For many people, their home is a big investment and a large asset, make sure you have the right protections.
In California, earthquakes and wildfires can pose a danger to our homes. To protect your home and other assets, it’s important to be prepared for natural disasters.
Most disasters or calamities come without warning, but there are steps homeowners can take to lessen their blow. Consider the following.
- Keep your home and property well-maintained and free of debris.
- Secure heavy bookcases, appliances and artwork to walls.
- Designate a safe family gathering area on your lowest level, underneath a stairwell if possible and away from windows.
- Install and maintain smoke alarms throughout your home, and put fire extinguishers in strategic locations such as the kitchen, utility room and garage.
- Test your smoke alarms and fire extinguishers annually. Choose a date that is easy to remember, such as a birthday or annual holiday.
- Consider installing a sprinkler system if you're remodeling or building a new home.
- Install a security system and use timing devices to turn on lights when you’re away from home.
- Consider joining or starting a neighborhood watch group. You can check with your local police department for assistance.
- Install Grade 1 American National Standards Institute (ANSI) designation deadbolt type locks on exterior entryways including exterior doors, the doors between living spaces and attached garages, and garage entrance doors.
- Make sure your homeowner's insurance includes earthquake coverage.
- Secure heavy appliances like refrigerators and other items to the wall. Properly strap your water heater, and confirm your home is bolted to the foundation.
- Put together a safety kit with water, non-perishable food items, radio and flashlight.
- You could be without power or electricity for several days. Be sure all family members know how to turn off the gas, electricity and water.
- Develop a plan for reuniting after the earthquake in case family members are separated.
Know your coverage
A typical homeowner's policy covers damage due to wind, lightning and fire (including smoke damage from fire). Find out your benefit limits for structural damage and replacement of contents inside your home.
Plan for the worst
If your home is completely destroyed in a fire, does your policy cover the cost of rebuilding your home at current construction costs? If not, you could end up paying the difference.
Guard against inflation
Look for a policy that automatically adjusts the rebuilding costs of your home to reflect changes in construction costs.
Don’t forget the details
Where will you go if your home is uninhabitable for a period of time? Find out if your policy pays the cost of living elsewhere while your home is repaired or rebuilt.
In case you need to make a claim, be sure to keep a detailed list of the personal possessions in your home and on your property. Take photos or videotape each room in your house.