Archive for the ‘Emergency Preparedness’ Category

The Sky is Falling: Meteors and Your Home Insurance

Monday, February 25th, 2013

The Sky is Falling: Meteors and Your Home Insurance | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamAt first, when I heard about the meteor that hit the Urals region of western Siberia in Russia a couple weeks ago, I thought it had to be a mistake.  That is, until I heard the news reports of the hundreds of people injured and the massive amounts of property damage.  And then I got to feeling pretty relieved that it hadn’t landed here, and wondering if that kind of destruction would hit people in their wallets.

An article in the Edmonton Journal reported that the meteor, which was the size of a bus and weighed about 7000 tons, exploded with the force of 20 atomic bombs.  Russia seems to be a bit of a magnet for massive meteorite strikes.  The last big one, in fact the largest impact of its type in recorded history, hit Siberia in 1908, wiping out an estimated 80 million trees with a blast greater than 1000 times that of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima.  

The Journal article quotes Jim Green, NASA’s director of planetary science: “These fireballs happen about once a day or so, but we just don’t see them because many of them fall over the ocean or in remote areas.”  Good to know for those of us who live in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or the Edmonton region! 

So, what happens if your home is hit by falling space debris?  Or, for that matter, items falling from airplanes, such as chunks of frozen sewage known as “blue ice”, tree limbs broken off in a wind storm, and the like?  Happily for homeowners, this is one less thing to worry about because insurance policies generally do cover such events. 

According to Angeni Jaipaul at Allstate Insurance in west Edmonton, a meteor event of this type would be part of the “Falling Objects” clause of Allstate’s VIP Homeowner Policy which states “This peril means a falling object which strikes the exterior of a building but not objects which strike the building due to earth movement”If your home is damaged in any way by junk falling out of the sky, your insurance will pay for repairs.

5 things to know about home insurance, an article published on the Toronto Star website,  offers a few more bits of insurance wisdom:

  • Be aware of your responsibilities as a home owner.  Insurance will usually cover you for events that you could not have foreseen or prevented (stuff dropping from the sky that wrecks your roof), but you won’t be covered if damage is the result of your lack of maintenance.
  • Read your policy carefully and be sure to ask questions of your agent.  Do you have a comprehensive all-perils policy, or a basic named-perils policy?  All-perils policies will protect you against most risks; a named-perils policy will cover specific risks, such as fire, lightning, wind.  (But be careful:  the term all-perils might be misleading because most of these policies don’t cover damage from floods or earthquakes unless you have specifically purchased that type of coverage.)
  • Update your policy.  Let your insurance company know when you renovate your property or make substantial changes to the contents.  Keep an inventory of what you own.  One suggestion is to use your phone to make a video of the rooms and their contents.  

See also my other blog articles on the topic of home insurance:

 “Property Insurance: Are You Covered?

Home Inventory: Do You Have One?

Comments or questions about this article?  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here


Home Inventory: Do You Have One?

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

 | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamHome Inventory: Do You Have One?As the holiday season approaches in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region, you’re probably getting your home in shape for visits from family and friends.  This may mean adding new furniture or entertainment devices, as well as cleaning and organizing your current possessions.  Do you have a record of all your possessions, old and new?   

Your home and everything in it means a lot to you.  Sure, you have insurance in case anything should happen, such as a break-in or fire or adverse weather event.  But how would you let your insurance agent know exactly what you have that may need to be replaced?  As you go about your holiday preparations, it might be a good time to consider re-doing, or creating for the first time, an inventory of everything you own connected with your home.  Good idea, you say, but where to start? 

Luckily, the technical world can come to your rescue, both for creating the inventory and for storing it.  At its heart, a home inventory is a list containing various pieces of information such as name of the item, its location in your home, brand name, purchase price, current or replacement value, when and where acquired, serial numbers and so on.   

CAA Magazine’s “The Value of Your Home:  Tips on Creating a Home Inventory List” can get you going with a step by step process.  Another article on this topic is State Farm’s “Creating a Home Inventory”.

Here are some tools that can make your job easier: 

  • Spreadsheet software, such as Microsoft Excel, Open Office Calc, or Google Docs Spreadsheet (see this home inventory template) can create a form on which to record the data.   
  • It’s also possible to find many pre-made home inventory templates on the internet, such as these examples:

Insurance Brokers Association of Canada Home Inventory Form 

State Farm Home Inventory Checklist 

Minnesota Department of Commerce, Insurance Division Home Inventory Checklist

  • A photo or video inventory is a good complement to a written list.  Today’s cameras and even phones make it easy and relatively fast to take stock of a home’s contents.  The pros recommend not just taking a picture of an item, but also zooming in on serial numbers and important details, such as the brand of an object (turn over a piece of china to show the manufacturer, for example).  It’s also a good idea to take pictures of receipts or appraisal reports, especially for high-value items purchased new, or antiques.  Audio can provide a running commentary of what the items are and their value.  Burn the pictures to a DVD for storage outside your home or upload them to an online account.
  • Home inventory software is another option, and some very good ones are free:

Know Your Stuff Home Inventory

What You Own Home Inventory

These packages allow you to create lists, add photos, receipts and the like, and generate reports.

  • To get really futuristic check out iTrackMine, a free web-based resource billed as the “ultimate collection manager”.  By typing in (or scanning with a barcode scanner or an Android phone) the ISBN or UPC numbers of items in a collection, such as books or movies, you can automatically generate a list containing all kinds of information, including pictures.  Where it’s really useful for home inventory purposes is its ability to produce an insurance-ready report.

Why not make the doing of a household inventory a family project this holiday season?  While giving new meaning to the expression “making a list and checking it twice”, you’ll end up with a worthwhile gift for yourself and your family!

Comments or questions about this article?  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here. 

Flooded Basement? Prevention and Cure!

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Flooded Basement? Prevention and Cure! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamHow dry is your Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton area basement?  With one of the wettest summers on record upon us, you might be one of those unfortunate homeowners dealing with a flooded basement.  Whether you’re in the process of cleaning up, or you’ve been spared so far and want to stay that way, check out the following for some good advice:

Preventing the Problem

Steps you can take to prevent basement flooding”, published in the Saturday, July 21, 2012 edition of the Edmonton Journal.

The Homeowner’s Guide to Flood Prevention”, produced by the City of Edmonton.

Before Flooding”, concise and comprehensive factsheet from Alberta Municipal Affairs, Emergency Management Alberta.

Avoiding Basement Flooding”, factsheet from CMHC.

Protect Your Home From Basement Flooding”, from the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction  (includes a handy score sheet to determine your risk for flooding).  View their video “Reduce basement flooding”.

Check out also “City of Spruce Grove Homeowner’s Guide to Lot Grading”  and Spruce Grove’s “Residential Lot Grading and Maintenance” information sheet and regulations.

What to Do After a Flood

Cleaning your home after a flood”, Alberta Health Services.

Flood Disaster: What to do before, during and after flooding”, excellent and detailed booklet from Alberta Municipal Affairs, Emergency Management Alberta.

After the Flood:  A Homeowner’s Checklist”, factsheet from CMHC.

Cleaning Up Your House After a Flood”, CMHC free download.

A Guide to Fixing Your Damp Basement”, available from CMHC for $9.95.

Cleaning Up After the Flood: a guide for homeowners”, Saskatchewan Ministry of Health.

City of Spruce Grove Disaster Recovery Program 

See also my blog article entitled “Spring Run-off”, posted April 10, 2012.

Comments or questions about this article?  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here.

Barry Twynam, Realty Executives Leading
#1 14 McLeod Avenue, Spruce Grove, Alberta, T7X 3X3
Tel: 780-962-9696 Cell: 780-910-9669 Fax: 780-962-9699
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