Get Your Home Ready For Mother Nature
The holidays are over. Parents and grandparents have left the house.
You can sit back and relax and drink a cup of coffee in the quiet of your very own home.
But with all of the recent disasters mother nature has brought our way, you might want to think about more important things.
You love your home. Maybe you have lived there for 20 years. Perhaps you just purchased it a few months back.
Whatever the reason, we all need to be thinking of ways to have better insurance policies for the region we live in.
If you live in California you will want fire protection at the least. Many homes this year were destroyed by wild fires.
And most recently a large rain swept through the central coast which caused heavy mudslides.
There is nothing that firefighters can do about these mudslides.
It is mother natures way of ruining everything in her path.
When there is large fire late in the season, and a strong rain right after, it leaves a large chance for mudslides.
Homes are ruined and peoples lives are lost.
If you live in Texas you will want flood insurance.
This year we saw one of the largest hurricanes sweep over the south.
It left many towns flooded including Houston that houses millions of people.
Flood insurance and wind and storm insurance that go hand in hand with your homeowners insurance is a good idea.
Living in Florida will also leave you open to harm. When large hurricanes come through, there is sometimes no where to flee.
Don’t let this scare you, but be a lesson for those you hope to purchase homes in the future.
Let’s take a closer look at homeowners insurance and how to make your home a safer place for winter.
What is Homeowners Insurance and How Can It Help Me?
First of all, you only need homeowners insurance if you actually own a home. If you rent, you’ll need renters insurance.
But renters aren’t responsible for these large damages to a home. But you can always be better prepared.
We will talk about how preparations help as well, later on.
Basically, when you purchase a home, home lenders require you to have a minimum amount of coverage in order to protect what they are financing.
Usually this is dome with mortgage insurance. But homeowners insurance actually replaces your home when disaster strikes.
You will need it insured to pay off the loan on the home and recover damages.
So, in short, homeowners insurance is not just to help with theft and minor damages, it is there when the worst occurs.
If you pay off your home loan and you need to rebuild, you will want to make sure you have enough coverage to do this.
You have a few different types of coverage: a cash value coverage, a replacement cost coverage and a guaranteed or exceeded cost coverage.
Not every type of damage is covered by homeowners insurance. Ask your agent if you have something specific you would like covered.
What is in a homeowners policy exactly? Well, it depends on the policy and what state you live in.
Though each cheap homeowners insurance policy will differ, most policies generally cover the following:
- Damage to your home, including permanent structures on your property—unless your policy specifically excludes the cause of the damage
- Damage to personal property, meaning the items in your home that are not attached to the dwelling, due to causes outlined in your policy
- Liability coverage for legal matters or accidents that occur on your property
- Loss of use, which allows you to maintain your lifestyle at another residence while your home is being repaired without incurring additional costs
- Limited coverage for items such as stolen jewelry—the amount of coverage varies depending upon state of residence, and you always have the option to increase this coverage.
- Additional coverage available for more valuable items (jewelry, fur, silverware, etc.). If coverage above the limited coverage amount is required, a “rider” should be purchased. This coverage offers a broader range of perils.
- You can add fire, wind and storm coverage as well as flood coverage.
Fire Vs. Flood
Homeowners policies differ when you are talking about fire or about floods.
Fire insurance is usually covered in a homeowners policy but only minimally.
Again this depends on the policy and the state in which you live.
If you live in California, you are most likely to be affected by wild fires.
The same goes for large parts of the nation.
You could have the value of your belongings covered with fire insurance, but sometimes the house itself is not covered.
You will have to pay more for that.
There is also the National Flood Insurance Program called FEMA.
This is there in case a flood like Katrina, or Irma or one of the other dozen that hit our country ever year happens.
It is a good idea to get in touch with them if you live in any sort of flood zone.
A normal homeowners policy will not cover floods.
How Can I Prevent Damage To My Home?
Here is the biggest spoiler alert: You cannot prevent natural disasters. But, in many ways, you can better prepare your home and yourself for it.
During the winter, you may want to prepare your home for the snow and heavy amounts of rain.
If you live in the South or Midwest, these rains come during the summer months.
Arizona residents see most of their rain in the summer when the days get hot and thunderstorms roll around.
It makes for a beautiful picture, but is a recipe for disaster when you are a home owner.
There are many things that you as a homeowners can do to get your property ready for the different seasons.
Here is a breakdown by season of things you may want to get in order around the house.
To prepare your home for summer, you need to first think about where you live and the climate that summer brings you.
But most of the time, our climates get dryer and more vulnerable to fire.
- Cut back all brush around your home. Make sure that there is a clearance around your home or property. If you live on land, create a fire break that is at least 10 feet wide. This fire break will surround your property and better equip you for fighting off fires.
- Make sure that your home is well ventilated. Check your AC Unit to make sure it is working properly and won’t overheat.
- Keep you lawn as wet as possible without breaking the bank. Keeping the vegetation that is around your house moist, will help it not spark a fire when the sun is beating down relentlessly.
- Make sure your electrical is up to code. You are constantly using electricity, so make sure that your home will not be the cause of a fire.
- Have rules in your home such as: make sure you turn off the oven when not in use. Sit down and talk to your family about fire safety.
- Have an evacuation plan. Talk to your loved ones about the best ways to exit your home in case of a fire. Also try and come up with a short list of valuables you would want to take if this disaster ever struck.
- Having a water tank in your yard is a great idea. Storing extra water could come in handy when you need to put out small fires. Some people collect the rain from the winter and spring months and use it to water down their plants and home int he summer months. This is a very eco-friendly way to conserve water and use it all at once.
The fall is the time when fire strikes the most. Especially on the west coast.
This is because it has been hot and dry all summer long, and now things are ready to spark.
Leaves are falling and maybe moisture fills the air, but October is for sure Californias worst fire month.
- The first thing you can do is keep your yard clean and free of leaves and debris. Make sure that those falling leaves won’t help ignite your home.
- Even though the heat is fading and moisture is beginning, don’t forget about watering around your home.
- If you know of a fire nearby, water down your roof as well.
- Get your HVAv services. You should have it looked at at least once every couple of years.
- Clean your gutters and make sure all of those leaves and debris from summer months are out. You want to make sure that the water and flow clearly when it rains.
- Wind can be a huge factor in fall when the seasons are changing. Moving things away from windows will help. Rearrange your yard so that anything that can blow away is secure or brought inside.
- Have your chimney thoroughly cleaned and inspected. This could cause a fire if the chimney is not working properly. Not to mention the smoke that enters your home.
The winter months can be tricky. Flooding is always an option when you live in a state that gets heavy amounts of rain.
But also be aware of snow and the ways to prevent it from ruining your home.
Snow also melts. This leaves rivers overflowing and homes at risk. You can prevent these things, but you can have equipment ready when it occurs.
- Get sand bags and have them stacked at your home in case you need them for flooding. Often flash floods occur so quickly, you can’t help prevent damage to your home. Have sandbags ready just in case. Also, many times, the heavy rain starts in the evening and lasts all night. Do you preparations during the day so that you can rest well.
- Have a snow shovel and know someone with a machine. If you live in snow and you don’t have your own snow machine, find someone on your street who does. Have you ever been blocked in by large amounts if snow. Has your car stopped working. Be prepared. You can also ask your neighbors to go in on a snow machine together and everyone can share its use.
- In the winter, make sure you clear out the garage so your car can be parked. There is nothing worse than freezing out your engine or waiting 30 minutes for your windows to be cleared of ice. Park in the garage this winter.
- Have an exit plan when it floods. If you live in an area with high rain, know how you will get out.
- If you live in a hilly or mountainous area, know that mudslides are extremely dangerous. Have a plan, and when the city tells you to evacuate, listen to them!
- Cut back all dead branches and tree limbs around your home. Winter storms can get very windy. Make sure your house is free of trees falling and branches breaking windows.
We often think of spring as birds chirping and flowers blooming.
But the spring can be a time when snow is melting and water levels start rising. Growth of plans and trees allow for over growth and fire danger.
There also tends to be large amounts of water pouring down from the sky.
So as we take the time to appreciate the beauty and renewal of what spring represents, let’s make sure we are equally prepared for the damages that come with it.
- Once again, make sure you clean your gutters. The winter wind most likely whipped some things into your gutter than are obstructing flow.
- Drainage is very important in the spring. Make sure that your yard has drainage. Water damage to your home can be expensive to fix. And even though your homeowners insurance policy might cover water damage, if you can prevent it from happening all the better.
- Keep your lawn mowed and bushes trimmed. Spring is a time for growth. The grass gets a little wild and things start growing up the sides of your house. Keep these things in check. Why? Because before you know if the sun will start heating things up, and these will all be fire hazards. One reason that fires are so dangerous in the summer, is because in the spring, the grass grows tall, is never cut, then turns dry and acts as great tinder for the fire season.
- Check the foundation vents around your home. Most likely there are leaves or gunk obstructing these vents.
- Test all of your smoke alarms in your home. Go get yourself a fire extinguisher. Or if you already have one, make sure it is up to date and still working.
The bottom line is, we never know what mother nature is going to do.
One thing we do know is that she is capable of some intense fires and flooding.
Not to mention wind and snow.
So be prepared for any season and be humbled by the power of nature.