Holiday Home Safety

 

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Winter Home

We’re heading into the heart of the holiday season.  Last minute shoppers are finishing their lists and houses are being prepped for parties with family and friends.  With all that goes on during the month of December, it’s easy to forget about the importance of home safety.  According to the FBI, nearly 400,000 burglaries occur during the months of November and December alone.  During this time of year, home invaders know that homes are filled with expensive gifts and that the good silverware is out for holiday dinners and parties.

The holiday season brings lots of in and out, family travel, and empty homes. With our minds in three different places, it’s easy to forget to keep a light on, lock the back door, or to close the garage door.  Remembering to do something as simple as keeping a light on can greatly reduce your chance of becoming a burglary statistic.  Last year, our agency suggested 8 products or services that you could use to prevent a holiday break in.  To view those items, follow this link: 8 Ways to Prevent a Holiday Break-In.  This post will offer 8 more suggestions to address home safety during the holidays.

  1. Keep a light on:  Making your home appear that it’s occupied is a great crime deterrent.  Putting lights on timers or leaving a TV or music on are also good ways to make it look like you’re home.
  2. Lock up: Keep your doors and windows locked, even if you’re stepping out for a short trip.  Keep in mind that running lights and extension cords through windows can make for easy access for home invaders.
  3. Keep gifts hidden: Leaving gifts and valuables in plain site adds further incentive for a home invader to choose you over your neighbor.  Keep gifts and valuables out of plain site when you’re away from home or out shopping!  Car thefts are also very popular this time of year, leave the bags in the trunk!
  4. Be careful what you share on social media: Whether it be your travel plans or the gifts you received, you never know who else is looking at that.  Check your privacy settings on your social media channels to control who can see what.  Also keep in mind that when a friend likes, comments, or favorites a post/tweet that others may see that as well.
  5. Break down your boxes: This is one time that your home should not offer great curb appeal.  Once gifts are exchanged, break down the boxes so that potential home invaders don’t have an easy look at what’s inside.  This is especially important for any big ticket items.  Failing to do so makes it very easy for potential home invaders to case a neighborhood and choose their targets based on the gifts you received.
  6. Don’t let mail or newspapers build up: If you’re heading out of town for an extended period of time ask a neighbor, friend or family member to collect your mail.  Again, giving the appearance that the home is occupied with mail being collected and your lights on timers will help deter home invaders.  Another option is to ask the USPS to hold your mail.
  7. Get to know your neighbors:  This suggestion follows on asking a trusted person to pick up your mail, check on the house etc.  Your neighbors are a great resource and the best security system you could ask for.  They know your vehicles and likely have a general idea on your schedule.  Talk to them if you’re going out of town for an extended period of time.  A neighborhood of informed and alert neighbors will help prevent a burglary loss.
  8. Post a sign: Purchase a security monitoring sign and place it in the window or the yard.  The thought alone might be enough to convince the home invader take a pass on your house.

No one is completely immune to a burglary loss.  However, taking these home safety precautions can reduce the risk of it happening to you.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Colonial Insurance Agency!

2015: Personal Insurance Review

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2015: Personal Insurance Review

A new year brings new opportunity, a fresh start. As 2015 approaches, many of us are setting new personal, career, and financial goals. Those goals can range from dropping or adding a habit, developing a strategy to grow your business or advance your current career position, or to simply review your current budget. Regardless of what you aim to achieve in 2015, consider a personal insurance review with an independent agent. A personal insurance review is a great way to not only save money, but to make sure your coverage protects against the specific exposures that relate to you. Here’s what you should look to review and discuss:

  1. Cost Savings: The most common reason for reviewing insurance coverage is to cut cost. Independent agents are able to review rates for current and prospective clients with several insurance companies. This approach saves a lot of time and offers policies that are not available through direct writers or captive agents. Insurance isn’t a one size fits all industry; make sure you find a company that fits you…an independent agent is a great resource to do so.
  2. Customer Service: Companies are constantly searching for new ways to meet policyholder expectations. Such ways include: mobile apps, online policy servicing, towing/roadside hotlines, preferred auto body shop recommendations, claims handling technology, social media communication and so on. An independent agent can help match you with a company that meets your expectations.
  3. Liability Limits: Your liability limits are the most important aspect of your personal policies. A home can be replaced; a substantial bodily injury or wrongful death liability claim could impact your financial status for life. Talk about your current limits. Are they high enough? Do you have an umbrella policy? The good news, good coverage doesn’t have to break the bank.
  4. Discounts: Consider combining all of your insurance with one company. Second, see if you apply for any job industry/career discounts (ex: CPA’s, teachers, engineers, and more). If you’re 50 and over and belong to a senior organization, you’ll have many different discounts available to you. Lastly, talk with your agent about your home and any updates that you’ve made. Discuss your vehicles and the drivers on your policy. If you have a young driver and they’re good students, there’s a discount!
  5. Deductibles: An independent agent will review your current deductibles for both your home and auto insurance. Increasing deductibles will reduce your premiums. Lowering deductibles will do the opposite and will increase your premiums. Being financially able to meet the deductible requirement in the event of a claim shouldn’t be overlooked. Find what deductibles work for your budget by weighing the different options.

Check your calendar for 2015 and set aside a date for your insurance review.  If you’re interested in scheduling a review with one of our agents, please contact us at info@colonialinsurance.net

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.

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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!

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