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.

SPRING Your Home From Winter’s Wrath…

March 11, 2015 at 9:19 AM | Posted in Home, Insurance Policy, Personal Property, Safety Tips, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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After this winter’s extremely cold temperatures and ridiculously large amounts of snow, it’s hard to believe the first day of spring is only ten days away. Many of us are wondering if we will get to see the crocus and daffodils this year, or will our lawns be white until July? Even though you may not be able to start cleaning up your yard, you can start de-winterizing your home. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Springtime tends to bring more rain than sunshine. Remove all debris from your gutters, drains, & spouts to allow for proper drainage. Inspect them for any issues that could lead to possible leaks that may cause water damage or toxic mold growth.
  • Your roof takes quite a beating in the winter months causing cracks and erosion to the shingles. Once it no longer has snow on it, inspect if from the ground for any missing or damaged shingles. Also check for any damaged flashing around plumbing vents, skylights, and chimneys. Make any necessary repairs to prevent wood rot that could eventually lead to leaks or other issues.
  • Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around doors, windows, railings, and decks. Wood compresses with the cold air causing gaps for water and snow to seep into. Repair any damaged trim to avoid wood rot that could result in leaks or creating a welcome habitat for insect infestation.
  • Check outside faucets for freeze damage.
  • If you have a central air conditioning system, arrange for a qualified heating & cooling contractor to clean and service the outside unit. Annual service calls will keep the system working at its peak performance. Also be sure to change the interior filters regularly.

With each season change, we suggest you review your insurance policies, and we always recommend you hire professional contractors to make any major repairs and perform regular maintenance inspections to your home.

PREVENTING DAMAGE TO YOUR HOME FROM SNOW & ICE

February 11, 2015 at 4:38 PM | Posted in Home, Insurance Policy, Personal Property, Safety Tips, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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We are now seeing claims for home water damage and the collapse of roofs due to the weight of snow and ice dams. The best way to prevent having damage to your home this time of year is with proactive maintenance. Please continue to keep these tips in mind to help you properly maintain your home while preventing injuries to yourself and others.

  1. To prevent home leaks and ice dams, remove snow from your roof. The safest way to do this is from ground level using a rake. Don’t stand directly below the area that you are working on, to avoid pulling the snow down on top of yourself. If you must go onto the roof to deal with the snow, get someone to act as a spotter. Wear boots with good traction, or add boot chains, and use a harness or rope for extra security.
  2. To prevent ventilation issues, clear snow away from all vents, including any on the roof and around your foundation.
  3. To avoid collapse of flat roofs and decks, shovel them often to keep the weight at a minimum.

We recommend the hiring of a professional to remove snow around your home. However, if you wish to do this task yourself, these tips may help you continue to stay safe through the winter. If you have questions about your Homeowners insurance concerning winter damage, please feel free to contact us at 888-850-9400.

Preparing Your Home For Your Winter Get-A-Way

February 4, 2015 at 9:35 AM | Posted in Event Planning, Home, Personal Property, Seasonal, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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After all these snowstorms, how many of you are ready to take that winter vacation? Whether it’s to the mountains or to the seashores, taking the time to prepare your home for your absence can prevent a potential disaster from happening while you are away.

Here is a checklist to help you prepare your home:

  • Arrange for someone to plow or shovel so that your home appears occupied
  • Turn the thermostat down to 60 and leave interior doors open to circulate air
  • Put your lights on automatic timers and consider an outdoor motion detector
  • Make sure that all windows and doors are locked
  • Have a trusted neighbor or friend pick up your mail and newspapers every day, or suspend delivery
  • Purge the refrigerator of perishables and take out your trash and secure it
  • Run a computer backup and then turn it off
  • Ask a trusted neighbor or friend to keep an eye on your place and leave a key with them
  • Conduct a home inventory and make sure your homeowner insurance policy is up-to-date

These simple preparations will give you peace of mind while you are enjoying your winter get-a-way. For a review of your Homeowners insurance, please feel free to contact us at 888-850-9400.

Preventing Puff-backs

January 21, 2015 at 9:44 AM | Posted in Personal Insurance, Personal Property, Regulations, Safety Tips, Seasonal, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A “puff back” is an explosion in the burner chamber of a furnace or boiler. They are usually small and confined to the burner chamber, however, they can do considerable damage to the heating system. In addition, a puff back can send soot and smoke throughout the house, covering walls, ceilings, carpets, furniture, etc. The cleanup of such damage must be done by a professional cleaning company.

The cause of a puff back can always be traced back to a lack of maintenance or repairs to the heating system. Here are some tips to help prevent this dangerous and extremely messy event from happening in your home.

  • Have all of your oil-fired heating appliances serviced annually by a licensed technician.
  • Stay alert for noises, odors, or soot, and watch for oil leaks or air leaks in the oil piping system and at the oil burner. If you notice any of these, contact a licensed technician for an inspection, diagnosis, and repair if necessary.

Keeping up with regular maintenance, and being alert for symptoms, will help prevent the risk of having to cover the cost of cleanup and the disruption in your life that a puff back would create. Fortunately, 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 the coverage your policy offers, call us at 888-850-9400. It is always recommended to have your furnace cleaned and boiler checked before the winter cold sets in to avoid the chances of a puff back in your home.

Preparing Your Home & Auto for the Changing Seasons

September 17, 2014 at 9:22 AM | Posted in Auto, Home, Reminders, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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The change of season brings in colder weather ~ like it or not. As warm summer days give way to the cooler air, we know the winter months aren’t far behind. While enjoying autumn’s changing weather, take a moment to pay full attention to the following items before the cold winter temperatures take hold:

Vehicles

  • Car Batteries – Cold weather drains a battery quickly make sure yours is charging at full capacity
  • Antifreeze – Make sure you have the levels required to handle low temperatures
  • Wipers and Windshield Washer Fluid – Check for proper working order and appropriate levels
  • Oil – Replace with winter grade oil
  • Tires – Make sure you have the adequate tread to handle the snow and ice
  • Ice Scrapers & Snow Brush – Stock your car with these essential snow and ice removal tools
  • Emergency Kit – Be sure to includes a shovel, blankets, flashlights, matches, food, and water

Home

  • Tune Up Time – Snow blowers and generators should be running correctly and currently tuned up
  • Shovels and Sand – Stock an adequate supply of both
  • Tree Maintenance – Trim branches away from power lines and your roof and gutters
  • Furnace & Chimneys – Have these items professionally cleaned before the heating season starts
  • Space Heaters – Inspect all heating appliances thoroughly before using them
  • Emergency Supplies – Replace and Restock before power outages. Include batteries, flashlights, non-perishable food supplies, and blankets
  • Medication – Always keep an emergency supply accessible to cover a few extra days in case you become stranded

Being prepared provides you the reassurance and comfort that will enable you to enjoy the changing seasons and the unexpected weather that is inevitable!

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