Hurricane Ida is expected to go down as one of the costliest storms in U.S. history, with total property and economic losses approaching $100 billion . And for many homeowners who faced historic flooding , the toll will also be financial. Well under 20% of U.S. homeowners have flood […]
“I noticed that our mortgage had gone up $100 on a $1,250 mortgage,” he said. “So, I looked into it. First, I called the mortgage company and they said, ‘It’s costing a lot more to insure your house. Talk to [the insurance company].’ So then I called USAA and said, ‘What’s going on?’”
Across the country, homeowners renewing their policies are discovering that rising material costs, supply chain disruptions and climate change are combining to drive premiums up by an average 4 percent to an average annual premium of $1,398, according to the Insurance Information Institute, a nonprofit organization known as Triple-I that provides information on the insurance industry. Triple-I uses data from Standard & Poor’s Global Market Intelligence for its analysis[…]
Keep Your Pipes From Freezing
Generally, pipes that are exposed to frigid outdoor temperatures freeze more readily—such as hose bibs, swimming pool lines and water sprinkler lines. Pipes that run along exterior walls in your home with minimal insulation also tend to freeze more easily.
Regardless of where they are located, frozen pipes can carry significant consequences—including property damage from your pipes bursting, flooding and the potential for a disruption in water supply. With this in mind, here’s what you can do keep your pipes from freezing when temperatures drop.
- Insulate pipes in unheated interior areas, such as crawl spaces and attics.
- Wrap pipes in heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables.
- Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warm air.
- Seal any leaks with caulk or insulation.
- Disconnect outdoor items such as hoses and faucets. Shut off these items completely using an indoor valve and allow the excess water to drain out.
- Trickle a little water out of your faucets periodically to keep water moving within the pipes.
- Keep your garage door closed if there is a water supply in there.
- Keep your thermostat set at the same temperature during the day and night.
- Do not set your thermostat lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit when going on vacation. Ask someone to periodically check the temperature in your home while you are away.
How to Respond to Frozen Pipes
If you turn on a faucet and no water or only a trickle comes out, your pipes may be frozen. Turn off the main water valve and keep the faucet on. Apply heat to the pipe by using an electric heating pad, hair dryer or portable space heater, or by wrapping the pipe in towels soaked in hot water. You should apply heat until you regain water pressure. If this does not solve the problem, contact a licensed plumber to inspect your pipes.
10 Winter Home Maintenance Tips
In addition to frozen pipes, there are a number of other tips you should consider to keep your home safe in cold weather.
To make sure you have adequate home insurance coverage, contact us today.
Read over these turkey frying tips
While preparing your Thanksgiving turkey in a turkey fryer can be a timeless tradition, it’s important to keep cooking safety measures in mind to protect yourself, your guests and your home. After all, the U.S. Fire Administration states that Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires.
Don’t let your next holiday gathering become another statistic. Use this guidance to ensure turkey fryer safety and enjoy a stress-free Thanksgiving.
As with any cooking tool...
It’s important to take caution when using a turkey fryer, as it can be extremely dangerous. Here are some tips to consider when frying a turkey:
- Stay in the area where you are cooking. Leaving the turkey unattended may cause the fryer to overheat, resulting in a fire.
- Use your turkey fryer on a level surface. Anything that might cause the fryer to tip over may result in a hot oil spill.
- Thaw your turkey before cooking. Water from a still-frozen turkey can cause the oil to bubble or splash over the pot.
- Keep small children and animals away from the fryer while it is in use. There is a great risk that a child or pet could run into the fryer, knocking it down and causing serious injury. A safe distance of three to 10 feet away is recommended.
- Have safety equipment ready. Use oven mitts, goggles and an apron while cooking. Have a fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergency, and keep flammable items away from the fryer.
Keep it outdoors
For your safety, only use a turkey fryer outside and away from your home. Never use a turkey fryer in a garage or on a porch. Also, be sure to keep some distance between yourself and the fryer as you monitor it—you wouldn’t want to accidentally get splashed with hot oil.
For more home safety guidance and homeowners insurance solutions, contact us today.
How to winterize your home
Before winter approaches, you’ll want to make sure you’ve taken the necessary steps to winterize your home.
What does it mean to winterize your home? This is just a term that means to prepare your home for the colder temperatures.
Preparing your home for the first freeze
Before the season’s first freeze, here are some other home maintenance tips to consider:
- Extend your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.
- Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year.
- Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
- All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside and kept clear.
- Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
- Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
- Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
- Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.
When snow is in the forecast
Before the season’s first snowfall, you can prepare with these home maintenance tips from our friends at Erie Insurance:
Windows and doors: Prevent chilly drafts (and pricey heating bills) by checking and replacing any worn weather stripping, and caulking any cracks. For loose-fitting doors, slide a draft guard or rolled-up towel underneath to fill the gap. For old or drafty windows, consider peel-and-stick window insulation film – it might not be the most elegant look, but it can keep up to 70% of heat from escaping.
Thermostat: For every degree lower your home’s temperature during the winter, you can save as much as 1 percent on your energy bill (according to the U.S. Department of Energy). If you have an older thermostat, consider replacing it with a smart model to save on heating costs. Many new thermostats have algorithms to learn your comings and goings so you’re not paying to keep your home toasty warm when you’re not around.
Snow removal supplies: Before the first snow, you’ll be glad you thought ahead and bought supplies early. Inspect the bolts, belts and parts on your snow blower; make sure your snow shovel is in good shape; stock up on ice melt or sand; and invest in a snow rake to help clear your roof. Snow accumulation on your roof that exceeds 20 to 25 pounds per square foot can be dangerous.
Drafts and cracks: Cold air will take advantage of any opportunity to sneak into your home. Here’s a list of quick fixes for drafty places:
- Outlets and switch plates: Use foam-insulating sheets to block cold air coming in from exterior walls.
- Exposed ducts: Check your attic, basement, and crawl spaces and use sealant to plug up any leaks or cracks on exposed ducts.
- Floors: Don’t underestimate the power of a thick, cozy rug. Your floors can account for as much as 10 percent of heat loss in a house.
To make sure you have adequate home insurance coverage, contact us today.
What type of insurance covers water damage?
It can be confusing to understand which types of insurance may cover specific types of water damage to your property. On this page, we will outline the three main types: Homeowners insurance, a Water backup endorsement, and Flood insurance.
Homeowners Insurance – Examples of damage usually covered by Homeowners insurance:
- Leaking roof – Unless not well maintained
- Burst pipe
- Overflowing bathtub
Water Backup Endorsement
- Water that rises up from backed-up sewer
- Water that rises up from backed-up toilet and bath
- Water that rises up from backed-up sinks and sump pump
Click here to learn if a Water Backup Endorsement is right for you.
- Water that moves over the ground
- Water that causes structural damage
- Mudslide damage carried in by stream or river
Click here to learn if Flood Insurance is right for you.
Contact us if you have the right coverage for your needs.
Here are some helpful tips to choose a contractor from our friends at ERIE Insurance
Finding a Contractor
- Check in with your local homebuilders’ association. You’ll be able to search contractors within your area and put together a list of potentials.
- Get referrals. Ask your friends, family and coworkers who they’ve worked with in the past. They may have a great contractor you haven’t heard of — or know of a few you should stay away from.
- Prepare ahead. The stress of an emergency repair might impact your judgment.
Vetting a Contractor
- Association check. See if the trade association(s) to which they belong stipulates a code of ethics, minimum hours of satisfactory work and trade exams.
- Search for reviews (good or bad). Check in with your state attorney general’s office and the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints against the contractor. Glance over their public company reviews on social networks or other trusted review sites.
Once you’ve selected a contractor, ask for proper documentation as you move closer to signing off on the job.
Paperwork to See from Your Contractor
- A copy of their contractor’s license. Licensing and certification requirements vary by state. Check with your local State Consumer Protection Office to view your area’s licensing laws to ensure your contractor is verified and up to date.
- Certificate of insurance. Ask for both general liability, property damage and workers’ compensation coverage and make sure they are up to date.
- A written warranty. You’ll want a warranty for the work they do, the materials they use and those who work for them.
- A list of references. Have they done a project similar to what you are looking to have done?
- A detailed quote. The quote should outline all material used and labor that is expected to be done.
- The contract. Detailed within the contract should be the cost, work to be done, time schedules, guarantees, payment schedules, building permits and other expectations. (Keep this contract for future reference or if any questions arise after the job is complete).
- A receipt. Make sure to get a receipt that is marked “paid in full” when a job is completed and you make the final payment.
- Discuss the need for a lien waiver. This assures you that your general contractor is paying any subcontractors or suppliers they are working with, so you aren’t liable for additional costs down the road.
As the Job Comes to a Close
- Keep records. Find a place to keep all your paperwork, receipts and change orders. Consider making digital copies as well.
- Snap a photo. Map your progress with weekly photos – or save them for a big before and after reveal.
- Write a review. Good or bad, share details of the work they did, how well they stuck to the timeline and what the finished product looked like. This will help others in their search for hiring a contractor of their own.
Most contractors are trustworthy and are in this line of work for the right reasons. However, some scammers pose as contractors and don’t actually have your best interests in mind. Here are some signs that should make you think twice.
Proceed with Caution if…
- The contractor asks you to pay the entire balance up-front.
- The contractor only accepts cash.
- The contractor avoids giving you a written contract.
- The contractor lists a P.O. Box instead of a street address.
- The contractor uses a vehicle that doesn’t list the business name.
- A contractor offers to pay your insurance deductible.
- A contractor offers to arrange a loan for you.
- You have little to no experience hiring home contractors.
- You’re unable to access the areas of your home that a contractor claims are damaged. Ask a friend or family member or another trusted professional to inspect the area for you.
- You’re not 100% clear about the contract wording. It’s OK to ask questions or have someone else review the contract with you.
Contact us if you have questions about choosing the right Contractor for your job
Do you need Umbrella Insurance?
Umbrella insurance provides an extra layer of protection if you’re held responsible for injuring someone or damaging their property. An umbrella policy can offer coverage if you incur claim expenses that exceed the limits for your homeowners, auto or other personal liability insurance policies.
Nine Reasons to Consider Umbrella Insurance
(e.g., skiing or surfing)
(e.g., pools, trampolines, guns or certain dog breeds).
Contact us to learn more about Umbrella Insurance
No matter your net worth, umbrella insurance can serve as a fail-safe to protect your savings and assets. This coverage is important, affordable and vital for numerous situations. For more information, contact us today