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renovating your home? first renovate your insurance

Spring is here, and you know what that means: Aside from breaking out the lawnmower from storage and unfurling your garden hoses, it's time to get a jump start on contacting contractors for your renovation projects. However, new gutters, decks, landscaping and additions to your home don't come cheap. You've worked hard to afford these things, so you'll want to make sure they're protected. Here's what to keep in mind before hammers start flying. Is Your Contractor Covered? It's no secret that working in the construction industry faces a wide range of hazards. In 2018, 3 percent of construction workers were injured on the job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Given the possibility of a worker being injured on your property, are you comfortable having someone work on your home who's not adequately insured? It would be terrible enough if something bad happened, let alone the financial impact if someone sues you. That's why it's a smart idea to make sure your contractor has all of their insurance ducks in a row. Before you hire them, ask to see their worker's compensation policy and their general liability policy. If they don't have them, you run the risk of being on the hook if a worker gets injured on your property. It's also a good idea to ask your contractor if they'll be hiring out any subcontractors, which is common. You'll need to go through the same verification process with them, as well, checking their policies for worker's compensation and general liability. Is Your New Project Covered? Your homeowners insurance covers the value of your home, but once you upgrade your home, its value will change—and so should your insurance coverage. The Insurance Information Institute recommends getting ahold of your insurance agent before any workers break ground on your project. Tell them what you're changing so they can estimate your home's new value and upgrade your coverage before the work even begins. That way, if something happens while you're still building—like a rogue tornado or a spring hailstorm, for example—you'll be covered right from the start. If you wait until afterwards, your new renovation may not be covered if you need to make a claim. Is Your Home Safe? Perhaps the simplest—and cheapest—thing of all is to examine your home and make sure it's safe for people to be in, as it can be easy to underestimate everyday dangers (you live there, after all!). Try taking a few minutes to look at things with a critical eye. Are there any kids' toys laying around that someone could trip on? What about piles of wet leaves or moss that make it easy to slip and fall? Look up, as well: Are there any dead/dying branches or trees nearby that could fall and hurt someone? Do you have a rowdy fido (or fluffy, even) who you should safely secure before workers show up? Taking some time to make sure your property is safe will protect your wallet, your family, and the people coming to work for you.

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