It’s almost time to find room for all of the new gifts that you received over the holidays. The easiest way to keep track of all of your possessions is by creating- and continually updating- a Home Inventory.
A Home Inventory is a list of the valuable objects that you have inside of your home.
It may sound like a waste of time, but this list will be your saving grace if there is a fire, destructive storm, or if someone breaks in and steals your belongings. Without one, many people have a difficult time pinpointing or recalling everything that might have been destroyed or taken, and unfortunately, that can delay homeowner claims or keep you from getting your full compensation.
So, when the New Year rolls around make the time to take inventory of your home and all of your new treasures. It’s easy! Just go room by room and document:
Personal Care Items
Kitchen items and appliances
Beds and linens
Don’t forget to take pictures of the exterior of your home as well -photos are best from all angles- including the landscaping and any decks or porches- and also take note of everything in the garage, attic, or basement, like holiday ornaments, lawn and yard equipment, tools, etc.
You can choose to write everything down, but we suggest to use photo/video documentation of your belongings. To make the whole process easier on you we’ve created a Household Inventory Checklist that walks you through each possession you may have, so you don’t forget anything- you can even document the value. Just attach your photos to the document or put them in a folder on your phone and you are good to go! Click here for the checklist.
Trying to tally up what needs to be replaced is not something you want to do in the event of a claim, so taking the time to complete an inventory will be more than worth it. You can even use the time to get rid of the old and make room for all of the new!
Is there anything more frustrating than your washing machine breaking down in the middle of a cycle or your refrigerator dying in the middle of the night? Appliance repairs are not only inconvenient – and seem to only happen at the most inconvenient time – they can also be expensive. Fortunately, regular maintenance can help keep your appliances in good working order for years to come.
No one wants to deal with a broken device in the dead of winter… that’s why fall is the perfect time to do a quick check on all your appliances. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a master mechanic; most of these maintenance tasks are easy to do on your own.
Dryers need proper airflow in order to function. When the filter or exhaust is blocked, the heat buildup can cause a fire. Nearly 17,000 clothes fires are reported each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Keep your dryer from becoming a fire hazard by following these steps.
Unplug your dryer if it’s an electric model. If it’s a gas model, turn off the gas.
Pull the dryer away from the wall and detach the dryer duct, the flexible tube connected to the back of the dryer.
Vacuum inside the duct and in the vent.
Go outside your home and locate the exterior dryer vent. Remove the cover and vacuum in there as well.
If your dryer vent is a long one, and the vacuum doesn’t quite get at the lint, you can buy a dryer vent kit that has brushes and tools to get inside.
Inspect your duct for cracks or tears. If you see any, repair them with aluminum tape. (Do not use duct tape. Despite the name, duct tape does not work well with the heat of the dryer.)
Reattach the duct.
Remove the lint screen and vacuum in and around it. If it’s clogged, you can scrub it with warm, soapy water and then dry it with a towel before placing it back.
Find the moisture sensor. It’s usually a thin metal bar below the dryer door. Clean it with a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol.
Washers benefit from regular maintenance. Not only will this help avoid breakdowns, but also leaks which can cause major water damage to your home. Regular care also will keep your machine clean and your clothes smelling fresh.
Look for cracks, bulges, or leaks in your water hoses. That means you will need to replace them. Your owner’s manual also may recommend a timeframe for replacing hoses even if there is no damage.
Make sure your washer is at least four inches from the wall to prevent hoses from twisting.
Clean the lint collector, which is usually found near the center agitator tube or near the top of the machine.
If you have a front loader, wipe down the door and rubber gasket area.
Dishwashers can build up debris over time which can cause odors. Doing a deep clean periodically can help keep things fresh.
Remove your racks and inspect them for chips or exposed metal. If you see any, you can buy special touch-up paint to help prevent rust.
Check and clean your dishwasher drain.
Remove and wash the filter.
Run a wash cycle with a dishwasher-safe cup filled with vinegar on the top rack. Use the hottest water setting available.
Sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher and run a short cycle.
Refrigerators can work harder than they have to, if not properly maintained. Plus, a clean refrigerator helps keep your food safe from germs.
Your refrigerator’s coils could be clogged with dust, dirt, and pet hair. Use a handheld vacuum to remove this debris. You’ll find the coils either at the back of your fridge or underneath the front.
Check the seals on your refrigerator’s doors. Make sure the door gaskets are “gunk-free.” This could affect the seal.
Check the temperature to make sure that the fridge is at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer is at 0 degrees. You can buy a refrigerator thermometer if you have an older fridge without a temperature gauge.
Your ice maker and water dispenser usually have filters that need changing. Check your manufacturer’s guide for instructions.
Listen to your fridge. If it makes a loud sound, it may require some maintenance. (Fridges should have low-level hums that are barely noticeable.)
Stoves and ovens are well used during the fall and winter months, especially for holiday meals. Make sure yours are all in good working order.
As you cook on your stove, the range hood draws the cooking steam upward and traps grease particles in its filter. This food-flavored grease attracts pests, so you’ll want to make sure it’s cleaned regularly. Home Depot offers the following steps to clean your range hood.
Clean stovetop drip pans underneath your burners.
Make sure the oven has a tight seal; otherwise, it could be losing heat. That will cause food to take longer to cook or cook unevenly. Feel along the seal that lines the door. If you find any broken, torn, or deformed areas, replace the seal, also known as a gasket.
Garbage disposals can host harmful bacteria or grow mold. This Old House suggests this approach: Pour a half cup of baking soda into the disposal. Wait 30 minutes, then pour in one cup of white vinegar. Let the mixture foam for 3 minutes, then rinse with hot water. Finally, grind up two cups of ice and a cup of salt while running cold water. You also can grind lemon peels at the end for a fresh scent.
Furnaces have a lifespan of 20-30 years when properly maintained. Fall is the best time to check to see that your furnace is working properly before the cold weather descends.
If your furnace is the kind that pulls air from outside, make sure that nothing is blocking the outdoor vent.
Check that the ducts and vents are free of debris and dust, and securely fastened.
Check the filter(s) and replace as needed.
Know the signs that indicate you may need a new furnace. These include frequent breakdowns, a rise in energy consumption, and inconsistent heat where one room is cold and another hot.
Call a professional if you are unsure about maintaining your appliances. If you need to replace an appliance, it’s always good to get at least 3 bids. Make sure the bid includes the removal and disposal of the old appliance.
Your appliances aren’t the only devices that need to be checked in the fall. Help keep your HVAC running smoothly and your pipes thawed all winter by checking out our blog on fall maintenance for your home systems.
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.
Get ready for a scary good time! Halloween is nearly here and kids everywhere will be out trick-or-treating. Remember a safe Halloween is a Happy Halloween; make sure your children are out and about in a way that they can be easily seen.
The ghosts and goblins (or more likely known as little trick-or-treaters) come out after the sun has gone down. Which is fun when you’re behind the mask, but not so fun if you are behind the wheel. When it’s dark, it’s harder for drivers to see pedestrians in the street. Add to that, excited children who may run out suddenly, and the results could be tragic. In fact, children are twice as likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than on any other day of the year.
That’s why it’s important to decide carefully on the costume your child will wear to ensure he/she is the most visible. And before they leave the house, you’ll also want to go over important pedestrian safety rules. You may even decide that accompanying your child is the best thing to do (recommended for children under 12).
Here are some more Halloween safety tips to consider for every vampire, witch, and werewolf!
Tip #1: Use reflective tape on your child’s costume.
Increase your child’s chances of being seen by adding pieces of reflective tape to his/her costume and/or jacket. Do so creatively and you may have a skeleton with glowing bones or a superhero with a gleaming emblem. Reflective tape works by reflecting light back, so wearers will be easily seen in a car’s headlights even in the pitch dark.
Tip #2: Add a glow stick or a clip-on light.
Decorate your child’s costume or candy bag with clip-on lights. These can be Halloween-themed lights or any small clip-on. Consider giving your child glow stick bracelets or necklaces; these are a festive, fun, and bright addition to any costume.
Tip #3: Select costumes with light colors.
Darker color costumes may be spooky but they are hard to see when it gets dark. When possible, choose lighter-colored outfits. If your child insists on a dark color, use tip #1 to lighten it up.
Tip #4: Choose face paint over masks.
Masks can block your child’s vision and depth perception. They also cover up your trick-or-treater’s face so it may not be easily seen. Face paint is a great alternative. You can even find glow-in-the-dark varieties for more visibility. Choose a face paint that is labeled safe for use with children. Test it on your child’s arm before Halloween. If you want a natural version, you can make homemade face paint.
Tip #5: Travel in groups and carry a flashlight.
Whether you walk around with your kids, or they travel with their friends, insist that they go in groups. Large groups – especially with both adults and children – are easier to see. If one or more group members carry a flashlight, that’s added protection. Having an adult also will help keep trick-or-treaters safe. The excitement of Halloween can overtake a child’s focus on safety.
Tip #6: Don’t walk and text.
You may often text while you’re walking but it’s not a good idea –and while supervising children on Halloween, it’s an especially bad idea. A study from Stonybrook University showed that we are 61 percent more likely to veer off course when we are walking and texting. Not only could you walk into traffic – or other people – or step off the curb, but your attention is distracted from the trick-or-treaters in your care.
Tip #7: Choose safe, lighted routes.
If you are able, choose a residential neighborhood with street lights and sidewalks for trick-or-treating. Walk on the sidewalk and cross at the corner, looking first for cars. If there are no sidewalks, and you need to walk in the street, you should keep to the left and walk facing cars. This will ensure you see cars coming toward you. Halloween is not the time to jaywalk; it can be especially dangerous. Do not walk out between cars, and definitely do not run into the street for any reason.
Tip #8. Watch for cars.
Watch for cars that are turning corners or pulling out of driveways. They could surprise you if you’re not expecting them—and you could surprise them by being in their path. If you’re the one driving at night on Halloween, look out for pedestrians.
Our team at California Casualty remains focused on the appreciation, motivation, and recognition of our amazing employees.
As an organization over a century old, family-owned, and steeped in tradition, we know that honoring the drive and accomplishments of our workforce makes a difference to you, to us, and especially to them.
Every employee is essential to the success of our organization. And in this Behind the Scenes, we take a look at our Customer Service Department and their efforts to continually build a strong team of insurance professionals.
Through our Emerging Leaders program, we have identified the technical and behavioral competencies necessary to be successful in a Customer Service leadership role. We aligned these competencies with a curriculum and a tracking guide that our Team Managers use when leading development planning sessions.
This curriculum utilizes both internal resources and professional designations such as the Associate in Insurance Services designation offered by The Institutes Risk & Insurance Knowledge Group.
In 2021, we rolled out a self-paced individual study program consisting of articles, book summaries, reflection pages, and collaboration groups. The program has been well-received and continues to grow.
In the last year, we’ve been honored to watch a few of our brightest stars earn promotions within the company. Tonya Turentine and Meredith Savage were promoted to Service Team Managers, Darrah Zinn to Rating and Underwriting Systems Analyst, and Amber Ferrell and Alyson Proctor to Learning and Development Instructors.
We also have several others working through a development plan to become the next generation of Senior Customer Care Specialists.
To see more California Casualty employees celebrated for their role in our organization, please visit: https://bit.ly/3v5TCvd
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.
We don’t think much about our heat, electrical, or plumbing until they stop working…
Like a regular health checkup, a home system checkup includes routine maintenance that can help prevent costly repairs and future emergencies.
Homeowners, follow our checklist to keep your home systems running smoothly all season long.
HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) System
The HVAC system is responsible for heating and cooling your home. Regular maintenance can help lower your utility bills, increase your system’s lifespan, and ensure you are breathing healthy air.
Check the air filter. If it’s dirty, it will make your furnace work harder. Clean or replace the filter every three months.
Clean the air vents. You can vacuum the vents to help prevent blockages. If you suspect there’s a buildup of dirt and grime, consider scheduling an air duct cleaning.
Vacuum lint from the clothes dryer vent that leads to the outside of your house.
Adjust your programable thermostat for heat rather than air conditioning. If your thermostat takes batteries, replace them at this time.
Cover the outdoor air conditioning unit once you no longer are using it for the season. That will protect it from the weather, dirt, and debris.
Rotate your ceiling fans’ blades clockwise in cool months and counterclockwise in warm months to keep heat moving in a direction that minimizes the effort of your HVAC system.
If you haven’t done so this year, schedule an annual professional checkup to make sure your HVAC system is in good working order.
Even the best furnaces don’t last forever. You may need to replace your furnace after 10-25 years.
A plumbing system delivers fresh water to your sinks, bathtubs, toilets, and other fixtures. It also takes away water and waste to a sewer or septic tank. Regular maintenance will help prevent issues such as leaks, clogs, and frozen pipes, which can be disruptive and costly.
Clean drains in your sinks and tubs by pouring half a cup of baking soda followed by half a cup of white vinegar.
Remove mineral deposits from your showerheads by filling a plastic bag with vinegar. Secure it with a rubber band over the showerhead and leave it overnight. In the morning, you should be able to wipe any buildup away.
Clean your garbage disposal to prevent it from hosting harmful bacteria or growing mold. This Old House suggests this approach: Pour a half cup of baking soda in the disposal. Wait 30 minutes, then pour in one cup of white vinegar. Let the mixture foam for 3 minutes, then rinse with hot water. Finally, grind up two cups of ice and a cup of salt while running cold water. You also can grind lemon peels at the end for a fresh scent.
Flush your water heater to remove any mineral buildup. You can find instructions online or call a professional.
Check your faucets inside and outside to make sure they are not dripping or leaking.
Check under the sink for any leaks or stains, which could signal water damage or mold.
Check any exposed pipes in your home for leaks and seal them. Insulate pipes in places that aren’t heated.
Disconnect outside water hoses to prevent them from freezing. Turn off underground sprinkler systems.
Clear debris from your
Call a plumber if there are issues.
An electrical system powers your lights, appliances, and more. Working around electricity requires knowledge and skill to take the proper safety precautions. If you’re unsure of how to do something, consult a trained professional.
Inspect your breaker panel. Check for signs of corrosion. Flip the breakers on and off to make sure they move easily and do not stick. (Make sure first to alert members of your household that you are switching off electricity so they can prepare accordingly.)
Test your outlets. You can buy a cube or block tester at any hardware store. You simply plug it in, and it lights up to indicate common issues. Also, test each outlet for tightness. Outlets may wear out over time. Finally, consider installing tamper-resistant outlets in any areas where children may be able to reach.
Place your hand on outlets and light switches to check for excessive heat. Also be aware of any “hot wire” smell when a light is on or an appliance is plugged in, or popping and cracking sounds. These indicate that you may need to replace that outlet or switch.
Look at exposed wires and cables in your basement and other areas of your home. If you notice damage, replace them.
Make sure exterior outlets are covered so that they are not damaged by the weather and animals.
Your home security system protects you from threats. No matter what system you have, a semi-annual check can keep it in top working order.
Inspect your sensors. Make sure they are firmly attached to windows or doors. Try to set off a motion sensor to ensure it is working properly.
Replace batteries if your system uses them.
Check lighting and replace bulbs as needed.
Make any adjustments needed to the camera angles. This is a good time to clean the lens.
Trim bushes that have overgrown and might provide cover for a thief.
Tighten loose screws in gates, door hinges, knobs, and locks.
Check your warranty or contract to see if you qualify for an upgrade.
Get a $25 gift card when you complete an auto quote with a representative.
*Please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery. One gift card per household, per year. Offer not valid when a California Casualty policy is already in force. Offer not valid in FL, GA, MD, NC, ND, TN and UT.
Offer not available to United MileagePlus® Members.