How to prepare your Lakewood, WA home for vacation

A Checklist to Complete If You’re Leaving Your Home for an Extended Period of Time

How to prepare your Lakewood, WA home for vacationWhether you are a snow bird who flocks to warm weather in the winter or you’re taking a vacation, you should always protect your home while you’re away. The last thing you want to hear while vacationing is that a pipe burst or your home was burglarized. Follow these simple steps to ensure your home is safe while you’re away.

Protect from Theft

  • Alert the post office to hold your mail until you return. If you are staying at your vacation home for a long period of time, perhaps forward your mail to that mailing address.
  • Stage your home as if you are still there. Use an automatic timer to turn on and off your lights. You can set them up in different rooms to make it look like you’re moving around the house. To keep it efficient, use LED bulbs in your lamps you intend to leave running throughout the night.
  • Set an alarm. There are countless great, affordable video surveillance options that sends you a text when there is motion detected at your home, both inside and out. You can then pull it up and watch a live video stream allowing you to record the activity as well as call police. Additionally, if you see a package is delivered you could ask a neighbor to pick it up off the doorstep until you return.
  • Place small valuables in a hidden place or safe. If you own jewelry, guns or cash, or have social security cards, memory cards or other valuable items, put them into a safe. Safes are typically extremely heavy and unable to be moved by one person even if not bolted to the floor.
  • Hire someone or notify your neighbor to do the simple things. For example, if you are gone for the weekend and the trash gets picked up on Fridays, ask your neighbor to pull your waste bin in for you.

Protect Your Home From Damage

  • Always turn off your water. You would hate to have a pipe burst or refrigerator leak while you’re away. If you live in a cold weather environment, drain all your pipes of water. Laundry supply lines are bigger, so be sure to turn those off at the junction box if you decide not to turn off all water.
  • Set your thermostat. Keeping your thermostat on will stop pipes from freezing in your ceiling or walls. It doesn’t take much, say 60 degrees or so.
  • Clean out your gutters. If you’re planning to be away for a while, cleaning your gutters can ensure any heavy rains won’t overflow the gutters and flood your home or damage the roof.

Going away for a while can be exciting. You shouldn’t have to worry about your home while you’re away so completing some simple tasks beforehand can ease your concern.

If you have questions about your home or renters insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

How to prevent water damage in Lakewood, WA

The Places to Watch to Avoid Water Leak Damage

How to prevent water damage in Lakewood, WAThe unfortunate reality of home or condo ownership is that over time you will most likely develop a leak that could cause major damage if it goes unchecked. If you own a home or condo, regularly check these places for leaks that can cause damage and may go unnoticed.

The Water Heater

Your water heater has a lifespan of approximately 10-12 years. Some go much longer, but that’s just betting that luck is on your side. When water heaters do fail, they unfortunately leak water out the base and all over. By nature, a water heater will continue refilling itself as it drains, so you could have quite a mess on your hands.

Toilet & Sink Lines

If you haven’t already installed braided stainless water lines, do it now! This is the simplest way to protect your home from water damage. The vinyl variety have a tendency to develop bulges, are easily damaged by getting bumped around or can develop cracks as the plastic ages. It also is not a bad idea to regularly inspect all lines in the house for drips.

Washing Machine Supply Lines

A washing machine supply line is typically accessible to view behind your washing machine. These lines are larger than most other supply lines in your home because they provide more water so it is especially important to monitor these and install braided stainless supply lines.

Refrigerator Ice Maker Line

This hidden water supply line can be a big problem! Because it is hidden behind your massive refrigerator, leaking supply lines can go unnoticed for months and be dripping onto your floor and into your crawl space. With the help of a friend or family member, make it a practice to pull out your refrigerator and inspect the lines at least once a year. While you have it out, you can clean your vents at the base of the refrigerator improving the efficiency of the unit.

P-Trap connections

P-traps are the connections for drains under your sinks. As many of us store items alongside these drains, they get bumped quite a bit! If a connection becomes loose or damaged, it can cause a slow leak under the sink. Check for leaks under your sinks regularly to avoid a costly water damage claim or ruining your cabinets.

Utilize Water Alarms to Help Monitor for Leaks

One quick way to continually monitor your home for leaks is to install an inexpensive water sensor. You can find a five pack of them for about $40. Water Sensors are inexpensive and can help you monitor the hard to reach areas like water heaters and refrigerator water supply lines. These sensors act similarly to a smoke detector and sound a loud alarm when the sensors come in contact with water.

Prevention is the best way to avoid a water damage claim in your home.

If you have questions about your home or condo insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

How to avoid holiday theft in Lakewood, WA

Follow These Simple Tips to Avoid Holiday Theft

How to avoid holiday theft in Lakewood, WAThe holiday season is a joyous time, but unfortunately, it is also top season for theft. If you walk around your neighborhood, it isn’t hard to see all the holiday deliveries left on porches of unsuspecting homeowners. Protecting yourself from theft is all about prevention. To avoid being a victim of holiday theft:

  • Have your deliveries sent to your work (if allowed)
  • Request valuable shipments be held by the shipper for in-person pickup. Most major shipping companies even have apps now that can help streamline this process.
  • See if your shipping company has additional options. Amazon recently introduced “lockers” where they will place your shipment in a locker with a special code just for you.
  • Does a retired relative live nearby? Have packages delivered to them. It is always a great opportunity to see family anyway.
  • Sign up for delivery notifications. Many companies send this to you by email, but many carriers have text message notifications.
  • Install a home surveillance system that focuses on the area where your packages are delivered. A pricier alternative if you can’t always be there to monitor your home.
  • Discuss with your neighbors to keep an eye out for unfamiliar vehicles.

Enjoying the holiday season is easy, but preventing theft isn’t always. We hope your holiday season is free of criminal activity.

If you have questions about your insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

How to inspect your roof for damage in Lakewood, WA

How to Inspect Your Roof for Damage

Six Areas to Look to Prevent a Costly Repair

How to inspect your roof for damage in Lakewood, WAWe all know that owning a home is an expensive investment. Unfortunately, you can’t just move in and let it set. Homes require constant maintenance to ensure you don’t get costly damage. We suggest doing a yearly home inspection.

Most people will never venture up onto their roof to see what is going on up there.  A homes roof takes a beating. In the summer, it bakes and the sealant can shrink and expand hundreds of times each year. Making sure your roofing is up to par will save you from costly damage such as mold, water damage, sagging rooflines, pests and much more.

During winter, rainwater can find its way through tiny cracks causing moisture in your attic or between the layers of roofing. Identifying these issues early on can save you thousands of dollars in repairs to the roof itself, drywall, mold or go into your walls creating all sorts of havoc.  It is critically important to understand that your home insurance does NOT cover water intrusion damages caused by deferred maintenance.

Things to look for on your roof inspection:

  1. Missing or damaged shingles
    1. Shingles can become damaged by wind and hail or even just years of use. When inspecting your shingles, make sure the granules are covering the shingle. Ensuring that your shingles are in proper working order will ensure water stays out of your home.
    2. Look for curling shingles, or if wood, cracked or decayed shingles.
  2. Flashing
    1. Your flashing is the metal pieces that go around skylights, butt up against walls and down the valleys on your roof.
    2. Make sure these pieces are whole and without damage such as being twisted upwards, or having holes in them from rust or other damages.
  3. Flat Roofs: Look for obvious patches, cracks, tears, or blisters.
  4. Gutters: Make sure your gutters are clear from debris, are not leaking and are butted up tight against the structure.
  5. Chimneys: Ensure your chimney cap is on tight and if it is brick, inspect for cracks.
  6. Ventilation: Make sure your ventilation caps are clear of obstruction.

Inspecting your roof is a quick and easy job. Take your time and be careful while up there as there are many trip hazards and climbing on and off of the roof onto a ladder can be tricky. But, if done safely, a roof inspection can identify problems that would normally not be covered by your homeowners insurance.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

Power Outage in Lakewood, WA

Be Prepared for an Unexpected Power Outage

What To Do If Your Power Goes Out

Power Outage in Lakewood, WAWhen nasty weather hits it can be easy to say, “it won’t affect me, our power never goes out!” But, being prepared in the event that you do lose power will save you a lot of nervousness and more.

There are many things to consider when putting together an “out of power” kit. Simple things like blankets can be pulled off of beds, so consider other things like non-perishable foods, ways to light the house and core means to communicate.

Here is a list of items to consider for your powers out safety kit:

  • Non-perishable food such as canned goods, crackers, noodles or vacuum packed tuna
  • Water – make sure you have enough. Water goes fast when you use it for everything from brushing your teeth to other hygiene as well as drinking and cooking.
  • LED flashlights. LED because they last about 5x as long on batteries.
  • Emergency Radio or solar cell phone charger.
  • Candles – Emergency candles can last 7 days burning 24 hours a day! Make sure you get the right ones. Many are also wind resistant.

There are many things to consider for your different types of emergency kits, but fortunately you’re at home! Some things to consider when the power is out at home:

  • Unplug some of your more sensitive electronics. Electronics can become damaged when the power comes back on with the power surge.
  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible. If the power is going to be out for a while, it can help deter spoilage. If possible, remove more temperature sensitive items like meat and dairy to a smaller cooler and fill with ice on the top.
  • If you suspect your food has spoiled, don’t risk it.

Generators are a great tool for when the power goes out, but they’re typically limited unless you have a whole house generator. If you’re going to use a generator, be sure to determine what appliances you want to run. Refrigerators require a large generator, so determine if it is even possible to run it. Using a generator to run lighting and small portable coolers is reasonable.

When the power goes out, be prepared.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

 

Home Inventory List in Lakewood, WA

Keep a Home Inventory Checklist Just in Case

Two Ways to Construct a List

Home Inventory List in Lakewood, WAFor most of us, we won’t have to experience a disastrous home loss such as a flood, fire, earthquake or other disaster. That doesn’t mean any of us should be less prepared for such an event should one occur. Preparing a home inventory can be a large task, but taking the time to do so can make a difference of thousands of dollars when it comes to your claims settlement as well as simple ease of processing your claim.

For many of us, where we live symbolizes us and what is in that house symbolizes our lives. Our belongings represent our memories, personal style and even investments that hold significant value such as art.  When you add up how much all of your personal items are worth, it can be a substantial figure into the many 10s of thousands of dollars or more.

Home insurance claims from disasters such as flood or fire are traumatic. A home inventory checklist can help you remember quickly what items you had. Would you recall exactly how many pairs of jeans you had and what brand they were? Would you recall how many pairs of shoes you had or what brands they were? What about art? Could you recall the name of the artist and how much you paid for it?

Taking the time to inventory your home can be useful in the event of theft or damage to the contents of your home. Keep track of your items with this easy to use chart! You can even attach photos of your items and quickly send this chart to your insurance agent to help speed up the claims process. Another way to document is with a thorough video or video series. Be sure to store your home inventory checklist in a safe place like in the cloud.

The good news is your insurance agent likely gave you sufficient coverage for your personal property. If you feel like you need more, be sure to tell your agent. Home, renters and condo insurance policies typically come standard with this coverage.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

 

Renters Insurance in Lakewood, WA

Renters Insurance Policies Help Protect More Than Just Your Personal Items

Understanding Renters Insurance

Renters Insurance in Lakewood, WAIf you’re like 2 out of every 3 renters who rent a home, apartment or other dwelling, you don’t carry a renters insurance policy. The reason for not carrying renters insurance varies, but it is important to understand that your landlord is not responsible for your personal belongings if they are damaged, stolen or otherwise. You alone are responsible for your things, so protecting them with a renters insurance policy is important.

When you’re ready to speak to an agent, consider the following:

  1. Cost: Renter’s insurance is typically very inexpensive, usually not costing more than just $1 per day! Think about it, if you buy a coffee in the morning, that is about 2-3 times as much as getting a renters insurance policy.
  2. What’s covered: Renters insurance will typically cover your clothes, furniture, electronics, bicycles and jewelry, but only up to what your policy limits say. You have a choice to add additional coverage to cover certain items that may exceed your policy limits such as furs, art and jewelry.
  3. What loss types are covered? Typically, your renters insurance will cover your items due to fire, theft, smoke and water damage if your home has a water leak (talk to an agent about flood specifically as this coverage varies). A renters policy can also cover your items while your away. Say you ride your bike to a park and it gets stolen there. Renters insurance will typically cover that loss.
  4. Injuries: Another reason renters insurance is great is that it provides you with liability protection if you’re found to be liable for injuries to someone who is at your home.
  5. Roommates: Many people have roommates who live with them. If you want an insurance policy to cover your roommate you must get your insurance company to list them on the insurance policy. It is always a good idea to have your roommates listed on the policy. It helps protect your household – not just either party.
  6. Dogs: If you have a dog in the house, be sure to tell your agent.

Understanding insurance can be difficult, but simply going without it shouldn’t be an option. If you have additional questions about Renters insurance, contact your insurance agent to discuss your options. It is even possible that you’d get a discount for bundling your policies.

If you have questions about your home or renters insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

How to Protect Your Home from Mold in Lakewood, WA

Protecting your Home or Condo from Mold

Key Tips to Prevent Mold

How to Protect Your Home from Mold in Lakewood, WAEvery home in the US is vulnerable to mold damage and now that we’re coming into the cooler winter months, mold can thrive. Mold really needs one thing to grow: moisture.

Protect your home from mold by identifying and eliminating sources of moisture. Moisture can enter your home through many different areas including:

  • Damaged roof flashing
  • Damaged or worn out shingles
  • A downspout that is not properly setup to push water away from your home or foundation
  • A leaky pipe
  • Condensation from your laundry, shower or kitchen
  • A crawl space with no vapor barrier or an improperly installed vapor barrier
  • Single pane windows that are sweating
  • Seeping up through the floor

Eliminating these common problems is fairly simple. Identifying where the issues are coming from are sometimes more tricky as water can travel great distances before it makes it mark known. Look for mold on walls, around windows and in the corners of a room. Sometimes mold can grow under your carpet on cement slabs so if your basement smells moldy, that would be a good place to check.

There are many ways to remove moisture from your home. In bathrooms, laundry rooms and kitchens, install exhaust fans to remove excess moisture from laundry, showers and cooking. Without these fans, moisture can seep upwards and into your attic producing another hidden problem. A fan will quickly pull the excess moisture out of the room. Be sure to closely look at the size of the fan you install because a fan that is too small for the room may not even make a difference.

If moisture is entering your home through your crawlspace, a simple visual inspection can be completed. First, look to see if a vapor barrier exists (a black plastic). Make sure it is covering the entire surface, goes up over any pier blocks and extends to the edges of your foundation. If it doesn’t, consider a quick weekend project to remedy the issue.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

How to Prepare a Disaster Kit in Lakewood, WA

How to Put Together an At-Home Emergency Kit

Be Prepared with a Custom-Built Supplies Kit.

How to Prepare a Disaster Kit in Lakewood, WAFall is a great time to consider disaster preparedness and to take a look at your family’s emergency kit. While disasters can happen anywhere, whether natural or man-made, it is important that your family be prepared.

For many, the thought of having a disaster preparedness kit in their home seems silly and unnecessary. The fact of the matter is that every state in our country is susceptible to a natural disaster such as an earthquake, tornado or hurricane, flood or even a volcanic eruption. Preparing for one of these events can be quick and inexpensive, but also a great time to educate your family about safety during one of these events.

The basic home preparedness kit, according to ready.gov should include:

  • Water – 1 gallon per person, per day. Minimum 3 day supply.
  • Food – non-perishable food such as canned tuna, canned fruits & vegetables, nuts, dried fruit, low sodium crackers, soups. Also, dry mixes that do not require refrigeration. Store food in tightly closed containers to extend it’s shelf life and protect from pests. Change food & water supplies every six months to keep fresh supplies.
  • Battery powered radio for emergency information
  • Flashlight with extra sets of batteries. (Consider an LED flashlight that requires much less energy to use)
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust masks, plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal off an area from contaminants
  • Moist towelettes for simple hygiene
  • A manual can opener and pocket knife
  • Cell phone w/ solar charger of some sort

Additional items could include prescription medicines, diapers, pet food and blankets. Keep this kit in a designated area where your entire family can easily find it.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

Use Technology to Protect Your Lakewood, WA home!

Six Pieces of Technology That Can Prevent a Home Insurance Claim

How Technology Can Keep Your Home Claims-Free!

Use Technology to Protect Your Lakewood, WA home!We touched a couple weeks back on how simple pieces of technology can keep your home safe from burglary. Well, wouldn’t it be great if technology could help us avoid other claims like water damage, fire & freezing damage?

Technology for the home has taken huge steps in the past 5 years. In fact, most everything in a home can be controlled by a mobile device and an installed home router (Wi-Fi). Implement some of these do-it-yourself items into your home to help you avoid an insurance claim:

Thermostats: Not only does a smart thermostat help you reduce your energy consumption, you can now monitor the home temperature while away on vacation. We all know someone who has experienced a frozen pipe that caused water damage. Typically this is because the thermostat wasn’t on and a cold-snap came through. Smart thermostats allow you to adjust the temperature through a Wi-Fi signal even while you’re abroad.

Smart Garage Door Openers: I think we’ve all come back home and noticed we left the garage door open all night, or even left the house only to reach your destination and think… did I leave my garage door open? Smart garage door openers work with your Wi-Fi system to notify you if the door is open or closed. You can then close it from your mobile device ensuring your items stay safe and sound.

Water sensors: Water sensors alert to you when water is standing on the floor. A great place to install a water sensor is behind a toilet, near a dishwasher and behind your refrigerator if you have a water/ice maker. Water sensors can be synced up with your existing alarm system or are available in a Wi-Fi version which at this time run around $60 each.

Smart Smoke Alarms: Smoke alarms are really the first line of defense for fires and smoke damage. Often times a fire will smolder, but the resulting smoke damage can be just as damaging. Smoke alarms, like water sensors, can be obtained by your existing home security company and tied in. Additionally, smoke alarms can be tied into your Wi-Fi alerting you if something is awry at home while you’re way.

Smart Locks: “Did you lock the front door when we left? No, I was carrying the suitcase.” Fortunately, door locks are available in a Wi-Fi enabled where you can simply lock and unlock your front door via a battery and Wi-Fi signal. Unlocked front doors are now a thing of the past.

Humidity Monitors: High humidity is another sign that you have water in your home. When humidity rises it can wreak havoc on your home. Humidity sensors come in all sorts of devices including your thermostat, furnace and even some home video monitors like the aforementioned Canary device we mentioned in our blog about home security. If the humidity is extra high, this may be a sign that water is leaking somewhere.

If technology is your thing, consider some of these options! For most people, insurance is not. Fortunately if you have questions about your home or renters insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.