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From Progressive: 3 Easy ways to protect your home while you are away. May 1, 2014

As summer vacation season comes here are a couple tips that might be helpful in prevent theft...

Remember the scene in Home Alone where Kevin rigs his house with every booby trap imaginable to foil two burglars?

Good news: You can "defend" your house just as well, with a lot less effort. (A major "yay!" when you're like me and spend the night before a trip frantically shoving a bunch of "just in case" items into your suitcase, because you see you have extra room.)

These simple strategies will give you peace-of-mind when you're away—and, hey, if you want to leave glass ornaments under a windowsill, too, go for it.

  • Discretion is advised—A full mailbox, Facebook updates from the airport, and a trash can that stays parked next to the garage on trash day all advertise: "Nobody is home!"

    The most secure way to handle mail and trash while you're gone is to put someone you trust in charge—a neighbor, a friend who lives near you, etc. This person can also do quick visual checks.

    My go-to is my pet sitter. When she feeds my cat, she takes care of the other stuff, too—it only takes her a few extra minutes.

    And as hard as it is, stay mum about your travel on social media...at least until you're back home. (Admittedly, I struggle with this one.) Even with strict privacy settings, any information you put online can spread beyond your inner circle.

  • Fake it (being home, that is)—Think about the little things you can do to make it look like "business as usual" at your house. It might cost a little extra—but it's worth it to return to a home that's just how you left it.

    Here are a few ideas:

    • Use timers for your exterior and interior lights.
    • Leave a radio or TV on, for noise (I like to think my cat appreciates this, too).
    • Turn down the volume on your home phone (if you have one), so no one can hear it ring from the outside.
    • Consider leaving a car in the driveway.
  • A little extra will go a long way—A few more precautions will put the icing on your home protection cake.

    To prevent water damage—which can be very costly—consider shutting off your water and putting your water heater in vacation mode. Then, leave your heat or air conditioning running while you're out—just adjust the temperature so it's a little higher or lower than usual.

So, there you have it. Three little to-do's, and your home is as ready for your trip as you are—and you are, right? Quick, go check your suitcase. There's always room for one more thing!

What are your home protection tips? Share them below.

Homeowners Insurance Feb 8, 2012
Homeowners insurance provides financial protection against disasters. A standard policy insures the home itself and the things you keep in it.

Homeowners insurance is a package policy. This means that it covers both damage to your property and your liability or legal responsibility for any injuries and property damage you or members of your family cause to other people. This includes damage caused by household pets.

Damage caused by most disasters is covered but there are exceptions. The most significant are damage caused by floods, earthquakes and poor maintenance. You must buy two separate policies for flood and earthquake coverage. Maintenance-related problems are the homeowners' responsibility.

Driving Safely in Snowy and Icy Conditions Jan 11, 2012

The following tips may help keep you and your family safe while driving this winter.

  • Have your car serviced by a professional mechanic. Your mechanic should ensure your brakes, windshield wipers, tires, defroster, heater and exhaust system are in top condition. In addition to this your antifreeze and windshield washer fluid levels should be topped off.
  • Listen to weather and traffic conditions before you travel. Make sure you leave yourself enough time so you will not take unnecessary risks to get to your destination. If possible, avoid driving in icy conditions.
  • Maintain a safe driving distance. Increasing your driving distance in winter weather will allow you plenty of room to maneuver your car should an emergency occur.
  • Clean the snow and ice off your vehicle before driving. Snow and ice can become dangerous projectiles that can damage other cars and affect your visibility and the visibility of other drivers.
  • Keep your lights on while driving. Keeping your lights on allows other drivers on the road to see your car more easily. Don't forget to make sure your lights are clear of ice and snow before you head out to drive.
  • Keep an emergency winter kit in your car. Your emergency winter kit should consist of the following items: a snow shovel, ice scraper, cell phone, flashlight, jumper cables, tire chains, lock deicer and blankets.
  • Maintain a full tank of gas. You never know when bad weather can strike, and with a full tank of gas you may be much better off if you are stuck in traffic delays.
  • Slow down while driving. The posted speed limit on roads is intended for dry weather conditions, not snow and icy conditions. Slow your speed down while on the road to help avoid an accident. If you are driving a 4x4 vehicle, don't become overconfident while out on the road.
  • Take extra care when backing up your vehicle. Before backing up make sure your windows are free and clear of debris. At PURE, single-vehicle accidents are a major cause of loss for our membership.

Information from Pure Insurance web site about driving safely on snow and ice.
P&H on Facebook Apr 11, 2011
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Replacement Cost vs Actual Cash Value (ACV) Dec 7, 2010

Check your policies to see if your claims will be settled on a Replacement Cost basis or an Actual Cash Value (ACV) basis. ACV claims settlements will typically have depreciation withheld AS WELL AS the application of your deductible. This withheld depreciation is not recoverable.

In a simplified comparison, let us say that you have damage to a 15 year old roof with a 30 year useful life and your deductible is $500. Say that the cost to replace the roof is $10,000. $5,000 depreciation is withheld and the $500 deductible applied. The initial settlement paid by the insurance company is $4,500.

If your policy is ACV, the claim is closed there. If it is Replacement Cost, you will recover up to the $5,000 depreciation withheld after repairs are completed.

Of course, a Replacement Cost policy will require increased coverage amounts and the premium will be higher. You must weigh the cost versus the benefit and make the choice that is right for you.

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