Distracted Driving: It’s not just about Cell Phones and Texting

distracted-driverTalking and texting on cell phones are the most frequently talked about concerns involving accidents and distracted driving, with texting now taking the lead over concerns about drivers who talk on their cell phones while operating a vehicle.

Among the concerns that cell phone use raises is that drivers often become so focused on the conversation they’re having that it distracts them from attention to the road. Several research studies have found that even intense listening on a cell phone can impair driver attention on the road. Cell phone use, even with a hands-free device, can create a situation where drivers develop a potentially lethal form of tunnel vision that creates what researchers called inattention blindness.

Researchers found that inattention blindness slows driver reaction time by 20 percent and that some tests subjects missed half the red lights they encountered in simulated driving.

They reported that the research subjects took in a reduced amount of information while on the phone. They missed things like swerving cars and sudden lane changes, which resulted in several simulated rear-end collisions.

Texting Takes Over As Bad Driver Behavior

Texting on cell phones is now considered an even more serious problem than talking on a cell phone, because it requires looking down at the message the sender is creating while moving fingers that should be on the steering wheel. In addition to not looking where they are going, text message senders are usually focused on their message—not on their driving. Experts tell us that taking your eyes off the road for even one to two seconds can make the difference between avoiding a crash and causing one.

Texting is a particularly serious concern because while 20 percent of drivers admit to texting, when you look at drivers in the age 18-24 year old category, 66 percent are sending or receiving text messages while driving. Add the distraction of text messaging to young driver inexperience and you’ve got a particularly lethal combination.

Currently only a few states outlaw texting while driving, fewer than those that prohibit talking on cell phones when driving, but more states are looking at making it illegal in the wake of a series of spectacular crashes with deadly results.

There’s no doubt having a cell phone with you when you travel is a great resource to use in calling for help or reporting trouble on the road. But whether you use a handhe phone or a hands free device, researchers and safety specialists agree that the only really safe way to use your phone—whether to call or to text message—is to safely pull off the road, stop and then make your call.

Stay safe wherever you choose to go on the road. Your safety is number one to us. For peace of mind on the road, contact Long’s Insurance Agency to talk about an auto insurance policy.

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

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

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

Tips for Surviving Severe Cold Weather

Extreme ColdMuch of the country periodically experiences severe and sustained cold weather, with snowfalls interspersed with periods of melting and freezing. This can inflict considerable damage on homes.
Here are some tips and steps you can take to keep your home safe and make insurance losses less likely during extended severe weather.

  • Keep sidewalks and entrances to your home free from snow and ice.
  • Watch for ice dams near gutter downspouts. Keep gutters free of leaves and debris so melting snow and ice can flow freely. Ice dams can cause water to build up and seep into your house.
  • Keep the house heated to a minimum of 65 degrees. The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. A temperature lower than 65 degrees will not keep the inside walls from freezing.
  • Identify the location for the main water shutoff in your home. Find out how it works in case you have to use it.
  • Open hot and cold faucets enough to let them drip slowly. Keeping water moving within the pipes will prevent freezing.
  • If you own a swimming pool and temperatures are expected to dip below freezing, run the pool pump at night to keep the water flowing through the pipes.
  • If you haven’t already, make sure all hoses are disconnected from outside spigots.
  • If your garage is attached to your house, keep the garage doors closed. The door leading to the house is probably not as well-insulated as an exterior door.
  • If ice forms on tree limbs, watch for dead, damaged or dangerous branches that could break and fall because of ice, snow or wind and damage your house, a car, or injure someone walking near your property.
  • If you use fireplaces, wood stoves and electric heaters, watch them closely and make sure they are working properly.
  • Remember to close the flue in your fireplace when you’re not using it.
  • If you have to leave your home on a trip, ask a neighbor to check the house regularly. If there is a problem with frozen pipes or water leakage, attending to it quickly could mean far less damage.
  • If you plan to be away for an extended period of time (or if temperatures are expected to remain below freezing), have the water system, including pool plumbing, have the water system drained by a professional to keep pipes from freezing or bursting.

A Worst-Case Scenario

  • If you discover that pipes are frozen, don’t wait for them to burst. Take measures to thaw them immediately, or call a plumber for assistance.
  • If your pipes burst, first turn off the water and then mop up spills. You don’t want the water to do more damage than it already has.
  • Call your agent or company as soon as you can. An insurance adjuster doesn’t need to see the spill before you take action. However, he or she will want to inspect any damaged items.
  • Make temporary repairs and take other steps to protect your property from further damage. Remove any carpet or furniture that can be further damaged from seepage.
  • Make a list of the damaged articles.
  • Save the receipts for what you spend—including additional living expenses if you must leave your home until repairs are completed—and submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.

Standard homeowners policies will cover most of the kinds of damage that result from a freeze. For example, if house pipes freeze and burst or if ice forms in gutters and causes water to back up under roof shingles and seep into the house. You would also be covered if the weight of snow or ice damages your house.
However, most policies do not cover backups in sewers and drains or flood damage, which can also happen in winter. To be covered for flooding, you need a policy from the National Flood Insurance Program, while coverage for sewers and drains is generally offered as an endorsement to a standard homeowners insurance policy.
If your home suffers water damage, it is important to make sure that it is properly dried and repaired to prevent any potential problem with mold. Remember, mold can not survive without moisture.
Check with your agent or company so you’ll be sure what your policy covers.

If you are looking for Home Owners Insurance or just what someone to look at your current policy to ensure that you do have adequate coverage, give Long’s Insurance Agency a call!  It’s a free call for your peace of mind.  Now serving the greater Denver area!

 

Source: http://www.iii.org

Umbrella Insurance…Why should I have it?

Umbrella InsHave you ever heard about an Umbrella Insurance Policy and thought, I have no idea why I would need that?

Here are a few things to know about Umbrella Insurance:

  • A lot of coverage costs you very little.   $1 million in coverage can run as little as $250 to $400 annually.
  • An umbrella policy pays for legal fees and settlements above your regular insurance limits.  Without it, your wages and assets may be at stake.
  • Liability risks are everywhere.  Have a teen driver?  Host a lot of parties?  Got a pool, hot tub, or boat?  Employ a nanny or housecleaner?  You have risk factors.
  • You’re insuring against the worst-case scenario, so an umbrella is most useful for protecting your net worth.

Questions about Umbrella Insurance?  Contact Long’s Insurance Agency and we can help you determine what insurance policies are right for you!  Now servicing Greeley, Boulder, Longmont, Denver just to name a few.  Call us today!

Source:  Money