5 Ways to Protect Your New Home
After the hustle of the house hunt, at last, you have a place to call your own. Next up on your list? Making sure your new abode is safe and sound. We spoke with Allstate agent Sedrik Newbern and his Agency Manager Denise Newbern (who happen to be homeowners and husband and wife!) in Libertyville, Illinois, about what you can do to secure your home.
1. Change the Locks
It may seem obvious, but changing the locks is the first thing you should do once you've closed the deal on your new home. “You have no idea who has a set of keys, from the previous owner's family members to contractors who worked on the house," Sedrik says. Have a locksmith check out the condition of the current locks to see whether they recommend rekeying them or completely changing them out. If the locks are especially worn out, replacing them is definitely the better (though more expensive) option.
2. Install a Security System
Whether you travel frequently, have guests or employees coming in and out of your home, or just want the extra assurance, installing a security system is a no-brainer. And if the additional security isn't incentive enough, Allstate offers up to 15 percent in savings when you have a security system that also protects against fire installed in your home. Many systems offer the ability to check on your home right from your phone, so while you're at work, you can look in on your beloved pets (or in the future, children) and see how they're doing. Pet cam and security system all in one—what's not to love?
3. Get to Know Your Neighbors
Not only is it the neighborly thing to do, but taking the time to introduce yourself to the families next door will keep you and your new home better protected. “The more people that know you, the better," Denise says. Seriously, there's no downside to making nice with your neighbors. While you're out of town they can pick up your newspapers (piled up mail is a major red flag for thieves) and let you—or the police—know if they see something suspicious. So go ahead, bake a pie or grab a bottle of wine and make a name for yourself in the neighborhood.
4. Don't Cheap Out on Your Coverage
It's true—paying a premium on home insurance is a big leap from a renters policy. “Many people will cut coverage with the goal of saving five dollars here or there," Sedrik says. But you could end up paying for it in the long run, he notes. For example, many homes in Illinois have sump pumps to remove excess water from basements. If those pumps fail—which, according to Sedrik, they often do—you could end up with a flooded basement. “Policies can be written to include coverage for this kind of damage, which may only add up to $200 to your policy annually. But if you don't have that coverage on your policy, it could cost you thousands in out of pocket expense to clean up the damage," Sedrik says. (This is also where Allstate's local business model comes into play: Agents like Sedrik and Denise serve the community they actually live in, which means they'll understand your coverage needs from both a personal and professional perspective.) So instead of just looking at the numbers, think about the potential risks of not having certain coverage. Talking to your agent can help you figure out what's best for you and your budget.
5. Find an Insurance Agent You Like—and Keep in Touch
As a new homeowner, you'll probably have a lot of questions—and a good insurance agent will be there to answer them. For example, did you know that if you hire someone to clean your home, you may be liable if they're injured on the job? Same goes with a babysitter. If you have a good rapport with your agent, these kinds of conversations are more likely to occur. And keep in mind, you'll want to check in at least annually with your agent (or whenever any life changes come up) to make sure your coverage meets your current needs.
The Nest and Allstate teamed up to present Take It From Me, a sponsored series featuring life lessons that people learned from past generations, plus valuable advice to help you prepare for the future. To find a local Allstate agent who can advise you as you make big life changes, visit Allstate.com.