Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Vacation Proof Your Home—Take Steps To Avoid Surprises

It’s vacation season. All year you’ve been looking forward to spending time at the beach, in the mountains or traveling overseas. A lot of time has been invested in researching flights, booking hotel rooms and finding the best sights to see.
You also need to spend time preparing your home for your absence, whether it’s a few days or a month. There are a few steps you can take to make your home safer and lower utility bills at the same time.

Air Conditioner
An air conditioner accounts for about half of your annual electricity bill. Every degree you turn up the thermostat will save you 2 percent on your cooling costs. Turn up your thermostat to 85 degrees. Doing so will still protect your plants, furniture and other belongings without running up your energy bill.
Water Heater
Why run up your utility bill heating water you’re not going to be there to use? Set the temperature on your water heater to “Vacation” mode. Most new water heaters are equipped with such a setting.
A Continually dark house, both inside and out, can signal to a burglar that no one is home. Put the lights you want to use as security lights on variable timers. If you need help finding easy to use timers, visit your local home center and ask for help.
Don’t leave a message that you are out of town on vacation.
If you park your car in the driveway normally and are leaving it while on an extended trip, arrange for a friend or relative to drive it so that it looks like it is being use (and so cobwebs don’t develop, a sure sign that no one is home).

Firearm Insurance: How Does Your Homeowner’s Policy Cover Guns?

Firearm Insurance: How Does Your Homeowner’s Policy Cover Guns?

In Texas, many of us have extensive collections of firearms. Often, we see firearms that have been passed down through generations. These guns are expensive to buy and replace!
My uncle is one such person who has many inherited firearms. His collection is valued at $11,000. I asked him how he chose to insure his gun collection and he told me his insurance company had it covered under the personal property section of his policy.
What he didn’t know was the personal property coverage is subject to the home’s deductible, which is $3,800 in his case. If he experienced a total loss to his firearm collection, the insurance company would only be responsible for $7,200.
Some insurance companies have optional endorsements you can add to the policy for firearm insurance. For the most part, these endorsements will lower the deductible, but they will only cover the gun collection up to a certain point.
In my Uncle’s case, if he had added the gun endorsement, it would have only covered the collection up to $6,000. In the event of a total loss, he would have been out $5,000.
There are some insurance carriers that allow you to schedule firearms. This means that you can cover the guns for the needed amount at no deductible. If my uncle were able to schedule his collection, it would have been covered for the full $11,000. In the event of a loss, he would have had no deductible.