Heavy Rain? Be on the lookout!

Your home protects you from the elements, but heavy rains can weaken that protection. With a little maintenance and a healthy dose of vigilance, you can stay safe and dry.

Spring rainstorms are a fact of life in many areas of the country which makes this the perfect time to start thinking about your home. These are some measures to prevent problems from happening during the next downpour!

Where is all that rain going?

Your roof and gutters form a key line of defense for your home – and in a storm, they’re vulnerable, because so many things can damage them. Trees, hail, and other objects can create weaknesses that might lead to leaks in your roof, check for missing shingles and other issues. And keep your gutters clear so all that water drains properly.

Are you checking everywhere?

Water dripping from the ceiling is hard to miss. Water in your crawl space, however, can easily go undetected because hardly anyone ever checks there. Don’t forget to look down there after a storm to make sure everything is nice and dry.

And don’t just look up – another place to check is your home’s exterior, whether it’s siding, brick, or another material. Weak spots can be hard to see, so look at various times of the day in different lighting conditions.

Of course, you’ll want to make sure your doors and windows are properly sealed to keep the elements out, too.

What about around your property?

Storm water has to go somewhere, and if your property doesn’t drain well, or if runoff goes toward your foundation, you could have problems. Watch for patterns, and grade property so it drains away from your home if possible. Always be wary of hillsides and tilting trees after heavy storms, because the land might not be stable.

Don’t forget to keep storm drains clear of leaves and other debris. This can prevent flooding both on the streets and your own property.

Don’t forget to stay safe and inside during the storm, check on the outdoors after the storm has passed.

Thankfully, powerful storms only hit once in a while. Preparing for them, however, can be done any time.

 

Car Sharing

Things to Consider Before Using a Car-Sharing Service

There are benefits and drawbacks to car sharing—just like when you drive your own car—but is sharing right for you? 4 things you should consider before getting started

Car sharing can be a great way to save money and increase flexibility.

According to AAA, in 2017 the annual cost of owning and operating a new car averaged nearly $8,500—and that doesn’t include payments for the the car itself. Because car-sharing services allow you to pay only for the time you’re using a car (in addition to certain fees), the cost can be significantly lower. If you don’t need a car often, or if you occasionally need a second car, sharing might be a good choice.

  1. It can help the environment and reduce traffic. This one is pretty self-explanatory, less cars on the street equals less greenhouse emissions and less traffic.
  2. If you’re thinking about peer-to-peer sharing, check your state’s laws. Peer-to-peer renting has many benefits, and often includes a selection of interesting cars. But if you’re the one providing the car, participating in the network can create issues, depending on where you live. Some states have enacted regulations around peer-to-peer sharing, including a limit on how much revenue you can generate annually with your vehicle. The sharing program itself also needs to meet certain requirements.
  3. No matter what you choose, check your insurance coverage. Sharing your own vehicle in a peer-to-peer network in some states could put you at risk—even though these programs include insurance, it might not be enough to cover medical expenses and other costs in the event of a crash. Also, your insurance company might not renew your auto policy, or your premiums could increase significantly. Car-sharing programs that feature company-owned vehicles include insurance, too, but it might be wise to consider additional coverage. For example, your credit card might provide extra protection, and insurance companies have non-owner policies available as well.

There’s a lot to like about car sharing and a lot to think about. Don’t hit the road before weighing the pros and cons—and make sure you’re protected.

The Gift of Jewelry

Whether it’s a gift from someone or a gift to yourself, new jewelry can bring some sparkle to your life.

However, many people who find themselves victimized by burglars—or worse, a fire or some other disaster—find out too late that they didn’t have enough insurance to replace their jewelry.

Homeowners policies typically only cover valuable items such as jewelry up to a specific amount. There may be other issues as well, like whether your policy covers each individual piece of jewelry at a set amount or provides coverage for your collection as a whole.

This may sound complicated, but it’s really not—especially when you work with an independent agent who can explain your options and make sure you get the right coverage. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Do you need more coverage? Look at your policy or ask your agent to see what your coverage amounts are. Do you have one or two expensive pieces, or a number of smaller items that when added together exceed your limits?
  2. What kind of coverage should you get? This depends on your lifestyle. You may want to consider whether items are covered no matter where they are (such as if you travel internationally). You’ll also want to ask about actual cash value versus replacement value, and if you would be required to actually replace the jewelry in the event of a loss or if you could just keep the cash payment.
  3. Do you need an appraisal? In some instances, an insurance company will require you to get a piece appraised to determine its value.
  4. Do you have items with mainly sentimental value, or ones that are irreplaceable?If so, you might not need to purchase any additional insurance at all. But we recommend talking to your agent before making that decision.
  5. Do you have pictures? This doesn’t necessarily have to do with your insurance, but jewelers often are able to recreate lost or stolen pieces with the help of a photo.

Whatever you choose, remember you play an important role in keeping your jewelry protected, too: Be sure to store it securely, having the right coverage is great—but it’s even better when those special pieces stay with you and your family for years to come.

 

Do I Need Rental Car Insurance?

You’re standing at the rental car counter and they ask, “Do you want insurance with that?”

Most travelers have the vague notion they don’t really need to buy rental car insurance – that it is somehow covered already. With just enough doubt in their minds, and the need to make a quick decision, they buy it just to be safe.

Do I need to buy rental car insurance?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. However, you can likely reach a conclusion you’re comfortable with by considering these 3 questions.

  1. What Types of Insurance Are Available?

Typically, car rental agencies will offer 4 types of insurance to purchase:

  • Collision damage waiver – they won’t charge for a damaged or stolen vehicle.
  • Supplemental liability protection – you’re covered for costs to others if you cause an accident in the rental.
  • Personal accident insurance – pays for injuries or death of the driver and passengers of your rental car.
  • Personal effects coverage – reimburses you for stolen personal items while renting.
  1. What Coverage Do I Already Have?

Your car insurance likely will provide the same level of coverage for your rental as it does for your own car. Usually includes liability insurance, and may include collision, comprehensive and medical payments, too. There are exclusions, however. Some insurers won’t cover rentals in a foreign country, or rentals that are being used for business. Ask your agent to verify your coverages.

Consider your homeowners insurance, you may have personal property coverage to help repair or replace valuable belongings that are lost, damaged or stolen while you’re in a rental. Your deductible and policy limits will apply.

  1. What Coverage Might I Be Missing?

In the event something happens to the rental you may be looking at loss of use and diminished value fees that your regular policy may not cover. Loss of use is the income that the rental agency loses due to the vehicle being in the shop for repairs, and diminished value is the calculated reduction in a vehicle’s resale value as the result of an accident.

Next time you find yourself at the rental counter ask these questions and you will be able to make an informed decision.

3 Tips to be Home (and Safe) for the Holidays

The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also one of the most dangerous. Nearly a third of all home fires take place during the winter holiday season. It is also a peak time of year for home burglaries.

To keep your home safe and secure this holiday season, here are three simple rules.

Don’t Leave the Kitchen Unattended

One of the leading causes of fires during the holidays isn’t Christmas trees or Christmas lights—it’s cooking.

Mind Your Festive Lights

To lower your risk of a fire, always follow these light-safety tips:

  • Use low heat, miniature lights.
  • Inspect every light before you put a strand on the tree.
  • Refrain from overloading power strips or outlets.

Use lights designated for indoor use only.

Don’t leave them on when no one is home, and always turn them off before you go to bed.

Outdoor lights are a little more complex—and just as dangerous. Keep these basic guidelines in mind when setting up your display:

  • Never set up your lights by yourself.
  • Never place lights by gutters that might contain dry leaves.
  • Never hang decorations from the lights.
  • Never rely on strands of lights to support themselves—reinforce them with insulated, not wire or metal, hooks.
  • Never ignore warm wires on your daily lights check.

Just like indoor lights, the most important step you need to take with outdoor lights is to turn them off before you go to bed, and when you are not at home.

Don’t Leave Your Home (and Gifts) Vulnerable

Leaving your house clearly unattended is an open invitation for burglars. If you plan on going out of town, even for a day or two, follow these simple rules:

  • Hire someone to keep your driveway shoveled.
  • Arrange for a neighbor to collect mail or any packages left on your doorstep.
  • Let trusted neighbors know of your travel plans, but do not post your plans—or photos—on social media.

It’s tempting to display beautifully wrapped presents under the tree prior to the holiday but, if your tree is within sight of any windows, you may want to keep your gifts hidden until the day you’re unwrapping them. Burglars often monitor homes, looking in windows for easily accessible items like large presents in the shape of a television.

If you’re staying home this holiday season, like many of us are, you still need to take steps to defend your home against burglars:

  • Don’t place your presents under the tree if they can be seen from outside.
  • If you are getting deliveries make sure they are brought inside immediately.

Be smart, be safe, and enjoy your holidays.

WINTER IS COMING! Get Ready with these 10 Fall Projects.

As the weather starts to cool down, you have the perfect opportunity to prepare your home for colder days. Get these projects done before it’s too late!

Upgrade your old furnace

  • If your furnace is 10-15 years old and is taking longer to heat up the house than usual, it may be time to replace it.

Check on Important Insulation

  • Specifically, check on weatherstripping around your doors, windows, and garage door. The felt strips seal these openings to prevent drafts, but they can wear down over time.

Clean out your gutters

  • Your gutters work hard over fall and winter, and they need your help. Clean them out to prevent them from overflowing with rain or snow and damaging your roof.

Replace Old Single-Pane Windows

  • Single-pane windows are poor insulators. If you have any of these windows, consider replacing them with double-pane windows.

Replace missing shingles

  • Your roof needs to be in good shape to resist wind, rain and snow. Replace any missing shingles and fix other signs of damage before those eyesores turn into serious and expensive leaking problems.

Prepare Your Fireplace

  • For wood fireplaces, clean them out thoroughly, check the chimney, and make sure that you have an ample supply of wood. Gas and electric fireplaces can also benefit from an annual inspection.

Switch your ceiling fan direction

  • Ceiling fans should turn clockwise in the colder months, which pushes warm air back down into the room. Most fans have a simple switch that reverses the direction.

Hibernate Outdoor AC Units

  • Clean and cover your outdoor air conditioning unit to protect it from rain and snow.

Winterize Irrigation Systems

  • In colder climates, your irrigation system should be blown out to remove any water and prevent freeze-ups that can ruin sprinklers.

Trim Problem Bushes and Trees

  • The last thing you want are branches to hit your house during a windstorm. Now is the time to inspect nearby trees and shrubs, and cut any low-hanging or dying branches before they can do damage.

 

5 Common Homeowner Mistakes

Owning a home is great, it can also be a hassle. When unexpected issues pop up—whether it’s a minor breakdown or a major catastrophe, it will require time and money to fix.

In many instances, the issues can be avoided with a little effort ahead of time.

Here are 5 common mistakes and tips from experts to avoid them.

  1. Ignore the small stuff. The faucet with a slow drip. The little crack in a board on your deck. They might not seem like big problems, but they can turn into bigger issues over time. A leaky faucet means a high water bill, a crack can lead to rot, which could lead to replacing the board—or the entire deck. When you see “small” things around the house, take steps to address them now because it’s a lot easier (and cheaper) today than a year from now.
  2. Not doing regular checks. How often do you look around the house? You’d be surprised how many people haven’t been in their attic or crawlspace for years. It’s a good idea to do a walk-through periodically to look for issues. Don’t forget to look outside too!
  3. Skipping maintenance on your appliances. Maintenance can prevent serious risks. When was the last time you cleaned out your dryer exhaust vent? Too much lint buildup can cause a fire—so clean it out at least once a year. You also should check the hoses connected to your washing machine and dishwasher. If they are worn, replace them. Other tips:
    • Clean your refrigerator coils once a year.
    • Clean your dishwasher’s food filter regularly.
    • Test your smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors twice a year, installing fresh batteries each time.
  4. Neglecting other systems. Your HVAC system needs attention so it won’t fail when you need it most. Having it serviced each year will alert you to potential problems. Change filters at the appropriate intervals, and if it’s been a while since you’ve had your ducts cleaned, consider that as well.
  5. No home warranty. Despite your best maintenance efforts, the air conditioner may break down, leaving you sweltering in the summer. The water heater could stop working, meaning cold showers every morning. Or the refrigerator may not get cold any more. These things happen and if your appliance is out of warranty, you’re on the hook.

Your home is one of your biggest investments, so be diligent about caring for it. Keep your eyes open around the house. Don’t hesitate to get out tools or call a professional if needed. Remember, prevention is the best medicine.

Bored During COVID? Make Your Home Safer!

During these crazy times many people are working on home improvements.

There are plenty of simple maintenance tasks and other improvements you can utilize to make your home safer.

You won’t have to break out the power tools or worry about getting in over your head.

Water Works
Even minor leaks can cause major problems, from high water bills to costly repairs. Here are some easy ways to ensure your water stays where it should:

  • Check appliances. They’re the most common source of water leaks in homes, so it’s worth taking a look at least once a year to check for problems. The hoses that come with your washer and dishwasher can mean big trouble – they break down over time. Look for kinks or cracks, and replace if needed. Consider using reinforced hoses, ones with steel braiding or mesh won’t hold up forever, but they’re stronger than rubber or plastic.
  • Watch the pressure. Water pressure set too high can cause pipes, hoses and water lines to leak or burst. Inexpensive gauges are available at home-improvement stores to test your pressure.
  • Consider installing water sensors. These can alert you to a leak or other problem soon after it occurs – some can even send messages to your smartphone.

Keep Your Family On Their Feet
Millions of Americans are injured in falls each year. Look around your home. Should you make some of these fixes?

  • Reduce clutter. Everything from small pieces of furniture to area rugs can pose a hazard, so make sure they’re in appropriate places and out of the way if possible.
  • Add stability to stairs. Make sure stairways have sturdy rails, and maybe even non-slip strips, particularly outdoors.
  • Let there be light. It’s hard to walk safely when you can’t see obstacles or potential trouble spots. Make sure your home is well-lit, and don’t forget night lights, too.

Give Everyone Some Air
Pollution isn’t just an outside thing – the air in your home can be unhealthy, too. But helping people breathe a little easier isn’t hard when you follow these steps:

  • Test the air (and your detectors). Make sure you have working carbon-monoxide and smoke detectors and test them regularly.
  • Check your filters and ducts. Keeping your furnace filter and air ducts clean will keep your air cleaner as well.
  • Keep your home clean. Dust doesn’t just build up on the furniture – it ends up in the air as well. Regular cleaning means cleaner air.

Home improvement doesn’t have to mean a remodel. Making your home safer could be the best improvement of all.

Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.

Steps to Take After an Accident

Pull over and call 911. After stopping your car and, if you can, pulling out of the line of traffic, don’t forget to turn on your hazard lights.

Even if no one is hurt, it’s a good idea to call 911. It isn’t against the law to just exchange insurance information and move on. But if you call 911 or your local precinct and bring in a neutral third party to document the accident, you’ll be doing yourself a favor.

Exchange car insurance information. If you do nothing else, do this. Your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company need each other’s contact information to decide who pays for the damages. Don’t depend on local law enforcement to always get correct insurance information. Mistakes do happen.

Get a police report. After an accident the local police department responding to the scene will provide you with a police report number and instructions to obtain a police report.

Make small talk. It’s best not to take complete ownership of an accident, even if you believe you were at fault.

If you were at fault, tell the truth, but stick to the facts and don’t offer your opinion, at least until you’ve had a chance to process everything.

Take photos and gather witnesses. If you have a smartphone, it can be helpful to take photos of the damages, especially if you know you weren’t at fault and want to prove it. If you can find eye witnesses and collect their contact information to give to the police and to your insurance company, even better.

10 Ways to Prevent Basement Mold

Basement mold is a common problem in homes that have damp, dark basements. Mold is a fungus which grows fast in moist, humid conditions. Once it establishes a presence in your basement, mold is very difficult to eliminate. Mold causes many health problems such as asthma, infections, cough, rashes, congestion and allergies. The best way to prevent mold growth is to control humidity and moisture in your basement.

Monitor Humidity Levels

High humidity levels provide the perfect growing environment for mold. You must ensure that humidity levels within your home, especially the basement, are within acceptable levels. Use a hygrometer to measure the humidity level. A humidity reading of 45% or more is high and can be conducive to growth of mold.

Use a Dehumidifier

If you detect high moisture levels in the basement, buy a high quality dehumidifier. This appliance is quite effective at keeping humidity levels under check.

Avoid Growing Plants Indoors

Plants in the basement provide a good diet for mold and mildew. Only grow plants in sunny, airy locations in your home. Avoid the basement for cultivation of any sorts.

Reduce Congestion in the Basement

Keep your basement free of clutter. Too many objects and storage items block the free flow of air and reduce ventilation. Items such as clothes and books stored in the basement are food for mold and mildew. Store minimal quantities of such items away from direct contact with the floor or walls.

Avoid Storing Wood in the Basement

Wood is another ideal habitat for mold. Never store wood in the basement. An open, airy location is the best location for storing wood.

Ensure That Water is Directed Away From Your Home

The boundary around your home must be sloped in such a way that snow and rain are directed away from the house. Otherwise, and moisture will pool around the structure, increasing moisture and leakage problems. In such a situation, mold is almost inevitable.

Take Care of Spills and Leaks Immediately

If there are any leaks in the basement, take care of them immediately. Wipe the water from the area and dry it thoroughly. Use of a dehumidifier and heater to accelerate the drying process.

Insulate Water Pipes in the Basement

Generally, cold water pipes in the basement show condensation on the exterior. Insulating such pipes reduces the humidity levels in the basement.

Use an Exhaust Fan

Air out stale, humid air and allow the intake of fresh air with the use of an exhaust fan. Try to open doors and windows to the basement regularly.

Reduce Humidifying Factors

Avoid drying wet clothes in the basement. Make sure appliances such as dryers, stoves, heaters, and air conditioners exhaust to the outside, or else the humidity can rise significantly. Avoid carpets and wood flooring in the basement.

https://www.doityourself.com/stry/10-ways-to-prevent-basement-mold