Consumers Should Practice Reasonable Readiness

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Consumers Should Practice Reasonable Readiness

July 21, 2015

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A colleague traveling overseas recently had her purse stolen. Gone were her passport, credit cards and 63 euros. She will admit to initial panic but mostly regretted precautions not taken, such as photocopying the passport or wearing a hidden travel wallet.

Lucky for her, the situation quickly morphed from emergency to hassle after she cancelled the credit cards and learned it would be relatively easy to get a temporary passport from the local U.S. Consulate.  Also, her traveling companions had access to cash.

Whether true crisis or mere hassle, stuff like this happens with your home, too. And while we can’t prepare for every eventuality, it’s a good idea to invest time in reasonable readiness in case of a home repair crisis

Compile a list of preferred service providers. Because knowing who to call for help is half the battle, Angie’s List members are at an advantage in this area. But if you don’t already have a relationship with a plumber, roofer or other important service provider, take time to develop one. And when researching service providers, ask about policies and fees for after-hours or weekend service calls, and if service contracts provide a price break on emergency service.

Keep insurance up to date: Review your homeowners policy annually to be sure you’re adequately insured. (It’s easy to forget to call your agent after a major remodel or repair but not doing that could mean your improvements won’t be covered. Also, paying attention to your policy may have other benefits: I had my policy requoted at renewal time and was able to save money.) Review auto and other kinds of insurance, too.

Create a property record: Photograph or videotape your house, garage and property, to create an inventory. Copy files onto a thumb drive or disc and store in a bank deposit box, at work or somewhere safe outside your home.

Find your water shut-off valve: Turning off the water coming into your home can make the difference between minor damage and a disaster. Often, the main valve is near the water meter.

Budget for emergency repairs: If you’re taking care of basic expenses and can set money aside for other priorities, financial planners suggest building up an emergency home maintenance fund of at least $5,000.

Have an emergency plan and kit: Put together an evacuation plan for your home and an emergency supplies kit for your home and vehicles. Good sources of detailed information include Ready.gov and the American Red Cross.

Water shutoff valve photo by Katelin Kinney

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