Insurance Blog
Items filtered by date: May 2017
moving
From our friends at Trusted Choice

May is National Moving Month and every year more than 40 million Americans will move, according to the American Moving and Storage Association. As you pack up your belongings and move across town or across the country, make sure you don’t forget to “pack” your insurance coverage.

Home Sweet (New) Home

When you move from an apartment to a house or house to house or apartment to apartment or condo to… well, you get the idea… your homeowners or renters insurance won’t follow on its own. Because a homeowners or renters insurance policy takes into account factors such as the building material used to construct your home, fire prevention systems like smoke detectors, sprinklers, etc., moving to a new home means that these factors could very well change, and as your risk changes, so should your insurance.

Depending on whether your move is across the street or across the country it’s important that you discuss your move with one of our Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Trusted Choice ® Independent Insurance Agents.

Is my stuff covered during the move?

Let’s say that you’ve got everything but the kitchen sink (which you’ve left for the people moving into your old home) packed into the truck for the big move, but there’s an accident with the truck and as a result antiques, carefully packed china and the 60” flat screen are all damaged beyond repair. Are you covered?

Well, that depends on whether you’re moving the items yourself or have contracted with professional movers and where you’re moving to. If you use a professional moving company, under federal law interstate movers are liable for the replacement value of lost or damaged items, so if you’re moving from North Dakota to North Carolina the moving company is liable for your belongings. However, they may present you with different options for coverage, including Full Value or Released Value. According to the US Department of Transportation, Full Value is more comprehensive coverage but it may cost more out of pocket, whereas Released Value is offered at no additional cost, but may only cover your belongings up to 60 cents on the dollar. If you opt for the Full Value, make sure you have an up-to-date estimated value for the belongings you’ll be moving. If you have an accurate and comprehensive home inventory, this shouldn’t be too difficult of a task.

If you’re renting a truck or a van for the move, the rental company may offer you some coverage. One argument for taking the coverage is that if something does go wrong and can be covered by the rental policy, a loss would not reflect on your own insurance coverage, but again, the coverage they offer may not be enough to replace or repair damaged or lost items. Talk to our agents about how your existing coverage would respond to a loss.

Mind the Gap

You have coverage for the contents of your home under a standard homeowners or renter’s insurance policy, so the best option to protect those contents (and a Trusted Choice agent can help with this) is to make sure that there is no gap of time between the expiration or cancellation of your policy on the home you’re moving out of and the effective start date for the policy for the home you’re moving into- one way to do this is to have the new policy start the day you are planning on moving. Not only would this help provide coverage for your contents, but it would also provide you with personal liability coverage during the time of the move.

Because our agents have the ability to work with multiple insurance companies, we can work to help you find the coverage that’s right for your new place and for getting you and your belongings there.  

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 31 May 2017 15:18

Insurance Checklist for Your Move

5 Important Insurance Tips When Moving

  1. Upon Signing the Purchase and Sale Agreement: Contact Baldwin/W&P for an insurance quote. Be ready with:  your new home’s address, square footage, year built, and years of updates to wiring, plumbing, heating, and the roof. 
  2. Decide on Coverage: Your experienced agent will help you make decisions about your insurance needs (including special coverage for jewelry, earthquake, and flood), and provide you with a detailed proposal.
  3. Closing: Provide your agent with the mortgage bank’s closing attorney or mortgage broker’s contact information. Your agent will prepare the insurance documentation and provide it to the bank’s attorney for review prior to closing.
  4. Cancel Previous Insurance: If your former home is not yet sold at the time of relocation, discuss with your prior insurer how vacancy may affect your coverage.
  5. Moving: Check with your mover to make sure that you have coverage for personal belongings in transit.
Published in Blog
Friday, 26 May 2017 15:30

Summer Grilling Fun

From our Trusted Choice Friends
 

Your Grill Should Cook, Not Burn…

The barn. Or the house. Or a child.

Every year, what should be a fun outdoor occasion for family and friends instead turns into tragedy at nearly 9,000 homes, causing deaths, injuries and tens of millions in property damage. Your Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent remind you that fire damage and potential liability for injury to friends will be covered by your homeowners policy, but we’d much rather you sidle up to the picnic table than hunker down in the emergency room.

Gas grills represent the greatest risk by far, and are involved in more than 80% of all grilling fires. But all types of grills represent a danger if used incorrectly or carelessly. A few simple precautions, courtesy of the experts at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), may make the difference:

For all grills:

• Propane and charcoal barbecue grills should only be used outdoors.
• The grill should be placed well away from the home and deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
• Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
• Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
• Never leave your grill unattended.

For charcoal grills:

• If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Once the fire is started, never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquid to it.
• Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
• Electric charcoal starters that do not use fire are available. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
• When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

For propane grills: 


• Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. 
• If you detect a gas leak from your grill, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
• If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.

Almost one-third of gas grill injuries occur during the lighting or relighting of the fire. One significant hazard of propane grills occurs if the flame goes out during the cooking process. Too many grill owners have never read the manual to see there is a critical procedure that must be followed when relighting, or risk a dangerous explosion. ESPN’s Hannah Storm was a victim of just such an accident, and her courageous video recounting her accident and recovery is well worth viewing on the National Fire Protection Association's website.

Published in Blog

 pool safty family and friends

Many Americans retreat to swimming pools throughout the summer to escape the blistering heat. For some, a pool party complete with drinks, grilled food, and music is an essential part of a perfect summer day. While swimming pools are great for bringing family and friends together, there are risks and pool safety concerns home owners should consider.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly ten people drown each day in the United States and there are over 3,000 unintentional drowning deaths, unrelated to boating, every year. While swimming in a residential pool is relaxing and great for physical exercise, it does present dangers that home owners should prepare for—especially when children are present. In fact, the Red Cross states that about 200 children drown in residential swimming pools annually. Vigilance and certain safety precautions can greatly reduce accidental injuries and swimming-related deaths.

Invest in Adequate Fencing and Gates

According to MSN Real Estate, it is extremely important for home owners to have locking gates and fencing surrounding a pool. Privacy fencing at least six feet high greatly reduces the chances that an uninvited person will enter a backyard to swim. In addition to regular privacy fencing, there are specially made fences with childproof locks that can enclose the immediate pool area. The Red Cross recommends using a four-foot high fence that has self-latching and self-closing gates to keep children and pets away from the water.

Provide Swimming Lessons and/or CPR Training for Members of Your Household

If you reside in a home with a pool, every member of your household should know how to swim and understand basic CPR methods in case a swimmer or guest needs resuscitation. Furthermore, young children should be enrolled in swimming classes that are age- and skill-level appropriate so that they can learn basic swimming techniques to help prevent fear of water and promote better responses to pool-related accidents. The Red Cross and the National Swimming Pool Foundation offer an online course that teaches pool safety tips and training for accident prevention.

Beware of Faulty Drains

A potential danger to adults and children alike is faulty drains that produce too much suction where clothing, hair, and limbs can become trapped at the bottom of a pool or spa. Faulty drain issues resulted in federal mandates and consumer advocacy education regarding this danger, especially after the death of a young girl, Virginia Graeme Baker, in 2002. The Consumer Product Safety Commission launched a public awareness campaign to help prevent faulty draining mechanisms from claiming more lives.

Precautionary measures recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission include ensuring that spa and pool drain covers are compliant with the latest safety codes and installing Safety Vacuum Release Systems, which automatically stop a pool pump if blockage in the drain is detected. Additionally, home owners should have easy, quick access to pump switches so they can be rapidly shut down if necessary. If a swimmer is trapped by the suction of a drain, avoid pulling the person out of the drain. Instead, break the seal by inserting a small object or several fingers between the swimmer and the drain or grate.

Arm Your Pool with an Alarm System

Like homes, pools can be armed with alarm systems. For example, Leslie's Swimming Pool Supplies, a company with stores throughout the United States, offers in-ground pool alarms that can sense entry into a pool by an animal or person weighing over 18 pounds. Using negative displacement technology, this type of pool alarm is submerged and can be activated by a remote control device. When its sensor detects in-water movement, an alarm will sound inside the home as well as in the pool to alert home owners. In addition to sounding a noticeable alarm, this safety device will also sound off when removed from the pool in its armed state. Other alternatives to pool alarms that can help notify home owners of unwanted pool activity are motion-sensor lighting and security systems for doors and windows that limit access from the home to the pool area.

Practicing pool safety and receiving proper training in responding to swimming-related accidents or injuries can offer home owners more peace of mind when it comes to protecting loved ones and friends. For more safety tips, talk with a Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent. We can help you protect your home and its occupants with valuable information and insurance coverage.

Published in Blog

prom night statistics

From our Plymouth Rock partners

Prom season is here! From early May through mid-June, high-schoolers dress to the nines for a night on the town. Everyone (parents and teens) wants to have a safe and happy prom season. With so much happening on prom night it can be easy for them to get distracted. Take some time before the prom to talk to your teen about being safe behind the wheel. With so much happening on prom night it can be easy for them to get distracted. Take some time before the prom to talk to your teen about being safe behind the wheel.

Here are 5 prom season pitfalls, and an action plan to avoid them:

Alcohol: Cars and alcohol are a deadly combination. One problem is that many teens view drinking as a normal part of the prom and graduation celebration. A study of 12,000 students by the Statistic Brain Institute, found that 53% of prom-goers admitted to having more than four drinks on prom night. That means more than half were legally drunk (or worse). As educators and parents, we cannot condone this behavior and it’s imperative that we do not facilitate underage drinking. On the other hand, if we deny that underage drinking happens, the results can be catastrophic.

Seat belts: According to National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, more than half of 16-20 year olds killed in car crashes were not wearing seat belts.

Distractions: For many students, prom night is the highlight of the year. This youthful exuberance amounts to emotional driving. Text messages, Snapchat, loud music and a stunning companion all contribute to the chaos, and combine to take the young driver’s mind OFF what they are doing.

Drowsiness: After-parties + prom weekend trips = little or no sleep. Did you know? Drowsy Driving is one of the top causes of distracted driving crashes, according to the National Safety Council. A five-year study by NHTSA shows that drowsy driving accounts for an average of 2.5% of the fatalities on our roadways each year. (Between 832 – 1194 deaths annually, over the 5 year period.)

Bad Driving: Let’s face it, most of these kids have been driving less than 2 years, and the majority of them haven’t learned to drive properly anyway, so they are still learning on the job. Add to that a car full of kids (if they’re 18, they are no longer probationary drivers) and it adds up to trouble.

Here is a five-step plan to help your family have a safe prom season:

  1. Always make an ironclad agreement with your teenager that they are never to get behind the wheel, or get into a vehicle with a driver who has been drinking (one is too many), using drugs or tired (minimum of 6 hours of sleep before driving). Your child needs to know that they can call you at any time — day or night — and get picked up, if they, or their designated driver, have become impaired.
  2. Listen carefully to their plans, especially their travel plans. Are they allowing enough time for everyone to recover from the prom night festivities? Alcohol-free prom and graduation nights have been a huge help in reducing drunk driving tragedies. One problem is that the kids stay awake all night and, in many cases, are allowed to drive home drowsy the next morning!
  3. Involve yourself in their planning — they may object, but someone has to be the adult. Who will they be with? Do you know the other kids and their families? Who is driving? Are they still a probationary driver? Insist that there must be one alternate (well-rested) driver included. Where will they be staying? How many kids to a room?
  4. Volunteer to be their chauffeur for the weekend. They’ll probably refuse, but it’s worth a try.
  5. Expect them to follow rules you set. This goes for prom, graduation and summertime driving. These are great times in our kids’ lives, but don’t allow your young driver to take a “mental vacation” from their safe driving habits.

Stay Safe Out There!

#prom, #staysafe

Published in Blog

Vacation Home? Income Property? Here’s How to Cover It.

There are many reasons you might want to rent out your home on either a short- or long-term basis. Depending on the rental scenario, your standard homeowners policy may not cover losses incurred while your home is rented out, and you may require a more specialized insurance policy. So, whether you own a second home that you lease to tenants, want to rent out a spare bedroom in your house periodically through Airbnb, or make a little extra cash renting out your beach cottage the weeks you’re not using it, the first step should be to call your insurance professional. 

 

Short-Term Rentals/Primary Residence

If you are planning to rent out all or part of your primary residence for a short period of time, for instance, a week or several weekends, there will likely be two insurance scenarios.

  1. Some insurance companies may allow a homeowners or renters policyholder  a short-term rental—assuming they have notified the company. Other insurers will require an endorsement (or rider) to the existing insurance policy in order to provide insurance coverage. 
  2. If you plan to rent out your primary residence for short periods on a regular basis, to various “guests.” this would constitute a business. Standard homeowners insurance policies do not provide any coverage for business activities conducted in the home. To be properly covered you would need to purchase a business policy—specifically either a hotel or a bed and breakfast policy.

 

Long-Term Rentals/Second Home

If you are planning to lease your home to one person or a couple or family for a longer period of time, say six months or a year, you will likely need a landlord or rental dwelling policy. Landlord policies generally cost about 25 percent more than a standard homeowners policy to pay for increased protections. If you are regularly renting out a vacation home or investment property, this would also require a landlord or rental dwelling policy.  

Landlord policies provide property insurance coverage for physical damage to the structure of the home caused by fire, lightning, wind, hail, ice, snow or other covered perils. It also offers coverage for any personal property you may leave on-site for maintenance or tenant use, like appliances, lawnmowers, and snow blowers.

The policy can also include liability coverage; if a tenant or one of their guests gets hurt on the property, it would cover legal fees and medical expenses.

Most landlord policies provide coverage for loss of rental income in the event you are not able to rent out the property while it is being repaired or rebuilt due to damage from a covered loss. This coverage is generally provided for a specific period of time.

 

Renters Insurance

As the landlord, your coverage is only on the structure itself and your financial interest in it. Your tenant’s personal possessions are not covered under your policy. In order to avoid disputes arising from damage to the renter’s belongings, many landlords require a tenant to buy renters insurance before signing a lease.

 

Source: Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.)

Published in Blog

12 Ways to Reduce Flood Damage

Here are terrific resources from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety including two of their infographics. Please contact your Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Agent for further information on important insurance coverage! Click Here.

With the beginning of spring, and latest flooding across the country, here are twelve important ways to reduce flood damage. While flooding can occur at any time of year, the spring is a particularly troublesome time of year as snow and ice melts and seasonal rains begin. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, flooding causes more damage than any other weather-related event, averaging eight billion dollars in losses and 89 fatalities annually.

As part of the recent National Flood Safety Awareness Week  hosted by NOAA, the Insurance Institute for Building & Home Safety (IBHS) suggests several improvement projects, and last-minute actions (with two accompanying infographics), for homeowners to help protect their property against flood damage this season. IBHS has additional flooding property protection resources on its website at:www.DisasterSafety.org/Flood.

Flood Resilient IBHS infographic 2014

 

Home Improvement Projects

  1. Raise Electrical System Components – Hire a licensed electrician to raise electric components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring) at least 12 inches above the base flood elevation (BFE) for your area. You can find out your property’s BFE by contacting your local building department. Raising electrical system components above the anticipated flood level will help prevent damage to the electrical system and avoid the potential for fire from short circuits in flooded systems.
  2. Raise Or Floodproof HVAC Equipment – Floodwaters can extensively damage heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) equipment. The extent of the damage depends upon the depth of flooding and how long the equipment is underwater. A good way to protect the HVAC equipment is to have a contractor move it to an upper floor or build a flood-proof wall around the equipment.
  3. Direct Water Away from Building – Make sure your yard’s grading (slope) directs water away from the building.
  4. Anchor fuel tanks – Unanchored fuel tanks outside your home can damage your building or be swept downstream, damaging other properties. The supply line to an unanchored tank in your basement also can tear free and fuel can contaminate your basement.
  5. Install Sewer Backflow Valves – Flooding in some areas can cause sewage from sanitary sewer lines to back up through drain pipes. Backflow valves are designed to block drain pipes temporarily and prevent return flow into the house.
  6. Protect Wells From Contamination By Flooding – Floodwater that enters a well can contaminate it and make the water unsafe to drink. A licensed well-drilling contractor can inspect your well and suggest improvements.

In addition, when a flood is forecast for your area, IBHS recommends homeowners take these last-minute actions to protect their property against flood damage:

  1. Clear drains, gutters and downspouts of debris.
  2. Move furniture and electronics off the floor, particularly in basements and on first floor levels.
  3. Roll up area rugs, where possible, and store them on higher floors or elevations. This will reduce the chances of rugs getting wet and growing mold.
  4. Inspect sump pumps and drains to ensure proper operation. If a sump pump has a battery backup, make sure the batteries are fresh or replace the batteries.
  5. Shut off electrical service at the main breaker if the electrical system and outlets will be under water.
  6. Elevate and Place all appliances, including stove, washer and dryer on masonry blocks or concrete at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation. 

Flood Prepare IBHS Imminent 2014 

About The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS)

IBHS is an independent, nonprofit, scientific research and communications organization supported by the property insurance industry. The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks on residential and commercial property by conducting building science research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparedness practices.

Published in Blog

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