Do I Need to Insure My Boat Year-Round?

Do I Need to Insure My Boat Year-Round?

If you’re like most boat owners, you probably only use your boat a few months out of the year. And after all those summer trips are done, and your boat’s cleaned up and ready for storage, you might be tempted to cancel the insurance.

After all, if your boat won’t even be on the water, why would you need coverage?

Turns out, there are some compelling reasons to keep your insurance throughout the year, not the least of which is that it can actually save you money in the long run. Here are 4 top reasons.

1. Accidents Don’t Have an Offseason

More than half of the claims are filed for accidents that occur between September and January. The majority of those are for theft, vandalism, fire, and flooding. Boats are typically unattended during this time, which increases accident risk. When you carry boat insurance, these claims are covered by comprehensive coverage, costing far less than out-of-pocket payments would for repair and replacement in the event of an insurance lapse.

 

2. It May Be Required

If your boat is financed by a lender, you may be obligated to carry insurance year-round. Even if you own your boat outright, some marinas may require boats on the premises to be insured.

 

3. Don’t Count on Your Homeowner’s Policy

Many boat owners assume that damage to their boat is covered under their homeowner’s policy. Most times this isn’t the case, as the boat would probably only be protected if damage occurred while on the covered property. And even then, a homeowner’s policy might not fully cover the damage and/or leave the owner with coverage gaps (for example, many homeowners policies have length and horsepower limits that apply to boats). Boat insurance policies are crafted to meet specific needs and protect against risks inherent to boating.

 

4. It Makes Financial Sense

Depending on your insurer, signing up for a full 12-month policy can make you eligible for discounts or loyalty benefits, saving you money over the long term. Also keep in mind that many insurers already adjust the off-season monthly premiums to be lower than the on-season ones, so an annual policy, in the end, does offer better protection dollar for dollar than one for just several months. And don’t forget that as your boat ages you may find it more difficult to secure insurance if you cancel your policy. Finally, if you insure your boat with the same company as your car or homeowner’s insurance, you can most likely get a multiple policy discount.

Just as with homeowners and car insurance, a policy protecting your boat against damage and liability not only provides peace of mind but is a wise financial decision. And given the risks specific to boats, choosing a year-round policy is even smarter.

 

 

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, 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, now is the ideal 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. Just 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. Before your lawnmower goes into hibernation, schedule a time to have it serviced. If your snowblower needs some TLC after its summer break, bring it in with your mower and tackle two chores at once. 

During the fall it is also important to make sure your home is fire safe. Hundreds of fires break out each day during the autumn and winter months. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and make sure everything is working properly. The National Fire Protection Association 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. Replace or have them serviced as needed. 
  • 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, if you need to up your coverage, or add additional coverage for the coming winter months.

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty. We specialize in 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.

What To Do When the Ground Shakes

What To Do When the Ground Shakes

Chances are good that if an earthquake hits, you’ll be at home — especially now, when many of us are working at home due to coronavirus.

Luckily, there are simple things you can do today to safeguard your home and better protect yourself and your family before an earthquake strikes. Start with our 12 to-dos below. You’ll also find 3 top tips for what to do during a quake and, just as importantly, what not to do.

 

Inside Your Home

Whether it’s the kind that rolls in waves or arrives with a sudden jolt, an earthquake will surely shake your home and its contents. More people are injured by falling objects or furniture than by building damage. Make your home safer by securing and moving furniture and accessories, especially where people sit, sleep, or spend a lot of time. Pay special attention to heavy objects: move them lower to ground level and also make sure they’re not close to escape routes or doorways. Here are 12 other items to check and secure:

    • Bookshelves – Tall bookshelves are an accident waiting to happen, as they’re unstable to begin with, and their contents can easily become airborne. Secure them to a wall stud using L-brackets and place the heaviest items on bottom shelves.
    • Chemicals – If you have chemicals stored on open shelves in the garage or basement, protect them against spills by installing wood, plexiglass strips or wires to restrain them. If containers are behind cabinet doors, use latches to secure the doors.
    • Display Cases – Secure these to the floor using appropriate brackets. Install safety glass if possible. Try to secure shelves inside the case as well.
    • Electronics – For large electronics such as flat-screen TVs and entertainment centers, buy a “safety strap” kit, which contains straps and buckles designed for these heavy electronics.
    • Hanging Objects – These are especially prone to be thrown around in a quake. Framed pictures and mirrors should be hung from closed hooks so they can’t bounce off walls. You can also use earthquake putty to secure corners. Move medium or large-sized pieces so they’re hung on studs, which is more secure being hung on drywall only. Make sure any hanging plants are well away from windows.
    • HVAC Units – Anchor units using restraint brackets or seismic snubbers.
    • Kitchen Cabinets – Shaking can cause cabinet doors to fly open and throw contents onto the floor. This can lead to a floor full of glass and ceramic shards – not to mention damage to countertops and walls. Secure cabinets by installing one or more of several latches: hook and eye, standard latch, pull/throwover, push latches, child-proof, or seismolatch.
    • Piping – Secure all overhead pipes using brackets.
    • Refrigerator – Secure refrigerators and other major appliances to wall studs using earthquake appliance straps.
    • Space Heaters – These should be equipped with support legs and properly spaced angles. Learn online to DIY or hire a professional.
    • Suspended AC Units – These should be braced with angles or welded to a support rod.
    • Water Heater – Proper fastening involves having 2 straps that wrap completely around the unit and are screwed into studs of the wall.

 

What to Do During a Quake

The more you move or try to run during an earthquake, the greater chance you’ll be injured by falling or flying objects. Instead, remember to:

1. Drop to hands and knees – Do this before the earthquake knocks you down. It protects you from being thrown down and allows you to move if you need to.

2. Cover your head and neck – Get under a sturdy table or desk as soon as you can. If you can’t get to one, get next to low-lying furniture that won’t fall on you or next to an interior wall. Wherever you end up, cover your head and neck for protection.

3. Hold on to your shelter – Hold on to the table or desk (or your head and neck) until the shaking stops. If you’re under a table, be ready for it to shift as the quake rolls – and move with it.

 

What NOT to Do

1. Run outside – A building’s exterior walls are the most dangerous place to be during a quake. Facades, windows, and architectural details are often first to collapse or break. If you’re inside, don’t run outside, and if you’re outside, don’t run inside – crossing the building exterior puts you at risk of being injured by falling debris.

2. Stand in a doorway – It’s a long-held idea that a doorframe is the safest place to be. In modern homes, a doorframe is no safer than any other part of the house and won’t protect you from airborne or falling objects. You’re safer under a sturdy table.

3. Get in the “triangle of life” – An email that’s gone viral in the last few years offers advice counter to the long-established “Drop, Cover and Hold On” advice. The actions outlined have been discredited as potentially life-threatening by experts and their organizations.

Earthquake safety really boils down to preparation. Although you can’t control where you’ll be when one hits, you can prepare yourself and your home starting right now. Between the tips above – and our articles on what to do before and after a quake and emergency kit basics – you’ll be well on your way to pro-level preparation.

 

 

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.

Creating a Family Disaster Plan

Creating a Family Disaster Plan

An earthquake, flood, fire, or severe storm can strike at any time — and you and your family may not be together when it does.

How will you find each other if separated? What about household members who have medical conditions? And what if your cell phones or networks are out of power?

Crafting an emergency plan before a disaster hits gives you time to discuss your family’s needs and circumstances, review possible scenarios, and decide on the best options together. Schedule a time when the whole family can participate. You may need one or two additional meetings to finalize all the details.

Here’s what you’ll need to cover:

 

1. Make A Plan of Action  

Smart planning entails talking through a number of situations and “what-ifs.” Start by brainstorming around the following (and remember that coronavirus may affect some answers).

  • What natural disasters are we most likely to experience?
  • How will we receive emergency alerts and warnings?
  • What are the escape or evacuation routes from our house?
  • What is our shelter plan?

 

2. If Your Family is Separated

Re-opening across the country means parents may be going back to work and kids back to school. Are there other locations, such as after-school programs, childcare, gyms or volunteer sites that family members regularly attend? Consider those when answering the following:

  • If separated during an emergency, where should we meet near our home?
  • If meeting near home is impossible for some or all family members, what’s our meeting place?
  • If we are separated, who is our emergency contact outside of our immediate area?

 

3. Specific Needs of Family Members

Remember to tailor your plan to address any particular needs of/by family members, such as:

  • Medical needs including prescriptions and equipment
  • Dietary needs
  • Medical conditions, disabilities or functional needs, especially those requiring devices and equipment
  • Language barriers or limitations
  • Ages of all household members, including school-aged children
  • Pets or service animals
  • Religious and cultural considerations

 

5. Fill Out the Plan

After discussing the above, it’s time to get it all down on paper. Be sure to capture the following as well.

  • All the contact information for each household member.
  • Who’s responsible for what during the disaster? Tasks might include things like retrieving the disaster kit, evacuating pets, and fielding disaster updates and alerts.
  • Create a personal network of friends, family or neighbors for things you might need help with.
  • Make sure you have one or more out-of-town contacts for emergencies.
  • Numbers for important contacts such as utilities, financial companies, childcare and caregivers, veterinarians, and insurance companies.

 

6. Share & Practice

During an emergency, cellular networks and wi-fi may be unreliable, and computers and phones may be lost or out of power. In these cases, having a paper copy of your family disaster plan can save precious time, minimize stress and prevent unnecessary emergencies. So, make sure each family member has a copy and carries it with them in a purse, backpack or work bag (here’s a template plan that fits in your wallet). Have regular family meetings to review the plan and practice. Finally, do a thorough review every 6 months or so, to update information or responsibilities.

 

7. Resources

Check out these resources to get your plan disaster-ready.

 

The perfect time to make a plan is right now. Getting all your family members on board and in the know sooner rather than later will ensure that you’re all ready when you need to be.

 

 

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.

Home Renovations — DIY or Go Pro?

Home Renovations — DIY or Go Pro?

For homeowners looking to improve their abode, going the DIY route is tempting. It can save you money, allows for customization according to your needs and style, and can provide a sense of accomplishment and creativity.

That said, some renovation projects are best left to the experts. If you’ve got a project in mind, take a look at the following considerations to help you determine whether to hire out or do it yourself.

 

Questions To Consider:

What’s your skill level? In the age of YouTube, almost anyone can become a (near) master at anything. Depending on your project, you can find a ton of educational resources online to shore up the required skills and many times even the step-by-step instructions. Be honest in assessing your skills — if you feel comfortable and confident, great; if you feel out of your comfort or learning zone, look at hiring a professional.

Do you have stick-to-itiveness? All home reno projects are exciting in the “dreaming” and initial action phases, but do you have the patience to slog through the hard work and inevitable challenges? Multiple runs to the hardware store in a single day? Broken tools? Miscalculations of supplies or measurements? Maybe tackle a small project or two to test your longevity muscle.

How much time do you have? Try to gauge how much time your project will take (add a buffer of 20% or so), and realistically look at your available time. Evenings and weekends might be the quick answer, but remember you have a life and need downtime too. Also, think about the risk of a project dragging out unexpectedly. If your free time is tight or the family calendar too hectic, a professional contractor will save you sanity.

Is the project complex or dangerous? If your project involves asbestos, gas, electricity, or plumbing — or a mistake could cause serious consequences or harm — it’s best to go with a pro. Reputable contractors carry insurance and are current on all safety risks and requirements. They also have the expertise to advise you on any complicated aspects of the project, such as permitting, regulations, zoning, or structural issues.

Have you crunched the numbers? Usually, cost savings is a main factor for people going the DIY route. However, it’s smart to get a few estimates from professionals anyway and compare them to the DIY costs you’d rack up in materials, tools, and time. Don’t overlook opportunity cost — the time you could spend doing other important things in your life. And remember that for some materials, contractors can secure much better prices (or selection) than consumers.

Is good enough … good enough? Can you live with the end result not being absolutely perfect? Visible paintbrush lines? Tiles not quite even? A crooked cupboard? If so, DIY might be for you; if not, start asking around for professionals known for high-quality work.

Do you mind getting dirty? The majority of home remodeling is the demo work. It’s grueling, dusty, dirty, and messy. If you’re okay with that, more power to you on your DIY journey!

 

Here are some typical home renovation projects and whether they’re most suited to DIY homeowners or professionals. Many times, it boils down to question 4 above — the level of danger, expertise or complexity.

 

DIY:

    • Update kitchen cabinet front panels
    • Update interior door knobs or cabinet handles
    • Fix or Install a toilet0
    • Hang drywall
    • Paint interiors
    • Install laminate flooring
    • Change a ceiling light
    • Install baseboards
    • Replace tile grout
    • Replace tiles

Hire a Pro:

    • Remodel bathroom
    • Remodel kitchen
    • Install hardwood or tile flooring
    • Side the house
    • Remove lead paint
    • Make major structural repairs
    • Replace windows
    • Pave a driveway
    • Repair or replace roofing

 

Sprucing up your home can improve its functionality, increase your property value, and boost your mood. Being thorough in comparing a DIY versus professional approach can help you come to the best decision for you and your 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.

Grilling Safety: Preventing a House Fire

 

Americans love to BBQ; and like baseball, grilling can be considered an American summer pastime. Grilling season peaks in the summer months with 75% of US adults actively BBQ-ing for holidays like Memorial Day, Father’s Day, the 4th of July, and Labor Day. However; rain showers and snowstorms won’t stop us, 63% of Americans say they continue to grill year-round.

With the arrival of summer, more people than ever will be breaking out the gas and charcoal. If this includes you, remember to be cautious and never leave your grill unattended. A small grill fire could easily lead to a home in flames. On average 10,200 house fires are started by grills each year, which estimates to about a combined $37 million in property loss.

So, whether you are grilling for enjoyment, to host family and friends, or just for that savory flavor the summer, follow these simple grilling safety tips to help prevent a house fire:

 

1. Grill at least 10 feet from your home or garage

 The farther away from any structures or home decor the better

2. Do not grill under any overhangs or structures

This includes branches, wires, carports, awnings, etc.

3. Do not leave your grill uncovered unattended 

It only takes one minute for a fire to double in size

4. Turn on your grill and light your gas right away

Don’t wait, if the gas builds up it can cause an explosion

5. Make sure your grill is not leaking

Test it! Spray your tank with soapy water, if the water bubbles, you’ve got a leak

6. Keep your grill clean

Caked-on grease acts as fuel and will only make a fire stronger

7. Do not put too much food on at once

-Dripping fat will only make the flames stronger

8. Keep water or an extinguisher close by-

If a small fire were to start, you can catch and extinguish it at the source

9. Never grill indoors

 A spark or flare-up could easily catch something on fire, plus grills release carbon monoxide, which can be deadly

10. Let your grill completely cool off before moving or covering it

Wait 2-3 hours after use and touch it with your hands, if it is still warm, then wait another 2-3 hours before moving or covering

 

 

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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