Top 5 Projects to Increase Your Home’s Insurability
by Lauren Lanni
Lanni Insurance of California
If you love to do remodel projects on weekends or just plain be productive, here are some of the top ways to satisfy that urge and increase your home’s insurability at the same time.
1) Box Your Eaves
Open eaves are the new wood shingle roof when it comes to insurance hot topics. Back in 2003, the homes that were real firetraps were the ones with wood shingle roofs. Most people replaced those after that, and in the last fires in 2007, the homes that made headlines for burning down the most were the ones where the strong wind blew embers up under the open eaves of the home, which nestled there, and started attic and roof fires from the inside so the home burned from top to bottom. Boxing your eaves encloses the space where embers can get trapped and helps satisfy insurers that your home is one where the proper fire precautions are taken.
2) Intumescent Paint.
Intumescent paint is a fire-retardant paint that bubbles and expands when touched by fire to create an insulating foam up to fifty times its original coating thickness. If you aren’t up to the task of boxing your eaves this is a great second choice as well as a cost-cutting alternative. For about $60 a gallon, you can simply paint on this fire-retardant protection and many insurance companies will consider your eaves safe enough to insure – depending on a couple of other factors.
3) Clear Your Brush
Make sure you don’t have any tree branches near your home or roof. Call a tree trimmer to get those cleared. Most insurance companies require brush be cleared from anywhere from 100 to 500 feet surrounding the home and fire agencies have a slope factor for trees as well, so if you live on a slope the distance between trees and your home on the slope side should be 100 feet and thirty feet on the non slope sides.
4) Install Indoor Sprinklers
Here is an upgrade that will also get you a discount from many companies. In the 2007 fires, homes with interior sprinklers were the clear winners. Indoor sprinklers are required by law in apartment buildings and condominiums, so why not listen to the experts and greatly reduce your risk of losing everything in a fire? Many homes in Southern California are now built with these, so if you have them count yourself lucky! If you are purchasing a new home, know that sprinkler cost in a new home is roughly 1% or the cost of new carpet. Worried about your stuff getting we? Get the facts: not every sprinkler goes off if there is only fire in one room of a house. Sprinklers are regulated room by room and less damage is done to a home when there are sprinklers present than if a fire hose were to douse the flames. Over 200 counties in the US have mandatory sprinkler laws in effect, 100 of those counties are in California.
Source: American Fire Sprinkler Association (firesprinkler.org)
5) Fence Your Pool & Yard
Maintaining a clearly delineated boundary between your home and your neighbor’s home may help reduce your exposure to liability and ease your home insurance inspector’s mind. Depending on the company your fully-fenced property may be insurable, or you may need to have a fenced yard and a separately fenced pool as well. But it’s a great idea, having a fence around your pool decreases the risk of someone drowning in it by 83%. Since the average home insurance policy only offers between $250 and $300 thousand of liability, many pool owners elect to get a low-cost, high-value $1M umbrella policy as well. Keep in mind many companies will also need to insure your autos to offer this benefit.
Source: “How to Avoid Diving Into Insurance Troubles with your Backyard Pool”, Linda Melone
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