Live Proactively: Home Organization
"Live Proactively" is a value-added service provided by McClain Insurance Services in Everett, WA. Instead of "Living Dangerously" - like the folks in the famous movie - we hope to encourage you to tackle important safety, educational, organizational or emergency preparedness steps. All together, living a proactive life can be a daunting task, but taking a few steps in the right direction, one-by-one, every month, adds up to a safer, more organized and more prepared lifestyle that leaves you feeling good about your family's protection.
This month, in honor of Tax Day, our featured topic is Home Organization.
Documentation of your personal property - from the towels in your closet to high-end sports gear - can be an invaluable help in case of an insurance claim. There are several ways to create an inventory of your personal possessions.
1. Paper and Pen
Create a paper file and, room by room, list individual items, quantity, and if applicable, brand name and model, purchase date, and price.
This is a much faster method to document your personal property. Snap an overview picture of each room, then take individual pictures of each piece of furniture, drawer, shelf or storage bin. Store photos digitally or prints in your file storage system. For electronics, take a close-up of the front of the item, showing brand name and model. Also take a close-up of the back including the serial number.
Paper File Storage
In this day and age, hard copies of important documents have become virtually obsolete. Only very few documents (such as passports, birth certificates or wills) require adequate, fireproof storage. For those documents, you may wish to consider a fire proof container for your home, or even opt for a safety deposit box off site.
Store important documents in a heavy-duty plastic bag inside your freezer. In case of a house fire, freezers often function as a fire-proof safety box.
All your paper documents can (and should!) be scanned and stored online, if only as an additional backup.
What To Keep and How Long?
There are some papers that don't need to be kept for long, however, others ought to be kept for a lifetime.
- Birth, marriage, divorce and death certificates, and military discharge papers should be kept for a lifetime.
- Hold on to W-2 forms until you start drawing Social Security.
- Hold on to yearly statements for loans and mortgages, and once they are paid off, keep the pay-off statement indefinitely.
- Hold on to tax documents for seven years.
- Keep insurance policies until you receive the renewal document. Keep claims records for a year after a claim is closed.
Click here to read more.
Online File Management
Digital file management is hard to beat when it comes to convenience, space and organization. However, with electronic data and record-keeping comes the need to back up.
And the backup is where most digital data management systems fail.
Most folks own a computer and have some basic computer knowledge, yet, studies show that at least a third of personal computers are never backed up.
Yikes. This is a data disaster waiting to happen. Whether it is family photos, important documents, or scanned records: If for some reason your computer crashes, it can be very hard to near impossible (not to mention, very expensive) to recover your data.
Backup. Backup. Backup.
There are various ways to back up your computer. Many users prefer the traditional method of backing up to an external hard drive.
Another method that gains in popularity is a computer backup to a secure account on an online server or on the cloud. This has many advantages, including
- Your computer can be set up to backup automatically while it's idle
- There is no worry about safely storing or losing an external hard drive.
- Data stored in the cloud can be easily conveniently retrieved from any computer, tablet or mobile device, no matter where you are.
The disadvantage? There are dozens of online backup services available, many of them at varying price levels. Which one to choose?
Computerworld tested a number of them and compared the 5 Major Online Backup Services. Please click here to read the full article.
HomeSpot is a recognized free Home Organization and Home Maintenace site that helps keep you on track. A great way to maintain, protect and manage everything around your home!
PEMCO ID Smart is Identity Fraud Help available with any PEMCO Insurance policy. A tight filing system and home organization allows you to catch potential fraud early and react quickly.
Know Your Stuff is the Insurance Information Institute's free online home inventory software. This handy app makes creating and updating your home inventory easy and efficient.
A clutter-free and well-maintained home is a great way to stay organized and prevent claims. We've gathered these tips to help you stay right on track for extra peace of mind!
1. Create a Seasonal Maintenance Calendar for the Year
Keeping track of various recurring homeowner chores becomes much easier when you have a handy overview. Simply chart a few tasks for each month on your personal calendar, and you are well on your way to keeping your home safe and maintained. HomeSpot is a free, helpful website that allows you to schedule maintenance and filing tasks all around your home and personal life. Whether you schedule to mow the lawn or plan to remodel your kitchen, HomeSpot can help you map it out. Schedule personalized reminders based on your plan.
2. Organize Your Paper Files
At least once a year, consolidate your paper files, scan important documents, and shred what's no longer needed. See our article, above, to find out what's important to hold on to, and what you can let go. Tax time is a great time to organize your paperwork!
3. Review Your Insurance Policy
At McClain Insurance Services, we do our best to touch bases with you when your insurance policy renews. An annual policy review is a great way to keep your protection limits adequate. As we are dealing with insurance claims, we are often reminded that liability limits that were considered adequate years ago, no longer meet claims costs. Increasing medical and legal fees determine the need for higher liability limits to keep your savings and assets protected. On of our independent agents can help you review your policy and yield the highest value out of your insurance budget.
4. Have a Life Insurance Policy
Life Insurance is designed to protect your loved ones financially in case you die. Yet, a quarter of American households admits to having no life insurance at all, and estimates show that the majority of families carry insufficient limits. Most people are overwhelmed when it comes to determining their life insurance plan, coverage and term... And, we are the first ones to understand! Your McClain team includes licensed professional agents who can answer all your questions and help you craft a plan that fits your and your loved ones' needs.
5. Consider Longterm Care Insurance
Cost for care in old age in on the rise exponentially. Your risk of needing care or assisted living in old age by far exceeds your risk of experiencing a house fire or even a medical emergency. While costs for assisted living average around $4,000 per month, depending on the facility, they are expected to rise to $20,000 or more within the next 20 years. We have found: One cannot afford to NOT think about care in the future.
6. Change Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector Batteries
As you reset your clocks for daylight savings time, don't forget to replace your smoke and CO2 detector batteries. They can save lives!
7. Clean Air and Heater Vents
Prevent home fires by checking, cleaning and, if necessary, replacing air, heater, air conditioning and dryer filters, vents and ducts.
8. Clean Gutters and Downspouts and Maintain Your Roof
Prevent structural and water damage to your home by keeping gutters and downspouts clean. Adjust spouts so that water flows away from the foundation, and make sure that drainage is adequate. Blocked gutters can cause water overflow and, especially in the winter months, create ice dams that may cause tears and cracks in your roof structure. Don't forget to add moss control to your roof maintenance program to extend the longevity of your roof.
9. Keep Your Attic and Crawlspace Clean
Check your attic and crawlspace a couple of times a year for mold, insects, pests, rodents and vermin. Damage resulting from mold or pests is considered a maintenance issue and is excluded on a standard homeowners policy.
10. Trim Trees, Bushes and Keep Walkways Well-Lit
Maintain trees and greenery around your home to prevent damage to the structure, especially from roots. Also, keep walkways well-lit and clean; if a person (whether they are invited or not) falls and gets injured on your property, you may be held liable! Don't forget that burglars LOVE good hiding spots and blocked views. Keep outdoor lighting in good working order and set on a timer, and be mindful of keeping landscaping trimmed.