Have you ever looked around your house and wondered how you have accumulated so much stuff?  Do you ever think about how difficult it would be to replace everything at one time?  The “Personal Property” part of your homeowners insurance policy is there to provide cash to replace all of the possessions lost in a homeowners insurance claim.

When there is a loss of personal possessions in a homeowners insurance claim, the insurance company will ask what possessions you lost and the value. All you need to do is show the pictures you took or the list you made. What!?, you don’t have that?

Get a digital camera and start snapping. Open the kitchen cabinets and show the pots and pans, dishes and silverware, appliances, Tupperware and cookbooks. Open the closets and dressers to show how much clothing you have. Go into the basement and take pictures of all that stuff you just can’t get rid of. Go to the garage and take pictures of bikes, tools, sports equipment, and your mower. And take pictures of your chairs and couches, the computer, the TV, electronics and anything else. If anything has any particular or unique characteristics, be sure to capture that. Put all the photos in cloud storage (e.g., Dropbox.com, Google cloud, etc) so they will still be accessible even if your entire house is damaged.

Next, look at the insured amount for Personal Possessions on your homeowners insurance policy. Is it enough to cover everything in all of those pictures you just took? Do you have any Furs, Guns, Jewelry, Silverware, Antiques, Stamp or Coin collections or other valuable items? If you do, talk to your agent about adding itemized coverage to make sure those items are adequately covered for damage or theft.

Taking an inventory of your personal possessions is a big task, but well worth it. For more help, go to http://www.clearspanagency.com/links.php and click the link for the Home Inventory Checklist.

Many of us love dogs and enjoy having them as pets.  Dogs are good companions and often are considered part of the family.  Children can learn responsibility by taking care of a pet, and research even shows physical and mental health benefits of having a pet.  Having a dog in the household can have an impact on your homeowners insurance, so it is important to talk to your insurance agent when applying for homeowners insurance or if you are buying a dog.

When you are applying for homeowners insurance, you will be asked if you have a dog.  If yes, you will be asked if the dog has ever bitten enough to draw blood.  Depending on the answer and the insurance company, your insurance rate might be higher or your application could even be denied.  The Insurance Information Institute says that while the total number of dog bite claims is small, that number has recently grown significantly.  It is important that steps are taken to prevent a situation like this from happening to you.

First, be sure your dog is socialized with other dogs and people.  Can your dog go to the park and enjoy the time with other dogs and/or people, or is the dog constantly on guard and snarling?  If your dog cannot relax in public, you may need professional help from a dog trainer or behaviorist.  Check with your veterinarian for recommendations to certified dog professionals.

Second, protect your dog from aggressive situations.  Some people, especially children, have never learned the proper way to approach a dog.  An excited child may run up to a dog and go nose to nose.  To the child (and maybe their parents) that is cute and fun.  Any dog will interpret this as an aggressive act and even a gentle, easy-going dog might be scared and respond in an aggressive manner.  Gently warn the child to back off so as not to scare the dog.  If necessary calmly leave the situation because if the child is hurt by the dog, the dog will always be blamed.

Third, be sure your dog has regular visits with the veterinarian.  A healthy dog will be happier, and some health conditions can make a dog more aggressive.

Now go outside this summer and have fun with your dog!

You can’t quite explain it but you know it when you see it.  That sentence could apply to insurance, couldn’t it.  Or maybe you know it as the company that promises to rebuild your house or pay to repair your car.

Put simply, insurance is the transfer of risk.  If you don’t want to risk having to pay to rebuild your house after a fire or repair your car after an accident, you buy insurance.  The insurance company takes on the risk through a contract of, wait for it… insurance.

Your most obvious part of the contract is to pay the premium.  Insurance companies will evaluate the risk: not just the dollar amount of the risk but their guestimate on the likeliness of paying a claim for you.  The higher the coverage and the higher the risk, the larger the premium.  Your other part in this contract is that the insurance company will also expect you to take care in preventing and avoiding situations that will damage what is insured.  Or to put it simply, the insurance company wants you to lower their risk.

Read every contract of insurance that you have.  Make sure you know exactly what risk you are passing to the insurance company.  If you lower the risk you are passing on through higher deductibles, burglar alarms etc, the lower your premium.  And while we all like lower premiums, make sure that you are comfortable with the risk you are taking on.