Garage Safety

Is Your Garage Safe?

Garage Safety| Insurance AdvisorsAmericans suffer nearly 21 million preventable household injuries each year, and many of them occur in the garage. That’s because most of the 65 million U.S. garages are cluttered, disorganized and potentially unsafe!

Nearly all homeowners have at least one potentially dangerous item in the garage, including sharp tools and chemicals. What you may not know is that many of the chemicals stored in the garage are highly flammable – and may even be susceptible to spontaneous combustion. If not stored properly, gasoline and oily rags containing linseed oil or turpentine oil can be fire hazards.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the garage is the most common area of origin for home structure fires (20 percent of fires), and oily rags were the most common item to ignite first.

To help you safely store household items that may be flammable or combustible, here are some important safety tips from the NFPA

Gasoline

  • Store gasoline in a tightly sealed metal or plastic container that has been approved by local or state fire authorities or an independent testing laboratory. Never store it in glass jars or non-reusable plastic containers such as milk jugs.
  • Do not use or store gasoline near possible sources of ignition.
  • Fill portable gasoline containers outdoors only, and place the container on the ground before filling.

Oily Rags

  • Keep rags that have absorbed oils, such as linseed oil or turpentine, in a covered. metal can with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Be sure the oily rags are thoroughly dried before collection or transport.

Other

  • Make sure pesticides, paint thinner, antifreeze and poisonous products are stored on high shelves out of reach or in locked cabinets.
  • Mount a fire extinguisher & first aid in the garage.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector rated for the garage.
  • Install a smoke alarm.

Sources: MN Safety Council
insurancenewsnet.com

Homeowners Insurance: Sewer Backup or Overflow?

Sewer backup or system overflow: Which is it?Backup or Overflow

The weather in the Midwest has been quite wet this year, which brings to mind two sometimes confusing and misunderstood types of property claims. What’s the difference between a sewer backup and a plumbing system overflow?

A great deal of rain can overtax the sewer systems. This can cause water to flow backward through the property owner’s lateral pipes, through the drain, and into the basement. When water outside the insured’s plumbing system flows backward through the plumbing into the property, this is a backup claim.

A backup is different from an overflow. An overflow occurs when there’s a blockage in the plumbing system. When the toilet is flushed, there’s nowhere for the water to go due to the blockage, so the toilet bowl overflows. The water that’s causing the damage never enters the sewer system. An overflow can also occur when there’s blockage within the lateral pipe. The water from the property flows down the lateral and because of the blockage, the water has nowhere to go so it overflows the floor drain or a lower-level bathroom causing damage.

So how are these two claims covered? The homeowners policy affords coverage for an overflow of the plumbing system up to the policy limit; however, damage from water that backs up through sewers or drains, overflows or discharges from a sump, sump pump, or related equipment is specifically excluded.

How do you get coverage for a sewer backup or sump overflow on the homeowner’s policy? With a Water Backup and Sump Overflow Coverage endorsement. The endorsement provides coverage for water backup or sump overflow for both personal property and structural damage from water.

How you can prevent sewer line backups?

There are several preventative measures homeowners can take to minimize the occurrence of sewer line backups.

  • Proper disposal of grease and food: Grease, fats, gravies, sauces and cooking oils should NEVER go down your kitchen drain.
  • Proper disposal of paper products: Anything that does not easily dissolve as easily as toilet paper should never be flushed. Even facial tissue should be avoided; it does not dissolve as easily as bathroom tissue.
  • Install a Backwater Prevention Valve. These fixtures allow sewage to go out , but not come back in

Download our free insurance claims process tip sheet.
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Sources: Horizon Services
West Bend Insurance Company

Homeowners Insurance: Preparing for a Tornado

Will your home insurance take on a tornado?

Homeowners Insurance | Tornadoes

It seems to appear out of nowhere and is gone within minutes, but in that short time a tornado can devastate a home. The vital question is: Can your home withstand its winds?

About 1,000 tornadoes touch down in the U.S. in an average year, causing billions of dollars in insured losses, according to the Insurance information Institute. These monster storms – which can wipe out neighborhoods and small towns – are the costliest type of natural disaster for insurers.

Here are five steps for assessing your insurance needs in the face of tornadoes.

  1. Know Your Coverage – Unlike floods or earthquakes, tornadoes don’t require a special type of insurance. A basic homeowners policy should cover the damage inflicted by a tornado, whether it’s from wind or rain. Still, homeowners concerned about tornadoes should make sure their policies match their financial needs.For example, a policy with a higher deductible likely will translate into lower premiums, but you will end up paying more out of your own pocket if a tornado damages or destroys your house. Make sure you can cover the deductible. Otherwise, consider a higher premium with a smaller deductible.It’s a good idea to review your replacement cost coverage with your agent. This coverage replaces the damage to the home with materials that are similar in quality and kind.
  2. Take Inventory - Make a list of what you have, to ensure your possessions are covered adequately. Keep receipts if possible, especially for more expensive belongings. Take photos of your possessions as well and keep your records in a safe place.
  3. Consider Your Valuables & Car - Your home insurance will cover personal property up to a limit. Valuable items such as coin collections, jewelry, fine art etc. should be appraised. If your car is damaged the comprehensive portion of your auto policy should take care of any damage from a tornado’s wind or hail, vandalism and theft.
  4. Don’t Forget Living Expenses - This type of coverage helps cover the cost of staying in a hotel or paying rent for temporary housing. It can even cover meal expenses while your family is displaced.
  5. What To Do In The Aftermath - After making sure your family is safe, get in touch with your insurer or agent. Often, insurance companies will send out emergency response teams. These representatives may issue checks or debit cards immediately, for food and housing. A claims adjuster will be sent to your home to assess the damage.

Source:  Bankrate.com

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Homeowners Insurance: Damage By Fallen Trees

Will Homeowners Insurance Cover that Fallen Tree?

Damage By Fallen Trees

Trees add value and beauty to your home, but they also can spell trouble if they aren’t properly maintained. Dead or dying trees aren’t just unsightly; they post safety hazards and can cause liability issues. It’s important for homeowners to understand what is covered by their homeowners insurance policy if a tree should fall on their property or their neighbor’s property.

Overview

Most basic homeowners insurance policies will cover damage to your house and the contents caused by falling trees and tree limbs. Most storm-caused tree damage, such as ice, hail and lightning, is covered. As long as the tree was healthy and well maintained, it doesn’t matter if it was your tree or your neighbor’s tree; your policy covers damage to your property. The same is true for your neighbor. Their homeowners policy is there to cover their property.

Liability

This is where it gets a little more complicated. If a tree on your property is not well maintained, is dead or diseased, and may fall and cause damage to your neighbor’s property, you may be liable. Typically, your neighbor’s insurance company will pay for the damage, and then come after your insurance company for reimbursement in a process called subrogation. If the insurance adjuster finds that you were negligent (didn’t maintain the tree properly, your insurance company may end up footing the bill and you’ll feel the pain through higher premiums and potential lawsuits.

If you notice that your neighbors aren’t taking care of their trees properly, you should contact them about it. If they aren’t cooperative, it’s best to use certified mail to have a record of the communication to show you have made an effort to protect your property.

If you don’t properly maintain trees on your own property and they cause damage to your home, it’s possible the insurance company may deny coverage because you failed to protect your property.

Other Damage

Should a healthy tree fall on your garage and damage your car, your homeowners policy will cover the damage to the structure up to limits set within your policy. Your auto insurance, assuming you have comprehensive coverage, will cover the damage to your car. Again, if the tree isn’t properly maintained, coverage may be denied.

Your homeowners insurance policy also likely will cover some of the cost of removing the tree from the structure and the cost of hauling it away. Tree removal and hauling away will have separate limits. These can be very expensive, so be sure to see what the limits of your policy are. 

Keeping your trees healthy and well trimmed doesn’t just protect your family’s safety, but can save you from increased premiums and potential lawsuits.  Prevention is by far the best cure.

www.homesite.com/insurance-resources

Ice Dams

Dealing With Ice Dams on RoofsIce Dams | Home Maintenance

An ice dam has the potential to cause serious damage to both your roof and the inside of your home. When snow accumulates on a roof, a cycle of melting and refreezing occurs. The ice then forms a  line or “dam” at the edge of the roof. As more snow melts, it keeps getting bigger. Once the dam gets large enough, the melted snow that pools up behind it can force its way back under the roof shingle and then leak into your home!

Two key factors interact to cause these types of problems:  insulation and ventilation. Make sure your attic is well insulated to help prevent the melting-freezing cycle. Check and seal places where warm air could leak from your house to the attic, including vent pipes, exhaust fans, chimneys, attic hatches and light fixtures.

Most importantly, remove snow from your roof! Clearing the snow from your roof immediately after a winter storm can help prevent ice dams from forming. Clear your downspouts. An easy way to help snow and ice drain off your roof is to make sure the area around your downspouts is clear.

What are the indicators of an ice dam?

If you notice water damage on ceilings or exterior walls, it can be an indication that an ice dam is formed and ice and water have forced their way into your attic area. Regardless of the circumstances – if water damage occurs from freezing or other sources, call a professional property damage company. They have trained technicians who will mitigate the loss to prevent further damage and the provide restoration services to return the property to a pre-loss condition.

Source:  Will Southcombe, Director of Technical Services, PuroClean

Flood Insurance: What Isn’t Covered

What’s Not Covered by Flood InsuranceFlood Insurance

Generally, physical damage to your building or personal property “directly” caused by a flood is covered by your flood insurance policy. For example, damages caused by a sewer backup are covered if the backup is a direct result of flooding. However, if the backup is caused by some other problem, the damages are not covered.

  • Damage caused by moisture, mildew, or mold that could have been avoided by the property owner.
  • Currency, precious metals, and valuable papers such as stock certificates.
  • Property and belongings outside of a building such as trees, plants, wells, septic systems, walks, decks, patios, fences, seawalls, hot tubs, and swimming pools.
  • Living expenses such as temporary housing.
  • Financial losses caused by business interruption or loss of use of insured property.
  • Most self-propelled vehicles such as cars, including their parts.
  • Paneling, bookcases, and window treatments such as curtains and blinds.
  • Carpeting, area carpets, and other floor coverings such as tile.
  • Drywall for walls and ceilings (below lowest elevated floor).
  • Walls and ceilings not made of drywall.
  • Most personal property such as clothing, electronic equipment, kitchen supplies, and furniture.

Flood Insurance for Basements and Areas Below the Lowest Elevated Floor

  • Basements; crawl spaces under an elevated building
  • Enclosed areas beneath buildings elevated on full-story foundation walls (walkout basements)
  • Enclosed areas under other types of elevated buildings.
  • Make sure to ask your agent for additional details on basement coverage.

Flood Insurance: The Basics| Flood Insurance: What Isn’t Covered | Preparing for a Flood

www.floodsmart.gov

Flood Insurance: The Basics

What’s Covered

Homes flooded with high waters.As with any other type of insurance, it’s important to know what your policy does and does not cover. By now, you probably know that flood insurance covers flood damage, but you probably don’t know all of the details.

Building Property

  • The insured building & its foundation
  • Electrical & plumbing systems
  • Central air conditioning equipment, furnaces & water heaters
  • Refrigerators, cooking stoves & built-in appliances such as dishwashers
  • Permanently installed carpeting over unfinished flooring
  • Permanently installed paneling, wallboard, bookcases & cabinets
  • Window blinds
  • Detached garages (up to 10% of building property coverage); detached buildings (other than  garages) require a separate building property policy
  • Debris removal

Personal Contents

  • Personal belongings, such as clothing, furniture & electronic equipment
  • Curtains; portable & window air conditioners
  • Portable microwave ovens & portable dishwashers
  • Carpets that are not included in building coverage
  • Clothing washers & dryers
  • Food freezers & food items in them
  • Certain valuable items such as original artwork & furs (up to $2,500)

The Basics | Flood Insurance: What Isn’t Covered | How to Prepare for a Flood

What Causes Pipes To Burst?

WaterIt’s a simple scientific explanation:Ice has about 10% more mass than water. When a pressurized plumbing pipe is subjected to freezing temperatures, water turns to ice and the ice often times subjects more pressure than the pipe or the plumbing fixtures containing the water can handle.  The result:  Burst pipes and fixtures!

PEX Vs. Copper Piping

There has been a fairly large swing from traditional copper pipes to PEX pipes. They are less likely to split and break open since they have more flexibility; however, they can break at joints and at fixtures. Some plumbers still prefer the copper, but PEX is less costly per foot and typically faster to install. If your property utilizes PEX plumbing, you still can suffer pipe breaks, but do not have “pinhole leaks.”

When a water pipe bursts in your home, it’s easy to panic. The inconvenience and damage of excess water damage following a frozen or pipe burst is significant. Be sure to get in touch with Insurance Advisors if you have a incident involving any type of water damage and we will put you in touch with an industry leader in clean-up and restoration.

Information Gathered from: 24Restore.com

Protect Your Home: Cold Weather Damage

5 Ways To Protect Your House From Cold Weather DamageWater Spigot

1.Outside Spigots – Shut off and bleed.  It’s not enough to turn the faucet off. You have to bleed the pipe of all water by opening the faucet fully after the supply is turned off. This is the most common pipe to burst from freeze up.

2.Main Water Shut-Off and Freeze Alarm Systems – When traveling out of town for more than 24 hours, take precaution. There are a number of steps to follow. 1) Shut off the water in front of the water main and again bleed the system by opening faucets in the home. 2) Install a freeze alarm that will alert you when the temperature of the home drops below a certain temperature. DO NOT SET THE TEMPERATURE BELOW 55 DEGREES.

3.Furnace Maintenance –  It is advised to have your furnace serviced annually. This will not only keep the furnace running efficiently, it will prevent potential “puff back” or furnace fire claims and will improve the indoor air quality inside the home.

4.Check for Insulation Deficiencies – Heat loss through the attic or ceiling can cause the build-up of ice dams which can lead to water intrusion into the home. Proper insulation in the attic can also prevent condensation  which can warp roof decking and also add humidity and water to the attic. Also, check exterior walls with plumbing for adequate insulation and wrap any exposed pipes on exterior walls with pipe wrap or heat tape.

5.Clean your Gutters – Clogged or improperly draining gutter systems are a major contributor to many ice dam claims. When gutters have standing water in them from being unable to drain, they start the ice build up as soon as the freezing weather sets in. Even with the “maintenance free” gutter guard products, your gutters can and do get clogged. Make sure you check them before the freezing weather sets in.