Author Archive for Insurance Information Institute

Home Insurance Satisfaction

 

U.S. Homeowners Give Record High Satisfaction Scores To Their Insurers

J.D. Power Study Surveyed Policyholders Who Filed a Claim

March 13, 2017

NEW YORK, March 13, 2017—About one of every 15 U.S. homeowners insurance policyholders files a claim each year and these claimants are now giving insurers their highest ever satisfaction ratings, according to the Insurance Information Institute [1] (I.I.I.). 

 

The J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Property Claims Satisfaction Study [2] gives U.S. home insurers a record score of 859 (on a 1,000-point scale). The industry’s cumulative score stood at 846 in 2016. Five factors are considered when assessing policyholder satisfaction: settlement; first notice of loss; estimation process; service interaction; and repair process.

 

“Insurers are the nation’s economic first responders and, as such, are continually working to improve how they help Americans recover their lives and businesses in the wake of tragedy and catastrophe,” said Sean Kevelighan [3], president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). “This year’s J.D. Power and Associates survey results are a clear reflection that the industry’s hard work and dedication are delivering the intended results.”

 

These all-time high claims satisfaction scores are even more remarkable given that incurred losses and loss-adjustment expenses for U.S. property/casualty (P/C) insurers grew by 7.6 percent [4] year-over-year when comparing the first nine months of 2016 to the first nine months of 2015, according to an analysis developed by Dr. Steven Weisbart, the I.I.I.’s chief economist.

 

Incurred losses reflect the dollar amount of a home insurer’s claim payout whereas a loss adjustment expense is the sum an insurer pays for investigating and settling claims, including the cost of defending a lawsuit in court.

 

Moreover, Dr. Weisbart noted, catastrophe-related claims through the first nine months of 2016 were already at their highest level since 2012—the year of Superstorm Sandy—and the fourth quarter of 2016 pushed those numbers even higher after insured claim payouts from October 2016’s Hurricane Matthew.

 

The federal government agreed that 2016 was a volatile, and costly one, estimating 15 separate weather and climate events last year caused more than $1 billion in economic losses, not all of them insured, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [5] (NOAA). 

 

“Property and casualty insurers have redoubled their efforts to improve the settlement process and fine-tune their customer interactions, efforts that have been clearly recognized and appreciated by homeowners who experienced significant losses this past year,” J.D. Power said.

 

The study also noted opportunities for improvement, most notably in water-related and other complex claims that take a long time to settle and that cause significant lifestyle disruption. J.D. Power noted, “Insurers that manage to get the settlement process and customer interaction equation right in these types of disruptive and often catastrophic scenarios are those that raise the bar for the industry.”

 

The study is based on more than 6,600 responses from homeowner’s insurance customers, and was fielded between January and November 2016.

 

The I.I.I. has a full library of educational videos on its You Tube Channel [6]. Information about I.I.I. mobile apps can be found here [7].

 

THE I.I.I. IS A NONPROFIT, COMMUNICATIONS ORGANIZATION SUPPORTED BY THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY.

 

Insurance Information Institute, 110 William Street, New York, NY 10038; (212) 346-5500; www.iii.org [1]

 
Insurance Information Institute
 

Which Disasters Are Covered by Homeowners Insurance?

Standard homeowners policies generally cover a wide range of potential disasters, from tornadoes and windstorms, to fire and lightning strikes, to winter storm damage caused by weight of ice and snow. Most homeowners policies cover all the disasters listed below. Some policies provide coverage only for the first 10 listed. It is important to check check your insurance policy for the specific perils covered.

WHAT TYPE OF DISASTERS ARE COVERED?

 
  Dwelling & personal property Dwelling Personal property  Dwelling & personal property
Perils Basic
HO-1*+
Broad
HO-2*
Special
HO-3*
Special
HO-3
Renters
HO-4
Condo/
Co-op HO-6
Modified
Coverage HO-8
1. Fire or lightning x x x x x x x
2. Windstorm or hail x x x x x x x
3. Explosion x x x x x x x
4. Riot or civil commotion x x x x x x x
5. Damage caused by aircraft x x x x x x x
6. Damage caused by vehicles x x x x x x x
7. Smoke x x x x x x x
8. Vandalism or malicious mischief x x x x x x x
9. Theft x x x x x x x
10. Volcanic eruption x x x x x x x
11. Falling object   x x x x x  
12. Weight of ice, snow or sleet   x x x x x  
13.  Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam from within a plumbing, heating, air conditioning, or automatic fire-protective sprinkler system, or from a household appliance.   x x x x x  
14. Sudden and accidental tearing apart, cracking, burning, or bulging of a steam or hot water heating system, an air conditioning or automatic fire-protective system.   x x x x x  
15. Freezing of a plumbing, heating, air conditioning or automatic, fire-protective sprinkler system, or of a household appliance.   x x x x x  
16. Sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current (does not include loss  to a tube, transistor or similar electronic component)   x x x x x  
17. All perils except flood, earthquake, war, nuclear accident, landslide, mudslide, sinkhole and others specified in your policy. Check your policy for a complete list of perils excluded.     x        

* HO-1, HO-2 and HO-3 refer to standard Homeowners Policies.       
       
+HO-1 has been discontinued in most states.

Disasters That Are Not Covered

1. Floods

Flood damage is excluded under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. Flood coverage, however, is available in the form of a separate policy both from the National Flood Insurance Program – NFIP ( 888-379-9531) and from a few private insurers.

You can get replacement cost coverage for the structure of your home, but only actual cash value coverage is available for your possessions. There may also be limits on coverage for furniture and other possessions stored in your basement.

Flood insurance is available for renters as well as homeowners. You will need flood insurance if you live in a designated flood zone. But also consider buying it if your house could be flooded by melting snow, an overflowing creek or water running down a steep hill. Don’t wait until the evening news announces a flood season warning to buy a policy. There is a 30-day waiting period before federal flood coverage takes effect.

2. Earthquakes

Earthquake coverage can be a separate policy or an endorsement to your homeowners or renters policy. It available from most insurance companies. In California, it is also available from the California Earthquake Authority. In earthquake prone states like California, the policy comes with a high deductible.

3. Maintenance damage

It is your responsibility to take reasonable precautions to protect your home from damage. Your insurance policy will not cover damage due to lack of maintenance, mold, termite infestation and infestation from other pests.

4. SEWER BACK-UP

Sewer backups or the inability of sump pumps to handle runoff water from major downpours are not covered under a typical homeowners insurance policy, nor are they covered by flood insurance. Those types of coverage must be purchased either as a separate product or as an endorsement to a homeowners policy.”
 
Sewer backup coverage is available from most insurers for a nominal cost—usually an additional annual premium of $40-$50.
 
Many homeowners may not realize that they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their house or sewer lateral—the pipeline between the city sanitary sewer main, usually located in the street—and the building. The sewer lateral is owned and maintained by the property owner including any part that extends into the street or public right of way.

 
 
Understanding the role deductibles play when insuring a car or a home is an important part of getting the most out of your insurance policy.
 
A deductible is basically the amount “deducted” from an insured loss. Deductibles have been an essential part of the insurance contract for many years and represent a sharing of the risk between the insurance company and the policyholder. When repairing your home or replacing personal possessions, the amount of the deductible would come out of your own pocket.
 
A deductible can be either a specific dollar amount or a percentage of the total amount of insurance on a policy. Generally speaking, the larger the deductible, the less a consumer pays in premiums for an insurance policy. Deductible amounts can be found on the declarations (or front) page of standard homeowners and auto insurance policies.
 
Here is how it works: if you have a $500 “dollar deductible,” that $500 would be deducted from your claim. So, if your insurance company has determined that you have an insured loss worth $10,000 you would receive a claims check for $9,500.
 
Percentage deductibles are calculated differently. They are based on a percentage of the home’s insured value. So if your house is insured for $100,000 and your insurance policy has a 2 percent deductible, $2,000 would be deducted from the amount you are reimbursed on a claim. In the event of the $10,000 insurance loss, you would be paid $8,000.
 
Deductibles in many parts of the country have been going up. In hurricane prone states, where there is a greater risk of a major catastrophe, special deductibles may apply for homeowners insurance claims when the cause of damage is attributable to a hurricane. These deductibles are generally higher and may take the form of a percentage of the policy limits.
 
Deductibles for property damage work differently than, for example, a typical health insurance policy where there a single annual deductible for the policy. With an auto or homeowners insurance policy, the deductible applies each time you file a claim. The one major exception to this is in Florida, where hurricane deductibles specifically are applied per season rather than for each storm.
 
Hurricane deductibles have helped to make more private insurance coverage available in coastal communities at a lower price. This means more choice for consumers. So, consumers who reside in states where competitive markets exist can often shop around for coverage and usually find that they have a selection of insurance policies to pick from that offer a variety of different premiums, coverages and deductibles.
 
Here are some other important things to know about deductibles:
 
 

Raising Your Deductible Can Save Money

One of the best ways to save money on a homeowners or auto insurance policy is to raise the deductible. For example, for auto insurance, increasing the dollar deductible from $200 to $500 can reduce collision and comprehensive coverage premium costs by 15 to 30 percent. Going to a $1,000 deductible can save you 40 percent or more. But, remember that if you have a loss, this amount will be deducted from your insurance claim and that you will be responsible for the difference.
           
     

Deductibles Differ by Company and by State

Insurance is state regulated. And insurance companies must follow strict state laws. This also applies to the way deductibles are incorporated into the language of a policy, and how they are implemented. In many states a range of deductibles can be found. So if you are shopping for insurance, you should always ask about deductibles when comparing policies. For homeowners or renters insurance policies, most insurers offer a minimum $500 dollar deductible. However, raising the deductible to $1,000 or more can save upwards of 20 percent on the cost of an insurance policy.
     

Deductibles Do Not Apply to Liability Claims

There are generally no deductibles for the liability portion of a homeowners or auto insurance policy. Instead, the deductibles apply to property damage. So, on in an auto policy, there is a deductible for the optional comprehensive or collision coverage, but not for the liability portion. And, in a homeowners policy, deductibles apply to damage to the structure of the house or personal possessions but not if a homeowner is sued or a medical claim is made by someone injured in the home.
    

Flood Insurance Offers a Range of Deductibles

Flooding is not covered by standard homeowners insurance policies but is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and from some private insurance companies. The NFIP offers separate policies for the structure of your home and for your personal possessions, along with a variety of deductibles. You can choose one deductible for the structure and another for the contents of your home. Mortgage companies, however, may require that your deductible be under a certain amount. Flood damage to a car is covered by the optional comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy.

 

 
Percentage Deductibles Apply to Earthquakes, Hurricanes and Hail
 
  • Earthquakes: Deductibles for earthquake coverage can range anywhere from 2 percent to 20 percent of the replacement value of the structure. Insurers in states like Washington, Nevada and Utah, with higher than average risk of earthquakes, often set minimum deductibles at around 10 percent. In most cases, consumers can get higher deductibles to save money on earthquake premiums.California residents also can purchase earthquake insurance through the California Earthquake Authority (CEA). The standard CEA policy includes a deductible that is 15 percent of the replacement cost of the home. The basic policy covers only the house (other structures such as garages, pools, etc. are not covered). Personal possessions are covered up to $5,000 and “loss of use” expenses, the additional cost of living elsewhere while repairs are made to the home, are covered up to $1,500. Recognizing that some people want more comprehensive coverage, the CEA also offers a 10 percent deductible for other structures, personal items coverage up to $100,000 and $15,000 in “loss of use” coverage.
  • Hurricanes and Hail: There are two kinds of wind damage deductibles: hurricane deductibles, which apply to damage solely from hurricanes; and windstorm or wind/hail deductibles, which apply to any kind of wind damage. Whether a hurricane deductible applies to a claim depends on the specific “trigger” selected by the insurance company. These triggers vary by state and insurer and usually apply when the National Weather Service (NWS) officially names a tropical storm, declares a hurricane watch or warning, or defines a hurricane’s intensity in terms of wind speed. Due to these differences, homeowners should check their policies and speak to their agent or insurance company to learn exactly how their particular hurricane deductible works. In some states, policyholders have the option of paying a higher premium in return for a traditional dollar deductible. However, in high-risk coastal areas insurers may not offer this option, instead making the percentage deductible mandatory.
  •  Hurricane Deductibles Are Not New: The first hurricane deductibles were introduced into policies over 20 years ago. After Hurricane Hugo hit South Carolina in 1989 and Hurricane Andrew hit Florida in 1992, insurers realized they were far more vulnerable to huge weather-related losses than they had previously thought. In order to be able to continue getting reinsurance (basically insurance for insurers), and thus continue to offer homeowners insurance in high-risk areas it became necessary to require policyholders to share some of the cost by including hurricane deductibles in policies.
    

Consider Percentage Deductibles When Purchasing a Home

When looking for a new home, it is important to consider the cost of insurance. Coastal properties and other locations at higher risk for a natural disastermay cost more to insure than other locations, and you must add to that a separate deductible for earthquake or hurricane damage. Remember, you will be paying for insurance the entire time you live in your home—if you are a prospective buyer and feel you cannot afford the insurance, then it may be time to consider a different home.
 

ALL SOURCES OF INFORMATION:

14 things every house-shopper should do before signing on the dotted line…

Shopping for your dream house? There are many considerations when looking at real estate, such as property taxes, school district, available recreational opportunities in the neighborhood, to name a few.

But an important and often overlooked consideration is the insurance implications of your purchase.

You will be paying insurance on your home for as long as you own it, which is why you need to do your homework before you decide to make an offer. Why? Thinking through all the costs associated with buying a home will make the process run more smoothly, and it may also save you money. 

 

So here are some important tips to help make all phases of your home search easier and more worry-free.

 

Before House Hunting:

1. Check Your Credit Rating

A good credit history helps you in many ways. Good credit makes it easier to get a mortgage at a competitive rate, and it may also qualify you for a good credit discount on your insurance.  Get a copy of one or all of your credit reports. Make sure they are accurate and report any mistakes immediately. If your credit is not as good as it could be, take steps now to improve it [1]. 

2. Protect Yourself with a Renters Insurance Policy

If you are currently renting a house or apartment, protect yourself financially with a renters insurance policy [2].  In the event of a disaster, renters insurance [3] can help protect the down payment you’re building to buy your new home, as well as provide useful a insurance history to your prospective homeowners insurer when you go to buy your first home.

 

While House Hunting

As you search for your new home, remember that the physical characteristics of the house—its size, location, construction and overall condition—can affect the cost, choice and availability of home insurance. Following are some factors to consider when shopping for a home:

3. Quality and Location of the Fire Department

Houses that are located near highly-rated, permanently staffed fire departments usually cost less to insure. This also holds true for homes that have a hydrant nearby.

4. Proximity to the Coastline

Houses located on or near the coast will generally cost more to insure than those further inland. There will also likely be a separate hurricane or windstorm deductible [4].

In some coastal communities, private homeowners insurance coverage may not be readily available. Instead, you may need to purchase insurance through a state-run insurance program, which can provide less coverage, and in some cases be more costly, than private insurance.

5. Age of the Home

A stately, older home can be quite beautiful—but they can also cost more to insure. Ornate features like plaster walls, ceiling molding and wooden floors may be costly to replace and can raise the cost of insurance. And, plumbing and electrical systems can become unsafe with age and lack of maintenance. If you are considering buying an older home find out how much it will cost to update these features and factor it into the cost of ownership.

6. Condition of the Roof

Always check the condition of the roof. A new roof matters to insurers and keeps you and your family safer. Depending on the type of roof and whether or not you use fire and/or hail resistant materials, you may even qualify for a discount. 

7. Is the Home Well-Built and Up to Code?

Find out whether the house has been updated to comply with current building codes. Homes built by careful craftsmen and those built to meet modern engineering-based building codes are likely to better withstand natural disasters.

8. Risk of Flooding

Damage from flooding is NOT covered by standard home insurance policies. If you are buying a home in an area at risk from flooding, you will need to purchase separate insurance. Insurance for flooding is available from the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program [5] (NFIP), and from a few specialty insurers.

9. History of Earthquakes

While earthquakes are most frequently associated with California, they occur in the majority of states and, like flooding, are not covered under standard home insurance policies. Earthquake insurance is available from private insurers as an endorsement to a homeowners policy, and in California from the California Earthquake Authority [6].  Check rates with your insurance professional—the cost of earthquake insurance differs widely by location, insurer and the type of structure being covered.

10. Swimming Pool or Other Special Feature

If the house has a swimming pool [7], hot tub or other special feature, you will likely need more liability insurance. You may also want to consider purchasing an umbrella liability policy [8] to provide added protection in the event someone gets injured on your property and decides to sue you.

 

Before You Place a Bid on the Home

11. Check the Loss History Report

Ask the current homeowner to obtain a copy of the loss history report on the home. Homeowners can obtain either a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange [9] (C.L.U.E.) report, which is available from LexisNexis, or an A-PLUSTM [10] property report from ISO®. These reports provide a record of the type of loss on the home, the date of the loss and the amount and status of each claim—going back five years.  If the report indicates there has been damage to the house, have it checked by a professional.

A home claim history can provide extremely valuable information and should prompt questions from the buyer.  For instance, if there was a claim for water damage on the home, it is important to find out the source of the damage (such as a burst pipe) and whether it has been properly repaired. On the other hand, if there was a claim for wind or hail, which resulted in a new roof, this makes the home stronger and is very attractive from an insurance perspective.   

12. Get the House Inspected

You’ll need to have the house properly inspected in order to get your mortgage approved. Accompany the inspector and make sure he/she does a thorough inspection of the home. The inspector should:

  • Check the general condition of the home
  • Look for water damage, termites and other types of infestation
  • Review the electrical system, plumbing, septic tank and water heater
  • Show you where potential problems might develop
  • Double-check that past problems have been repaired
  • Suggest important upgrades or replacements

If the inspector raises questions, your insurance company will as well. And, be sure to find out if there is an underground oil storage tank, as many insurers will not provide policies for homes that have one.

13. Estimate How Much It Will Cost to Maintain the House

Routine maintenance is your responsibility as a homeowner. Losses caused by failing to properly care for your home are not covered by standard homeowners insurance policies. So make sure you factor these costs into the overall price of owning the home.

14. Call Your Insurance Professional

Don’t wait until the last minute to think about insurance. Ask your insurance professional if the house will qualify for insurance, and get an estimate of the premium. The sooner you act, the smoother the process will be. Don’t be shy about asking for estimates on more than one house. Insurance is an important consideration when purchasing a home. If you are uncomfortable with the cost of insuring a particular house, keep looking for one that better fits your financial situation.

For more about insuring your new home: Homeowners Insurance Coverage [11]

ALL SOURCES OF INFORMATION:

“Boii-oiii-oiiii-nnnng”

 (That’s the Sound Spring Makes)

Displaying Considering the winter we’ve just been through (and some would say it’s not quite over), nearly everyone is breathing a sigh of relief now that Spring is here! Warmer months DO bring less severe road and driving conditions. However, there are stillvehicle maintenance, insurance, and driving tips that can save time, money, and even lives.

 
For starters, don’t jump the gun at the first sign of warm weather. Water on roadways can freeze at night long after the last snowfall—especially at high altitudes and in far northern climes. If you drive on winter tires, a good piece of advice, according to reliable sources, is to wait till temperatures stay above 45-degrees (F) before shedding snow tires for good.
 
But you shouldn’t wait on ALL things. For example, check your tires and windshield wiper blades before spring rains start to fall to be sure that they’re up to their respective tasks. For tires, the penny test should tell you whether you’ve got enough tread depth to clear away water. And to ensure good visibility in a wide range of conditions, be sure to check windshield wiper blades and replace them if they’re worn, or leave streaks.
 
And as weather turns from temperate to downright hot, perform routine checks and maintenance on the stuff that keeps the “hot side hot and the cool side cool,” such as radiators and cooling systems; batteries and electrical systems; and air conditioning.  

Watch and Learn:
A “Hole” lot of useful information on potholes and insurance: 

ALL SOURCES OF INFORMATION:

  • Activities that take drivers’ attention off the road, including talking or texting on mobile devices, eating, conversing with passengers and other distractions, are a major safety threat.

  • In 2014, 3,179 people died in distraction-affected crashes, based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) criteria.

  • The number of state legislatures passing measures that address the problem of driver distractions continues to rise. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia ban the use of hand-held cellphones while driving; 46 states and the District of Columbia have banned the practice of texting while driving.

  • A 2012 Consumer Reports survey found that 71 percent of respondents cut back on texting, talking on a handheld phone or using a smartphone while driving in the previous year. Over 50 percent of them said they were influenced to change their behavior because of state laws, up from 44 percent in a survey conducted in 2011.

 

DRIVER HAND-HELD CELLPHONE USE BY AGE, 2005-2014 (1)

(1) Percent of drivers using hand-held cellphones.

 Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

OTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION:

 

Click play on the video above for more info

Saving Money on Auto Insurance – Auto insurance is a necessity, but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. This video includes 5 simple steps to saving money on Auto Insurance. We’ve also included more tips for cutting insurance costs below.

Shop Around – The easiest way to save on high risk auto insurance is shopping around. Obtain as many auto insurance coverage quotes as possible. Since there are a myriad of alternatives accessible in the insurance marketplace today, you have the luxury of comparing different rates and opting for the most affordable option.

Take Control Of Your Rates – Being in control of your rates can also help lower the cost of car insurance. Tickets as well as accidents which are no longer paid for should be taken off the coverage at the right time. Each time changes are made to your status, obtain a few quotes and compare the different rates. Perhaps, you will be able to find a plan that allows you to save.

Buy A Cheap Car – The more expensive a car is, the more you will pay in insurance premiums.

Cover Less Miles In A Year – Try to keep your mileage to the minimum. Drivers who cover less than 10,000 miles in a year are more likely to qualify for reduced insurance rates. The more time you spend on the road, the more likely you are to be involved in an accident.

Park Your Car In A Safe Area – Burglary and accidental damages are just some of the factors that can increase your insurance premiums. Cars parked inside a garage or on a driveway are less likely to be broken into or damaged which results in a 4% to 6% decline in insurance costs.

Exercise Caution While Driving – Careless driving will result in additional points in your license. As a result, you will be expected to pay more in insurance premiums. Whereas points attributed to speeding tends to remain on a driver’s license for at least 4 years, insurance companies will confirm if there have been convictions in the past 5 years prior to deleting them from your record.

Install Security Systems In Your Car – Installing security systems, for example, car alarms and anti-lock brakes in your car can also help in lowering your risks.

Avoid Making Changes to Your Car – Do not make changes to your car before informing your insurance provider. Modifications refer to anything that will alter the original specifications, for example, fitting allow rims.

Call Statewide Insurance Agency today for more information on saving money on your Oklahoma car insurance quotes, or visit us online to receive a no-obligation quote.

 

Hidden Hazards in Your Home

Learn about hidden hazards in your home: Click “>here

Off-Premises Coverage Includes Theft and Damage from Perils Listed In Your Oklahoma Homeowners Insurance or Renters Policy

While self-storage units may be a useful way to de-clutter your home, having the right insurance coverage is the best way to financially protect your belongings—no matter where they are.

If you are planning to rent a storage unit for your belongings, take the following steps:

• Ask your insurance professional about off-premises coverage. Some standard Oklahoma homeowners insurance and renters insurance policies include coverage for personal possessions kept off-premises including a storage facility. Off-premises coverage includes theft and damage from fires, tornadoes and other perils listed in the policy. However, it does not cover for damage caused by flooding, earthquakes, mold and mildew, vermin or poor maintenance. And check the coverage limits, as these vary by company.

• Find out what type of financial protection is provided by the storage facility. Most facilities provide reimbursement based on the square footage of the unit. Check both the coverage limits and whether it is provided on an actual cash value or replacement cost basis. Most storage facilities will also offer a variety of supplemental insurance packages; ask your insurance professional if it would make sense to buy this additional coverage.

• Consider special insurance or storage for expensive items. If you intend to store valuable property, such as art, antiques, jewelry or furs, there may be dollar restrictions under your standard Oklahoma homeowners or renters insurance policy for theft. Ask your insurance professional about adding a floater or endorsement [1] to your policy in order to fully cover these items. There are also specialized storage facilities available for these types of items, as they often need to be kept at specific temperature and humidity levels. Small items such as jewelry will cost less to insure if they are kept in a bank safe-deposit box. Keep in mind contents in a safe-deposit box are not insured by the bank.

• Create an inventory of items to be kept off-premises in storage. Add the items you’re moving to the storage unit to your home inventory so that you can keep track of your belongings and make sure you have the right amount of insurance to protect them. To make creating your inventory as easy as possible, the I.I.I. has a free home inventory tool, Know Your Stuff® [2], which includes secure online storage so you can access your inventory anywhere, anytime.

The I.I.I. offers the following tips for choosing a safe storage company:

• Look for a secure facility. Fencing that secures the entire property and access control are the minimum security measures a storage business should offer. But, ideally, the storage building should have onsite security features such as 24-hour video surveillance cameras and coded security pads. Also, find out about the facility’s procedures in cases such as a fire or flood.

• Look for a unit with climate control. Very high or low temperatures, as well as dampness can quickly cause damage to appliances and furniture. And make sure that rising ground water from snow or rain is unable to penetrate the storage.

• Consider a storage company that offers insurance. If your renters or homeowners insurance does not provide off-premises coverage, you may want to opt for one of the company’s coverage options. Keep in mind that any facility should also have its own insurance to cover damages to the property or injuries that occur on the premises.

• Check that the facility is clean and well-maintained. If a storage facility is not routinely and thoroughly cleaned, there is a good possibility no one is monitoring for bugs and rodent infestations. Verify that the facility has a permanent, reliable pest extermination contract in place before you trust them with your belongings.

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