5/21/13

Be Prepared and Protect Your Belongings

If you live in North Texas then you know the saying: "If you do not like the weather, then wait a day." Today could be warm and sunny, tomorrow could be cold and stormy. Per the North Texas Severe Weather Guide, North Texas is home to some of the most extreme weather patterns in the nation. Temperatures between -8 and 113 degrees, years of drought, weeks of flooding, over a dozen tornadoes in one day and the single, most costly thunderstorm on record.
 
With such extreme weather, how can you be prepared in protecting your home and belongings from natural disasters?  Whether you own or rent a home, be sure to obtain home or rental insurance on the property and your belongings.  Many home insurance policies provide protection on your home and other structures on your property—like a garage or tool shed—against loss from many things, including: smoke, fire or lightning, windstorm, hail or weight of ice, snow or sleet, theft or vandalism, falling objects, freezing of a plumbing, heating, air conditioning or automatic fire-sprinkler system, or of a household appliance.
If your personal possessions—including furniture, clothing and appliances—are damaged or lost as a result of a covered loss, most home insurance policies arrange for them to be repaired or replaced.
 
Rental insurance can cover all your property at full replacement costs for minimal monthly costs.  It is best to check with a local insurance company on rental insurance quotes.
 
RECOMMENDED STEPS
As a Realtor for the past 10 years, I would typically provide virtual tours for my clients as a marketing tool to assist them in selling their home.  I realized these virtual tours were a good way to see before and after remodels but also to document personal belongings.  So I did a virtual tour of the exterior and interior of our home and sent it to my insurance agent.  HE LOVED IT!  And thus began this yearly ritual of documenting our home.
 
It is recommended to document your personal items and provide that updated information to your insurance company to ensure your belongings are covered at the current replacement rate.  If you obtained your home insurance 6 years ago and have since purchased a large screen television, Apple computer, etc. or updated your home in some way, then you should updated your personal items with your insurance company.
 
Virtual tour programs can be used but my favorite is an iOS app called Photosynth.  Photosynth allows you to take photos and stitch them together to create a panorama.  I use this app to take a panorama of each interior room, floor to ceiling, of our home including closets, home office and the utility room.  I then store these panoramas in my email storage or online clouds such as Dropbox or Sugarsync. There are similar iOS apps that allow you to create a panorama, so find one you like. And you can choose an online cloud that you can access from anywhere via an internet connection.
 
In case of a disaster such as the recent tornados in Granbury, Texas and near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma where homes were completely destroyed, a person can gain access to the panoramas and any personal files.  It helps you to be prepared and provide good information to your insurance agent.  You could even use this on your rental properties, your car, or whatever you would like to document.  Use modern technology to benefit you.
 
It is my hope that you use my personal tips to benefit you and your family by being prepared and protecting your belongings in case of a natural disaster. For additional tips visit www.Realtor-Rochelle.com.