Do You Have Sufficient Homeowners Insurance Coverage?

It’s a surprising fact, really, but it’s true: most homeowners in the United States are underinsured. In fact, insurance giant Nationwide estimates that about two-thirds of homeowners don’t carry enough insurance coverage to protect themselves in the event of major damage or destruction due to fire, flood, or other disaster. While this is a sobering thought, the truly sad part is that most homeowners don’t even know they’re underinsured until it’s too late. This is why it’s imperative that you review your homeowner’s insurance policy each year. Make an appointment with your insurance agent and use some (or all!) of the following tips to make sure you’re sufficiently covered.

Avoid Minimums

If you have a mortgage, your lender requires you to carry a minimum amount of insurance coverage. That minimum, however, won’t necessarily cover everything if and when you need it to. All the lender wants is to protect their investment. As blasé as it may sound, all they really want is to ensure they can get their money back. Minimum coverage might help you pay them, but it won’t necessarily do anything to help your home and property. You need to make sure that you have enough insurance to cover the cost of repairing and/or replacing your home today. It doesn’t matter what the market value is. What matters is the actual amount it would take to rebuild. Instead of going for the bare minimum in coverage, look at other ways to save money, such as raising your deductible. A higher deductible can actually save you money on your monthly payments. You might also qualify for savings if you bundle your home and auto insurance.

Keep Your Policy Updated

Improving and adding onto your home is a great investment. In order to protect that investment, it’s important to increase your insurance coverage anytime you change something and add value to your home. You might groan when you think about adding certain high-risk items like a pool to your insurance policy, but the money and headache it could save you if an accident were to happen is worth the hassle and possible payment hike of adding it to your policy.

Keep Personal Property Inventory Updated

In addition to updating your policy based on the house itself, you should also update it to reflect the contents therein. Personal property that is priceless or would cost a lot to replace should always be covered. Typical coverage of expensive items like jewelry, art, and antiques is about $2,500. If your personal property is worth more than that, you should think about purchasing extra coverage for those types of items. It’s also a good idea to document your personal possessions with a home inventory, complete with receipts and photos.

Review Exclusions and Endorsements

Exclusions and endorsements are the parts of your insurance policy that subtract or add coverage. Endorsements, which are usually pretty affordable, allow you to rest easy knowing that you and your property are fully protected. You might get an endorsement for those expensive possessions discussed above, or you might get one for things like sewer and sump-pump backup; home-based business; and special personal property coverage. Exclusions, on the other hand, tell you what is not covered under your policy and help you decide whether to purchase additional liability or other types of insurance. Some exclusions might be certain dog breeds or wind and hail.

Check Your Liability Coverage

When most people think about homeowners insurance, they think about protecting their homes against damage from natural disasters, fire, flooding, and the like. Some homeowners tend to forget that liability insurance is just as important when it comes to protecting themselves and their property. For instance, what happens if someone is on your property and gets injured in some way? Liability coverage is there to help with things like property damage, medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, death benefits, and legal costs. It protects your home and your belongings in the event that you get sued.

Figure Correct Replacement Value

Knowing the actual replacement value of your home is key to ensuring that you have sufficient coverage. Your insurance agent can help you with this, but a good way to figure the amount is to take the current local building costs per square foot and multiply it by the square footage of your home. Certain factors can change the price per square foot, including but not limited to types of exterior wall construction, house style, number of rooms and bathrooms, type of roof, features like garages, fireplaces, and trimwork.

Check to See If You Need Flood Insurance

Standard home insurance policies do not protect against flooding. If you live in a flood zone, you probably already have flood insurance, but even if you aren’t required to purchase it, you may want to think about doing so. According to, up to 20% of flood claims come from low- to moderate-risk areas. Just because you don’t live in a spot that floods very often, it doesn’t mean your house isn’t ever at risk for flooding. It’s better to have flood insurance and not need it than need it and not have it.

Friday Five // November 9th, 2018

It’s Friday once again, and you know what that means. It’s time for the Friday Five, our weekly roundup of five fun things happening around the Lowcountry this weekend. Honor and celebrate our nation’s veterans, sample a famous Lowcountry dish, have a ladies’ day out, and more. Whatever you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company hope you have a safe and happy weekend!

Celebrate our nation’s veterans on Saturday at the sixth annual Red, White, & Blue Festival at the Hanahan Amphitheater from 9am until 5pm. This event is free and will be fun for the whole family with jump castles, kids’ games, face-painting, balloon artists, food and craft vendors, and live entertainment on two stages. Don’t miss the military displays, including World War II reenactors from the decorated 36th Infantry Division.

On Saturday, Touch of Magic Events will host the Lowcountry Women’s Fair at the Gaillard Center from 10am until 3pm. Treat yourself to a day of free massages, makeovers, health screenings, henna tattoos, a fashion show, self-defense classes, shopping, and more. Admission and activities are free. A kids’ area will be set up with face-painting and balloon animals, so feel free to bring the little ones along!

Put on your best “tails” and pounce on over to the Francis Marion Hotel Saturday evening for the 14th Annual Fur Ball to benefit Pet Helpers. The Fur Ball is the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Every dollar raised through Charleston’s premiere pet-loving gala enables Pet Helpers to continue its life-saving work of the past forty years. This year’s Fur Ball promises to be the best yet with its Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter theme and entertainment from Plane Jane.

Head on down to “The Joe” Sunday afternoon for the Charleston RiverDogs Shrimp & Grits Festival. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 on the day of the event and can be purchased at the Riley Park box office or online. Your ticket gets you unlimited samples of shrimp & grits from participating vendors, which include Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Charleston Caribbean Creole Food Truck, Charleston Harbor Fish House, Gillie’s Soul Food, Morgan Creek Grill, Ms. Rose’s Fine Foods & Cocktails, and more. While you savor your samples, enjoy the vendor village, kids’ zone, cash bar, and live music. Upgrade to a VIP ticket for $40 to enjoy complimentary beer, wine, and oysters.

Steeplechase of Charleston returns this Sunday to finish out the 2018 National Steeplechase Association Fall Racing Circuit. This Charleston tradition began in 1792 and will be ushered into a new era with the addition of The Steeplechase Gala and a weekend full of activities. Sunday’s family-friendly event will feature five high-stakes races. Fun in the infield includes a VIP Chalet, vendor village, food trucks, live entertainment, and activities for the whole family. Pack your coolers, grab your biggest hat or your loudest bowtie, and meet your friends at the races!

Why Downsizing Isn’t Always Cheaper

There are many reasons someone might want to downsize when buying a new home. Maybe the kids have moved out and you just don’t need as much space. Maybe you want more free time and less yard and home maintenance to worry about. Maybe you’re looking for a smaller mortgage and fewer home-related expenses. If your number one reason for downsizing is to save money, tread carefully. Buying a smaller home doesn’t always mean you’ll have fewer expenses. Let’s take a look at some of the factors that could make your downsizing attempt pricier than you expect.

Higher Taxes

Before you shed your suburban skin and rid yourself of that large house to move to a smaller place in the city, do a little research on property taxes. Sure, you might be able to snag a one-bedroom that’s close to everything for a smaller price than your house in the suburbs. But you could still be looking at a larger payment thanks to higher property tax rates. Make sure those property taxes don’t cancel out any savings you gained on the sale price.

Homeowner’s Insurance

A smaller home doesn’t always necessarily come with a smaller insurance premium. Think about the location you’re moving to and what’s required in the way of insurance. Before you make an offer on a home, check to see if you’ll be required to purchase flood insurance, which can be even more costly than regular homeowner’s insurance depending on your location.

HOA Fees

If you lived in a more rural or exurban area prior to downsizing, you might not be used to paying homeowners association or regime fees. Condos, apartments, and retirement communities are popular choices for downsizing, and they usually come with HOA and/or regime fees that can be pretty hefty at times. Granted, sometimes these fees include things like exterior insurance, trash pickup, certain amenities, and some utilities. But if you’re not used to paying a monthly fee such as this, you’ll need to really look at your budget to see if you can afford it.

New Home Features

Even if you’re moving into a smaller house, if it’s brand new, it probably has a lot more trendy features than your old house did. New building materials and energy-efficient features and appliances can cost a pretty penny, which pushes up the total cost of your home. When you move into a brand new home, you also have to take into consideration the amount of “stuff” you’ll have to buy to get set up. New home buyers often forget to include things like window treatments, rugs, and other decor in their budget.

Moving Out

Don’t forget that you might actually have to spend a good bit to get your old home sold before you can move. Sometimes you don’t realize how much updating a home needs until you go to sell it. If you’re home’s on the older side, you’ll at least need to repaint, make those repairs you’ve been neglecting, and perhaps even switch out carpeting. A few other things will likely show up on the inspection report as well. And don’t forget about the cost of actually moving! If you’re not DIY-ing your move with your own vehicle, you’ll need to pay movers or rent a moving truck. There’s also the cost of packing supplies, the time and effort you have to put into the job, the possibility of renting a storage unit, etc.

Downsizing can be a pretty great feeling, but it might not feel so great to your wallet if you aren’t careful. If your end goal is to save money by downsizing, just be sure to take these factors into consideration before you make a move.

What New-Home Warranties Actually Cover

The prospect of buying a brand new, built-just-for-you home can be pretty exciting. After all, a newly built home is a clean slate just waiting for you to put your touch on it and start making memories. There’s no guesswork about what previous owners along the line might have experienced or what changes and repairs they might have made. Plus, you get that handy dandy builder’s warranty that covers any possible issues you might find with the home, right? Well…maybe. New-home buyers should be aware that builder’s warranties aren’t quite the blanket policy they might seem to be. It’s extremely important to have a chat with your builder about what their new-home warranty actually covers, the extent of their liability, and what happens if you file a claim or a dispute. Every builder is different, and not all warranties are created equal.

A new-home warranty usually lasts from about six months to two years. Some may cover major structural defects for up to ten years. They typically cover the following:

  • Concrete foundations and floors
  • Clapboard and shingles
  • Carpeting
  • Thermal and moisture cover
  • Waterproofing
  • Insulation
  • Roofing and siding
  • Doors and windows
  • Garage doors
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Heating and cooling
  • Septic system

New-home warranties usually don’t cover the following:

  • Household appliances
  • Shrinkage or expansion of the house
  • Shrinkage of joints and minor cracking
  • Insect damage
  • Dampness or condensation caused by inadequate ventilation

To be sure that you’re fully protected, have your real estate agent or a real estate attorney look over the contract and warranty to make sure everything looks legit. You can also protect yourself by having your own home inspector do a thorough evaluation of the home before closing day. If you want to go even further, consider adding a third-party home warranty, which will often cover things that your builder’s warranty won’t, like household appliances. Make sure to research those third-party warranties well, though, and get recommendations from your Realtor®.

How-To Tuesday: Extend the Lifespan of Your Appliances

Home appliances are typically pretty big purchases, which means you expect them to last a long time. Believe it or not, you are a deciding factor when it comes to appliances running smoothly for years on end or going kaput earlier than expected. Below are some tips on what to do and what not to do to extend the life of some major household appliances.

First and foremost, you should always read the owner’s manual that comes with your appliance. While they’re not exactly thrilling reading, owner’s manuals are a wealth of information about how to use, clean, maintain, and repair your appliances.

Refrigerator and Freezer

Your refrigerator is arguably the hardest worker of all the appliances in your home. It runs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and when it’s not doing its best work, it can prove to be pretty inconvenient. Help your refrigerator stay healthy by doing things like keeping it clean and changing filters as recommended. One of the easiest ways to extend your fridge’s life is to make sure the condenser coils are clean. Condenser coils may be mounted on the back or the bottom of your fridge. Their job is to help the refrigerator stay cool by releasing heat from the sealed system. Simply use a vacuum cleaner or coil brush at least twice a year to get rid of dirt, pet hair, food particles, and other debris that might build up over time. You should also clean the rubber seal on your doors, known as the gasket, periodically to ensure a good seal when the doors are closed. If your fridge is on the old side and the gaskets aren’t sealing the door shut very well, you can replace them fairly easily.


Even though some dishwasher are advertised as amazing marvels that clean the gunkiest, grossest stuck-on food, you should always give dishes a thorough rinsing before loading them into the dishwasher. Food particles can get stuck in the machine parts and small spaces and cause damage. Be smart about how you load the dishwasher to ensure a good clean and prevent the need to run dishes through again. You should also clean the dishwasher every three to six months. Just run the empty dishwasher with a cup of vinegar or a dishwasher cleaner to remove calcium deposits. Even if you don’t use the dishwasher much, you should still run it every now and then to stave off dry rot, mold, and mildew.

Washing Machine

Many people tend to let laundry pile up and stuff the washer full on laundry day. This is a major no-no if you want the washing machine to last as long as possible. Overloading your washer can damage the machine thanks to the extra weight of wet clothing. It throws things off balance and can cause premature wear to the drum and bearings. Keep wash loads on the smaller side, never filling the washer more than two-thirds full. Additionally, you should never use more laundry detergent than what is recommended. It might sound like more soap would equate to a better clean, but it can actually do the opposite. Too much detergent can cause a buildup of residue that omits an odor and causes machine parts to fail.


Dryers can be a huge fire hazard in a home when they aren’t properly maintained. Clean out the dryer’s lint trap after every use. This helps prevent dust, fuzz, and pet hair from getting into the dryer vent. A lint trap that hasn’t been cleared in a while also causes clothes to dry slower, which means the dryer will have to work harder. You should also clean the dryer vent—located on the back of the dryer and connected to the outside by a hose—at least once a year. Do this by unplugging the dryer and using a vent brush to clean the venting system.




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