Sweet, sweet summertime. Most people love it when the days get longer, the temperatures rise, and the smell of barbecue floats through the air. It can seem like a simpler time between the flap of flip flops and the sun warming your arms and legs after a long winter of wool. Of course, that’s also why insurance may be the last thing on your mind. In all reality though, once you start breaking out the bathing suits and pool supplies, it’s also time to start preparing for the worst and breaking out your insurance policies too. Even some of the most enjoyable, traditional summer activities can pose a danger to what may seem like a flawless homeowners insurance policy. If you take the time to evaluate your policy though (poolside, of course), you’ll be able to enjoy the summer more. Here are some common reasons why you may need to update your homeowners insurance before summer is in full swing.
Hamburgers and hot dogs are staples of any American grill, and we all know a grill master. If this sounds like you, make sure you’re properly protected and follow safety precautions. Always keep your grill away from your house or any existing structures. Grill fires can cause significant damage, and even lead to full-blown house fires. If you aren’t covered, your BBQ might leave a very bad taste in your mouth.
2. Increase in Personal Property
Did you have the best Christmas ever? We all have memorable holidays, and if you got any new gadgets or fancy jewelry, make sure their value is included in your personal property inventory. Recreational vehicles are a popular gift, but before you put them to use this summer, update your home insurance to reflect the renewed value.
As the weather warms up, many people like to break out their tool kits and get started on housing upgrades and repairs. If you’re using contractors, make sure your liability coverage can cover any injuries. Additionally, when you’re finished with your renovation, your housing replacement cost should go up. Make sure your home insurance policy is upgraded too.
4. Started a Home Business
If this was the year you finally took the plunge and started working for yourself, congratulations! Now, while you’re juggling working from home and your family, you also need to double check your home insurance policy. Many insurers don’t insure home-based businesses, so you might need to find a separate commercial insurance policy or you won’t feel “like a boss” for very long once you experience a loss of the fancy business investments you’ve made, not to mention your home.
The sparkling water of a pool is a huge draw for anyone that’s overheated, but be cautious when using one. They are one of summer’s biggest threats and insurers aptly refer to them as “attractive nuisances.” Pool parties are always fun until someone gets hurt and if you’re sued, the injury just keeps coming. Telling your insurance company you have a pool will raise your premiums, but it will pale in comparison to the lawsuit brought against you by parents whose child was severely — or sometimes fatally — injured in your pool.
June brides, take note. If you got engaged over the winter, you may already be prepping for a summer wedding, but there’s more prepping you need to do in addition to sampling cakes. In between picking out flowers and table linens, see if your home insurance policy can handle a backyard wedding. If you and your fiancé are moving in together, you will also need to combine personal belongings and add extra liability insurance. It doesn’t end there though — sometimes you may still need event liability insurance, a separate type of policy, if you’re having the wedding at home. Last but certainly not least, you’ll likely need to check on the coverage limits of jewelry on your homeowners insurance policy. If you don’t, your wedding planning festivities can quickly go south if something happens to that rock on your finger. Often you can just increase the coverage limits on special types of personal property like jewelry, or you can opt for an “inland marine” policy (aka a floating article policy) which would provide coverage for the entire value of your ring. Some insurers will require you to have a property policy in order to get an inland marine policy, and your homeowners insurance jewelry limit is probably insufficient considering the price of engagement rings today. As I always say, if you like it, you better put some insurance on it.
Don’t let America’s Funniest Home Videos fool you. Or the viral YouTube videos of people getting injured while attempting acrobatics, some on another thing insurers call an attractive nuisance. We often laugh at such videos, but in reality, there’s nothing funny about what can happen on trampolines. In fact, they’re so dangerous that you might not even be able to get homeowners insurance. Many home insurance companies will exclude trampolines from your liability coverage, and if you do find insurance, expect to pay a pretty penny for it. Before you purchase one, hoping your video goes more viral than that spooning cat that warmed our hearts, think long and hard about your decision. Sometimes the premiums will be the ones screaming, “look how high I can go!”— not your family or guests.
8. Safety Updates
Summer is an ideal time for vacation because the weather is warm and the kids are out of school. Thieves know that many people leave their house for extended periods of time and target homes during the summer. If you decide to make safety upgrades to fend off possible attacks, let your insurance company know. You may be eligible for a discount, and if you fail to take the proper precautions, your claim could be denied. Additionally, this can be one of those times when your liability coverage could prove to be important. There have actually been cases of criminals getting injured in homes they’ve broken into and then suing the homeowner — and winning.
During the spring, it seems like everyone has a new puppy on a leash. It’s an ideal time to raise and train your new dog because the weather is warm, and you don’t mind waiting for hours while the dog learns that it has to do its business outside. Just let your insurance company know about your new addition. Pet attacks can be covered under your liability policy, but if they aren’t notified, you could risk not only a denied claim, but losing your entire coverage too. Additionally, if you opt for a pet that’s on insurers’ infamous “restricted breed lists,” which includes dogs like pit bulls and wolf hybrids, you’ll probably become completely ineligible for coverage because the majority of insurers won’t insure homes with such breeds.
10. Renting Out Your Home
Vacation exchanges have become much more popular in recent years. It’s an affordable way to take a vacation and live like a local while still maintaining the comforts of a real home. If you rent your house periodically during the summer, consult your home insurance company first. Renters may or may not be covered under your main policy. Additionally, if you’re living elsewhere, make sure anything you lose on a trip is covered as well.
Spring cleaning is the perfect time to get rid of unnecessary clutter, but it’s also the perfect time to organize, regroup, and consider the many changes that can take place within the first half of a new year. People tend to make a great deal of changes at the start of a new year, so spring is the time to evaluate those changes thoroughly. And you never know — the refreshing, perfect spring weather may make examining your insurance policies more tolerable than ever.
Follow Desiree on Twitter @DesireeBaughman.