Does Homeowners Cover Damage to My Belongings While Moving?

Does Homeowners Cover Damage to My Belongings While Moving?

You packed everything carefully for the move to your new place. But sadly, your mug collection didn’t make it. Who’s at fault and how can you make sure that your belongings are fully covered? 

Here’s what you need to know about homeowner’s insurance, what’s covered and what’s not during a move.


First, let’s start at home.

Your homeowner’s or renter’s policy covers your belongings (owned or used by you, the insured) when they are anywhere in the world. You are covered under personal property coverage. If your possessions are stolen, or damaged by fire/smoke or any of 16 named “perils,” your policy will pay for them subject to your deductible. Not everything is a named peril; for example, breakage and missing items do not qualify. Also, there are dollar limits for theft of certain items, such as jewelry and firearms. 

You may choose the replacement cost or the actual cash value (ACV) for reimbursement in personal property coverage. ACV is the amount the item is worth, minus depreciation for its age. It will cost a little more for a policy that provides replacement cost since that is higher than ACV. 


When does your policy cover a move?

The good news is that both homeowner’s and renter’s policies may provide coverage when you are moving your belongings if you move yourself instead of hiring movers. (Your insurance won’t cover damages when your property is in the possession of a third party, like a moving company.)  Importantly, the loss still has to be related to a covered peril. So, if your belongings catch fire, that would fall under covered perils. You could file a claim for reimbursement. Depending on the state and the policy, items in a storage unit damaged by named perils could be covered, but limited to 10% of your coverage C limit.

You will need to get a separate liability policy, such as relocation, trip transit insurance or special perils content coverage. You also can get a floater policy for valuables. For example, you can insure for breakage of art glass windows, glassware, statuary, marble, bric-a-brac, porcelains and similar fragile articles. Your insurer will cover loss by breakage if caused by: (1) fire or lightning; (2) explosion, aircraft or collision; (3) windstorm, earthquake or flood; (4) malicious damage or theft; or (5) derailment or overturn of a conveyance. 

Your rental truck contract may provide coverage that includes cargo protection. Your basic auto policy does not extend to renting “trucks” so you will need to purchase additional insurance.  


When doesn’t your policy cover a move?

Your homeowner’s or renter’s policy will not cover damage caused by your movers. Nor will it cover items lost by your movers. You’ll have to contract with your moving company for that type of coverage. The coverage that moving companies provide is not technically insurance and not governed by state insurance laws. 

The federal government requires movers to offer two types of protection if you’re moving out of state. These include full value protection and released value protection. Full value offers replacement value for your lost or damaged possessions. Released value offers only limited protection. Some movers offer a separate liability coverage through third-party insurance company.

What to do before a move

    • Review your moving contract. Understand what’s covered and what is not.
    • Determine the type of coverage you need for your possessions, if any.
    • Some circumstances will limit your mover’s liability. For example, if you packed your items, and they are broken enroute, it’s possible you will not get paid even if you purchased their moving coverage. Perishable and hazardous materials also aren’t usually covered. 
    • Check with your state moving association to know the rules and regulations in your state, or in the state where you are moving.
    • Talk to your insurer to know what your homeowner’s or renter’s policy covers, and to make sure that you will have full coverage in your new home.
    • Visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety website for resources and tools to help make it a smooth move.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

How to Save Money on Utilities

How to Save Money on Utilities

Utility bills aren’t cheap. On average, Americans spend more than $4,400 per year on gas, electric, water, and other home-related services. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help reduce that cost. We’ve compiled a list of some small changes that can really add up over time. Read on to find out how you can save money on utilities this year.

#1. Heating and Cooling

Heating and cooling your home accounts for more than half of the energy that you use. Reducing this cost can make a big impact.

    • Use a programmable thermostat. Set the temperature lower while you’re away from home and at night while you’re sleeping. Just make sure it is still comfortable for any pets you may have and that it’s warm enough to protect against frozen pipes.
    • Use fans. They cost less than your furnace or air conditioner and can help with both heating and cooling. For heat, adjust your ceiling fan so it turns clockwise. That will push warm air down. For cooling, switch it to turn counterclockwise to bring cool air down. In warmer months, try plugging in floor or pedestal fans rather than turning on your air.
    • Change the filters for forced air furnaces, heat pumps, and air conditioners. A clogged filter makes your system work harder, which is more expensive. 
    • Keep your room’s air vents clear and open. Your system also works harder when vents are closed or blocked by furniture. Use your vacuum’s brush attachment to clean any dust around the vent. The more your system can “breathe,” the more efficiently it will work.
    • Trim back bushes from your outside air conditioning unit. Remove debris touching the system. It needs at least a foot of space.
    • Seal air leaks around doors and windows. This helps keep warm air in during the winter and cool air in during the summer.
    • Check your attic’s duct work. It may be allowing warm or cool air out. Make sure you have proper insulation and that there are no air leaks at seals and joints.
    • Turn the heat or air off completely in the shoulder seasons. Run it only when it starts to get uncomfortably warm or cold. 


#2. Electricity and Lighting

The average electricity bill in the U.S. is $115 monthly. That’s nearly $1,400 a year. Fortunately, there are simple ways to reduce this cost.

    • Turn off lights when you are not using them. 
    • Change light bulbs to energy efficient varieties. Compact fluorescent light bulbs and LED bulbs are the most energy efficient. They cost more upfront but last longer and save energy. Pro Tip: If you don’t have the cash to replace them all at once just replace bulbs as they burn out.
    • The electric company charges more for peak use times, so try to use electricity at off peak hours. Run your dishwasher or do your laundry late at night or early in the morning to save some money.
    • Seal your electrical sockets so warm or cool air doesn’t escape.


#3. Appliances

We depend on our appliances to make life easier. However, by changing just a few of our habits, we can continue to use them and save money at the same time.

    • Turn off electronics that are plugged in but not being used. This includes TVs, computers, coffee makers, and toaster ovens. When these electronics are plugged in, they still draw electricity and you’re charged for it. 
    • Use appliances wisely. Wait until the dishwasher is full to run it, and do the same for your washing machine. Reduce stove or oven cooking time by thawing foods and cutting vegetables into small pieces.
    • Avoid opening the fridge to browse. Each time you do, you’re releasing cold air and forcing your refrigerator to work harder to get back to temperature. If you have a second refrigerator, in the garage for example, you’re paying twice. Get rid of it if you can.
    • Lower your water heater temperature. The default temperature is 140 degrees, but if you drop it down to 120, you’ll still have hot water and save money.
    • Do laundry in cold water.  It will save on hot water heating costs.
    • Clean the lint trap in your clothes dryer to help improve efficiency and prevent fires. Pro Tip: Use dryer balls, which can reduce drying time by up to 25%.
    • Replace old appliances. New appliances are more energy efficient and will save you money over time.


#4. Water

Your water bill depends upon where you live and how much water your family uses. Make sure to use your water wisely.

    • Replace old, inefficient toilets with more efficient brands. This will save you gallons of water and money on your bill.
    • Take shorter showers to cut down on your water use. Invest in a more efficient showerhead that uses less water.
    • Fix leaky faucets. A dripping faucet can add a lot to your bill for water you’re not even using.
    • Turn off hot water when you are not using it. This will help reduce water use and heat.
    • Set the water level on your washer to match the size of the load, so you’re not overfilling it.


#5. Phone, Internet, and Cable

If you’re like most Americans, you spend a lot for your phone, internet, cable, and other viewing services. You want to make sure that you get value for your money.

    • Ask your current provider for discounts. If they don’t provide them, shop around for cheaper providers. Call on a weekday. You’ll have a shorter hold time and probably reach a higher-level rep to help you. Pro Tip: Don’t say yes to the first offer. Most likely, you’ll then be offered a better deal.
    • Determine which services you really need and cut those that you don’t use.
    • Buy your own equipment rather than renting it. You’ll save money in the long term.

You also can lower your home insurance costs. At California Casualty, we offer discounts for nurses, educators, and first responders and through bundling your coverages. Contact your insurer to find out more.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

Everything You Need to Know about Your Home’s Air Filters

Everything You Need to Know about Your Home’s Air Filters

You probably don’t think much about the air you breathe in your home, but maybe you should. That air can be filled with tiny debris- including dead skin cells, pollen, dirt, and bacteria, and breathing too of it much over time could be unhealthy. Fortunately, your home’s air filters trap these particles, helping keep your whole family healthy.

What exactly is floating in the air?

    • Dust – We see it on our tables and abandoned trinkets on our mantle, but where does dust come from?  The bulk of dust varies home to home, but basically dust is ‘anything that can flake off’ including dead skin cells, pet fur, food, dirt, pollen, pieces of books, carpet upholstery, debris from outside, etc. If not properly cleaned, mold, bacteria, and dust mites are all likely to inhabit dust and pollute your air.
    • VOCS – Your furniture, your belongings, and the building materials in your walls also give off gases. These are known as VOCs, volatile organic compounds. They are floating in the air and affect your air quality. You probably also are breathing in gases released from cooking and cleaning. In addition, pollutants can travel in from outside. You might even have mold if there is humidity in your home. 

You won’t necessarily smell or see any of these, and exposure to these particles is pretty much unavoidable. Over time, these compounds can build up in your system and lead to illness. That’s why air filters are so important. They can trap alot of the unhealthy particles. (They won’t however trap mold. You will need a separate treatment to get rid of the source of the moisture and remove the mold.)


What are air filters?

Air filters resemble rectangular cardboard frames filled with a material that looks and feels like pleated or woven coffee filters. When air is forced through the filter, the particles become trapped in the material. You’ll find air filters in your heating and cooling system, and as part of your furnace. Typically, a house will have one or two intake vents that require an air filter but you may have more depending upon the number of floors.  


One size does not fit all.

Air filters come in different standard sizes and thicknesses. The measurements are printed right on their frames. Check the size of your vent openings so you’ll know which ones to buy. Air filters work best when they fit snugly. That way air goes through it and doesn’t leak around it. However, you should not have to bend or crush the filter to make it fit. While filters range from about one to five inches in thickness, most HVAC systems are built for one-inch thicknesses.


What are air filters made of?

Air filters are made from various materials, which allows them to collect different-sized particles. Most filters are disposable but there are some that are considered permanent and can be cleaned and used again. Here’s what you might find at your local hardware store:

    • Disposable fiberglass: The most common type, this collects bigger particles. 
    • Disposable pleated: This is made of cotton or polyester, and is able to pick up large and small particles. It is the most affordable.
    • Disposable electrostatic: This type has electrically charged fibers to collect smaller particles. It is slightly more expensive than the disposable pleated.
    • Permanent electrostatic: This type is washable and can be reused. While you need to clean it regularly, you also will need to replace it every 6-8 years. It’s more expensive than disposable filters. 
    • High efficiency pleated: This type is thicker than many others, as much as 4-5 inches, which doesn’t work for a lot of systems. It can trap the smallest particles, and is more expensive. 


How good are they at trapping particles?

Air filters come with a rating scale that tells how well they trap particles. This rating is called MERV, short for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. MERV ratings were established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioner Engineers. 

    • MERV 1-4 provides the basic level for the lowest cost.
    • MERV 6-8 offers good filtration and is most commonly used in homes.
    • MERV 9-12 is above average and can trap smaller particles.
    • MERV 13-16 offers the highest quality and removes particles as small as 0.3 microns.

It’s important to note that the higher the MERV rating, the lower the airflow. That means your system will have to work harder, which could be more expensive and also lead to a shorter system lifespan. Consult a professional HVAC technician to provide a recommendation for your system and needs.


How to change your filters

Changing an air filter is quick and easy. Follow these steps. Use a ladder if the vent you are trying to reach is high up.

    • Turn off your furnace. 
    • Locate the filter compartment. Remove the door or service panel. 
    • Slide the old filter out and put the new one in.
    • Use a rag to clean any dust on the vent. 
    • Repeat with intake vents throughout your home.
    • Turn your furnace back on.


What if your filter looks clean when you go to change it? 

    • Check and make sure it’s fitting well with no gaps. 
    • Make sure it’s not upside down. Arrows should point toward the fan or your system.
    • Try a filter with a higher MERV rating to catch more.

How often should you change your filters?

A clean air filter makes your heating and cooling system more efficient. This can save you money, as much as $9-$22 a month. Manufacturers usually recommend changing your air filter every 60-90 days. However, if you have pets or allergies, you may want to replace them more frequently. Create a calendar alert so you will know when to change yours.

Pro Tip: Hold your filter up to the light. If you can’t see light through it, it is time to change it.

In addition, you may want to add pet-friendly plants that also help with indoor air quality. Finally, make sure to protect your home with the right insurance for added peace of mind. After all, your home is your greatest investment.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

Does Renter’s Insurance Cover Your Laptop or Phone?

Does Renter’s Insurance Cover Your Laptop or Phone?

If you’re like most people, you can’t go a day—much less a couple of hours—without your cell phone or laptop. They’re an integral part of our lives. That’s why we want to keep them safe, and if something happens to them, we want to make sure we can get a replacement without spending a fortune.

That’s where insurance comes in. Renter’s insurance protects your personal belongings like cell phones and laptops. However, the protection only extends to certain situations and at certain levels. Here’s what you need to know.


Personal Property Coverage

The part of renter’s insurance that protects your cell phone and laptop is personal property coverage. Personal property coverage covers your possessions for certain risks called “perils.” (See the next section for the list of covered perils.) If your laptop and/or phone are stolen, or damaged by fire/smoke or other covered “perils,” your policy will pay for them, minus your deductible. 

With personal property coverage, you choose the amount of coverage based on how much your stuff is worth. The good thing is that your possessions are insured whether they’re at your place or away from it. So, if you’re traveling with your phone or laptop, they’re still covered for those named perils. However, there are limits for these items when they are in your car, so it’s recommended that you not leave them there to avoid broken car windows and theft.


Covered Perils

The list of covered perils can vary based on your policy. Common covered perils include: fire, lightning, smoke damage, explosion, windstorm or hail, riot or civil commotion, theft and vandalism. If it’s not listed on your policy, it’s not covered.

Wear and tear and negligence are not covered by renter’s insurance. Therefore, if your phone or laptop is old, if you misplaced it, or you caused the damage, it won’t be covered.


Replacing Your Phone or Laptop 

Your policy will specify either actual cash value or replacement coverage for your personal property. Actual cash value is the amount the item is worth, minus depreciation for its age. It will probably not be enough to replace the item. Replacement value is the amount that you would need to purchase a similar make and model. It will cost a little more for a policy that provides replacement coverage.



A deductible is the amount that you are responsible for, before the policy pays anything. So, before you get reimbursed for your possessions, you pay the deductible out of your pocket. Your deductible could be $250, $500 or more. You have a choice on the amount of the deductible. The lower the deductible, the more expensive the policy.

In the case of your cell phone, it’s possible that the deductible may be close to the cost of replacement. If your deductible is $500 and the cost of a new phone is $550, it may not make sense to file a claim. You’d only get $50 from the insurance company, and it’s likely that filing a claim can raise your future premiums.


Policy Limits

Your policy does not have a limit for how much it will pay for a laptop, cell phone or personal electronics, unless they are left in your car. In that case, the maximum your policy will pay for all of the electronics combined is $1,500. If your electronics are worth more, consider adding extra coverage to your policy.


Personal vs. Work 

Personal electronics, including laptops and phones, will be covered by your renter’s policy. However, for work laptops and phones, there is coverage on the renter’s policy for business property.  Business property on premises is limited to $2,500, and $1,500 away from the house but not in a car, and similarly at Starbucks or the library.   

If you own your laptop and phone, and you use them for your home business, you need to insure them for that purpose. You can do that with a home business endorsement to your policy. If your employer owns the laptop or phone, they will likely determine who replaces or repairs them. Your insurer can add an endorsement called Special Computer Coverage that will provide the computer with open perils (covered unless excluded). This is only for computers and not cell phones.


When You File a Claim

You can file a claim for any of the covered perils. If your phone or laptop is stolen, you will need to file a police report. Your insurer will then order a copy. If your phone or laptop is damaged, you will need photos of the damage. Your insurance company will request the date of purchase, and where you bought your electronics. If you have photos of the owner’s manual, that can help prove that you own the computer or phone. A claims adjuster will talk you through the process. It typically takes weeks so you will need to make arrangements for a temporary replacement for your phone or laptop.


A Final Word

Not all renter’s insurance is the same. Some policies cover more than others and costs vary. Check with your insurance provider to find out the options.

Renter’s insurance is surprisingly affordable. For as little as $10 a month, you can get a renter’s policy at California Casualty. The cost varies depending upon the coverages you choose, the deductible, your financial responsibility score, and multipolicy discount. Even your location can have an impact. Areas with higher crime rates will have higher insurance rates. 



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

Home Insurance 101

Home Insurance 101

You’ve bought your dream home and it’s time to get it insured. You want to choose the right coverage to fully protect your investment. While you have a basic idea of what home insurance probably covers, you may not know the particulars. 

A homeowner’s policy is actually a “package” of coverages. It protects your home from specific events that can damage your property, and provides additional living expenses if you are unable to live there due to an insured loss. It also protects your personal belongings. In addition, your homeowner’s policy covers you for lawsuits or liability claims that might otherwise be your responsibility if you accidentally injure other people or damage their property. Here’s the breakdown from A to Z (or in this case, F).


Coverage A: Dwelling

Dwelling coverage refers to the structure of your home. This includes the roof, walls, floorboards, cabinets, and bath fixtures. The easiest way to think about it is that if you could tip your house upside down, the dwelling is everything that remains attached.

What is covered: This insurance covers open perils. That means a loss is covered unless it’s excluded by your policy. Coverage A generally covers direct physical loss due to fire/smoke, lightning, windstorms and hail, explosions, vandalism and theft. If one of these perils destroys your home, your insurance provider will pay to rebuild it up to your policy limits. 

What is not covered: If it is listed as an exclusion, it is not covered. Typically, natural disasters such as flooding and earthquakes are not covered by dwelling coverage. You can add these coverages with a separate policy or an endorsement added to your property policy.  


Coverage B: Other Structures

If your pool is in the ground or installed permanently above the ground on your property, it is covered under Coverage B – Other Structures. This is an insurance term describing a detached structure on your property. Other structures include pools, fences, gazebos, sheds, etc. However, if your pool is above-ground but portable, it is considered part of your personal property and covered by Coverage C – Personal Property insurance. 

What is covered: This insurance covers open perils. That means a loss is covered unless it’s excluded. 

What is not covered: Typical exclusions include flood, earthquake, or wear and tear.  For other structures, the coverage limit is generally set at 10% of your home’s coverage limit. That means if your home is insured for $200,000, the coverage limit for your detached garage would be $20,000. For an additional premium, you can add an endorsement to increase your coverage.


Coverage C: Personal Property

Personal property coverage protects your possessions, such as furniture, clothes, sports equipment, and other personal items. Again, if you could tip your home upside down, everything that would fall out is considered personal property. This coverage protects these items whether they are in your house or off-premises.

What is covered: If your possessions are stolen, or damaged by fire/smoke or any of 16 covered “perils,” your policy will pay for them subject to your deductible. For personal property coverage on a homeowner’s policy, you typically get 50 or 75% of Coverage A, the total amount of coverage for your home. You may choose replacement cost or the actual cash value (ACV) for reimbursement. ACV is the amount the item is worth, minus depreciation for its age. It will cost a little more for a policy that provides replacement cost. 

What is not covered: There are dollar limits for certain items, such as jewelry, firearms, animals, cars, planes. See your policy for a full list. You may choose to purchase additional coverage to ensure your valuables are fully insured. 


Coverage D: Loss of Use

If your home is damaged in a covered loss, it may not be livable. If that’s the case, you would need to stay somewhere else. Loss of Use, also called Additional Living Expense, covers you for any necessary increase in living expenses, such as lodging, food, and gas.

What is covered: Your policy will provide a flat percentage toward living costs, usually 30% of the Coverage A amount. 

What is not covered: Some states have time limits on when you can use this coverage. Payment will be for the shortest time required to repair or replace the damage, or if you permanently relocated, the shortest time required for your household to settle elsewhere.


Coverage E: Personal Liability

Personal Liability protects you if a claim is made or a suit brought against you for bodily injury or property damage caused by an occurrence to which coverage applies. Liability covers you at your place or anywhere in the world. 

What is covered: If you are found liable, the policy will pay up to its limit of liability for damages for which an insured is legally liable. This can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and permanent scarring. The policy also provides a defense in court, if needed, for the policyholder. This is at the insurance company’s own expense.  

What is not covered: You are only covered up to your policy’s limit. Coverage starts at $100,000 but should be increased to a minimum of $300,000.  You want to consider how much the home and all of your assets are worth and select an amount up to $1,000,000. If you have a pool, hot tub, trampoline or other attractive nuisance which is likely to attract children, consider adding an umbrella policy for additional coverage.


Coverage F: Medical Payments & Other

If you are not liable, but your guest was injured through his/her own fault, then Coverage F – Medical Payment to Others may cover your guest’s medical bills. 

What is covered: Under Coverage F, the insurance company will pay the necessary medical expenses to a person injured on the insured location with the permission of an insured, or off the insured location if the injury is caused by the activities of an insured or caused by an animal owned by an insured.

What is not covered: You and your family are not covered. This is only for guests, and they are only covered up to the limit of your policy.


A Word About Deductibles

Generally, the higher your deductible, the lower the cost of your insurance premium. Since the deductible is the amount your insurance provider will subtract from an insurance payout, you’ll want to select a deductible that you’re comfortable paying out-of-pocket after a loss.  


Common Home Endorsements

You may add specific endorsements to your homeowner’s package of policies for additional coverage. Here are some of the most popular ones.

Scheduled personal property (SPP) Coverage is for items that have higher values above your personal property coverage limits. This includes heirlooms, watches, jewelry, instruments, and furs. SPP offers much broader coverage for your precious items – if you misplace a set of earrings, they are covered; if a diamond falls out of a ring, or a guitar breaks, they’re covered. There is no deductible if the covered items are stolen, lost, or damaged. Insurance pays the lowest of the four options: repair, replace, actual cash value or the amount of insurance.

A Water Back Up and Sump Discharge or Overflow Endorsement covers two potential losses: (1) if the sewer backs up into your home via the sewers or drains or (2) if your sump pump overflows or discharges. The amount of coverage and the deductible vary by states. The endorsement comes with a maximum amount of coverage ($5,000 or $10,000) and its own deductible ($250, $500 or $1,000).  

Home Day Care Coverage: This extends your liability coverage to those in your care. Most states require you to have it for licensing, and parents also may request to see proof of this coverage.

Refrigerated Property Coverage: When there is a power outage, the food in your refrigerator could spoil. A standard homeowner’s policy may cover the costs of replacing some of the food. A refrigerated property policy provides additional coverage. A refrigerated property policy adds up to $500 of coverage for property, such as meat that spoils because of a power outage or equipment failure.

Special Computer Coverage: With everyone working remotely, computers have become our lifeline. Consider a special computer coverage option to ensure you are covered for your devices: desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smart phones. With this coverage, you will receive more money for your devices if they are damaged than with traditional homeowner’s.

Permitted Incidental Occupancies: If you have a home-based business, this endorsement increases the coverage for your business property. This includes furniture, equipment, and supplies.

Ordinance or law coverage helps you bring your home up to current building codes for repairs and/or rebuilding.

Identity fraud coverage covers the expenses associated with identity theft.

Remember that you can ask for ways to lower your home insurance costs when you purchase a policy. You may be eligible for group discounts. There are discounts if you have a burglar/fire alarm. There also is a cost savings and convenience of paying in full with most policies. 



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

Pin It on Pinterest