Emergency Preparedness

Tips for Saving on Homeowners and Renters Insurance

How to save on your homeowners and renters insurance policy.

Note to renters: Renters, if you don't have insurance you should. Paying $3-5 a month (less than $100 a year), will save you and your bank account a world of pain if disaster strikes on your rental. For example, if the roof leaks or if there's a bug infestation and you need to leave your apartment for a few days, your rental insurance policy will often cover hotel expenses while the landlord remedies the problem.

Whether you own or rent your home, insurance is essential to protect your property and household goods. Comparison shopping for the best rates will certainly save you some money, but you also can save by following these tips:

  • Choose a higher deductible—increasing your deductible by just a few hundred dollars can make a big difference in your insurance premium.
  • Ask your insurance agent about discounts. Dead bolts, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, security systems, storm shutters and fire-retardant roofing material are just some of the home safety features that can often lower your rate. You also may be able to get a lower premium if you are a long-term customer or if you bundle other coverage, such as auto insurance, with your provider. Some companies also offer senior discounts for customers who are older than 55 years.
  • Don’t include the value of the land when you are deciding how much coverage to buy. If you insure your house, but not the land under it (e.g. in a condominium) , you can avoid paying more than you should. Even after a disaster, the land will still be there.
  • If you’re a renter, don’t assume your landlord carries insurance on your personal belongings. They likely don’t provide renters insurance. Purchase a separate renters’ policy to be sure your property—like furniture, electronics, clothing and other personal items—is covered.

Don’t wait until you have a loss to find out whether you have the right type and amount of insurance. For example, many policies require you to pay extra for coverage for high-ticket items like computers, cameras, jewelry, art, antiques, musical instruments, and stamp and coin collections.

Savings on Homeowner and Renter InsuranceFurthermore, not all coverage will replace fully what is insured. An “actual-cash-value” policy will save you money on premiums, but it only pays what your property is worth at the time of loss (your cost minus depreciation for age and wear). “Replacement” coverage gives you the money to rebuild your home and replace its contents.

Finally, a standard homeowners’ policy does not cover flood and earthquake damage. The cost of a separate earthquake policy depends on the likelihood of earthquakes in your area. Homeowners who live in flood-prone areas should take advantage of the National Flood Insurance Program.

Emergency Planning in Community Associations

Today, Portland and SW Washington are in a winter storm gridlock.  If you have some free time over the next few days, take a moment to think about emergency preparedness and disaster recovery in your community association. Most importantly, make sure you have your insurance policy information and contact numbers handy at all times.

Here are some resources to review:



Here is a Red Cross family emergency planning chart: red-cross-disaster-family-plan

Here's a worksheet for community associations to review and fill out: disaster-plan-outline

Emergency Preparedness for the Community Association

Disaster may strike at anytime. It could be a fire, tsunami, or earthquake. Community associations should be particularly aware of procedures and plans if affected by a disaster or emergency. For high-rise communities, a disaster plan is critical. Managers or contractors who typically maintain or service the building may not be available in the wake of an emergency. The board should consider: 1) how residents will be evacuated; 2) utility shut-offs (who and how); and 3) how communications will be established.

Here is a disaster/emergency outline for boards or committees to consider when formulating a recovery plan: Disaster Plan Outline

The following are some useful links:

“Prepare! A Resource Guide” from the Red Cross - http://www.portlandoregon.gov/pbem/article/410173

Portland Bureau of Emergency Management: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/pbem/46475

FAQs About Building Evacuation” from the National Fire Protection Association - http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/occupancies/high-rise-buildings/faqs-about-building-evacuation.

“High Rise Emergency Handbook” from the City of Bellevue, WA - http://www.ci.bellevue.wa.us/pdf/Fire/mac8659-HighRiseHandbookFINAL.pdf