Sump Pump/Water Backup Coverage – Why You Need It

Sump Pump/Water Backup Coverage – Why You Need It

It’s something we all hope never happens to us: a sewer backup or sump pump failure, but a flooded home caused by this event can happen to anyone at any time. In fact, any home with a toilet and a sink is susceptible.

It’s important to note that damage caused by a sewer backup or sump pump failure is not covered under your standard homeowner’s insurance policy. When you purchase your policy or call in for a policy review you will need to add-on Sump Pump/Water Backup Coverage. Without this endorsement, you’ll be paying for the damage yourself.

Here are five reasons to have water backup/sump pump overflow coverage:

  1. It can happen to any system
  2. Just a couple inches of water backup can cause thousands of dollars in damage – ruining carpets, destroying appliances, and crumbling drywall
  3. It helps speed up the necessary clean-up, preventing mold and further damage
  4. It’s not covered under flood insurance
  5. It’s relatively inexpensive!

If you live in an older home, one that has a basement and/or a sump pump, and there have been problems with backed-up sewers in your neighborhood, you should definitely consider adding water backup and sump discharge or overflow coverage to your homeowner’s insurance policy.

With a California Casualty water backup endorsement, you’ll have as much as $10,000 to clean up and repair damage (amount varies by state). Review your policy and if you don’t have a water backup endorsement, or don’t know if you do, contact a California Casualty advisor today at 1.800.800.9410 option 3, or email service@calcas.com.

 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

November Home Checklist

November Home Checklist

It’s the beginning of the holiday season. In the coming weeks, you’ll be hosting guests, gathering with family, and celebrating in your home.

As a host, there’s a lot to do, so we’re here to help you get organized. From fall home safety updates to getting ready to entertain, we’ve got your November Home Checklist.

 

Entertaining

Entertaining is a big part of the season, no matter which holiday you celebrate. Here’s how to get your home ready.

 

Clean and prepare guest rooms.

Are you going to be hosting guests? Get a jump start on preparing the guest room. That way, you can give it a quick touch-up just before your guests arrive.

• Make the bed with fresh linens.
• Dust, vacuum and clear out any clutter. Empty the waste basket.
• Clear out the closet. Make sure there are empty hangers and room for a suitcase. Put an empty laundry basket in the closet for your guest’s dirty clothes.
• Set up the nightstand with a box of tissues, and don’t forget to leave the WiFi password!

 

Deep clean your bathrooms.

Whether or not your guests stay over, they will be using the bathroom. Do a deep clean of all of your bathrooms, but especially the ones your guests may use.

• Wash all washable items such as towels and mats.
• Scrub the shower, tub, and toilet.
• Clean the floors, walls, mirrors, and vanity. Dust the blinds.
• For overnight guests: Add a basket of travel-size toiletries your guests may have forgotten to pack.

 

Get your linens and serving pieces ready.

Whether you’ll be using the fine linens and China, or saving yourself some time and choosing to go with disposable utensils, make sure they are ready to go when you are.

• Launder and press fancy linens and napkins.
• Sharpen your kitchen knives. You’ll be doing a lot of cooking.
• Stock up on disposable items to get you through multiple snacks and meals.
• Pull out your favorite holiday pieces, inspect them and clean them.

Pro tip: Roll up fancy linens on old wrapping paper tubes to store them in a way that prevents wrinkles.

 

Decorate inside and out.

If you love to decorate for the holidays, now is the time to start. Make a realistic plan for your décor so you can ensure it’s safe and so it’s not too overwhelming.

• Many holiday traditions revolve around light. Add lights or candles, but keep fire safety in mind. Don’t overload extension cords.
• Decorate with a shopping bag nearby so you can easily toss old items you no longer use. You can donate or trash them.
• Immediately get donations out of your house by boxing them up and putting them in your car.
• Keep your holiday spending on budget whether for décor, entertaining, or gifts.

Pro Tip: To make decorating easier next year, take a picture of each room so you can easily duplicate it.

 

 

Home Maintenance

You’ll need to perform fall maintenance for your appliances and home systems. In addition, you’ll want to address common problem areas before they become problems during the holiday season.

 

Fix any plumbing issues.

That slow drain, finicky toilet, or nonworking garbage disposal can get worse over time. Take the time to look at these and see if you can DIY a fix or if they need professional help.

• Clean your garbage disposal to prevent it from growing bacteria.
• Use a “snake” tool to pull up debris from a slow drain.
• Fix your dripping faucets and address your running toilets, both of which can waste water on a daily basis.
• Make sure your sump pump is working before rainy season.

 

Cover gaps in your home.

Mice can squeeze through a gap that is about the width of a pencil. Bugs can enter even tinier cracks. To prevent rodents and bugs from taking refuge in your nice warm home, you will want to check your home for any gaps and cover them.

• You can use caulk to seal skinny gaps, squirt foam for medium-size gaps, and wire mesh and plaster for larger ones. Cover exterior vents with hardware cloth, a type of wire mesh.
• Common places for gaps are around doors and windows, where pipes and wires enter your home, or vents for exhaust fans. You also may find gaps where the wall and floor connect, and inside and around cabinets.
• Attach door sweeps to the bottoms of exterior doors.

 

Guard against carbon monoxide poisoning.

With the stove and fireplace in use, a buildup of carbon monoxide is common. Carbon monoxide is produced when we burn gasoline, wood, propane, charcoal, and other fuel. This gas is colorless and odorless, and can be deadly.

• Install battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors in your home (and replace the batteries each spring and fall).
• Have a professional check your heating system, water heater, and any gas or oil-burning appliances every year.
• Be careful about burning any fuels inside your home. Make sure there is proper ventilation.
• Be aware of the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning: headache, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath, and confusion. Get outside to fresh air, and seek medical attention.

 

Protect against slips and falls.

You and your guests will be walking in and around your house this season. Make sure the walkways are safe.

• Do a walk-through inside and outside your home. Make sure that there are no obstructions on common paths.
• Check that stairs and paths inside and out are well-lit. Falls can happen when you can’t easily see where you are going.
• Check railings to make sure they are secure and not wobbly.
• If you’re using a ladder for holiday decorations, make sure it is sturdy. Place it on firm, level ground. Maintain 3 points of contact whenever you climb it.

 

 

Other

Do your fall yard cleanup.

It will be winter soon. Make sure you have cleared your yard and prepared it for what’s to come so you will avoid any winter home hazards.

• Finish raking any leaves. Use a tarp to haul them to the curb or to a compost pile. Or you could run your lawn mower over them to shred them. They will decompose into a natural fertilizer.
• Remove any dead shrubs or trees. (Check for signs of life by scratching the bark at the base. If you see green, it’s alive.)
• Bring in, or cover, patio furniture.
• Only cut your grass if it is still growing. Once it’s below 50 degrees consistently, you can put your mower away.

 

Stock up for the winter

It’s been a while since you’ve had to use your winter gear. Make sure that it’s there and in good shape, and replace what is needed.

• Check your snow shovels, ice scrapers, and other snow tools.
• Service your snow blower and buy fuel.
• Order firewood if you use it.
• Pick up a bag of pet-safe ice melt.
• Restock emergency kits.

 

Check in on your home insurance policy.

For added peace of mind, check with your insurer and make sure your homeowner’s policy covers your current needs. Ask your provider about how to lower your home insurance costs.

What else is on your November Home Checklist? Tell us in the comments.

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

 

The Benefits of Bundling Your Coverages

The Benefits of Bundling Your Coverages

Do you want to save money on your insurance payments? Did you know there’s a way to do that without raising your deductible or lowering your coverage? The answer is bundling.

What is bundling? It’s a term to describe a multi-policy discount. If you have more than one policy with an insurance company, you may bundle those policies and, in the process, you can save on all.

Here’s why you might consider bundling:

    • Bundling can save you money. Depending upon the amount of coverage for your policies, and your state, you can save from 5% to 25%.
    • Bundling is convenient. It simplifies bill paying and record keeping since you interact with just one insurer.
    • Bundling can help ensure you are fully covered. Having all policies with one company allows your insurance advisor to review any gaps in coverage.

There are many different ways to bundle your insurance.

 

home insurance

Homeowner’s Insurance Bundles

Your home is one of your greatest investments; you need to make sure that it’s fully protected. There are plenty of decisions to make when buying your own policy- from coverage limits to extra protection for your belongings. One of those decisions might be to incorporate additional coverage to enhance your policy. When you bundle those with your home insurance, you can save money.

You can choose to bundle your home insurance with:

  • Sump pump endorsement: A sump pump is a device that collects excess water and drains it outside your home. Sump pump coverage covers the costs of repair and replacement in the event of a sump pump failure. Just a couple inches of water backup can cause thousands of dollars in damage – ruining carpets, destroying appliances, and crumbling drywall.

 

  • Flood insurance: Regular home insurance does not cover flood damage. That’s why many people in flood zones purchase this extra policy. There is a 30-day waiting period to buy flood insurance, so take that into consideration.

 

  • Auto insurance: If you have a vehicle, you likely have liability, collision, and/or comprehensive insurance. Liability coverage is used to pay for damages that you cause. Collision coverage helps to pay to repair your vehicle or get one of equivalent cash value if yours is totaled. Comprehensive coverage is for damage to your vehicle other than collisions, such as natural disasters, fires, vandalism, theft, and animals that damage your vehicle.

 

  • College students and renter’s insurance: If your college student* lives away at school, his or her belongings are covered by your homeowner’s policy at 10% of the limit of liability or $1,000, whichever is greater. You may want more coverage than 10%. Talk to your insurance advisor about expanding limits, such as an umbrella policy to cover expensive items your student is bringing to college. Alternatively, consider purchasing renter’s insurance for your college student for an off-campus apartment. Renter’s insurance not only protects your student’s possessions but offers them emergency housing if they are unable to reside in the rental unit. Renter’s insurance is surprisingly affordable, so when you bundle it with your homeowner’s, it could practically be free!

*Note that college students must meet certain requirements in order to qualify as an insured on your homeowner’s policy. This includes age limitations, family relationship, and full-time enrollment in school. In the event of theft coverage, they must have lived in the location 60 days immediately before the loss.

 

  • Earthquake Insurance: If you live in an area that is prone to earthquakes, you may want to consider this additional coverage. Homeowner, condo, and rental insurance policies typically do not cover earthquakes.

 

  • Umbrella policies: This type of policy provides additional personal liability insurance that starts to pay after your underlying limits of liability on your home insurance policy have been exhausted after a covered loss. While there’s no way to know for sure how much liability coverage you may need, understanding what you stand to lose is a good place to start. If you’re being sued, it’s possible that equity in your home, your personal savings, and your income may be at risk. If the value of two years of your annual income, the equity in your home, and your savings exceed the liability limits on your auto or home insurance policies, then you should consider an umbrella policy to protect your net worth.

 

 

renters insurance

Renter’s Insurance Bundles

Renter’s insurance is like homeowner’s insurance but for tenants. Starting at about $10 a month, it protects your personal belongings (that’s right, your landlord’s insurance policy will not cover your belongings) but that’s not all. It’s an important safeguard if you’re found at fault for property damage or injuries at your place (and even around the world). It also can help if you don’t have access to your apartment or home due to a covered loss.

You can choose to bundle your renter’s insurance with:

  • Auto insurance: As described above, auto insurance helps protect you in the event of an accident or other damage to your car. When you bundle your renter’s policy with an auto policy that you already have, the savings can be substantial.

 

  • Pet insurance: Our pets are like family and we want to keep them as healthy as possible. Pet insurance can help to offset those veterinary expenses. Depending on your policy, pet insurance may cover exams, prescriptions, lab tests and x-rays, surgeries, emergency visits, and even cancer. You make the initial payment and then are reimbursed depending upon the deductible and limits that you have selected. (Pet insurance also may be bundled with homeowner’s, too.)

 

 

auto insurance

Auto Insurance Bundles

Auto and homeowner’s insurance, and auto and renter’s policies, are among the most popular types of insurance bundles. However, you also may wish to bundle your car insurance with a boat policy.

  • Boats and personal watercraft: If you have a boat, you will need a boat insurance policy. You also need a separate policy for personal watercraft such as jet skis. The policies protect you from vandalism, accidents, and liability for injuries to others.

*Note that motorcycle insurance is not eligible for a bundling discount. However, if you live in a cold climate state, and only ride your bike in warmer months, you can ask about seasonal coverage.

Each year, California Casualty policyholders save an average of $423* a year. That could be even more if you decide to bundle your coverages. See how much you can save and get started with a free quote today at mycalcas.com/quote.

 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Common Causes of a Flooded Basement

Common Causes of a Flooded Basement

Imagine walking downstairs and seeing your basement filled with water and your precious possessions floating around… It’s not something anyone wants to ever experience, but unfortunately, it’s something that many Americans deal with each rainy season.

A flooded basement can cost you thousands (maybe more), and it’s not just in lost belongings. Flooding can cause damage to your walls and floor and also lead to mold, mildew, and other health hazards.

Sometimes flooding is a one-time occurrence. Oftentimes, it is more frequent. Knowing the triggers of flooding can help you take steps to keep your basement dry and your possessions safe. Here are the common causes of a flooded basement. Pro Tip – You can help protect against many of them with flood insurance.

1. Location

Your location is one of the key reasons that your home floods. You may live in a low-lying area prone to flash floods. Your home may sit at the bottom of a hill, drawing precipitation toward it. If the land around your home is sloped down toward it, there could be a risk of your basement flooding. Take a critical look at your property. Look for depressions or standing water around your home, in the ground, or with pavement that has settled or deteriorated. These are areas that you will want to address.

What you can do: Fill the depressions in the ground with a mound of soil to create a slope away from your home. Use clay-based rather than sandy soil, as it will help to repel the water. Remove and/or replace pavement, and again, slope it away from your home. If a hill next to your house is causing the problem, a civil engineer may be able to provide some guidance.

 

2. Weatherproofing

During construction, your home’s foundation, and your basement’s walls and floor, should have received a coating of sealant to keep water out. However, sealants can deteriorate over time, allowing surface water to leak in. Surface water also can pool around your home due to the location and settings of your lawn irrigation system. Both of these issues are relatively simple to fix.

What you can do: Avoid placing irrigation next to the house, or limit water dispersed there. Make sure your irrigation system does not turn on when there has been plenty of rain. You also can take steps to reseal your basement. Use a polyurethane caulk designed for masonry to seal any cracks or gaps that are larger than 1/8 inch wide. (For finished basements, consult your local hardware store for options.) Then apply a waterproof coating to your basement’s walls and floor. You also can use waterproof paint.

 

3. Groundwater

If surface water is not the issue, groundwater might be. Underground pressure can push the water into your basement through cracks or holes. If you notice water coming up through the concrete floor, or coming in from multiple points, this could indicate groundwater.

What you can do: A perimeter drain system can help. Such systems relieve the pressure and use gravity to pull the water to the sides and down. They can be installed above or below the slab. An under-floor system may be better but it is more expensive. It requires some of the concrete floor to be removed in order to install the drainage pipes. If you already have a drainage system, such as drain tile or weeping tile, and you are still seeing water or moisture, it’s possible that you need to replace it. Those systems may degrade over time.

 

4. Clogged Gutters and Downspouts

It’s not unusual for gutters to be clogged with leaves and other debris. This prevents them from effectively doing their job, which is draining the water into a downspout and away from your home. Improperly positioned or broken downspouts also contribute to the problem. Water that drains too close to your house not only can create flooding; it can erode soil which can lead to further problems.

What you can do: Clean your gutters a few times a year. Install a gutter guard to reduce future clogs. Make sure your downspout drains far enough from the wall, at least 5-6 feet. Some experts suggest as much as 10 feet.

 

5. Plumbing Leaks

If you notice a large amount of water quickly, it could be a plumbing leak. Broken, cracked, and clogged pipes can cause this type of emergency. During winter months, water freezes and expands, sometimes bursting pipes. All of these issues can cause your basement to flood.

What you can do: Most likely, your pipes have to be replaced. Call your plumber to repair the issue as soon as possible.

 

6. Sump Pump Failure

You may have a sump pump installed, a device that collects excess water and drains it outside your home. A sump pump is powered by electricity, and therefore only works when there is power. Consider buying a sump pump with backup battery power to avoid any interruptions. If your sump pump fails because of lack of power, or because it is not working properly, that could cause your basement to flood.

What you can do: Regular inspection, cleaning, and testing your sump pump can help. Consider an add-on to your homeowner’s insurance of sump pump discharge or overflow coverage. This can help cover the costs of repair and replacement in the event of a sump pump failure.

 

7. Sewer Backup

Heavy rain can sometimes back up the municipal sewer system. Sewer backups also may occur due to sewer lines that are clogged with waste, tree roots, or other debris. When these things happen, flooding in your basement can occur, and the results will, at minimum, be smelly.

What you can do: If your basement is flooded with sewage, get professional help to clean it. You also will likely need to get the local government involved. Finally, you can install backflow preventers to help keep the sewage out of your house.

If your basement does flood, know that an insurance policy can help cover the costs. Many people don’t realize that a traditional homeowner’s insurance does not cover floods. For that, you will need a separate policy. If you’re in a flood zone, you will want that extra insurance.

There is a 30-day waiting period to buy flood insurance, so with the rainy season upon us don’t wait until the last minute!

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

 

Common Home Insurance Purchasing Mistakes

Common Home Insurance Purchasing Mistakes

Your home is one of your greatest investments; you need to make sure that it’s fully protected. That’s where home insurance comes in, but it’s not one-size-fits-all. There are plenty of decisions to make when buying your own policy- from coverage limits and extra protection for your belongings to important add-ons like water back up and sump pump discharge or overflow coverage and flood insurance.

It’s easy to make a quick choice when looking for insurance without realizing there could be major consequences (that could cost you thousands of dollars out-of-pocket). That’s why we’ve compiled the most common home insurance purchasing mistakes, so that you won’t make them.

 

Don’t just look at the price.

Of course, you want a good price. However, sometimes a cheap policy is a red flag. The company may be shady. Talk to friends and neighbors about companies they use. See which ones are endorsed by your union, bank, etc. If you’re worried that the price is “too good to be true,” check the coverage to make sure it’s not missing important items. Also, consider that there are many ways to lower your home insurance costs if price is a concern.

 

Don’t buy the wrong type of policy.

There’s a different policy for insuring your home when you’re living in it, versus insuring your home when you’re renting it out. Make sure your policy addresses your living situation. If you have the wrong type of policy, there is a chance your claim may not be covered.

 

Don’t underinsure your home.

It may be tempting to insure your home for the amount that you owe on it, and nothing more. Don’t do it. If your home is worth $350,000 and you owe $50,000 on the mortgage, you should insure your home for the full amount. If you insure it just for $50,000, that’s what you’ll get if your home is declared a total loss. All of that money will go to the bank and you’ll be left with nothing to rebuild. That’s why at California Casualty, we don’t write a policy unless it covers 100% of the replacement cost. Ask us about our 360Value tool which makes sure you’re insured for full value.

 

Don’t reduce your coverage to lower your premium.

If you’re using a company other than California Casualty, and you decide to reduce your coverage below your home’s value to lower your premium, you’re putting yourself at risk. You won’t have enough money to rebuild. The better way to go is to raise your deductible. This is the amount that you pay out-of-pocket before insurance kicks in. You can do this to save money with your California Casualty policy, too. According to NerdWallet, you could save 20 percent by raising a $500 deductible to $1,000. If you do increase your deductible, make sure that you can cover that deductible should something happen.

 

Don’t think flood or earthquake insurance is automatically included.

Many people don’t realize that homeowner’s insurance does not include floods or earthquakes. For that, you will need a separate policy. If you’re in a flood zone, you will want that extra insurance. There’s a 30-day waiting period to buy flood insurance so don’t wait until the last minute. Live in an earthquake-prone zone? The same principles apply and you will not be covered by just a regular home insurance policy.

 

Don’t skip the additional coverage.

As with floods and earthquakes, not everything is covered in your basic policy. Know what is covered and what is not covered so that you aren’t surprised in the event of a loss. Take an inventory of your possessions. Make sure your policy covers the valuables in your home. There’s a theft limit to jewelry coverage, and so you might need an insurance rider, an optional add-on to your policy. 

You might want additional coverage for water backup and sump pump discharge or overflow. 

If you’re a member of a homeowner’s association, you might consider increasing your loss assessments coverage which goes toward special assessments for expenses associated with your community. However, you may be surprised at what your policy does cover, such as your garden shed or detached garage and its contents. It also covers your kid’s stuff when he/she is away at school, your parent’s stuff if you’re storing it for them while they’re in a nursing home. Those are covered at just 10% of coverage limits, so you might consider additional coverage. 

 

Don’t forget to ask about discounts.

You may qualify for insurance discounts for being part of a professional association, such as groups for teachers, nurses, or first responders. There are also discounts for being 55+ and retired, and for paying in full upfront. You may qualify for a new home discount, or a discount if you have updated your utilities (electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling) in an older home. There are discounts for a new roof and an automatic sprinkler system, for fire and burglar alarms, and for monitored security systems. You can even be rewarded for being a loyal customer. When you bundle your home and auto insurance, you can often qualify for reduced rates, saving hundreds of dollars.

 

Don’t go it alone.

Insurance is complicated. Your house is one of your most expensive assets. Take the extra step and talk in-depth to a professional insurance agent. At California Casualty we tailor our coverage to you and your home. Your agent can help determine the unique risks for your home and what you need to fully protect it—and that you don’t pay more than you have to. 

 

Don’t buy it and forget it.

Remember to update your policy if you renovate your house. Some companies’ contracts require you to notify them if a renovation exceeds a certain amount. In addition, you’ll want to update your policy immediately if you buy or receive additional valuables, such as jewelry. 

Make sure to sit down each year to review your policy.  Ask what additional endorsements are available. Review your renewals; policies change and these changes will often be explained in the renewal packet. Consider increasing personal liability to cover, at a minimum, the market value of your home. 

Finally, don’t forget to…

    • Shop around. Getting competitive quotes will help you determine the right price.
    • Ask friends and family members for referrals to their insurance company. 
    • Research the company. Make sure the company is licensed to work in your state. Check its reviews on the Better Business Bureau and online. 
    • Look for a company that will be responsive to your needs. Good customer service and claims service are key.

It’s your home. Make sure it’s protected.

 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com

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