know when you’re going out of town?
Remember, turning on your lights may only be truly effective as part of an overall strategy to keep your home secure.
April 25, 2017
Let's Keep Our Lawns - and Ourselves - Safe in Texas
For many of our neighbors in Arlington, summer means more than sunshine and vacations. It also means working in the yard - often with tools that can be dangerous if not used properly.
Each year about 400,000 people are treated for injuries from lawn and garden tools, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Don't let your landscaping efforts land you in the hospital! Follow these handy safety tips.
Tool safety tips from the U.S. CPSC
Lawn Chemical Safety Tips from Texas A&M University
From all of us at the Brenda Brown Insurance Agency, here's to keeping both you and your lawn healthy this summer!