How to Avoid a Liability Claim on Your Property in the Winter

Now that we are into colder temperatures and icy weather, it is a great time to make sure your property is ready. It is important to maintain your property during the winter months to keep your family safe and avoid others hurting themselves. There are so many claims made in the wintertime. Property damage, injury due to falls, and countless others are very common. Here are some ways to avoid a liability claim on your property in the winter.

 

Prevent Ice

Ice is the biggest thing to focus on to avoid winter liability claims. Do all you can to prevent ice on and around your property. Someone slipping on ice and hurting themselves, or being hit by falling ice from your roof, could cost you big time in liability claims. First, you should cover all the obvious possible culprits. Be sure to salt and shovel your driveway and walkways anytime there is a snowfall. Always keep your front porch and steps de-iced and dry. Also, consider adding handrails to any stairs on your property.

Check Your Trees

Liability claims are often filed after winter storms. To avoid causing damage to your neighbor’s property, always keep branches and limbs trimmed. Inspect any trees that are close to your property line for any rot or other issues. A fallen tree can inflict a large amount of damage, so it is best to spend the money now to remove or trim the tree, instead of later when it falls on a house or garage.

Be Aware of Your Coverage

Do you know what would be covered if you have something happen on your property this winter? It is critical to know what you are covered for and how much. Your insurance agent can assess your current risk and help pick the best coverage for your needs.

 

Not sure if you have enough liability coverage? We can help you sort through it and make sure you are prepared this winter. Give us a call!

The End of the Year is a Good Time to Review Your Insurance Policies

You get your teeth cleaned and checked once a year. You get a physical from your doctor once a year. You take your car in for an inspection once a year. And you probably talk to your financial planner once a year. So why wouldn’t you review your insurance policies once a year? Each year’s end is a perfect time to review all your policies to make sure they are still fitting your current needs. Read on to learn more and what to consider for each policy.

 

Home Insurance

When reevaluating your home insurance policy, think about any new purchases or gifts you have acquired over the year. Add all new valuables under your existing policy. If you updated your home at all, for example – renovated your kitchen, this will need to be considered in a new policy. Also, adding things like pools, hot tubs, trampolines, or even adopting a particular dog breed will require higher liability coverage.

Car Insurance

If you have purchased a new car, or paid off an existing one, you will need to update your auto insurance policy. Once you have paid off a vehicle, you may consider dropping your comprehensive or collision coverage or even raising your deductible.

Small Business Insurance

If you are a business owner, this is crucial every year. However, it is even more imperative if you consider how many businesses made major changes to navigate all the challenges presented this year. Make sure your coverage is adequate for your business going into next year after all of the adjustments you may have made this year.

 

The end of the year is a perfect time to review all your insurance policies to make sure they are still fitting your current needs. Once you have done that, you can start the new year with a little peace of mind.

Driving Tips for the Fall

Whether you are going apple picking or hiking in the woods this fall, you want to make sure you are safe getting there. That is why it is so important to be extra careful while driving this autumn. Weather and seasonal conditions can make roads a little tricky to navigate. Here are some driving tips for the fall.

 

Watch Out When Braking on Leaves

Wet leaves can be just as slippery as ice. Read that again. Wet leaves can be just as slippery as ice! So many accidents occur on rural back roads during the fall for this very reason. If you are approaching a patch of leaves in the road, start slowing down. Avoid hard braking directly on the leaves to reduce the likelihood skidding or sliding. Leaves can also make it harder to see lane lines, so be sure to always drive with caution on leave-covered roads.

Beware of Sun Glare

The setting or rising fall sun can be extremely blinding. Because of the autumnal equinox, the sun perfectly aligns with the east and west roadways during the 20-45 minutes after sunrise and before sunset. This means the sunlight is going to be directly in your eyes during this time. So be sure to keep a pair of sunglasses in your car.

Heavy Rainfall

Many areas of the country receive increased rainfall in the autumn season. Mix a lot of rain with wind and falling leaves and you can have quite a tricky driving situation. During rainstorms, your car is at risk of hydroplaning. Never speed while driving in the rain and always give yourself plenty of braking space between cars. If the rain is accompanied by misty fog, be sure to use your fog lights.

 

By following these tips, you can keep you and your family safe while driving to all your fun fall activities.

Benefits of an Umbrella Policy

You have worked hard to get where you are today. Your retirement savings, your home, your cars, your “toys” – those aren’t just “things,” they are your financial security. Unfortunately, it could all be at risk as the result of an accident or lawsuit. Thankfully, an umbrella policy can help protect the results of your hard work. Read on to learn more.

 

Protect Your Assets with an Umbrella Policy

No matter how careful you are, accidents can happen. If an accident occurs and you were deemed “at fault”, your hard-earned assets could be at risk. Whatever the cost of the property damage or injuries you may have caused to other parties could exceed the limits of your car insurance policy. In fact, this is not uncommon at all. An umbrella policy would provide liability coverage over and above the limits of your auto policy. This kind of coverage could make the difference between security and financial hardship.

Costly Lawsuits

Lawsuits may not even be on your radar of things you have to worry about. Who is going to sue you anyway? The truth is, costly lawsuits are relatively common. For example, someone could slip and hurt themselves at a summer barbecue in your backyard. Even if you think it is not possible, you could be sued. An umbrella policy protects you from financial turmoil in the case of an unexpected lawsuit.

Consider How Much You Need

Remember, an umbrella policy offers protection over and above your car and homeowner’s insurance policies. Your umbrella policy would kick in once your underlying policy limits are exhausted. A simple method to determine how much umbrella coverage you need is to add up your assets’ total worth and compare them to the total liability coverage you already have. If your total assets’ value is greater than your liability limits, an umbrella policy to cover that gap is smart. On average, umbrella policies start at $1 Million and can go as high as $10 million if you qualify. Rates also are not as high as you may think.

 

Think an umbrella policy is a good option for you and your family? We can help!

Kitchen Safety Tips

The holiday season is right around the corner. And even without those special days coming up, we have all been spending much more time at home than usual. Now is the perfect time to brush up on those kitchen safety tips that we sometimes take for granted. Here is what you need to know before cooking up those big meals or baking those many trays of cookies.

 

Up to Date Outlets

Your electrical grid has probably been taking on a lot of extra work lately. Now more than ever, it is essential to make sure all your electrical outlets are up to code. This means all outlets must be upgraded to GFCI. While you are at it, check all your appliance cords and make sure there is no fraying or cracking.

Fire Extinguisher

Every kitchen should have a working fire extinguisher. Most fire extinguishers last 5-10 years, so check the expiration dates and replace them if necessary. You should have one for every level of your home.

Clean Your Oven

A dirty oven can be a fire hazard. If you are not in the habit of cleaning your oven, heavy holiday cooking is the perfect reason to. If you have a self-cleaning option on your oven, be sure to open some windows in your house while using it.

Sharpen Your Knives

This may seem confusing but sharpening your knives can help prevent common knicks and cutting from chopping in the kitchen. You are more likely to cut yourself with a dull knife than a sharp one.

Always Disinfect the Countertops

It is vitally important, especially now, to use a disinfectant spray on all surfaces in your kitchen. This applies to holiday cooking as well. If you are handling raw poultry, like the Thanksgiving turkey, you will need to wash your hands thoroughly as well as all the surrounding surfaces. This should be done immediately after removing any raw meat or poultry, so you do not contaminate any other ingredients.

 

Be sure to stay safe this holiday season!

Cybercrime Awareness

In this new time of working from home and ordering everything online, we really need to make a conscious effort to protect ourselves from cybercriminals. There are specific measures we can take to protect our computers and devices from intruders. But sometimes, a little knowledge and awareness go a long way. Here is how to protect yourself from cybercrime.

 

What is cybercrime?

Before we get into how to protect yourself, let us start with some simple definitions. Cybercrime is any type of illegal activity that takes place online. Cybercriminals commit these crimes by targeting computer or device networks. The crimes can range from email password hacking to identity theft, resulting in stealing money or sensitive financial information. Cybercrime can also include things like cyber-stalking, harassment, and online bullying.

How do I protect myself from cybercrime?

There are several different things you can do to protect yourself from cybercrime. Our top recommendations include:

  • Use a full-service internet security program. Professional software that provides internet security protection can give you peace of mind while you are spending extra time online. It protects against malware, ransomware, and viruses while protecting your financial info when you shop or complete baking transactions online.
  • Use strong passwords. This may seem like common sense, but you would be surprised how careless some people can be with their online passwords. Do not use the same password for multiple sites. Make your password at least ten characters long and always use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Manage your social media account settings. There are probably more security settings on your social media accounts than you realize. Ensure you are keeping your personal and private info out of the wrong hands by limiting what you share publicly.
  • Strengthen your home network. Use a strong encryption password and a VPN.

 

By having a little cybercrime awareness, you can help protect you and your family’s personal and private info online.

Fall Home Maintenance Tips

As we head into the colder months, it is time to take stock of our homes and identify tasks that need to be completed before winter fully begins. Harsh temps can wreak havoc on houses and their components, but with a little preparation, you can ensure your home will make it through the cold safely. Here are some fall home maintenance tips to prep for the colder weather.

 

Clean Those Gutters

Cleaning your gutters while the weather is still mild is just good planning. Clear gutters make room for melting snow and ice that will inevitably come this winter. You do not even need special equipment or gear. A stable ladder, gloves, and an old plastic spatula work perfectly.

Check Your Fire Detectors

You should be checking your fire alarms every six months, but if you have not lately, now’s a great time. Change the batteries and do a test on each one. Also, make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector for each level of your home.

Store Your Outdoor Furniture and Equipment

Although most outdoor furniture is designed to withstand extreme weather conditions, they will last longer and keep their look if they are stored for the winter. The same goes for items such as bikes and sports equipment. Make sure your garage or shed has ample space to pack everything up safely.

Change Your Furnace Filters

You should be changing your furnace filters monthly. However, fall maintenance is the perfect time to do a pre-winter change and give your furnace a cleaning. Many furnace companies have tune-up and cleaning specials around this time of year, so give one a call if you want a more professional treatment.

Test Your Winter Tools

No one wants to wake up to the first real snow of the season to a broken snowblower. Check your winter tools in the fall. Also, make sure you have a snow shovel, a container of gas, and bags of rock salt. Being prepared makes unexpected snowstorms easier to handle.

 

Use these fall home maintenance tips to get ready for winter.

Hurricane Preparedness

It is important for New Jersey residents to always be prepared for a potential hurricane or tropical storm. Here are some tips on how to prepare yourself and your home for a hurricane.

 

Pack a Disaster Supply Kit

Having a disaster supply kit all packed and ready to go in the event of a hurricane, tropical storm, or flash flood is always a good idea. Use durable duffle bags with a canvas or waterproof material and pack them full of the essentials you will need if a bad storm hits your area. Here is what to pack:

  • Drinking Water – You will need at least one gallon per person per day—the CDC recommends storing at least three days worth of water when preparing for a hurricane.
  • Food – Have at least three days worth of non-perishable food like cans, boxes, and pouches. Do not forget a can opener!
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Batteries
  • Flashlights
  • First Aid Kit
  • Whistle
  • Plastic Sheets and Duct Tape
  • Wet Wipes
  • Garbage bags
  • Phone Chargers
  • Battery Powered Charger
  • Cash
  • Plastic Utensils and Dishes
  • Writing Materials
  • Pain Killers like Ibuprofen
  • Baby Formula and bottles (if applicable)
  • Hand Soap
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Extra Clothes
  • Blanket

 

Prepare Your Home

There are some easy things you can do throughout the year to prepare for the next storm. These things will make it easier to secure your home when a storm warning is announced.

  • Check the seals on your doors and windows and repair if necessary
  • Shutter all your windows
  • Install heavy-duty bolts to all your doors
  • Upgrade to impact-resistant doors and windows
  • Check and upgrade the sealing on your roof
  • Fix broken shingles and tiles on your roof
  • Install metal roof straps
  • Trim tree branches within 10 feet of your house
  • Keep your gutters clear

 

By implementing these simple ideas and steps, you can make sure you and your family are as prepared as possible when a storm is heading for New Jersey.

Backyard Playground Set Safety Tips

Having a backyard playground set is an excellent opportunity to get the kids outside in the fresh air and sunshine. It can be a great asset to your home, as long as all safety precautions are considered. Here are some backyard playground set safety tips for all homeowners.

 

Professional Installation

Many homeowners opt to build their own playground sets. While this is an option, we recommend only taking on this task if you have professional carpentry or construction experience. Several things could be missed if you have never built something like a playset before, and corners should not be cut when it comes to kids’ safety. There are plenty of companies and individual carpenters that can install your playground for you. A quick internet search should be able to drum up local companies available for the job. Be sure to check reviews, references, and that they are fully insured beforehand.

Adult Supervision

While the point of installing a background playground set is to give your kids more freedom to play in the safety of their own backyard, parental supervision is still necessary. This doesn’t mean you have to be right on top of the playset, but be sure to have them within eyesight. Accidents can happen quickly, so children must not be left entirely on their own while playing on a playset.

Periodic Maintenance

While most home playgrounds are designed to last for years, it is important to periodically check them for damage or necessary repairs. Every month or two, go out and check the playset for cracks, loose screws or nails, or damaged equipment. Make sure you tell your kids to alert you to any broken components and that they should never play on damaged equipment. If your playground is wooden, applying a sealant once a year could prolong its life by several years.

 

Using these safety tips will ensure you have a fun, safe playground for your kids to play on for years to come.

What To Do When You Notice Water Damage In Your Home

Discovering water damage in your home is more than just an inconvenience. It could lead to expensive repairs and possibly unsafe conditions for your family. The important thing to remember is not to panic. Take a deep breath and read on to know what to do when you notice water damage in your home.

 

Safety First

Depending on the severity of the water damage you discover, you may need to vacate that area of your home. Avoid being in areas with sagging ceilings, dripping pipes, slippery floors, or contaminated water.

Identify the Source

This can sometimes be tricky, especially if you were not aware of any leaks or flooding prior to discovering the water damage. But if possible, you should always try to identify the source of the water. A small leak can sometimes be the sign of a much bigger problem, so finding it and contacting the proper companies to have it repaired can save you a lot of trouble in the long run. If you cannot find the source of the leak, contact a professional plumber right away.

Remove Valuables

If the area is safe to enter, be sure to remove any valuables in the room to prevent more damage. This does not just mean things with monetary value, remove anything that has importance to you like photo albums or family heirlooms as well.

Remove Rugs and Furniture

If the water damage is on or near the floor, remove all rugs, carpet padding, and furniture. Mold can develop quickly, so the sooner you move everything, the better.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Once you have done everything you can to protect your home, contact your insurance company about your damaged property. They will want as much detailed information as possible, including pictures.

 

Water damage happens, so it is essential to know how to handle it. When you are prepared, you can get through the situation calmly and safely.