11 months ago ·
by Erin Carlson ·
Roughly 374,000 fires occur in homes across the U.S. each year. Protect your home and family from being a statistic when you create a fire emergency plan.
1. Discuss Fire Safety Tips
Obviously, you want to extinguish candles, cigarettes and other open flames immediately. You also need to supervise meal prep in the kitchen to ensure nothing catches on fire. However, did you know that fabric can be flammable when it lies near the heater? Teach your family to prevent these and other fire hazards.
2. Install Smoke Detectors
To ensure everyone can safely escape a fire, place smoke detectors on every floor of your home where you can hear them day and night. Since smoke rises, place them on the ceiling or high on the walls.
3. Locate Fire Extinguishers
Fire extinguishers need to be accessible. Place one in the kitchen under the sink or in the pantry. Other smart locations include near the entrance and exit doors and at least one on each floor. Once they’re securely attached to the wall, ensure your adult and teen family members know how to use them.
4. Choose the Exits
Your home’s layout determines where you can safely exit. In each room, choose two door or window exits that assist your family in safely escaping a house fire. If you have a second story, store an escape ladder near the window, and make sure you know how to use it properly.
5. Designate an Outdoor Meeting Spot
Whether your family meets at a neighbor’s house or a tree across the street, designate an outdoor base camp. Call 911 from this spot after everyone safely escapes the fire.
6. Practice the Plan
Even the best fire emergency plan will be ineffective if your family members don’t know what to do when a fire starts. Test the fire alarms and teach your kids what they sound like. Then, practice escaping out of the nearest exit and meeting at your designated spot.
Additionally, talk to your insurance agent and ensure you have adequate home insurance for your house and possessions. Insurance won’t prevent fires, but it will give you peace of mind.
11 months ago ·
by Erin Carlson ·
Valued at $46.2 million, the Graff Pink diamond is one of the most expensive pieces of jewelry in the world. Your jewelry box might not hold anything that priceless, but you certainly want to insure your valuable or sentimental pieces, including the diamond cufflinks you wore at your wedding or your grandmother’s ruby brooch. November is Real Jewelry Month and the perfect time to make sure your necklaces, bracelets, rings and other real jewelry are insured.
1. Hire an Independent Appraiser
An independent appraiser will carefully and thoroughly inspect each piece of jewelry you own, and he or she will then determine the exact value of your works of art. Be sure to obtain a signed document that includes a detailed description and appraiser’s value for each piece.
2. Check Your Current Insurance Policy
Most homeowner or renter insurance policies include cash value or replacement coverage for personal belongings. As long as that figure is high enough to cover everything you own, including your real jewelry, you’re set.
3. Purchase a Rider
If your current policy does not cover your valuable gems, purchase a rider. It offers additional coverage for your precious collection.
4. Take Pictures of all Your Pieces
The police need detailed descriptions of your jewelry if a piece is lost or stolen. Take detailed pictures of each piece to increase the likelihood of recovery.
5. Update Your Inventory Regularly
Once you’re sure your jewelry is adequately insured, mark your calendar for an annual inventory review. Add new pieces you recently purchased and remove pieces you sold or gave away to ensure your collection is completely covered.
6. Inspect Your Jewelry
As part of your annual review; take your jewelry for an inspection. The jeweler will look for loose settings, chips or scratches. Take new pictures after any needed repairs are made.
7. Store Your Jewelry in a Safe Place
Insurance will replace your real jewelry if it’s lost, stolen or damaged, but don’t take chances. A fireproof safe hidden in your home or a safety deposit box at the bank protects your gems, especially if you own expensive pieces that you wear only on rare occasions.
You do not want to file a claim for stolen jewelry and find out it wasn’t insured. Follow these tips and talk to your insurance agent today as you protect your valuable collection and celebrate Real Jewelry Month.
11 months ago ·
by Erin Carlson ·
Are you planning to welcome trick-or-treaters to your home next weekend? Follow these steps to prep your property for safe Halloween fun.
1. Clean your walkways.
Jack-o-lanterns are cute, but they are also tripping hazards. Remove decorations and all clutter or debris such as toys, yard tools or twigs from your sidewalks, steps and walkways.
2. Clear the yard.
Ideally, kids will stay on the walkway and front porch as they retrieve their candy. However, you will want to clear your yard so curious and excited kids don’t trip on any toys, branches or yard tools.
3. Repair broken sidewalks and steps.
Inspect your entryway and steps carefully. Then repair any broken stepping stones, loose railings or other hazards.
4. Install lighting.
Your front porch light is turned on to welcome trick or treaters, but you may also need additional lighting to ensure safety. Solar-powered walkway lights or a string of lights can illuminate your walkway and porch.
5. Change your location.
Instead of making kids walk up your long driveway or steep steps, stand or sit in a location that’s easy for them to access.
6. Lock doors and windows.
On trick or treat night, your attention is focused on your front door. Lock all the other doors and windows in your house so no one can gain access to your home while you’re out front. Remember to lock your garage and car, too.
7. Secure valuables.
Move your grill, mower and other valuables to the shed or another secure location. With this tip, you prevent potential burglars from adding your home to their future target list.
8. Protect your pets.
Some kids are scared of animals. Also, pets can become startled and bolt or bite when they see strange costumes or dozens of noisy kids. Always secure your pets so they and the kids are safe.
9. Extinguish candles.
Open flames pose a fire hazard. As an alternative, try battery-powered bulbs, or install Halloween-themed covers on your flashlights.
10. Consider allergies when choosing candy.
Many kids are allergic to nuts or dairy. Place a teal pumpkin on your step to show trick or treaters that you offer safe alternatives like books, stickers or toys.
11. Update your property and homeowners’ insurance policies.
Despite your best efforts to promote safety, someone could be injured while on your property. Be sure your property and homeowners’ insurance policies are updated and include adequate coverage.
Trick or treating is a fun family activity. As you give out treats this year, follow these 11 safety tips. They secure your property and reduce your liability risks.
12 months ago ·
by Erin Carlson ·
October, Adopt a Shelter Dog month, is a great time to add a dog to your family. Be careful which breed you adopt, though. Insurance companies use data from insurance claims and public health studies to create a high risk dog breed list, and your homeowners insurance premiums can increase based on the type of dog you adopt. You can save money when you choose a dog that’s not on the high risk list.
Working Breed Dogs
Agile, powerful and intelligent, Akitas, Alaskan Malamutes, Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers and Siberian Huskies are also fiercely protective. If they’re not trained properly, these breeds could be potentially dangerous, especially to young children and small pets.
Loyal and protective, American Pitbull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers have been bred to hunt. These traits mean they can become aggressive and tenacious if they’re cornered or frightened by one of your family members or guests.
Police departments, military personnel and ranch hands appreciate this breed because the dogs are intelligent, hard-working and powerful. They’re also suspicious of strangers and won’t back down, which makes them a challenging breed for inexperienced owners to handle.
Independent and strong Chow Chows are often kept as companions. These fluffy dogs can be aloof and stubborn, though, and should only be adopted by experienced dog owners.
Wolf Hybrid and Presa Canarios dogs exhibit strength and protective characteristics. However, they can also be unpredictable and quick to attack, making them potentially dangerous breeds. Friendly and docile Great Danes are listed on the high risk list, too, because of their size.
A dog adds fun and companionship to your home and family, and adopting a shelter dog is socially responsible. Before you choose a new pet, though, consider whether or not it will increase your homeowners insurance cost. If so, you may choose a different breed or reduce your home insurance premiums by installing a dog fence or raising your deductible.
Have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day weekend!
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that most burglaries occur during the summer months (and while people are away). While some burglars enter your home, others are interested in soft targets, the items stored outside of your home. One in three homeowners do not protect their soft targets, but you can with these tips.
- Vacant Properties
Thieves and vandals typically target vacant homes as they steal scrap metal or take other items to sell. If you’re on vacation, keep your windows and doors locked. Install outdoor motion activated lights and use a timer to turn on indoor lights at random times, too. You can also install a video camera that allows you to monitor your home while you’re away.
- Vehicles and Loose Items
Experienced car thieves can steal a vehicle in less than 10 seconds. Always keep your car locked inside the garage or make sure the alarm is turned on and install an anti-theft device that disables the ignition or locks the steering wheel. You should hide any loose items, too, including electronics, garage door openers, toll booth passes and parking garage passes, either in the glove box or trunk.
- Unlocked Sheds and Garages
Tools and lawn equipment are easy to resell. Always lock your garage, including windows, even if you’re working in your lawn. Be sure your valuable tools and equipment are stored inside the shed or garage, too.
- Sports Equipment
Whether your summer activities include baseball, kayaking or tennis, resist the urge to store your sports equipment outside. Secure it safely in a locked garage or shed, in a locked bin or in your vehicle’s trunk.
Ideally, you should store your bike in a locked garage or shed. If you have to store your bikes, don’t use thin bike chains and wheel locks that are easy to unbolt or cut. A heavy chain threaded through the bike’s wheels and frame and a thick padlock are more secure.
- Air Conditioning Units
Your outdoor air conditioning units contain copper coils and other metal piping that thieves can scrap for cash. Install a bright security light that’s motion activated near your outdoor AC unit or install a locked fence around it.
- Pool Pumps
Pool pumps are easy to resell. Remove the pool pump and store it inside during your vacation. If that’s not possible, install a bright, motion-activated security light near the pump. You should also install a fence around your pool and keep it locked at all times.
Protect your home from thieves when you take steps to protect these seven soft targets. Be sure your homeowners or renters insurance policies are up to date, too, as you protect your home and possessions.
Umbrella insurance protects insureds from financial devastation. It’s a common policy homeowners purchase because it protects their home and other assets when an insurance claim exceeds existing homeowners or auto insurance policy limits. However, it could be a smart investment for renters, too.
It Supplements Existing Liability Protection
Typically, basic liability protection only includes $100,000 in coverage. An umbrella policy can offer $1 million or more in additional coverage. Both types of coverage offer financial protection and peace of mind.
For $1 million in liability protection, renters could pay as little as $300 a year. Claude Lilly, Clemson University College of Business and Behavioral Science dean, also reminds renters that an addition million may only cost $100 more. This inexpensive investment protects a renter’s possessions, auto and other assets as it gives the insured peace of mind.
It Complements Exposures
The hobbies a renter enjoys can make an umbrella policy a necessity. For instance, the renter’s dog bites a contractor or guest, resulting in thousands of dollars in medical expenses and an expensive lawsuit. The umbrella coverage kicks in after the basic renter’s insurance policy funds are exhausted, and it provides the financial protection the renter needs.
Likewise, owning a swimming pool, hunting as a hobby or playing golf can each be fun activities, but they also have the potential to turn into expensive lawsuits. Renters should invest in an umbrella policy that covers expenses associated with a claim or liability related to the exposures they enjoy.
Consider Net Worth
Each renter can decide how much umbrella insurance to purchase. Overall, the renter’s current assets and net worth determine the basic coverage amount.
Buy Based on Future Earnings
A renter who’s found liable for an auto accident could face wage garnishment. Purchasing an umbrella policy that takes future earnings into account ensures the renter is adequately covered and can pay the judgment without losing his or her home and other assets.
Remember Slander, Libel and Invasion of Privacy Protection
Umbrella coverage does more than protect financial assets after an accident or lawsuit. It also protects renters who are victims of slander, libel or privacy invasion. The protection an umbrella policy offers against these challenges makes it a wise investment.
Overall, umbrella insurance provides beneficial coverage for every consumer, including renters. An insurance agent can offer additional counsel and advice regarding how much umbrella insurance to purchase.