- Electrical & Lighting
- Dryers and Washing Machines
- Children Playing with Fire
- Christmas Trees
Here are the eight most common causes of house fires as identified by the National Fire Protection Association.
Many people live blissfully for years, even decades, without any sort of home inventory. But in the bad year when you have extensive house damage, lack of an inventory can cost you dearly. If you have a large homeowners insurance claim - from a fire or tornado, for example - and have no home inventory, you'll probably have a hard time reconstructing from memory a list of everything you owned. This ultimately means you won't be able to receive reimbursement for everything to which you're entitled. After all, you won't make a claim for items you forgot you had.
Insurance is one thing nearly all Americans have but hope they’ll never need. If you drive a car, you have auto insurance. If you own your home, you have homeowners insurance. If you rent your residence, you should have renters insurance. But just having insurance isn't enough, especially when it comes to homeowners insurance.
There were about 364,500 residential fires in 2011, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. That’s nearly 1,000 residential fires a day and a total monetary loss of more than $6.65 billion. Billions of dollars are lost each year to fires, and that only concerns property loss. There are millions of hours lost to collecting information, filing claims and proving the losses so that homeowners can get paid by the insurance company. That’s where a home inventory checklist comes in. In the event that you do experience a loss, whether it’s due to fire, theft or some other catastrophe, a home inventory list can save you precious time and money when filing a claim.
When you make a claim, you need to provide information about what was lost. This is extremely difficult to do right after experiencing a loss. If someone broke into your home, ransacked your house and stole some of your valuables, you’re stressed out, you don't feel safe and you're worried that it could happen again. Now imagine trying to figure out what the person took! Some things will be obvious, like a missing television, but others won't be as visible at first glance, like jewelry. Figuring out what items are missing is much easier if you have a list of everything in each room of your house. Running down your checklist would make the process less stressful and faster, so you can go about the business of returning back to normal life.
First, walk around and record a video of the contents in your home. Get close up to expensive electronics, and try to capture as much information as possible. It will take some time to compile a proper inventory, so until then you can use this video as a substitute. Next, you need to decide how you will store your home inventory. You can use a tool like Know Your Stuff from the Insurance Information Institute or put together a simple spreadsheet. Walk through every room of your house, and take plenty of pictures. Take photographs of the room, of expensive items in the room and any identifying information such as model numbers and serial numbers. Go back to your tool and enter in as much information about each item as possible. Then store it in a safe place, such as in a Dropbox account or folder in your email, so that it can't be damaged or stolen.
If you move items from room to room, update your inventory. If you recently received some gifts because of the holidays or a birthday, update your inventory. It’s important to update it at least once a year, and more often if you receive or purchase expensive items. An outdated home inventory is better than no inventory, but you might as well spend a little time to keep your list up to date, which could relieve some future stress if you come to need the list.
Your insurance policy has a limit on how much of your personal property it will cover. If you find that the contents of your home are particularly valuable, you may want to increase your coverage so that you are protected in the event of a theft or fire. Note that some items are not covered or are only covered with low limits under a standard insurance policy. For example, many insurance policies have limits on items such as collectibles and jewelry. You will want to get separate insurance riders for those items.
A home inventory is a very inexpensive and easy way to save you a headache and precious time, so do yourself a favor and start one today.
Did you know that cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and injuries? Since we spend a lot more time indoors during the winter, the kitchen becomes a hub of activity even more so than usual. According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, 75% of range fires are started by food ignitions, and 43% start with fish or meat.
To reduce the risk of fire, stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. Never leave pans unattended on the stove and always keep a lid close by to smother out any small grease fires. A full 63% of stove fires start when someone is frying food. If a fire does flare up, place the lid over the pan and turn off the heat. When simmering a pot on a low heat, check frequently to make sure it doesn’t boil over or that the contents don’t burn.
Should an oven fire ignite, keep the door closed and turn off of the oven. Once the fire is out, open the door and carefully dispose of the charred remains.
Keep towels (paper and cloth) away from open flames and keep a fire extinguisher close by in case of a fire.
Most people know that the average homeowner's insurance policy does not cover jewelry and artwork. But what about your special tools and electronics?
If your home sits by the ocean, atop a fire-prone canyon or even in a not-so-nice neighborhood, you probably know you're paying more for homeowners insurance. But your personal credit score may also be driving your monthly payments higher. Lower credit scores are widely known to impact mortgage availability and rates, but what most home buyers don't know is that they also increase the cost of homeowners insurance.
Homeowners with poor credit pay 91 percent more for homeowners insurance than people with excellent credit, according to a new report from Bankrate.com in conjunction with insuranceQuotes.com, part of Bankrate Insurance. Homeowners with median credit pay 29 percent more than those with excellent credit. "This is another example of why credit is such an important part of your financial life," said Laura Adams, senior analyst with insuranceQuotes.com. "Maintaining a good credit history suggests that you're a less risky customer and can lead to several hundred dollars in annual homeowner's insurance savings."
Unfortunately, no one insurance plan will fit you for the rest of your life. The amount and types of coverage you need often change from year to year, or even more often. Some of your assets – like your home – will probably need more protection over the years, as rebuilding costs rise and you make improvements. Other assets will need less protection as they age.
When it comes to insurance, the most important thing you can do is stay informed — and keep your agent in the loop. Let him or her know about any changes to your assets and stay up-to-date on the policies you have, as well as any you may need. It will take time, but if you ever have to make a claim, you won’t have to wonder if you’re covered.
Did you know that approximately 33% of home burglaries are committed without the use of forced entry during the workday when no one appears to be home?