Fall Home Maintenance Tips

Fall Home Maintenance TipsPrepare your home for cooler days ahead!

Fall foliage is beautiful, but not when it builds up in your gutters! Take these tips into account during the cool autumn months.

  • Have your furnace cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified technician. Keep flammable materials, including all lawn and power equipment, away from water heaters and wiring in the basement.
  • Insulate water pipes in areas exposed to cold temperatures, and turn up the thermostat during extra cold periods.
  • Check for damage to your roof, and clean gutters and downspouts to keep debris from accumulating. This is especially important during the fall season to keep leaves from building up in gutters.
  • Check and repair caulking around doors and windows that show signs of deterioration.
  • Check caulking around showers, bathtubs, sinks and toilet bases; and make repairs as needed.
  • Have your chimney cleaned and maintained annually by a professional.
  • Clean and/or replace your furnace filter.
  • Clean the clothes dryer exhaust duct and space under the dryer. Remove all lint, dust, and pieces of material.
  • Check your electrical outlets for potential fire hazards such as frayed wires or loose-fitting plugs. Be sure not to overload electrical outlets, fuse boxes, extension cords or any other power service.
  • Keep a multi-purpose fire extinguisher accessible, filled and ready for operation.
  • Inspect your smoke detectors. Make sure there is one on each floor of your home. Test them monthly, and change the battery annually or as needed.

Travelers Insurance.com/home maintenance

Learn more about homeowners insurance.

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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Boat Insurance: What You Should Know

What You Need To Know About Bout Insurance.Boat Insurance

If you have a boat of any kind, it pays to learn about boat insurance. Also known as watercraft insurance, boat insurance will protect you, your boat and others in the case of a loss. While not mandatory, it is highly recommended for all boat and personal watercraft owners.

The Basics

Boat insurance is very similar to car insurance. Many of the same options and choices you have for your auto insurance policy will be presented to you for your boat insurance. The most important of these is liability coverage.  Liability insurance is extremely important to carry,  because if another person is injured or killed due to an at-fault accident with your boat, or another’s personal property is damaged, you can suffer huge financial losses.

Collision and comprehensive coverage will protect your investment in your boat. They will cover the cost to repair or replace your boat, motor, trailer and any equipment that is permanently attached to your boat in case of loss. Collision coverage is in case your boat collides with another boat or property and you are at fault. Comprehensive coverage is for other types of loss, such as storm damage, theft, fire or vandalism. Claims of these types are subject to a deductible that you choose when you take out your policy.

The Not-So-Basics

The amount that you can receive from a collision or comprehensive claim is based on the type of policy you choose. An actual cash value policy is based on the replacement cost of your boat minus any depreciation up to the date of loss. Claims are paid out for this amount minus the deductible. Agreed amount value is the other type of policy that does not factor in depreciation. Premiums are set based on an amount agreed to by the insurer and the insured, as to how much the boat is worth.

Boat insurance varies in price not only from company to company, but also from insured to insured. As with other types of insurance, the premium you pay depends on the rate set by the insurer. The rate is determined by underwriters who look at a variety of factors to determine exactly how much risk they are assuming by offering you boat insurance.

The boat itself is one of the major variables considered by an insurer when setting rates. The insurer will need to know the length of the boat, the horsepower of the motor and the year, make and model of both boat and motor.

Information about the boat owner will also make a difference in your boat insurance premium. You will need to give information about your driving record. If it is less than perfect, expect to pay more for boat insurance. Your claims history will also impact the rate.  If you have made multiple claims in recent years on any type of insurance, your rate will be higher. If you have a poor credit history, you will be deemed higher risk and charged accordingly, as research has shown that those with poor credit scores are more likely to make insurance claims.

Source:  insuranceproviders.com

MN Auto Insurance: Pet Car Insurance

A Peace Of Mind With Fluffy In The Car

Pet Auto Insurance

Some auto insurers are providing motorists with a little more peace of mind when they’re behind the wheel with Fido or Fluffy. Special car insurance helps cover the cost of care if pets are injured in an auto accident.

 

This isn’t pet health insurance which covers a pet that needs treatment at a veterinarian’s office. Instead an auto insurer’s pet-injury coverage typically kicks in if a pet is traveling in your car, is injured in an accident and needs veterinary care. Some policies also pay out if the pet is killed in a crash. (Also be aware that pet owners can take precautions to keep their pets safer in cars.)

Progressive was the first car insurance company to offer pet coverage, starting in 2007. Other car insurance companies have followed suit. If you are shopping for a car insurance plan that covers pets, be aware that coverage varies by insurer.

Tips for traveling by car with pets

Cats should be in a cage or in a special carrier to allow them to feel secure and prevent them from crawling under your feet while you’re driving.

A dog that must ride in a truck bed should be in a protective kennel that is fastened to the truck bed. Dogs riding in a car should not ride in the passenger seat if it equipped with an airbag, and should not be allowed to sit on the driver’s lap.

Harnesses, tethers and other accessories to secure pets during car travel are available at most pet stores.

Pets should not be allowed to ride with their heads outside car windows. Particles of dirt or other debris can enter the eyes, ears and nose, causing injury or infection.

Insurance Advisors, Inc.

Sources: http://money.msn.com/auto-insurance
American Veterinary Medical Association

 

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

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

Snow, Ice, & Freezing Rain: Buckle Up

Safe Winter DrivingWinter Driving Safety

The snow is a sign that winter has officially started, here are a few tips for safe winter driving. Don’t go out during a snowstorm if you can avoid it. If you do, buckle up!  If you must go out, here are some tips to share the road with snow plows:

  • Give snowplows room to work; don’t tailgate or try to pass.
  • Keep in mind, there are times when several plow trucks may block all lanes on major highways, take it slow.
  • Stay at least 4 car lengths back from snowplows and equipment.
  • Spreaders on trucks can throw salt, sand etc. that can damage close- following vehicles; again, give them room to do their job.
  • Trucks carrying salt and sand often have a sign on the back warning people to stay back. That is for your safety as well as the drivers.
  • Plow truck operators have to focus on snow removal and cannot always watch out for the drivers surrounding them; so if you try to pass, you could collide with the equipment or another vehicle.
  • Drive even slower in construction zones, even though they are inactive in winter weather.
  • Always have your headlights on, plenty of fuel and wiper fluid, and tires with ample tread.
  • Remember that a snowplow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they may not see you.
  • Don’t text and drive and only use your phone if you have to.

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.

Vitamin C: A Must Have

 Cold & Flu Season, Time To Boost Your  Immune System

Cold and flu season are in full swing. Although it is unclear exactly how beneficial it is to ward off nasty viruses, vitamin C-rich orange juice is a great start in keeping you healthy.  It’s not hard to reach your daily quota in terms of vitamin C requirements as long as you eat fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. So what’s the best source of vitamin C?  From highest to lowest they are as follows:

Vitamin C| Fruit


          Red bell peppers

          Broccoli

          Kiwi frui

          Oranges

There may be other latent benefits to getting a good daily dose of vitamin C – however the scientific research is ongoing. Concurrent vitamin C may aid in the absorption of iron dietary. There is evidence that it may reduce the risk of cartilage loss and disease progression such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. It has been suggested that low levels of vitamin C may increase the risk of developing asthma.

It seems the most popular belief is that vitamin C prevents the onset of the common cold, or that it actually shortens the duration of a cold. So far, significant benefits have not been observed. However, in subsets of studies of people living in extreme climates or under extraordinary conditions, studies show vitamin C may reduce their risk of developing colds by approximately 50%.  Personally, I think it’s worth a try!

Excerpts taken from mayoclinic.com/health/vitamins