It's quite often said that your home is one of the biggest investments you'll ever purchase. First home buyers spent an average of $401,000 on their properties in 2009-2010 1. Yet, many people take their castle for granted and spend more time and money making their investment look pretty than...well... investing in it. Part of any sensible investment is making sure it'll do what it's meant to do - appreciate in value - and this involves protecting it from any unfortunate events that may befall it. The benefit of protecting your home against these events is that your family is also safer; that itself should be reason enough.
Protection can take on many forms and one of the most basic is insurance. Instead of looking at your insurance as a burden, why not take measures to minimise your premiums with the addition of a few preventative approaches? Remember: there's also the added benefit of protecting your family in the one place they deserve to feel safe.
We can all ensure our home and contents insurance is up-to-date and adequate to replace our possessions if needed. But how many of us look at preventing the unfortunate event in the first place?
Items such as extra locks (or even better locks) can deter a would-be thief and leave your home in tact, as well as potentially reducing the premiums on your insurance. Burglary on homes, and stealing from them, has remained stable (from January 2010 to December 20112) and while it is not decreasing, we still need to be vigilant. Locking bolts installed correctly on windows mean they can be left locked open to allow fresh breezes inside (think of what you'll save on air conditioning an empty house). If you want to take it a little further, burglar alarms and sensor lights will make your home less attractive to prospective thieves both when you're home and out. Should someone approach your home, a sensor light will come on and not only draw attention to them but make it easier for passers-by to see what they're up to. If someone actually gains entry to your home, then ear-splitting alarms will ensure they won't stay long and their presence will be noticed by your neighbours. Back-to-base alarms will signal the need for a security patrol and they can assess the situation on your behalf.
But it's not just thieves that can make our lives a misery. More natural events like fire can damage or destroy homes, and severely impact our families. Replacing sentimental items lost in a fire is impossible, no matter how much they are insured for. A fire alarm can warn householders before a fire takes hold, enabling your family to put the fire out, or escape if it's too bad. Preventative measures are invaluable - practicing an escape route and planning where family members will meet (for example, the letterbox) is crucial, and the entire family should be well-versed with the plan. Fire blankets are a cheap way of ensuring small fires can be snuffed out quickly, and extinguishers can be purchased and placed in both the home and car. Ensure you have the right extinguisher for each location and responsible people in the family know how to use them.
What if you are away for an extended period? Little things, such as not posting upcoming holidays on social media outlets, are essential. Stop delivery of your mail at your local post office, or arrange for a neighbour to collect it, as full mailboxes mean empty houses. Don't make a production of packing your car before a road trip - loading up in the garage is better than in the street or driveway. However, there are other methods you can utilise to make it look like you're home when you're not. Timers plugged into electrical sockets will activate devices such as radios and lamps, making it difficult for thieves to know precisely if there is someone home or not. Have a trusted person check your home once or twice a week, and having your plants watered is a great way of keeping your home looking lived-in. Turn down the ringers and answering machines on your home phone, and leave some clothes on the line.
Protecting yourself, your family and your home will also mean minimising the risk of an unfortunate event - but they can also potentially reduce your premiums. The best bit is that you can do all this without spending too much money.