Tips for Creating a Home Inventory

home_inventory

Do You Really Know What You Have In Your Home?

The other day I was talking with a friend about some fall cleaning that she was doing around her house. She was telling me how she found a bunch things in boxes and closets that she had completely forgot about. It’s always fun to rediscover…sort of like shopping without spending money.

Of course, my insurance brain kicked in, and I asked her if she had done a home inventory in case she had a fire. “No…when do I have time to do that?”, she said. Being an insurance person, it’s sort of an occupational hazard that I look at life through a lens of potential risks and “what if” scenarios. In all honesty, it’s been about 5 years since I’ve updated my own home inventory, and I need to get it done because I know that I couldn’t name everything I own from memory.

Given our busy lives and how much stuff we all have, it can seem like an impossible task to put together an inventory of everything. But, doing so helps you can make sure that you’ve got enough insurance to cover your personal property, and if you experience a loss, you’ll be able to settle a claim quicker and be more likely to get reimbursed for what you have.

The easiest way to start is by going through each room in your house, one at a time, making a list of items as you go. Don’t try to do it all in one day. That’s a sure fire way to get overwhelmed and give up before you get started. Break the project down over several days or weeks into manageable chunks.

A few quick ideas to help you create your inventory:

  • Take pictures with a time stamp on the image. On the back of the image, list the value, serial number, make and model number. If you’re storing it electronically, name the pictures and reference the description.
  • Take a video camera through your home and verbally describing all the items in your home.
  • If you have an iPhone® download a free app from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, myHOME Scr.APP.book app. It guides you through capturing images, writing descriptions, saving bar codes and serial numbers, and stores them all electronically.
  • Download a home inventory spreadsheet at http://www.vertex42.com/ExcelTemplates/inventory-spreadsheet.html .  A simple format for getting organized plus other tips on getting your inventory done.

As you go through your house, take note of any high value items that may need to be “scheduled” on your home insurance such as expensive jewelry, antiques, fine arts and collectibles, and contact your agent to discuss getting them listed.

So, as I tackle my own home inventory update, I hope you’ll join me it doing your own. Don’t put off getting started on your inventory. It’s easy to procrastinate, but just think of how good you’ll feel when it’s done!

P.S. Don’t store the only copy of your inventory in your home. If there is a fire, you don’t want your inventory destroyed along with your stuff. Make a copy and give it to a family member, friend or put it in a safe deposit box.

 

 

Source: Wayne Texeira Marketing Director, CFMP, AINS, AIS, API

 

What’s a “firenado”?

FirenadoThe Week in Severe Weather

What’s a “firenado”? Just ask the residents of San Diego County, California, where wildfires have been raging since Tuesday and where several swirling vortexes of fire were spotted in photos from the front lines. A column of smoke and flames even made its ways through one San Marcos neighborhood at midday on Thursday.

“It’s just like a spinning column of flames,” National Weather Service forecaster Michael Watkins told the LA Times. Firenadoes, or “fire whirls” as they’re known in the science community, can burn fuel at a rate that’s three to seven times faster than an open flame.

As many as 14 wildfires burned in the San Diego area this week, according to Aon Benfield’s weekly natural disaster report, with early damage estimates already reaching $20 million. More than 125,000 evacuation notices were issued at the height of the fires. The Poinsettia Fire near Carlsbad destroyed eight homes, a condominium complex and two commercial buildings before being contained on Friday. In Texas, two people were killed by wildfires in the Panhandle region, where fire destroyed at least 225 homes.

Photo: Twitter/Marcus Smith

As of Friday, officials were starting to life evacuation orders is some affected areas in California and there were hopes that cooler, calmer weather over the weekend would stop the fires’ spread.

Severe weather continues in the East

Strong thunderstorms continued to ravage the Central and Eastern U.S. this week, injuring more than 10 people and causing widespread damage across 10 states. There were 60 local storm reports of tornadoes this week, as well as 330 reports of damaging winds and 348 reports of hail. Between May 10-15 “thousands” of structures were damaged, according to Aon Benfield, with economic losses in the 100s of millions.

Overseas, heavy rains in southern and eastern China this week caused widespread flooding and landslides across six provinces, killing at least three and doing an estimated US $316 million worth of damages. Some 12,000 structures were damaged or destroyed. And five were killed in Serbia and Bosnia after the heaviest rains the Balkan region has seen in 120 years destroyed thousands of structures and did millions worth of damage.

Source:  Property Casualty 360

Better Business Bureau Warning – All Computer Users

Ransom1

Take Precautions to Prevent Your 

Computer from Being Taken Hostage

Ransomware – viruses that either lock or scramble your computer or Android device until a ransom of $300 to $400 is paid to restore functionality – is making the rounds again with a new twist: Displayed images impersonate law enforcement.

Ransomware, like other malware, arrives most commonly when you visit a malicious website or a website that’s been hacked. Victims get pop-up notices declaring that to have their files restored they must pay a ransom via money wire or Green Dot MoneyPak.

To avoid getting infected, ensure your computer’s software and anti-virus definitions are up-to-date and avoid suspicious sites. If your machine is already infected, do not pay the ransom. Instead, follow instructions provided by your anti-virus provider or contact a reputable security expert, who you’ve checked out at bbb.org, to assist in removing the malware.

Start With Trust. For more more consumer tips and information, visit bbb.org.

Source: bbb.org

Is One of The Biggest Dangers In Your Home Your Trampoline?

The-Trampoline

Home trampoline danger: 1M visits to ER, study says

 

INDIANAPOLIS — Boing, boing, boing … OWW! could be the anthem of the trampoline jumper — and that’s a good reason to ban the things, said an Indiana University researcher.

A new study from an Indiana University School of Medicine researcher finds that from 2002 to 2011, accidents on backyard trampolines accounted for nearly 289,000 visits to emergency rooms for broken bones. Factor in all accidents, not just fractures, and the tally rises to more than 1 million ER visits, according to the study which published online in theJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics.

“We are inundated with injuries,” said Dr. Randall T. Loder, chair of orthopaedic surgery at the Indiana University School of Medicine and the study’s lead author. “Kids need to be healthy and active, but this is not the way to do it.”

His study, the first to look at fractures related to trampoline use nationwide, found that over 10 years, trampolines caused an estimated 288,876 fractures, at a cost of more than $400 million. Trampoline injuries overall led to more than $1 billion in emergency room visits.

Loder, a surgeon at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, decided to do the study after seeing an increase in the number of patients with fractures suffered in backyard trampoline accidents.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended against backyard trampolines since 1999, and many homeowner insurance policies either prohibit them or have a clear exclusion for trampoline injuries.

Still, that doesn’t stop parents from purchasing them.

And some, such as Mark Publicover, dispute how dangerous trampolines are. Publicover invented the trampoline safety enclosure about 15 years ago and founded JumpSport Inc., a San Jose-based trampoline company.

If you compare the number of hours children spend jumping on trampolines compared with the time they spend in other activities such as biking or swimming in backyard pools or playing on swing sets, trampolines cause much fewer injuries, Publicover said.

“If you look at all of the high energy activities kids can play in, trampolines end up being pretty much the safest things that they can do,” said Publicover, who broke his leg on an earlier generation trampoline.

Eight years ago Jason Reese, a personal injury lawyer in Carmel, Ind., purchased a trampoline for his three kids, now 14, 11 and 9; two years ago he replaced it with a large one he considers safer. He also hires an inspector to check the net once a year.

Strict rules govern the use of the Reese family’s trampoline. No more than four kids at a time. A parent must be home. Don’t bounce against the safety net. And no one is to go airborne.

The only injuries from their trampoline? A few bloody noses.

“For the most part, like any other parenting thing, it comes down to supervision,” said Reese. “You can do it safely.”

Still, he’s amazed at what he sees in other people’s backyards, from trampolines that have no nets, to those that sit on uneven surfaces to trampolines with decaying mats that provide iffy support.

Little surprise that stories about trampoline-related injuries are rife in the suburbs.

According to Loder’s study, which included data from 100 hospitals nationwide, the number of injuries peaked in 2004 with about 110,000. Since then, the number has slowly dropped to an estimated 80,000 injuries in 2011.

Safety enclosures like the one Publicover invented, now standard on trampolines, no doubt have had much to do with the reduction in injuries, he said.

By 2004, 75% of trampolines had safety enclosures. At the same time, sales had gone from 600,000 a year just a few years ago to 1.2 million, Publicover said.

Doctors, however, would prefer to see much fewer injuries.

“Whether it’s 80,000 or 100,000, that’s still a huge number of totally preventable injuries,” Loder said. “The way to prevent it is not to go on it at all. There are lots of other ways to get exercise.”

The most common trampoline-related injury that Loder sees at Riley is an elbow fracture, which in some cases requires immediate surgery. Knee fractures that threaten growth plates and require surgery also are common, he said.

On average, patients were 9 years old; though those who have injuries of the spine, head, ribs and sternum — accounting for 4% of the injuries seen — had an average age of nearly 17, perhaps because they are bigger and can jump harder.

The study looked only at backyard trampolines and did not include trampoline parks. Almost all of the fractures, 95%, happened at the injured person’s home.

Loder does not question the appeal of trampolines, just whether they’re worth the risk.

“I’m sure they’re fun,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it that they’re fun. They’re fun up until the time they get the injury.”

Source: http://www.9news.com

 

3 Tips on Fireproofing Your Home

wildfire

Although wildfires are most common in the west, they can happen anywhere in the U.S. There are many ways to prepare your home for an unlikely fire that go beyond keeping a fire extinguisher handy—especially in the case of naturally-occurring fires caused by arid conditions and other environmental conditions. Discover key tips on fireproofing your house from The Hartford Disaster Prep page.

Do Your Homework

Knowing your area’s risk for wildfires is the first step in your process of fireproofing your house. If you know that your neighborhood is affected by wildfires often, and when they are likely to occur, do an inventory of the flammable items around your house. This includes landscaping; avoid keeping plants, trees or dead plants too close to the house during wildfire season for your area.

In addition to inspecting the exterior of your home, take a look around inside. Check that your smoke detectors are working and if not, replace the batteries. You’ll also want to keep an emergency kit with essentials on hand in the event you need to evacuate. In addition to an emergency kit, implement a routine practice of an emergency plan the entire family knows.

What to Take

Your emergency kit should include the following: first aid supplies, blankets and any personal items you may need (medications, toiletries, clothing) as well as necessities for any pets. For additional tips on disaster preparedness, check out The Hartford’s Center for Mature Market Excellence’s disaster prep guidebook.

Minimize Damage

If there have been reports of wildfires nearby, it’s important to prepare your home even if you have been ordered to evacuate. Once your emergency kit is ready, and you know what you will take and leave behind, hose down the house, roof and surrounding area, (time-permitting, of course). Also be sure to turn off the gas to your house to lower your risk.

For a complete list of how to fireproof and prepare for wildfires, visit The Hartford’s Wildfire Safety page.

If your in need of Homeowner’s Insurance please contact Long’s Insurance Agency today for a free no hassle quote!  We can handle all of your insurance needs from Home and Auto, to Health and Life and your business needs.

 

Source:  thehartfordmile.com

 

 

 

Be Prepared, Have An Escape Plan!

FirefightersWhen firefighters arrive at a fire, they do a ‘scene size-up’ – identifying where the fire is, where it is spreading, and the location of the primary and secondary exits.  It’s a routine that can save your life – and you don’t need res suspenders and a helmet to do it.

Prior to a fire, have an escape plan and practice it!!  You’ve been hearing that since grade school.  But did you listen?  You should not only do drills at home (and in the dark), but also form a habit of familiarizing yourself with ‘points of egress’ everywhere you go.

If a fire does occur, remember this slogan:  Get Out, Stay Out.  Staying out is critically important.

 

Source: Men’s Health

Do You Feel Like Your Home is Secure when You are Away?

6 Ways to Secure Your Home When You’re Away

Did you know that statistically a burglary occurs in the United States every 14.4 seconds? (At least according to the FBI.)  Are you doing what you can to adequately secure your home while you’re gone?

According to data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, burglaries accounted for an estimated $4.8 billion in lost property in 2011, with an average individual loss of $2,185. The affects go beyond money. As a person who’s been the victim of a burglary, there’s an accompanying feeling of violation that takes some time to shake.

As the Philadelphia Police Blog puts it, security is a mindset, but it doesn’t have to be a burden. Simple things like setting some lights on timers can make a big difference. Take some time to consider your worst-case scenario in a burglary and do something to prevent it. If that leads you to back up your computer or take a quick inventory of your belongings—great.

Whether you’re going away for ten days or two nights, here are some more simple things you do to secure your home:

  • Get to know your neighbors. Let trusted ones know you are leaving and ask them to keep an eye on your home. (Our neighbors were able to stop the people breaking into our garage from getting away with more.) Have them pick up your mail/newspaper, or stop those deliveries for the duration of your trip because a pile of mail is an easy indicator that someone isn’t home.
  • Resist social media! Don’t announce your travel plans on Twitter or Facebook. If you can’t stop making non-vacation related updates, at least turn off the location status on any public forum so people don’t know how far you are from home.
  • Make your place look lived in. Set your outside lights so at least one stays on at night and put timers on your indoor lighting so they go on and off at random intervals. You can even get a product that looks like you’re watching TV when you’re not.
  • Hide obvious temptations. Have an awesome grill? Place it in a locked shed. Can you see in your windows? Don’t leave something valuable near them.
  • Use your locks. A quality deadbolt lock is the first defense from an intruder entering your home, but it only works when it’s used. And don’t hide a spare key outside. Criminals have more experience finding spare keys than you have hiding keys. If you need to leave a key somewhere, leave it with a trusted neighbor.
  • And personally, if you have a car parked outside, do not leave a garage door opener in it. That’s how our garage was broken into. I’ll never make that mistake again.

 

The last thing you want to have to deal with while you’re gone is a broken-into home.

No matter where you travel, do what you can to keep your family and your home safe. And if you’re in the market for insurance, consider giving a Long’s Insurance Agency a call. We are your one stop shop for any insurance needs you may have.  Call us today!

 

Source: Foremost Blog

Maintaining a Fire Safe Home

As winter continues to make a comeback, the risk of residential fires goes up. Heating is the second leading cause of home fires, accounting for 14 percent of all residential fires across the nation. In many cases, these tragic events can be avoided by taking a few simple precautions.

The following recommendations have been made by the United States Fire Administration (USFA):  
    • Hire a qualified professional to clean and inspect your furnace, chimneys, and other heating equipment on an annual basis.
    • Only use heating equipment that has been approved by a recognized testing laboratory.
    • Maintain adequate space around all heating equipment. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heat sources.
    • When using space heaters, plug them directly into electrical outlets rather than using extension cords or power strips.
    • Install carbon monoxide alarms and smoke detectors in your home.  Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for placement of these alarms, and replace the batteries at least once per year.

     

    Source:  State Auto Twitter

Tips to Prevent Water Damage

Rain drops Water is everywhere.  We use it to cook, clean and play.  Unfortunately, water in the wrong place can cause damage to your home and belongings.

 WASHING MACHINES

  • Do not operate the washing machine while the home is unoccupied.
  • Leave a three to four-inch gap between the back of the washing machine and the wall to avoid kinking the hose near the valve connection. Leaking washer
  • Inspect the water supply line hoses every six months.  Ensure that the connection to the valve is secure, but avoid over-tightening.
  • Check the hoses for cracks, kinks or blisters, which are most commonly found near the hose connection.

 

 

WATER HEATERS

  • Have a professional plumbing inspection of the anode rod at least once every two years and annually once the warranty has expired.  The rod will eventually corrode and leave the tank vulnerable to damage.
  • Remove sediment by flushing the tank every six months.  Sediment will build up faster in areas with hard water.

PLUMBING SUPPLY AND DRAINAGE SYSTEMS

  • Visually inspect plumbing pipes annually; look for condensation around the pipes or obvious leaks or corrosion.
  • Pay attention to your water bill.  A significant increase could indicate a leak.
  • Call a plumber at first signs of rust-colored water, backed-up toilets or sinks and cracked or warped flooring.
  • Insulate pipes in attics, basements and exposed exterior pipes to avoid freezing.

ICEMAKERSice-maker-line-repair-notext

  • Proper Installation of the icemaker supply line hose is important to avoid water damage.
  • Tightly connect the hose to the valve.  Avoid over-tightening.
  • Leave a three to four-inch space between the back of the refrigerator and the wall to prevent the hose from crimping.
  • Inspect the hose and valve every six months.

SINKS

  • Inspect plumbing beneath sinks every six months.
  • Ensure connections are secure and there is no evidence of corrosion on the pipes.
  • Look for kinks in copper or plastic pipes.
  • Inspect the water shut off valve every six month and replace the valve if needed.

ROOFS

  • Consider a professional roof inspection.
  • Request a detailed inspection report that includes the condition of the flashing, roof covering, parapets and drainage system.
  • Repairs are needed if:    *There are cracked or missing shingles or loose or missing granules    *Flashing has deteriorated, particularly around chimneys and vents  *Pooling water is present
  • In areas prone to freezing and heavy snowfall, insulate to prevent heat from entering the attic space.
  • In areas prone to wind and hail consider an impact-resistant roof covering.

SHOWERS

  • Inspect tile and grout every six months, paying attention to loose or cracked tiles and cracked or crumbling grout lines.  Repair as needed.
  • Test the shower pan annually: *Block the floor drain. Fill the shower stall with approximately one inch of water. Use a pencil to mark the water line. Leave the water standing in the shower pan for eight hours. If the water level decreases, contact a plumbing professional.

SUMP PUMPS

  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for sump pump maintenance.  These vary from running the sump pump every two to three months to a yearly cleaning before the rainy season.
  • To inspect a sump pump: *Open the lid and remove debris that may be blocking the water inlet screen. Pour approximately five gallons of water into the pump and watch the float valve rise. As the float valve rises, the pump should turn on and the water should discharge through the outlet pipe. Go outside and inspect the outlet pipe. Water should be flowing away from the home. If the sump pump fails to operate during this inspection, contact a plumbing professional.
  • Install a battery backup system
  • Choose a system with a battery replacement warning.

Leaky toilet TOILETS

  • Inspect the flushing mechanism inside the toilet every six months. The fill valve should shut off when the float reaches the proper water level.
  • Replace the flapper or fill valve assembly if you notice intermittent or constant tank refilling when the toilet is in use.
  • Inspect the supply line every six months and ensure the connection to the valve is secure.

 

 

 

 

Source:  Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety Via State Auto