If a Tree Falls on my House, Am I Covered?

If a Tree Falls on my House, Am I Covered?

When storms and high winds take down trees, it can be frightening. If you’re not covered for the damage- the bill can be pretty scary, too.  

If a tree fell on your home tomorrow, would you be covered by your insurance policy? Whether or not a fallen tree is covered depends on what caused the tree to fall and where it fell. Here’s everything that you need to know.

 

If a healthy tree falls on your home…

Strong winds can cause even healthy trees to fall. When a tree hits your house, your garage, your deck, your shed, or your fence, your homeowner’s policy usually covers the costs of repair. That also includes the cost of tree removal. Of course, you have to first pay your deductible. Check your property contract to see what is covered. There may be a cap – a maximum paid per tree. Finally, an annual policy review is a good time to review your coverages, before anything happens.

 

If an unhealthy tree falls on your home…

It’s a little different with diseased or dying trees. They’re more likely to fall—with or without a storm. As a homeowner, your responsibility is to check the trees on your property, trim the branches, and make sure the trees are healthy.  If a diseased or dying tree falls on your home as a result of a severe storm or high winds, your policy most likely will not cover it. 

 

If a tree falls but does not hit your home…

If a tree falls and doesn’t damage anything, that’s great (and lucky) news! However, a downed tree is considered a hazard and you are still responsible for removing it from your property. Unfortunately, in this case, your homeowner’s insurance does not cover that tree removal. The only exception is if the fallen tree is blocking a driveway or a ramp for someone who is handicapped. But proceed with caution – before you remove the tree, check with your local regulations. There are laws that govern tree removal in some states, and you may need a permit.

 

If your neighbor’s tree falls on your home…

It’s not uncommon for a tree in your next-door neighbor’s yard to fall on your home. If it’s a healthy tree that got knocked over in a storm, your policy will likely pay for damages just as if the tree fell from your own property.  However, in this case, your insurer may go through your neighbor’s insurance provider for payment, and if that’s what happens, you will be reimbursed for your deductible. One word of warning: If a tree falls because your neighbor cut it down incorrectly, that’s on him to pay for damage and tree removal. Insurance does not cover that.

 

If a tree falls on your car…

It makes sense if you think about it. Homeowners’ policies do not cover trees that fall on cars. Car insurance policies do—but only those policies with comprehensive coverage. Check to make sure that you have comprehensive coverage so that you will be covered in the event of a fallen tree.

 

What To Do If A Tree Falls

    • Assess the damage. Be careful and watch for fallen power lines as you do so.
    • Determine who may be liable for the damage. 
    • Contact your insurance company if you believe you have a claim or if you are unsure.
    • If you have a claim, make sure not to move anything until you have spoken with your agent. Take and submit photos or videos of the damage from all angles. Your insurer will guide you through the process.
    • If you do not have a claim, you may still be responsible for removing a tree. Before contracting with a tree removal service, ask for proof of insurance. The company will then be responsible for any further damage they may cause.

 

Avoid a Disaster By Keeping Your Trees Healthy

    1. Water your trees regularly but don’t overwater. Consult a garden reference to determine how much water your species needs.
    2. Add mulch around the base of your trees. This will help protect the roots from weather conditions. It also will keep your mowers from bumping into the roots or the trunk.
    3. Visually inspect your trees for signs of disease. Look for discoloration and stunted growth or signs of pests. Mushrooms growing at your tree’s roots also can indicate decay.
    4. Remove any dead branches or large limbs that look like a liability. Prune your trees during the winter months.
    5. If you are removing a tree- be careful where you dig, as root systems of large trees can extend two to three times farther than the branches.

 

 

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 www.calcas.com.

Fall Appliance Maintenance

Fall Appliance Maintenance

Is there anything more frustrating than your washing machine breaking down in the middle of a cycle or your refrigerator dying in the middle of the night? Appliance repairs are not only inconvenient – and seem to only happen at the most inconvenient time – they can also be expensive. Fortunately, regular maintenance can help keep your appliances in good working order for years to come.

No one wants to deal with a broken device in the dead of winter… that’s why fall is the perfect time to do a quick check on all your appliances. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a master mechanic; most of these maintenance tasks are easy to do on your own.

 

laundry

Laundry Room

Dryers need proper airflow in order to function. When the filter or exhaust is blocked, the heat buildup can cause a fire. Nearly 17,000 clothes fires are reported each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Keep your dryer from becoming a fire hazard by following these steps.

    • Unplug your dryer if it’s an electric model. If it’s a gas model, turn off the gas.
    • Pull the dryer away from the wall and detach the dryer duct, the flexible tube connected to the back of the dryer.
    • Vacuum inside the duct and in the vent.
    • Go outside your home and locate the exterior dryer vent. Remove the cover and vacuum in there as well.
    • If your dryer vent is a long one, and the vacuum doesn’t quite get at the lint, you can buy a dryer vent kit that has brushes and tools to get inside.
    • Inspect your duct for cracks or tears. If you see any, repair them with aluminum tape. (Do not use duct tape. Despite the name, duct tape does not work well with the heat of the dryer.)
    • Reattach the duct.
    • Remove the lint screen and vacuum in and around it. If it’s clogged, you can scrub it with warm, soapy water and then dry it with a towel before placing it back.
    • Find the moisture sensor. It’s usually a thin metal bar below the dryer door. Clean it with a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol.

 

Washers benefit from regular maintenance. Not only will this help avoid breakdowns, but also leaks which can cause major water damage to your home. Regular care also will keep your machine clean and your clothes smelling fresh.

    • Look for cracks, bulges, or leaks in your water hoses. That means you will need to replace them. Your owner’s manual also may recommend a timeframe for replacing hoses even if there is no damage.
    • Make sure your washer is at least four inches from the wall to prevent hoses from twisting.
    • Clean the lint collector, which is usually found near the center agitator tube or near the top of the machine.
    • If you have a front loader, wipe down the door and rubber gasket area.
    • Clean the soap scum buildup from your washing machine. Architectural Digest recommends this process using vinegar and baking soda.

 

kitchen

Kitchen

Dishwashers can build up debris over time which can cause odors. Doing a deep clean periodically can help keep things fresh.

    • Remove your racks and inspect them for chips or exposed metal. If you see any, you can buy special touch-up paint to help prevent rust.
    • Check and clean your dishwasher drain.
    • Remove and wash the filter.
    • Run a wash cycle with a dishwasher-safe cup filled with vinegar on the top rack. Use the hottest water setting available.
    • Sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher and run a short cycle.

 

Refrigerators can work harder than they have to, if not properly maintained. Plus, a clean refrigerator helps keep your food safe from germs.

    • Your refrigerator’s coils could be clogged with dust, dirt, and pet hair. Use a handheld vacuum to remove this debris. You’ll find the coils either at the back of your fridge or underneath the front.
    • Check the seals on your refrigerator’s doors. Make sure the door gaskets are “gunk-free.” This could affect the seal.
    • Check the temperature to make sure that the fridge is at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer is at 0 degrees. You can buy a refrigerator thermometer if you have an older fridge without a temperature gauge.
    • Your ice maker and water dispenser usually have filters that need changing. Check your manufacturer’s guide for instructions.
    • Listen to your fridge. If it makes a loud sound, it may require some maintenance. (Fridges should have low-level hums that are barely noticeable.)

 

Stoves and ovens are well used during the fall and winter months, especially for holiday meals. Make sure yours are all in good working order.

    • As you cook on your stove, the range hood draws the cooking steam upward and traps grease particles in its filter. This food-flavored grease attracts pests, so you’ll want to make sure it’s cleaned regularly. Home Depot offers the following steps to clean your range hood.
    • Clean stovetop drip pans underneath your burners.
    • Make sure the oven has a tight seal; otherwise, it could be losing heat. That will cause food to take longer to cook or cook unevenly. Feel along the seal that lines the door. If you find any broken, torn, or deformed areas, replace the seal, also known as a gasket.

 

Garbage disposals can host harmful bacteria or grow mold. This Old House suggests this approach: Pour a half cup of baking soda into the disposal. Wait 30 minutes, then pour in one cup of white vinegar. Let the mixture foam for 3 minutes, then rinse with hot water. Finally, grind up two cups of ice and a cup of salt while running cold water. You also can grind lemon peels at the end for a fresh scent.

 

heating

Heating

Furnaces have a lifespan of 20-30 years when properly maintained. Fall is the best time to check to see that your furnace is working properly before the cold weather descends.

    • If your furnace is the kind that pulls air from outside, make sure that nothing is blocking the outdoor vent.
    • Check that the ducts and vents are free of debris and dust, and securely fastened.
    • Check the filter(s) and replace as needed.
    • Know the signs that indicate you may need a new furnace. These include frequent breakdowns, a rise in energy consumption, and inconsistent heat where one room is cold and another hot.

 

Call a professional if you are unsure about maintaining your appliances. If you need to replace an appliance, it’s always good to get at least 3 bids. Make sure the bid includes the removal and disposal of the old appliance.

Your appliances aren’t the only devices that need to be checked in the fall. Help keep your HVAC running smoothly and your pipes thawed all winter by checking out our blog on fall maintenance for your home systems.

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 www.calcas.com.

 

 

 

How to Put Out a Fire Without an Extinguisher

How to Put Out a Fire Without an Extinguisher

You’re used to seeing fire extinguishers in public buildings such as offices and schools in case of an emergency. But would you be prepared if a fire broke out at home?  Almost 400,000 home fires happen every year in the U.S., causing thousands of deaths and millions of dollars in losses, but still,1 in 4 Americans say they don’t have a fire extinguisher in their home. 

While you may not be able to predict a house fire, you can protect your family by being prepared. That includes owning fire extinguishers, knowing how to use them, checking your smoke alarms, and having a family disaster plan. 

If you are one of the families that currently doesn’t own any fire extinguishers – we strongly recommend purchasing one as soon as you can. Don’t worry, there are other steps you can take to safely contain a small home fire. Here are some helpful home fire safety tips and guidance.  

 

Know not all fires are the same.

Some fires are oil-based. Others are sparked by electricity or chemicals. Still, other fires are non-chemical. The way you put out a fire depends upon the type. It’s very important to know the kind of fire. In some cases, if you choose the wrong way to try to extinguish a fire, it could make it even worse.

 

Here’s how to put out a cooking fire.

Kitchens are common places for home fires. When you turn on your stove, you ignite a flame. If that flame combines with cooking grease, a fire can erupt. Fires also can easily start if you leave a stove unattended and the food or liquid in the pan or pot starts to burn. 

Water will not work on kitchen fires- which are oil or grease-based. Upon contact with the oil, the water molecules quickly heat to steam and cause the oil to explode in all directions. 

The best way to put out a cooking fire is to “snuff it out”. You want to cut the flow of air to the fire. Here are some options:

    • If the fire is small enough, cover it with a metal cooking lid or cookie sheet. Keep it covered until it has cooled.
    • Cover the fire with a fire blanket, a large piece of fire-resistant material such as fiberglass. 
    • Don’t swat at the flames. This could create airflow and make the fire worse, or ignite your clothes.
    • Pour a large quantity of salt or baking soda over the fire. Make sure it is salt or baking soda and not flour. Flour adds fuel to the fire and will cause it to burn (or even explode).
    • Turn off any heat source.
    • If your fire is in the oven or microwave, keep the door shut. While it may look scary, the lack of air will eventually extinguish the fire.

 

Here’s how to put out a chemical fire.

Many common household items are chemical-based and highly flammable. This includes alcohol, rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, products in aerosol cans, nail polish and remover. Exposing any of these chemicals to an open flame is dangerous. Even doing your nails near a lit candle can spark a chemical fire.

Chemical fires are similar to cooking grease fires. You never want to use water to put out a chemical fire. It could cause the fire to spread. 

Here’s how to handle a chemical fire:

    • Cover the fire with a fire blanket. 
    • Pour a large quantity of baking soda or sand on the fire. 

 

Here’s how to put out an electrical fire.

There are many possible causes of electrical fires. They can start due to overloaded circuits, faulty electrical outlets, and outdated appliances. Worn or frayed cords can cause heat to reach flammable surfaces in your home such as curtains and rugs. Installing a light bulb with a wattage that is too hot for the fixture can ignite fires. Electric space heaters also are known for starting fires when their coils are placed too close to couches, curtains, bedding, and rugs.

Never use water to put out an electrical fire. Water conducts electricity, and if you douse an electrical fire with water, you could be electrocuted. 

Here’s some guidance on how to put out an electrical fire.

    • If it is safe to do so, unplug the device causing the fire. 
    • Turn off the electricity on the house’s breaker box.  
    • Smother the flames by pouring baking soda onto them.

 

Here’s how to put out ordinary fires.

Ordinary fires involve paper, wood, clothing, trash, or plastic. This type of fire may occur if you knock over a candle or get a spark from the fireplace.  

Unlike the other fires, these do respond well to water.

    • Grab a bucket and fill it with water. Douse the flames.
    • If you’re dealing with a wood-burning fireplace, you may wish to skip the water. That will create a mess and spread ashes throughout the room. Consider spreading out the logs and embers, and covering them with sand or baking soda.

 

Don’t try to put out a large fire by yourself.

If the fire becomes larger or out of control, you do not want to try to contain it. Your safety comes first. Get out of the house and call 9-1-1. 

 

A fire extinguisher is a good investment for your home. 

Finally, if your home does not have a fire extinguisher, you should invest in one. Fire extinguishers use either water, foam, dry powder, CO2, and wet chemicals to extinguish fires. Some use a combination. The basic classifications for home use include:

    • Class A – This type is used on any fire that may be extinguished with water.
    • Class B – This type is used for flammable liquids and grease fires.
    • Class C – This type is used for fires involving electrical equipment.

Review your coverage with your homeowner’s insurance to know how you are covered in the event of a fire. 

To help prevent fires in your home, see our blog on home fire safety tips.

 

 

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 www.calcas.com.

Ways to Lower Your Home Insurance Costs

Ways to Lower Your Home Insurance Costs

The holidays will be here before you know it, and having extra cash on hand is always appreciated. One unexpected place you might find it is with your home insurance.

We’ve compiled some well-known — and lesser-known — ways that you can save money on home insurance. Follow these tips to lower your bills just in time for the holidays.

 

Raise your deductible.

The deductible is the amount that you pay before the insurance company pays a claim. Higher deductibles mean lower payments. According to NerdWallet, you could save 20 percent by raising a $500 deductible to $1,000. If you do increase your deductible, make sure that you can cover the costs of repairs should something happen.

 

Ask about discounts.

You may qualify for insurance discounts for being part of a professional association, such as groups for teachers, nurses or first responders. There are also discounts for being retired, for paying via automatic bank payments, and for paying in full upfront. You may qualify for a new home discount, or a discount if you have updated your utilities (electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling) in an older home. There are discounts for a new roof and an automatic sprinkler system. You can even be rewarded for being a loyal customer.

 

Remove attractive nuisances.

You may be paying extra for high-risk items. These attractive nuisances are potential dangers that could attract kids and cause injuries. Examples include trampolines, swimming pools, and playground equipment. If you are willing to get rid of these items, it may lower your payments.

 

Skip a payment.

Some insurance companies allow you to skip payments around the holidays. At California Casualty, you have the option to skip payments in either November/December or in December/January. (You also have this option to skip in the summer.) Ask your agent for details.

 

Take care of minor repairs.

Your home insurance policy can take care of both major and minor damage from a covered loss. But sometimes it’s easy enough to take care of those minor repairs on your own, out-of-pocket. That way you’ll avoid filing a claim and if you remain claims-free for a period of time, that qualifies for a discount, too.

 

Buy home and auto insurance from the same company.

When you bundle your home and auto insurance, you can often qualify for reduced rates, saving hundreds of dollars.

 

Make your home secure and disaster-resistant.

The better protected your home is, the less chance that there will be a claim. That’s why disaster-proofing and securing your home can save you in insurance premiums. To protect against disasters, consider storm shutter, impact-resistant roofing. Having a fire extinguisher could earn you a discount. For enhanced security, a burglar alarm and deadbolt locks can earn you discounts. While some of these repairs and updates are expensive, they will pay off in the long run. Remember that flood and earthquake insurance are not included in standard homeowner’s coverage. However, you can make home improvements that reduce their cost as well. Importantly, you will need a new home inspection before new rates can take effect, and you may need to pay for it.

 

Check your credit score.

Your credit score indicates your ability to pay your debts. Missing payments, not having a long credit history, and high credit card balances could create an unfavorable credit score. A credit score under 630 could increase your insurance rates, according to NerdWallet. You can get a free credit report once a year from the three credit agencies, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Check your score, and take actions to improve it.

In addition, in some states, you can get your credit-based insurance score, which indicates how likely you are to file an insurance claim. If you are eligible for that report, you can find it at CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) from LexisNexis

 

Review your insurance limits annually.

If your insurance is billed to your mortgage bank, you may not think much about your annual premiums. But it’s a good idea to review your policies annually to make sure you’re not paying for coverage that you no longer need.

 

 

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 www.calcas.com.

 

Fall Maintenance for Your Home Systems

Fall Maintenance for Your Home Systems

We don’t think much about our heat, electrical, or plumbing until they stop working…

Like a regular health checkup, a home system checkup includes routine maintenance that can help prevent costly repairs and future emergencies.

Homeowners, follow our checklist to keep your home systems running smoothly all season long.

 

fall

HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) System

The HVAC system is responsible for heating and cooling your home. Regular maintenance can help lower your utility bills, increase your system’s lifespan, and ensure you are breathing healthy air.

    1. Check the air filter. If it’s dirty, it will make your furnace work harder. Clean or replace the filter every three months.
    2. Clean the air vents. You can vacuum the vents to help prevent blockages. If you suspect there’s a buildup of dirt and grime, consider scheduling an air duct cleaning.
    3. Vacuum lint from the clothes dryer vent that leads to the outside of your house.
    4. Adjust your programable thermostat for heat rather than air conditioning. If your thermostat takes batteries, replace them at this time.
    5. Cover the outdoor air conditioning unit once you no longer are using it for the season. That will protect it from the weather, dirt, and debris.
    6. Rotate your ceiling fans’ blades clockwise in cool months and counterclockwise in warm months to keep heat moving in a direction that minimizes the effort of your HVAC system.
    7. If you haven’t done so this year, schedule an annual professional checkup to make sure your HVAC system is in good working order.
    8. Even the best furnaces don’t last forever. You may need to replace your furnace after 10-25 years.

 

 

fall

Plumbing System

A plumbing system delivers fresh water to your sinks, bathtubs, toilets, and other fixtures. It also takes away water and waste to a sewer or septic tank. Regular maintenance will help prevent issues such as leaks, clogs, and frozen pipes, which can be disruptive and costly.

    1. Clean drains in your sinks and tubs by pouring half a cup of baking soda followed by half a cup of white vinegar.
    2. Remove mineral deposits from your showerheads by filling a plastic bag with vinegar. Secure it with a rubber band over the showerhead and leave it overnight. In the morning, you should be able to wipe any buildup away.
    3. Clean your garbage disposal to prevent it from hosting harmful bacteria or growing mold. This Old House suggests this approach: Pour a half cup of baking soda in the disposal. Wait 30 minutes, then pour in one cup of white vinegar. Let the mixture foam for 3 minutes, then rinse with hot water. Finally, grind up two cups of ice and a cup of salt while running cold water. You also can grind lemon peels at the end for a fresh scent.
    4. Flush your water heater to remove any mineral buildup. You can find instructions online or call a professional.
    5. Check your faucets inside and outside to make sure they are not dripping or leaking.
    6. Check under the sink for any leaks or stains, which could signal water damage or mold.
    7. Check any exposed pipes in your home for leaks and seal them. Insulate pipes in places that aren’t heated.
    8. Disconnect outside water hoses to prevent them from freezing. Turn off underground sprinkler systems.
    9. Clear debris from your
    10. Call a plumber if there are issues.

 

 

fall maintenance

Electrical System

An electrical system powers your lights, appliances, and more. Working around electricity requires knowledge and skill to take the proper safety precautions. If you’re unsure of how to do something, consult a trained professional.

    1. Inspect your breaker panel. Check for signs of corrosion. Flip the breakers on and off to make sure they move easily and do not stick. (Make sure first to alert members of your household that you are switching off electricity so they can prepare accordingly.)
    2. Test your outlets. You can buy a cube or block tester at any hardware store. You simply plug it in, and it lights up to indicate common issues. Also, test each outlet for tightness. Outlets may wear out over time. Finally, consider installing tamper-resistant outlets in any areas where children may be able to reach.
    3. Place your hand on outlets and light switches to check for excessive heat. Also be aware of any “hot wire” smell when a light is on or an appliance is plugged in, or popping and cracking sounds. These indicate that you may need to replace that outlet or switch.
    4. Look at exposed wires and cables in your basement and other areas of your home. If you notice damage, replace them.
    5. Make sure exterior outlets are covered so that they are not damaged by the weather and animals.

 

 

fall maintenance

Security System

Your home security system protects you from threats. No matter what system you have, a semi-annual check can keep it in top working order.

    1. Inspect your sensors. Make sure they are firmly attached to windows or doors. Try to set off a motion sensor to ensure it is working properly.
    2. Replace batteries if your system uses them.
    3. Check lighting and replace bulbs as needed.
    4. Make any adjustments needed to the camera angles. This is a good time to clean the lens.
    5. Trim bushes that have overgrown and might provide cover for a thief.
    6. Tighten loose screws in gates, door hinges, knobs, and locks.
    7. Check your warranty or contract to see if you qualify for an upgrade.

 

 

fall maintenance

Home Fire Safety Systems

Home fires spike in the fall and winter. Being prepared is key and could save your life if you are the victim of an unexpected house fire.

    1. If you have not done so already, purchase smoke alarms that also function as carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon Monoxide is a poisonous, odorless gas that claims over 400 lives each year.
    2. Install detectors on every level of your home, including inside of bedrooms and in common rooms.
    3. Test and change batteries in older detectors or alarms.
    4. Replace them after 10 years.
    5. Have a disaster plan in case of a home fire and keep all other fire safety materials, like fire extinguishers, in well-working condition.

Take the proper precautions to avoid winter home hazards and keep your home in good working order this season.

For more fall maintenance tips click here.

 

 

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 www.calcas.com.

 

 

Common Moving Mistakes

Common Moving Mistakes

It’s time to make a move. Whether you’re heading across town or going cross-country, moving yourself or hiring movers, you want an organized, stress-free experience.

What’s the secret to a smooth move? Avoid these common moving mistakes.

 

Mistake #1: Choosing the wrong moving company

There are reputable companies, and there are ones that put out misleading information. There are even plenty of moving scams. Choosing a sketchy moving company not only won’t save you money but it could end up costing you plenty. Know the warning signs. Avoid moving companies that only give phone estimates and/or require large deposits. Skip the ones that only offer non-binding estimates (a quote based on estimated weight of your things). That means they could be planning a much higher bill at the end. Be suspicious of moving companies that have similar names to well-known national brands but are not them. Finally, avoid any mover without an address.

All moving companies that move across state lines must have a DOT number. Ask for it and then look it up in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration database. Make sure their information matches what they told you.

 

Mistake #2: Not getting an estimate in writing

It’s hard for a mover to give you an accurate estimate without seeing your belongings in person. That’s why a mover that only provides a phone estimate is probably not reputable. Insist on a mover who visits your home and gives an estimate in writing. It’s always best to get three estimates. Make sure to read the fine print, and think twice about choosing the lowest bid. If possible, choose a mover that offers a binding not-to-exceed estimate. That means you won’t be charged more than the estimate and may be charged less.

 

Mistake #3: Not giving yourself enough time to pack—and/or not packing boxes correctly

Packing is going to take more time than you think. If you leave it to the last minute, you will be tempted to throw things into boxes without organizing them, which could make unpacking difficult. According to movers.com, it takes 3-5 days full-time to pack a three-bedroom house. If you’re working around a job and other responsibilities, give yourself additional time.

Pack your boxes so they are filled to the top but not overfilled or underfilled. Underfilled boxes can collapse under the weight of others on top of them. You should be able to tape boxes closed so the top is flat. A standard moving box will have a weight limit printed on the bottom. But being able to lift the box is also a consideration. Limit the weight of your boxes to 50 lbs. and you should generally meet the box weight requirements and keep it manageable to lift.

 

Mistake #4: Moving unnecessary items

It may be tempting to bring everything to a new home, and sort it out there. However, moving is a great time to take stock of what you really use and what you don’t. Why spend the time and money moving things that you’ll just end up storing, giving away, or throwing out? Hold a yard sale or donate items before you start packing. This will help lighten the load. Keep track of your donations; you can expense them on your taxes.

 

Mistake #5: Not knowing the obstacles at your new location

Are there narrow roads or restricted access at your new home? Is there no parking for an 18-wheeler? If so, your moving company may need to get a smaller truck and shuttle your stuff—at an extra charge. Also, if your furniture doesn’t fit through the doorways or hallways of your new home, it may need to be disassembled. You’ll be charged for these extra services, so be aware. Note also that many cheap pieces of furniture are made from particleboard. It’s not meant to be moved and is easily broken.

 

Mistake #6: Not preparing for your pets

Your pets are part of the family, but moving day will be particularly stressful for them. After all, they won’t understand why strangers are taking their furniture. With all of the commotion, it’s also easy for a pet to get lost in the shuffle, or have a scared animal run away or hide. Consider having relatives or friends take care of your pets or board them in a kennel for moving day. Also, make sure that you have your pet’s records for easy access when you need them.

 

Mistake #7: Choosing to move your valuables with the moving company

You may not care much if you have to replace the IKEA artwork from your living room, but the picture painted by your grandfather is irreplaceable. Therefore, if it’s sentimental and it can’t be replaced with money, plan to move that valuable item yourself.

 

Mistake #8: Not having enough insurance

Who covers your valuables if your mover drops something and breaks it? Surprisingly, it may not be the moving company. Homeowner’s and renter’s policies cover your personal property while at your home and in storage—but not while they are being transported by movers.

Your moving company should offer insurance, as listed in your contract. Options include: full value protection, released value protection, and separate liability coverage. You’ll pay for full value but will also be reimbursed the full value if anything breaks. For released value protection, you’ll typically get just 60 cents on the dollar per pound (so a 30-lb. flat-screen TV would be an $18 reimbursement).

If you’re moving yourself, you can arrange for trip transit insurance, special perils contents coverage, or a floater for valuables with your insurance company. Protect your possessions so they make it safely to your new home.

 

 

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 www.calcas.com.

 

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