Home Renovation and Insurance: What You Need to Know for Your Historic Home

Home Renovation and Insurance: What You Need to Know for Your Historic Home

If you love historic homes, you know how important small details can be. But when you’re embarking on a home renovation project for your historic home, it’s also essential to grasp the nuances of historic home insurance. Renovating a historic home can be a labor of love, requiring a delicate balance between preserving its character and making modern updates. However, an often overlooked aspect of this process is how these renovations impact your home insurance. In this post, we’ll dive into the world of historic home insurance, offering tips to ensure your cherished property is both beautifully renovated and well-protected.

Understanding the Basics of Historic Home Insurance

Navigating the landscape of historic home insurance requires an appreciation for the distinct characteristics and potential challenges of insuring older properties. Unlike standard home insurance policies, those tailored for historic homes account for the intricate process of restoring and maintaining their historical authenticity. A pivotal aspect of securing the right insurance is opting for a policy that provides “replacement cost” coverage. This is particularly important for historic homes, as it ensures compensation based on the restoration cost to its original condition, not just its current market value or “actual cash value.” This distinction is crucial because the costs associated with using authentic materials and specialized craftsmen to preserve the historical integrity of a home can significantly exceed standard repair costs.

Choosing an insurer with expertise in historic properties is equally essential. Such insurers are better equipped to evaluate the unique value of a historic home, including the intricacies of its architecture, the rarity of its construction materials, and the craftsmanship required for its restoration. They can offer a more accurate assessment of coverage needs, considering not just the monetary value, but also the historical significance of the property.

Another key consideration is the scope of coverage. Historic home insurance policies can vary widely, with some offering more comprehensive protections than others. It is important to review what is covered under the policy, including any exclusions or limitations, particularly concerning original architectural features or historically significant elements of the home. Ensuring these aspects are adequately protected can prevent potential gaps in coverage that might leave owners vulnerable to significant out-of-pocket expenses in the event of damage or loss.

The Importance of Accurate Documentation for Your Historic Home

When it comes to those “big” details, documenting your historic home before initiating any renovation projects is a step you cannot afford to overlook. This meticulous documentation should involve more than just taking a few snapshots—it requires a thorough visual record of the home’s condition, including detailed photographs of all architectural details, unique fixtures, and any areas of pre-existing damage. These records serve a dual purpose: first, they provide a baseline against which you can measure the renovation’s impact on the property; second, in the unfortunate event of needing to file an insurance claim, this documentation can be indispensable in proving the pre-renovation state of your home, thereby facilitating a smoother claims process.

In addition to photographic evidence, it’s wise to compile a comprehensive inventory of the property’s original features and materials. This should include any historic fixtures or architectural elements that are being removed, replaced, or modified. Keeping a detailed log, including descriptions and, if possible, the provenance of these items, adds another layer of protection. Should these elements suffer damage or loss during the renovation process, having a well-documented inventory can significantly aid in ensuring they are adequately covered by your insurance policy.

Sharing this detailed documentation and inventory with your insurance provider is a crucial step because It allows your insurer to fully understand the scope and significance of your home’s unique features and to adjust your coverage accordingly. This proactive approach not only helps in aligning your insurance policy with the true value and character of your historic home but also in preempting any potential disputes over claims, thereby safeguarding your investment and ensuring that your home’s legacy is preserved for future generations.

The Role of Local Regulations in Historic Home Renovation

When planning renovations for a historic home, understanding and navigating local regulations is not just a formality—it’s a crucial step that can significantly shape the scope and execution of your project. Many historic homes are situated within designated historic districts or are listed on historic registers, subjecting them to a unique set of rules and oversight by local historic preservation offices or committees. These regulations are in place to ensure that any alterations or improvements maintain the integrity and character of historic structures and their surrounding environments.

Engaging with local historic preservation entities early in the planning process is essential. This engagement will not only clarify what is permissible but will also illuminate opportunities for guidance and support that you might not have been aware of. For instance, some localities offer grants or tax incentives for preservation efforts that comply with certain standards.

The permit application process for renovating a historic home can be more complex and time-consuming than for non-historic properties. It often involves submitting detailed renovation plans, including architectural drawings and material specifications, for review by the preservation office. This review process assesses the proposed changes against the historical significance and original architectural features of the home, ensuring that renovations do not detract from its historical value.

It is also crucial to anticipate how these regulations might affect your project timeline and budget. Restrictions on materials, design, and construction methods can introduce additional costs and delays. For example, you may be required to source specific materials that match the original construction or employ craftsmen skilled in traditional techniques, which can be more expensive and time-consuming than standard options.

Failure to comply with local historic preservation laws can lead to significant setbacks. Unauthorized work might have to be reversed at the homeowner’s expense, and there could be fines or other legal repercussions. These potential issues underscore the importance of thorough planning and adherence to local guidelines, ensuring that your renovation enhances your home’s historic value and character without risking non-compliance penalties.

Navigating Home Renovation with Insurance in Mind

When undertaking renovations on a historic home, the implications for your insurance coverage cannot be ignored. A thoughtful approach to your renovation project, with an eye on how alterations could affect your insurance, is paramount. Upgrades or changes to your home, while enhancing its value and appeal, may require modifications to your insurance policy to avoid gaps in coverage.

Initiate a dialogue with your insurance agent early in the planning stage. This conversation should focus on the specifics of your renovation plans and how they intersect with your current insurance coverage. For example, installing a new roof or upgrading electrical systems might reduce the risk of damage, potentially impacting your insurance premiums positively. Conversely, adding square footage or expensive finishes could increase the replacement cost of your home, necessitating an adjustment in your policy limits to ensure you’re fully protected against any loss.

Additionally, during renovations, consider the need for a builder’s risk policy or a course of construction insurance. This type of coverage is designed to protect your home from risks specifically associated with the renovation process, such as damage from construction accidents or weather events affecting the exposed structure. It acts as a complement to your existing homeowner’s policy, filling in coverage gaps that might exist while work is being performed.

Clarify with your insurance provider which measures are required to maintain coverage during renovations, such as regular updates on the project’s progress or inspections upon completion. This proactive communication ensures that your insurer can accurately assess the evolving value and risks associated with your property, adjusting your policy as necessary to align with these changes.

In essence, navigating the renovation of your historic home with insurance considerations at the forefront is about mitigating risks and ensuring that your investment is adequately protected at every stage. By actively engaging with your insurance provider and seeking tailored advice, you can confidently move forward with your renovation plans, secure in the knowledge that your historic home remains well-protected.

To conclude, the path to successfully renovating and insuring a historic home lies in informed planning, meticulous attention to detail, and an ongoing partnership with insurance experts who grasp the intricacies of historic properties. At Penny Insurance, we’re happy to work with you to find the best options for you—no matter how old or big your next project may be. Our goal is to protect your most valuable asset and gain the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re adequately covered.

Extra Home Protection: Understanding Insurance Riders

As a homeowner, protecting your most valuable asset is of utmost importance, which is why
having a comprehensive insurance policy is essential. However, standard policies may not
always provide sufficient coverage for certain situations.

That’s where home insurance riders come in. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the different types
of home insurance riders and why homeowners should consider adding them to their policies.

What Exactly Are Home Insurance Riders?

Home insurance riders, also known as endorsements or floaters, are additional coverage
options that homeowners can add to their standard insurance policies. While a standard
homeowner insurance policy provides coverage for the structure of your home and personal
belongings, it may not include certain types of risks or high-value items. That’s where riders
come in.

These riders allow you to customize your coverage and protect against specific risks that may
not be covered under your standard policy. For example, if you live in an area prone to natural
disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes, you can add a rider to ensure that your home is
protected in the event of such an situation. Additionally, if you own expensive jewelry, artwork,
or other valuable possessions, you can add a rider to ensure that these items are adequately
covered in the event of loss or damage.

By adding riders to your policy, you can tailor your coverage to meet your specific needs and
give yourself peace of mind. However, it’s important to note that riders often come at an
additional cost, with the price of the rider depending on factors such as the level of coverage
and the specific risk being covered.

Commonly Used Home Insurance Riders

When it comes to home insurance riders, there are several commonly used options that
homeowners should be aware of. These riders provide additional coverage for specific risks or
high-value items that may not be fully protected under a standard policy.

One commonly used rider is the flood insurance rider, which provides coverage for flood-related
damages to your home. This is important for homeowners who live in flood-prone areas or near
bodies of water. Another commonly used rider is the earthquake insurance rider, which covers
damages caused by earthquakes, for homeowners in earthquake-prone regions.

For homeowners with expensive jewelry, artwork, or antiques, the valuable items rider is
essential. It ensures that these high-value possessions are adequately covered in the event of
loss or damage. Another common rider is the home business rider, which provides liability
coverage for homeowners who operate a business from their residence.

Finally, pet liability insurance riders are important for homeowners with certain breeds of dogs
that may be considered high risk. This coverage protects against any liability claims if your pet
causes injury to someone on your property.

These are just a few examples of commonly used home insurance riders. To determine if you
have any coverage gaps that might need “filled in,” It’s important to review your policy and
assess your specific needs to determine which riders are necessary.

Next Steps

In today’s unpredictable world, protecting your home and assets is more important than ever.
Home insurance riders provide an extra layer of protection, allowing you to customize your
coverage to meet your unique needs. By adding these riders to your policy, you can have peace
of mind knowing that you have comprehensive coverage for your most valuable assets.
While it’s important to evaluate your specific needs and circumstances when deciding on the
right riders, it’s also crucial to consider the potential costs. Adding riders to your policy may
come with an additional expense, but the benefits far outweigh the price, since without proper
coverage, you could be left responsible for significant costs in the event of a covered incident.
Consulting with an insurance broker can help you navigate the process and find the right
balance between comprehensive coverage and managing the costs associated with adding
riders. At Penny Insurance, we’re happy to work with you to find the best options for you.

Remember, the goal is to protect your most valuable asset and gain the peace of mind that
comes with knowing you’re adequately covered.

Summer Fun: How to Maintain Swimming Pool Safety at Home

Summer Fun: How to Maintain Swimming Pool Safety at Home

As the weather warms up and summer approaches, homeowners will be looking for ways to make the most of their outdoor space. But with the fun of backyard swimming pools comes a certain level of responsibility for safety. While homeowners insurance provides some protection in the event of an accident, it’s better to take proactive measures to ensure that your swimming pool is not only safe for your family and guests, but also protected in case something happens while you’re enjoying it. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some simple tips for maintaining swimming pool safety at home so you can have a safe and enjoyable summer season.

The Consequences of Negligent Pool Safety

It’s easy to see backyard pools as a fun zone, but it’s important to remember that swimming pools can also be dangerous places. Unfortunately, negligent pool safety is a leading cause of accidental drownings and injury in the United States, so it’s essential that all pool owners take the necessary steps to ensure water safety at all times. 

That’s largely because failure to follow proper pool safety protocols can have serious consequences. In addition to the risk of injury or death, pool owners can also be held liable for accidents that occur due to their negligence—from expensive medical bills to civil lawsuits, and even criminal charges, depending on the severity of the incident. 

However, by taking the time to properly educate themselves on pool safety and implementing precautionary measures, pool owners can ensure that their friends and family have a safe and enjoyable summer season.

Basic Tips for Maintaining Swimming Pool Safety

Maintaining swimming pool safety is a must for every home with a pool, especially in the summertime, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some basic tips to help you maintain water safety and summer safety in and around the pool:

  • Make sure everyone knows how to swim. Make sure all children are supervised by an adult and have taken proper swimming lessons.
  • Establish and enforce safety rules. Make sure everyone knows and follows these rules to avoid any accidents or incidents.
  • Keep a first aid kit and/or life ring close by in case of an emergency.
  • Install safety fences and/or covers to protect children from entering the pool unsupervised.
  • Keep toys away from the pool when not in use to avoid enticement for children.
  • Check the pH levels in the water regularly to ensure it’s safe for swimming.
  • Always remove pool ladders and other entry points when the pool is not in use.
  • Post visible signs such as “no diving” and “children must be supervised by an adult” near the pool area.
  • Install a Pool Alarm. Pool alarms are an invaluable safety device that alerts you when someone enters the pool area. They can provide an extra layer of protection, especially for those with young children or pets.
  • Invest in Safety Covers. A safety cover is a great way to limit access to the pool when it’s not in use. They’re usually made of strong vinyl material and are designed to withstand heavy weights. 
  • Post Warning Signs. Make sure to post visible warning signs around the pool, advising people of its depth, any rules for using the pool, and any dangers associated with its use. 
  • Monitor Activity. Whether you have young children or older adults using the pool, always make sure there is someone present to monitor their activity. 
  • Educate Yourself. Be aware of water safety regulations, safety equipment, and lifesaving techniques to be prepared in case of an emergency.

Level Up with Policies that Float

In addition to basic safety precautions, it’s also important that homeowners understand what kinds of coverage they have when it comes to their backyard oasis—and where they could have liability gaps. So while yes, homeowners insurance does typically cover pool accidents, there are a few important factors to consider when it comes to determining what is covered and how much coverage you may receive.

First, it’s important to know that liability coverage is typically part of your homeowner’s insurance policy. This coverage covers the costs associated with any injury or damage to property as a result of your negligence. Therefore, if someone is injured in your pool and you are found liable, then your liability coverage will cover the costs associated with the incident.

But understand: liability coverage only covers the costs associated with an injury or damage in property and not necessarily the costs associated with repairing or replacing the pool itself. So, if someone falls into your pool and requires medical treatment, your homeowner’s insurance policy may cover medical bills, but not the cost of repairing or replacing the pool or building a fence.

It’s also important to note that homeowners insurance policies often have exclusions for certain kinds of pools. For example, some policies exclude coverage for swimming pools located on a commercial property, or may limit coverage for certain types of pools. 

Ultimately, while homeowners insurance typically covers pool accidents, it’s important to understand the details of your policy and take all necessary safety precautions to reduce the risk of an accident. Your insurance agent can help you determine what coverage you need and what policies will best help provide it. Doing so can help ensure that you and your family stay safe this summer and that any potential accidents are covered by your insurance policy.

With the coverage, you can relax all summer, knowing that you’re protected from whatever comes your way. If you’d like help exploring your options, we at Penny Insurance would love to help. Contact us to schedule a consultation or get a quote for any of your insurance needs. 

Fire Safety for Outdoor Fires

Fire Safety for Outdoor Fires

With the seasonal shift to fall comes cooler weather, earlier nights, and bonfires to gather around with friends and family. But when it comes to lighting a flame outdoors there can be risks—and how those risks relate to your homeowner’s insurance bring about another level of concern.  In this article, we’ll explore basic fire safety for all the cozy nights (and productive days!) you have planned this autumn.

Types of outdoor fires and how to make them safer

There are a lot of reasons to be outside once the fall air turns crisp. From cleaning up fallen leaves to celebrating with those closest to you, here are some of the most common reasons people light up outside, and how to make them a bit safer.


With football tailgates comes outdoor barbeques, and you may find yourself at the grill a bit more often than before. But if you find yourself watching over the cookout, make sure you practice grill safety: stay with the grill the entire time it’s on, move the grill away from decking or siding that may be more flammable, and keep your grill clean so a grease fire doesn’t catch you unaware.

Fire Pits

Nothing says “fall” more than sitting around a fire pit or bonfire with s’mores on hand, but a fire pit is also a common way for fire to get loose in the yard. If hanging around the fire with friends is on your fall to-do list, make sure your fire is at least three feet away from the house as well as anything that could easily catch fire, and use a metal screen to keep sparks at bay. When you’re done, check that the fire is out completely before you leave it alone for the night.

Burn piles

When the fall leaves make a dense carpet in your backyard, it’s natural to want to clean them out—whether to keep underlying grass healthy or to prevent snakes and other pests from taking cover. There are a number of preferable ways to clear out dead leaves other than a burn pile—such as bagging them up in biodegradable bags or chopping them up in the mower to mulch the lawn for the winter—but if you must burn, there are a few precautions you should take.

Firstly, check the weather, and never burn on super dry or windy days, when flames could jump or scatter. Also, look for a place that is flat, and never under branches or power lines. Add a moat around the perimeter of your pile for added safety, and make sure you douse the pile—not once, but twice, once you are done for the day. 

Are outdoor fires covered by insurance?

While many will assume that a runaway fire would be covered by homeowners’ insurance, the reality is a bit more complicated. Grills and fire pits are typically considered personal belongings, as well as an “unattached structure.” This means that—typically—any damage will only be covered at a percentage of the insurance you carry for your entire home, usually about ten percent. So if an ember sparks something bigger and affects your shed or garage, it could mean big bucks out of pocket. 

For this reason, it’s a good idea to know your coverage limits and liabilities—before you start up the fire pit for the season. Talking with your insurance agent about your own practices, hobbies and concerns is a great way to determine if you’re at risk, and if so, how much risk you’re taking on when you light the match.

For your homeowner’s policy, or any other insurance requirements you have, Penny Insurance has the experience and expertise to walk you through, every step of the way. Should you have any questions about coverage or insurance types, or if you would like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know.

How to Buy Hurricane Insurance

How to Buy Hurricane Insurance

With hurricane season now upon us, it’s crucial that those with homes along vulnerable coasts know that their homes and belongings are protected. If you’re looking to buy hurricane insurance, you know that it can be complicated—from changes in what policies are required to how coverage differs from state to state. However, with the right advisor in your corner, you can have coverage from all the storms that may head your way.

What is hurricane insurance?

The first thing that’s important to understand is that not only will standard homeowners’  insurance not cover damage from a hurricane, but that there is really no such thing as a hurricane policy. Instead, homeowners will need to merge two types of policies—a flood policy, and windstorm insurance. Flood insurance will help cover the cost of damages incurred by surges of water into the home (rising water damage is typically not covered by a standard homeowners policy), and windstorm insurance covers damage from any sort of high wind, not just hurricanes.

How much will hurricane insurance cost?

To protect your home completely from a hurricane, you’re looking at pretty high premiums. While the standard homeowners’ policy will cost, on average, somewhere between $1500 to $1900 a year, adding flood coverage ($700-1000/year) can increase that significantly. In addition, you’ll want a  windstorm insurance policy that can add an additional $700 to $2,600 a year, depending on your location, deductible and home build. Once added up, you’ll be paying significantly more to ensure that your coverage is gap-free.

What to know about hurricane deductibles

While most homeowners plans have a set, flat deductible per claim (like $1,000 or $2,500), oftentimes a hurricane deductible will be based on the value of your home (like one or two percent over your estimated value). That means your deductible could be much higher than you’re used to—a $1 million seaside home could require $10,000 deductible if calculated at one percent of the home’s value. These  deductibles may also be called “Named Storm” deductibles, as they are triggered when the NOAA names a storm.

While the risk is small that you will need to use it, you’ll want to talk through your options with a trusted advisor who can walk through the options, and ensure you don’t get hit with a deduction that’s high during an already stressful time.

Top tips for purchasing hurricane insurance

If you’re considering purchasing hurricane insurance for your home, there are a few things you should consider.

Understand your coverage—and its gaps.

As you walk through your coverage options, you’ll want to make sure that you understand what is covered—inside and out. Does your payout cover the cost of a full rebuild? What is your deductible? How is your premium billed, and what is covered? All of these are things you’ll want to know in case of a storm-based emergency.

Don’t wait.

While hurricane season is somewhat predictable between June 1 and n=November 30 of each year, some policies have wait times before they are active, so you don’t want to wait until a storm is headed your way to figure all this out.

Compare your quotes.

Quotes can vary, and with such a high price tag attached to hurricane coverage, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the best rates.

Get an advisor to help.

Because hurricane policies include many different variables, you’ll want to make sure you have someone who knows the industry and the coverage, so they can help you identify gaps in coverage and shore them up. But having someone knowledgeable alongside you can not only help while you’re going through the purchasing process, but can also give you a little peace should something happen, knowing they are helping you along the way.

If you need a hurricane insurance policy, Penny Insurance has the experience and expertise to walk you through it, every step of the way. Should you have any questions about coverage or insurance types, or if you would like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know.

Insuring Family Heirlooms- From Generation to Generation

Insuring Family Heirlooms- From Generation to Generation

Some of the most valuable things in life aren’t those that were expensive—they are things that are truly unique. Like the old grandfather clock that sat in your ancestor’s living room to the family ring that has been a part of more weddings than you have, these family heirlooms are the foundation of our own backgrounds and characters, and can be—quite literally—irreplaceable. For that reason alone, you should make sure you are doing what you can to take care of them—including insuring them in case of loss, theft or damage. 

What is considered a family heirloom?

While the word “heirloom” brings up ideas of art passed down for generations, or a piece of priceless jewelry, the reality is that an heirloom is anything of value that is passed down from generation to generation. Practically, this means that everything from furniture, clothing, serving ware, textiles and more could be considered an heirloom. As such, any of these things can be worth insuring, if they are valuable enough for your family.

What kind of insurance will I need to insure an heirloom?

There are a few different types of insurance that may cover an heirloom, depending, of course, on what the heirloom is. Homeowners insurance may cover items within the home, but generally will not recognize the inherent value of a specific thing, so typically you will be looking at more specialized policies. Other options are personal property insurance, which focuses coverage on a per-item basis. At Penny Insurance, we offer Valuable Items Insurance, which takes into consideration the value you place on an heirloom item.

When in doubt, it’s best to consult your insurance agent for guidelines on what can be insured and for how much. Even if they won’t cover it, there is a great chance they will know who will. 

How do you insure a family heirloom?

Insuring the most precious of items isn’t hard—even though there are a few things you’ll need to do to get everything in order. Here is a step-by-step process for getting your family heirlooms insured.  

1. Locate and List

What do you consider a family heirloom? Is it—practically—worth insuring? Do your due diligence and determine what pieces you would like to insure—from artwork to jewelry or even grandma’s vintage recipe book. Once you have compiled all the information you can, you’ll need to find out what it’s generally worth.

2. Get an appraisal

While an appraisal can’t tell you how much you value grandpa’s old watch, it can give you a more complete picture of what you have to insure—the monetary value of the item, how old it is, and maybe even a bit of background information you didn’t have before. All of this information will be vital to have on hand as you meet with your insurance agent. 

3. Work with your agent

Once you have all the information in place, schedule a time to sit down with your agent and go over the details of what you want to insure and for how much. They’ll be able to not only walk you through the process and the price, but often may also give you ideas on how to protect the item, or coverage options you should consider. 

4. Keep them safe

While it’s great to have Aunt Cindy’s stole insured in case something happens to it, keep in mind that there is no compensation equal to that of losing something that held personal value for you, so you’ll want to make sure you keep your family heirloom as safe as possible. Consider how you will store and care for the item until it’s ready to pass down to someone else—and when you do, let them know how they can go ahead and protect and insure it, as well.

No matter what type of heirloom you want to insure, Penny Insurance is ready to help. Should you have any questions about coverage or insurance types, or if you would like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know.