Your building is now vacant due to Shelter in Place
Key Tips to Consider...
As we weather this national crisis and shelter in place, many of our buildings and surrounding property are attractive targets for thieves and other would-be criminals. Before shuttering your doors and leaving your business for, what could be, weeks at a time, consider these tips...
• Are unnecessary electrical appliances and equipment disconnected/unplugged.
• Turn down temperature on hot water heater to conserve energy.
• Set thermostat to minimal setting (55° F) to conserve energy but keep out the freeze and/or set low temperature alarms. Failing to maintain heat appropriately can void coverage if pipes freeze and burst.
• Sprinkler system also need to be protected from temperatures below 40F to ensure proper operation.
• During warmer months or in warmer climates, make sure to set your air conditioning to a minimum of 85 degrees
otherwise if your building gets too warm it will become susceptible to damage from humidity and mold.
• Check that sump pump is operational and remote alarms are working.
• Ensure all refrigerators and freezers are secure and doors are closed.
• Irrigation systems should be turned off and disconnected to prevent accidental flooding.
• Does the building look secure from the street?
• Are all vehicle entrances and exits locked/secured?
• Are all windows and doors locked?
• Have you contacted the police and requested random checks?
• Have you alerted neighbors or neighborhood watch programs that the building will be vacant so they can also assist with random check?
• Is there a centrally monitored security system in place (door contacts, window tape, motion sensors, video surveillance, etc….)
• Has updated contact information been given to companies that centrally monitor security and fire alarms, as contact names/information may have changed from normal operations.
• Arrangements should be made, if possible, to inspect the building at least weekly. Document the inspection with photos and utilize our check list.
• Can security camera be added or maintained operational to cover the interior/exterior of the facility?
o Have temporary, wireless cameras been considered?
• Are there exterior aspects of your building that you need to consider:
o Temporary weather proofing;
o Drainage or flooding hazards;
o Gutters and down spouts cleared?
• Contact your agent to discuss potentially relocating some high dollar items, temporarily to a more secure location.
• Do you have a list of inventories on hand?
o Is it backed up off site?
o If it were stolen or damaged what would you need for lead time to replace those items?
• Tools and Equipment
• Computers and Technology – Are there backups made daily with offsite storage of back-ups?
• Furniture, Artwork, Fixtures.
• Other Assets
• Do you have products on auto-order that needs to be suspended for the time being?
• Are you practicing all the necessary requirements per your local health department or FDA guidelines?
• Do you have a remote alarm on refrigerators and freezers so that you are made away of a temperatures spike?
o If this were to occur do you have a plan in place for dealing with this alarm?
• Are you maximizing the products on hand to consider items reaching expiration?
• Have you contacted the local fire department to alert them of the vacancy and any changes to building access that now may have changed?
• Additional monitoring may be necessary because of the following reasons:
o There may be a delay in reporting of fires because of the vacancy
o Fire could also start due to smoking trespassers, arsonists, faulty wiring or drug production.
o Transients/homeless seeking shelter may have open fires for cooking or providing heat.
• Are there centrally monitored fire detection systems in place?
• Is the Automatic sprinkler system on and locked open with centrally monitored tamper switches operational?
Making a plan for how to respond
Having a good response plan is as essential as protecting your business investments. When developing a plan, consider communication beforehand with local responders, such as fire and police departments, emergency clean-up companies and security companies. Your livelihood may depend upon it in an emergency.
And remember, if you have a helper with you when closing down, be sure to “social distance” from one another.
This Thanksgiving Day, fire departments all across the nation will be called to nearly 2,000 homes for a cooking fire. Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fires and fire injuries, with Thanksgiving Day being the worst. Here are 5 ways to avoid having your holiday turn damaging, or deadly.
1) Never leave cooking unattended. It’s a contributing factor in 33% of the fires 49% of the deaths, and 46% of the associated injuries related to cooking equipment. “I just went to watch the replay” is all it takes for a fire to start and get out of hand quickly.
2) Have a kid-free kitchen zone. Children under age 5 were more likely to be hurt by touching hot cooking equipment or scalded by hot liquids than by actual fire. Create a 3-foot kid-free perimeter around anywhere cooking is taking place or that hot food is being staged.
3) Keep flammable materials away from burner. In 10% of cooking fires, something flammable was too close to the equipment. What’s most frightening, is this is also the cause of nearly 1/4 of all the deaths. Hot mitts, wooden utensils, curtains, and food packaging are all dangerous if too close to heat sources.
4) Don’t use power strips or extension cords for appliances. Small, temporary appliances like crock pots, electric skillets, Instant Pots and the like are very helpful to feed large numbers of people, but appliances like these should always be plugged directly into a grounded wall outlet to prevent overheating and overloading the circuits.
5) Don’t fry your turkey. Frying dominates the cooking fire problem, and FEMA recommends not using deep fat fryers for turkeys altogether. Oil spillover ignition and operating a fryer on wooden decks or too close to trees or structures are big hazards that must be avoided. (And when alcohol is involved, it can get even more dangerous.) To learn how to more safely use a fryer, visit the US Department of Agriculture’s website.
We hope these tips help you have a safe and fun Thanksgiving!
From building materials to furnishings, many of the things in your home likely aren’t as flame-resistant as those from yesteryear.
A fire in a modern home is a “perfect storm,” according to safety consulting and certification company UL (Underwriters Laboratories).
Larger homes, more open layouts, new construction materials and other factors mean fires burn more quickly, leaving less time for occupants to escape — and for firefighters to stop the flames. How much less time? About 30 years ago, you had about 17 minutes to get out of the house once it caught fire. Today? Just three or four minutes.
A lot goes into creating that “perfect storm,” experts say. Here are some key factors:
What can you do? Well, unless you’re having a house built or doing an extensive remodel, you can’t really change the materials used to construct your home. However, there are a few things you should do immediately to help keep you and your family safe, no matter where you live:
To learn more about fire safety, check out these tips from the American Red Cross. Because the best fire protection of all is preventing one from starting in the first place!
As a homeowner, one of the most important aspects of your home isn’t something you use daily. And it isn’t something flashy you show off to friends. It’s your homeowners insurance policy, and it protects you in more ways than you may think, helping you rebuild your home or repair damage that results from a covered loss.
But, that’s not all. It can also help cover the costs of a lawsuit, help you pay for somewhere else to live when your home is uninhabitable, and much more.
Home insurance is typically very comprehensive, but all policies have exclusions and coverage limits. It’s vital to know what those are so you know what’s covered and what’s not. Fire damage? Typically covered. Flood damage? Typically not.
With this guide, you can begin to understand what a typical home insurance policy covers. Just keep in mind that coverage varies from carrier to carrier, region to region and even policy to policy. Only your individual home policy can tell you the coverage you have and that which you don’t. For an even better understanding of your home policy coverage, review it with one of our agents.
What Home Insurance Covers The typical homeowners insurance policy has six types of coverage. They are commonly known as:
Remember that, despite having all of these different types of coverage, you’re only covered up to the dollar amounts that you select and only for covered losses, as outlined in your policy. Typically, you can change these policy limits at any time if you’d like to purchase more coverage. This is a good idea if, for example, you’ve recently added on to your home, acquired some pricey personal belongings or made other updates to your property. If needed, you can also reduce your coverage, though always ensure you are adequately protected.
What Home Insurance Doesn’t Cover
It’s just as important to know what your homeowners insurance doesn’t cover as it is to know what your home policy does cover. For starters, your policy does not cover any damage or repairs costing less than your deductible. It also does not cover any costs that exceed the coverage limits outlined in your policy. You are solely responsible for excess costs, unless you have an umbrella policy to provide additional liability coverage for a covered loss.
More than likely, your policy also does not cover routine maintenance and repairs, as well as damage due to animals, termites, floods, earthquakes, sinkholes, sewer backups, and other incidents. These are often considered non-covered losses. If you experience a non-covered loss, as outlined by your policy, you will be responsible for the costs.
What Home Insurance May Cover
Outside of the typical home insurance coverage, optional or separate coverage may be available from your carrier or from a different carrier. For example, you may be able to purchase earthquake or flood coverage separate from your homeowners policy.
Other coverage options are add-ons to your existing homeowners insurance. These can include identity protection and equipment breakdown coverage, which covers the cost to repair or replace a range of appliances and other equipment, such as pool equipment, in your home. If this sounds similar to an extended appliance warranty, it is. The difference is that you can insure an array of appliances at once through this optional coverage rather than purchasing a separate warranty for each one.
This guide is a starting point for understanding your home insurance policy. Your own policy may vary greatly from the descriptions above depending on the state where you live, your carrier, and the coverage you have selected. So take a close look at your policy by reviewing your documents or viewing your coverage online. Or, even better, sit down with one of our insurance agents who can explain your coverage in detail, as well as discuss whether your policy provides adequate protection for your home, property, and belongings.
Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.
3 Steps Homeowners Can Take to Stay Safe This Holiday Season
The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also one of the most dangerous. The United States Fire Administration reported that structure fires, and the dollar loss per fire, is nearly one-third higher between December 1 and January 7. On Christmas Day alone, the incidence of fires caused by candles quadruples compared to any other day of the year.
The holidays can also be a peak time of year for home burglaries as many police departments across the country list the week after Christmas as the highest burglary caseload. You can escape these worst-case scenarios with common sense and a little forethought. To keep your home safe and secure this holiday season, here are three simple rules.
1. Don’t Leave the Kitchen Unattended
One of the leading causes of fires during the holidays isn’t Christmas trees or Christmas lights—it’s cooking. While cooking-related fires are most common on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and Christmas Eve aren’t far behind.
Home fires occur in the kitchen more than any other room in the house. Make sure that you have a smoke alarm near the kitchen and that the batteries are in working order before you begin your holiday meal preparations.
If you follow the rule of never leaving the stove or oven unattended, you can avoid a potentially dangerous situation. Distractions are inevitable when your extended family arrives for Christmas Day festivities. Adding an extra set of hands to assist with cooking can help mitigate the risk of a potential fire hazard.
2. Mind Your Festive Lights
Even if you follow all instructions, like making sure that the base of your Christmas tree is always submerged in water, you are still at risk for a fire if you don’t manage your Christmas lights safely. To lower your risk of a fire, always follow these light-safety tips:
Outdoor lights are a little more complex—and just as dangerous. Keep these basic guidelines in mind when setting up your display:
3. Don’t Leave Your Home (and Gifts) Vulnerable
Leaving your house clearly unattended is an open invitation for burglars. If you plan on going out of town, even for a day or two, follow these simple rules:
Even if you’re staying home this holiday season, you still need to take steps to defend your home against burglars:
Get Peace of Mind This Holiday Season from Auto-Owners Insurance
This holiday season is the perfect time to check with your insurance agent to confirm that you are protected against everything that could go wrong. The independent agents are experts at seeing gaps in your home insurance coverage that could leave you and your home vulnerable. For example, what if gifts are stolen from the trunk of your car while it’s parked in your driveway? Is that covered?
Your insurance agent can answer all these home insurance questions and give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your home and your presents are protected this holiday season.
for more information, please visit Auto-Owners' blog.