It’s that time of year again! As snow freezes and thaws, you may experience ice dams building up in your gutters or on low-sloping roof areas. Unfortunately, this means that a blockage has been created and the water from the melting snow on your roof cannot flow from the gutters to the downspouts. This can potentially cause the water to back up under your shingles.
Oftentimes if the melting snow, water and ice cannot move through your gutters unobstructed, it finds a way into your home, causing damage to your walls, ceilings or insulation. Typically there is minimal, if any, damage to the shingles on your roof. However, it may be necessary to pay a professional to remove snow or ice in the affected area to prevent any further damage. As your policy requires you to mitigate damages, a reasonable cost to do so may be covered under your applicable building policy. In the event of a covered loss, be sure to work with your contractor and claim adjuster to determine a reasonable cost for this service, and always obtain an invoice to present for reimbursement (subject to your policy limits and deductible).
You cannot control the weather, but you can take steps to identify ice dams and prevent them from causing damage to your home:
A list of your belongings will make filing an insurance claim much easier!
In the event of a fire or other disaster, would you be able to remember all your possessions? Having an up-to-date home inventory will help you get your insurance claim settled faster, verify losses for your income tax return and help you purchase the correct amount of insurance. Here's how to create one.
Start your home inventory now
If you're just setting up a household, starting a home inventory is relatively simple. If you’ve been living in the same house for many years, however, the task of creating a list can seem daunting—but it doesn’t have to be. Get started here.
Use technology to make your home inventory easier
A simple pencil and paper will suffice, but technology can make creating a home inventory much easier.
Keep your home inventory up-to-date and safely stored
Your home inventory is only useful if it's accurate and you can access it to provide information to your insurance company in case of fire, theft or other destructive disaster. Regardless of the medium you've used to create your list, keep it backed up and in a safe place.
Next steps: After you've taken your inventory, learn how much homeowners insurance you need.
Winter has officially arrived, which has been blatantly apparent in our recent freezing temperatures (brrrr)! Check out these tips for added protection.
• Have all furnaces serviced and chimneys inspected and cleaned.
• Check your home’s perimeter and seal any air leaks with caulk and weather-stripping. Add additional insulation in the attic—most homes need at least 12-15 inches. Make sure insulation does not come in contact with recessed lighting that is not approved for insulation contact.
• Insulate pipes that go through exterior walls or colder areas such as garage ceilings or unheated attics.
• Turn water off to exterior hose bibs, and detach garden hoses and empty the hose bibs.
• Locate the water main shutoff valve and keep the access path clear in case a frozen pipe leak or other water issue needs to be stopped.
• If you will be away from home, make sure heating is set no lower than 60 degrees so that even cold spots do not become too cold. Open sink cabinet doors to allow heat in, and let faucets drip slightly to prevent frozen pipes.
• Consider installing an automatic water shutoff valve to prevent extensive water damages.
• In high snowfall areas, make sure no exhaust vents become buried by snow.
• Install adequate attic insulation. This helps keep your roof cold, which prevents ice damming
as a result of snow continuously melting on the roof. When replacing a roof, consider an ice
shield membrane underlayment.
• Identify a local roofer that clears snow from roofs and removes ice dams to prevent roof
collapse or interior water damage. Not all roofers clear roof snow or ice dams.
• Service back-up generators and have adequate fuel supplies on hand. Do not store fuel
inside. Even if the generator is portable, it should never run indoors.
• Have emergency supplies on hand, such as flashlights, batteries and converters to use in the
car to charge devices.
• If a prolonged power outage means having to relocate, consider shutting off the water to the
house and draining the water lines, and follow the steps listed above for being away from
For more information, please contact us or visit www.aig.com/pcg.
Every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hundreds of people in the U.S. die from carbon-monoxide (CO) poisoning—and the invisible, odorless gas sickens thousands more.
The numbers seem even more tragic when you consider that most of these deaths and illnesses are preventable. Here are tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to help protect yourself and your loved ones at home and work.
In general, the same precautions for homes apply here, but there are a few additional considerations for the workplace, particularly one where gas-powered machinery is used:
Whether you’re at home or work, always be on the lookout for symptoms of CO exposure: They include dizziness, drowsiness, headaches and nausea. If you suspect an issue, leave the area as soon as possible and call 911—because when it comes to CO, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
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®.
“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”
That’s a quote from author Hal Borland — but another favorite saying might be even more appropriate for this time of year: “Be prepared.”
After all, warmer weather brings plenty of risk to go with its beauty. If you aren’t ready, you could find yourself with more spring cleaning than you bargained for after heavy rains, hailstorms, and other hazards.
Here are five things you can do to get yourself and your property all set for the season.
To learn more, check out Safeco Insurance®.
Home improvement: It’s a never-ending process for many people, and for those of us who aren’t necessarily handy, it can be a hassle, too.
But there are plenty of simple maintenance tasks and other improvements you can handle to make your home safer – whether you’re handy or not. And you won’t have to break out the power tools (or any tools at all in some instances) or worry about getting in over your head.
You need running water in your home – but not water running in your home, if you know what we mean. Even minor leaks can cause major problems, from higher water bills to damage requiring costly repairs (maybe even the kind you can’t tackle yourself). Here are some easy ways to make sure your water stays where it should:
Keep Your Family (and Your Guests) On Their Feet
Millions of Americans – many of them older adults – are injured in falls each year. About 2.5 million were hurt in 2013 alone, according to the National Safety Council and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Look around your home. Should you make some of these fixes?
Give Everyone Some Air
Pollution isn’t just an outside thing – the air in your home can be unhealthy, too. But helping people breathe a little easier isn’t hard when you follow these steps:
Home improvement doesn’t have to mean a kitchen remodel or finishing the basement. Making your home safer, in fact, just might be the best improvement of all.
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.
The winter holiday season is full of family, friends and festivities, but unfortunately, all that extra celebrating, cooking and decorating can pose potentially serious hazards at home. Knowing the risks and how to help avoid injury, theft and damage to property through the holiday season are important and can save you from expensive homeowners’ insurance claims.
1.Decorate wisely. To help reduce the risk of fire, use non-flammable or flame-retardant decorations. Planning your displays carefully is important to help reduce the risk of fire, electrical shock, trips and falls and property damage. If you decorate a Christmas tree, select a quality artificial tree and decorate with only UL-listed lights. If you choose to have a fresh tree, be sure to keep water in the stand at all times.
2. Use candles responsibly. December is the peak time of year for home candle fires — the top three days for home candle fires are Christmas, New Year’s Day, and New Year’s Eve. Each year between 2012 and 2016, an average of 8,200 home candle fires were reported each year. Keep lit candles at least 1 foot away from anything that burns and make sure candles are out of reach of children and animals. Also, extinguish all candles when leaving a room or before going to sleep.
3. Keep your tree away from heat sources. U.S. fire departments respond to an estimated annual average of 200 home structure fires that begin with Christmas trees, according to the National Fire Protection Association. These fires cause an estimated annual average of $14.8 million in direct property damage. A heat source too close to the tree causes one in every four Christmas tree fires.
4. Prevent theft. Unfortunately, the holiday season sees an increase in break-ins. Always lock your doors, keep the garage closed, lock windows, and make note of strangers in your neighborhood. Whether you are hosting a party for the neighbors or leaving home for a holiday get away, secure your valuables in a personal safe or a locked room in your home. If you don’t have one already, consider purchasing an alarm system. Also, with the gift giving season in full swing, if you have recently acquired new valuables, inform your insurance agent so that your homeowners’ insurance policy can be updated so you have adequate protection.
5. Protect your pipes. Nothing could ruin the holiday more than the unanticipated damage a burst pipe could cause. The three central causes of frozen pipes are quick drops in temperature, poor insulation and thermostats set too low. Insulate pipes in your home’s crawl spaces and attic, even if you live in a climate where freezing is uncommon. Exposed pipes are most susceptible to freezing.
6. Be a responsible party host. If you plan to serve alcohol at any type of party, it’s important to take steps to limit your liquor liability and make sure you are covered with the proper insurance. Offer guests the option to stay over, have a designated driver to take people home at the end of the night and ensure no one is driving after they have been drinking.
7. Protect your identity. Protect yourself from hackers and identity thieves as you shop in stores and online this holiday season. Keep wallets, passports, smartphones and other sensitive items secure in bags or pockets and only take them out when needed. Only share your credit card and payment information online on trusted websites.
8. Test all your fire and carbon monoxide detectors. Help avoid fire and smoke damage by making sure your home’s fire safety prevention system is working correctly. The National Safety Council recommends you install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector in your home near the bedrooms. Check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.
9. Inspect and clean your fireplace. Whether you have a natural or gas fireplace, it’s a source of heat and potential danger. Have your fireplace cleaned and inspected regularly. Also, don’t position your Christmas tree — or anything else — near the fireplace.
10. Practice kitchen safety. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires year round, and the increased use of stovetops and ovens for preparing holiday meals can increase the risk. Christmas Day and Christmas Eve are the second and third most common days for home cooking fires. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.
11. Don’t overload electrical outlets & use proper extension cords. Don’t plug all of your holiday lights into one outlet or one circuit. Try to distribute the electrical load across several circuits to prevent any one from being overloaded. Extension cords should always be heavy-duty, quality cords that are grounded for fire safety. Never run extension cords under rugs or in areas where they pose a tripping hazard.
12. Follow dryer safety recommendations. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the number of dryer fires increases in the winter months and peak in January. Be sure to empty the lint screen before every load and remove all snow from the outside opening to the dryer vent. Also, never run the dryer while you’re asleep or away from home.
13. Avoid injuries in the home. Injuries requiring medical attention occur more often at home than in public places, the workplace and motor vehicle crashes combined, according to an analysis by the National Safety Council. The number and rate of unintentional home injury deaths has been steadily rising since 2000, largely due to increases in unintentional poisonings and falls, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
14. Keep matches and lighters away from kids. The number of blazes — and, tragically, the number of deaths — caused by children playing with fire goes up significantly during the holidays. From January through March, 13% of fire deaths are the result of children playing with fire, the U.S. Fire Administration reports, and in December, that percentage doubles.
15. Prevent pet bites. The holidays are a busy time and can cause a lot of stress, especially on your furry companions. Pets can become over-excited or territorial when unfamiliar individuals enter your home. Dog bites are a common cause of injury to guests and as the home/pet owner, you could be liable for resulting medical bills.
For more information, please visit Property Casualty 360.