How to Prevent Winter Insurance Claims

We see many seasonal claims reported during the winter.  The months of January and February can be brutal, we are in the thick of it!  From ice dams, to frozen pipes, to slip and falls homeowners claims can be pricey.  Here are some ways to prevent some of the most common winter home insurance claims.

Ice Dams

Ice dams occur when the attic of a house is too warm and it causes the under layer of snow and ice on the roof to melt and then build up. The water then gets under the eaves and causes roof leaks and water damage in to the house.  Those pretty icicles on the edge of your roof are ice dams and are not good for your house.  The best ways to prevent ice dams are proper attic insulation, adequate attic ventilation and removal of snow from your roof after a snow storm.  If you are unable to remove the snow from your roof yourself, there are many companies that will do it.  Make sure you find a reputable one that has referrals.

Also, make sure in older homes that there are no kitchen or bathroom exhaust fans going to the attic.  Ice dams are fairly common in Massachusetts and are very costly when claims are filed.

Frozen Pipes

When the temperatures outside are below freezing pipes in poorly insulated areas, like the garage and attic, have a risk of freezing and could eventually burst.  When a pipe bursts in the home it could cost thousands of dollars in damage.  Some ways to prevent pipes from freezing: insulate pipes in cold areas of the house, keep the water dripping when the temps get extremely cold, keep interior doors open to promote heat circulation, seal off any leaks in the wall near pipes that would let cold air in and warm air out.

Slip and Fall

Winter storms can dump a lot of snow in our area.  It is important as a homeowner to properly shovel/snowblow all walkways and use a non-slip ice melt.  You are responsible for the safety of  people who come on to your property, invited or uninvited.  Slip and fall claims can be very expensive depending on the extent of injuries.

Winter conditions can create costly home disasters.  The best way to protect your home is prevention.  However, if you do encounter one of these winter woes most home insurance policies will cover the damages.  Please call us with any questions or to go over your coverage to make sure you are adequately insured.  Happy Winter!

Keep Your House Safe While Vacationing

The summer is a popular time to take a vacation. Burglars also know this. Break-ins are most prevalent when a homeowner is on vacation. Here are some ways to deter a burglar:

Install a home alarm system. Not one that just sounds when a window or door is opened. The new alarms let you monitor your entire house from your smart phone. You can turn on lights, lock doors, turn off the A/C.

Put a few lights on timers. This may not always work because if your lights go on at the exact same time everyday, then a burglar watching your house will realize the lights are on a timer, not that someone is home turning them on. So your best bet is to change the time your lights go on every week. Also, have a few lights on timers, one in each section of your house.

Update your front door. The new type of door that is top for security is a steel door. The fancy windows on the side of your door make breaking in easier. Replace the whole unit with a steel door.

Have a neighbor or relative stop by occasionally to check on the house. This benefit is two-fold: a human presence to deter a burglar and to check to make sure everything looks ok.

Leave a radio or tv on. The sounds are a good deterrent for someone looking to break-in.

Lock all doors (even inside garage doors) and windows. This is obvious, but the most common break-in spot is a bedroom window. We open them and then close them often for fresh air. But we often forget to lock them every time.

Hide your valuables. In a good spot…not under the mattress! There are many creative spots, some good ones are found here:

Make sure your valuables are scheduled on your Homeowners Policy!!!

These are great preventative actions to take before going on vacation this summer. If you have any questions on scheduling items on your Homeowners Policy, please call us. Have a fun and safe summer vacation!

Your Insurance Renewal

Every year you receive your home and auto renewals in the mail or via email. What do you do with it? Do you even look at it? Or just at the premium? There are some key things you should consider when reviewing your insurance renewals:

7-6-15-form-e1436203234283-225x300What has happened to you/your family in the past year? Marriage? Newly licensed driver? Get a company car? Good report cards from school? All of this information should be updated with your insurance agent.

Are the correct vehicles listed on your auto renewal – look at model, year, drivers? Has anyone moved into or out of your house that should (not) be listed in the household as drivers?

Check the limits for your vehicles. We recommend $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident for coverage #5 Optional Bodily Injury.

Are the lean holder and/or mortgagee information correct on your auto/home policy?

Is the dwelling value accurate on your homeowners policy? Have you made any updates or remodels to your house to increase the value? Added a home security system, pool, heating system (stove, etc.)? Replaced your roof?

Did you buy a new recreational vehicle – boat, jet ski, motorcycle, snow mobile?

All of these points should be considered when looking at your home and auto renewals. Adding Umbrella Insurance is also an excellent idea. It gives you $1M worth of coverage over both your home and auto insurance for just a couple hundred dollars a year. Our famous saying: You don’t need to be a millionaire to be sued for a million dollars. Please call us if you have any questions about your insurance coverage:

Be Prepared! Storm Safety

September is National Preparedness Month and the 30th is National Prepareathon Day! Join FEMA and their quest to have our nation prepared for national disasters. The more we know, the better prepared we will be. In Massachusetts we have been voted as one the top 5 states to have a national disaster. So begin getting ready for a big storm now!

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Preparation is the best way to be ready for a dangerous storm. Have a few flashlights with extra batteries, your cell phone with the charger, a battery powered radio. Keep all of your personal documents in a fire proof box in a readily accessible area. Make sure you have plenty of non-perishable food items, such as canned food, bread, peanut butter, crackers and lots of water. The American Red Cross suggests having 1 gallon of water per person per day. A first aid kit is essential. Find out exactly what to put in a first aid kit.

During a storm make sure to unplug sensitive electrical items such as computers and TV and microwaves (if these are possible to do easily). By disconnecting them you will prevent a power surge when the power comes back on, if you have lost power during the storm and do not have surge protectors. Keep your refrigerator and freezer closed. If you lose power your food will stay colder for a longer period of time, if they are not opened. If the winds are very strong stay away from windows as debris can come flying through. The basement is the best area of the house to stay in during particularly dangerous storms, such as tornadoes and hurricanes.

If the power goes out and you plan to use a generator, please follow specific safety instructions.

When surveying outside damage after a storm, always treat downed power lines a live and never touch them! Call your electrical company immediately. Contact your town/city for help with trees that are down in community areas, such as the street and on power lines. If your home has flooding, contact your electrician on what to do about before turning things on in the basement or area that was flooded. If your electricity is off for an extended amount of time bring your family to another family or friend’s house. Make sure everyone is safe.

After the storm call us with any damage that has occurred to your home or auto. Remember that flood and earthquake damage are not covered by your homeowners policy unless you add the respective endorsement/policy. Read our blog about what type of storm damage is covered by your policy, 

Information on storm safety is from the National Grid.