Boring, but important: Insurance

Insurance might not be the sexiest topic in the universe, but it sure is important. Here’s an update on some insurance practices that every homeowner should know, just in case.

First off, if your place is vacant for more than 30 days, you should be aware that any property that is unoccupied for this period of time or longer is not covered for vandalism, theft, or malicious mischief. This situation usually comes up when a buyer closes escrow on a property and immediately begins renovations that take more than a month to complete (and what kind of renovations take less than a month?). If you are planning to give your new digs a facelift prior to moving in, ask your insurance agent about a supplemental policy to cover your place during the renovations.

For you condo owners, I’ve mentioned this one before, but it never hurts to mention it again. Most homeowner’s associations have a master policy that covers the shell of the building — in other words, the policy would rebuild the property to the unfinished interior walls of the units. From the unfinished walls in, the owner needs a condo policy — otherwise known as an HO-6 policy — that covers the interior finishes such as the light fixtures, appliances, counters, bathtubs, etc. Ask your agent to review the HOA’s master policy to make sure you have the correct coverage for your condo and your belongings.

And for those of you who have help around the house — a nanny, a gardener, a housekeeper, gather ’round and learn about worker’s compensation. Most policies provide very basic, limited coverage for in-servant (nanny, housekeeper, babysitter, or anyone who works for you inside your home) or out-servant (gardener or anyone else who works outside) employees. If these people work less than 20 hours a week, your policy likely provides some limited coverage. If they work for you for more than 20 hours a week, you need to buy worker’s compensation coverage. Without this endorsement, you could be on the hook personally for any injuries or claims of the employee.

If these situations apply to you, be sure to ask your insurance agent to verify that you’re covered fully. And here’s to hoping you never need to make a claim.

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