Protection for your Backyard Swimming Pool

As we enter the dog days of summer, having a pool at home provides refreshing relief from the sun and heat. Your backyard pool may be a savior during these long summer days and a fun time for the kids, but it also presents some risks. It’s important to be aware of how your pool impacts your insurance, so if you’re thinking about adding a pool or buying a home with one, we have some tips for you on pool safety and insurance coverage.

An “Attractive Nuisance”

Your backyard oasis may add value to your property, but it is considered by insurance companies as an attractive nuisance. An “attractive nuisance” is anything that might attract a child and be dangerous to an unsupervised child — and you can be held liable if something were to happen. Things like trampolines, playgrounds and man-made ponds are all considered attractive nuisances. As the homeowner, you are responsible for the risks posed by your pool and preventing potential harm that could come from it. Having an insurance policy that includes coverage for your pool can help you prevent poolside accidents by requiring you to meet certain safety measures. 

Safety Precautions

In order to include coverage for your pool in your insurance policy, many companies require you to take safety precautions that reduce the chance of an accident in or around your pool. Here are some safety precautions that may be required for you to obtain policy coverage for your pool:

  1. Install a fence around the entire perimeter of the pool, with a self-latching gate lock that children can’t reach. 
  2. Get a safety cover to serve as a secondary barrier. Lockable pool covers are a great way to help ensure children are not using the pool without supervision.
  3. Provide accessible safety equipment. Flotation devices near the pool for children who are not yet able to swim can help prevent accidents. 

If you don’t fulfill these safety measures, you could face denied insurance coverage or claims, cancelled policies and possibly large liability lawsuits for which you could be solely responsible. 

Insurance Options

Pool insurance by itself doesn’t exist. You’ll need to talk to an OKFB Insurance agent to find out how you can get coverage for your pool by adding your pool to your home insurance policy. It may also be beneficial to add an umbrella policy, which can provide an additional layer of liability coverage. We offer personal umbrella insurance that’s designed to protect you and your family from lawsuits not fully covered under a standard liability policy.

Benefits of a Storm Shelter

When a tornado or storm strikes, do you and your family have a safe place to take shelter? Are you able to get there in seconds? A safe room or storm shelter can provide an extra layer of protection during a destructive storm, but this isn’t the only benefit a storm shelter provides. If you don’t currently have a storm shelter, or don’t know the value it can provide, check out the following storm shelter benefits.

Easily Accessible

One of the main benefits of a storm shelter is that it is within or very close to you, so everyone in the household can get to it easily. Having a storm shelter on your property means you eliminate the risk of trying to travel to a storm shelter down the street or in the area. A designated storm shelter also reassures you and your family know where to go before a storm or tornado strikes.

Built to Fit Your Family

Storm shelters come in a variety of designs and sizes, plus there is even the option of a custom design to fit your unique needs. If your family has to travel to a community storm shelter, there is the possibility that it will be full and you may have to split up. Additionally, if a family member has unique needs, such as a wheelchair accessible storm shelter, an above-ground storm shelter can meet that need.

Protection for Valuables

Severe storms, especially those that spin up tornadoes, can damage or even totally destroy a home and its contents. A storm shelter in your home can serve as a safe place not only for members of your family, but also for valuable items. From jewelry to pictures, storm shelters can help protect your most precious valuables.

Stocked for Emergencies

Your storm shelter is a great place to store any emergency supplies you may need in case of a tornado or other severe storm. Consider including first aid items, extra clothing, water, food, medication and any important documents. Taking the steps to prepare an emergency kit for your shelter can help make this an area of refuge.

We hope you will consider investing in a storm shelter if you don’t already have one. Even if you never have to use it, a storm shelter in your home can provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

As an added bonus, OKFB members are eligible to receive several discounts on storm shelters. Learn more about this storm shelter discount, and contact your OKFB Insurance agent to talk about the right level of homeowners or flood insurance before storm season is in full swing.

Home Improvements that Can Add Value

As the weather warms up, many homeowners see it as the perfect time to make improvements inside and outside of the home. If you fall into that group, then we’ve got some tips for you! We want you to get the most value out of your project, so we’re sharing insight on where to splurge and where to skip.

IN THE KITCH & BATHROOM

What to Consider

It’s been said kitchens and bathrooms alone often sell houses. If you want to add value and potentially get a great return on your investment, start here. Whether you do a full-scale kitchen remodel or a small renovation, do things that improve the flow of the kitchen, and make cooking easier and more enjoyable. In the bathroom, you also want to balance form and function. Buyers appreciate consistency between the kitchen and bathroom, so, if possible, use coordinating materials for cabinets, counters, floors and fixtures.

What to Skip

Buyers are often looking for storage solutions. When you are making improvements in the kitchen, make sure you add storage or counter space. Skip anything that would likely reduce the amount of storage or workspace in the kitchen. In the bathroom, buyers are looking for a place to unwind. Stick to colors that make the appearance of the bathroom clean and light, and consider optimizing for how you will be using this space every day.

GREAT OUTDOORS

What to Consider

If you are looking to build a shed, add on to your home, or add an in-ground pool, any of these projects will require a revisement to your home insurance policy. Other popular background projects to improve your outdoor living space are expanding your patio, putting up a fence or building a fish pond. When it comes to the front yard and curb appeal, plant weather-tolerant plants, add some color with flowers and shrubs and maintain outdoor light fixtures, walkways and steps.   

What to Skip

When it comes to a pool, consider if it makes sense for your home’s location. Buyers can sometimes be turned off by maintenance and insurance considerations associated with a pool. As for curb appeal, avoid any bold design changes that a new buyer may want to immediately update for their own tastes. Additionally, consider how your improvements will affect outdoor maintenance and skip any that pose a large maintenance outlook.

HOME ESSENTIALS

What to Consider

Sometimes the biggest home improvements aren’t visible. Updating your essentials, like your HVAC system, insulation, electric panels and water heater will save you money in the long run. Improving your home’s energy efficiency is important to your cost of living there and may help attract buyers to your home. Consider upgrading to energy efficient appliances. Home security is also becoming increasingly essential, so consider installing an alarm system, and check out OKFB’s home insurance discount for those who qualify.  

What to Skip

Even though an item may claim to be “green” or promote energy efficiency, make sure you research these claims before you buy. Two good signs to look for are an ENERGY STAR® logo and good sustainability ratings online. When it comes to the value of these upgrades, they can improve your quality of living and sometimes lessen living costs. However, if you are making these improvements to increase the resale value, skip on anything that doesn’t allow you to market your home as energy efficient.

As you make improvements to your home and property, remember that changes often mean you will need to adjust your Home Insurance coverage! Contact your OKFB agent today to discuss any planned or recent home improvement projects.

How to Minimize Flooding in Your Home

With spring officially here, the start of storm season is right around the corner. You may not be able to prevent the springtime floods, but you can take steps to minimize the water damage to your home. Check out these tips, and don’t forget to contact your OKFB agent about adding flood insurance to your policy.

Give Water Somewhere to Go

Water needs to have a designated route for it to flow away from your home. To make this possible, you need to ensure there is proper guttering and that the gutter is free of debris to allow water to flow. You should also adjust any landscaping that may force water toward your foundation. If flooding is significant and consistent over time, consider a French drain or pump system that actively removes water away from your home.

Maintain a Strong Foundation

Foundations are key! Water getting under your house or in your foundation can create costly damages. Examine and patch any holes or cracks in slab foundations by consulting with a professional or by seeking guidance at your local home improvement store for the best solution to fit your situation.

Protect Your Appliances

Air conditioners, generators, fuel tanks and similar items often reside outdoors. Although they’re often made to withstand the elements, they’re not usually made for standing water and can flood out. Raise these items up on a platform and secure them to offer extra safety and protection.

Stay Safe

Stay aware of weather conditions by seeking the most recent information on local TV, radio or Internet sites. Avoid flooded areas. If you have advance warning the area around your home may flood, remove your family to somewhere safe. If possible, be prepared with essentials, like identification, medications and your insurance agent’s contact information.

Learn more about homeowners and flood insurance by contacting an OKFB agent near you.