home & living

Making an Insurance Claim

insurance claim
If your home is damaged due to events such as fires or floods, or your property damaged or items stolen due to theft, you’re going to want to get the ball rolling immediately for repairs and replacements. There are some steps to take during the process of submitting your homeowner claim, and as noted at squareoneinsurance.com, they are as follows:

1.) Contact your insurance provider. You will want to promptly report any losses or damage so to begin the claim process. Failure to do so promptly could delay or deny your claim. Even in extenuating circumstances, such as an evacuation order, you should still call your provider within 24 hours. Depending on the company you deal with, this can be done over the phone or online. You will need to provide personal information, policy number and details around the damage to your property.

Once you have contacted your insurance company, the claims process will begin. Be prepared to engage in an extensive process that may require a lot of details and information on your part. In essence, the entire process can be split into three general areas:

• your first contact with the insurance company,
• an evaluation of your claim
• a resolution/settlement,which may precede a period of negotiation

2.) Secure and preserve your property/premises

This step can often happen simultaneously with step 1 – for example, if you are experiencing a flood due to a burst pipe, your first step will be to locate your primary water source and shut it off. However, there are some other precautions you can take after you’ve completed step one, such as blocking off any areas of damage or areas that are unsafe, turning off electrical, checking for gas fumes and moving items away from flooded or damaged areas.

3.) Make a list of all damaged items

This point of the process is when you want to combine any values, items and receipts for any of your possessions that have been damaged. You can also take photos of the damage.

4.) Consider your options during the process

This step includes knowing your rights and options as a policy holder. Your insurance provider will oversee your case and usually use their own set of professionals, including an adjuster, contractor, etc. to guide you through the process. On the contrary, you are generally within your rights to hire your own set of professionals, such as a public adjuster and contractor, to help you through the claims process.

5.) Close the Claim

Once your insurance claim has been processed, you will pay your deductible and be issued replacement items or money for your losses. You will also be set up with industry professionals to complete repairs in your home. Your insurance provider will pay all invoices on your behalf, minus your deductible. Further, you may be asked to complete a Proof of Loss form.

There are also some common mistakes that people make during the process. Be sure not to do the following:

  • Don’t begin repairing anything until approved by insurance company
  • Don’t throw away anything – especially damaged items or personal belongings. You will likely need these to prove the claim to the insurance company.
  • Resist the urge to clean up and try to leave items as they are for evaluation.

As mentioned before, don’t assume you have to use the insurance company’s vendors. You have the right to hire your own experts such as contractors, public adjusters, electricians or engineers to do the job. You are also entitled to get a few quotes for the scope of the work to ensure that the cost of the repairs is falling in line with the market norm.

Raised Garden Beds and Greenhouses – The Benefits

Raised garden bed

An avid gardener should always have many essential items in their collection – useful tools, proper fertilizers, a sturdy wheelbarrow, and more – but nothing will delight you more than having these two items: a raised garden bed, and a greenhouse.

Experts say the benefits of growing your garden, especially for veggies, are plentiful with these two items, and you will often see bigger crops with larger yields at the end of the season.

Benefits of Raised Garden Beds

  1. Weed control: When you place soil in your raised bed, you can put down weed barriers such as garden paper or sheeting – this prevents the weeds from penetrating. Also, because a raised garden bed is built above existing soil, the weeds will have a hard time getting in there. Ensure you put a high-quality weed-free soil into the bed in the first place, and you’ll be weed free!
  2. Portability: If you happen to move away from your house, you can often take your raised bed with you! Even further, if you find the spot where you’ve built your raised bed isn’t working in your yard (too much or little sun), you can often move it elsewhere.
  3. Longer growing season: Because the soil in a garden box is raised, it warms up and stays warm more quickly than soil in the ground. As a result, the crops that you plant will stay healthy for longer – but don’t forget to water!
  4. Easy access: If you have several garden beds side by side, not only does it look tidy, but it is easy to access the rows. You can reach the beds easily to weed and water, and even to plant new seeds.

Benefits of Greenhouses

  1. Protection from the elements: A greenhouse warms up and stays warmer than the outside, so it is an ideal environment to start seedlings. These plants will be protected from inclement weather, high winds and even dust storms, thus making them more resilient. As a gardener, it is a relief to know that you don’t have to race home during a hail storm to protect your delicate plants from being destroyed.
  2. Longer growing season: As mentioned above, plants stay warmer in a greenhouse, and thus tend to thrive in that environment. You can start your plants earlier and watch them grow all season long
  3. Multipurpose gardening: A greenhouse is truly a multi-use space, as it can be used to plant just about anything, anytime. You may be a veggie garden lover, but also a bonsai enthusiast – well, with a greenhouse you can go ahead and have both! You also don’t have to worry about mixing plants into different types of soil, as the greenhouse allows you to pot certain soils into separate receptacles. Finally, you can store all your gardening supplies, such as trowels, shovels and watering cans, inside the greenhouse, making gardening easy and accessible.
  4. Ease of setup: installing a greenhouse is often easier than coming up with a comprehensive plan for landscaping your garden. In fact, some retailers offer a pre-fab greenhouse shipped right to your home, ready to be erected on the spot of your choice in your yard. All you have to do is set if up for use, and you’ll be ready to go for planting.
  5. Garden all year long! Imagine growing your very own poinsettias at Christmas time or a succulent garden perfect to suit a trendy framed arrangement! Perhaps the greatest benefit of all around having a greenhouse is the ability to garden all year long. The temperature in the greenhouse stays quite static, and as a result, provides an excellent opportunity to grow veggies and flowers to be enjoyed even in the winter.

Things That Can Affect your Home Insurance Premiums

condo insurance ontario
There are a number of factors related to your home that affect your ability to secure coverage and they extent of the coverage that you can secure. These are things that you should consider when you’re planning to purchase a home or are in the hunt for a home.

An area that is prone to natural disasters, can make it difficult to secure coverage. According to squareoneinsurance.ca, natural disasters have become so costly that many large insurers now refuse to provide homeowners with coverage for homes in high-risk areas. So, if you live in an area that has a regular wildfire season, or hurricanes, or seasonal flooding, then you may fall into this particular category.

Believe it or not, your roof can be a major issue if it does not meet certain standards. Is it wind or hail resistant? If the roof is new and it’s constructed of impact-resistant material, you may even get some discounts. Plumbing is another area of concern. Since water is one of the main causes of damage to homes, the idea of an old pipe rusting away or bursting would certainly cause one concern or a provider to question whether coverage would be available. And don’t forget, with water damage, comes mold damage. This could turn into a very expensive proposition.

The electrical system is another area where insurance providers may draw a line in the sand regarding your coverage. Circuit breakers and panels have to meet existing codes. And if you happen to be interested in a heritage home, beware of knob and tube units…they will need to be replaced. Generally speaking, the older your home is, the higher your premium will be.

Proximity to a fire department is also a consideration, for obvious reasons. And your deductible affects your insurance premium. The more financial responsibility you, the homeowner, are willing to accept in terms of a higher deductible, the more the insurance company will be willing to reward you with lower rates.

Too many claims on your policy will negatively impact your insurance cost. Before making a claim, be sure that the premium impact is worth the return. People make unwise decisions when they choose to make claims for only a couple hundred dollars.

And finally, the security of the home will impact your home insurance premiums. A burglar or fire alarm that automatically generates a call to a security company or fire station can mean a discount on your premium. If it’s in a gated community or in one with its own security measures, additional discounts may be available.