Precautions to take before starting a home-improvement project

You’ve selected the right contractor, picked out the materials and set aside the necessary budget. It might seem like you’re ready to embark on that home-improvement project. But have you contacted your insurance agent?

Experts recommend that homeowners get in touch with their insurance agent before a home-improvement project to make sure they have sufficient coverage, and after the project is done to see if policy limits need to be increased to provide for enough insurance to rebuild the home. Some projects, such as replacing a roof or installing impact-resistant windows, may even qualify you for an insurance discount.

If anything goes wrong during the project that results in the need to file a claim, you’ll be glad you handled the following in advance, as well:

  • Before starting a home-improvement project, inventory all the items in your home. Include furniture, appliances and personal possessions, and note the date you acquired each item and the purchase price. Consider taking photographs or making a video to provide further proof to assist in the settlement of a covered loss or claim.
  • Make sure your contractor holds a state license, is bonded (which ensures funds are available to pay the homeowner if the job isn’t completed properly or items are stolen) and has the required insurance, including general liability and workers’ compensation, to pay for medical care and lost wages if a worker sustains injuries on the job. If the contractor doesn’t have proper insurance, those injured workers may sue you. It’s also worth verifying any subcontractors’ insurance coverage.
  • Retain copies of all paperwork related to the project, including proof of licensing, bonding and insurance; contracts; invoices; proof of payment; progress photos and all project-related correspondence.
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