It’s That Time of Year to Start Preparing Your Home for Winter

October 22, 2015 at 8:26 AM | Posted in Home, Insurance Claims, Insurance Policy, Personal Insurance, Personal Property, Reminders, Safety Tips, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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Beautiful New England foliage is at its peak and the leaves are falling, along with the temperature. Last winter was brutal – who knows what Mother Nature has in store for us this year?? We came up with a list of things for you to consider before winter sets in:

  • Tune Up Time – Snow blowers and generators should be tuned up; check to make sure they’re running correctly.
  • Shovels & Sand– Stock an adequate supply of both.
  • Tree Maintenance – Trim branches away from power lines, your roof and gutters.
  • Heating System & Chimneys – Have these items professionally cleaned before the heating season starts.
  • Clean the Gutters – If your gutters are full of debris, water can back up against the house and damage your roof, siding, and wood trim, and also lead to leaks and ice dams.
  • Inspect Your Roof & Attic– Look for damaged, loose or missing shingles that may cause leaks, especially if you had icicles hanging off your roof last winter, or even worse, suffered from ice dams. Make sure you take preventative measures to fix any air leaks and ensure you have adequate insulation in your attic. Making sure these things are taken care of will prevent any snow melting and leaking into your attic, causing potential water damage to the inside of your house.
  • Divert Water Spouts– add extensions onto your downspouts to divert water away from your foundation to prevent ground water seepage into your basement.
  • Shut-Off Exterior Water Faucets – Drain water from pipes and hoses to prevent them from freezing and bursting.
  • Space Heaters – Inspect all heating appliances thoroughly before using them. Make sure you’re up-to-date on Space Heater safety.
  • Emergency Supplies – Replace and restock before/after power outages. Include batteries, flashlights, non-perishable food supplies, and blankets.

Checking off this list and being prepared for the winter months will help ensure you have a worry free and claim free season. Please feel free to call us with any questions about your coverage and how to best keep yourself protected at 888.852.8500.

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Take Preventive Measures Against Ice Dams Before Winter

September 24, 2015 at 11:41 AM | Posted in Home, Insurance Claims, Insurance Policy, Personal Insurance, Personal Property, Reminders, Safety Tips, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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With the colder weather approaching, now is the time to start thinking about getting your home ready for the winter; particularly your roof. A roof catches all of the precipitation winter has to offer, and if unprepared, winter can break through its protective barrier and damage your home, using ice dams as its main weapon. Ice dams are a home owner’s nightmare, but taking preventative measures, and educating yourself on how they occur, can help keep your roof secure.

Cycles of warm and cold air closest to the roof are the primary cause of ice dams. Keeping warm air out of your attic, and cold air circulating in, is critical to minimize the warming of the underside of your roof. As a homeowner, there are steps that you can take ahead of time to avoid water damage from ice dams.

  • Insulate the attic floor and put weather stripping around pull-down stairs
  • Increase ventilation in attics by installing eave, soffit, ridge and gable vents
  • Install water and ice shield on the entire roof
  • Install heating coils on the roof

Water damage to the contents in your home resulting from ice dams is not covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy unless you purchase “All Risk on Contents” coverage. If you do not have this type of coverage, or are unsure if you do and would like to discuss more about insuring your home against ice dams, call us at 1 (800) 850-9400.

Preventative Steps to Avoid Pool Collapse

September 10, 2015 at 9:00 AM | Posted in Home, Personal Insurance, Personal Property, Reminders, Safety Tips, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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Even though the warmer temperature outside is breaking records, the leaves are slowly turning color, and you will begin to consider closing your pool. Follow these helpful tips to insure you have a seamless opening next season.

  • Treat the pool with proper winterizing chemicals and make sure you have the proper levels before you cover the pool. Chlorine should be especially high.
  • Disconnect the pump and all hoses from the pool and drain. Make sure there are no leaks if you use a cover plate with gaskets.
  • Keep about 1-3 inches of water on top of the winter cover to prevent damage caused by wind
  • During the fall, make sure to remove excess water from the top of your pool cover with a small electric pool cover pump.
  • Damage can occur if snow and ice is allowed to weigh on the pool cover. It becomes stretched, and as most pool covers are kept on by a cord that runs around the pool, the cord also becomes too taught. Try your best to keep snow weight to a minimum to avoid collapse.
  • Water displacement during the winter months is a huge concern. Keep an eye on the water level, especially before heavy snow events. Look under the cover and see where the water level rests. If it’s down more than when you closed the pool, then you will need to do some snow removal. DO NOT ADD WATER TO A FROZEN POOL. Getting the snow off the top is the best thing you can do to save your pool.
  • Never Touch a Frozen Pool! Do not walk atop the ice. Use a blunt tipped roof rake to pull the snow off the top. When springtime comes and your pool water thaws, you will be all set knowing you removed all that weight.

Here is a great site you can refer to for more details: http://www.poolandspa.com/page107.htm

Pools fall under Coverage B – Other Structures under a Homeowner policy. Please call us at 888-850-9400 to discuss your coverage plan in case of a claim.

Back to School – Make Sure Your Kids Know Bus & Bus Stop Safety

August 20, 2015 at 10:11 AM | Posted in back to school, Reminders, Safety Tips, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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It’s time for sending the kids back to school again! If your child(ren) take the bus or walk to school, it is important you review some basic rules with them:

If Your Child Walks…

  • make sure to choose a safe route
  • Stay alert and watch for cars; you may see them, but they may not see you.
  • Wear bright-colored clothes or reflective gear.
  • Always look left, right, left and behind you and in front for any oncoming traffic before crossing the street
  • walk with an adult or develop a buddy system
  • stay away from the street, no pushing or shoving
  • Never talk to or hitch a ride from strangers

If Your Child Takes the Bus…

  • Behave while waiting for the bus stop
  • Wait until the bus fully stops and the door opens before proceeding towards the bus
  • Wait for the bus to fully stop before getting up from your seat
  • If you need to cross in front of the bus, make sure you are far enough from the bus that the driver can see you and signal you that it is OK to cross the street.

Keeping these tips in mind, and sharing them with your child(ren), can help to ensure you both have a safe and happy school year!

Empty Nesting

August 13, 2015 at 9:03 AM | Posted in Event Planning, Home, Insurance Policy, Reminders, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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This is the time of the year when kids of all ages go back to school. Whether the last child is going off to school, or just leaving the nest, new “empty-nesters” have big adjustments to make to their lifestyles once all of their children have left the home. If you’re an empty-nester, not only will you find yourself with more time on your hands, you will now have more time to focus on you. Here are some ways to stay busy if you are a new empty-nester:

  • Volunteer in your local community
  • Find a hobby
  • Get a job or start a business
  • See the world
  • Reacquaint yourself with your spouse

Before you send your child off to school, and for the sake of some piece-of-mind, be sure to call your agent and review your policies. You may need to adjust your auto policy, especially if your child is taking a vehicle away with them. Also, consider purchasing a renter policy for coverage of your child’s personal property while away at school.

Even though it seems like you have a lot of extra time on your hands now, it won’t be long before your days are filled to the brink again. Enjoy them!

Enjoy Your Vacation, and Prevent Burglaries While Away

July 15, 2015 at 11:24 AM | Posted in Event Planning, Home, Personal Property, Safety Tips, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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To help ensure the safety of your home while away on vacation, experts recommend the following:

  1. Give the impression that someone is always home.
    • Ask that mail and newspapers be held and/or forwarded temporarily.
    • Set timers for lamps in various parts of the house.
    • Leave shades, curtains, and blinds in their usual position.

 

  1. Have a trusted person watch the home.
    • Notify a trusted neighbor, friend or family member about an upcoming vacation, and ask that person to stop in from time to time.

 

  1. Make the home burglar resistant.
    • Remove spare keys hidden outside.
    • Lock windows and doors.
    • Secure sliding doors with wooden blocks in the tracks.

 

  1. Be careful what you share on social media about your upcoming vacation, or while away on vacation.

 

Now enjoy your time off knowing your home is secure!

 

Summer Fire Safety Tips

July 1, 2015 at 12:00 PM | Posted in Safety Tips, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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WickedLocal Woburn has shared some fire safety tips for the summer season! See the article at: http://woburn.wickedlocal.com/article

Now that summer’s finally here in Massachusetts, residents are able to spend time outdoors at family barbecues, going to the beach, mowing the lawn and taking trips. “Be sure to keep burn prevention and fire safety in mind to ensure these activities are as fun as they should be,” said State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan.

Grilling safety

Grill fires, burns from flare-ups and improper use of charcoal lighter fluid increase during barbecue season. More than 70 percent of gas grill fires occur between May and September. Be sure to grill outdoors and keep the grill 10 feet from the side of the house. Establish a 3-foot circle of safety around the grill just for the chef to ensure children and pets don’t get hurt. Don’t leave the grill burning unattended and know what to do if the flame goes out on a gas grill (shut off the gas at the tank and wait 15 minutes before relighting).

Smoking and mulch safety

Be sure to provide appropriate ash trays or ash cans for smokers, so they won’t be tempted to put out butts in the landscape mulch, potted plants, trash bins or directly on the stairs or porch. The number of outside smoking fires has been growing in Massachusetts the past few years. These fires often grow undetected for some time. Several have been considered deadly in the past year.

Gasoline safety

More than half of the victims of gasoline burns in Massachusetts are under the age of 25. While it’s great to have your teenager mow the lawn for you, it’s important to teach them how to handle gasoline safely. Visit stopgasfires.org for information on preventing gas fires and to see a video that can help teens and parents talk about gasoline safety.

Fireworks safety

Enjoy professional, supervised fireworks displays. But remember that the possession and use of any fireworks by private citizens is illegal in Massachusetts. This includes sparklers that can burn at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, party poppers, snappers, firecrackers and cherry bombs.

Prevent sunburns

Be sure to wear a broad spectrum sunscreen, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays, with an SPF of at least 15 when outdoors in the sun. Use SPF 30 for extended time outdoors. Reapply every one and a half to two hours and after swimming. Avoid exposure during the peak hours of 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and wear sunglasses with UV light protection to protect eyes. Sunburns and extended exposure to the sun’s rays in childhood can lead to skin cancer later in life.

Hotel and motel safety tips

Select accommodations that are equipped with sprinklers and smoke alarms in guest rooms. Search the Fire Safe Hotel List on the United States Fire Administration website to see if your hotel is listed: apps.usfa.fema.gov/hotel/#searchlist.

Camp fires

Use the campfire ring or pit provided by the campground where fires are permitted. Build a small fire starting with tinder, kindling and small wood. A tent shape works well. Add small amounts of wood as the fire catches. Keep your fire under control and never leave it burning unattended. Be sure to have a bucket of water handy and to completely extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the campsite. Supervise all children and keep them a safe distance away from the fire. Clear trip hazards away from near the fire pit. Reasonable cooking fires are allowed without a permit in communities that do not have open burning bans.

For information: visit mass.gov/dfs and type Fire Safety Topics in the search box.

Caught Outdoors in a Lightning Storm? Travelers Shares Some Safety Tips

June 24, 2015 at 11:28 AM | Posted in Safety Tips, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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Travelers Insurance shared some advice about lightning safety we thought was important to share as well, especially with this month being the peak of “thunderstorm season”!

Thunderstorms often strike with little warning, particularly during the warmer months when they are most likely to occur—and when we are most likely to be enjoying outdoor activities.

Know where to run to – the 3 safer spots in a lightning storm
When you hear thunder, you should immediately seek:

  1. Indoor shelter
    Get inside the nearest available vehicle or building— keeping all windows shut—and stay there for at least 30 minutes after the storm passes before returning outside. Avoid picnic tents, pavilions or other open, outdoor structures.
  2. Low ground
    Avoid hilltops and open areas. Lightning always seeks the highest ground, so if indoor shelter is not available, crouching down in the nearest, lowest, unexposed point is a better bet.
  3. Distance yourself from tall objects
    Never stand near pointy, towering structures — particularly metal ones — which can act as lightning rods. Avoid lone trees, flagpoles, telephone poles, fences and antennas.

Being outside during a thunderstorm is never safe. Lightning strikes accompanying these storms pose a serious threat to people and property. Always listen to weather reports when you have an outdoor activity planned, and reschedule if thunderstorms are in the forecast.

Despite your best efforts, you may still find yourself caught outside as an unexpected thunderstorm approaches. In cases when a safe, indoor shelter is absolutely not available, here are some scenario-specific tips that may help lessen your chance of being struck by lightning.

Person on the golf courseON THE GOLF COURSE
If you are nowhere near the clubhouse, move away from hilltops, open areas and water. Stay as far away from tall trees and metal conductors (like wires and fences) as possible. Move away from your golf cart and clubs. Try to maintain at least 20 feet of distance between you and other golfers on the course.

Man crouching

Boat on the waterON A BOAT
Most lightning-related injuries and deaths on boats occur on vessels without a cabin. Larger boats with cabins are relatively safe, particularly when a lightning protection system is properly installed. If you cannot return to shore before the storm hits, drop anchor and get as low as possible or retreat to a cabin if your boat has one. Remember to stay off the radio unless there is an emergency, too. It is also a good idea to keep away from metallic surfaces, which may conduct electricity.

Person walking on a trailON THE TRAIL
Always avoid lone trees and other tall objects. Stay away from rocky outcrops, ledges, water and wet items like ropes and towels, too. If you are deep in the forest, retreat underneath a group of small trees, preferably surrounded by taller ones. In more open areas, retreat to and crouch down in the closest dry, low area.

Man crouching

BeachAT THE BEACH
If you are swimming, get out of the water immediately. If your car is parked within walking distance, return to it immediately. Do NOT stand under picnic or other open-sided shelters. Never stand under the lifeguard chair or near metal objects (fences, poles).

Car

Do not be lulled into a false sense of security if the storm is several miles away. In general, a significant lightning threat extends outward from the base of a thunderstorm cloud about 6 to 10 miles.

Getting Ready for Air Conditioning Season

June 10, 2015 at 9:00 AM | Posted in Home, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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Saving on cooling costs during the summer is just as important as saving on heating costs during the winter. Here are a few tips to improve the efficiency of your air conditioners that you should consider at the beginning of each cooling season:

  • Make sure the air conditioner is installed in an area that is not in direct sunlight. If you plant bushes or trees around it to shade it make sure the airflow is not blocked.
  • Inspect the seal between the air conditioner and the window frame to ensure it makes contact with the unit’s metal case. Moisture can damage this seal, allowing cool air to escape from your house.
  • Check your unit’s air filter once a month and clean or replace filters as necessary. Keeping the filter clean can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%.
  • Occasionally pass a stiff wire through the unit’s drain channels. Clogged drain channels prevent a unit from reducing humidity and can damage windows, walls & flooring.
  • Don’t place lamps or televisions near your air-conditioner thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
  • Close off unused rooms
  • If your air conditioner is old, consider buying an energy-efficient model. Look for the ENERGY STAR® and Energy Guide labels — qualified room air conditioners are 10% more efficient, and qualified central units are about 15% more efficient than standard models.
  • Keep your air conditioner set at a temperature between 72 and 78 degrees. The closer the temperature inside is to the temperature outside, the more efficient your air conditioner will run.

 

Stay cool, relax, and enjoy your summer!

Welcome-Summer

 

Summer Safety Tips

May 27, 2015 at 2:08 PM | Posted in Safety Tips, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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We’d like to share John Tessier’s, Central Insurance Companies blog on summer safety tips.

Marsh & McLennan Agency
hopes everyone enjoys a very happy
SUMMERTIME!

With the reminder to always place SAFETY at the top of your activities list.

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