September 2nd, 2015 by Rocket IT
My parents experienced a house fire just this summer. No one was physically harmed, thank goodness, but their home of 35 years sustained serious damage and will have to be rebuilt. Thanks to insurance, most of their financial costs will be covered, but a lifetime of photos, artwork, and other keepsakes are forever damaged or lost. My parents didn’t do anything that I haven’t done a hundred times myself, yet this accident could have been prevented.
This fire was caused by an older laptop computer that had been left running on the kitchen table. It was plugged into the wall and, apparently, the battery overheated and burst into flames. I’ve never heard of that happening before, but I did some research, and it turns out that accidents like this aren’t uncommon. In fact, 730 home structure fires per year are caused by office equipment, and 48% of those are caused by computers.[i]
Homes aren’t the only buildings at risk. 630 non-home structure fires per year are also caused by office equipment with 67% of those caused by computers and related equipment.[ii]
Many of these accidents could have been prevented by turning off computers and other electronic equipment when not in use. It’s such a simple thing, but the threat of fire seems so low that most of us don’t think about the danger. Unfortunately, the statistics show the risk is significant. I know I’ll be taking some extra caution in the future by turning my computer off when I leave the house or the office. I’d rather be safe than sorry.
My parents would have been in a lot worse shape if they hadn’t maintained a quality homeowner’s insurance policy. The experience caused me to review my own coverage and ultimately to switch to a different insurance carrier. A friend of mine, whose house burned last year, shared some great advice that I want to leave you with:
- Double check your policy limits for coverage on your house and contents, and make sure this amount accurately covers the cost to rebuild your house.
- Schedule high-priced items separately as these items will eat into your contents coverage limit if you have to replace them.
- If possible, get a guaranteed replacement cost homeowners policy so that as long as you insure your home for the insurance company’s estimated rebuild cost, they will cover your rebuild costs past your policy limit if it’s required.
- Make sure you have “Law and Ordinance” coverage. This will make sure your home will be rebuilt according to current codes without extra cost.
We don’t often think about the costs of accidents until we have one. With just a little more proactive care and foresight, think of what accidents we can prevent in the future.
Matt Hyatt is the founder and CEO of Rocket IT. Outside of work, Matt enjoys spending time with his wife and two kids and running in long distance relay races.
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