Personal Property Inventory

November 19, 2015 at 3:06 PM | Posted in Event Planning, Home, Insurance Claims, Insurance Policy, Personal Insurance, Personal Property, Safety Tips, Specialty Policy | Leave a comment
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Why is taking inventory of your Personal Property so important?

If your home was destroyed, or a theft occurred, could you compile a complete list of your personal property from memory?  Most people couldn’t; WHY? Maybe because they’d be too devastated by the loss itself to be able to write down all that was destroyed. Or maybe because after a lot of years, it’s hard to keep track of what one owns! Compiling a complete list is something you’d be asked to do at the time of filing your claim.

We know that putting a dollar value on possessions you’ve accumulated over many years is difficult and that only you can decide the extent of your insurance needs. However, if the unthinkable happened, would you have enough coverage for everything?  Your Personal Property Inventory serves two important functions:

  • as a valuable record of your possessions
  • as a way for you to judge the adequacy of your present coverage – do you have enough?

The inventory list should be stored somewhere safe, preferably away from your home. Our suggestion would be to take a video of each room in your home and store that video off premises – a relative’s home, safety deposit box, etc. Then if the worst happened, it would be available at the time you report your loss.

 

Benefits of a Home Inventory

Obtaining a comprehensive home inventory:

  • Ensures you have the necessary amount of insurance coverage.
  • Identifies items—such as jewelry, coins, antiques, artwork, and silverware—that have limited coverage on a home or tenant policy and helps to determine if additional insurance is needed for those items.

The decision can then be made to purchase additional coverage (known as a “rider”) so the items will be insured for their full value. This then…

  • Allows an evaluation on whether to insure your property and contents at “replacement cost” or “actual cash value.” Replacement cost is the amount it takes to replace or repair your home and possessions with materials of similar quality. Actual cash value is a lower amount that consists of replacement cost less depreciation.
  • Verifies the condition of your assets before moving or placing them in storage in case of loss or damage.

So break out your camera and say action!cinematographer marker

Don’t be caught “underinsured” and/or unable to remember what you own. Call us today to discuss your homeowners or renters insurance policy, and find out what you need to ensure you’re protected in case of loss at our toll free number: 888-850-9400.

 

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AVOIDING ROAD RAGE

May 6, 2015 at 10:05 AM | Posted in Safety Tips | Leave a comment
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There are days it seems that our society is on edge more than ever. One of the symptoms of many people’s anxiety & frustration is aggressive driving. Aggressive drivers endanger others by doing things like tailgating, switching lanes and making turns without using a turn signal, cutting people off when switching lanes, and keeping their high beams on when there is oncoming traffic.

Every time you get behind the wheel, defensive driving and eliminating distractions should come into play. By being alert and watching what others are doing, you help protect yourself and your passengers from harm should you encounter an aggressive driver.

If you do encounter an aggressive driver, it is strongly recommended that you never confront them. Fueling their aggression can turn into road rage which, in the past, has resulted in bodily injuries and deaths.

Here are a few suggestions on the best way to handle aggressive drivers:

  • Keep calm and do your best to get out of their way.
  • Avoid eye contact, blowing your horn at them, or responding rudely in return.
  • Do not challenge them by speeding up, blocking them, or tailgating them.

Allowing an aggressive driver’s anger to not affect you can be difficult and allowing a situation to escalate into road rage is never worth it in the end.

Help keep safety a priority at all times: “Stay alert, you won’t get hurt.” – and – “A little courtesy won’t kill you.” are great safety slogans to recall whenever you are behind the wheel.

Furnace “Puff Back” Q&A

October 15, 2014 at 1:03 PM | Posted in Home | Leave a comment
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What is a “Puff Back”?
A “Puff Back” is an explosion in the burner chamber of a furnace or boiler. If you have forced hot air you have a furnace, and if you have forced hot water you have a boiler. These explosions are usually small and confined to the burner chamber but they can cause quite a bit of damage to the heating system. Most “Puff Backs” occur in oil-fired heating systems. In a system fueled with gas, the explosion is usually bigger and more damaging.

What causes a “Puff Back”?
A “Puff Back” may have many causes but is always traced to a lack of maintenance or a failure to make needed repairs. Having your heating system cleaned and inspected annually to help you avoid problems.

What damage can a “Puff Back” cause?
A “Puff Back” can result in major damage by sending soot and smoke throughout the house. Walls, ceilings, carpets, furniture, and curtains become coated with a fine film of soot and smoke. The damage is usually worse with a forced hot air heating system or central air conditioning because the duct work provides a path through the house allowing the soot and smoke to reach more areas.

What do I do if this happens to me?
If you have a “Puff Back”, report it to your insurance agent and contact a professional cleaning company to begin clean up. Soot and smoke can create quite a mess and be very hard to clean up. Special techniques and materials are usually required to avoid leaving greasy smears. In severe cases, furniture and carpeting may need to be replaced.

Am I covered under my homeowner policy?
Your homeowner policy will usually cover damage to your home and contents caused by a puff back. If a puff back occurs, we recommend that you do not attempt to clean it yourself. Using standard cleaning products could cause further damage and may not get rid of the oil residue and odors. The cost of hiring a professional cleaning company would be covered as part of the claim.

If you have any questions on puff backs or how your policy will respond, call us at 888-850-9400.

Schedule your furnace to be cleaned before the cold weather takes hold to avoid the chances of a “Puff Back” in your home.

Labor Day Safety Tips

August 27, 2014 at 1:20 PM | Posted in Holidays, Safety Tips | Leave a comment
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It’s hard to believe that Labor Day weekend is upon us. To most of us, it represents the end of summer. Students have gone back to school, pools are being closed, the nights are getting cool, and the trees are showing hints of changing color.

This long holiday weekend means there will be cookouts, boating, swimming, and fishing. It also means there may be extra security such as road blocks and lake patrols. You could avoid unnecessary trouble while on the roads, lakes, and rivers by keeping these tips keep in mind:

  • Use sunscreen and drink plenty of fluids
  • Never go boating or swimming alone
  • Do not drink alcohol while operating a vehicle or watercraft
  • Be sure to assign a designated driver to your group
  • Eliminate driving distractions, especially the use of cell phones
  • Be sure that you and your passengers wear their seatbelts
  • Allow enough time for travel to avoid anxiety, and keep to the speed limits

Holidays are a time to celebrate! Enjoy the end of this season by keeping yourself and your loved ones safe.

Back to School – Driving Safety Tips

August 20, 2014 at 9:54 AM | Posted in Reminders, Safety Tips | Leave a comment
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In the coming weeks children will be back in school and the school buses will be back on the roads, making the motorist’s commute seem longer. It is very important to follow proper procedures for sharing the road with school buses and when driving near school zones:

  • Be alert! Children may take more risks, without thinking, failing to look both ways when crossing a street.
  • It is illegal to pass a school bus with red flashing lights signaling when children are getting on or off the bus – and traffic must stop in both directions until this signal has been turned off.
  • Stop your car at least ten feet away from a school bus to allow sufficient space for children to enter and exit the bus.
  • Make sure you do not stop your vehicle blocking a cross walk. Be sure to leave plenty of room for pedestrians to safely access the cross walk without having to walk around your vehicle.
  • When warning flashers are blinking in a school zone, you must stop to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian in a cross walk or at an intersection with no marked cross walk.
  • Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard if directed to do so.

The most frequent victims of auto vs. pedestrian collisions are the young, elderly, disabled, and intoxicated pedestrians. Children are often times the hardest pedestrians to see whether they are getting off a bus or crossing the road to go to school. Whenever you are behind the wheel — and especially when you are near a school bus or driving through a school zone — use extra care and attention, keeping yourself and everyone around you SAFE.

Protecting Yourself from Tree Damage

August 13, 2014 at 9:24 AM | Posted in Home | Leave a comment
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These mild summer days are actually the best time to prepare for the coming storm seasons. If you have trees on your property, you may want to be aware that falling trees and limbs are very common causes of property damage, personal injury, and sometimes death. Windstorms, ice storms, and snow storms can bring even the healthiest tree crashing down. Heavy rains can saturate the ground causing trees to uproot and fall. In addition, trees with large roots can damage septic systems, foundations, utility lines, and sidewalks.

The following signs may require special attention:

  • Trees that are hollow or have cracks in the trunk and major limbs
  • Trees that are decaying or have mushrooms growing from the bark
  • Branches hanging over a roof or that directly contact a roof, siding, or power lines
  • Trees with V-shaped forks rather than U-shaped forks may be more likely to split

Most homeowners are able to attend to these conditions by pruning or removing trees themselves, however, it is always best to consult with a licensed tree care specialist.

Not all homeowner insurance policies automatically provide coverage for tree damage and removal of fallen trees. Contact your agent to see what coverage options are available to you before a loss occurs.

College-Bound Coverage

August 6, 2014 at 9:01 AM | Posted in Home, Reminders | Leave a comment
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Sending your child off to college can be a very emotional experience, making it difficult to remember everything that needs to be thought of while worrying about them leaving home. Insurance coverage is one topic that is often forgotten, although it is one of the most important topics. The proper insurance coverage not only protects the student but protects you, the parent as well. If your child is under the age of 24, is a full-time student, and was a resident of your household before moving out to school, some of your home and auto coverage may follow them if they will be living in the dorm.

Covering a student’s actions:
Your homeowner policy provides coverage for bodily injury or property damage that is caused by your child accidentally. Intentional acts are not covered. This only applies if they are in the dorm. This may be a good time to consider an umbrella policy to obtain additional liability coverage.

Covering a student’s belongings:
Your homeowner policy provides coverage up to 10% of your contents coverage for their belongings while away from your premises. This may NOT apply if they are living in an off campus apartment or fraternity or sorority house.  When it comes to electronic devices such as laptops and computers, you may want to specifically schedule these items.

If your child will be living off campus, they would want to purchase a tenant policy to protect their personal items and receive liability coverage. Some landlords are now requiring that they be listed on a tenant policy so they will be notified if it cancels during the year.

Covering student autos or driving liability: When your child takes a car to school, be sure they are listed as the primary operator and that you have notified your insurance agent of the town the vehicle will be garaged during the school year. Make sure your child knows not to let anyone else drive the vehicle, as this would negate any available coverage in the event of a loss.

If your student is not taking a car to school and there is a chance they may drive someone else’s vehicle, make sure you leave them on your policy as a rated operator. Should they be in an accident, your auto policy will provide them some coverage if the owner of the other vehicle did not carry enough liability coverage. There may also be discounts available to students away at school.

There are so many issues to consider as you help your child leave for college. Call us at 888-850-9400 and we can help you arrange for any insurance coverage needed before they go.

Home Maintenance Checklist

July 30, 2014 at 9:00 AM | Posted in Home | Leave a comment
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Household claims are on the rise, and the causes are not what you would typically expect. These types of claims are the result of circumstances within the home that you wouldn’t think of until it happens to you.

Three common appliances require simple home maintenance checks that could help you avoid unusual losses:

  1. Refrigerators – Clean under and around your refrigerator to help it operate at its peak efficiency during these hot summer days, and check the hose if you have an ice maker. A lot of refrigerators have built-in ice makers and the hose runs from the plumbing in the sink to the back of the freezer. These hoses should be checked or replaced on a regular basis to keep them in good working order and protect against unexpected leaks or damage to your home.
  2. Washing Machines – Check your washing machine hoses. The hoses from the water valve to the back of your washer have a life expectancy. Before they burst they might get a big goose egg in the weak spot that is getting ready to burst. If you have hoses that are wrapped in metal meshing, you should be okay. Check the hoses on the back of your washer to see if they are bulging or cracked. Get in the habit of checking them periodically or better yet shut off the water valve when you are not using the washer.
  3. Clothes Dryers – Remove the lint from your dryer using a lint brush to clean deep within the trap and vacuum the back of the dryer to eliminate as much lint as you can to prevent fire. Consider hiring a professional appliance repair company to perform routine cleanings to keep it working efficiently.

Sometimes the most common household conveniences cause the most inconvenient hassles once you neglect simple routine maintenance. Benjamin Franklin (the founder of American insurance) said himself: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Keep Your Vacation Worry Free:

July 23, 2014 at 9:00 AM | Posted in Home, Reminders | Leave a comment
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These final summer months whisk many people away from their homes on vacations or on day trips to enjoy the weather. This checklist will help you protect your home from potential theft or damage while you are away:

  • View your home as a burglar would. Identify the easiest points of entry, and implement diversions to make a break-in more difficult.
  • Look in to your home from your own windows, and move any valuable items out of plain view from a window.
  • Keep access to your home visible by trimming trees and shrubs away from doors and windows.
  • Mount exterior motion detector lights around your home and property.
  • Leave shades, curtains, and blinds in their usual position.
  • Discontinue deliveries, or arrange to have a friend or neighbor pick up newspapers and mail.
  • Use automatic timers to turn lights on and off in different areas of your home.
  • If you will be away for an extended period of time notify your local police department.
  • Never leave your house key hidden outside your home.
  • Unplug major appliances, televisions, and computers in case of a power surge.
  • Turn off the water valves to your washing machine and other water sources not being used while you are away.

Our summers are short ~ spend the time to safeguard your home so you can leave it, relax, and enjoy your vacation!

Protect Your Home from Lightning Claims

July 16, 2014 at 9:00 AM | Posted in Home | Leave a comment
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Summer is the season that brings most thunder and lightning storms causing potential dangers. When lightning strikes, it can damage appliances and electronics within your home. The following tips may help you should you encounter a lightning strike:

Preparing for the storm:

  • Have a professional electrician install a lightning protection system. This system provides a path for the lightning current to travel safely to the ground should your home be struck.
  • An electrician might also install surge arresters to your utility service and telephone equipment to prevent surges from entering your home on power and telephone lines.
  • Install surge protectors on outlets in which computers and other electronic equipment are plugged in reducing the possibility of damage.

What to do if lightning strikes your home:

  • In a severe strike, make sure everyone is accounted for and immediately evacuate the house.
  • Call 911. The fire department is dispatched in cases of lightning strikes.
  • The fire department will use thermal imaging cameras to make sure there are no fires or hot spots in your walls.
  • Consult an electrician to make sure your wiring was not damaged.

Filing a claim for lightning:

  • Contact your agent as soon as possible to report the lighting strike.
  • Keep detailed records of all big-ticket purchase such as TVs and computers to show proof of ownership at the time of a claim.
  • Keep receipts for any damaged items that you replace.
  • Keep the items that were damaged for the insurance company to inspect.

Appliances and electronics are not the only items that can be damaged due to a lightning strike. Other items such as well pumps have been known to be damaged by lightning. If you have any questions on how your policy will respond to lightning contact your agent before a loss.

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