New Construction Townhome

Shopping for Homeowner’s Insurance


Any claim I had to “not being a grownup” is slowly slipping away, particularly with my latest task: shopping for homeowner’s insurance. Unlike renter’s insurance, which really just has to cover my stuff, homeowner’s insurance has all these strange and bizarre things it has to cover. The building itself, the stuff inside, and of course liability in case someone decides to do a sweet jump off our front porch and then sues us.

I started shopping for insurance the way I do most things: by avoiding humans entirely and filling out a bunch of quote forms online. Protip: do not enter in your phone number, or these cash-hungry vultures will start calling you do “discuss your quote.” I did use a throwaway email address so as not to continue getting insurance-related spam for the rest of my life.

The first quotes I got were in the $2000-4000 per year range. Never having shopped for homeowner’s insurance, this seemed obnoxiously expensive but probably reasonable. Then RevolvingDork mentioned that the insurance on our current place is only $400 per year. The new place is bigger than the old one, but not 10 times bigger, and the neighborhoods are comparable.

So I broke down and called some of the local agents my real estate agent recommended. I hate talking to salesmen on the phone. Or in person. Really at all. I also hate going in to purchase a product without any real knowledge of what it should cost.

Without too much headache, we picked out a plan with similar coverage to what we’d been quoted before, but coming in at just over $1000. The only real hiccup was that the tax records have the information for the house completely wrong, leading to some confusion as to just how much house we were insuring. After handing over our credit card number it took all of 15 minutes to get the proof of insurance emailed to us, which is good because I had waited until 2 days before closing to take care of the insurance. See, I’m not such an adult after all!

It’s clear that in some industries it still pays to talk to a salesman, and insurance is still one of them.

New Construction Townhome


There’s a lot of spazzing about hurricane Irene in the mid-atlantic and New England. And while a hurricane is something to take seriously, they’re also highly unpredictable. Yes, you should prepare yourself, and yes the worst week of my life was going without power for a week after a hurricane, but where I am (just outside of Washington, DC) it’s not even raining yet. So chill out. No, you do not need to cancel your entire weekend plans yet.

Here’s what you should do:

  • Locate a working flashlight and some fresh batteries. Put them somewhere you can find them in the dark.
  • Grab a few extra boxes of crackers/jerkey/other foods that don’t require refridgeration. If the power goes out for a few hours, you’ll want to leave your fridge and freezer closed to keep the cold in.
  • If it looks like things are getting serious, turn your fridge/freezer down to pre-chill things in case of power outage.
  • Charge your phone, laptop, and anything else that can be charged
  • Do your laundry
  • Locate some pots/pans/buckets you can use if you spring a leak
  • Locate some old towels you can use to clean up said leaks
  • If your basement tends to flood, move the stuff you care about away from the walls if it starts raning. Prop up your couch with things you don’t care about. I hear webOS devices are cheap now.
  • If you require beer, get it now.
  • Find a battery operated radio (hint: many iPods fit this bill) and figure out what station weather reports come in on.

Also remember that land-lines generally continue to work without power, but the cordless phones won’t. Go to the thrift store and get an old school phone if you don’t have one. If the hurricane is a no-show, you can use the parts for hacking later.

Other emergency-preparedness tasks, such as the following, can generally wait until later. Say, when there is actually a hurricane within 12-24 hours of you:

  • Fill the bathtub with water (to flush the toilet, wash your hands, etc)
  • Cancelling any and all plans that don’t involve getting the hell away from a hurricane
  • Buying up a month’s worth of toilet paper (why do people do this?)
  • Compulsively refreshing The Weather Channel home page

Personally, I prefer NOAA to The Weather Channel. It’s a lot less sensationalist, but considerably lower-fi. Their graphics are bringing you the latest in 1999 technology.

Keep your heads on, folks.