Chimney Safety

Chimney Safety

As the weather gets cooler, there is nothing cozier than curling up next to the fireplace with a cup of hot up of coffee and a good book.

Millions of people in the United States have fireplaces that they primarily use during the fall and winter to create a comfortable environment and to warm their homes, but without the proper maintenance, a fireplace can turn from cozy to deadly in a matter of seconds.

On average over 22,000 chimney fires occur in the United States every year; that estimates to about 125 million dollars in damage to homes. Chimney fires are can be caused by stray sparks and high temperatures, however, most are caused dirty, unkept chimneys.

To prevent a chimney house-fire from happening follow these Chimney Safety Tips:    

  1. Get your chimney  cleaned yearly
  2. Cut and trim all overhanging branches
  3. Install a screencap on top of chimney
  4. Monitor the flue temperature
  5. Keep the fire screen closed
  6. Let ashes cool down
  7. Dispose of ashes far away from house
  8. Never burn trash or debris
  9. Only burn dry hardwood
  10. Keep firewood at least 30 ft. away
  11. Never leave chimney unattended

It is also important to make sure your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarms have batteries and are working properly. 2/3rds of fire deaths occur in homes with missing or non-functioning smoke alarms. 

Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in every bedroom near doorways, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of your home near cooking devices and fireplaces.  

Be safe this season, follow our chimney safety tips, and remember to have your chimney professionally cleaned and maintained before it’s first use to avoid a house fire.

For more safety tips click here.

 

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.

Fall Preparation Tips for Your Home

Fall Preparation Tips for Your Home

Fall is the perfect time of year- the summer heat begins to fade, the leaves don their annual colors, football games take over the weekend, and pumpkin-flavored everything hits the shelves. fall preparation

However, it also serves as a reminder, that as the days grow shorter and the leaves start to fall, it is the perfect time to look around your home and get prepared for the oncoming winter. Fall’s mild temperatures and adequate daylight provide an opportunity to check the heater, repair gutters, and add extra insulation to the attic. An early autumn storm or blizzard is no time to learn you have leaks or other problems.

The Insurance Information Institute estimates that winter-related damage causes over a billion dollars in insurance losses annually. So enjoy the nice weather and your pumpkin spiced latte while you can, but don’t forget to look ahead. Prevent your home from being a winter-storm statistic and make the necessary preparations to your home this fall.

Fall Preparation Checklist:

  • Have your heating system checked and cleaned
  • Inspect ceilings, windows and outer walls for cracks
  • Change air filters
  • Check your pipes and plumbing
  • Inspect your roof for wear or damage and clean the gutters
  • Install weather stripping and caulk around windows and doors
  • Seal up foundation and driveway cracks
  • Check your fireplace and chimney for cracks or leaks

Look around your deck or patio and yard; now is the time to clean and store seasonal outdoor furniture and flower pots, drain sprinkler systems, trim trees and shrubs, fertilize lawns and mulch gardens.  Don’t forget to schedule a time to service your lawnmower, before it is put away for the season, and make sure your snowblower is working.

During the fall it is also important to make sure your home is fire safe. Hundreds of fires break out each day during the Thanksgiving and Christmas months. Now is the time to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and make sure everything is working properly. The National Fire Protection Association also warns carbon monoxide poisonings also climb during the fall and winter months.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector Preparation Checklist:

  • Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area, and on all levels of the home
  • Test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace the batteries
  • Have all heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected
  • Keep all flammable material at least three feet from heat sources
  • Check fire extinguishers
  • Know and practice home escape routes

A vital preparation step for any season is to review and understand your homeowners or renters insurance policy, make sure you know what is covered under your policy and if you need to up your coverage or add additional coverage for the coming winter months.

 

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.

Insurance Tips for Newlyweds

Insurance Tips for Newlyweds

June through September is the peak of wedding season in the United States. Every year  2.1 million couples tie the knot. That breaks down to nearly 6,000 weddings a day!

If you have a special day coming up in the near future, be sure you make all of the appropriate changes to your personal documents, property, and information, so your new bride or groom is represented. These changes also include your insurance.

So, to make it quick and easy here are some insurance tips for newlyweds. Some could even end up saving you some money.

  1. Combine Your Insurance

If you have separate cars with different insurance companies, you’re eligible for discounts by putting both vehicles on the same policy. It also ensures that both drivers are covered no matter which car they use.
PRO TIP: You can save even more by bundling your autos with your home or renters insurance.

  1. Check for a Marriage Discount

Inform your insurance company of your marriage – most auto and home insurance companies offer important discounts for newlyweds. Men under the age of 25 are usually considered high risk drivers. However, once they marry, they often see a big drop in insurance premiums. Lower rates can also apply to those in domestic partnerships.

  1. Increase Homeowner or Renters Coverage

Wedding presents are wonderful! You now have a new set of dishes, expensive new appliances, and other valuable items for your home. Don’t forget, these assets need to be covered. Talk to an insurance advisor to make sure you have enough coverage to protect all the things you own and to increase your liability protection. It’s also a great time to create an inventory of all the things you own to help you purchase the right insurance protection and make filing a claim much easier.

  1. Get Extra Protection for High-Value Items

That beautiful new wedding ring and special gifts like fine art or silverware may need scheduled personal property protection, often called a “floater,” to make sure they are covered for their full value. Most homeowners and renters policies will provide limited coverage for those items. Scheduled personal property coverage will also pay to replace a ring, without a deductible, even if it was misplaced or damaged in the disposal.

Just like marriage, California Casualty is a committed partner in helping with your auto and home insurance needs. One of our advisors can walk you through everything from combining your vehicles to completing a name change.

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.

 

Someone Got Hurt Watching the Game- Now What?

Someone Got Hurt Watching the Game- Now What?

It’s officially the best time of the year. Football season!

Everyone knows that football is not the same without watch parties and tailgates! You’ve got the cold drinks, the savory BBQ, and the big screen ready for friends and family to come over and watch your favorite teams all season long. However, there could be one thing missing. Homeowners or renters insurance.

Let’s face it, accidents happen. Especially when you have a rowdy crowd on your hands and your team is deep in the 4th quarter. Homeowners and renters insurance protects you if one of your guests stumbles into your flat screen and it falls to the floor. Or, if someone trips and crashes through that glass table in the living room. With the proper coverage, you won’t be penalized.

If something in your home gets broken or stolen while you have people over, your policy will cover it. But, if you have high-value items that could get damaged or go missing like jewelry, antiques, collectibles, or furs, you will need to add extra coverage – scheduled personal property. Accidents are inevitable, but the best way to avoid losing or having to replace your collectibles is to put them in a safe place, away from the crowd when you are hosting events. Think locked room or basement.

What if Someone Gets Hurt in My House?

Any time you are a host, especially for a high energy crowd, there’s the risk that someone may accidentally get injured. Whether it’s from a touchdown dance celebration or tripping on a rug, homeowners and renters insurance with personal liability coverage will cover it.

If you are serving alcohol, be aware, the Insurance Information Institute (III) warns that hosts can be liable if others are hurt by anyone driving from your party while intoxicated. It’s called the social host liability law. Personal liability coverage will also help in this situation by covering payments of medical bills and lawsuits from someone who was hurt on or off (leaving) your property. There are limits, so you talk to your insurance advisor about an umbrella policy, which will provide much greater coverage.

What Else Can I Do?

Here are some important hosting safety tips you can use during football season:

  • Talk with your insurance advisor about any policy exclusions or limitations before you throw a party
  • Install proper lighting inside and outside of your home
  • Remove valuable items and objects that could cause tripping or falling
  • Consider holding your getting together at a restaurant or bar instead
  • Have someone sober in charge of monitoring guests
  • Encourage the use of Uber and designated drivers
  • Lock up pets in a separate location or outside
  • Make guests who’ve had too much to drink turn over their keys

Make sure you’re on the winning team if you are hosting a football party. Contact a California Casualty advisor today to make sure your homeowners or renters insurance will protect you in a liability blitz. Call 1.866.704.8614 or visit www.calcas.com.

 

If Disaster Strikes – Are You Ready?

If Disaster Strikes – Are You Ready?

September is National Preparedness Month and each year we are reminded to prepare for disaster situations in our home and communities.

 

BE PREPARED: Before an emergency or natural disaster strikes, here are 10 things you can do:

  1. Plan and save for the unexpected financially.
  2. Sign up for emergency alerts in your area.
  3. Map out and practice using several different evacuation routes.
  4. Have a safe location planned for shelter if your town is evacuated.
  5. Plan for your pets and know where they will stay if you are evacuated. Here are some pet-friendly hotels.
  6. Have a plan where you and family members will meet and how you will communicate if you become separated.
  7. Create an emergency kit, that meets your family’s particular needs.
  8. Complete a home inventory and document all of your belongings (clothing, mattresses, bedding, kitchen appliances, furniture, electronics, etc.).
  9. Back up important phone contacts and photos physically or on The Cloud.
  10. Check your insurance coverage with an advisor, to make sure you’re adequately covered or add protection (ex. Home, Renters, Auto, Flood, Earthquake, Floater, and Umbrella).

 

BE READY: If you need to evacuate:

  • To find local shelters download the FEMA app, text SHELTER and your ZIP code to 43362 (ex. SHELTER 12345), or visit the American Red Cross’ website.
  • Contact California Casualty as soon as possible and save all receipts for living expenses, such as hotels, meals and other essentials.
  • Monitor local media about conditions, further evacuations, or when it might be safe to return home.

 

BE SAFE: When you return home, there are many potential dangers, such as:

  • Dangerous toxins, and debris
  • Mold
  • Gas leaks
  • Electrical shock
  • Poisonous snakes or other animals
  • Structural instability and collapse
  • Sewage and chemical tainted water

 

GET HELP: If you need recovery help afterward:

 

Though it is National Preparedness Month, it is important to remain prepared every month of the year. An emergency or natural disaster can strike at any time or place; and if it does, please remember, you are not alone. California Casualty is there when you need us most, to help make sure you and your family are covered.

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.

Hurricane Season- What You Need To Know

Hurricane Season- What You Need To Know

Hurricanes are natural disasters that bring demolishing winds and massive amounts of rainfall to land from the ocean. Coastal towns and cities across the world have been torn apart by hurricanes, but they aren’t the only ones who are usually affected. Hurricanes can cause significant damage to towns over 100 miles inland! As we approach the most active month of the year, September, now is the time to protect yourself and your family from these deadly natural disasters.

The relative lack of storms so far this hurricane season is bringing both good and bad news. While we are all taking a sigh of relief that there has yet to be a major storm, it could also be bringing a false sense of security. Many people in states where hurricanes usually hit may be “dropping their guard.” A new survey finds only a quarter of those living in hurricane-prone states think they are prepared if a monster storm hits, and nearly half of the respondents say they have yet to make any preparations this year.

Parts of the Southeast U.S., however, may be in for a rude awakening as Tropical Storm Dorian develops. The storm is expected to make landfall in Florida this Labor Day weekend as a Category 4 hurricane.

Remember all hurricanes, no matter what size, have the potential to cause significant damage and life-threatening situations. Looking back at the destruction previous hurricanes like Harvey, Sandy, and Katrina have caused, it is essential that you make sure your family, home, and belongings are completely protected.

 

Important Hurricane Coverages:

  • Flood Insurance. A regular home insurance policy will not pay for damages caused by flooding, but when you add flood insurance to your policy it will cover all damages that happen to your property, even if you rent! Be aware that when you add flood insurance there is a 30-day waiting period until it goes into effect, so that means it is often too late to purchase it when a hurricane or tropical storm is approaching.
  • Scheduled Personal Property Insurance (Floater). Many people find that after a natural disaster their insurance coverage is limited on expensive personal items (ex. jewelry, furniture, technology, firearms, collectibles, furs, instruments, etc.). Floaters protect your personal items for their full value.

 

Steps to Protect Your Home & Family

  • Heed evacuation notices and keep your car’s gas tank full in case of evacuations
  • Stock up on essentials like bottled water, non-perishable food items, toilet paper, and pet food
  • Make sure pets are kept inside, safe, and have a spot to do their “business”
  • Have a family evacuation and communication plan
  • Prepare an emergency kit (ex. flashlight, medicines, cash, and important documents)
  • Get a NOAA Weather Radio
  • Sign up for National Weather Service storm texts at https://www.weather.gov/subscribe-hurricaneinfo
  • Charge cell phones and other devices and have charged spare batteries
  • Install storm shutters or purchase 5/8 exterior grade or marine plywood to cover windows or doors
  • Add straps or additional clips to roofs to reduce damage
  • Bring in or secure anything that can be propelled by wind (ex. grills, bicycles, lawn furniture, play equipment, etc.)
  • Know how to turn off propane tanks and gas lines

 

After a Hurricane Strikes

  • Make sure you, your family, and pets are safe and secure
  • Register yourself as “safe” on the Safe and Well website
  • Follow all city boil and curfew orders
  • Secure the property from further damage or theft
  • Contact your insurance company as soon as possible
  • Keep or document receipts and other expenses if you are evacuated or forced to find another place to live because of damage to your home or apartment
  • Be wary of unscrupulous contractors following a natural disaster

 

It’s important to know that flooding and storm surge are the biggest threats to life when hurricanes hit. Leave low-lying areas, never drive or cross through running water, and avoid rivers, streams, and creeks; which could flash-flood.

 

For more information visit:

https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes

https://mycalcas.com/?s=hurricane

https://www.iii.org/article/preparing-hurricane

https://www.cdc.gov/features/hurricanepreparedness/index.html

https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/hurricane.html

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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