5 Ways to Happy Holidays

5 Ways to Happy Holidays

Family, friends and festivities should be the focus of the holiday season, but don’t let this joyous time be marred by fire, theft, accidents and other disasters, advises the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). Taking a few simple steps, and having the right insurance coverage can reduce these seasonal hazards. Start with these 5 safety tips and click through the links for more detail on each topic.

Be Fire Safe
1. BE FIRE SAFE
Protect Your Identity
2. PROTECT YOUR IDENTITY
  • Whether shopping online or in a brick-and-mortar store, the hustle and bustle of the holidays creates the perfect opportunity for thieves bent on stealing your credit card information.
  • To protect yourself, shop at reputable stores and check your credit card statements regularly, and if you find anything unusual, report it to your credit card company immediately. If your wallet is either lost or stolen, contact the police and your credit card company as soon as you can.
  • Many standard homeowners insurance policies now include identity theft coverage. Moreover, most homeowners and renters policies provide some coverage for stolen cash or unauthorized use of your credit card.
Burglar-Proof Your Home
3. BURGLAR-PROOF YOUR HOME
    • December is the fifth most common month in which burglaries occur, according to the FBI.
    • If you’re traveling over the holidays, have mail and packages picked up or held by the post office, use automatic timers to turn lights on and off and have a dependable neighbor check on the house periodically
    • Consider making your home more secure with dead-bolt locks, window grates and smoke/fire/burglar alarms. An added benefit: most insurers provide discounts for devices that make a home safer.
    • Personal possessions are covered under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies—even holiday gifts stored in your car!
DRIVE SAFELY
4. DRIVE SAFELY
Be a responsible party host
5. BE A RESPONSIBLE PARTY HOST
  • Throwing a holiday bash? Party hosts who serve alcohol at their gatherings can be held liable for injuries to a third party caused by a drunken guest
  • Protect yourself—and your guests—by promoting safe alcohol consumption and having the proper insurance coverage.
    • Encourage guests to pick a designated driver.
    • Offer non-alcoholic beverages and serve food
    • Stop serving liquor toward the end of the party
    • If guests drink too much or seem too tired to drive home, call a cab, arrange a ride with a sober guest or have them sleep at your home.

7 Rewarding Reasons to Shop Local

Think Big Shop Small sign

When you think about getting the most out of your money, you might think about long-term investments – things such as high-yield accounts, 401k, IRAs, real estate investment, and so forth. These are all great options for the money you want to keep, but…

Q: How do you get a return on investment for the money that you spend?
A: SHOP LOCAL

When you shop local, you are making a personal investment in your neighborhood and community because locally-owned businesses often purchase from other local businesses, service providers, and farms. Purchasing local helps grow other businesses as well as our region’s tax base.

AND you will also appreciate these 7 REWARDING REASONS to SHOP LOCAL

Shop Local, We're Open!

#1. Customer Service
A more personalized shopping experience provides for better customer service. Local businesses often hire people with more specific product expertise, giving them the ability to educate potential customers.

#2. Creates Jobs
Nationwide, small local businesses are the largest employers. In fact, since the 1970s, more than 65% of new jobs have come from the rise in small business.

#3. Shorter Wait Times
Shorter, and more infrequent, lines mean less stress and hassle when it comes to getting what you need from the business.

#4. Reduce Environmental Impact
Because local businesses make more local purchases, less transportation is required. In turn, you are contributing less to pollution, traffic congestion, habitat loss and resource depletion.

Florist, Small business

#5. Support Non-Profits
Local business owners provide significant support for non-profits. In fact, non-profits receive as much as 350% more money from local shops than non-locally owned businesses.

#6. Community Benefits
Taxes paid by small, local businesses are widely used to support schools, parks, roads, and other local programs that benefit your friends, family, and community.

#7. Unique & Exclusive
When you shop at local businesses, you’re likely getting something that’s unique and exclusive. Often times the production of small-batch products involves the use of techniques, processes, and/or ingredients that might not be seen as “cost-efficient” in mass production.

WIN-WIN-WIN

Your support of small businesses directly stimulates our local economy, helps to shape our community’s unique character and reduces environmental impact. So… JUST DO IT!

Shop Local

Support our local businesses on Small Business Saturday (11/27/21) and EVERY DAY!

Liability & Safety Tips for Dog Owners

Liability and Safety Tips for Dog Owners

Most dogs are friendly, loving members of the family, but even normally docile dogs may bite when they are frightened or when protecting their puppies, owners or food. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs annually, resulting in an estimated 800,000 injuries that require medical attention. More than 50% of dog bites occur on the dog owner’s property, and they account for one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims.

Dog Owner Liability:

Liability and Safety Tips for Dog Owners

Dog owners are liable for any injuries their pets cause in the following instances:

  • If the owner knew the dog had a tendency to cause that kind of injury;
  • If a state statute makes the owner liable, whether or not the owner knew the dog had a tendency to cause that kind of injury;
  • Or if the injury was caused by unreasonable carelessness on the part of the owner.

There are three kinds of law that impose liability on owners:

  1. Dog-bite statute – The dog owner is automatically liable for any injury or property damage the dog causes, even without provocation.
  2.  “One-bite” rule – In some states, the owner is not held liable for the first bite the dog inflicts. Once an animal has demonstrated vicious behavior, such as biting or otherwise displaying a “vicious propensity”, the owner can be held liable. Some states have moved away from the one-bite rule and hold owners responsible for any injury, regardless of whether the animal has previously bitten someone.
  3. Negligence laws – The dog owner is liable if the injury occurred because the dog owner was unreasonably careless (negligent) in controlling the dog.

The cat teaches his pupils to beware of dogs.

In most states, dog owners are not liable to trespassers who are injured by a dog. However, a dog owner who is legally responsible for an injury to a person or property may be also responsible for reimbursing the injured person for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and property damage.

A single lawsuit—even if won—can end up costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. And the greater a person’s assets, the more potentially is at risk. The personal liability coverage available through a standard homeowners or automobile policy simply may not be enough, so you may want to consider purchasing a personal excess liability policy. Also known as an umbrella liability policy, it protects you against personal liabilities—such as dog bites—that could impact a substantial portion of your assets.

Umbrella InsuranceThe amount of umbrella liability coverage usually ranges from $1 million to $10 million, and covers broad types of liability. Most insurance companies have required minimum amounts of underlying coverage—typically at least $250,000 of protection from your auto policy and $300,000 of protection from your Homeowners policy. If you own a boat, then you must also have boat insurance with a specified minimum amount of coverage. Personal excess liability insurance is relatively inexpensive. The first $1 million of coverage costs about $150 to $300 per year, the second million about $75, and subsequent increments of $1 million cost about $50 per year.

Be A Responsible Dog Owner:

Ultimately, the responsibility for properly training and controlling a dog rests with the owner. The most dangerous dogs are those that fall victims to human shortcomings such as poor training, irresponsible ownership and breeding practices that foster viciousness or neglect and abuse. To reduce the chances of a dog biting, the following steps are recommended by the CDC when getting a dog:

  • Consult with a professional (e.g., veterinarian, animal behaviorist, or responsible breeder) to learn about suitable breeds of dogs for your household and neighborhood.
  • Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it. Use caution when bringing a dog into a home of with an infant or toddler. Dogs with histories of aggression are inappropriate in households with children.
  • Be sensitive to cues that a child is fearful or apprehensive about a dog and, if so, delay acquiring a dog. Never leave infants or young children alone with any dog.
    Have your dog spayed or neutered. Studies show that dogs are three times more likely to bite if they are NOT neutered.
  • Socialize your dog so that it knows how to act with other people and animals.
  • Discourage children from disturbing a dog that is eating or sleeping.

Socialize your dog so that it knows how to act with other people and animals.

  • Play non-aggressive games with your dog, such as “go fetch.” Playing aggressive games like “tug-of-war” can encourage inappropriate behavior.
  • Avoid exposing your dog to new situations in which you are unsure of its response.
    Never approach a strange dog and always avoid eye contact with a dog that appears threatening.
  • Immediately seek professional advice from veterinarians, animal behaviorists, or responsible breeders if the dog develops aggressive or undesirable behaviors.

content: iii.org

Call us at 401-846-9629 to review your Homeowners Insurance Liability limits and / or for a complimentary Umbrella policy quote to increase your protection.
We’ll Always Do Our Best for You!

10 Ways to Save Energy & Money

Energy Efficiency Day

Want to lower your home energy bills and be more environmentally friendly? Here are 10 simple ways to reduce energy waste, at home and at work:

  1. Change to LED lightbulbsMake the switch to LED
    LEDs are a great example of how innovation and technology can make your life easier. They last at least 25 times longer and consume up to 90 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs.
    Tip: By switching five of your home’s most frequently used bulbs with ENERGY STAR® certified LEDs, it’s possible to save $75 on energy costs annually.
  2. Seal Those Leaks
    On average, heating and cooling account for almost half of a home’s energy consumption. In fact, all the little leaks can be equivalent to leaving open a 3-foot-by-3-foot window.
    Tip: Take simple steps like caulking windows, sealing leaks around chimneys and recessed lighting, and sliding Heat and Cool your home efficientlydraft guards under your doors to save on heating costs.
  3. Heat and Cool Efficiently
    Don’t waste money heating or cooling an empty home. Install a programmable thermostat and in colder weather schedule your home’s heat to lower when you are away or asleep, and increase when you are returning home or waking-up. In warm weather, schedule the thermostat to raise the temperature when you are away or asleep, and lower it at other times.
    Tip: Follow the U.S. Department of Energy recommended temperatures and be energy-efficient all year.
  4. Maintain Your HVAC System
    Make sure to clean or change your furnace filters regularly. A dirty furnace filter will slow down air flow, making the system work harder to keep you warm (or cool) and costing you more money.
    Tip: Consider getting a winter tune-up. Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a semi-annual or yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can be vital to improve efficiency, saving you money and making your home more comfortable.
  5. Energy Star logoLook for the ENERGY STAR® Label
    ENERGY STAR® labeled windows can cut heating costs by as much as 30% compared to single-pane windows, while increasing indoor comfort and lessening fading of home furnishings.
    Tip: If you are undertaking a major home remodel or new build, consider installing ENERGY STAR® qualified HVAC equipment and appliances.
  6. Turn the Electronics Off
    That sounds easy, but too often we forget and leave electronics plugged in that are not in use.
    Tip: Turn off unnecessary/idle lights, appliances and electronics. A power strip can help turn off multiple items at once. (Sometimes the simplest things are really effective!)
  7. Let winter sunshine into your homeWinter Tip: Invite the Sun In
    It feels like the sun abandons us during the winter, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore it during the shorter days.
    Tip: Open curtains/shade on your west-and south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and save 2%-12%.
  8. Summer Tip: Close Blinds and Shades
    This tip is easy to forget, but vital: excess sunlight will make it harder to keep your home cool and comfortable.
    Tip: During the day, keep your blinds and shades closed to prevent warm air from building up in your home.
  9. Clean Clothes Energy EfficientlyClean Your Clothing Efficiently
    That’s an easy one. A washing machine spends 90% of its energy to heat water.
    Tip: Consider using cold water instead. In addition, try to run full loads as much as possible, because the machine uses roughly the same amount of energy regardless of the load size. Also, consider air-drying.
  10. Clean Up Your Dishes Efficiently
    If there’s one thing that has the power to unite people, it’s food. And with food comes dishes to clean. Fear not – there really is a more efficient way to use your dishwasher.
    Tip: Avoid the “rinse hold” cycle and skip heated drying – simply open the door at the end of the washing cycle and let the dishes air dry!

Content: EnergyEfficiencyDay.com

Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety

Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety

Is there a beep or a chirp coming out of your smoke or carbon monoxide alarm? What does it all mean? Knowing the difference can save you, your home, and your family! Make sure everyone in the home understands the sounds of the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and knows how to respond. Learn the sounds of your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms by checking the user guide or
search the brand and model online.

Smoke Alarms sense smoke well before you can, alerting you to danger. In the event of fire, you may have as little as 2 minutes to escape safely, which is why smoke alarms need to be in every bedroom, outside of the sleeping areas (like a hallway), and on each level (including the basement). Do not put smoke alarms in your kitchen or bathrooms.

What is your alarm telling you?

Hear A Chirp, Make A Change!

Hear A Chirp, Make A Change!

SMOKE ALARM SOUNDS:

  • A continued set of three loud beeps—beep, beep, beep—means smoke or fire. Get out, call 9-1-1, and stay out.
  • A single “chirp” every 30 or 60 seconds means the battery is low and must be changed.
  • All smoke alarms must be replaced after 10 years.
  • Chirping that continues after the battery has been replaced means the alarm is at the end of its life and the unit must be replaced.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that displaces oxygen in your body and brain and can render you unconscious before you even realize something is happening to you. Without vital oxygen, you are at risk of death from carbon monoxide poisoning in a short time. CO alarms detect the presence of carbon monoxide and alert you so you can get out, call 9-1-1, and let the professionals check your home.

Hear A Beep Get On Your Feet!

Hear A Beep, Get On Your Feet!

CARBON MONOXIDE (CO) ALARM SOUNDS:

  • A continuous set of four loud beeps—beep, beep, beep, beep—means carbon monoxide is present in your home. Go outside, call 9-1-1 and stay out.
  • A single chirp every 30 or 60 seconds means the battery is low and must be replaced.
  • CO alarms also have “end of life” sounds that vary by manufacturer. This means it’s time to get a new CO alarm.
  • Chirping that continues after the battery has been replaced means the alarm is at the end of its life and the unit must be replaced.
Make sure your smoke and CO alarms meet the needs of everyone in your home, including those with sensory or physical disabilities:

  • Install a bedside alert device that responds to the sound of the smoke and CO alarms. Use of a low frequency alarm can also wake a sleeping person with mild to severe hearing loss.
  • Sleep with your mobility device, glasses, and phone close to your bed.
  • Keep pathways like hallways lit with night lights and free from clutter to make sure everyone can get out safely.

 

6 STEP STORM PLAN

READY, SET, STORM!
12 Steps to Weather a Hurricane Safely
Part 2: 6 Step Storm PLAN

Hurricanes are violent, dangerous and destructive. Being prepared will help you, your family and/or your business minimize the impact of any storm. As Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” SMART HOMEOWNERS have a plan, if you don’t this feature is for you– and if you do, it’s a good review! Read on smart subscribers…

1. When a WATCH is issued

Hurricane expected within 24-36 hours

  • Purchase any emergency supplies that you don’t already have on hand. Hit the stores early, as items such as batteries, candles and flashlights will get snapped up quickly.
  • Prepare your yard by removing all outdoor furniture, lawn items, planters and other materials that could be picked up by high winds. If you haven’t already, remove weak branches on plants and trees. Lower antennas and retractable awnings.
  • Prepare for a potential evacuation by reviewing your evacuation plan and, if you have a pet, your pet’s evacuation plan.
  • Fully charge your cellphone and all mobile devices
  • Fill your car’s gasoline tank.
  • Jot down the name and phone number of your insurer and insurance professional and keep this information handy in your wallet or purse.

2. When a WARNING is issued

Hurricane expected within 24 hours or less

  • Stay informed of the storm’s progress by listening to the radio or TV. Even better, listen to a NOAA Weather Radio for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS).
  • Install hurricane shutters, board up or otherwise securely shutter large windows and draw drapes across windows and doors.
  • Get off the boat—never remain on a boat during a hurricane! Check mooring lines of boats in water.
  • Double check your go-bags, add last minute personal and perishable items.

3. When to EVACUATE

Consider leaving early

  • Don’t wait until the last minute—shelters might be full or the roads might be jammed. If you have pets, consider traveling before an evacuation is ordered—otherwise, you might be ordered by officials to leave your pet home.
  • Take along survival supplies from your list.
  • Keep important papers with you at all times, including your home inventory and make sure you have the name and phone number of your insurance professional.
  • Take warm, protective clothing for the whole family in case you get stuck.
  • Lock all windows and doors on your home. Don’t compound hurricane damage with the threat of possible looters.
  • Keep all receipts for anything that might be considered to be an

4. If you SHELTER IN PLACE

Don’t go outdoors!

  • Don’t go out even during the brief calm when the eye of the storm passes over as wind speeds can increase dramatically in seconds.
  • Stay away from windows and glass doors and move furniture away from exposed doors and windows.
  • Stay on the downwind side of house. If your home has an “inside” room, stay there during the height of the hurricane.
  • Keep the television or radio tuned into information from official sources.
Road Closed sign with tree and power lines down after a big storm

5. Recognize POST-STORM HAZARDS

The storm has passed, leaving new dangers in its’ wake

  • Beware of outdoor hazards like loose or fallen tree limbs, loose signage or awnings that are in danger of breaking off and falling.
  • Keep away from loose or dangling power lines, and report them immediately to the proper authority.
  • Walk or drive extra cautiously as washouts may weaken road and bridge structures.
  • In the event of a power outage, throw out food that may be spoiled.
  • Boil municipal water before drinking until you have been told it is safe.

6. DEALING with DAMAGE

Notify us at 401-846-9629 as soon as possible so that we may assist you with the claims process

  • If you had to relocate, let us know where you can be contacted. In addition:
  • Make temporary repairs—if they can be made safely—to protect property from further damage or looting; for insurance purposes, keep all receipts for materials used.
  • Get written estimates for any proposed repair jobs and use only reputable contractors. Be especially careful of building contractors who want huge deposits up front or encourage you to spend a lot of money on temporary repairs. Ask for their references and check with the Better Business Bureau on complaints.
  • Gather any other receipts for expenses that will be covered by insurance or will be tax deductible.

9 Back to School Identity Protection Steps

9 Back to School Identity Protection Steps

As a recent victim of identity theft told us: “All it took was one use of an unsecured WiFi network combined with repeated use of similar passwords to open the door for thieves to gain access to my social security number, email addresses, banking and credit card accounts. Unwinding the damage has been un-nerving, time-consuming and fraught with additional phishing attempts to fend off.”

Identity TheftAs students head back to campus, fighting fraud may not be at the top of their list of priorities. However, college students are very susceptible to identity theft. Don’t let this happen to your family. Review and share these 9 protection steps with your back to school online and college-bound students.

  1. Send sensitive mail to your permanent home or a post office box. School mailboxes are not always secure and often can be accessed easily in a dorm or apartment.
  2. Important documents should be stored away safely. This includes your U.S. Social Security card, passport, and bank and credit card statements. Shred credit card offers and any paper documents that have sensitive financial information before discarding.
  3. Identity TheftNever lend your credit or debit card to anyone. Just say no if your friend wants to borrow your card or asks you to co-sign for a loan or financing for items like a TV. When using an ATM or credit card machine, don’t let anyone ‘shoulder surf’ your personal identification number (PIN).
  4.  Guard your passwords and don’t give them out to anyone. Use strong passwords and don’t use the same password for all sites.
  5.  Watch for phishing. Be vigilant and be careful of clicking on links in emails and texts; verify the content with the website.
  6. Make sure your computer has up-to-date antivirus and spyware software. Always install any updates and patches to your computer’s operating system or browser software, which keep your computer safe from new advances by identity thieves.
  7. Identity Theft ProtectionAlways check your credit or debit card statements closely for any suspicious activity. The sooner you identify any potential fraud, the less you’ll suffer in the long run.
  8. Be careful when shopping online. Check out businesses on BBB.org. Look for the BBB Accredited Business seal; click on the seals to confirm that they are legitimate.
  9. Check your credit report at least once a year. You are entitled to one free report a year from each of the three reporting bureaus: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Look for any suspicious activity or inaccuracies. You can do this for free by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.

6 STEP STORM PREP

READY, SET, STORM!
12 Steps to Weather a Hurricane Safely
Part 1: 6 Step Storm PREP

Hurricanes are violent, dangerous and destructive. Being prepared will help you, your family and/or your business minimize the impact of any storm. As Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” SMART HOMEOWNERS have a plan, if you don’t this feature is for you– and if you do, it’s a good review! Read on smart subscribers…

1. Plan EVACUATION ROUTE

While you’ll no doubt get instructions from the local government, it’s wise to create your evacuation plan well before a disaster strikes. This way, you can know ahead of time about the nearest shelters, take your pets into account in your plan, make sure to take important papers and make a trial run.

2. Stock EMERGENCY SUPPLIES

  • Extra batteries
  • Candles or lamps with fuel
  • Matches (keep these dry)
  • Prescription drugs
  • A three-day supply of drinking water
  • Food that you don’t have to refrigerate or cook
  • First aid supplies
  • A portable NOAA weather radio
  • A wrench and other basic tools
  • A flashlight
  • If you need to evacuate, you’ll bring these supplies with you. As expirations dates approach (for example, food or batteries), use the items and replenish your emergency stash.
  • Materials and tools for emergency home repairs–such as heavy plastic sheeting, plywood, a hammer, etc.

3. Make a HOME INVENTORY

Creating a home inventory will help ensure that you have purchased enough insurance to replace your personal possessions. It can also speed the claims process, substantiate losses for income tax purposes and is helpful should you need to apply for disaster aid. In the event you need to evacuate, be sure your home inventory is among the important documents you take with you. Our feature HOME INVENTORY contains step-by-step instructions to simplify this daunting project!

4. Review INSURANCE POLICIES

Our feature 5 FACTORS OF HURRICANE INSURANCE provides information on specific areas of coverage to review. If you own a boat, review your MARINE INSURANCE policy as well. If you are a business owner, review your COMMERCIAL INSURANCE policy. As always, if you have any questions about what your current policy will cover give us a call at 401-846-9629. We’ll help you to understand your options and provide the BEST coverage to meet your needs.

5. PROTECT PROPERTY

Hurricane force winds can turn landscaping materials into missiles that can break windows and doors and much of the property damage associated with hurricanes occurs after the windstorm when rain enters structures through broken windows, doors and openings in the roof. While retrofitting your home to protect against these possibilities is undoubtedly an expense, you can do it in stages.

  • Replace gravel landscaping materials with shredded bark, which is lighter and won’t cause as much harm.
  • Cut weak branches and trees that could fall on your house and keep shrubbery trimmed.
  • Install storm shutters to protect your windows from breakage. Alternately, fit plywood panels to your windows, which can be nailed to window frames when a WARNING is issued.
  • Make sure exterior doors are hurricane proof and have at least three hinges and a deadbolt lock that is at least one-inch long.
  • Sliding glass doors should be made of tempered glass and, during a storm, covered with shutters or plywood. These types of doors are more vulnerable to wind damage than most other doors.
  • Replace old garage doors and tracks with a door that is approved for both wind pressure and impact protection. Wind coming into your home through an opening this large poses grave problems for the rest of your home—especially your roof.
  • Seal outside wall openings such as vents, outdoor electrical outlets, garden hose bibs and locations where cables or pipes go through the wall. Use a high quality urethane-based caulk to prevent water penetration.
  • If you have a boat on a trailer, know how to anchor the trailer to the ground or house.

6. PREPARE BUSINESS

  • Create an emergency business response and continuity plan. In the event of a hurricane this will help your business quickly recover.
  • Keep contact information for employees, suppliers and vendors current so you can check on their wellbeing and communicate next steps for resuming normal business operations.

 

5 FACTORS OF HURRICANE INSURANCE

Cover the Structure

Hurricane1A standard homeowners policy covers the structure of your house for disasters such as hurricanes and windstorms, along with a host of other disasters. It’s important to understand the elements that might affect your insurance payout after a hurricane, and adjust your policies accordingly.

Check your policy limit and make sure the amount is enough to rebuild your home – The cost of rebuilding or extensively repairing a home is dependent on a number of factors—and, remember that the real estate value of a house is not the same as the cost to rebuild. Therefore, it pays to understand in detail what it will cost to rebuild in the event your house is severely damaged or destroyed and make sure your insurance will cover that amount.


Understand Deductibles

Hurricane2Unlike the standard “dollar deductible” on a homeowner’s policy, a hurricane or windstorm deductible is usually expressed as a percentage, generally from 1%- 5% of the insured value of the structure of your home. Like any deductible, a hurricane or windstorm deductible will affect the bottom line of your insurance payout. If you have a high hurricane or windstorm deductible consider putting aside the additional money you may need to rebuild your home.

Check the Declarations (front) page of your Homeowners Policy. A hurricane deductible is applied only to hurricanes, whereas a windstorm deductible applies to any type of wind. If your policy has a hurricane deductible, it will clearly state the specific “trigger” that would cause the deductible to go into effect.


Consider Exclusions

Hurricane3Understand what disasters your insurance policy covers—and those it doesn’t – Standard homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for hurricanes, wind, theft, fire, explosion, lightning strikes and many other disasters. However, all policies also list exclusions, which are events NOT covered by the policy. One common exclusion is flooding. People tend to underestimate this risk, but 90% of all natural disasters—especially hurricanes—include some form of flooding. If you live in a flood zone or a hurricane-prone area, a separate flood insurance policy is a must. Another common exclusion is sewer backups (which is also not covered by flood insurance) Sewer backup insurance is also good to have in hurricane-prone areas.

If you own a co-op apartment or condo – check with your management company and the bylaws to understand what is covered under the building’s master insurance policy versus what damages you need to cover in your own co-op or condo owner’s insurance policy.


Cover Your Stuff

Hurricane4Imagine the cost of repurchasing all of your furniture, clothing and other personal possessions. Whether you have homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance, your policy provides protection against loss or damage due to a hurricane. Homeowners policies provide approximately 50 to 70% of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your home. If you rent, know that your landlord’s insurance will only cover the structure of your home—you need a renter’s policy to protect your possessions against loss or damage.

Whether you own or rent your home creating a Home Inventory will enable you to determine the value of your possessions. Cross-check the inventory total with your policy to see if you are sufficiently insured for either replacement cost or cash value of the items. The inventory will also speed the insurance claims process and help provide proof of losses for tax or disaster aid purposes.


Rest Your Head

Hurricane5Be sure your policy provides enough coverage for Additional living expenses (ALE) – the extra costs incurred if you need to live elsewhere because your home is rendered uninhabitable as the result of a hurricane (or any other insured disaster). While your home or apartment is being repaired or rebuilt, ALE covers hotel bills, restaurant meals, etc.—expenses over and above what your customary living expenses would be at home.

Generally, the ALE policy limit is 20% of the amount of insurance coverage on the structure of your home. Standard renters’ policies also provide for ALE. Depending on where you live (which may dictate your expenses), you may want to consider a higher ALE. Also review the time limits in your policy as reimbursements may be limited to a specified amount of time.

If you rent out part of your home, ALE coverage also reimburses you for lost rental income. Make sure your policy reflects the current amount of your rental income.

Content Source: iii.org

Don’t want to go it alone? Give us a call at 401-846-9629 for a FREE Policy Review. We’ll walk you through the details and present you with options for coverage to meet your needs. We’ll often find ways to save you money and ALWAYS do our BEST for YOU!

 

FIRE PIT SAFETY

Do you have a fire pit in your backyard? If so, you’re in good company, a blazing fire pit has become an increasingly popular added touch to backyards everywhere. Sales soared last autumn as homeowners rushed to create cozy, inviting outdoor spaces for the COVID-19 winter. True Value Hardware, a wholesale supplier to more than 4,500 independently owned stores, said sales of wood-burning fire pits were up over 300% last fall compared to the same time in 2019. For owners and soon-to-be owners of these crowd-pleasing bastions of warmth, here are some important tips that will keep you, your children, pets, and friends safe.

Location & Clearance:three burning billets in hot stove

  • Do not place the pit on a grassy surface, wooden deck, or enclosed porch.
  • Before lighting ensure a minimum of 25 feet clearance from anything flammable including your home, outbuildings and overhead tree branches.

Fire Pit Fuel:

  • Always burn dry, seasoned wood that was cut at least six months earlier.
  • To keep sparks from flying, use logs less than three-quarters length of the pit’s diameter; do not overload to avoid danger of some falling out.
  • For gas pits, clear all vents to avoid smoky flare-ups; only use the fuel intended for the pit

Starting the Fire:

  • Never use lighter fluid, gas or kerosine.
  • Be ready for the unexpected with these items nearby:
    • Dry-chemical (Class B and C / multipurpose) fire extinguisher.
    • Garden hose, with the water turned on and the nozzle set to “spray.”
    • If your pit will not withstand water, keep a bucket of dry sand nearby to dump on the flames.
  • Cellular phone

Flaming hot red yellow charcoal briquettes in a grill starter

Putting Out a Fire Safely:

  • Use Water or Sand as indicated above
  • For a gas or propane pit, turn off the supply before attempting to extinguish any fire.
  • Coals, embers, and wood can retain heat for hours and hours, even days in the right circumstances.
  • Many house fires occur when remnants of a fire are prematurely tossed into a trash can or dumpster; leave the ash, coal and ember out for several days after an intense fire.
  • Wind can reignite a barely smoking fire; stir and spread-out coals and use water, dirt or sand to extinguish any remaining heat.
  • Don’t to bury the coals in the dirt for that will have the opposite effect.
  • If fire spreads beyond the confines of the pit or flares above your head, or prevents you from switching off the propane tank or natural-gas valve, calmly evacuate everyone from the area and call 911.

It’s important to note that most RI towns and cities allow small recreational fires in their neighborhoods. To build a recreational fire means you are burning a reasonable amount of wood and there is not an unreasonable amount of smoke that can affect your neighbors. Rhode Island has state-wide regulations and each city / town has its own set of rules regarding recreational fires, but most follow similar safety guidelines and laws. These laws and burn bans are for the safety of everyone in the area.

Generally speaking, the State of Rhode Island requires:

  • The fire must be 30 feet away from any abutting residence.
  • The diameter of the pit or place must not exceed 3 feet.
  • The size of the fire must not exceed 2 feet in height.

Firepit-SallyAnne Santos-1200xFind local ordinances here:
Newport
Portsmouth
Middletown
Jamestown
Tiverton
More RI Locations

Common local regulations:

  • Weather conditions must be amenable. Fires cannot be burned when wind speed is above 15 miles an hour or if a “Code Red” has been issued by the National Weather Service.
  • The pit or place must have a “spark arresting” cover or cap.
  • The wood must be seasoned for six months, cut and dried.
  • The fires would only be allowed at single family properties or duplexes.
  • There must be a water source such as a hose within range of the fire.
  • All fires must be attended and supervised by an adult the entire time they are burning.

What You Can and Can’t Burn:

BurningPaper1200wSmoke, chemicals, and poisonous gases are not only offensive; they are dangerous to both people and wildlife in the area. Fumes infect the environment and enter into the water supply that various creatures drink from. Wildlife often get the brunt of toxic chemical and smoke which can kill off birds and force small mammals out of their homes. In most places it is illegal to burn the materials below as they pose significant health hazards.

  • Paper causes unnecessary smoke and as it is treated releases unhealthy chemicals into the air.
  • Cardboard creates offensive smoke and can cause a dangerous surge in the fire.
  • Particleboard is held together by adhesives that emit toxic gasses when burned.
  • Wooden pallets are treated with a chemical called methyl bromide which can be released when burned.
  • Magazines ads, newsletters and colored gift-wrapping paper are all made with ink which release toxic fumes when burned.
  • Plastic releases toxic chemicals that are especially bad for young children.
  • Poison Ivy, Oak or Sumac contain irritant oils, fumes cause severe lung irritation and allergic responses for some people.
  • Trash releases toxins into the air and produces excessive smoke. It is illegal to burn trash.
  • Pressure treated or painted wood may give off toxic fumes, especially lead-based paints.
  • Green leafy branches and plant life contain moisture that cause excessive smoke.

What You Can Burn, Seasoned Split Wood:

  • Oak produces significant heat while also burning slow and steady.
  • Hickory does not hold onto moisture and burns hotter than oak.
  • Ashwood retains less moisture, burns easily and does not produce much smoke.
  • Cedar is misleading because it does not produce big flames, but it creates toasty heat with an amazing aroma, making it the perfect choice for firewood on a chilly night.

Now that you know, grab the marshmallows and go!

Some Content: This Old House

%d bloggers like this: