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By: Pauline HandyV.F. McNeil Insurance

A good number of us go through life thinking, “I’m careful, I’ve got my bases covered, that will never happen to me.”  Well folks, speaking from experience, I can honestly say that even the most conscientious people should be prepared for the unexpected.  I’ll get to my story of why in just a moment.    

First, I certainly want everyone to know that I truly wish you all a safe, healthy, and prosperous life.  However, my wishes are not enough to have your back.  Life can sometimes throw you a curveball and you must be ready for it.  Now I‘ll share my curveball, one that I couldn’t have seen coming.  Thankfully the ending was good, but there are a few takeaways here, especially why you shouldn't handle your homeowner's insurance hastily.  

I Love My Home

I must say, I love my home’s location.  It sits up on a ridge with a lovely view of a popular hiking mountain in town.  The first thing I see when I go to the kitchen for coffee is the sunrise over the horizon that beams in through my huge picture window in the dining area.  It looks like something heavenly and makes me smile every morning.  Evenings are beautiful too.  The moon, especially when it’s full, is gorgeous over that same horizon as it lights up the sky and shows off the silhouette of the mountain top.  I would be devastated if anything ever happened to this place I call home.

A Close Call

When we first moved in to our home seventeen years ago, we had a close call with a dining room fire that could have burned our entire house down.  As novice homeowners, we discovered after the fact that two of our fire alarms were not even working.  Thankfully for us and our home, my mommy-senses were working at 4 am the morning I heard a loud crackling noise that didn’t sound right.  I got up to check it out and discovered that the old, dingy, air conditioning unit in the wall had caught fire.  We got the kids out in time, called the fire department, and the fire was extinguished.  We were lucky.  
It was a scary experience.  We replaced every fire alarm and reviewed every other fire safety tip we could get our hands on; and thankfully the cavalry (our homeowner’s insurance) came to the rescue for the damages.  Since then, we’ve not had another fire-related scare.  Well, until recently that is.  

Where Is That Smoke Smell Coming From?

During coffee with my husband one recent Sunday morning, I started to smell something burning.  I thought possibly the neighbors might have a log smoldering in their fire pit from the night before.  It smelled like burning wood.  I stepped outside to see if that was the case.  To my surprise, it did not smell at all outside and I couldn’t see any smoke.  I went back in and the smell seemed stronger.  I went upstairs to check on the kids and thankfully found nothing.  I came back down and the smell had gotten even stronger in my favorite dining area where I watch the sunrise.  By now the smoke alarm had sounded and at that moment, I discovered smoke coming from the hutch where my daughter’s goldfish bowl was temporarily located.  

Feeling perplexed, I moved the fish bowl, which was placed there during the tail end of a kitchen remodel. Straight behind it was a burn hole smoldering in my hutch.  What in the world?  Well, the beautiful and very strong sun that morning was beaming through the fish bowl and had gotten hot enough to burn a hole in my maple hutch!  It was the magnifying effect!  Who would have ever imagined that the sun could burn a hole so deep I could have pushed my finger clear through it?   Luckily, we were home to discover this and stop it.  If we weren’t, it most certainly could have resulted in another house fire.

What Are the Takeaways Here?

Life can be unpredictable.  Even the most conscientious folks can get the curveball.   Always expect the unexpected. Don’t ever say “it will never happen to me.” Unfortunately, bad things can happen to anyone.  That’s why it’s important to be prepared.  You’ve worked hard for your lifestyle and you love your family.  If you haven’t considered the following items, please do.    

Don’t take chances with your homeowner’s insurance or any insurance protection for that matter.  Fifteen minutes might seem appealing at first, but it certainly won’t be in the case of a serious claim.
Work with a professional who has your best interests in mind.  
Have your coverage reviewed periodically to be sure it stays in line with your needs.  
Consider an umbrella policy for excess liability protection.  
Consider life insurance to protect your loved ones. 
Create a home inventory to assist with a homeowner’s claim if you should ever experience a major loss.  Provide a copy to your insurance provider.
Test your fire alarms and create emergency plans in case you experience a fire or natural disaster.  
Talk to an insurance professional about how to protect yourself in the event you become ill or injured and can’t work.  

These are just a few suggestions on how to cover your bases in case you get one of those curveballs thrown your way. Preparedness and prevention is always the best measure, but a back-up plan is just as important.  Plan yours today!  

About V.F. McNeil Insurance

At V.F. McNeil Insurance, we are a full-service, Trusted Choice® independent insurance agency that can assist you with all your insurance questions and needs, whether for business or personal needs.  For questions about this blog, please email


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