Why You Need Flood Insurance

Why You Need Flood Insurance

It’s no secret that spring storms can bring heavy rainfall in short amounts of time. This not only can cause rivers and lakes to rise outside their banks, but it can also cause flooding in city streets and near homes.

Contrary to what many may think is covered under their insurance policy, a Home or Renter’s insurance policy will not cover a flood. If you live in an area prone to flooding, you need to also purchase flood insurance. Floods are one of the most dangerous disasters in the United States, and if you don’t purchase flood insurance, they can cost you big time. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) estimates that just one inch of water in a 2,000 square foot house will result in $23,000 in damage.

Flood season has arrived. Here are five reasons you need flood insurance now:

1. It’s not just for homeowners and businesses.
Flood coverage is available for renters. Condo owners can also purchase it. It will cover damage to your possessions from a flood.

2. Flooding is not covered under your standard policy.
Homeowners and renters need to purchase separate flood policies. Umbrella insurance does not usually cover flooding, either.

3. Floods aren’t limited to flood plains.
Every state has experienced flooding, and it can happen anywhere. The NFIP estimates that 25 percent of flood claims come from areas outside of high-risk flood zones.

4. Flood insurance doesn’t take effect immediately.
There is a 30-day waiting period from the date you purchase the insurance until you are covered, in most cases.

5. It’s often not as expensive as you think.
The average policy costs about $700 per year. The higher your risk, the higher your premium. Costs do vary depending on your flood risk and the year and type of construction. Keep in mind, the average residential flood claim amounted to more than $38,000.

Don’t delay, there is a 30-day waiting period before flood coverage goes into effect. Call a California Casualty advisor today at 1.877.652.2638 to make sure you’re covered. Or, contact our Agency Services department at agencyservices@calcas.com.

 

 

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.

Mental Health vs. Physical Health

Mental Health vs. Physical Health

What do you think of when you hear the word “health”? Most of our brains automatically think physical health- exercising, healthy eating, drinking water, etc. And while physical health does play a large role in keeping our bodies in shape and functioning properly, our mental health is just as important to maintain to achieve a healthy and happy lifestyle.

The link between mental health and physical health is generally misunderstood because the mind and body are considered two separate entities, but oftentimes these two entities need to work together for our own wellbeing. Our mental health can directly affect our physical health and vice versa. Here’s how.

 

How Mental Health Can Affect Your Physical Health

About 1 in 5 people in the US struggle with their mental health. Symptoms of poor mental health can include negative thinking, low energy levels, change in mood or behavior, isolation, struggling to cope with stress, changing in sleeping or eating patterns, negative self-talk, and feeling sad or depressed.

If you suffer from any of the symptoms above, it does not mean you have a mental illness. Poor mental health becomes a mental health disorder (mental illness) when your symptoms become frequent and start to affect your ability to physically function in daily life. Some common mental illnesses include

    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Schizophrenia
    • PTSD
    • ADHD
    • Eating Disorders
    • Bipolar Depression
    • Addiction

So, how does your mental health affect your physical health? Don’t be fooled by its name. Your mental health can affect more than just your mind, it can also affect your behavior and your body. Poor mental health will not only impact your body’s ability to make healthy decisions, but it can also increase your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and other health complications like obesity, weakened immune system, and more.

Studies have found that those who suffer from depression bodies show changes in how they function, which could have a serious impact on their physical health. Those changes include:

    • Increased inflammation
    • Chronic fatigue
    • Changes in the control of heart rate and blood circulation
    • Abnormalities in stress hormones
    • Insomnia
    • Metabolic changes such as those seen in people at risk for diabetes

Poor mental health can drain all of your energy and prevent you from working on your physical health, but increasing your activity and working on your physical health can actually improve your mental health.

 

How Physical Health Can Affect Your Mental Health

Physical health is the state of your physical body and how well it is operating. Ways to maintain your physical health can be broken down into four categories.

  1. Lifestyle – staying active throughout your day, getting enough sleep, drinking water
  2. Diet – eating balanced foods that nourish your body
  3. Hygiene – keeping yourself and your environment clean and kept-up
  4. Exercise – using and strengthening your body and muscles

Working on your physical fitness and health will not only add years to your life, it can also improve your mood and help prevent mental illness. People who are healthy and active feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better, feel more relaxed, and think more positively about themselves and life in general. Living a healthy lifestyle and staying physically active reduces your chance of chronic diseases and conditions, like type 2 diabetes, anxiety, depression, heart disease, cancer, and dementia.

Exercise by itself is a powerful medicine for many common mental health challenges. Studies show that it can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressants, reduce the symptoms of ADHD,  and work as a treatment for anxiety. That’s because exercising promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases the endorphins dopamine and serotonin into your body- which make you feel good and less stressed.

 

Which Is More Important?

So, which is more important, mental health or physical health? The link between physical and mental health is complex, but the answer is simple your body needs both mental health and physical health to function properly and let you live a happy and healthy life. If you are struggling in one area, you may choose to focus on one over the other and that is okay. Just remember the influence they have on each other and how important it is to keep up with your health both mentally and physically.

 

Looking for ways to stay healthy and combat stress and anixety? Click here.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, you are not alone. Please reach out to a mental health professional. If you do not feel comfortable speaking to a professional, start by reaching out to a close colleague, family member, or friend.

If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

 

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.

Spring Storms – Taking Shelter in Public Safely

Spring Storms – Taking Shelter in Public Safely

Spring storms including lightning, hail, flooding, high winds, and even tornadoes – can catch you or family members away from home. Finding safe public shelter during severe weather can be hard enough, but coronavirus has made that (like everything else!) even more difficult.

Follow these tips to stay as safe as possible from the storm and the virus. 

First things first: Sheltering during a pandemic

Your number one priority during a severe storm is finding a safe place to shelter; the second priority is protecting against Covid-19. In other words, don’t let a fear of the virus preclude you or family members from seeking life-saving shelter. That said, shelters that are open will most likely post notices that those who seek shelter to do so at their own risk. If they’re able, they may provide hand sanitizer, hand-washing stations, and perhaps even face masks. They’ll also be strict about occupancy limits. 

 

Know where to go

Depending on the size and population of your area, there may or may not be designated public storm shelters in your community. Check with your local emergency manager or fire department, the American Red Cross, FEMA, or other emergency weather preparedness body well ahead of the storms for shelter locations. From there, check to see which shelters are open and operating during the pandemic – you may find that some have decided to close until the virus is under control.  

 

Where to go

When a storm does hit, even designated shelters that are open during the pandemic may close their doors due to overcapacity (public shelters aren’t designed for thousands of people). If you end up needing to find shelter on the fly, remember these tips. 

    • If seeking shelter in public buildings, seek out substantial ones. Reinforced concrete buildings are usually stormproof. 
    • Small rooms, such as restrooms, storerooms, windowless closets, or other small sturdy rooms, are better than large ones.
    • Auditoriums and gymnasiums are not generally safe. 
    • Avoid high walls that could collapse.
    • Get underground or under a table. Cover your head. 
    • If basements are not available, go to a first-floor room. 
    • Stay away from windows, glass, and large rooms. 
    • Do not shelter in a mobile home or vehicle.

 

Protecting against COVID

If you are able to get into a shelter (or end up sheltering with others at a non-designated location), follow the same COVID precautions that are habit by now: social distancing as much as possible, always wear a mask, and use hand sanitizer and/or wash hands frequently. Cover your sneezes and coughs and avoid touching high-touch surfaces. Try not to share food or drink with anyone, if possible. If you made it into a shelter, they will have policies and rules for protecting public health as much as possible – follow all instructions from the shelter staff. 

 

Plan ahead

With all these various factors to deal with, you can give yourself and your family an edge by preparing in advance. Your two best weapons will be: Having a personal/family plan and staying informed. So, before the storms come: 

  • Make a plan. Ensure that you and your family have a plan for severe weather events. For example, if your kids are at baseball practice or you’re at work or running errands, make sure everyone knows where to go if severe weather hits. Know the local shelters that are open during the pandemic, add them to your family’s emergency plan, and make sure all family members know and can act upon the plan.
  • Tune in and stay aware. All family members need to stay informed by trusted sources. Set up redundant sources of information so that you don’t miss any alerts. These might include: 
      • Phone apps and emergency/weather websites
      • Programmable all-hazard radios
      • Local news stations and media
  • Carry supplies in your car at all times. This is a great time to double-check your vehicle’s emergency kit (and for that matter, your grab-and-go emergency kit). Replace batteries, food, water, or any other items that may be expired. If you haven’t already, add coronavirus supplies as well – masks, hand sanitizer, and soap. 

It can’t get much worse than a severe storm during a pandemic, but knowing what to do and how to protect yourself and your family can give you an added layer of security and confidence. 

 

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.

Fraudulent Unemployment Claims – 6 Steps to Take if it Happens to You

Fraudulent Unemployment Claims – 6 Steps to Take if it Happens to You

Americans are finding themselves among another national crisis amidst the coronavirus pandemic – fraudulent unemployment claims. Across the country, employers are receiving numerous unemployment claims by imposters using the personal information of those who haven’t filed (because they are still employed).

This is simply a different form of Identity Theft where an individual’s personal identifiable information (PII) is compromised and then used to file an unemployment claim. The surge of COVID-related unemployment makes it easier for the fraudsters to file mass numbers of claims with hopes that some will go through. Unfortunately, if someone has successfully filed for unemployment in your name, not only has your PII become compromised, but you will also be responsible to pay the federal taxes owed on the amount received/reported in your name.

If you are actively working and have gotten a notice from your state or employer that someone has filed for unemployment in your name, here are 6 steps to help you get started protecting your identity and your credit.

 

1. Report the fraud to your employer

If you were not contacted by your employer, start by contacting your business’ Human Resources (HR) department and making them aware of the situation. For your records, the Federal Trade Commission recommends you keep a note of who you spoke to and when.

 

2. Report the fraud to your state unemployment benefits agency

Report the fraud to your state’s unemployment agency and let them know that it was not you who filed. You can do this quickly online, click here to find your state’s agency. Again, keep a record of your case number and who you spoke to.

 

3. Report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Because your personal information has been compromised you will also need to file a report with the FTC. Visit IdentityTheft.gov or call 1-877-438-4338 and to complete the ID Theft Complaint Form. You should receive a confirmation notice with the reference number assigned to your complaint within 48 hours.

 

4. Place a fraud alert on your credit report

Placing a fraud alert on your credit will make it harder for an identity thief to open accounts in your name, this is because a business must authorize your identity before issuing the credit. Placing a fraud alert is free, lasts one year, and will not affect your credit score. To do this, contact one of the three nationwide credit bureaus and they will inform the other two.

Equifax: (800) 525-6285

Experian: (888)-397-3742

TransUnion: (800)-680-7289

After placing a fraud alert, it’s a good idea to get your credit reports and review them for major changes. You can obtain a free copy by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. You should also keep an eye on your credit score. You can do this by visiting a website that will not affect your score when you check, like Credit Karma.

 

5. Continue to monitor your accounts

In the following weeks, you should keep a close eye on your bank and other financial account statements, utility bills, credit card statements, medical bills, and medical insurance statements. If you see any unknown activity or unauthorized transactions call and report it immediately.

 

6. Get ID Theft Protection

Save yourself time and stress by investing in a service that will help protect your identity, like CyberScout. CyberScout is the nation’s premier provider of identity services. California Casualty customers automatically get free ID theft resolution services from CyberScout when they purchase their policy. For more information on CyberScout click here.

 

One in five Americans has experienced identity theft; one-third of Americans have never even looked at their credit report. As the pandemic continues to aide in the increase of online shopping and as tax season gets into full swing, it’s important now- more than ever- to be extremely cautious and protect your identity.

Here are a few more tips to help you stay safe this spring:

    • Use complex passwords
    • Don’t give out your personal information online
    • Use two-factor authentication
    • Purchase online through safe, trusted third-party apps like PayPal
    • Sign up for credit card usage alerts
    • File your tax returns as early as possible
    • Use a trusted tax-preparer

Don’t wait until it’s too late, fraudulent unemployment claims and other identity theft scams can happen to anyone at any time. Take the necessary steps and precautions to make sure it won’t happen to you.

 

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.

Winter Roof Care: Preventing Snow Build-up and Ice Dams

Winter Roof Care: Preventing Snow Build-up and Ice Dams

Snow build-up packs a double-punch threat to your roof – and home. As snow piles up on your roof, it creates two threats over time. One is a heavy snow weight which, if left unchecked, can pose a risk of roof collapse. The other is the formation and persistence of ice dams.

Ice dams form when warm air rises inside your house and warms the roof, melting water that then runs down the eaves. Since eaves are colder, it refreezes there and creates a solid ice block, which then backs up future run-off water behind it. The more snow you have, the more run-off will accumulate. Also, the greater the temperature difference along your roof and the more time the ice deposits have to grow, the bigger your ice dam problems will be.

Keeping both these threats at bay requires a steady habit of keeping that snow in check.

 

 

winter roof care

Rooftop Snow Removal

Rooftop snow is typically removed either by raking or shoveling. Your best bet as a DIYer is raking. If you live in a one-story house, you can probably do this yourself. If you live in a two-story or taller home, or you have an abundance of snow to remove, consider hiring a professional (who will most likely shovel, rather than rake). Here are some top tips for safe snow raking.

    • Get the right rake – Look for a rake that has these important features. First: small bumpers, wheels, or rollers near the blade. These keep the blade off the roof surface, protecting it from damage. Second, the handle should have a slight bend to it. This makes it more versatile and easier to use than a straight-handled rake. Third, consider plastic over metal because it’s lighter. Finally, a telescoping feature will allow you to reach more snow.
    • Buy an extension or two – If your rake doesn’t have a telescoping feature, it’s a good idea to buy extra extension poles so that you can rake as high as possible on the roof. And having an extra pole or two tucked away will be good if your main one gets bent or damaged.
    • Rake regularly – Making this an ongoing task throughout the winter will help prevent build-up.
    • Have a plan – It’s important to rake in a particular sequence. First, knock down any hanging icicles. Then, with a rake in hand and firm footing on the ground, work your way around the house, starting with the overhangs (which are most prone to ice dams).
    • When raking, start low – Start at the bottom of the roof and work your way to the top, pulling off a foot or so of snow at a time. Be warned that starting high or pulling down too much snow could bring it tumbling down on you.
    • Stand back – Give yourself some room away from the roof’s edge so that if snow dislodges, it won’t fall on you.
    • Watch out for power lines – Be extremely careful not to hit any overhead lines. In fact, take an inspection walk around your house before starting to rake. Overhead lines are common in older homes.
    • Think twice before salting – Salting the roof can lead to discolored shingles and dead plants or grass.

 

 

winter roof care

Preventing Ice Dams

Ice dams can lead to roof leaks, causing structural damage inside your home, as well as water stains, bubbling paint and wallpaper, and mold/mildew formation. Besides keeping up with snow removal (the best strategy for ice dam prevention), here are some others:

    • Insulate your attic – This will minimize heat loss, keeping your roof cooler and melting less snow. It will also save on energy costs.
    • Eliminate air leaks – Seal leaks in the attic, around the chimney, and at entry points for vents and pipes.
    • Vent out the hot air – Proper ventilation will help keep heat from getting trapped and warming concentrated spots on your roof. Consider installing two motor-driven fan vents – one that draws in cold air and one that exhausts hot air.
    • Turn down the heat – Dialing down your home temperature will not only help prevent snowmelt and ice dams, but also save on your heating bill. Check out our easy tips here.
    • If you already have ice dams – Ice dams can do serious and expensive damage to your home – so if you have them, get them removed by a professional asap.

Preventing wintertime damage to your home saves money and headaches over time. In the case of your roof, keeping it maintained and damage-free will extend its life and protect your home’s value. Follow the strategies above and also remember – if the snow is wet, heavy, voluminous, or hardened you should hire a professional snow shoveling service. Finally, getting a pre-winter roof inspection is always a good idea, as it will surface any structural vulnerabilities or problems with your roof.

For more winter home maintenance 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.

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Often called the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that claims more than 400 American lives each year, sends 20,000 to the emergency room, and hospitalizes more than 4,000.

It is an indiscriminate killer, striking its victims when they’re unaware or asleep. This poisonous gas is produced by burning fuel in vehicles, stoves, lanterns, fireplaces, gas ranges, furnaces small engines, and portable generators. Here are tips for keeping you, your family, and pets safe from it.

 

 

carbon monoxide poisoning

 

Prevention Tips For Your Home

Here are top strategies to prevent an inadvertent CO leak or exposure in your home.

    • Install at least one battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector on each floor of your home, including the basement and garage (if it’s attached). Detectors on your main floors should be inside or directly outside the bedroom or sleeping areas.
    • Test your alarm(s) monthly, replace batteries every six months and replace the units themselves every five years.
    • Maintain yearly inspection schedules for your heating system, furnace, water heater, fireplace, chimney, and any other gas or coal-burning appliances.
    • When buying gas appliances, only buy those carrying the seal of a national testing agency.
    • Make sure all gas appliances are vented properly.
    • Never burn charcoal or use a generator or portable gas camp stove indoors.
    • If you smell an odor coming from your gas refrigerator, have an expert check it – the odor could indicate it’s leaking CO.

 

 

carbon monoxide

 

Prevention Tips for Your Car

Your vehicle actively produces CO every time you start the engine, so do the following to stay safe.

    • Take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic yearly for an exhaust system check. Small leaks can cause CO buildup inside your car.
    • Do not run your vehicle inside an attached garage, even with the garage door open.
    • If your car has a tailgate, make sure you open vents or windows anytime you open the tailgate while the engine is running – if you open only the tailgate, CO fumes will be pulled into the passenger area.

 

 

carbon monoxide poisoning

 

Symptoms of CO Poisoning

It’s important to know that symptoms can vary in terms of severity, and often mild symptoms are mistaken for the flu (although without fever).

    • Low to moderate poisoning results in:
      • Fatigue
      • Headache
      • Nausea
      • Dizziness
    • High-level poisoning results in:
      • Confusion
      • Vomiting
      • Loss of muscular coordination
      • Loss of consciousness
      • Ultimately death

If you or a family member are experiencing any of these symptoms get outside to fresh air immediately then call 911.

 

 

carbon monoxide poisoning

 

When Your Carbon Monoxide Alarm Sounds

First off, you should know – from regular testing – what the different beep sequences and alarm sounds mean. For instance, there may be different beep patterns indicating low batteries, a detector that needs to be replaced, and a true CO emergency. When you hear the CO emergency signal:

  1. Do not try to find the source of the leak – instead, immediately move outside to fresh air.
  2. Call 911, emergency services, or the fire department.
  3. Do a headcount for all family members and pets (do you have a family emergency plan in place?)
  4. Do not re-enter your home until emergency responders have given word that it’s safe to do so.

 

When it comes to carbon monoxide poisoning, it’s best to err on the side of abundant caution. A person can be poisoned by a small amount of the gas over a long period of time, or by a large amount during a short time. The measures above should keep both your indoor air quality and your family safe and healthy.

 

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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