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Protect Yourself and Your Investment

Bad things happen. That’s just the way of the world sometimes. But when bad things happen to your home, will you be protected? If you’re a homeowner, you likely already have a homeowner’s insurance policy in place, especially if you’re paying a mortgage. Homeowners insurance covers damage to your home’s structure from certain events such as fire, wind, and water. It also covers theft of personal property from inside the home, and for additional fees you can add protection for more exotic items like art or jewelry collections. If you’re robbed or your home suffers damage from a fire or a windstorm, your homeowner’s insurance policy provider will help make you whole again.

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But what happens when your refrigerator breaks unexpectedly or your heat pump goes on the fritz? Will a homeowner’s policy help you then? Unfortunately, repair to household appliances and systems aren’t covered by most policies, and those costs can easily run into the thousands. If you do face those major repairs, and you’re uncovered, your savings could take a big hit. This is where a Home Warranty comes in handy.

Home Warranties Explained

A Home Warranty is a service contract separate from your homeowners insurance that covers your home’s major appliances and systems. Providers often have a standard list of covered items, and some, like American Home Shield, allow you to personalize your policy by picking your own set of covered appliances and systems. When one of your appliances or systems breaks, your warranty provider will send a qualified repair contractor to fix your problem in exchange for a low, one-time repair fee.

A Home Warranty offers several benefits above and beyond a typical homeowner’s insurance policy:

  • Added Peace-of-Mind: You can never predict when you’ll face unexpected repair bills. A home warranty will protect your budget and your savings from the unexpected costs associated with repairing or replacing expensive household items.
  • Protection for New Buyers: If you’re in the market for a new home, or have recently purchased one, the reliability of its appliances and home systems can be a mystery that’s not always revealed through traditional home inspections. A home warranty offers new buyers a guarantee that unexpected costs from these new-to-you items won’t catch you unprepared.
  • Seller Benefits: When you’re selling your home, you want to differentiate yourself from the competition in every way possible. Telling potential buyers that your home has a current home warranty in place will show your home has been well maintained and instill greater confidence in their buying decision.
  • Greater Flexibility – Unlike a homeowner’s policy, home warranties can be canceled at any time, so you can choose the level of protection that best fits your needs.

For most Americans, a house is the single largest investment they’ll ever make and the source of the majority of their personal wealth. To best protect that investment, it makes sense to have an array of coverage that will keep every corner of your home in its best possible condition. Adding a home warranty to your insurance portfolio is a great way to maximize that protection.

Now is a great time to start getting your home ready to handle the colder temps and rougher weather months ahead. Below we’ve provided a list to make sure you are prepared.

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Interior

  • Replace batteries in smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors (use the equinox or “fall back” time change date as your annual reminder)
  • Ensure all heating vents are unobstructed.
  • Have furnace or heat pump serviced to ensure it’s working efficiently before the temperatures get too low.
  • Replace (or remove and clean) furnace air filter on the following schedule:
    • High-efficiency and electrostatic filters need to be replaced once per quarter.
    • Simple fiberglass or paper filters should be replaced monthly.
    • Reusable mesh filters should be cleaned monthly (do not reuse filters unless they are specifically intended for it).

Exterior

  • Check foundation for cracks. If found, document with photos for future comparison – if cracks are over 3/16” wide or have increased in size since your last inspection, consult a professional.
  • Examine areas where different materials meet and where pipes or wires enter the house for any gaps. Seal with caulking.
  • Visually inspect roof for leaks, missing or damaged shingles, or rusting flashing and schedule repairs if you find any damage.
  • Make sure the seal between garage door and the ground is tight to prevent drafts and keep out small animals. Replace weather-stripping if necessary.
  • Inspect driveway for cracks. Clean out and repair any damage with driveway filler, then coat with a commercial sealer.
  • After leaves have fallen, clean out the gutters and downspouts, flush them with water, inspect joints, and tighten brackets if necessary.
  • If you remove your window screens, clean and repair them before putting them away for the winter.
  • Clean windows and reinstall storm windows and doors if stored in the spring.

Cracked Foundation

  • Have chimney cleaned; make sure flue damper closes securely.
  • Remove window air-conditioner units and store in a dry location. Protect permanently placed units by wrapping in a tarp or weatherproof cover.
  • Winterize outdoor faucets: Detach and drain all hoses. Shut off outdoor water supply valve, and then open all outdoor faucets to drain water remaining in the pipes. Cover faucets and exposed piping with insulating foam covers to keep pipes from freezing.
  • Drain and winterize in-ground sprinkler system.
  • Trim all trees and bushes back to a minimum distance of 3”-6” from your house.
  • Drain fuel from mowers and other gas-powered lawn equipment before storing for the winter.
  • Cover and store outdoor furniture and barbecues in a protected area.

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