Who pays good money for something they hope to never use? Well, we hope you do!
We are talking about insurance. If you are a homeowner or a renter, having an insurance policy that is well suited to you and your life is of paramount importance to your future finances and well being, as well as to your current peace of mind.
It’s been a while since we’ve talked about insurance, but our recent columns on residential fires as well as the recent stormy, wet weather made us realize that it was time to tackle this topic again!
Thanks to Susan Gihlstrom, a broker at Dave Johnson Insurance in Aberdeen, for helping to clarify some of these issues.
RENTERS INSURANCE IS GOOD DEAL
We’ll start with a conversation about renters insurance for three reasons.
First, we have a high percentage of renters in Grays Harbor County, especially in Aberdeen and Hoquiam, so this should apply to a good portion of our readers.
Second, many people who rent a home or apartment aren’t aware of their need for insurance, assuming that their possessions are covered by their landlord’s insurance policy. They are not.
Third, renters insurance is really quite affordable and something renters could put on their “to do” list to look into today!
A few of you may be a bit confused because you assumed that if a fire swept through your apartment or rental house that all of your furniture, clothes, electronics, personal items, etc., would be covered by your landlord’s insurance policy. They are not.
A landlord’s policy typically covers the building itself, the appliances provided, and includes liability for anything in the dwelling or on the property that is the landlord’s responsibility including any maintenance issues that can become hazardous, especially if the renters have brought it to their attention, Gihlstrom explained.
For instance, if someone falls off a deck because of a rotten railing board that the renters had repeatedly asked the landlord to fix, that insurance claim is on that landlord. However, if someone comes to visit you and trips on the toys scattered around your living room and breaks an arm, that is something that you as the renter are liable for.
The great news is that renter’s insurance is quite reasonably priced, typically running about $125 to $300 for a whole year, Gihlstrom said. We think $10 to $25 a month is easily worth it for the peace of mind alone!
SWIMMING POOLS, TRAMPOLINES
Right now is the time of year, when we’re closing up or putting away things like swimming pools and trampolines. However, if you are looking into your insurance – either renters or homeowners – these are things that you need to consider.
For people who live in a rented house, most likely their landlord doesn’t have coverage for swimming pools or trampolines. In fact, many times they are specifically excluded in the lease agreement. That means that before you purchase a trampoline for Christmas, you’ll want to talk to your landlord!
For homeowners, many insurance companies are not willing to provide coverage if there is a trampoline or swimming pool, Gihlstrom said. They simply have taken too many losses due to such things in the past.
However, if correctly installed and the company knows and agrees, some insurance companies will cover them. The key is the homeowners knowing what is covered under their current policy and being upfront with their insurance broker if they need to buy additional coverage for such items.
“Most insurance companies won’t cover trampolines,” Gihlstrom said. “They are a nightmare. If you are considering buying one, you may want to check on your insurance coverage first. I’ve worked with clients who have had their policies cancelled because they purchased a trampoline.
“Swimming pools are not quite as bad. However, the insurance company will want to make sure there is a fenced yard and a cover on them so that kids can’t get in there and drown while no one’s home,” she said.
Hot tubs are something else your insurance company should know about. Usually they must have locked covers to be covered by your insurance policy. It’s best to check your policy.
And, depending on the breed of your canine family members, the medical and other bills resulting from a bite or attack may also not be covered.
“Some companies exclude certain breeds of dogs from their home insurance coverage because the breed has a history of biting,” Gihlstrom explained. “It doesn’t matter if your dog is even tempered, if it is a certain breed, you may not be able to get coverage on your typical homeowners policy.”
MORE ON INSURANCE NEXT WEEK
We’ve just scratched the surface on our conversation about renters and homeowners insurance. Check back here next week for information on flood insurance and other explanations about what most insurance policies will and won’t cover.
In the meantime, why don’t you dig up your policy and take a look to see what yours says, or at least begin to jot down some questions you may want to ask your insurance broker.