Prep Your Long Island NY Home Now For Vacation

As May rolls around on the calendar, many people start making plans for vacations, or either already have those plans in place for summer. But planning for a vacation means more than just arranging flights or tuning up the car and changing the oil (if you plan to drive to your destination.) It also involves preparing your Long Island NY home for your absence.

No matter how long you'll be gone, whether a few days or several weeks (short-term absences generally mean one week or less), here are steps you can take to make your Long Island NY home safer and lower your utility bills. Keeping your home safe while you're away can also go a long ways towards keeping your homeowner's insurance costs down.

Yard

Details: An untrimmed lawn can be a sign to burglars that you are away from home. Depending on how it looks, it also can be considered neglect.

Short-term: Mow your lawn and trim shortly before your trip.

Long-term: Arrange for a lawn service or a neighbor to take care of your landscaping while you are away.

Air-conditioner (during cooling season)

An air-conditioner accounts for about half of your annual electrical bill in your Long Island NY home. Every degree you turn up the thermostat will save you 2 percent on your cooling costs.

Short-term: Turn up the thermostat to about 85 degrees. Doing so will still protect your plants, furniture and other belongings without running up your electric bill.

Long-term: Again, turn up the thermostat to about 85 degrees. Ask a friend or neighbor you trust to water your plants.

General Plumbing

To prepare your Long Island NY home for vacation, turn off water at the main shut-off valveDetails: No one wants to come home from a relaxing vacation to a plumbing leak in their Long Island NY home.

Short-term: Turn off water at the main shut-off valve, unless some household items require it to stay on. Such items may include an ice maker, an automatic sprinkler system that doesn't have a separate shut-off, and a pool.

Long-term: Do the same. While you're gone, have a neighbor or friend turn on the water and run the faucets at least once a month (if you're gone that long.) This will help prevent sewer gas from entering your Long Island NY home while you are gone and can keep parts of plumbing fixtures from drying out or cracking. Also, have the friend flush toilets and run the dishwasher.

Water Heater

Details: Why run up your electric bill heating water that you're not going to be there to use?

Short term: Set the temperature on "vacation" mode. Most newer water heaters are equipped with a vacation setting. The water heater will run occasionally but not nearly as often as it does normally.

Long-term: Set on vacation mode. Some experts recommend not turning it off while you're gone, but instead flushing it out when you return. One way to do this is to run the water heater until it has used all the hot water and let it refill again.

Toilets

Details: Toilets can collect bacteria, which can cause stains.

Short-term: Pour a half cup of chlorine into the bowl (not the tank).

Long-term: Do the same. Have a friend periodically flush the toilets while you are gone.

Lights

Details: A continually dark house, both inside and out, can be a signal to a burglar that your Long Island NY home is vacant.

Short-term: Turn off all lights except the ones you want as security measures. Put the security lights on variable timers, not the ones that come on and go off at the same time every day. Smart burglars watch for this and it's a sure sign that lights are on timers.

Long-term: Do the above. Make sure your security lights are outfitted with CFL bulbs, which save on energy and are long-lasting.

Refrigerator

Details: Don't come home from your trip to a refrigerator filled with spoiled food.

Short-term: Throw out perishables such as milk that will expire while you're gone.

Long-term: Clean out the refrigerator; either throw items away or give them to a neighbor. You have two choices. One is to unplug the refrigerator and leave the door open to prevent mildew, odor and mold. The other is to keep the refrigerator running. Don't let it sit empty, however. Fill it with bottles of water so it will run more efficiently.

Other considerations For Your Long Island NY Home for Vacation Time

  • Small appliances, computers, televisions: Unplug these items.
  • Smoke detectors: Make sure they are in working condition.
  • Security company: If you have one, notify the company that you will be away.
  • Disposer/drains: Run the disposer. Mix a half cup of vinegar with a cup of water and pour down.
  • Newspaper: Put delivery on vacation hold.
  • Leaks: Check for water leaks before you leave. Feel the valves underneath faucets to make sure they aren't moist. Get any leaks fixed.
  • Mail: Contact the U.S. Postal Service to put your mail on hold. If you are going to be gone long term, arrange for your mail to be forwarded.
  • Phone: Don't leave a message that you are out of town.
  • Car: If you park your car in the driveway normally and are leaving it while on an extended trip, arrange for a friend or relative to drive it (or at least move it from time to time) so it looks like it is being used (and so cobwebs don't develop, a sure signal that no one is home).
  • Banks/credit cards: If you plan to use your credit or debit cards while you're out of town, especically out of the country, notify your bank and credit-card company. Provide the dates you will be gone and where you are going. That way, they won't be surprised — or put a hold on your card — when they see charges from abroad.
  • Emergency contact: Leave your contact information with a friend or neighbor. Include the names and contact information for your plumber, electrician, yard service, pool service or other contact should a problem happen while you are away.
  • Locks: Make sure all your windows are shut and doors are locked before you leave your Long Island NY home for vacation.

For more articles and tips on homeowners insurance for your Long Island NY home, check out our Long Island NY Insurance section under Long Island NY Real Estate Categories to your right.

Long Island Flood Insurance Hike Only Slowed

While President Barack Obama signed a law that will delay the steep increases paid by those with Long Island insurance, nearly 60,000 policyholders in New York are among the 1.1 million nationwide who will see their federally subsidized flood insurance premiums rise as part of changes to the National Flood Insurance Program.

Long Island flood insurance increases affect Hempstead homeowners the most.The new law puts the brakes on a 2012 overhaul that aimed to shore up the cash-strapped program by requiring policyholders to immediately begin paying risk-based rates.

But about 35 percent of the properties with flood insurance in New York will still see their costs go up, including 12,083 in New York City. Homeowners will see rates rise by as much as 18 percent each year and owners of businesses and second homes will face an annual mandatory 25 percent increase until they switch to a risk-based rate.

Long Island Flood Insurance Increases Affecting Hempstead the Most

In Long Beach, more than 3,000 policyholders face higher premiums unless they get an elevation certificate that reflects a risk-based rate. Outside of New York City and Hempstead, on Long Island, it’s the town with the most affected policyholders in the state.

Officials are hoping high Long Island flood insurance rates will push homeowners and municipal officials to take the kinds of protective measures many people on the New York coast are now taking, to lift their homes out of harm’s way.

Hundreds of homeowners on Staten Island recently received shocking insurance bills — one as high as $31,000 — on properties that had been obliterated and repaired just enough for owners to move back.

The new law entitles many holders of Long Island flood insurance a rebate for some of the premiums they’ve paid.

This brings immediate relief to some homeowners — the first relief many have seen since Sandy.

To learn more about Long Island flood insurance, and insurance information in general, click over to our articles on Long Island NY Insurance.

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Long Island NY Flood Insurance Still Affordable, For Now

Long Island NY flood insurance will still be affordable, at least for now, thanks to the Senate recently approving the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act to curb flood insurance rate hikes for homes and commercial properties.

Long Island NY Flood Insurance Remains Affordable Thanks to Senate Vote

Long Island NY flood insurance through FEMA remains affordable, for now, thanks to a recent Senate vote.The Senate voted 72-22 to approve the House legislation in order to be done with the issue. It had earlier passed a different bill to address the premium hikes that resulted from Congress' reforms of the flood insurance program two years ago. Those reforms moved the financially troubled program toward more risk-based premiums, but caused rate shock in many areas of the country, including here in Long Island NY .

The National Association of Home Builders praised passage of the legislation. "By providing a more affordable rate structure for policyholders and repealing point-of-sale rate increases, the bill is a boon for home owners and home buyers," said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly. "Further, it gives an important boost to home building and remodeling, while simultaneously shoring up the NFIP."

The National Association of Realtors President Steve Brown, said "We appreciate the Senate’s swift action on the legislation, which is a responsible and balanced solution to the skyrocketing flood insurance premiums affecting residential and commercial properties that were unintentionally triggered by the Biggert-Waters reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program."

As passed, the bill repeals FEMA's authority to increase premium rates at time of sale or new flood map, and refunds the excessive premium to those who bought a property before FEMA warned them of the rate increase. The bill limits premium increases to 18% annually on newer properties and 25% for some older ones. Additionally, the bill adds a small assessment on policies until everyone is paying full cost for flood insurance.

Check out our other articles and tips on Long Island NY flood insurance and homeowner insurance by clicking on the Long Island NY Insurance link to your right under Long Island NY Real Estate Categories.

Long Island NY Homeowners Insurance: How to Save

If you own a Long Island NY home, your homeowners insurance doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. There are some ways you can cut down on the skyrocketing premiums many people find themselves paying, as outlined in this short video…

Be sure you’re insured at the right value for your home’s contents and for personal liability. Most homeowners insurance polices provide only actual cash value on contents. To get replacement cost coverage, you’ll need to purchase an endorsement. If you have valuables not covered by your policy—silverware, jewelry, furs—purchase endorsements for those, too.

There may be other ways to reduce your homeowners insurance premiums, so contact your insurer and ask them what you can do to save some money. Because of the increased competition among insurance companies, they’ll want to make sure they do everything to keep you as a customer.

For more articles and tips on Long Island NY homeowners insurance, check out our Long Island NY Insurance section under Long Island NY Real Estate Categories to your right.

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Long Island Homeowners Insurance: When Not to File a Claim

Long Island homeowners insurance is supposed to cover you in times of disaster as well as for incidental claims, right? At least that’s the common misunderstanding with many homeowners.

Many consumers mistakenly believe that incidentals should be covered because that’s why they have home insurance. The reality is that filing a claim is not always in your best interest. Some insurers have been known to jack up premiums as much as 15 to 20 percent for just filing a single claim.

Your Long Island Homeowners Insurance premiums could increase 15 to 20 percent for filing one claim.A tree fell on your fence and cost $1000 to repair it? If you have a $500 deductible, it may cost you far more than the $500 repair in the amount of increased Long Island homeowners insurance premiums you’ll be paying for the next 3 to 5 years.

Don’t think it’s just the number of claims that are paid out that will cause your rates to spike. You can get hit hard with a claim that’s been denied. And even if you just innocently ask your agent about a potential claim, she has a right to open a file when you’re making queries, so make sure the agent knows your question is theoretical.

What Exactly Affects Long Island Homeowners Insurance Rates?

There are a number of factors that influence the costs of your Long Island homeowners insurance and much of it is determined by what neighborhood your home is in, and what you want included in your policy. But other issues, like the amount of your deductible, your loyalty to the insurer, your credit history and whether you bundled your Long Island homeowners insurance with your auto insurance will play key parts too.

Then there’s the house itself. How old it is? Is it a wood-framed house or brick? Is there a pool or a trampoline that are ripe for injuries on the property? Do you have smoke detectors? A burglar alarm? A sprinkler system? What about deadbolts on doors and security devices like wrought-iron bars on windows?

Some insurance companies will give you a pass on your first claims—for a price, of course. You can get what is called an “Enhanced Package” on your Long Island homeowners insurance, which will cost you anywhere from 5% to 10% of your annual premium, to have a claim waived over a 12-month period. There’s also claim-free bonuses that offer you 5% back on your annual premium if your record is clean over one year.

Insurance companies keep track of your claims history and judge you accordingly before deciding whether to insure you and how much to charge you. A long history, or even a spotty history, of making claims sends up red flags that you’ll do it again. That could mean you’re a risk they don’t want to take, or they will begrudgingly take you but at a steep price.

Long Island Homeowners Insurance – Rules to Follow

Never file if the claim is bigger than the deductible — mostly because it won’t be covered. Also because you’re putting the claim on your Long Island homeowners insurance record and it will stay there for at least three years.

Traditional Long Island homeowners insurance does not cover water damage caused by floods. That’s separate coverage underwritten by the federal government through the National Flood Insurance Program. But guess what? If you file a claim with your insurance company for something that isn’t covered, the claim itself doesn’t go away, even though it may not be covered or paid.

Don’t submit a claim for what is really a home-maintenance project. If that fence in your backyard is rotting away and you know that one big storm will blow it over, budget for a new fence first. There’s a plus to this too: better maintained homes get better premiums.

For more on Long Island homeowners insurance, visit our Long Island NY Insurance section of articles under Long Island NY Real Estate Categories to your right. Be sure to Find us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for more timely and helpful tips.