Porch Pirates

Porch Pirates

It’s December and the holiday season is quickly approaching! That means an abundance of packages are going to be arriving at homes across the country from now until Christmas Day. Unfortunately, that also means there is also going to be an abundance of thieves waiting for the perfect moment to snatch those packages up and claim them for their own.

Porch Pirates are the real deal, and if you think you are secure just because you know and trust your neighbors, think again.  Almost 26 million Americans say they have had a package stolen from their home during the holidays. That is about 8% of the population!

It could happen in any neighborhood, in fact, most instances involve strangers following delivery vehicles or driving through neighborhoods, that are not theirs, and stealing packages from porches and doorsteps.

So what can you do to protect the surplus of online gifts that will soon be arriving at your door?

Here are some tips to avoid Porch Pirates.

  1. Schedule deliveries for times you will be home, to your workplace, or an alternative address like a close relative’s home or an Amazon Locker. Some police stations and grocery stores even offer residents the opportunity to send holiday packages to their office for pick up!
  2. Install a security camera, or use a video doorbell, like Ring or Google Nest, so you can monitor your front porch.
  3. Leave the carrier specific instructions on where to drop off your package. Choose an area that is tucked away and cannot be seen from the road, like behind a bush, bench, column, or on a screened-in porch.
  4. Track your shipment closely online.
  5. Require a signature for drop off.
  6. Request a delivery confirmation from the carrier once your package arrives.

Porch Pirates are very sneaky, and often strike in broad daylight. If you witness suspicious activity immediately inform your local police department. If you are a victim, call 9-1-1 and file a claim with your carrier.

Have a happy and safe holiday season, from all of us at CalCas!  

 

Related Articles:

10 Must Do’s to Protect Yourself on Cyber Monday

Protect Your Home and Family – Know It. Do it.

Tips to Prevent a Summer Burglary

 

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.      

10 Must Do’s to Protect Yourself on Cyber Monday

10 Must Do’s to Protect Yourself on Cyber Monday

‘Tis the season of joy, shopping, and unfortunately cyber thievery. While millions of Americans will be looking online for Cyber Monday bargains, crooks will be trying to steal their money, personal information, and identity. It’s estimated that a person’s identity is stolen online every three seconds, in the United States.

So, how do you avoid the “bad Santa’s” lurking on the internet? To help keep this the most wonderful time of year, we’ve assembled these 10 tips from the Better Business Bureau and our identity theft prevention partner, CyberScout, to add to your holiday list:

  1. Only shop on secure sites – look for “https” in the URL and a locked padlock symbol and avoid doing so on public WiFi
  2. Install the latest security software to block the crooks
  3. Never give personal information, especially social security numbers or passwords
  4. Use a credit card, not a debit card, for payment (you might consider purchasing a prepaid gift card to use for online shopping)
  5. Click out of suspicious links immediately (AVG has a free LinkScanner that checks sites legitimacy for you)
  6. Beware of Santa scammers who promise to send a letter to your child; often they are collecting personal data for ID theft
  7. Don’t buy used electronics; many are preloaded with malware that can steal personal information and passwords
  8. Avoid downloading online coupons sent to your email or from websites you are not sure of
  9. Use unique passwords for every site
  10. Don’t buy that cute puppy via the Internet – scammers use the holidays to take money for puppies that don’t exist, often using the ruse to get banking and personal information

The quicker you catch a possible breach, the better. Credit experts like CyberScout advise consumers to check their credit card and bank statements weekly, request a receipt for any purchase you make and run a free credit check annually.

California Casualty wants to make sure your identity stays safe from online Grinches; every auto and home/renters insurance policy comes with Free ID theft protection and resolution services from CyberScout. Make sure to protect your property and identity this holiday, call a California Casualty advisor today at 1.800.800.9410, or visit www.calcas.com/identity-theft.

 

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This article furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.800.800.9410 or www.calcas.com.

 

Steps to Take After Hitting a Deer

Collisions involving deer and elk spike across the United States from October through December, as the animals are continuously moving to seek new habitats to breed and forage for food. More than 1.5 million accidents involving deer take place every year in the U.S., causing over $1 billion in vehicle damage. hitting a deer

Accidents happen, even to the most vigilant driver, so if a deer jumps out in front of you, here’s what you can do.

Steps to Take After Hitting a Deer

  • Attempt to move your vehicle to the side of the road
  • Use your hazard lights
  • Call local law enforcement or the state patrol
  • Don’t approach or attempt to move an injured animal
  • Take photos of the crash, the damage to your vehicle, and the roadway where it occurred
  • Fill out an accident report
  • Contact your California Casualty agent as soon as possible at 1.800.800.9410

Deer can be found in many different landscapes and are on the move from dusk until dawn. So much so, there is no real way to avoid them. However, you can reduce your chances of hitting a deer by following these steps:

  • Don’t drive distracted
  • Don’t speed, especially in rural/wooded areas
  • Use high beams at night when there is no oncoming traffic
  • Continuously scan the road for movement on the sides
  • Pay attention to wildlife warning signs
  • Honk your horn if you see a deer, to scare them away from the road (they often travel together)
  • If a deer runs out in front of you, hit your breaks immediately, do not swerve

In the event of an accident, make sure you have the correct coverage, call a representative today to review your policy.

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 Safe Halloween is a Happy Halloween

A Safe Halloween is a Happy Halloween

Halloween is almost here and that means little superheroes, princesses, and ghosts will soon be roaming the streets in search of their favorite sugary treats. Halloween safety

As you spend time planning, decorating and carving pumpkins, remember that a safe Halloween is a Happy Halloween. Whether you’re headed out with the trick-or-treaters or manning the door to pass out candy at home, here are some Halloween safety tips to keep in mind:

 

Trick-or-Treating with Children:

  1. Make sure all swords or similar costume accessories are soft, short, and flexible
  2. Never let children trick-or-treat alone
  3. Map out a safe route with your kids
  4. Set a designated time for them to return home or check-in with you
  5. Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see trick-or-treaters
  6. Attach your child’s name, address, and phone number somewhere inside their costume
  7. Try to walk on the sidewalks as much as possible.
  8. Carry a flashlight with you—and give one to each child–to help you and others see
  9. Check to make sure kids are wearing well-fitted masks (or better yet- face paint!), costumes, and shoes to avoid tripping or blocking your vision
  10. Check over treats before letting kids start eating them- check to make sure they are still commercially wrapped and not tampered with and that they do not present a choking hazard
  11. Always test make-up in a small area first to check for allergies before applying it to large areas like the face. Be sure to remove all makeup before bedtime to prevent skin and eye irritation
  12. Remind kids:
    • Walk from house to house, never run
    • Enter homes only if you are with a trusted adult
    • Only visit well-lit homes
    • Look both ways before crossing the street
    • Never accept rides from strangers
    • Never walk near lit candles or luminaries

 

Prepare Your Home for Trick-or-Treaters:

  1. Make sure the outside areas of your home is well-lit and free of obstacles
  2. Be sure to turn on all your exterior lights
  3. Keep candle-lit jack-o-lanterns and luminaries away from doorsteps, walkways, landings, and curtains. Use battery-operated candles in any outdoor or child-accessible decorations
  4. Keep pets away from the door so they don’t scare—or get scared by—trick-or-treaters
  5. Report any suspicious or criminal activity to your local police department or sheriff’s office
  6. Make sure you do not pass out candy that is a choking hazard to younger children

Have a safe and spooky Halloween!

 

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 visit www.calcas.com.

Teen Driver Safety Tips

Teen Driver Safety Tips

For a parent, they are few things more frightening than handing over the keys to their teenage children for the first time. Especially knowing that the risk of crashing is the highest between 16-19-year-olds than any other age group.

These teen driver safety tips can help ease your worry and make sure your teen is safe and ready to get behind the wheel.

 

  1. Enroll Them In Driver Education.

A dilemma for many parents is deciding whether to teach their child to drive or leave it up to an expert. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends enrolling new drivers in a driver education program. This can help develop life-long safe driving habits. Each state has a list of approved driver education programs, often found on your state’s department of motor vehicles website. A resource for all states can be found at www.dmv.org/drivers-ed.php. teen driver safety

To ensure young drivers have the training and experience they need, safety groups are pushing for a national, mandatory graduated driver licensing system (GDL), which has proven to save lives.

  1. Research Which Vehicles Are Safer for Them.

When shopping for a vehicle for younger drivers, The National Highway Safety Institute recommends:

      • Looking for bigger, heavier vehicles that offer more protection (no mini or small cars were on the list)
      • Avoiding vehicles with high horsepower
      • Considering vehicles with an electronic stability control system to maintain traction and control on curves and slippery roads

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does extensive crash tests on cars and trucks to rate them for safety. Since many parents opt for a used vehicle for new teen drivers, they created a list of those that meet important safety criteria. The prices range from $2,000 to nearly $20,000. They found 53 “Best Choices” under $20,000, and 62 “Good Choices” that start at under $10,000.

Some of the “Best Choice” vehicles $20,000 or less include:

      • 2007 and newer Volvo S80 – large cars ($4,000)
      • 2013 and newer (built after October 2012) Volkswagen Passat – midsized cars ($6,600)
      • 2014 and newer (built after October 2013) Mazda CX-5 – small SUVs ($10,700)

These are some of the recommendations for “Good Choices” priced at $10,000 or less:

      • 2010-2016 Buick LaCrosse – large cars ($6,200)
      • 2009-2014 Volkswagen Jetta sedan and wagon – midsized cars ($3,800)
      • 2007-2011 Honda Element – small SUVs ($4,400)

Most of these vehicles now include safety technology – such as collision avoidance systems and full airbag protection for drivers and passengers. See the complete list at https://www.iihs.org/ratings/safe-vehicles-for-teens.

  1. Observe Their Driving Habits.

Before you let your new driver start on the road to independence, check that he or she knows the vehicle and understands safe operating procedures, such as:

      • Adjusting the seat and mirrors before leaving the driveway
      • Putting on seat belts and ensuring that all passengers are buckled in
      • Using turn signals
      • Looking in all directions before pulling into traffic (even at green lights)
      • Accelerating and braking smoothly
      • Following at a safe distance
      • Avoiding distractions

To help avoid confrontations with irate drivers, parents can put a “New Driver” sticker on the vehicle the new driver will be using.

  1. Reinforce the Dangers of Distracted Driving.

Distracted and inattentive driving is one of the leading causes of crashes for all drivers. Especially for teens. The crash rate for newly licensed teens was almost double that of teen drivers with a few years of experience, according to the NHTSA.

Here are some strategies to help prevent inattentive driving:

      • Pledge, along with your teenage driver, to avoid texting or using social media behind the wheel.
      • Use apps that block incoming calls and texts, and send alerts when the app is turned off.
      • Teach children to speak out when they are with a driver who’s distracted.
      • Request that they not speed, goof off, or drive impaired (or get into a car with someone who is upset or impaired).
      • Help your teen map out routes and create music lists before heading out.

Impact Teen Drivers, a non-profit founded through a partnership between California Association of Highway Patrolmen, California Casualty and California Teachers Association, offers free, creative ways for parents and teens to educate young drivers about the dangers of distracted and careless driving. Visit www.impactteendrivers.org to learn more. teen driver safety

  1. Fully Insure Your Teen Drivers.

While higher auto insurance premiums are a hard reality for parents, you don’t want to skimp on your coverage. Did you know that California Casualty has really good rates for teen drivers?

Lack of experience behind the wheel makes them more likely to be involved in a collision, even a minor one. Increasing your liability limits, and adding full coverage, ensures that your insurance is enough to cover your assets. (Now is also a great time to learn more about an Umbrella Policy if you don’t already have one.)

Here are some ways to help manage the insurance costs for teen drivers:

      • Take advantage of good student discounts
      • Purchase cars that have modern safety features and a good safety rating
      • Consider a monitoring system that tracks your young driver’s habits
      • Enroll them in a defensive driving course
      • Cut driving miles by carpooling and using mass transit
      • Let your insurer know if the driver is away at college

Hopefully, your teen driver will gain experience, and you’ll feel more confident each time they get behind the wheel, knowing they are in the safest vehicle, armed with the best advice, and are paying attention to the road and other drivers.

 

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.

 

The 6 Most At-Risk Fire Areas of Your Home

The 6 Most At-Risk Fire Areas of Your Home

Wildland fires are becoming the new norm across much of the country, scorching more acreage with a ferocity that firefighters have not seen before. Now, more than ever, it’s important to understand fire behavior and the ways to prepare your home and community.

Don’t let your family’s possessions go up in smoke. The difference of a home in ashes and one still standing is often the result of simple actions taken to make the structure more survivable to heat, flame and embers. Removing bush, trimming trees, and creating 30-100 feet of defensible space is the best line of defense, but there is a lot more that homeowners and renters need to do.

As more people move into wildfire-prone areas, it’s imperative that we understand the areas around a house that are the greatest risk. Fire research has discovered blowing embers, not direct flames, cause most homes to ignite.

Here are the 6 most at-risk most vulnerable fire areas in and around your home.

  1. The Roof– This is the largest surface area on your home. Installing fire-resistant shingles can greatly reduce the risk. A Class A roof (asphalt shingles, metal, slate or tile) is considered the best protection. Repair any gaps in shingles and remove debris from plants or animals that an ember could nest in and ignite. Keep gutters free of flammable litter.
  2. Vents and Eaves– It’s imperative that homeowners keep flying embers from entering a home. Uncovered vents can allow hot ash and embers in. All vents should have a damper or screens to block embers from getting into the structure. If a fire is approaching, cover vents with duct tape, metal tape or plywood. Areas under eves are notorious for trapping burning ash and cinders. Clear them of nests and leaves, and make sure that the area is reinforced with fireproof materials.
  3. Windows– Extreme heat will warp window casings and shatter single-pane glass. Homes in fire-prone areas should have dual-pane tempered glass, with metal screens to block any flaming debris. Covering them with plywood if a fire is approaching also can help. If possible, installing roll-down metal shades over windows offers the best protection.
  4. Landscape– Create a five-foot fire resistant zone next to your home. Eliminate flammable plants such as junipers, dry grasses and scrub oak, replace wood mulch with rock or gravel, trim bushes and trees, and cut back overhanging branches that could allow flames to breach your dwelling. Trees should be dispersed and trimmed 10-feet from the ground
  5. Decks– These are another vulnerable area for embers and flames. Homeowners in fire-prone areas should consider lightweight concrete or metal decking. Fire-resistant treatments can help protect deck boards. Fire experts say most deck ignitions are created by flammable material on or under the deck (furniture, leaves, pine needles, woodpiles or mulch).
  6. Your Neighbor– All the work by homeowners to clear brush, remove woodpiles and trim trees up 10 feet from the ground can be for naught if nearby neighbors haven’t done the work. Property overgrown with weeds, brush and trees can endanger others, causing a wildfire to spread more rapidly and grow. Neighbors working together can greatly reduce the risk while increasing the survivability of their entire community. The National Fire Protection Association, in conjunction with other fire safety groups, has created the Firewise USA program, to organize homeowner associations, neighborhood groups and entire communities, and teach them how to work together to reduce the risk of wildfire.

Download the infographic here.

At Risk Fire Areas in Your Home - Infographic

Stay ahead of the flames; talk with your neighbors about wildfire safety, prepare an emergency kit, make plans in case of evacuation and if family members become separated, and start mitigating threats to your property and structures.

Get a review of your homeowners or renters insurance policy to ensure you have adequate coverage for your property and belongings, and make a comprehensive home inventory. If the worst should happen and your home is damaged or destroyed by fire, you can find answers to your “what now?” questions here.

A California Casualty advisor is always ready to help review your policy, give you a free quote or help you start a claim at 1.866.704.8614 , or you can visit www.calcas.com.

 

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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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