Winterizing Your Pool

It’s that time of year again; time to winterize your swimming pool.  The main purpose behind winterizing your swimming pool is to protect it from damage due to freezing water.  Another benefit, it keeps the pool clean, saving you time and money when you’re ready to open it back up.  If you’re looking for step by step direction on winterizing your pool, check out this post from Leslie’s Poolapedia.

Winterizing your pool will also help to avoid a costly winter claim with your homeowner insurance carrier.  Each year, insurance carriers and agents receive phone calls about pools being damaged during the winter months.  Here are a few popular causes of loss, which can be avoided by properly winterizing and maintaining your pool:

1. Ladder through the liner: Keeping the swim ladder in the pool during the winter months can cause a very unfortunate problem once the ice starts to melt. The photo below shows the result of the ice melting and then pulling the ladder down through the liner floor.


Ice-pulled-ladder-through-liner

Suggestion: Remember; take all ladders and other necessary equipment out of the pool before winterizing your pool.  Check, re-check, and check again.

2. Liner problems: Ice typically forms on the pool and freezes across and down the pool walls. The pool walls then look like icy stalagmites. With the addition of weight from ice and snow on top of the cover, you have a recipe for disaster. The weight will push the ice cake down, along with stalagmites, which then puts holes in the liner. The water below will leak out, and tear the safely cover, which in turn will rip the liner right off of the wall. This is an expensive loss and can be easily prevented. in-ground-pool-ice-damage

Suggestion: Clear your cover.  You can also purchase a pump to keep water off of the cover.  If you have snow and ice build-up, use a soft broom or brush to clear it (standing on the cover while doing so would not be a wise idea).  If the snow is light, use a leaf blower.

3. HIRE AND TALK TO A PROFESSIONAL! This is your best bet. Your area is surrounded by pool professionals, take advantage of them.

Pool Park | Aqua-Fun Pools & Spas | Leisure Pools & Spas | Aqua Tech | Bob’s Pool Builders

Your pool was and continues to be an investment.  There’s no doubt that you receive a lot of benefit from its use, but make sure you take the time to maintain it.

 

The purpose of this post is to present scenarios that may arise due to neglect and improper treatment of your pool.  Colonial Insurance Agency does not label this post as professional direction or advice.  Please consult with a pool professional regarding any treatments or services that your pool may require.  Also consult with your current agent regarding any related claims.  If you’re in the market for new homeowner insurance, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your insurance and your swimming pool: Phone: 262-255-3770 Email: info@colonialinsurance.net

Sump Pump Maintenance

Sump Pump Maintenance  

 

Basic sump pump maintenance is quite simple. Be proactive and consider the following when preparing for the spring thaw and summer rains.

Pour a bucket of water into the pit.   sump pump

Check for debris in the sump basin.

Inspect the check valve.

Clean the weep hole. 

Clean the impeller.

Install a battery back-up power source.

Fact: Average lifespan of a sump pump is 10 years.

 

Your roof and your insurance rate

West Bend Mutual provides another great blog post written by Scott Stueber.  Highlighted in this post are the roof and shingle factors that determine a portion of your homeowner insurance rate.  For more great posts, check out the West Bend Cares Blog.

hail-damage

Many of us have heard the expression, “Having a roof over our heads” in reference to having a home. Having a good strong roof makes sense on many levels. Bonnie Pesch, a veteran personal lines underwriter with West Bend, will discuss how your roof ages and the role insurance plays if your roof is damaged.

A roof is usually the best it’s going to be when it’s installed. New shingles can tolerate much more abuse from elements, like hail. On the other hand, even just a small piece of hail can damage an older roof. A roof will also lose its ability to shed water as it gets older.

That’s why many insurance carriers now charge more for homeowner’s insurance if a roof is older. So if you recently replaced your roof or are thinking of doing it soon, be sure to contact your insurance agent. Your agent will want to update your policy and may even change the coverage for your roof from actual cash value to replacement cost. Replacement cost provides the coverage you need to replace your roof, while actual cash value provides coverage for the value of the roof at the time it’s replaced; it takes into account depreciation of the shingles.

It’s important to tell your insurance agent what type of material is used on your new roof. Slate, steel, and tile roofs have a much longer life expectancy than asphalt shingles. And while a new steel roof may be eligible for a hail-resistive discount, it may also carry a cosmetic exclusion.

Now, how do you decide if it’s time to replace your roof? Shingles don’t age at the same rate, so the best way to gauge how long your shingles will last is to check the manufacturer’s warranty. The aging rate of your shingles really depends on two things: 1.) the shingle’s quality, and 2.) the weather. Certain weather conditions can cause more damage to the shingles, aging them more quickly.

Shingles take a beating every day. From the hot sun, to cold winter temperatures, to pouring rain, wind, and hail, they have a tough job: protecting us, our loved ones, and our valued possessions. As your roof ages, here are some things to watch for.

1. Loss of granules from the shingles. As shingles age, they start to lose their granules because weather loosens them and the shingle itself gets harder. You’ve probably seen granules in your gutters or where your down spouts drain. If you notice some loose granules here and there, there’s no need for alarm; however, if you see a more significant amount of granules in your gutters or around the house, it may be time to inspect your roof.

2. Be aware of the gaps between the flaps of the shingles. Experts recommend that the space between your shingles should be 1/16 of an inch; this is about the size of your pinky finger. If the space appears to be significantly larger, the shingles on your home are deteriorating and may need replacing.    hammer-nails-roof

3. Watch for round corners on your shingles. New shingles are rectangular with distinctive, sharp corners. As different weather conditions take their toll, the sharp corners will become round. You’ll start to see this when the shingles are approaching their maximum life expectancy. Old-composite-roof

 

4. Watch for cracked shingles. As the tar on the shingle starts to deteriorate, the flaps may move up and down from the wind causing them to crack. If they become very brittle, they may even break off. If you’re walking or working in your yard and notice shingle pieces on the ground around your house, consider having your roof inspected. peeling-shingle

 

These tips are ways to help you watch for visible signs that your roof is deteriorating. You may also want to take a closer look at your roof in the spring/fall when you clean out your gutters or during the holidays if you put up lights around your roofline. Looking from the vantage point of a ladder is usually the safest way to do this. Depending on the type of house you have, getting on your roof may not be a safe and wise decision.

If you can visually see problems with your roof and its shingles, contact a reputable roofing contractor in your area. They’ll have the skills and appropriate equipment to safely inspect your roof.

 

Colonial Insurance Agency is an official supplier of The Silver Lining.  If you’re interested in learning more about our agency, give us a call!

officialsuppliersilverlining

 

Common Homeowner Insurance Claims

Choosing the right homeowner insurance carrier and coverage can be difficult.  Each person has a different set of exposures that relate to them and as a result, each person should be uniquely protected against those exposures.  Because homeowner insurance isn’t a one size fits all industry, make sure that you have a policy tailored to protect against your specific exposures.  Below is an  infographic from West Bend Mutual Insurance.  The infographic highlights the most common homeowner insurance claims.  This will give you a good idea on what basic exposures almost every homeowner faces.  Make sure to talk with your agent about any additional exposures that may apply.  Whether you own a home, a condo, or rent an apartment, sit down and make a list of what liability and physical exposures you face.  If you’re not sure or need advice, contact an agent at Colonial Insurance Agency.

photo

 

 

officialsuppliersilverlining

 

Creating a Home Inventory List

Eagle WI Tornado DamageTry this out.  Sit in your kitchen and without looking, write down every item in the living room. When finished, go to the living room and look to find the items you may have missed.  Make a separate list of the missed items and you’ll quickly notice that those items are worth a lot of your hard earned money!  Repeat this for your other rooms and again you’ll find that the mind simply cannot account for all of the items that we tend to overlook throughout the day.

Now imagine trying to remember all of those items after a catastrophic property loss, such as a fire or a tornado (photo credit of the Eagle, WI 2010 tornado destruction given to Aero-Fotografik, LLC).  A catastrophic loss doesn’t allow you the luxury to go look for the items you missed or forgot, not to mention the stress your mind will be under.  This is why keeping an up to date home inventory list is a must.  Not only does it keep your personal records in order, but it provides your insurance carrier with documentation in the event that a claim would occur.  Whether you own a home, a condo, or rent an apartment, a home inventory list is a must.

Here are a few suggestions for creating a home inventory list:

VIDEO RECORD (most efficient): Technology offers a great way to keep tabs on all of your personal belongings.  Take out your smartphone or tablet and start by taking a video of each room.  Talk throughout the video and point out specific items if need be.  When finished, store the video on your preferred Cloud platform.  As you purchase new items, take pictures of the receipts/items and upload them to the same storage platform as your video.  This will keep a nice running tab of your personal inventory.  Updating the video once a year is a great idea, a nice time to update might be when you receive your insurance renewal, ahem! Who knows, perhaps your insurance agent provides a storage platform (hint: we do).

PHOTO RECORD: A similar concept to the video recording.  Take out your smartphone or camera and walk through each room and take pictures of the room in sections.  Upload the pictures to a software document such as Microsoft Word or PowerPoint.  Make notes below each specific picture, referencing particular items if need be.  Remember, the more specific you are, the better.  When finished, store the document on a Cloud platform and update the list as you purchase new items.  Who knows, perhaps your insurance agent provides a storage platform (hint: we do).

FLASH DRIVE/PAPER FILE: Make a list on either a piece of paper or on the computer.  Divide the list room by room and add up certain item classes and assign total values for each class. Ex: Clothing: $5,000 Furniture: $5,000 Electronics: $1,000 and so on.  When finished, store the document or flash drive in a safe, preferably fire resistant, place.

These are just a few suggestions to help you create a home inventory list.  Specifically designed software is available for this purpose, but if  you want to do it for free, take our suggestion and create your own list.  Those who have experienced a catastrophic loss can attest to the frustration behind trying to recall each personal item that was lost.  The purpose behind creating a home inventory list is to make your claims handling process as quick and efficient as possible.

If you have any questions regarding your home inventory list or your current insurance policy, please do not hesitate to contact our agency.  We’re happy to securely store your list and help advise in any way that we can!

 

8 Ways to Prevent a Holiday Break-In

For many, the holiday season consists of family, friends, food, presents and more.  It’s a time of  year that most look forward to, unless of course you’re a plain old Scrooge, and if that’s the case, bah humbug to you.  Unfortunately, burglars look forward to this time of year as well.  The holiday season means empty homes, new toys, and larger amounts of cash and valuables on hand.  Luckily, Colonial Insurance Agency has 8 ways to protect your home against a holiday break-in.

 

1.      Motion Detector (With Pet Immunity)   About $20 AmazonMotion Sensor

A motion detector may just be enough to deter any unwanted visitors.  These devices can be synced to existing security systems or installed on their own.  The best part, you don’t have to worry about your family pet constantly turning the lights on as they move about during the night.  
Fake TV

 

 

 

2.      Fake TV   About $30 on Amazon

This low energy device can be used to trick burglars into thinking you’re actually home.  The light sensor can be set to turn on when it gets dark outside or it can be set by a timer.  Remember, burglars monitor your daily routine.  If using a timer be sure to set it based on a schedule as if you were actually home watching TV.  Also, if you’re out of town, ask a neighbor to pick up any mail or newspapers.  Accumulation of these items poses as a red flag to burglars that the TV or light illusions are simply tricks!

 

Driveway Alarm 2

 

3. Driveway Alarms   About $60 at Home Depot

This handy device sends a doorbell-like chime through your home when a vehicle enters your driveway.  Even better, the device can detect moving individuals should a burglar enter your property on foot.  What’s best? The alarm can communicate with its base device from up to 400 feet away!

 

 

Electronic Guard Dog

4. Electronic Guard Dog   About $70 on Amazon

If you don’t own a dog this is a great deterrent for an empty home.  The device is able to detect motion through windows and doors at a range of 30 feet (while sending out chilling recordings).  The dog behind this microphone is certainly not your cozy little lap dog.  A better alternative, pick up a family pet!

 

Shadow

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fake Camera System

 

5.      Fake Outdoor Security Camera   About $6 on Amazon

The visual impact of outdoor cameras or blinking LED lights may be enough to persuade a burglar to pass on your house and move to the next (sorry neighbor).  These fake cameras come with blinking LED lights to make it look like they’re live and recording.  Research other fake systems on Amazon.com and mix and match until you’ve created your ideal bogus system!

 

 

 

ADT6. In-Home Security System    Starts at about $39 per month from ADT

The “Real McCoy” is also an option when it comes to home security systems.  These systems can be synced directly to your local police department and will be sure to make a burglar think twice!

 

 

 

Motion Lights

 

7. Outdoor Motion Flood Lights   About $20 at Home Depot

Shine some light on the situation with a couple sets of outdoor floodlights.  These are relatively inexpensive and do a great job warning not only you, but surrounding neighbors that someone is outside.  It’s best to install a set of lights by each entrance area of your home.  Nobody likes to be startled by a set of lights turning on, especially those up to no good!

 

 

 

 

8.Belkin WeMo Light Switch   About $40 on AmazonWeMo Switch

Install this switch and you’ll be able to control your lights from anywhere using your smartphone or tablet.  Out of town for the holidays?  When that crazy uncle starts telling his favorite family story, play with your lights.  Go from room to room or leave a set on.  This will give the appearance that someone is home and moving throughout the house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cyber Bullying

Cyber Bullying Cyber Bullying and its unfortunate popularity has grown along with the explosion of social media channels.  Schools and parents are taking notice as our youth enroll in flourishing social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat.  With each child signing up comes  the opportunity to post their own content and to give feedback and interact with others doing the same.  This opens the door to social media users with bad intentions and subjects all parties to the potential of cyber bullying.  This relatively new phenomenon known as cyber bullying has gained awareness throughout the country and drew recent attention from CBS News when a 12 year old girl took her own life due to cyber bullying threats posted online.  Parties posting such devastating comments and threats are now being held accountable and prosecuted on the grounds of personal injury, libel and/or slander.

In the circumstance that a child is found guilty of cyber bullying, their parent(s) could be held liable for the comments or threats their child has made.  Ultimately, coverage for such an event would come out of their personal liability limit found in their homeowner insurance policy.  If the personal liability limit were to be exhausted, an umbrella policy could provide additional coverage.  Most insurance policies will not have a special provision addressing cyber bullying, making it crucial for you to check with your current agent to make sure you are covered.  It’s important for parents to sit down and address the consequences behind cyber bullying, as most schools are limited to the action they can take on offenses committed off school property.  Parents can help offer suggestions to their child about privacy settings on social media sites along with the advice to post and comment wisely.  Although the intent of a child may not be to hurt or harm someone, they could be doing so without even knowing it.  Please take the time to use this post as a tool to inform your child about the impact of cyber bullying.  Below is a video link to the CBS News story highlighting how it impacted 12 year-old Florida native Rebecca Sedwick.

Cyber Bullying: Rebecca Sedwick

 

Is my college student covered while away at school?

Once again, summer has come and gone.  As fall settles in, so does the fall semester for college students.  Students and parents have spent their remaining weeks of summer scrambling to purchase last minute textbooks and other personal belongings.  However, they may have forgotten one thing.  Are all of these items covered under their homeowner insurance policy?

A basic homeowner policy provides a 10 percent extension for personal property kept away from home.  This coverage is extended from the parents’ personal property coverage limit (also listed as, “Coverage C” on your homeowner policy).  Would this be enough coverage for your college student?  Sure, maybe if they are living in a dorm, but what if they are renting?  Consider having to replace items like: a couch, bed, desk furniture, TV, laptop, and more.  The dollar values quickly begin to grow, and that 10 percent value begins to dwindle without even factoring clothing and textbooks!  What about liability coverage?  Does your company provide extended liability to your student in the event that someone was to be injured at their apartment or house?  These are all critical areas to discuss with your current agent or company.

If you find that the 10 percent extension is insufficient for the contents that are kept away at school or if liability coverage is not extended, call our agency.  We will be sure to place you with a company that provides both content and liability coverage for your student when away at school.  Our agency wishes your student a safe and enjoyable fall semester.