What to Ask Your Home Inspector

What to Ask Your Home Inspector

A home inspection is an important part of buying and selling a home. In fact, it can make or break a sale. That’s why the questions you ask your home inspector are so important.

We’ve compiled a list of questions so you can get the most out of your home inspection. Keep this list handy and share it with anyone who is buying or selling a home.

First, a quick explanation about home inspections vs. home appraisals…

It’s easy to confuse home inspections with home appraisals. The processes are similar.

  • A home inspector looks at the condition of a home and its systems, from electrical and plumbing to heating and ventilation, foundation, and more. He or she points out any areas of major concern. These are repairs that can be negotiated before the home is sold. Otherwise, the home inspection report is a “to do” list for the future homeowner.
  • A home appraiser’s job is to estimate the value of the home. He or she looks at the condition of the house and notes any upgrades. The appraiser compares the home to similar ones in the area. Then, they establish a value and share it with the lender. That way the loan amount does not exceed the value of the home.

Most lenders require home inspections for loan approval.  If you’re buying a home, the home inspection helps you know exactly what you’re getting. If you’re selling a home, you may consider doing a pre-listing home inspection. That can flag any major issues that could cause buyers to withdraw their offer.

Here’s what to ask your home inspector before and during the inspection.

What are your credentials?

Maybe your realtor referred you to a home inspector. Maybe you found him or her through Google, a Facebook neighbors’ group, or old-fashioned word of mouth. Either way, you want to make sure your home inspector has the right training and experience.

  • How long have you been doing this?
  • Do you belong to a state or national association?
  • Do you participate in any continuing education?
  • Are you bonded and insured? (If anything happens to the property during an inspection, the bond will protect the homeowner.)
  • May I get references from satisfied clients?
  • May I get a copy of your inspector’s license and insurance?

 

What are the payment details?

Home inspection is a service that is paid for by the person requesting the inspection. It could be the prospective homebuyer, or it could be the seller who wants to make sure everything is in order before placing the home on the market. Home inspection costs vary, depending on the region, size, and age of the house.

  • What will the home inspection cost?
  • When do you need payment? (Most inspectors will need payment immediately after the inspection.)
  • What type of payment do you prefer?

 

What does the report look like?

You want to know what you’re purchasing ahead of time, and an easy way to do that is to see a sample inspection report. You’ll be able to see your inspector’s reporting style, whether there are pictures, etc.

  • Can I see a sample report?
  • Do you provide digital photos?
  • How long after the inspection do you provide the report?
  • How do you send it?

 

What does the inspection cover?

A home inspection should comply with standard practice and meet all requirements in your state. If you live in a condo, your inspector does not have to inspect the common spaces, roof, or exterior walls. For single family homes and townhomes, you can expect the full home to be reviewed. However, this may not include radon or mold, so double check if you need additional inspections for those hazards.

  • Do you walk the roof? (It’s better if your inspector does. Some just use binoculars to eyeball any roof damage.)
  • Do you do sewer line or septic tank inspections?
  • Do you test for radon or mold?
  • Do you test for lead (for homes built before 1978)?
  • Do you test for carbon monoxide or check the smoke detectors?
  • What does the inspection not cover?

 

May I attend?

You should be allowed to attend your home inspection, and it’s a good idea. (It’s also a red flag if your inspector says you are not allowed. Consider getting another inspector.) It takes about 2-3 hours for a typical single family home inspection, so be sure to allocate enough time. Come prepared with a list of questions. This is a great learning experience about your new home.

  • Where is the main water shutoff?
  • Where is the main electrical breaker?
  • What is the age of the home’s systems? The roof?
  • What is the routine maintenance needed for each of the home’s systems?
  • What kind of pipes does the home’s plumbing system have (e.g. copper, CPVC water piping or polybutylene)? Polybutylene is defective water piping that is no longer being made.
  • Are there any ungrounded outlets? These can become a fire hazard or short-circuit your appliances.
  • Is the home well insulated? This will impact your energy bill.
  • Does the home appear to be a flip (and therefore lower quality materials used in the renovation)?


Pro Tip: Verify that all permits have been pulled by the city or county for any renovations to the home. Failure to do so can tip you off that there were corners cut.

What should I do about the problems identified?

If you’re the buyer, you can use the problems as a negotiating point with the seller. If the problems are too costly, or living conditions are unsafe, you could walk away from the sale. While some states and associations forbid an inspector from performing repairs, you can ask your home inspector for guidance.

  • Can you recommend a professional for this repair?
  • What would you fix first if this were your home?
  • Will you answer questions after the inspection?
  • Do you perform re-inspections of a home to make sure everything is fixed? Not all inspectors do this due to liability issues.

With a successful inspection behind you, you’re ready to take the next step as a new homeowner. Protect your new home with the right insurance. Looking for a quote? Call us today.

 

 

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 Much Does Home Insurance Cost?

How Much Does Home Insurance Cost?

Homeowner’s insurance helps to protect your most valuable investment—your home. But homeowner’s policies can vary in cost, depending on where you live and what you’re insuring. Following are homeowner’s insurance costs explained so that you can make decisions about your specific needs.

 

Why you need homeowner’s insurance

If you have a home mortgage, you are required to have homeowner’s insurance. Even if you don’t have a mortgage, it’s recommended that you have insurance to protect your home.

Simply put, homeowner’s insurance provides coverage:

    • In case your home or belongings are damaged
    • In cases of fire, wind, snow and other covered perils
    • In case you are held responsible for an accident or injury

How much coverage you will need depends upon your location, the size and scope of your home/dwelling, other structures on your property, and your personal belongings. You don’t want to shortchange the amount of coverage, or you may not have enough to rebuild your home or replace your possessions in the event of a claim.

Note that homeowner’s insurance is not the same as mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance is required when you put less than 20% down when you buy your home. Mortgage insurance protects the lender. Home insurance protects your home.

 

Location

Depending on where you live, you may face different types of risks which can affect your home. These include extreme heat, drought, fire, and severe storms. Your insurer will take those risks into account when pricing your policy.

There also are natural disasters such as flooding and earthquakes which are not covered by homeowner’s insurance. You can add these coverages with a separate policy or an endorsement added to your property policy.  

 

Dwelling Coverage

Coverage A, dwelling coverage, covers the structure of your home. This includes the roof, walls, floorboards, cabinets and bath fixtures. Essentially, if you could tip your house upside down, it would cover everything that remains attached. Under dwelling coverage, your insurance provider will pay to rebuild your house if the structure is damaged by a covered peril. Coverage for the dwelling and other structures is categorized as “open perils,” meaning it’s covered unless it’s excluded. Building materials like hardwood floors, gourmet kitchens, granite counters, and tile roofs are all factored into the appropriate amount of insurance you would be offered under dwelling coverage.

Especially in periods of economic inflation and building supply or labor shortages, the true rebuild cost of your home may be substantially higher than the market value and even much higher than the cost of building a new house on an empty lot. If your insurance provider hasn’t recalculated the cost to rebuild your home recently, then you may be at risk of running out of coverage if you experience a total loss. That’s why it’s good to periodically check with your provider to make sure you are fully covered.

 

Other Structures

You may have a swimming pool, shed, detached garage, or fence. These are other structures that can be damaged and therefore need to be included in your insurance policy. Other structures coverage will cover damage to these structures that is not specifically excluded in the policy.

The coverage limit for other structures 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 for additional coverage.

 

Personal Property Coverage

Personal property coverage protects your possessions. If they are stolen, or damaged by fire/smoke or any of 16 named “perils,” your policy will pay for them subject to your deductible. 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. 

 

Liability Coverage

Liability coverage includes two coverages:  Coverage E – Personal Liability and Coverage F – Medical Payments to Others.  

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. An occurrence means an accident, which results in Bodily injury or Property damage. 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.  

You want to make sure you have enough coverage to protect your assets – a minimum amount is $100,000. Liability covers you at your place or anywhere in the world. For example, if your dog bites someone, you’re covered. The policy pays for the bite victim’s medical expenses and covers court fees if they sue you. 

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. 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.

 

Additional Living Expenses

If your home is damaged in a covered claim, it may not be livable. If that’s the case, you would need to stay somewhere else. You would be covered for any necessary increase in living expenses, such as lodging, food, and gas. Under Coverage D – Loss of Use, called “Additional Living Expense,” your policy will provide a flat percentage toward living costs, usually 30% of the Coverage A amount. Some states have time limits (e.g. 12 months) on when you can use that coverage. Plan to cover those additional expenses out-of-pocket.

 

Deductible

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 have to select a deductible that you’re comfortable paying out-of-pocket after a loss.  

 

Other Things That Affect Cost

Finally, there are other items that can affect the cost of a policy. Your insurance claim history could be factored in. If you have a number of past claims, or the home you are trying to insure has a number of claims, your rate could be higher. The age of your home and condition of your roof may be taken into account. 

Get started with a free quote today at mycalcas.com/quote.

 

 

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.

Insurance & Divorce 101

Insurance & Divorce 101

When you’re married, you share insurance policies with your spouse. When you’re separated or divorced, you need to make changes to all of your financial documents, including insurance.

You will want to contact your insurance company when a separation or divorce is beginning. Here’s a quick guide to navigating your auto and homeowner’s policies during this challenging time. 

 

Auto Insurance

Where you live will determine whether you can stay on the same car insurance policy while separated. 

    • If you’re at the same address, and that’s where your cars are parked at night, then you can keep the car insurance together for the time being.
    • Make sure your insurer has both spouses’ contact information. However, note that any correspondence, such as a copy of nonpayment information and a legal notice, will only be sent to the address on the policy.
    • If you have different addresses, because you are separated, that’s the time to get separate policies. As a side note, even if you are married and you keep the car at separate addresses, you may need separate policies. Your insurer sometimes can add a separate “garaging location” but you do need to notify the insurance company whenever addresses and vehicle locations change.

 

When you divorce, you will need individual car insurance policies.

    • That may mean that one person takes over the current policy and the other gets a new one, or you both get new ones and the original policy is canceled. There may be cancellation fees involved.
    • If both spouses are residing in the same household, both are still named insureds and only one person’s authorization is needed to cancel or change a policy. Once the ex is removed, the ex no longer has any input into what the insured does with the policy.   
    • If you share ownership of a car, you will need to get that car titled in one person’s name. You may need to revisit financing options as well if it is still being paid off.
    • Make sure you get the new policy before you cancel the old, or you could be penalized for a gap in coverage.

 

There may be a difference in price with the new policies.

    • Don’t be surprised if your rate goes up or down after divorce, even if you took over the original policy. For example, you will likely lose the discount given for being married. You may lose a multi-car or multi-policy discount. However, if your spouse’s driving record is worse than yours, your rate as a single person may be lower than it was as a couple.
    • Refinancing a house or buying a new car also can change your credit score, which is used to determine your rate.
    • Your new zip code will likely change the amount that you need to pay. Location is often factored into the insurance rate whether auto or home.

 

Teen drivers have to be included on the policy.

    • The car that your teen drives can only go on one policy. You will need to pick who is responsible for paying the insurance and that is where the teen/car will be rated.
    • If your son or daughter lives mostly at one location, your teen may be listed on the policy at that home. 
    • While insurers list everyone age 14+ on the policy, they only charge a premium if the teen is not insured elsewhere.  They don’t want to double insure any person or car.  
    • If your son or daughter regularly parks his or her car at both parents’ homes, your teen will still be covered at both locations.
    • Your divorce agreement can determine if your spouse contributes to the payment of the policy that covers your teen.

 

Homeowner’s Insurance

A homeowner’s policy can be maintained during a separation, but should be changed as soon as the divorce is finalized. At California Casualty, we typically wait until the divorce is final and/or the policy renewal date to move property policies from one account to another.

    • Only a named insured on the policy is authorized to make changes. Ideally, the changes should follow the separation agreement.
    • The effective date the change takes place depends upon your policy.
    • The spouse who moves out, but is still on the deed, should be named as an additional insured.

 

You will want to get renter’s insurance if you are moving out of your house.

    • Renter’s insurance is like homeowner’s insurance but for tenants. Starting at about $10 a month, it protects your personal belongings.
    • It will include personal liability coverage, an important safeguard if you’re found at fault for property damage or injuries at your place (and even around the world). 
    • It also can help if your apartment or home is unlivable, due to a covered loss. Insurance can cover the increase in living expenses. 

 

Your homeowner’s policy should be listed under whoever keeps the house.

    • If one spouse gets the house in the divorce, the homeowner’s policy must be transferred to their name.
    • Your insurer will rewrite the policy based on updated personal property coverage and the current needs of the homeowner. Any umbrella policies should be reviewed.
    • Ask for ways to keep your rates affordable, such as bundling home and auto, or buying a home security system.
    • Ask about discounts, too. California Casualty offers discounts to nurses, educators, and first responders.

 

 

 

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.

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 www.calcas.com.

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 www.calcas.com.

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.

 

Deductibles

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 www.calcas.com.

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