Why Your Rental Car Reimbursement Coverage May Not Be Enough

Why Your Rental Car Reimbursement Coverage May Not Be Enough

Anyone who has ever dropped off at soccer practice, then zoomed to dance, and back again to school, knows the reality of parenting today. We live in our cars. In fact, we can’t live without them, which is why it’s more than just an inconvenience when our cars are in the shop.

Enter the rental car, the savior helping us to navigate our hectic lives, pun intended. Rentals can be a necessity when our car is in the shop for repairs after an accident, and it would be nice if we didn’t have to pay too much for them. That’s where rental car reimbursement coverage (also called transportation expense coverage) can help. A basic amount of this coverage is included with collision/comprehensive coverage in your auto policy. It helps cover the cost of a rental car after a car accident, but the basic coverage may not be enough these days. Optional higher coverage levels are available and can help to cover more of the cost of a rental car.

 

Things are changing—which could impact your budget.

Today’s world is not the same as pre-pandemic. The changes that have happened in the last year or longer are impacting the repair and rental car industries. This could cause you to pay significantly more out-of-pocket even with rental car reimbursement. Read on to find out why, and what you can do about it.

 

Parts are taking longer to get.

We’ve been spoiled with free, fast shipping, getting items in a couple of days from the time we order them. That’s no longer the case. Just as you probably had to wait for the hottest toy for the holidays (or that elusive Sony PlayStation 5), repair shops have had to wait…and wait…and wait…for parts. There’s a global supply chain shortage. Parts that used to arrive in a day or two are now taking weeks or longer. Ships carrying supplies are being held at docks. There’s also a global semiconductor shortage, which especially affects the advanced electronics in our cars.

 

Shops are doing partial repairs or keeping your car indefinitely.

With parts delayed for weeks or longer, some shops are making partial repairs on drivable vehicles, sending them home, and finishing the job later. They are keeping undrivable cars for weeks or even months while waiting for parts.

 

When there’s no one to work on your car, it sits for longer.

The labor shortage has hit the automotive industry. There are fewer truck drivers transporting parts, fewer dock workers unloading them, and fewer mechanics working. The pandemic prompted many people to reevaluate their career choices, and leave their jobs. If you’re lucky, your body shop is fully staffed. If not, you’re likely in for a longer repair.

 

Your car could be in the shop longer than your rental coverage.

Normally, you’d expect to have a rental car for a couple of weeks. It might surprise you to learn that the average repair time at the end of last year was 17 days, according to Enterprise Rent-A-Car. That means that many people had their cars in the shop even longer than that. The length of rentals has continued to increase in 2022. If shops are waiting on parts and workers, chances are that your rental car coverage will run out before repairs are done. Not only that but the rental bill can be even more than the repair bill, and you’re hit with any expense that insurance doesn’t cover.

 

Rental cars are getting more expensive.

Longer collision repair times are just part of higher costs. Rising inflation rates and greater demand for vehicles have increased rental car prices. AAA is seeing car rental prices trending higher in 2022 than in the previous four years.

 

It makes sense (and cents) to bump up your coverage.

The typical auto policy includes a basic amount of coverage that reimburses up to $20 a day with a $600 cap per accident. That means your $20 per day coverage lasts for 30 days. Luckily, you’re not limited to those numbers. Consider expanding your coverage to $30/$900, $40/$1,200 or $50/$1,500. Selecting a higher amount will help you cover today’s higher cost of rental cars, especially for longer repair times.

 

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.

Lisa Almeida – Celebrating 29 Years at California Casualty

Lisa Almeida – Celebrating 29 Years at California Casualty

This month we celebrate the successful career of Lisa Almeida, AVP- Key Account Manager of territories- National (UMP), California (CTA & ACSA), Arizona, Nevada, Utah NEA Affiliates, and Administrators.  Lisa started with California Casualty back in February of 1993 and will retire in April.

We recently had the pleasure to sit down with Lisa and discuss her life and her career at California Casualty. Here’s what she told us:

“I was born in Redondo Beach, California.  If you listen carefully to the Beach Boys’ “Surfin USA”, you’ll hear a brief shout out to my hometown.  I grew up in many beachy areas of Southern California until I got married and moved to Miami. During my time in Florida, I finished college at Miami Dade, started a family, and began my permanent  37+ year career in the insurance world. That’s when I moved back to SoCal  and started working for California Casualty in 1993.”

California Casualty was actually a client of Lisa’s when she worked for American Bankers Insurance Group. That is where she met Linda Anderson and Mary Wilson (both retired from California Casualty Agency Services). She loved working with the California Casualty and the Agency Services team so much she was encouraged to apply for a Field role with the company. “Honestly, it was not only their support of the company that inspired me to apply,” says Lisa, “but it seemed that everyone that worked for CalCas had just an extraordinary amount of tenure.  And, being in the insurance industry, I heard nothing but praise for the company’s sterling reputation and excellent customer service.”

lisa

Throughout her career with California Casualty Lisa has held many positions, but it’s her love for Group Marketing/Partner Relations that has kept her in the department her entire tenure.

“I started as a Field Representativeive (now Field Marketing Manager) and within a year I was promoted to Senior FMM.  After that, I was fortunate enough to earn an Associate Account Manager role, then Team Supervisor followed by about 10 years as West Region Manager.  For about the last six years, I’ve been the Key Account Manager for the California Teachers Association.  I will say that this position has been my absolute favorite.  Not only have I had the privilege of working with some of the most influential and inspiring educators in the state, but I’ve also learned more about the operations of California Casualty than in any other role that I’ve had during my 29 years.”

When asked about her most memorable accomplishments she said, “Oh gosh, back in the day, I did achieve Presidents/Pinnacle Club status multiple times and that is always an honor.

Most importantly, I think working as the California Teachers Association (CTA) Account Manager has been quite an achievement, especially when you look back historically at how few of us there have been in the role since 1951.  It’s humbling to be a part of such a distinguished group of individuals.  Also, as the spokesperson on behalf of California Casualty for the California School Recognition Program, it has been such a privilege to work with the Department of Education and CTA in that unique capacity.  The opportunity to represent this wonderful company and speak in front of thousands of educators throughout the state was just amazing!

Additionally, our partnership with United MileagePlus has been rewarding, and having the opportunity to act as the National Manager for that group for the last few years was a true learning experience.”

Looking back on her career and all of her achievements she says what she will miss most is the friendships she has made, both inside and outside of the company. She says, “I have been so fortunate to have gotten to know so many truly talented, generous, and kind individuals and it saddens me sometimes that I won’t get to see them as often.  Still, they all leave me with some beautiful and fun memories…and thank goodness for Facebook.”

And her colleagues will certainly miss her! Lisa’s friends Brian Goodman, AVP-Partner Relations, Debbie Harris, Vice President Field Relations, and her direct report Inez Morales, Senior Field Marketing Manager, had a few parting words they wanted to say to, and on behalf of, Lisa.

“I’ve worked with Lisa for all 27 of my years here at California Casualty. I met her after just a couple of weeks on the job at a Group Marketing (now Partner Relations) department meeting in San Ramon, CA. That was December 1995. As a 30-year-old newbie just getting started with my California Casualty Field Marketing career, it didn’t take long before I knew this was the Field Territory Manager that I should emulate. Thank goodness I was smart enough to realize that right at the beginning! Eventually, Lisa became my boss. She offered me wise guidance countless times in my career, sometimes without even knowing it. Now, many years later, I consider Lisa a friend. I wish Lisa a sincere congratulations on her esteemed career and the new journey that is ahead. -Brian”

“Over her 29-year career, Lisa has established numerous successful partnerships and life-long friendships with group partners and CalCas employees from coast to coast. Wherever we go, she runs into someone who knows her and feels compelled to give her a hug. Lisa’s caring nature, professionalism, work ethic, and humor is alluring, as well as inspiring. I feel honored to have had the chance to work with Lisa for the past two decades and wish her the best in her retirement. -Debbie”

“I met Lisa 14 years ago at the Colorado Service Center during my new employee orientation. I remember it well because I had the worst altitude sickness ever. Lisa immediately asked, are you okay? Her voice was soft and comforting and instantly made me feel at ease. This is what makes Lisa so special. Her grace, words of encouragement, and guidance kept us sane while chasing goals. Lisa, you are a true professional who shows by example that excellence is something to aim for daily. It has been an honor and pleasure working with you. Congratulations on your well-deserved retirement! You will be truly missed!!! –Inez”

lisa

In retirement, Lisa plans to spend her days with her family and traveling.  Only this time around, traveling for fun! She also plans to increase her ministry and attempt to get back into some of the activities (art, golf, gardening, etc.) that were pushed by the wayside due to all the travel that her positions have required over these many years.

Her parting advice to those also looking to have a long-lasting, successful career is to “Work hard. Play nice.  Be grateful.”

Thank you for 29 great years, Lisa. We will all miss you and wish you the best. You’ll always be a part of the CalCas family!

 

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.

California Casualty Community Impact Initiatives

California Casualty Community Impact Initiatives

What began as a School Lounge Makeover has transitioned into a multitude of community giveback programs that have made a difference to you (and us!) over the last ten-plus years. We call them California Casualty Community Impact Programs or CCCI for short. They are the “brand energizers” or giveaways, grants, and sponsorships created to support your community endeavors.

The following is a brief list of different programs that we have offered throughout recent years. Please tell us what programs you would like to see again, and/or any new ideas that you would like to see introduced by commenting below.

 

SCHOOL LOUNGE MAKEOVER – CLOSED

Educators work hard and deserve a pleasing, well-functioning place to rejuvenate, plan, meet or have a meal. The School Lounge Makeover was piloted at Colfax Elementary School in Denver in 2010, and formally launched nationwide in 2011. The yearlong contest awarded four winning schools $7500 (one randomly drawn winner per quarter) to transform their school lounges with assistance from local designers, painters and others.

 

THOMAS R. BROWN ATHLETICS GRANT PROGRAM – CURRENT

The California Casualty Thomas R. Brown Athletics Grant Program was created to financially aid public middle and high school athletic programs impacted by reduced budgets. The program provides a grant of $1,000 for each public middle and high school awardee. Applications are received year-round. Applicants must be an active member of NEA or one of our participating administrator groups in the 44 states that California Casualty serves.

 

CALIFORNIA CASUALTY AWARD FOR TEACHING EXCELLENCE – CURRENT

The California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence recognize educators whose professional practice and advocacy for the profession are exemplary. The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the awards with support from California Casualty, NEA Member Benefits, and Pearson Foundation. In addition to being honored at the Washington, D.C. gala, educators’ schools receive an award/gift from California Casualty. Nominations are made through state associations in the spring; the gala is held the following winter.

 

CALIFORNIA SCHOOL RECOGNITION PROGRAM – CURRENT

As Presenting Sponsor of the California School Recognition Program, California Casualty joins the California Department of Education (CDE) in celebrating the California educators that are exceeding expectations as they create safe, inclusive environments for learning. The California School Recognition Program recognizes these exceptional teachers, administrators, and classified employees through The California Teachers of the Year Gala,

The Classified Employees occasion, regional Gold Ribbon Recognition events across the state, and on-site Gold Ribbon Schools award presentations fulfilled by California Casualty Field Reps.

 

HELP YOUR CLASSROOM – CLOSED

Help Your Classroom was an opportunity for NEA members who request a quote from California Casualty to be entered into a random, monthly drawing for $200. Knowing staff frequently spend out of pocket to provide the necessary tools for learning for their students, the funds were provided via email as a credit for an online vendor so the recipient could purchase classroom supplies and equipment to be delivered to their school.

 

WORK HARD/PLAY HARD – CURRENT

A variety of public safety prizes have been given away under the theme of an annual “Work Hard, Play Hard” contest. We understand the demands of the job and the appreciation for opportunities to play just as hard. For this contest, firefighters, law enforcement, and EMTs are invited to simply enter to win – no strings attached. The odds of winning are based on the number of entries received. Prizes typically range in value from $7,500 to $10,000 – sometimes even more. To date, contest prizes include a SeaDoo personal watercraft; Harley Davidson 48; Polaris ATV (spring 2012); Bass Boat; DeWalt Tools, 5.11 Gear, and Liberty Safe; Garage Makeover, etc.

 

FIRE STATION MAKEOVER – CLOSED

Firefighter shifts are long and, when not out on call, firefighters work and live in the same physical space. A tight economy has delayed or canceled station upgrades. Similar to the School Lounge Makeover, this giveaway gave the winning entry a $15,000 makeover for one fire station room with assistance from local designers, painters, and others. The winning package included new kitchen and laundry appliances from Maytag, a fresh coat of paint inside and out from Sherwin-Williams, and a big-screen, closed-circuit TV system from FireRescueTV.

 

NURSE NIGHT OUT – CURRENT

In 2012, California Casualty originally coined the giveaway as a Nurses Night Out promotion to provide nurses the opportunity to blow off some steam – renting a limousine and hitting the town, hosting a party, or treating their co-workers to a fabulous meal at their favorite restaurant – in relief of the endless hours spent meeting the needs of patients and their families. The 2020 Nurses Night Out campaign honored these same frontline healthcare professionals as they battled COVID-19 – through incredibly long hours, heartbreaking care cases, and increased personal risk. It was then decided to change the tone and the look of the promotion to a message more appropriate for the times. The new look focuses more on the appreciation California Casualty and communities across the country – and around the world – have for the compassion, dedication, and personal sacrifice these Healthcare Heroes exemplify.

 

ACADEMIC AWARD – CLOSED

Over 90% of educators reach into their own pockets to provide instructional supplies, food, and personal care items for their students. California Casualty pitched in with the Academic Award program to help with the expense of classroom and student needs. The contest awarded multiple K-12 public school educators with a $2,500 Academic Award. The check was made payable to the school with an understanding that the funds will be designated for use by the winning administrator, classified employee, or teacher of that school.

 

NOMINATE A HERO – CLOSED

To honor the everyday heroes we serve, California Casualty invited people to share the stories of heroes they knew. The “Nominate a Hero” program asked community members to share how a particular nurse, firefighter, educator, or peace officer made a difference in their lives and communities. Candidates for the Nominate a Hero program are nominated online by their family members, friends, and coworkers—and sometimes by strangers touched by their actions. A monthly winner received a $250 gift card and their place in our Hall of Heroes. An annual winner was then selected from the 12 monthly winners and received a $10,000 cash prize.

 

MUSIC & ARTS GRANTS – CURRENT

Created to assist schools in bringing artistic programs into the classroom, the Music and Arts Grants program considers grant requests for public K-12 schools whose music and arts programs are in jeopardy or in great need of funding. Requests will also be considered for individual classrooms wishing to integrate music and/or arts projects within school curriculum.   

 

IMPACT TEEN DRIVERS (ITD) WORKSHOPS – CURRENT

Teen reckless and distracted driving is an epidemic, yet 100% preventable. Impact Teen Drivers works with you and other influencers to deliver a simple, yet life-saving message to young drivers and their passengers: Focus on the road ahead and get to where you are going safely. Developed as a multi-faceted approach, this powerful program gives advocates the flexibility to get involved on their own terms— from direct outreach and education through association or school presentations to Train-the-Trainers and Parent-Teen Safe Driving Workshops.

 

ITD CREATE REAL IMPACT CONTEST – CURRENT

Students across the nation, aged 14-22, can win cash prizes for their best creative message against dangerous distracted driving. Utilizing peer-to-peer messages, Impact Teen Drivers and California Casualty encourage students to help spread the word that distracted driving, the number one killer of young drivers, can be reduced and prevented. The seasonal Create Real Impact contest (Spring and Fall) was initiated in 2009 to find proactive solutions to the deadly epidemic of inattentive teen driving.

 

PROMISE TO DRIVE FOCUSED – FORD FOCUS GIVEAWAY – CLOSED

Surrounded every day by children, educators know all too well how devastating the preventable death of a young person can be. As natural role models, educators’ actions are noticed by students and colleagues. That’s why California Casualty asked educators to “make the promise to drive focused,” complimenting the efforts of Impact Teen Drivers, a non-profit founded and supported by California Casualty to prevent distracted driving. Those who made a promise to drive focused were entered to win a new vehicle valued at $20,000.

 

KEEP ON COURSE – JEEP COMPASS GIVEAWAY – CLOSED

Following the success and engagement of the Promise to Drive Focused campaign, California Casualty once again asked educators to “Keep on Course,” and get home safely by avoiding distracted driving. Educators who made a promise to drive safely were entered to win a new Jeep Compass from California Casualty. The year-long Keep on Course campaign was dedicated to preventing needless tragedies from inattentive/distracted (multi-tasking behind the wheel) driving.

 

WHEREVER YOUR JOURNEY TAKES YOU…WE’LL BE THERE DODGE JOURNEY GIVEAWAY – CLOSED

Reminding educators of the importance of having the right insurance coverage for their stage in life, the “Wherever Your Journey Takes You, We’ll be There” sweepstakes showcased a comprehensive website of auto and home insurance information for the various stages of life, and offered educators the chance to win a new Dodge® Journey SUV.

 

WA GREEN RIBBON SCHOOLS – CURRENT

As the Green Ribbon Schools Local Sponsor, California Casualty provides funds to each Washington Green Ribbon School awardee to help with expenses traveling to the national honors ceremony in July, held in Washington, D.C., or apply the funds toward further improving their green programs.

 

Looking ahead – California Casualty will continue to introduce grants, programs, and giveaways each year. While many are coming to an end this time of year, replacements are introduced in Q1 each year. Future Connection newsletters will share details as they are available.

 

 

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.

It’s Easy to Access and Update Your Policy Online

It’s Easy to Access and Update Your Policy Online

If you haven’t done so already, now is a great time to visit www.CalCas.com and sign up to Manage My Account online.

 

update policy

 

Creating an account is easy, secure, and convenient. Just click on “Sign In” in the upper right-hand corner of the page. Then, at the bottom of the gray box that appears, you click on “Create an Account” to get started.

It takes three simple steps to sign up:

  1. Input your Customer Information
  2. Add your Policy Information (and choose if you want to Go Paperless*)
  3. Open your Email and Confirm Your Request to Sign Up.
update policy
update policy

 

Once you’ve signed up, you will have quick access to your policy(ies) at any time and from anywhere. You simply “Sign In” in the same right-hand corner where you created your account initially. And easy, secure access to this policy portal gives you the flexibility to:

  • Download/Print ID Cards
  • View/Download Your Declaration Pages
  • Pay Your Bill Online
  • Make Some Changes to Your Policy (Manage Drivers, Manage Vehicles, Manage Lienholders/Mortgagee)
  • Contact Customer Service for Additional Support
  • File a Claim
  • Create/Save a New Auto Quote
  • Etc.
update policy

 

And don’t worry! If you forget your password, it’s easy to reset.  Just click on “Forgot Password,” enter your email address, and a link to reset it will be emailed to you momentarily.

Go ahead – sign up today!

 

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.

Wrapping Up Another Year

Wrapping Up Another Year

California Casualty Executives, Management, and Employees came together for the annual Year-End Meeting earlier this month. As is tradition, department leaders presented their strategies, actions and future plans to continue to build the company that has stood the test of time for over 100 years. With Customer Experience and Financial Stability our collective beacon for success, the two-day meeting was filled with insight, discussion, and collaborative solutions.

 

Sales Vice President, Lisa P. shared the ups and downs of the Sales team throughout 2021 – from new technology advancements to staffing challenges. She went into detail all of the tools utilized to increase connectivity with prospects requesting a quote, provide an extensive review of policy coverages and options for a personalized solution, and deliver a customer experience that surpassed expectations. Lisa also educated the group of the various employee engagement and hiring tactics they are using to counter the Great Resignation happening around the country.

 

Direct Mail Director, Richard S. provided an insider’s view to the strategies and tactics he utilizes for the various group mailings sent throughout the year. His presentation highlighted the effectiveness of testing various product/service messages, call to actions, and distribution allocation. The takeaway:  groups that supported communications to their members, and allowed for a little creativity saw better adoption of the California Casualty auto and home member benefit in 2021.

 

Digital Marketing Director, Steve T., alongside Social and Digital Marketing Manager, Demian T., combined their presentation to deliver the year in review for Internet Marketing.  The duo shared all of the various ways California Casualty utilizes digital and social media to reach, engage and listen to our prospects and customers. Thanks to smart planning, sound strategy, and the efficiency that comes with online programs, they were able to make a big impact with a small team.

 

Marketing Solutions, led by Marketing Communications Manager, Robin F., illustrated the various ways they extend the CalCas brand to our prospects and customers outside of the Direct mail and Digital realm. From group publication print ads to the policyholder e-newsletter, Connection, Robin explained the efforts of engaging with prospects beyond their policy paperwork. She also showcased the various communication pieces developed for Partner Relations to use for their engagement efforts.

 

Agency Services, presented by Bianca O., AVP, and Agency Services Manager & Sr. Customer Service Team Manager, explained to the group how our ability to offer members additional insurance options through a subset of insurance partners gives members the coverage solutions they need with one-stop shopping. In 2021, Agency Services saw an increase in boat, motorcycle, classic car, pet insurance, and umbrella policies.

 

Partner Relations was represented by Debbie H., VP Field Relations, Roxanne D., VP Account Relations, and Lisa A., AVP and Account Manager.  The ladies’ presentation captured Group Leaders’ sentiment of the value California Casualty brings as a member benefit partner. They reflected on the transition their teams experienced during COVID – on-site to virtual to hybrid – noting the challenges, learnings, and solutions implemented to keep relationships strong at the national, state, regional, and local levels.

 

Customer Service with Daphne P., VP Customer Service, Cheryl C., Customer Service Manager, and Becky P., AVP and Service Manager, presenting – illustrated the efforts their team is implementing to continually measure, monitor, and improve service levels. They explained the many tactics they are trying now and into the future to keep representatives motivated, trained, and available to assist our American Heroes no matter how complicated or stressful the conversations may get.

 

Underwriting, through a presentation by Hillary B., UW Analyst and Team Manager, and Danielle S., UW Operations Manager, shared the accreditations and promotions earned within the department over the past year, illustrating that continuing education and refined skill sets are imperative to the success of an underwriting department. Hillary and Danielle also highlighted the efficiencies gained within their department, improving the time it takes to issue a policy once it has been written by Sales.

 

Actuary walked the group through the nuts and bolts of auto insurance pricing. Wen L., Auto Pricing Manager, was able to address questions regarding the how and why for California Casualty-specific group rates and customizations required to rate properly for associated risks while offering our partners and their members the member rates they expect.

 

The meeting ended with closing remarks from CMO, Mike M. and Interim CEO, Bob N. reiterating the progress made, the improvements needed and the anticipation for future endeavors planned.

 

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.

 

Improving Your Indoor Air Quality During Winter Months

Improving Your Indoor Air Quality During Winter Months

It’s cold out there—a good time to crank up the heat or put a few logs on the fire. While you might enjoy the warmth and ambiance, winter is actually one of the worst seasons for indoor air quality. That’s because we’re nestled inside our comfortable homes along with all of the pollutants and moisture. Fun, right?

Our chances of catching a cold are greater during the winter, especially if our home’s air quality is poor. In addition, trapped pollutants increase our risk of asthma and other respiratory problems. The good news is that we can do something about it! According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are 3 basic strategies for better indoor air quality: (1) controlling sources of pollutants (2) improving ventilation, and (3) cleaning the air. Here’s what you need to know to improve your indoor air quality this winter.

 

Source Control

There are many sources of indoor pollution, ranging from fuel-burning appliances to building materials and furnishings, and even household cleaning products. Take a look around your house to identify the sources of poor indoor air quality, so that you can take steps to reduce their impact.

 

 

Airborne chemicals

Also known as VOCS – volatile organic compounds – these “hang” in the air for us to breathe. Scented air fresheners, cleaning products, paint, and even carpets and furniture release chemicals in the air. VOCs can cause health problems from respiratory illnesses to headaches, dizziness, irritation in the eyes, ears, nose, and throat, and more. You can choose low VOC paint, or repurposed/upcycled furniture to reduce some chemicals, and use natural cleaning products.

Tip: A bowl of vinegar with lemon juice will draw out bad smells. Baking soda and lemon juice also absorb odors.

 

 

Carbon dioxide

During the winter months, we’re gathered together indoors, which means we’re breathing in close proximity to each other. As carbon dioxide levels rise, that can cause headaches, drowsiness, and other problems. If the levels get high enough, it can even impact decision-making. Limit candle lighting and fireplace use which can contribute to carbon dioxide levels. Open a window for a few minutes, even if it’s cold, to let the fresh air in.

Tip: Add plants like red-edged dracaena, weeping figs or bamboo palm to help convert CO2 to oxygen.

 

 

Radon gas

When our doors and windows are shut, it’s easy for radon gas to build up. Radon gas comes from the natural decay of soil. It moves into your home through cracks or even through your water supply. While it may be natural, radon is radioactive and dangerous. It’s the number one cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers. A radon test kit can measure your home’s levels. The EPA offers guidance on radon reduction systems.

Tip: Most states can provide a list of qualified radon service providers. Find more information at https://www.epa.gov/radon/epa-map-radon-zones-and-supplemental-information.

 

 

Level of humidity

Air that is too dry – or too moist – can cause problems. The dry air in winter causes dry skin, chapped lips, dry nose, dry throat, and cracked fingertips. High humidity causes mold and condensation which also can affect our health. The ideal level for household humidity should be between 30% and 59%. You can buy an inexpensive monitor to track your household humidity. To help reduce it, use your exhaust and ventilation fans, take cooler showers, or consider a dehumidifier. UV lamps professionally installed in your HVAC system can help kill harmful bacteria and mold before they enter the air supply.

Tip: Run your air conditioner. It may be winter, but your air conditioner can help clear humidity from your home.

 

 

Fireplaces

The seasonal scent of wood-burning fireplaces may be wonderful, but that smoke is adding fine particles of dust, dirt, and liquids to the air. Choose clean-burning logs to reduce the effects, and never use wood that is wet, painted, or treated. Gas fireplaces that are vented to the outdoors are better for air quality.

Tip: Warm your chimney flue before starting the fire to help it draw smoke upwards and out of your home.

 

 

Dust and dirt

Dust and dirt are respiratory irritants and frequent cleaning can help. Dust and clean your home regularly. Take cushions and rugs outside and beat them to loosen and get rid of dirt. Then wipe them clean with a damp rag to pick up any additional particles and mites. Vacuum rugs and carpets using a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.

Tip: A bristle top doormat helps to trap dirt before it comes into your home. Wash or vacuum your mats regularly to prevent buildup.

 

 

Pets

We love our pets but pet hair and dander can affect indoor air quality, especially for those of us who are sensitive or allergic. Air filters and ventilation can help. (See next sections.) Brush your pet regularly to reduce the amount of shedding. Keep a towel by the door and wipe their feet to prevent them from bringing additional dirt into the house.

Tip: Use a window squeegee on your carpet to pick up pet hair. The rubber will loosen the hair and gather it into clumps.

 

 

Improved Ventilation

Your HVAC system is your home’s first line of defense against airborne particles. Make sure your system is well maintained and your ducts are cleaned. You also can upgrade the air filters in your HVAC system to a higher MERV rating, if your system allows it. This will increase their ability to remove particles, germs, viruses, and chemical gases. Check with an HVAC professional.

Ventilation devices help air circulation that keeps indoor air clean. They typically are installed in a home’s attic or roof and bring in fresh air on a regular basis while expelling stale air.

 

 

Air Cleaners

There are many types of air cleaners for home use, ranging from table-top models to expensive systems for the whole house. An air purifier with a HEPA filter can remove anywhere between 70-95% of airborne particles. Consider buying an air cleaner for each room. Choose one with smart sensors that can detect pollutants in real-time and adjust their fans accordingly.

In addition, you may consider an indoor air quality monitor. These devices can monitor levels of moisture and pollutants, and share information on which part of the house is contributing to poor air quality.

Your home is your greatest investment. Protect it as well with the right home owner’s insurance.

 

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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