Winter Weather Prevention

While you can’t change the weather, you can minimize some of winter’s biggest threats to your home.

Heavy snow accumulation can pose a threat to your home or business — both as it builds up and as it melts. The three most important things to do are:

  • Watch for snow accumulation on the leeward (downwind) side of a higher-level roof, where blowing snow will collect. For safe removal that won’t endanger you or damage your roof, consult a roofing contractor for a referral. 
  • Remove snow from basement stairwells, window wells and all walls. Melting snow can lead to water damage and moisture intrusion. 
  • Keep your attic well ventilated to maintain a temperature close to that of the outdoors to minimize the risk of ice dams forming. A warm attic melts snow on the roof, causing water to run down and refreeze at the roof’s edge, where it’s much cooler. If ice builds up and blocks water from draining, water is forced under the roof covering and into your attic or down the inside walls of your house.Water intrusion and flood damage from melting snow and ice can threaten homes and businesses, but you can take these steps to help minimize the potential damage.
  • Immediately after the threat of physical danger has passed:
  • Make sure the building is structurally safe to enter or reoccupy. 
  • Turn off electrical power. Do not use electricity until it is safe to do so. 
  • Ensure that natural gas sources are safely secured. 
  • Secure the exterior to prevent further water intrusion. This can include boarding up broken windows, making temporary roof repairs, sealing cracks or tacking down plastic sheeting against open gaps in walls or roofs.When it’s safe to begin cleanup:
  • Disconnect all electronics/electrical equipment and move it to a safe, dry location. 
  • Remove as much standing water as possible from inside the building. 
  • Begin to remove water-damaged materials immediately. 
  • Ventilate the home as best you can with fans and/or dehumidifiers. 
  • Contact a water extraction company, if necessary, for assistance.By taking immediate action, you will reduce the amount of damage and increase the chance of salvaging usable materials. You’ll also reduce the amount of rust, rot, mold and mildew that may develop, and lower the likelihood that the water will lead to structural problems.

    Ice dams are an accumulation of ice at the lower edge of a sloped roof. When interior heat melts the snow, water can run down and refreeze at the roof’s edge, where it’s much cooler. If the ice builds up and blocks water from draining off the roof, water is forced under the roof covering and into your attic or down the inside walls of your house.

    To help reduce the risk of ice dams:

     

  • Make sure your gutters are clear of leaves and debris. 
  • Keep the attic well ventilated so snow doesn’t melt and refreeze on the roof’s edge. 
  • Make sure the attic floor is well insulated to minimize the amount of heat rising through the attic from within the house.Bursting pipes occur when frozen water causes a pressure buildup between the ice blockage and the closed faucet. Pipes in attics, crawl spaces and outside walls are particularly vulnerable to extreme cold. To keep water in your pipes from freezing:

     

     

  • Fit exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or wrapping to slow heat transfer. 
  • Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes with caulking. 
  • Keep cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes. 
  • Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through an unheated or unprotected space.Source: Institute for Business and Home Safety. IBHS is a national nonprofit initiative of the insurance industry to reduce deaths, injuries, property damage, economic losses and human suffering caused by natural disasters.
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Hurricane Home Preparation

Damage from hurricane Sandy

 

Hurricanes are like no other storms on earth. From Maine to Texas, and in Hawaii, these ferocious weather systems bring torrential rain, flooding, storm surges and devastating winds that damage homes, destroy treasured keepsakes and disrupt family life.

You don’t have to be blown away when a hurricane hits, however. It’s never too early to prepare and you can take several basic steps right now to protect your family and your home from disaster.

Does your home meet building codes?

Find out if your home meets current building code requirements for high-wind regions (for example, the International Residential Code, which is promulgated by the International Code Council). Experts agree that structures built to meet or exceed current model building codes’ high-wind provisions have a much better chance of surviving violent windstorms.

Preparing your home for a storm

If you’re handy with a hammer and saw, you can do much of the work yourself. Work involving your home’s structure may require a building contractor, however, or even a registered design professional such as an architect or engineer.

When working outside

  • If you have gravel or rock landscaping material in your lawn, consider replacing it with shredded bark, which will be far less damaging to your home’s windows when blown around.
  • Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed, to reduce the chance that limbs could be blown into your home. Cut weak branches and trees that could fall on your house.

When building or remodeling

Windows: If you are replacing your existing windows, install impact-resistant window systems, which have a much better chance of surviving a major windstorm. As an alternative to new window systems, install impact-resistant shutters that close over window openings to prevent flying debris from breaking windowpanes.

Entry doors: Make certain your doors have at least three hinges and a dead bolt security lock with a bolt at least one inch long. Anchor door frames securely to wall framing.

Patio doors: Sliding glass doors are more vulnerable to wind damage than most other doors. If you are replacing your patio doors or building a new home, consider installing impact-resistant door systems made of laminated glass, plastic glazing or a combination of plastic and glass. When a hurricane threatens, an easy, temporary and effective step is to cover the entire patio door with shutters made of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB).

Garage doors: Because of their size, garage doors are highly susceptible to wind damage. A qualified inspector can determine if both the door and the track system can resist high winds and, if necessary, help to replace them with a stronger system.

Garage doors that are more than 8 feet wide are the most vulnerable. For this size garage door, install permanent wood or metal stiffeners. Or contact the door manufacturer’s technical staff for recommendations about temporary center supports you can attach and remove easily when severe weather threatens.

Roofs: If you are replacing your roof, take steps to ensure that both the new roof covering and the sheathing it attaches to will resist high winds. Your roofing contractor should:

  • Remove old coverings down to the bare wood sheathing.
  • Remove enough sheathing to confirm that rafters and trusses are securely connected to the walls.
  • Replace damaged sheathing.
  • Re-fasten existing sheathing according to the proper fastening schedule outlined in the current model building code for high-wind regions.
  • Install a roof covering designed to resist high winds.
  • Seal all roof sheathing joints with self-stick rubberized asphalt tape to provide a secondary moisture barrier.

If you want to give your roof sheathing added protection, but it’s not time to re-roof, glue the sheathing to the rafters and trusses. Use an adhesive that conforms to Performance Specification AFG-01 developed by APA — The Engineered Wood Association, which you can find at any hardware store or home improvement center.

Gables: Make certain the end wall of a gable roof is braced properly to resist high winds. Check the current model building code for high-wind regions for appropriate guidance, or consult a qualified architect or engineer.

Connections: The points where the roof and the foundation meet the walls of your home are extremely important if your house is to resist high winds and the pressures they place on the entire structure.

  • Anchor the roof to the walls with metal clips and straps (most easily added when you replace your roof).
  • Make certain the walls are properly anchored to the foundation. A registered design professional can determine if these joints need retrofitting, and a qualified contractor can perform the work the design professional identifies.
  • If your house has more than one story, make certain the upper story wall framing is firmly connected to the lower framing. The best time to do this is when you remodel.

 

Courtesy of weather.com

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4 auto insurance discounts you may be missing

With gas prices soaring in the summer heat and families heading off on vacation, auto insurance clients are looking for any savings they can get. And while a new report pegs satisfaction with car insurance at an all-time high, Bankrate.com notes that there are still many discounts both clients and agents sometimes overlook. That means agents are missing out on the opportunity to develop better client relations, and consumers are missing out on the bargain, says Bankrate.com insurance analyst Doug Whiteman. “You can’t assume that your insurance company knows that you added an anti-theft system to your car or that your alma mater offers an alumni discount,” Whiteman says. “It’s your responsibility to tell your provider and ask for the discount. This simple step could save you hundreds of dollars per year.” Four of the most commonly overlooked discounts include:

–Daytime running lights. This discount was rare last year, but now, four out of the top 10 insurers offer a discount for daytime running lights. This is now standard equipment on most new cars; drivers should make sure they’re receiving this discount if it applies to them.

–Low mileage. This discount is almost twice as common now as it was a year ago. Eight of the top 10 insurers offer this discount (up from six of 10 last year). This discount often ties in with the onboard tracking devices (called telematics or pay-as-you-drive programs) that monitor driving habits.

–Newer vehicles. A discount for owning a newer vehicle (typically 3 years old or newer) is becoming increasingly popular with insurers. Five out of 10 are currently offering this discount.

–Affinity/occupational. Half of the top 10 insurers offer this discount. It rewards people who belong to a certain group (such as a professional association, a college alumni group or a fraternity/sorority). Bankrate.com noted that many of these discounts hide in the “nooks and crannies” of carrier sites, policies, and Q&A sections making familiarity with auto insurance discounts that much more important for producers struggling to grow business in this highly competitive class.

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Are You Getting All of Your Insurance Discounts?

Ok this is a big one, are you checking to make sure you are getting all your discounts on your auto insurance? Right now I’m going to encourage you to do this once a year preferably at renewal. With auto insurance there is a list of discounts that you could be getting and most people do not even know it. Frankly I like to tell people whenever you go through a change in your life inquire about how that change might affect your insurance. Most changes will affect your insurance rates in some manner either with an increase or decrease in premium (It’s all about risk).

Let’s begin with a change in work scenario. You just changed jobs and only drive 2 miles to work instead of 30 miles, you just earned a discount. Maybe you just retired and now you use your car for pleasure, putting less than 6k per year, you get a short mileage discount. Also you now may be eligible for a 55 or older discount or a retired discount.  Another situation might be your job gave you a company car. Now the only car on your policy is a pleasure use only vehicle. Call your agent because he or she may be able to force a multicar discount on your policy, lowering your rates a couple hundred dollars.

How about teen driver scenarios? You just added a young driver to the policy, make sure the agent knows exactly how many months or years that driver has been licensed. If you put your young driver on the policy 2 years after licensed for whatever reason, they now have 2 yrs driving experience which probably gives them an extra discount. Also driver training behind the wheel and in the class room certification will give you a discount.  Some companies offer a good grades or B’s or better discounts. Some companies offer youthful driver discounts where no one in the household has had at fault accidents in the house for five years as well as no surcharge able moving violations. Did you know you can add discounts for being over 100 miles away at school with no vehicle?  Lastly when your young driver is older 23 or above and has a job, you may find that putting a young driver on their own policy is cheaper than being on your policy.

Here is a list of some other discounts you may want to inquire about.
1. Pay in full discount and Auto withdraw discount.
2. Accident prevention or 55 alive discount.
3. AAA member discount.
4. Home owner discount.
5. College degree discount.
6. Life Multi-policy discount.
7. Multi-policy discounts, umbrella ins, Home ins, inland marine etc. …

As an Independent Insurance Agent I deal with many insurance companies. I will tell you that all companies offer different discounts so they do not offer the same ones. But always know the discounts that are available to you through your current insurance company. Please if you’re not happy with the company you are with ask your Agent to shop you around with other companies, that’s what we always do for our clients.  Let me know if we can help in anyway.

AIS Insurance Group, INC.

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4th of July Safety Tips

The 4th of July is a time when families can gather and enjoy grilling out, laughing, and brilliant fireworks.

Every year, more than 7000 people are injured in 4thof July related activities.

Preventing these injuries involves taking a bit more time ensuring the safety of others and understandingthe simplest safety precautions are often the best advice.

10. Keep pets indoors during the hottest parts of the day. At night, pets should be secured to prevent injury from fireworks.

9. Food borne illness can be a big concern with family and friends arriving at different times throughout the day. Cold foods should be kept cold and hot foods hot. When proper temperatures are not used, foods can quickly breed bacteria that may cause food poisoning.

8. Drink responsibly. Injuries from fireworks can be attributed to mishandling of fire and explosives, but drinking also comes into play. Drinking has become a huge part of many 4th of July festivities, but a designated group of people needs to stay sober for the safety of children and adults.

7. Douse grilling coals with water after use. Grilling out with charcoal creates the smell of summer. When foods are cooked and the grill is no longer needed, douse the coals with water to put out the fire. Coals left unattended may cause fire or injury to unattended children.

6. Drive safely even if you are not the one drinking. Designated drivers are deemed the saviors of any party where adult beverages are served, but not every party allots designated drivers. Sometimes, other drivers are the ones to worry about. If possible, stay at a location near the party site. Another option is to suggest tents be staked in the yard for a bit of late night fun and driver safety.

5. Never drink and drive. Drinking one bottle of beer or mixed drink is enough to alter visual perception of the road and ability to make decisions. At no time should drinking and driving be considered safe. When in doubt, call a cab or ask a sober friend to drive.

4. Review fireworks laws. Many cities, towns, and communities do not allow fireworks that leave the ground. Sparklers and other smaller ground level fireworks may not be included in those prohibited. Before planning any 4th of July party, call or visit the local law enforcement office and ask for a list of legal fireworks.

3. Keep water nearby. Fireworks can cause fire. Keeping a large tub of water or water hose nearby is crucial for fire safety during the 4th of July party. If the fire grows quickly, remove all people from the area and dial 911.

2. Children should never light fireworks. Children may seem like miniature-grown adults, but they do not have the adult responsibility that comes with growing older. Children should never light fireworks and should be kept as far away from fireworks as possible. Even sparklers can cause a devastating burn, so review sparkler safety with all children at the party.

1. Have safe fun. Safe fun includes planning for the best and preparing for the worst. With family, friends, and neighbors all enjoying one space, time can move quickly and decisions can be altered by alcohol. Designated hosts can help to ensure everyone is having a safe and fun 4th of July

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Know How to Stay Safe in a Lightning Storm

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How to Make Sure you are Getting the Best Deal on your New Car

Whether it’s your first time buying a new car or you’ve owned a few in your day, choosing a new vehicle is a big commitment. When it’s time to buy a car, here are some helpful tips to put you on the right track!

  • Stick to your budget. Before you decide what kind of car you would like to own, know how much you have for a down payment, and what you can afford each month. As a general rule, you should earmark no more than 20% of your monthly income toward your car payment and related expenses (like insurance, gas, and maintenance).
  • New or used? Weigh out the pros and cons of buying either a new or used vehicle.
  • Narrow down your options. Decide if you’re looking for a truck, compact, sedan or SUV, then research the top makes and models in the class you’re looking for. Independent guides like Consumer Reports and Kelley Blue Book can be great resources in your decision-making process.
  • Keep an eye on interest rates. Sure, that 0% interest rate the dealership is offering might sound great – but very few new car buyers actually qualify for it. Check around – you may get better financing somewhere else.
  • Look for discounts and incentives. Students and military members may qualify for discounts, while some dealerships offer cash back rewards.
  • Take your time. Don’t rush in to buying a new car! Take a thorough test drive. Be sure the seats are comfortable, there’s adequate trunk space for your needs, and enough leg room for passengers in the back seat.

With a little preparation, buying your next vehicle will be an exciting experience! And if we can help you with your car insurance needs, give us a call today.

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Car Insurance Tips for Young Drivers

Auto insurance companies calculate the risk of insuring each driver based on a number of factors that are not to the advantage of drivers under the age of 20. Clean driving records and experience are developed over years, and the associated discounts are meant to reward safe driving habits that prevent insurance claims. Higher insurance rates for young drivers can be justified by the insurance companies since the statistics back up their beliefs that young drivers take more risks. Reducing the annual premium for a young driver can be achieved if the following tips are followed.

Complete driver training – Many levels of driver training are available for drivers who wish to develop skills more quickly. Basic driving classes will be rewarded by modest discounts on the insurance premium, but advanced driving courses where many defensive driving and crash-avoidance techniques are taught will yield substantial discounts. The insurance company expects the risk of insuring more skilled drivers to drop substantially.

Establish personal credit – Maintaining a high credit score can be achieved by applying for a credit card and paying every bill on time. Building credit and understanding how to manage credit in a budget are valuable financial skills that can be built while living at home. Responsible credit use is rewarded by insurance companies as a sign of maturity.

Maintain excellent school grades – Most insurance companies have a “good student” discount that is meant to reward good performance at the only job most teenagers have. Since grades are earned by hard work and discipline, the insurers have developed discounts for the best students. Honor roll members will be rewarded with insurance premium discounts.

Drive responsibly Every driver realizes the added risks of certain activities, including texting and talking on the cell phone while driving. Young drivers must voluntarily use the good skills taught in the driving courses and embrace wise practices that will reduce the risk of an accident. Statistics prove that young drivers experience higher accident rates when other teens are in the car when they drive. Some localities have banned young drivers from granting rides to other kids who are not their siblings.

Choose a safe vehicle – Driving the coolest car with all of the latest gadgets and additions might seem like a great way to be noticed, but unfortunately the insurance companies will notice the more expensive set of wheels that must be covered by your insurance policy. The insurance premium will be raised because of the expense of replacing additional features on the car. Drive the safest possible car that can be replaced without much expense.

Stay on parent’s insurance – If at all possible remain as a secondary driver on the insurance policy of your parents. Their driving experience, credit scores, and perceived maturity will offset some of the cost of insuring a young driver. While this is not always possible, most young drivers are less expensive to insure as a part of a multiple-vehicle and multiple-driver insurance policy.

Leverage discounts – Each insurance company offers different discounts to encourage young drivers to adopt safe driving habits. Investigate the discounts offered and ask for all the possible discounts. If the insurance agent makes a recommendation, like taking a class that could offer discount, do whatever it takes to qualify for the discount.

Insurance rates will begin to moderate with just one year of accident-free driving. Parents care about the health and safety of their young driver above all else, so being a good driver is an important way to say thank you for their support.

If you have any other questions about feel free to contact.

 

 

Source: www.freeinsurancequotes.org

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What Should You Do During a Hurricane

Its hurricane season. If you area is getting hit by a storm and you were not ordered to evacuate, here are some tips that can help you stay safe:

  • Listen to your portable radio for important storm information and instructions.
  • If you remained at home, stay inside and keep away from all windows, skylights and glass doors. Go to a safe area, such as an interior room, closet or downstairs bathroom.
  • You should never go outside the protection of your home or shelter before there is confirmation that the storm has passed the area. The “eye” of the storm could create a temporary lull, with big winds still on their way.
  • If power is lost, keep the refrigerator closed to keep cold air trapped and delay perishable food from spoiling.
  • If you use a portable generator, take extra precautions. Generators should be properly grounded and should never be operated indoors, in garages, basements or near windows or doors. Since generators produce carbon monoxide (CO), make sure you have a working CO detector in your home.

By making safety your number one priority, you can better protect your family and your property

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Ten Ways to Cut the Costs of Homeowner’s Insurance

Get the Coverage You Need Without Paying More Than You Should

Have you noticed that the cost of your homeowner's insurance coverage has increased significantly over the last several years? Policies that cost $325 just a couple of years ago are often two to three times that amount now, putting the squeeze on many homeowners' budgets. Here are ten ways to minimize the cost of your homeowner's insurance.
  1. Raise Your Homeowner's Insurance Deductible- Your deductible is the amount of risk you agree to accept before the insurance company starts paying on a claim. With the cost of homeowner's insurance escalating, it no longer makes sense to let the insurance company assume all the risk. If you have a low deductible of $50 to $100, consider raising it to at least $500 to $1,000. You could save up to 25% on your premiums.Some companies are offering deductibles equal to 1% of the insured value of your home ($1,000 deductible on a $100,000 home). It that seems like a lot of money to pay in the event of a claim, consider this: the trends in homeowner's insurance are for insurance companies to severely penalize customers who file one or more small claims. Often the premiums are jacked way up or the policy is cancelled, and when the customer looks elsewhere for coverage, they may find it costs them three times what they were paying. We should change our perception that insurance of any type is intended to cover all of our expenses when we incur a claim. Those days are over. Think of insurance as risk sharing. How much risk are you willing to assume?
  2. Combine Your Homeowner's Insurance and Auto Insurance Policies- Consider buying your homeowner's and auto insurance policies from a company that offers both. Some companies offer discounts of 5 to 15% if you buy both types of coverage from them. Check around and make sure the price is lower than buying the two policies from two different companies before making this move.
  3. Ask About Other Homeowner's Insurance Discounts-Make sure you're receiving all the discounts for which you're eligible. For example, discounts exist for smoke detectors, deadbolt locks, security or fire alarm systems, fire extinguishers in the home, etc. If you're over 55 and retired, you may qualify for an additional 10% discount.
  4. Don't Buy Homeowners's Insurance Coverage You Don't Need- It makes no sense to buy insurance to protect yourself against risks you are unlikely to encounter; for example, earthquake coverage in a non-earthquake zone, or a jewelry floater to your policy if you don't own expensive jewelry.
  5. Make Your Home a Better Insurance Risk- Ask your insurance agent what you can do to make your home less expensive to insure. Making changes that reduce the risk of damage in windstorms and other natural disasters is one example. Another is updating old wiring or heating systems, which may reduce your risk of fires and therefore reduce your premiums.
  6. Know What Your Homeowner's Insurance Policy Covers- Your home is your biggest investment. Make sure it's adequately protected from risks you cannot afford to cover yourself and that it covers any home improvements you've made, major purchases, and increased costs of rebuilding.
  7. Keep Your Insurance Coverages Up To Date- Once a year, before your homeowner's insurance policy is due to renew, dig out the current policy, read through all the details, and call your insurance agent to discuss any changes in your situation that occurred during the year.
  8. Avoid Risks That Insurers Shun- Insurers are shying away from some risks. For instance, owning certain types of dogs (Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Pit Bulls), can limit or void your policy. Owning a swimming pool or a trampoline can increase your cost of coverage. Read all the fine print in your policy under the "Conditions and Coverages" sections so you know all the things that are excluded from coverage. You may opt to buy additional coverage to protect yourself from certain exposures.
  9. Improve Your Credit Score- Insurance companies are increasingly using credit information to price insurance policies. Don't have too many open credit accounts, don't charge close to the limits on your credit cards, and pay all your bills on time to keep your credit score healthy.
  10. Shop Around for Homeowner's Insurance- Shop around for homeowner's insurance rates but keep in mind that you may be receiving a longevity discount if you've been with your current insurer for several years. Typical discounts are 5% if you've been with the company for three to five years, and 10% for six years or more. Get quotes from three agents, and take any longevity discounts with your current insurer into consideration when you compare prices. Your state insurance department may have rate comparison information available for your state. See www.consumeraction.gov/insurance.shtml. Before you switch insurers, heck out their financial health at www.ambest.com or www.standardandpoor.com.
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