It’s Time for a Policy Review

It’s Time for a Policy Review

Although it is recommended to review your home and auto insurance policies yearly, 60% of all Americans are underinsured and/or don’t understand their policies. Do you know what’s really covered with your insurance policy?

If you don’t or you have any doubts, now is a great time to get an annual review of your auto and home/renters insurance policies. You’ll sleep better at night knowing you are protected against expected surprises if you have a claim. You may also find you are eligible for additional savings and discounts!

Here are seven examples of why you should contact your insurance advisor to review your policy:

  1. You got married. Newlyweds often pay less for insurance than when they were single. You can also find discounts by combining your autos with one insurance company. It also means all those expensive wedding gifts you received might need extra protection.
  2. You got divorced. You probably are no longer sharing a vehicle and moved into a different residence. You’ll need to inform your insurance company to set up separate auto and home or renters insurance policies.
  3. Your teen got a driver’s permit or license. You need to let your insurance company know if they are driving your vehicles, or if you bought them one. Make sure that you take advantage of good student discounts and additional multi-vehicle savings!
  4. You bought or inherited valuables such as antiques, fine art, jewelry or other collectibles. Your standard homeowners or renters insurance policy provides limited coverage of high dollar items. This is a good time to purchase scheduled personal property endorsements to cover your new valuable possessions for a higher amount.
  5. You’ve added on to your home or have remodeled. Improvements to your house mean there is more to protect. Contacting your insurance company is a good way to make sure that you have enough coverage. This also applies for a new gazebo, shed or pool, or hot tub.
  6. You’ve moved to a flood or earthquake prone area. Neither earthquake nor flood insurance is included with most homeowners or renters policies. You need to purchase separate flood or earthquake insurance. Keep in mind that flood insurance has a 30-day waiting period before it becomes effective.
  7. You’ve retired. This often means you are driving less, which could significantly reduce your insurance costs. Drivers over 55 also often get discounts from their insurance companies and you can further reduce your premiums by completing a driver safety course.

Knowing more about your insurance could save you money on your premiums and heartache in the event of a break-in or natural disaster.

If it is time for your auto or home insurance coverage review contact one of our customer care advisors today at 1.800.800.9410. A few minutes of your time will provide the appropriate protection, and we may even find you some extra savings!

If you don’t know where to start to determine if it’s time for your policy review, download our free Insurance Coverage Checklist. Just click the image below for your free download!

Summer Pool Safety Tips

Summer Pool Safety Tips

We live for those carefree summer days spent splashing in the water, but they may have a dark side- drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children ages 1 to 4. It is often silent and quick, meaning it only takes a few minutes of unsupervised time in the water for a tragedy to unfold.

The good news is that by taking the proper safety measures and establishing rules for your pool, you can decrease the risk level of drowning.

While you and your family are having fun in the sun, remember to follow these important summer pool safety tips.

 

Assess Your Pool Area

First, take a look at your pool and the area around it. There are several things you can do to improve overall safety:

  • Pool barrier – Consider installing a fence around your pool to prevent access by children and pets. A 4-sided barrier reduces drowning risk by 83% compared to a 3-sided fence (one that uses the house as the 4th side). Make sure the barrier is at least 4 feet tall and that gates are self-latching and self-closing.
  • Secondary barrier – If your home does open directly to the pool, install door alarms and locks that are out of children’s reach.
  • Above-ground pools – Make sure to lock or remove steps/ladders or anything else that can be used for pool access in the absence of adult supervision.
  • Pool covers – Power safety covers are your best bet for safety. Keep the control device out of reach of kids and ensure the cover is closed when the pool’s not in use.
  • Pet doors – Small children can crawl through pet doors, so ensure there are no doors leading directly to the pool. This keeps both kids and pets safe.
  • Drain covers – Install anti-entrapment safety drain covers, which will prevent all-too-common entrapment accidents.
  • Underwater pool alarm – Consider installing an underwater pool alarm, which goes off whenever anyone enters the pool. They are surprisingly affordable for the peace of mind they offer.

 

Establish Rules and Safe Behaviors

Having agreed-upon rules and behaviors sets the tone and parameters for safety. Adopt the following and add your own!

  • Don’t go in or near the pool unless an adult or water watcher is present.
  • Swim with a buddy.
  • No diving.
  • No running.
  • No pushing.
  • Stay away from drains and other areas with suction.
  • If someone’s in trouble or struggling, get help immediately.
  • For adults, swim sober and only supervise others when you’re not distracted.

 

Prepare for Emergencies and Know the Risks

Keep the following in mind as an added layer of protection.

  • Never leave a child unattended around a pool or hot tub. Stay within arm’s reach of young children and anyone who can’t swim.
  • If a child is missing, check the water first.
  • A silent killer. Drowning is almost always quiet (and quick), not loud and splashy as depicted on TV. All the more reason for a designated water watcher and for all adults to be on high alert when children are in or near water.
  • Make sure all family members know how to swim. Everyone should have basic swimming and/or water competency skills. For children still learning, adult supervision and help with competency is essential.
  • Minimize your liability. Pool owners are subject to lawsuits if someone is injured or worse in their pool. So, ensure that all rules and safety measures are understood and followed — by anyone using the pool. Consider adding coverage to your homeowner’s policy for liability lawsuits and check on what it covers in the context of pools.
  • Share safety instructions with others. It’s a good idea to post pool rules and safety instructions poolside so that everyone — including guests such as friends, family, babysitters and neighbors — sees, knows, and follows them.

 

Peace of mind is priceless. By adopting the tips above, you can rest easier this summer in and around the pool.

 

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.

 

Summertime Backyard Dangers

Summertime Backyard Dangers

Backyards were made for carefree summer days, family BBQs and dinners al fresca.

Unfortunately, they’re also the site of many summertime injuries. Use this summer safety list to assess your backyard for potential hazards and make the required fixes.

Here are 9 hidden dangers in your backyard.

 

1. Swimming Pools

Children can drown in 1 inch of water, so never leave kids unattended in or near water. Experts recommend fencing backyard swimming pools with a fence at least 4 ft high that has a self-latching, self-closing gate. Repair any missing or broken drain or suction covers to prevent accidental entrapment. Hot tubs should be locked when not in use and have a hard cover. Finally, be sure to empty and turn over kiddie pools when not in use, as they’re a drowning hazard.

 

2. Fences

Check your fence line for damage and repair as necessary. To protect kids from getting their head or body parts stuck in the fence, be sure gaps between fence slates and railings are less than 3.5” wide.

 

3. Trampolines

Many experts agree that trampolines pose a high risk of injury to children and youth. Injuries include broken bones, dislocations, concussions, and neck and back injuries. Safety nets don’t always help because kids are often hurt by getting thrown around while jumping in groups (a similar phenomenon in bounce houses). Safety measures for trampoline use include a rule of one-at-a-time use, adult supervision at all times, safety padding on the frame, routine equipment maintenance, and hazard-free surroundings.

 

4. Garden Tools

Maintain and repair garden tools, throwing out any that are damaged or broken. Keep children away from sharp tools, preferably by locking tools in a secure area. Tools can carry a great number of bacteria, so the risk of tetanus is high. Protect yourself when using tools by wearing gloves and necessary safety gear.

 

5. The Grill

If your grill was idle through the winter, do a thorough inspection, paying special attention to connections and hoses, and look for any leaks, breakages, blocks, or holes. Keep children away from the grill and be sure to always have a fire extinguisher nearby. Finally, never leave it unattended while cooking — grills and barbeques cause about 10,600 home fires every year.

 

6. Patios & The Deck

If your deck is wood, check for rotted or loose boards or railings. Brick and stone patios should be checked for broken or loose pieces. Check concrete for chips and cracks; and metal for rust, corrosion, and sharp edges.

 

7. Weak Tree Branches

If you didn’t get a chance to trim your trees in the spring, make sure you do so asap! Look for broken or splintered branches – when they’re weak, they’re very hazardous. Also trim any dead or diseased limbs (the latter can spread disease throughout the tree), and any that were damaged by winter storms. Ditto for branches over power lines.

 

8. Pesticides

Don’t apply them when children or pets are nearby, and allow plenty of time for them to dry. Follow instructions and don’t apply more than the recommended amount. Avoid spraying on windy days. Wear long sleeves, pants, and eye protection when applying them, and be sure to wash your hands afterward. Store pesticides and any chemicals in a secure, locked area.

 

9. The Lawnmower

A 13-year study by the Journal of AAOS has highlighted the need for improved safety awareness of lawnmower dangers — especially in rural populations — as well as the significant number of injuries sustained by children. Teach your kids that lawnmowers are not toys (and don’t take them “on rides” on the mower). Besides collision risk, children are susceptible to burns from hot mower parts, and airborne debris kicked up by the mower. Keep kids out of the yard while mowing.

 

Taking the steps to get your backyard in summer shape will pay off in the form of good times, sweet memories, and a family safe from needless harm.

 

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.

 

 

A Spring Cleaning & Donation Checklist

A Spring Cleaning & Donation Checklist

While we’ve been shut in our homes for months, many people have taken the opportunity to clean, organize, and purge.

Before stowing your supplies, go through the checklists below to finish your spring cleaning (inside and out) before the lazy days of summer hit. -You’ll also find tips for recycling or donating items like extra business wear, old shoes, and leftover paint!

Spring Cleaning Indoors

You know the drill: dust and wipe down all surfaces. Vacuum and mop floors; clean carpets and rugs as needed. Disinfect light switch covers, doorknobs, and handles throughout your home. Expert tip: clean one room at a time before moving to the next. And try to hit these extras—they’ll make a huge difference:

Kitchen. Organize pantry and cupboards. Defrost and clean the freezer. Toss expired food. Sharpen knives and give your pots and pans a deep clean. Don’t forget the oven (inside and underneath).

Bedrooms. Vacuum, rotate, and flip mattresses. Launder all bedding—including pillows!

Living areas. Clean the fireplace and hearth. Launder curtains and drapes. Vacuum sofas and under cushions, and wash cushion covers. Change the batteries in the smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector.

Laundry room. Clean appliances—underneath and even inside. Clean dryer lint trap.

Bathrooms. Clean toilet lid hinges and bolt covers on the toilet base. Clean exhaust fan. Check expiration dates on medications and dispose of safely.

Garage. Get rid of unwanted items and re-organize what you want to keep. Sweep, wash and degrease the floor—and repair any cracks to extend the life of the concrete. Inspect your garage door, including weather stripping and the door track hardware.

Basement. Declutter and re-organize items. Vacuum and wash vents. Check for and treat any mold or mildew.

 

Spring Cleaning Outdoors

Backyards and home exteriors, often forgotten, also benefit from spring cleaning love. The following not only ups the beauty quotient but enhance safety and prevent damage.

Gutters. Clean out debris and check for cracks, gaps, or sagging.

Patio furniture. Scrub furniture clean with the appropriate cleaning solution. Hose off and let dry in the sun. Brush off and wash outdoor cushions.

Deck. Sweep, scrub, and powerwash. Inspect for and repair any rotting word, chips in concrete or rusted metal.

Trees. Trim low-hanging limbs or any that risk damaging your house.

Lighting. Replace bulbs as needed. Clear fixtures of cobwebs and insects, and clean inside and out.

Windows. Wash windows inside and out. Gently brush and wipe down screens (remove if necessary to deep clean). Remove, wash, and store any storm windows.

Grill. Check all connections and functions. Give the grill a thorough scrubbing and replace propane tanks if needed.

Outdoor surfaces. Powerwash the siding around your home. Check driveways, sidewalks, retaining walls, and walkways for damage or safety hazards.

Where You Can Donate

You’ve purged and cleared the clutter—inside and out. What to do with all that stuff you’ve bagged up or set aside to get rid of? Besides the local donation stand-bys, try apps like NextDoor or Freecycle to donate usable items to folks in your neighborhood. Here are other ideas for some common items.   

  • Old running shoes — Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program keeps athletic shoes out of the landfill—and turns them into new running surfaces.
  • Linens — Many animal shelters welcome used towels and blankets for their 4-legged residents.
  • Leftover paint — Many organizations can use your (non-expired) leftover paint. Try Habitat for Humanity, local shelters or churches, and community organizations that work with kids (and hence, have projects!)
  • Hazardous materials — Drain cleaner, antifreeze, motor oil and other toxic chemicals can be dropped off or collected by your local waste management agency, or the national Waste Management, which serves most U.S. municipalities.
  • Lumber scraps – Untreated wood (along with tree trimmings!) can be composted. Wood that’s painted, treated, or varnished unfortunately must go to the landfill. Remember not to burn it, as that releases toxic chemicals.

A freshly scrubbed home and yard will make every day relaxing and summer barbeques all the more enjoyable. And you’ll feel better knowing your used items helped out neighbors in need.   

 

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.

Preparing for Spring Storms

Preparing for Spring Storms

Unpredictable weather is a trademark of spring:  73° and deliciously sunny one day, 41°, and sideways rain the next.

Fluctuating weather during this time of year also plays a major factor in the development of severe spring storms. However, with the right preparation, you can be sure that your home and family are ready to withstand the worst of it.

Follow these preparation tips to be sure you are spring storm-ready.

Be Weather Aware — You can sign up for a number of free weather alert services provided by national or local agencies, weather channels, and power companies. Usually, alerts come to your phone via text message or app, but many have multiple delivery methods. And remember, radio is the old standby, especially in a power outage (so set your emergency radio to the correct station ahead of time).

Trim the Trees — Trim low-hanging limbs, as well as any branches hanging near your home or power lines that could snap off in high winds and cause damage.

Free Your Gutters — Remove leaves and other debris from gutters, drains, and downspouts (best done each spring and fall). This ensures that any deluge of rainwater is quickly diverted away from your home and foundation rather than potentially flooding it. Take the opportunity to check gutters for leaks, damage, and sagging; also make sure they’re securely attached.

Check the Sump Pump — If you haven’t had to deal with a flooded basement, thanks are due to your hardworking sump pump. To keep it in good working order, test it a few times a year, including before spring storms. Clear any debris and make sure it’s working and draining properly. Consider adding a battery-powered back-up pump, or a standby generator, in case of power outages.

Get Ahead of Leaks — Leaks are sneaky … and can cause damage quickly. If you’ve had any leaks in the past, now’s the time to seal them up—before the big rains start. Also do a preventive check on your doors’ and windows’ sealing (inside and outside), as well as in the garage and basement, then fix any gaps or cracks.

Secure Items — By the time the wind is bending trees, it’s too late to worry about securing items in your yard. As soon as storms are forecast, bring items like patio furniture into the garage (or secure them in place outside). Anything that can become a projectile should be moved inside. Also close and secure shutters around your home. Drawing interior blinds and shades provide yet another layer of protection against flying debris and broken glass.

Get Your Plans in Place — When the storms roll in, you’ll be glad you made plans ahead of time.

    • Storm Safety Plan — Create a safety plan with your family, and make sure everyone understands it and is on board. This would cover things like shelter-in-place locations in the home, evacuation routes, communication protocols if you’re separated, and a plan for your pets.
    • Emergency Kit — Regularly check your kit and add, replace or discard items as needed. See our checklist here for a full emergency kit inventory. At the very least, prepare the following for storms: first aid supplies, flashlights with new batteries, two gallons of water per person, a hand-crank or battery-powered radio, a three-day supply of non-perishable food for your family and pets, and a two-month supply of any necessary medications.
    • Be Ready for a Power Outage — Are you ready for a few days of no power? Charge all phones and electronic devices ahead of time. Make sure your generator is operational and ready to go. Fill your car’s gas tank (and some cans for your generator). For more tips, check out our power outage safety hacks. Finally, remember to use surge protectors when the power is being restored.

As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When it comes to safeguarding your home, the steps above can go a long way toward preventing costly damage, headache, and hassle. And there’s no time like the present to start!

 

 

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.

Homeowners – Give Your Trees a Check-Up

Homeowners – Give Your Trees a Check-Up

The first Arbor Day in America took place April 10, 1872 in Nebraska City, Nebraska, when a proposed “tree-planting holiday” saw an estimated one million trees planted in the state in one day. Almost 150 years later, our love of trees remains strong as ever—they give us beauty, comfort, shade, protection, and a living expression of the seasons.

However, the benefits of living with trees also come with risk, especially for home-owners. Falling trees or branches can damage your home or even injure people. They can fall on power lines, leading to outages or fires, and their roots can damage pipes, foundations, and utility infrastructure. If a tree grows on your property, you are legally responsible for damage or injuries caused by it.

Since it’s difficult to tell when a tree might fail, here are 7 signs that could indicate bad tree health and a hazardous situation in the making.

 

How to Spot Tree Health Trouble Signs:

1. Leaning Trees. A little lean is normal, as most trees don’t grow straight, but if you see cracked or buckling soil—especially on the opposite side of the lean—that’s an indicator of stress. Another sign is exposed roots around the tree’s base.

2. Multiple Trunks. A tree with multiple trunks can break if the trunks are weakly attached. Check for cracks and splits where the trunks meet.

3. Dead Branches. As a normal part of their growth cycle, trees will shed dead branches, called deadwood. Most will eventually fall but keep an eye out for branches with a diameter of 2 inches or more—these are more likely to cause damage when they fall.

4. Fungi or Mushrooms. Fungi growing on the tree’s base or roots signals decay. These organisms feed off the tree’s internal cells, compromising its structural integrity.

5. Cracks. Large cracks in a tree’s trunk or branches require immediate attention. Most worrying is horizontal cracks in the trunk; however, any significant crack is a sign that the wood is weak or has already begun to fail and it’s only a matter of time before it snaps.

6. Cavities. Although not always the case, tree cavities can signal internal decay. Check for peeling bark and hollow or decayed areas, especially where branches meet the trunk. If you notice ants, birds, squirrels, bees, or raccoons spending a lot of time on trees that don’t provide food, it may also be a sign that there’s an internal void.

7. V-Shaped Branches. Look at where branches attach to the trunk:  those unions should look more like the letter U than V. Tight V-shaped forks are more prone to break than the more open U-shaped ones.

 

When To Call an Arborist

Some of the above hazards can be addressed relatively easily. For instance, you can prune branches and use cabling to stabilize a small or medium-sized tree that’s leaning. However, if you notice serious hazards or are dealing with especially large or old trees, it’s safest to contact a certified arborist.

 

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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