Electronic Delivery of your Insurance Policy

Whether or not you have already received any of your policies via email in recent years, you will see more and more of your insurance documents delivered electronically, in most cases in a PDF file format. As insurance companies update their policy delivery procedures, they are updating their technology so that policies are delivered electronically and most have already implemented this. There are several different methods of electronic delivery and the best news is you are getting your policy faster than ever.

The current trend of electronic delivery is through an email alert advising you of a new policy, a renewal or any updates. You would then log into your account online and retrieve your documents. Another method is that some companies are delivering this to the insurance agency, then the agency is turning around and delivering this to you as an email attachment. If you ever have a problem with retrieving your documents, you should immediately contact your agency. If you don’t already receive your policy electronically, it may be available on demand from your agency, and the best thing to do is to call your agency and inquire if the policy can be delivered electronically. Finally, some carriers give you the option; you can either go on their website to find out what the procedures are, or you can contact your agency.

When you get your policy, the best options are to either save your policy on your computer or save it into an online cloud file account. If you have a backup service for your computer, saving on your computer may be fine. If you don’t have a backup service, you may want to consider getting a Google Docs, a Box.com or Dropbox account. Many online document storage services offer free accounts for the first so many gigabytes of storage. In addition, since many companies are giving you access online to these accounts, as long as you have your user name and password you should have access to your policy. Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to download them and save these on your system.

Online document delivery has been the trend for delivery in recent years for banking, financial brokerages, and delivery of billing statements and is now the trend for the delivery of insurance documents. While the available technology is the driving force behind this, it is also a green business practice that saves paper and energy. After twenty years since the internet has become commercialized, we continue to see more and more utilization of the benefits that it provides.

Use Technology to Make a Home Inventory

We purchase insurance to protect us from what might happen. Hopefully we go through life, never having to make a claim against our homeowner’s or auto insurance policies. We know that the monthly or annual fee is in our best interest, even as we hope to never need its services. Taking home inventory should be just as important. This worthwhile task is yet another method of protecting ourselves against something that may never happen, but could. Yet few people place as much importance on taking home inventory as they do on increasing their homeowner’s policy coverage. While most insurance agents inform their clients about the significance of taking home inventory, it is rarely performed. Homeowners may put the task on their to-do lists, but as time goes by, and their busy lives take priority, it simply never gets accomplished. The result can be a very expensive one indeed.

So now that I realize the significance of taking home inventory, how do I get started? At first glance, it seems pretty simple. Go through your home, room by room, taking pictures of your personal belongings and documenting their approximate value. No problem, right? The problem lies in Step 2: Storing your photographs and data. Unfortunately, for many people, Step 2 involves placing their beautifully detailed data in a storage box under their bed, or in filing cabinets in their home office. The files are safe and sound, until the house burns down, is burglarized, or gets filled with murky flood waters…rendering the information completely useless. This common occurrence is as ironic as it is sad. But in today’s technological world, it should never happen.

Now that you understand how technology can make taking home inventory as secure as it is easy, your next step is to find the best web site or software for your unique needs. Secure servers allow you to document all of your belongings and access them with ease, and they eliminate the need for a physical location in which to store them.

Important factors to consider when deciding on the most suitable home inventory site:

While many options boil down to personal choice, the options below are helpful regardless of your unique situation.

*Make sure your site or software allows you to quickly and easily select information about the products in your home.

*It is very helpful if the system is pre-populated with items, based on room and category. For example, Bedroom: Bed, Dresser, Night Stand, Lamp, etc.

*You may want to look at the total amount of inventory you have by room, or you may want to see items by category, or it’s possible you prefer a complete list of everything within your home. Look for functionality that allows all of these searches.

*And absolutely be certain that there is secure data storage within the web site or software. This cannot be stressed enough.

Below are some home inventory web sites to assist you in the process. I have listed them in no particular order, and included a short review of each.

http://www.knowyourstuff.org/iii/login.html

This site provides free, secure online storage in an easy to use format. The system is very user friendly, not overly complicated. There is a guided tour to help you navigate the system, and a video tutorial if you are someone who learns by watching. The only thing I didn’t love about this site is that you have to actually sign up to get most of the information. There is a FAQ page, but it wasn’t as easy to find as on some of the other sites.

http://www.whatyouown.org

This site appears a bit “fancier” at first glance, but when you begin reading, it becomes apparent that it’s just as user friendly. In fact, I much prefer the FAQ page, which allows you to get a lot of information without first having to sign up. However, there is no video tutorial. This site is also free.

http://www.stuffsafe.com/index.php

This site is very user friendly and provides a lot of information prior to signing up. It is also free. As with the other sites, Stuff Safe allows you to print and download reports quickly and easily. The FAQ page on this site is also easy to find and navigate. However, as with the What You Own site, Stuff Safe does not have a video tutorial.

In addition to helping in the event of a theft or disaster, a home inventory also helps you determine the appropriate amount of insurance protection. Even better, it can help you settle insurance claims faster. The actual task of performing a home inventory is quite simple. Basically, you should start with the most significant items (fine jewelry, electronics, furniture and family heirlooms, among others), and add the less expensive items, such as clothing, at the end. For every item you list, take a photograph, give a description of the item, list the date of purchase, approximate replacement value, and any other relevant information (such as serial number, make, or model). Upload this information to the home inventory software of your choice, and voila! You can rest assured that in the event of theft or disaster, you’ll be many steps ahead of the game when it comes to recovering your losses and getting your life back on track. 

Advantages of Home Automation Systems

Although many people have heard the term home automation, few understand what it is. Automating a home involves multiple installations of modern devices that control various functions. While most people feel that something should not be fixed unless it is broken, it is best to keep in mind that this is just a beneficial enhancement. Automating a home results in several advantages, which are included in the following points.

1. It saves money on utilities. These expenses may add up to amounts well over $100 or even $300 each month. A home automation system turns off lights automatically, optimizes thermostat settings continuously and contributes to a reduction in the utility bill. The reduction is usually between 10 and 25 percent.

2. It makes many tasks more efficient. Some tasks are repetitive. For example, a routine of turning off five specific lights before watching television would normally consist of five separate tasks. With the push of one button, a home automation system can turn off a designated set of lights.

3. It is good for the environment. For very good reasons, society is pushing toward environmental awareness. Home automation is the perfect solution for preserving natural resources by reducing power consumption.

4. It provides home security features. While home security is an issue on the minds of most people, many cannot afford the costly installation or monthly monitoring fees. Home automation systems provide a much more affordable solution for security. However, they also have many other beneficial features that other home security systems lack.

5. It decreases safety risks. Poor lighting is one of the main causes of accidents in the home. For example, a person trying to climb the stairs while fumbling for a light switch is likely to fall. Automation systems turn lights on and off in stairways as people approach or leave them. Since appliances, lights and electrical devices are shut off automatically, the risk of a fire starting is lower.

6. It provides peace of mind. Although this is not a physical feature of a home automation system, it is one of the most important advantages. Peace of mind reduces worries and stress. Homeowners who have surveillance cameras installed and connected to the Internet can also monitor activity remotely. This provides an easy way to see what kids are doing when they are home. Kids’ activities on the computer can also be restricted with a home automation system.

7. It is something that benefits the entire family. As families learn about their system’s functions and capabilities, they have a chance to enjoy time together. It also provides a way for kids to learn more about technology.

Home automation systems may also have other advantages that are specific to certain individuals. For example, pet owners enjoy being able to see what their furry friends are doing while they are away. Parents with small children can monitor babysitters or nannies to ensure they are treating the kids well. To learn more about these advantageous systems, discuss the options with an agent.