How To Help Your Home Recover From Winter

Erie Insurance recently published a blog post on ten maintenance-related things you can do to help your home recover from the winter months. With yesterday being the first day of spring, we thought we’d share the list with our readers.

SPRING HOME MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST:

  1. Have your roof inspected. (Particularly if you notice leaks, loose shingles, or metal.)

  2. Fix any ceiling stains, which usually indicate a roof leak. But, remember to fix the leak first!

  3. Inspect windows and doors. Look for bent or broken hinges, frames, or edges. Also look for holes in screens.

  4. Consider resealing your driveway. Particularly if you notice cracks.

  5. Seal your deck every few years.

  6. Check your fence(s). Repair or replace any loose slats or rot on your fences.

  7. Clean gutters and downspouts.

  8. Check for ice dams. You may want a professional to check and fix ice dams on the roof.

  9. Apply caulk to leak-prone areas.

  10. Inspect outside faucets and hoses. Turn them on to ensure water is still running as it should; if you can stop the flow with your thumb, the water pressure may be too low and a pipe inside your home may need to be fixed.

Check out the full article from Erie Insurance for more information and tips on maintaining your home after the winter season: www.erieinsurance.com/blog/home-recover-from-winter

Millenials Are Not Carrying Enough Life Insurance

Forbes recently published an article reporting that only 10% of Millenials have enough life insurance in place to cover self-reported needs should they die. That is a scary statistic. Not carrying the proper life insurance puts your family members at financial risk, in the event of your death.

The article reports:

  1. Millenials report a 78% shortfall in life insurance coverage.

  2. By contrast, Gen Xers report a 48% coverage shortfall.

  3. Baby Boomers have a 37% shortfall.

In terms of purchasing life insurance, the article says, "Get enough insurance to replace the lost income of the deceased, so the surviving spouse can carry on with paying the mortgage and saving for retirement."

The American Institute of CPAs has a life insurance needs calculator (link here) to help you determine how much you really need.

Check out the full article here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2018/11/13/the-big-millennial-life-insurance-gap/#65995fea6ac4

And, if you have questions about your life insurance policy, or getting a quote, call your agent.

Erie Insurance Accolades Speak To Company's Strength

For the sixth consecutive year, Erie Insurance received the highest ranking in the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study for "Customer Satisfaction with the Auto Insurance Purchase Experience." The study measures auto insurance shopping purchase behavior and purchase experience satisfaction among customers who recently bought insurance, and Erie received the highest numerical score: 877 out of 1,000. 

This is huge for Erie because J.D. Power surveys real customers and no other carrier ranks higher.

Also on the trophy shelf, Erie earned A.M. Best's rating of A+ (Superior). While Erie Family Life Insurance earned A.M. Best's rating of A (Excellent). These accolades speak to Erie's financial strength. Customers can be sure Erie is financially sound and will be there for its customers.

For more information on Erie's awards and rankings, visit its website: erieinsurance.com/awards

Clearsurance Ranks Erie Among Top 10 Best Insurance Companies In 2018 For Home And Auto

Clearsurance, an independent community where insurance customers share their individual feedback on auto, homeowner’s and renter’s insurance, has recently ranked Erie among the top 10 best insurance companies in 2018 for both home and auto.

Erie ranked 5th out of 10 among auto insurers, and 2nd out of 10 among the home insurers included.

Check out the full articles here: https://clearsurance.com/best-car-insurance-2018https://clearsurance.com/best-home-insurance-2018.

And here are the results as displayed on Clearsurance:

Source: https://clearsurance.com/best-car-insuranc...

How To Prevent (And Fix) Frozen Pipes

By: William Forbes

Erie Insurance published a helpful article on its blog, ErieSense, on how to prevent your pipes from freezing this winter, and what to do if it happens.

I am re-posting the tips below. But, I wanted to highlight one of the most important things the article mentions. If your pipes do freeze, call a plumber to help you thaw them safely and avoid further damage to your home.

It may seem intuitive, but it's worth reminding folks they do not have to handle this situation on their own - call a professional to help you winterize your pipes, or thaw them, if you've run into that problem.

Here are Erie's steps for preventing frozen pipes:

  • Drain water from pipes that are likely to freeze. This includes your swimming pool and sprinkler water supply lines. 
  • Disconnect any hoses from the outside of your home, drain the hoses and store them in the garage. Make sure to close the indoor valves supplying these outdoor access points.
  • Insulate the area around vents and light fixtures. This helps prevent heat from escaping into the attic.
  • Seal any wall cracks. Be sure to pay careful attention to the areas around utility service lines.
  • Open kitchen cabinets. This allows the warm air to circulate around the pipes. 
  • Keep the garage doors closed to protect water lines.
  • Allow your faucets to drip cold water on the coldest days. The movement will make it harder for the water to freeze. 
  • Keep your thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Never let it fall below 55 degrees Fahrenheit when you leave your home.
  • Ensure you have proper seals on all doors and windows. 
  • Place a 60-watt bulb in areas where you’re concerned about pipes freezing. Make sure there are no combustible materials near the bulb.
  • Take swift action if the pipes located inside an exterior wall are freezing. Cut a hole in the wall toward the inside of the house to expose those pipes to warmer air.

Check out Erie's full blog post for signs that your pipes are frozen and tips for thawing them yourself: https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/frozen-water-pipe-prevention.

The Benefits Of Having An Insurance Agent

While purchasing insurance online can be convenient, there are true benefits to working with an agent, in-person for your insurance needs. Agents are required to have industry licenses and complete continuing education; meaning that when you need guidance and advice, they are equipped to give it. Their industry knowledge can help with everything from choosing the appropriate coverages, to navigating the claims process.

Technology is great, but sometimes having a real person to guide you is better.

Zombies Have Bad Days Too

Check out Erie's latest blockbuster...and it's perfect for the season. Have a wonderful Fall and a Happy Halloween from all of us here at Forbes Insurance.

With all the buzz around the new season of AMC's The Walking Dead, what if a literal zombie apocalypse happened tomorrow? While it's highly unlikely that zombies will really take over, it's good to know that insurance is there to protect you when things go wrong, like a telephone pole falling on your house or your TV getting fried by an electrical surge.

Could Oversharing On Social Media Cost You Your Insurance In The Future?

By: William Forbes

This article from Consumer Reports interviews representatives from the National Insurance Crime Bureau and the Insurance Information Institute on this subject and uncovers some interesting info.

The idea here is that by sharing photos of your family away from home on vacation, or posting about new and expensive purchases, you could be opening yourself up to theft. So, by sharing these types of posts, you could be violating your insurance policy's "reasonable care" clause, "which stipulates that policyholders do everything they can to make their home burglar-resistant and secure from risk," says the article.

Please don't be alarmed. We've never heard of an insurance company denying a home claim because of social media; and the experts in the article don't say that they know of a claim being denied either. But, they do posit, in the future, insurers may review people's social media activity in certain instances.

Beyond the issue of insurance claims, however, I think this article makes a good point about not oversharing on social media in order to protect your safety, home, and belongings. It's smart, especially in today's internet-connected society, to protect yourself by not letting the world know where you are and what you are doing at any given moment.

The article suggests waiting until you return home to post vacation photos, and to be careful of how much personal information you are giving away in comments. For example, try not to disclose where you are vacationing, how long you're there, your hotel details, etc.

check out the full article for more information: https://www.consumerreports.org/social-media/is-social-media-putting-your-home-at-risk/

Making Your Home Playground Safe

By: Nicole Vattimo

ErieSense posted an article that's especially relevant in these summer months, when the kiddies are out of school. The post addresses home playgrounds and how to keep them safe for use. The post advises homeowners to do these six things:

  1. Measure out a distinct play space.
  2. Make sure the playset is installed properly.
  3. Install a shock-absorbing surface beneath the playground (i.e. mulch, wood chips or shredded rubber).
  4. Check the hardware for sharp, exposed edges, and to be sure it's not rusted.
  5. Be sure there are no fall hazards by installing guardrails on ramps or platforms.
  6. Perform regular monthly maintenance on the playset.

For more information on these tips, check out Erie's blog post: https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/home-playground-safety.

For questions about your homeowners insurance, always contact your agent.

What Is My Policy Declarations Page?

By: Nicole Vattimo

If you are asking: What is my policy declarations page and what can I find there? This post is for you!

The declarations page of your policy is where you will find much of the pertinent information about the insurance policy. It provides information about the insured (that's you), the policy, and the insurance company.

Usually at the top of the page, your name and address is listed, along with your policy number, the dates of the policy period, and your agent's name and contact info.

Moving down the page, you will see a description of the vehicle(s) or property being covered.

An auto declarations page provides the make and model, VIN, and usage info (i.e. pleasure, work commute, etc) for all vehicles on the policy. You will also see a listing of the drivers included on the policy. Along with this info, your auto coverages, the cost of those coverages, and any deductibles will be given for each vehicle.

On a property declarations page, you will see a description of the property, the estimated replacement cost of the dwelling, and the amount of insurance provided for the dwelling, other structures, and personal property. The declarations page will also provide the amount of liability coverage provided, and any deductibles that apply to the policy.

In addition to information about the vehicle(s) or property being insured, the declarations page will list your total policy premium, and will usually list any discounts and/or endorsements you may have.

Because of all the information it provides, the declarations page is typically where you will look to answer questions about your coverages or the costs of those coverages. However, always contact your insurance agent for detailed information about your policy, or to help you with any questions you may have.

What To Do With Your Home Insurance If You Plan to Rent Out Your House

By: William Forbes

We've seen an increase in the number of our clients who have decided to rent their houses out, rather than sell them. If you plan to do this, it's important to adjust your home insurance policy to be sure you are properly protected.

First, you will want a renters policy, which will protect your home's structure and the small amount of personal property (furniture, decor, etc.) you may have inside the home. You'll also receive liability coverage, in the event that someone is injured on the property.

But, almost more importantly, carrying a renters policy as a landlord will provide protection if there is a home claim that prevents your renter from living on the property for a time. In this case, your renters policy would provide up to 12 months of fair rental value. This means during the time the house is out of commission, you will not lose the rental income that typically comes from your renter.

Once you become a landlord, it is also important to talk to your renter about carrying his/her own renters policy. This protects a renter's personal property, and provides important liability coverage to your tenant. It might also be beneficial to be listed as an additional insured on your tenant's policy, which provides you an important line of sight to his/her policy and coverages.

Give us a call if you have questions about renters or tenant policies.