CLARK – The summer months are a popular time for family vacation travel. It is also open season for property crimes. Allstate Insurance Company, provides five tips for property protection to help homeowners enjoy a worry-free summer travel season.
“Take a couple hours this weekend to review your home protection plans and check your insurance coverage before you head on a summer vacation,” said Mike Antenucci of Clark, an exclusive agent with Allstate New Jersey. “There are steps that everyone can take to help deter thieves and protect your property.”
1. Deter would-be thieves with a “lived-in” look. According to the FBI, 63.1 percent of residential burglaries took place during the day in 2006. According to the recent statistics, from the 2007 State of New Jersey Uniform Crime Report, burglary is a significant issue in the Garden State. The Uniform Crime Report notes that, by the end of 2007, there were 3,603 night time burglaries. Surprisingly, there were even more daytime burglaries (5,660).
So, if you are planning to travel this summer, make sure your home looks lived-in, day and night. Burglars will look for signs to see if a house is empty, including whether cans are placed out on garbage day, if mail or newspapers are piling up, if cars are missing or staying in the same place for a period of time, and if lights are turning on. Put several household lights on timers so they turn on and off at appropriate times. In addition, be sure to lock all doors and windows at all times, and consider a security system with a loud inside alarm, detectors at all exterior doors, and motion sensors in the master bedroom and main living areas. Many insurance companies offer discounts for monitored security systems.
2. Protect your identity from barbecue guests. Keeping your social security number secret may not be enough to prevent against identity theft; one out of every 11 cases of identity theft is an inside-the-family job. Before hosting parties, put away all financial documents and lock them in a home office, desk drawer or safe. In addition, ask your insurance provider if they offer identity restoration coverage to help restore a stolen identity.
3. Extend insurance coverage for valuable items. According to the Insurance Information Institute, a standard homeowners’ insurance policy includes coverage for jewelry and other precious items such as watches and furs; however, there are relatively low limits of liability for certain items, generally around $1,500. If the liability limit is not enough, consumers have the option of extending the coverage by “scheduling” jewelry.
The best part about supplemental insurance for jewelry is that it offers broader protection, which means you are insured for all different types of perils, including loss of the stone, a chip in the diamond, misplacing the item, and so on. Unless the peril is specifically mentioned in the policy as being excluded, the item is covered. Before purchasing additional insurance, the items covered must be professionally appraised.
4. Review your insurance coverage once a year with an insurance agent. Weekend warriors are often inspired to install new carpeting or embark on remodeling projects. Allstate advises consumers to talk with their insurance agent about remodeling projects that may impact the cost of rebuilding the home in the event of a fire or loss. Consumers should also make sure they read the policy and understand all of the coverages.
5. Create and maintain a home inventory, including photos or video. A home inventory will make it easier to file a claim and restore your property after a loss. Make a list of the contents of your home on paper. It is helpful to take photos and describe on the back of the photograph what the item is and what it cost. Save receipts for major purchases, especially for computers and large appliances.
Whenever possible include make, model, serial numbers and date of purchase for all items in your home inventory. Keep the videotapes or photographs in a place separate from your home, such as at your workplace or a bank safe deposit box. Be sure to update your home inventory when you make new purchases or receive gifts.
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