The Airline lost my baggage! Will my homeowners or renters policy cover my stuff?

I don’t know why but I’m on a “stuff” kick lately! Last week I wrote about how to take a home inventory of your contents for your home or renters policymom-to-do-list.jpg. I’m still in the process of taking my own home inventory so you’ll want to stay tuned about the experience I am having. It does take some time, so unless you actually dedicate one whole day to figure out what program you are using and enter it all in an app or computer program it’ll take a day or so. My problem is I’m in the middle of packing for a trip, getting a kid ready to start high school, get dinner ready for my family of giants and trying to maintain the household all at the same time. Sound familiar to anyone? I know it is extremely important to have this list so I need to step up my game and get it done. Get with it Val!

the crewThis weekend I’ll be heading out of town for a relaxing weekend with my best friends from high school! The four of us have kept in touch through the years and have gone through; out of state moves, weddings, and babies, and have seen each other at those happy occasions.  BUT, we haven’t really gotten to spend quality time together since we were home for break in college. palm springs weather.PNGWe’ve rented a house down in Palm Springs or as my husband likes to call it Palm 39, for the weekend. Which I just checked the weather by the way, and it’s going to be 109 down there!!! Why would I leave the 107 heat we had last week to go to another town that remains in triple digits??  I’m still asking myself this, but the house we rented has a pool and AC so we will be just fine. The point is to hang out with each other and continue to build on the relationships we have made through the course of our lives. I for one am pretty excited to see my friends!

Whenever us women go out of town a great deal of planning is involved. I know for me, I have to make lists for myself of what to pack, what to buy etc but also to make sure my boys are taken care of at home with food and also that my doggies have enough food so they won’t have to go to the store for any reason.The-25-Best-Travel-Memes-22 There are other things I have to plan for such as making sure my son is able to get to and from school the days that I’m gone, and then any sporting clinics, practices, tryouts etc have to be figured out too. This week also happens to be the first week of school so I’ve got to make sure he has his books, new clothes and all of the other stuff together he needs to start school. Starting high school is expensive! As you can see from the caption, men have it much easier when it comes to prepping for a trip!

After I get out of the house, the last thing that I want to deal with is lost luggage at the airport. Who wants to deal with that? Not me! I haven’t actually had this happen to me (knock on wood) but it’s happened to numerous friends and family members. What a big stink! Just the thought of getting off the plane and then not seeing your bag circle baggage claim is terrifying to me. Not just because you don’t have your stuff but because now you are stuck not knowing where it is or when you will get it back, and now you don’t have clothes or makeup, heaven forbid!girls packing problems Not that I would need makeup in Palm Springs this weekend, it would melt right off my face! But, I would feel totally helpless. I also hate flying so any other stressor on top of hating to fly would not be good. I know some of you may say, just carry on! I have never been a good packer so I have never been able to fit all of my stuff in those little suit cases to carry on the plane. I need to have clothing options people!

girls packing.jpg Hopefully the airline will recover your bag and deliver it to you in a timely manner but some times they don’t and it’s never recovered. Did you know your homeowners or renters policy may cover the cost of your lost items. Your personal property aka “your stuff” is covered anywhere in the world. So the companies may pay for your lost items. The companies do not pay for the time or man power to recover the items but they will pay for your belongings – IF you have a homeowners or renters policy and IF those policies are active and the contents lost are within your policy limits. Again, every loss is investigated and up to the insurance company, but your contents are covered anywhere in the world and the loss would be subject to your deductible. So if your homeowners deductible is $1000 and the contents that were lost total out to $500 then you would have to replace those items yourself.

If you are planning on taking some items that are higher in value you may want to make sure they are specifically listed or “scheduled” on your policy. A homeowners policy or renters policy has set limits built into your policy for jewelry as a whole which typically start at $1500 for all of the jewelry you own. If your wedding ring or a watch (for you men reading this) is $5,000 and you do not have the ring or watch listed to it’s value and your ring or watch is lost or stolen at the airport then the company will only pay out $1,500 and again it is subject to your deductible. If that $5,000 ring or watch was listed to value then many companies would replace the lost or stolen item without a deductible.

knowlege is powerPrepare yourself as much as possible, and when you do that you’ll have a lot more peace of mind when you travel. I know I do! Knowledge is Power! If you have an upcoming trip and have questions about scheduling items to value, or changing your deductible give us a call. Remember if you are scheduling a specific item there will be required documents from the company such as photos, and a current appraisal or receipt if you just purchased the item. Give yourself enough time before you leave if you are adding additional coverage.  If you have questions about a situation like this it is always a good idea to give us a call and talk about it.

The more you know, the better protected you’ll feel. You’ll have the peace of mind knowing you are protected. NEVER ASSUME! The insurance is in place to protect you from financial hardship. So if you are a constant traveler or just a weekend traveler and have worried about lost or stolen luggage give us a call and talk to us about it. You may find you’d like to lower your deductible or increase your deductible, or you may end up deciding you shouldn’t take specific items on your trip. For me, this weekend includes hanging out by the pool with my best friends so I’m just packing swim suits, sunscreen and maybe a giant flamingo floatie I got on amazon for the pool! Why not!?

American Diversified Insurance Services, Inc

A: 201 Natoma St Folsom, CA 95630

P: (916)985-7500 F: (916)985-7302 T: (916)389-1820

E: info@amerdiv.com W: www.amerdiv.com

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Do you really need to take an inventory of your stuff?

home_inventory1This summer is the first summer in our new home. That means we have a new neighborhood and new neighbors. Any time you move you never know how the neighbors will be. Luckily we have met several of our neighbors and we cannot complain at all! Not only do we have great neighbors but our little community does all kinds of cool stuff together throughout the year!

One of the events is a community wide garage sale. Apparently this garage sale has been held every June for over 20 years. Each house (and there are about 200 homes in our community) is invited to participate, and from what we were told there have been lines of cars coming in and out of our neighborhood with shoppers.

AWESOME! Now, since we had moved in a few months prior we had accumulated quite a bit of stuff and this was the perfect opportunity to get rid of it. For weeks before the sale my husband and I went through everything. We had piles of stuff for the garage sale, piles to take to Goodwill and then piles to just dump! The night before the garage sale we stayed up late organizing our things and pricing them in anticipation of the huge lines of cars and shoppers we were told would arrive.

garage sale photo The next morning we were up at the crack of dawn setting up. By 7:30 we were ready for business. About an hour later we started to get a steady flow of people, but nothing had been sold. As we sat there just looking at our things we couldn’t help but wonder what is wrong with our stuff? Customers would walk up and down our driveway with their hands behind their back just looking and walking out of our yard. We didn’t have typical junk items at our sale. Our stuff ranged from snowboards, to art and fashion an electric fireplace and more. Yes they were all gently used but in great condition. These items were things we no longer had room for, couldn’t fit into or we simply wanted to change out decorations in our bedroom, family or living room. We had expensive art work that is still in style but was too girly for my husband, the snowboard was perfectly fine but our 14 year  old “man child” had grown out of it after one season. Yes I may be biased that our stuff wasn’t junk, but it really wasn’t. It was still sell-able.

So then we started to wonder if our items were priced too high. price markdownWe took off all of the price tags and just told everyone to make us an offer on items they wanted. I had a clothes rack set up with a bunch of nice dresses and expensive jeans that I didn’t want (or couldn’t fit into) anymore. They weren’t terribly worn and when I bought them new they were worth a pretty penny. I knew I wouldn’t get full or even half price and totally low balled the figure myself but I had a lady offer my .50 for my $120 pair of jeans. I looked at her and said no, and I thought I would rather give it away to someone who needs it for free than take .50 for it. I was blown away after that, and after about three hours we had barely sold anything.

At the end of the day we had only made $46.00, and as we thought we had a horrible day our neighbor across the street only made $43.00. So we didn’t feel as terrible. Our neighbor had told us that this particular year was the worst turn out he had ever seen and no one was buying anything. For the amount of work we did I am not in a rush to participate next year. mean girlsI was annoyed that after all this work, no one wanted our stuff it wasn’t even about making money. It made me feel like my style and taste was terrible and I live in a house of junk. I felt violated almost like I was being personally attacked, and took it personally a little. It was that feeling of the “mean girls” back in high school for making fun of your outfit. I did feel better after hearing my neighbor’s story but still, so much work for nothing…OUCH!

The good news is that we did clean out our home and organize it so the Goodwill will be getting a hefty lot from our household! Keywords, “will be” the piles of unsold garage sale items still sit in our garage two months later, I guess I should work on that, but it has been way too hot to hang out in the garage and clean it! I did end up $46.00 richer than I was the day before. So it wasn’t a total loss.

Home Inventory importanceNow that my house is a little less cluttered it is a great time to take an inventory of the items we own. Why would I need to take an inventory of my personal belongings? Well because should you ever have a loss either by natural disaster, fire, theft, vandalism, poor renovations, old pipes, etc and your belongings are stolen or damaged the insurance company will want a list of those items to help repair or replace whatever was stolen or damaged. How many of us can actually say we have a home inventory list? Or what about those receipts or appraisals for higher value items? Confession – I don’t even have an inventory list yet. What I do have are appraisals for some jewelry items for my husband and I but that is about it.

If we were to have a fire and our home was damaged the insurance company will ask us what we had in our home to try and replace the items as best as possible. If I don’t have a list I can tell you at that moment after a loss my brain, or anyone else’s brain, probably won’t be working clearly to write out a detailed list for my adjuster. You also want to make those lists and total the amount of coverage you’ll need for all of the items in your home. Even if you are not a homeowner, your renters policy will still provide you personal property so you’ll want to make sure as a renter that you do have a renters policy and figure out if you have enough personal property coverage.

I am talking about going through everything people, each room from top to bottom and even in your drawers and closets. Think of it this way, if you took your house and dumped it upside down everything will fall out. This is all of your personal property. Document everything, and take photos. You can even make a video and just walk around your house with your smartphone or video camera and walk through each room and go through the closets. The more information you have the better your insurance company will be able to pay out your claim.

There are also many apps, free and paid, that you can download on your phone to help organize your inventory. If you don’t have a smartphone you can create an excel spreadsheet or just write out on a piethe cloudce of paper each room and list out each item, the approximate purchase date and the value. When you have completed your inventory you’ll want to store it in a safe place, and possibly save it on your computer, or store it in a safety deposit box at the bank. If you have an emergency kit place a copy of your home inventory inside the emergency kit so if there is an emergency the inventory will be there. Or put in in the cloud, whatever that is.

You will also want to call your agent and check your coverage options. Some companies will only pay the Actual Cash Value for those items otherwise known as ACV, but many companies will provide Replacement Cost of your personal property and may charge a small additional premium for it. But that additional premium is well worth it if you have a loss down the road.

Example: you have a couch that is 10 years old or even 5 years old and your home has a total loss from a fire like this one. total loss house Your policy is ACV so you will get what your 10 year old or 5 year old couch is worth with depreciation which probably wouldn’t be anything. This would be equivalent to garage sale or Craig’s List prices. Versus if you have replacement cost the company would look at what it would cost to purchase a new couch just like it.

Make sure that with your higher value items you save your receipts and if applicable get updated appraisals every couple of years. If you have some items that are of higher value you will want to ask your agent about specifically listing them on your home or renters policy. This is most common with jewelry and artwork and called “Scheduling” in the insurance world. We have had many customers schedule artwork, rugs, oriental carpets, signed sports memorabilia etc. This is also something you want to do if you have a collection. Our agency does work with a company that insures only collections. That is all they do so they know everything there is to know about insuring collections. Your collections may not be covered or only partially covered under your homeowners policies so you will want to check the conditions of your policy to find out.

Take a look at your garage too! If you are into cycling, bikes can get pricey so make sure you ask your agent to see if you can schedule your bike or any other expensive piece of sporting or exercise equipment. The bottom line is you want to make sure you are covered in case something were to happen. Remember, insurance exists to protect you against financial hardship. So, take an inventory and put it in a safe place so if heaven forbid, something happened you are prepared. Stay tuned for my next post about how I will complete my home inventory and find out which smartphone app I used! It’ll most likely be a free one, cause I hate spending money on apps!

American Diversified Insurance Services, Inc.

A: 201 Natoma St Folsom, CA 95630

P: (916)985-7500 F: (916)985-7302 T: (916)389-1820

E: info@amerdiv.com W: www.amerdiv.com

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Why does my homeowners insurance company ask about my dog?

There are dog people, and cat people, and animal lovers, and non-animal lovers. I am a dog person. I do love all animals however dogs are my thing. Ever since I was a little kid I’ve always had a dog. My family tried the cat thing but our orange tabby cat Pumpkin had a mind of his own and decided he hated us and went to live with our neighbor. Come to find out our elderly neighbor had been feeding him table scraps, so excuse us, Pumpkin for giving you kibble. (I’m not upset about it still or anything)

T&D Anyways, I’m a dog person. Currently I have five of them, yes five. Before I met my husband, Mike, I had gotten two Bullnese puppies. For those of you who do not know what that is I’ll tell you. It is a mix of a French Bulldog and a Pekinese. Their names are Tank and Drama and they are awesome! Then a few short years later I met my husband who is also a dog person. When we met he had three dogs! Two Pocket Pit Bulls, Bella and Meatball (Meaty for short) and a French Mastiff Cavali, who were all girls. bella and meaty Luckily mine were boys so we didn’t have that territorial alpha dog situation – well kinda. However, the Mastiff was the Mama and all of the doggies didn’t mess with Mama! See she was HUUUGGEE!

four doggies Sadly we lost our beloved Cavali as she was 9 years old, which is really old for the French Mastiff breed. Man, what a heartbreak that is! I only knew her for a little portion of her life but you become attached. And then there were four. Remember I told you I had five dogs?

One chilly November evening Mike and I had an appointment to go check out a new house. This particular house was right by his job and he fought me on going to this appointment because he didn’t want to be THAT close to his work. Me wanting to keep the appointment to at least check it out convinced him to go. As we approached the house we noticed that the tenant is still in the process of moving out, NBD (No Big Deal). However we were told by the owner that they hadn’t been to the house in a few weeks to finish moving out. As we walked in the house was covered in filth and we instantly thought “Let’s get the heck out of here!” Mike was right, I should have cancelled!” I kept thinking to myself as we both exchanged those glances of the I told you so smirks. Now we were in the thick of it and had to go through with this appointment. We walked all through the house pretending we were interested and were so grossed out that all we wanted to do was leave. Ok, I understand they were moving but this was different.

This house was laid out where the garage was towards the back of the house by the backyard. We had peaked out into the yard and saw more filth and piles of garbage, gross. As we were just about to wrap up and leave something inside me made me think about the garage. I thought, “Oh let’s just check out the garage, ya know just to be polite.” So I walked to the back of the house and outside through the filthy yard and up to the garage. My husband followed and I got to the door on the side of the garage and opened it.

Out sprinted this tiny little alien! Mind you it was dark and I got my phone out to turn my light on. What I saw upset me more than the filthy house we had just walked through. A tiny Chihuahua who looked like a furry skeleton was jumping at my feet. My first instinct was to pick it up, Val what are you thinking! This dog could have rabies, or some other sort of illness! I honestly forgot all of those things my mother taught me because the state of this little animal was so disturbing. I took off my jacket and wrapped the little dog into it and began to inspect her. I didn’t see any signs of disease other than extreme malnutrition. Mike checked out the garage and he saw no food or water, just empty bowls and stool everywhere. This poor little thing had been left to die, in the cold of November. She maybe had a few days left, which is sad but the truth. While I held her in my jacket we walked around the house looking for food or anything she could eat but there was nothing. My husband and I could not and would not leave her there. The owner of this house had no idea that the tenants had a dog. He was reluctant for us to take the dog because of the worry of a lawsuit but clearly this dog was unwanted. We were able to get the phone number of the tenant and as expected they didn’t want her. So we again have five dogs. Our first initial thought was to find her a good home because we already had the four, but as dog people we feel in love and couldn’t let her go. Not to mention our son was super attached by day 1. IMG_2442

Here she is on night one, and then exactly one week later. Her name is Little Bee and we’ve had her for about seven months and she is already a healthy and feisty little Chihuahua. Our vet told us she was about 8 months when we found her and extremely malnourished. Oh and she doesn’t have rabies or any other disease, Thank God! We have finally gotten her fat enough for her to be spayed and she gets along great with her brothers Tank and Drama. We haven’t yet introduced her to the bigger girls. She is a bundle of energy and hardly never settles down. littles nappingShe still has major food issues, but her anxieties are starting to fade away. One lazy Sunday I had the three little ones with me watching TV, and it happened. She crawled onto my lap and onto my chest and laid down to nap.  I couldn’t believe it. Seeing the healing process for her has been so rewarding, because getting her acclimated was not easy!

So, what does this story have to do with insurance? Well I’ll tell ya! Just like in our own lives dogs play a huge roll in homeowners insurance. In fact they play a huge roll, so huge as in they may or may not deny coverage. Have you ever called in for a quote and been asked if you have any pets? Why would this matter?

It matters because Insurance Carriers may not insure you if you have a dog on their excluded dog breed list. Yes, there is such a thing. Not all carriers are the same too. Some will insure your home and provide you liability but they will exclude your dog(s) meaning they will not provide coverage for a loss caused by your dog. Other insurance companies will straight up deny coverage. For instance, Pit Bulls are on that list.

Remember I have two! For me, finding a homeowners company is a bit more challenging and ultimately more expensive because I have two dogs that are at the top of the excluded list. The policy will be more expensive for me because I am no longer eligible in their preferred products. You see insurance companies offer homeowners products (or policies) that are either for preferred markets, or non-standard markets. Just like for auto policies, a preferred policy if you are a good driver and non-standard policy if you aren’t such a good driver. Companies can offer just one type or they could offer both. We have a carrier that offers both preferred and non-standard and in the non-standard all animals are automatically excluded. The non-standard policies are more expensive because of the higher exposure to risk.

Let’s take a look at the most common breeds that are on the excluded lists:

  • Pitt Bull Terriers
  • Rottweilers
  • Presa Canarios
  • Chow Chows
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Akitas

Some carriers may have more breeds or less breeds on that list, so you’ll have to check with your specific company if you aren’t sure. If you have one of these dogs I am not here to debate how good, sweet, lazy or calm your dog is. I get it, I have two and I do love them, they are part of my family. I will just be spending more money on homeowners insurance.

Statistically insurance carriers have spent hundreds, thousands and even millions of dollars on dog related claims. So the stats are unfortunately against them. According to an article in Psychology Today, In 2013, dog bite related claims accounted for more than 1/3 of all homeowners liability claims totaling to about $490 million. They continued to state that the average payout was $30k and that was four years ago! If you’d like to read the whole article click here.

Any kind of attack can happen at any time. You cannot plan it. The attack could also be towards another dog not just a person. If your neighbor is walking by with their dog and your dog gets loose and a fight breaks out you are liable and could be sued for any injuries your dog may have given to the other dog. Or at the dog park, suddenly the fur kids aren’t getting a long and then boom, fight, then boom, lawsuit. This could happen with any breed of dog, even those not on the excluded dog list.

val's pack If you are thinking about getting a puppy in one of those breeds and you already have homeowners insurance, the company may end up non-renewing your policy. Occasionally the company will do an inspection upon your renewals and they will notate if you have a dog on the excluded list. It’s always best to be smart and contact your agent to discuss options if you want to get a dog on that list.

Mike and I continue to work daily on training and taking care of our pack. little bee Again, we are dog people. We will probably always have dogs. They bring such joy to you and become part of your family. They are our fur kids. Even if you aren’t a dog person you cannot deny that animals are helpless and shouldn’t be dumped in an abandoned garage. They don’t deserve that, Little Bee didn’t deserve it. If you have an animal that you cannot take care of please take it to the SPCA, or call the animal shelters or foster homes in your area. I knew there was a reason I fought to keep that home appointment. A life was saved, and I am thankful for that. My wallet isn’t that happy but it’s worth it! Besides, who doesn’t love this face!

 

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American Diversified Insurance Services, Inc

A: 201 Natoma St Folsom, CA 95630

P: (916)985-7500 F: (916)985-7302 T: (916)389-1820

E: info@amerdiv.com W: www.amerdiv.com

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