Insurance Blog
Tuesday, 31 January 2017 05:48

Home and Business Inventory Checklist

Home Inventory checklist

Now is a great time to take a few minutes this winter to make a home or business inventory. If disaster strikes, or your home or business is burglarized and your belongings are destroyed or stolen, an inventory makes the insurance claims process a lot simpler. Being able to provide a detailed home inventory to a claims adjuster can help you and your insurance company settle on a fair amount for your belongings and it helps you get your possessions replaced quicker. Creating a home inventory doesn’t have to be completely daunting. Here are a few tips for compiling your home inventory:

  • Take one room at a time; 15 minutes at a time. Keep the task manageable by breaking it into smaller pieces by focusing on one room at a time and for just 15 minutes. Repeat until all of your rooms are complete!
  • Details, details, details. A home inventory includes a comprehensive list of all your belongings, along with receipts (if you have them), photos, and descriptions. For items such as electronics be sure to record the serial number of the item.
  • Divide and conquer. Instead of making one long list of your items, break it down by room and/or type of item, such as clothing, heirlooms, electronics, and jewelry. This will make the home inventory less overwhelming and decrease the chances that you’ll overlook something.
  • Know what your stuff is worth. If you have antiques, family heirlooms, or other valuables that don’t have receipts, you may want to have them appraised in order to determine their value.
  • Don't forget to check the attic. When taking your inventory, make sure you don’t overlook items that are stored in the closet, drawers, attic, or garage. Bicycles, holiday decorations, and sports equipment may be out of sight, but their cost adds up. Make sure you include everything – even if it’s in storage – on your list. 
  • Add it up. Once you have a full document of all your belongings, along with their values, add up all the items in your home and their total cost. 
  • Keep it safe. Store your complete home inventory with your insurance policy in a safe, easily accessible place, such as a fireproof box, safe deposit box, or other secure location. Technology today also makes it possible to keep your home inventory digitally using cloud storage.
  • Take stock annually. Remember to review and update your inventory each year, or whenever you make a significant purchase, to ensure your new items are documented.

There are many easy home inventory tools that can help and are available as apps for your Droid or iPhone, on your computer or simply as a paper checklist. Here are a few for you to check out:

There are great mobile apps that offer a home inventory tool which allows you to use your smart phone or tablet to take pictures and document important details of your belongings. It also allows you to maintain multiple inventories, so you can categorize your belongings by type (electronics, furniture, etc.) or by room in the house. This app is free and available through both the App Store and Google Play:

Know Your Stuff. An app provided by the Insurance Information Institute. Disasters can happen anytime, but with the Know Your Stuff® Home Inventory app, you’ll always have an up-to-date record of your belongings. Know Your Stuff® is a snap to use: Just take photos of your belongings and fill in a few key details. Your data automatically syncs with free cloud storage, giving you secure access whenever you want. You also can access this online at knowyourstuff.org  Download the Know Your Stuff® app for iPhone or Android.

And if your preference is to complete the task with pen and paper, here's a form you can use:

Great Inventory Form for You to Print - here's a link to a pdf form that you can print on your home computer if you prefer the traditional pen to paper way to keep organized.

Published in Homeowners
Sunday, 04 December 2016 20:16

Developing a Cold Weather Plan

A cold weather plan for your facility should be an integral part of your overall maintenance plan for the building and equipment as well as part your emergency response/contingency plan that helps your business respond to and manage an emergency event. Here are some tips to help you develop your cold weather plan.

 

Creating the Plan. Develop a written plan to include actions to be taken during these junctures:

  • Before the onset of winter
  • When a winter storm is imminent and/or damaging cold temperatures are expected
  • After a winter storm and/or prolonged cold weather A plan is only as good as its execution. With that in mind, it is critical to the successful mitigation of damage to your facilities from the winter weather to include the following elements as part of your Cold Weather Plan:
  • Accountability for overall implementation, including pre-winter inspections
  • Defined roles and responsibilities for outlined activities and responses
  • Initial and annual training
  • Annual review of plan to include evaluation of effectiveness and identifying improvement opportunities
  • To aid you in developing your plan, ask your team to consider some “what ifs,” such as:
  • What if you lose heat to the building? What is your contingency plan?
  • What if the facility is closed (weather, holidays, etc.) AND extreme weather is expected? How will you monitor your facility? Will someone be checking on the facility daily?
  • What if a fire protection sprinkler pipe freezes and bursts? Is there someone on the premises who knows how to shut the system off? What about other systems that use water?
  • What if there are areas that you know could be susceptible to freezing? How are you going to monitor them and what steps are you going to take should the temperature become dangerously low?

Before the Onset of Winter

Inspect the Building Develop a checklist to ensure:

  • Openings around exterior walls such as windows, doors, or other openings are sealed
  • Equipment penthouses are secured from cold air infiltration
  • Louvers are closed or sealed
  • Dampers on ducts leading to the outside are closed (if possible)
  • Attics and other areas susceptible to the cold are properly insulated
  • Adequate air flow to maintain heat in all areas of the building to a minimum of 40ºF
  • Roof is in good condition or make repairs as needed – Drains, drain pipes, and gutters are free of debris – Roof cover is free of cracks or blisters – Decking is free of rust or other signs of deterioration – Flashing is secured – There are no cracked or bent roof supports (beams, columns, joists)

Check Utilities and Process Equipment

  • Check and repair heating systems as needed to include boilers, furnaces, ovens, process heaters, etc.
  • Inspect process, water, condensate, steam lines subject to freezing for proper insulation or heat tracing
  • Drain, blow out, or flush lines for seasonal or idle equipment
  • Check alternate fuel supplies for operability and supply adequacy

Check Water-Based Fire Protection Equipment

  • Make sure all your equipment has been checked in accordance with national fire protection association (NFPA) 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Equipment
  • Be certain that central station water flow alarms are working properly
  • Ensure areas including concealed spaces (attics, above false ceilings, under raised floors, etc.) are heated to 40ºF or greater
  • Dry sprinkler systems – Drain water from low point drains – Ensure piping is properly pitched and replace broken or missing pipe hangers – Check system for air leaks and repair if needed – Make sure low air pressure alarm is functioning
  • Fire pump – Check pump house temperature » Electric engine driver—should be maintained at 40ºF or greater » Diesel engine driver—should be maintained at 70ºF or greater – Ensure suction source is protected from freezing

Identify and Align Resources. The time to identify needed resources is before the winter season starts. Resource needs are going to vary depending on your location and operations. You may need resources such as:

  • Qualified contractor to remove snow and ice from the roof
  • Emergency generator
  • Fuel supplies for critical operations such as fire protection equipment, processes, or on-site generators
  • Snow removal services to ensure access to the property

When a Winter Storm and/or Deep Freeze Is on the Way

  • Monitor weather reports for information to include power outages, potential damage, access to facilities and prepare for action
  • If needed, activate the emergency response team
  • Monitor temperatures in areas susceptible to freezing or significant temperature fluctuations
  • Monitor snow loads of roofs, especially in areas subject to drifts, and take action as needed
  • Clear snow from outside sprinkler control valves and hydrants to keep them accessible
  • Prepare for possible power outage
  • Remove ice dams

After the Storm

  • If needed, conduct a damage assessment and secure resources to complete repairs
  • Initiate salvage operations
  • If power was lost, make sure you have a plan to bring electrical loads back on line to prevent power surges that could damage equipment

For additional resources on cold weather hazards and developing a contingency plan visit the Hanover Risk Solutions website under Preparing for Severe Weather.

 

Thank you to our friends at Hanover Risk Solutions who provided this terrific information!

Published in Blog
Friday, 26 August 2016 20:45

The Ultimate 8 Fall Home Maintenance Tips

 Ultimate 8 Fall Infographic copy

With spring cleaning far behind, and summer fun all but over, it’s time to start fall home maintenance. Fall is the perfect time to perform important maintenance to your home so you’re not caught in the middle of winter with a drafty house or a malfunctioning heater. We’ve compiled the top eight fall home maintenance tips, along with what you can do to ensure your home stays warm and comfortable this winter.

  1. Heating System

It’s important to inspect your heating to ensure it functions all winter long.

For conventional heating systems, you may already have a contract with the installation company. Many HVAC companies offer a fall/spring maintenance program. If not, start with your water heater. Ensure that your water heater is protected from the elements. The most favorable locations for your water heater to be is the attic, basement, or garage, where it can be safely insulated. For your heating unit, check the filters, gas lines, and flame. Make sure that you have a proper flame and oxygen flow. There should be no cracks, kinks, or holes in gas lines.

For wood stoves, check and make sure that all stove pipes are clean. Take a wire brush and scrape to remove any buildup. Inspect your catalytic combustor, which is located between the fire and stovepipes. Use a small wire brush to clean out any ash buildup. Make sure you have removed all ash from the stove before lighting a fire. Inspect the outside of the stovepipe and stove, being sure to remove any debris. Be on the lookout for creosote, which is a yellow, oily matter that should be removed.

  1. Chimney and Fireplace

Chimneys and fireplaces cause some of the most expensive damage to homes. Build-up from creosote can easily ignite, causing a devastating fire. If you are unfamiliar with inspecting a chimney, it may be worth calling in a chimney sweep, which is usually quite affordable. Make sure to leave your flu closed when not in use, and always have a fireplace screen in front of open flames to protect your home from wayward sparks.

  1. Windows

Windows may be a continual source of frustration for homeowners. There are many seal repair kits available at local hardware stores. Walk around the interior windows, placing your hand near the seal. Check for any breezes flowing through. Do the same process for doors. When you find one, mark it with a sticker or other indicator so you can tally how many repair kits you need. If a window is improperly sized, cracked, or broken, it needs to be replaced.

For doors, you can purchase draft preventers and other seal kits to improve the seal. Every 1/8 of an inch can lower a room a whole degree, so it can really pay off to have updated, well-sealed doors and windows.

  1. Smoke Detectors, Fire Extinguishers, and First Aid Kits

Every six months, replace batteries in all the detectors in your home. Check the expiration dates on your first aid kit and fire extinguisher, and that each is up to date and in a convenient place. If you don’t have a fire escape route, this is a good time to draft one.

  1. Indoor Pipes

Winterizing pipes is one of the easiest, most valuable ways to protect your home over the winter. Most home repair stores carry fitted insulation that can easily wrap around any size pipe. If you can’t afford to do every pipe in your home, give priority to the pipes that are closest to the outdoors, or most likely to freeze. It’s also a good idea to shut off water to any area that won’t be used, and to check pipes for leaks or cracks that may grow larger with the varying temperatures of fall.

  1. Yard Maintenance

Fall leaves may be beautiful, but these can slowly rot, causing huge backup and damage in gutters. This backup will cause water to spill over the gutter and into your yard and walking areas, which can cause damage to your home and make walking conditions dangerous. Disconnect all garden hoses, and store them coiled and flat in a cool, dry place. If possible, turn of water to all outside faucets and drain them to protect the outside pipes from damage. Also, store any outdoor furniture that may become damaged from snow or ice.

  1. Roof Inspection

A roof inspection may seem overkill, but harsh winter winds and heavy snow can take a toll on your home. It may be a good idea go up to your rooftop to check for any broken tiles or cracks. It’s important to take care of any damage now to avoid repairs during the cold winter months.

  1. Stock Up on Winter Supplies for Your Home

Before prices on winter gear soars, stock up on winter items such as snow shovels, firewood, or sidewalk salt. It’s better to have the supplies now than to have to run to the store during a snowstorm!

These fall home maintenance tips are quick, easy, and affordable. It is always a good idea to brush up on home repair insurance coverage as you’re making improvements and renovations. As the adage says, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure - especially when it comes to home repairs.

Published in Homeowners

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