Reflecting on the farmhouse fire, I prayed the farmhouse was insured correctly. It was being rented at the time, and with appropriate property insurance, the owner would have been compensated for the building and the loss of rents. If the tenants had renter’s insurance, they would be paid for the loss of their personal belongings too. I later learned some good news: no one was home when it burned.
If you are looking for that dream homestead or hobby farm, here are some things that can impact your insurability and premiums:
1. Distance to The Nearest Fire Department
Response time is critical; it could be the difference between a total loss and partial loss that is repairable. This rule of thumb also applies for medical emergencies. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) units park at the local fire department. Our family experienced medical emergencies while living here, and response time is a few minutes.
2. Sufficient Water Supply Nearby
Adequate water supply near your home, such as a hydrant or pond, is essential. Insurance companies want Fire Hydrants less then 500 feet from your structures. Again, response time is critical with a fire. The fire fighters can extinguish a fire faster the closer a good water supply is to your home and out building. Here are a couple of options that can help save your home:
- Let the fire department know where the nearest water source and type is before you have a fire (eg pond, creek, or fire hydrant). They will know to bring a water tank truck(s) immediately to your place,
- Install a sprinkler system, if possible,
- If you live in areas prone to wildfires
- Clear debris and brush around your home,
- Apply fire retardants around and on your buildings,
- Install foam fire fighting and external sprinkler systems on the outside your buildings.
3. Smoke Detector, Carbon Monoxide Detectors, & Fire Extinguishers
If you don’t currently have a smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector, and fire extinguishers, make sure to purchase and install them in your home.
- Install a smoke and carbon detector inside and outside your bedrooms on every floor of your home.
- Test the devices once a month and change the batteries every six months to ensure they are always working correctly. Replace You also want to purchase a fire extinguisher.
- Replace the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors per the manufacturer’s recommendations, and
- Place fire extinguishers in areas at higher risk of fire, such as your kitchen, bedroom, basement, and garage.
4. Security Systems
Consider installing a security system that can connect to emergency services (police, fire, and EMS). Some methods work in remote areas. Here are a couple of useful ideas:
- There are wired and wireless systems available today. We use a wireless system that has a battery backup and a dedicated cellphone that will contact 911. Ours is totally customizable. We can add door opening, glass breakage, cameras, doorbell cameras, smoke detectors and the list goes on,
- Add security cameras,
- Get a dog. People are deterred by dogs, especially when they bark,
- Put up signs that state you have a security system and cameras. We have them and like a dog they do act as a deterrent, and
- If your neighbors are OK with it, get Guineas or Geese. They are biological alarms. As an added bonus Guineas love ticks. Tell your neighbors about your tick eating Guineas especially since your Guineas will also eat their Ticks.
5. CPR & First Aid
Lastly, this will not impact your insurance rates, but it may save a life — if you live some distance from the nearest EMS, considers the following:
- Take CPR and First Aid courses, and stay current,
- Purchase an automated external defibrillator (AED) and training to use it, and
- Purchase an excellent first aid kit.
Preparation is important. You may live in area outside the comfort zone of your insurance companies’ underwriter, but adding some preventative measures make that underwriter more comfortable and willing to offer insurance coverage. If the farmhouse had a security system that alerted 911 and/or was sprinklered, it could still here and not a pile of ash.
Have a Great Day and be safe!!
To be continued with more of my story and insurance lessons.