If you’re planning a vacation on any extended period of time while you’ll be away from home, it’s important to take necessary steps to ensure that your home is properly secure.
Give the Appearance That You’re Actually Home
In this day and age, thankfully, we do have ways to make it look like someone is home even if they actually aren’t. Taking steps like setting times on lights, radios, and televisions so they have turn off and on automatically may be an affective way to deter criminals from breaking into your home. Now, we’re not saying you need go all out “Kevin-McAllister-style”, but making your home look occupied is definitely smart. Additionally, you should cut your grass before you head out on your vacation and, if you have more than one car, park it in your driveway. Another option is having one of your friends or neighbors park their car their while you’re gone. Window blinds and curtains should positioned normally. Do you best to keep expensive furniture or home appliances out of plain sight.
Lock Your Doors
As is the case whenever you leave your home, you should always lock up. Don’t forget to also close your garage.
Be Mindful of What You Share on Social Media
We live in a day and age where sharing photos and videos online is the norm. Everything from Facebook, to Instagram, to Twitter, we’ve become very comfortable with posting what we do in our daily lives on the internet. Though this can be fun to do with close friends and family members, you’re taking a risk every time you do this because it’s a way for criminals to become incentivized to break into your home while you’re away.
In order to prevent burglars from knowing you’re away, be sure to change your privacy settings on your social media platforms to private or share them with your friends only.
Get Help From Your Neighbors
Telling a trusted friend or neighbor about your plans to be on vacation may be another option you’d want to consider. It’s good to have an extra set of eyes of someone whom you trust to be on the lookout for anything unusual surrounding your home. Providing them with a spare key is also something you can do.
Install Security Cameras or Alarms
Having security cameras in or around your home is an effective way to deter criminals from breaking into your home. After all, if they do, it’ll be much easier to track them down if they attempt to flee the scene because you’ll have a detailed image of them on camera. You may also be eligible for certain discounts on your home insurance if you do have either security alarms or cameras. Talk to you one of our experienced agents for details on this.
Remove Your Spare Key
We’ve all tried to think of clever places to hide our spare keys. It may just be easier to remove that worry from your mind altogether by removing your spare key or entrusting it to a friend or neighbor while you’re gone.
Unplug All Appliances
To prevent fires or possible power surges, consider unplugging all of your electronics and/or appliances while you’re away from home. Be sure to test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms and make sure they are functioning properly before you go on vacation. Although accidental fire is covered under your home insurance policy, it’s best to avoid that headache in the first place by having a fire extinguisher easily accessible.
Have you ever been curious about what it would take to increase the value of your home? There are several steps you can take to make your home more valuable. Not everyone will have the same reasons for doing this and that’s okay. Whether you are planning to add little ones to your family, having a family member move in with you, or just want to simply do something that will add some extra value to your home for resale purposes, there are several steps you can take to do just that.
Make It More Attractive
One of the best ways to have your house get more attention from potential buyers is by making it catch the eyes of people who drive by. Whether it’s beautiful landscaping with blossoming flower bushes, or a freshly painted front door, your house will get more attention if you take the time to improve its exterior.
Two of the most used rooms in a house are the kitchen and the bathroom. Therefore, it would be wise to put in the necessary time to make these two places look as attractive as possible. You don’t have to break the bank for a remodel either. On average, basic kitchen remodels recover 81% of its cost in added value while more elaborate ones that have stone countertops, state-of-art appliances, and custom cabinets recuperate 53%.
It’s a similar story when it comes to remodeling bathrooms. If you’re putting in new flooring and updating some fixtures, as opposed to mustering up cash for a more upscale remodel, if you’re more concerned about getting a better return on your investment, it’s best to take the conservative approach with the remodel. Heated floors, custom cabinets, and designer fixtures have a 56% return on investment as opposed to 70% for a midrange remodel.
Make It Low Maintenance
If you want potential buyers to be excited about the prospect of owning your home, consider making repairs to the property to take that burden off of them. By doing this, you may be justifying that potentially higher listing price.
In addition to replacing old water heaters or air conditioning systems, consider replacing the carpet floors with hardwood flooring. If you don’t want to replace the floors with hardwood, a composite material is easier to maintain and clean than carpet. It’s also cheaper.
Make It More Efficient
Depending on the area in which you live, updating your home to make it more energy-efficient may prove to be a wise choice if you’re looking to sell.
Consider double-paned windows, enhanced attic insulation, LED lighting and energy-efficient appliances in order to increase your home’s value. This could also prove as an effective way to make your home more attractive to energy-conscious buyers.
Solar Panels tend to prove effective in the long run when it comes to increasing the value of a home. However, if you’re looking for a quick boost in sale price, you may want to choose not to proceed with installing solar panels since they tend to be more costly. Additionally, installing them can be challenging.
Make It Bigger
Increase your square footage. It tends to have an enormous positive impact on a home’s value. Converting a room you’re not using into an additional bedroom or finishing a basement or building a deck are all good ways toad value to your home.
Make It Smarter
Everyone wants to feel safe inside their homes, especially those who have small children. Devices such as thermostats, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, security cameras, door locks, and enhanced lighting all help to make homeowners feel safer.
Although having these devices inside your home may not add value in terms of cash, it does make your home more attractive to potential buyers. Installing these devices is also a lot cheaper than replacing a roof or renovating a bathroom.
Are you planning a family road trip? It’s great to have the opportunity to get away with family. But, unfortunately, we can’t always prevent accidents from happening. Before hitting the road, there are several important points about how auto insurance works that you should be aware of. By understanding how auto insurance works, you will also be able to make sure your auto insurance coverage is sufficient.
If You are Taking Your Own Car
If you plan to take a road trip with family or friends and you plan to use your own car, there are a few things you should know: First, always understand that the auto insurance policy follows the car. That means that if you allow your friend Johnny to drive your car during your journey on the road and Johnny gets into an at-fault accident, it will not be Johnny’s auto insurance that kicks in to cover any damages to your car or the car of the other party. Your insurance will pay for the damages. And, depending on how severe the damages are, you may be forced to fork up some cash out of your own pocket if your policy’s limits are exhausted.
Also, each state is going to have different requirements related to auto insurance coverages and the minimum amounts of coverage you will need to have from a legal standpoint. For example, Maryland’s auto insurance limits are: $30,000 minimum per person/$60,000 minimum per accident/$15,000 minimum for property damage. Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage is $30,000 minimum per person and $60,000 per accident. To compare, New York’s state limit requirements are: $25,000 for Bodily Injury per person, $50,000 if one person is killed in an accident, $50,000 for bodily injury and $100,000 if two people are killed in an auto accident. Property Damage limits are $10,000. If you have an auto insurance policy in one state and get into an accident in another state, your auto insurance company will bump up your limits to that of the other state’s. Be careful not to disqualify yourself from this policy by doing something that is deemed unlawful i.e. driving will intoxicated.
If You Are Renting a Car
If you have comprehensive coverage for a vehicle that is listed on your auto policy, the cost of a rental car is covered in the event of a covered comprehensive loss. This coverage is $20 per day/$900 per loss in Maryland, in Virginia, the coverage limit is $600, and $15 per day or $450 per loss in North Carolina.
Driving to Mexico
If you drive to Mexico, understand that rental cars purchased in the United States are not covered once you cross the border into Mexico. However, if you are driving a car that you own yourself, collision coverage will apply in the event of an accident. Rental cars that are obtained in the United States are not covered overseas.
Driving in the rain can be tricky, and if you’re not careful, could put you in a dangerous situation. Rainy conditions directly correlate with higher numbers of auto accidents. Understanding that these conditions can affect your ability to safely operate your vehicle can help you to drive more safely.
If Possible, Wait for the Weather to Improve
If you do not feel comfortable driving in the rain and can delay your commute until the weather improves, do it. It’s not worth putting yourself in danger if it is not necessary to drive in wet conditions.
Double Check Your Car’s Equipment
You always want the equipment in your car to be functioning properly, especially in rainy conditions. Before taking your commute, inspect your headlights, tail lights, and windshield wipers to make sure they are working properly. The tread on your tires should also be in good condition. If your tires are worn down, you are at much higher risk of hydroplaning and losing control of your vehicle.
Following the speed limit is always a good idea when you’re driving. In wet conditions, it’s actually not a bad idea to slow down because your visibility may be impaired when it’s raining heavily and there may be excess water on road surfaces, making it more difficult to come to a complete stop when you need to.
Turn on Your Headlights
Again, visibility is always important, especially in rainy conditions. Not only will you be able to see better, but other cars around you will be able to see you and react accordingly.
Use Your Windshield Wipers
It’s important to use your windshield wipers when it’s raining. Using them will greatly improve your visibility. In addition to windshield wipers, there are several other products you can use to combat the rain from impairing your vision when you’re behind the wheel. Certain sprays can be applied to your windshield that will allow the water to bounce off of the glass. Still, even when using these products, it is recommended that you still use your windshield wipers.
Maintain a Safe Distance Between Cars
Because it will take you longer to come to a complete stop in rainy weather because excess water can lift your tires off of the road surface, it is important to keep a safe distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you. If you see large puddles of water on the road surface, consider changing lanes to move around them. As always, be aware of other cars around and always use your turn signal.
Avoid Heavy Braking
It is not recommended that you use cruise control when you are driving in wet conditions. This may seem obvious, but it is important to maintain your focus and attention on your need to brake when you need to and accelerate when the time calls for it. Always pay attention to the road in front of you and minimize distractions.
Watch Out for Standing Water
Standing Water can present a danger to you and others. It’s best to avoid standing water when you can. It can grab your tires and cause you to hydroplane, thus possibly making you lose control of your vehicle. As mentioned earlier, be on the lookout for other cars around you and use your turn signal and side mirrors to notify cars that you intend to change lanes and you can see if you have enough distance between you to move to another lane.
Let Off the Gas When Hydroplaning
It is not uncommon to hydroplane in rainy weather conditions. If this does happen to you, stay calm and gently take your foot off of the accelerator. Steer your car in the direction the front of your car needs to go in. Don’t make any sudden turns and don’t brake hard.
Ventilate Your Car
When it rains, humidity levels tend to increase. Because of this, you may notice your windshield and windows start to fog. To combat this and improve your visibility, turn on your car’s ventilation system. As always, if it’s raining very heavily to the point where you can’t see, consider pulling over to the side of the road and wait for weather conditions to improve before moving on.