|After three winter storms in less than a week, you may be noticing some pretty large snow piles on the roof of your home. With a slight warm up in temperature coming week-end, now is the time to remove snow in order to prevent the buildup of ice dams - and potential damage to your home.
As you may recall from our winter in 2015, ice dams can be very destructive as the water from melting snow backs up behind the dam and leaks into your home underneath the shingles.
There are two basic approaches to help you prevent damage to your home from ice dams:
1. Remove snow and ice from your roof. The safest way to clear your roof is to hire a snow removal professional. However, if you plan to do it yourself, follow these recommendations from roofing experts:
|2. Create channels to help melt ice.|
|What if water is dripping inside my home?
If you notice leaks in your home, it's important to do what you can to mitigate the damage:
According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, the average cost to repair a burst pipe is $5,000 or more. That cost can skyrocket if the problem isn’t discovered quickly, so it’s important to protect your pipes from winter weather to prevent this unwanted expense.
A drop in temperatures can cause the water in pipes to freeze and expand, potentially causing a crack in your plumbing. Most homeowners know to let faucets drip during the night when the temperature drops below freezing, as this helps relieve the pressure and prevent ruptures. However, another way to prevent frozen pipes is to protect them from the cold weather. Insulating pipes is an inexpensive DIY project that has long-term savings. It can also reduce heat loss and decrease the time it takes for the water to warm, which helps conserve water.
Foam and rubber are the most common material to insulate iron and copper pipes, and one pipe protector only costs a few dollars. When choosing insulation, make sure it is flexible enough to wrap around pipes and resists mold and bacterial growth. You’ll also need acrylic black tape, tie wire or zip ties to hold the insulation in place.
Another helpful way to keep pipes warm is using heating cables such as the Frost King Water Pipe Cable Kit. Wrap these around pipes to automatically regulate temperatures and keep water flowing up to 40 degrees below zero. Consider this option for areas prone to freezing, such as pipes in the basement and exterior walls.
Subtitlessubtitles offCaptionscaptions offChaptersChaptersAnother area of the home to update during the winter is outside faucets, which can be protected with an inexpensive hard faucet cover.
The latest technology can be used to catch leaks before they turn into problems. Install a water leak detector such as the Honeywell Lyric Wi-Fi Water Leak and Freeze Detector to monitor moisture and temperatures. The smart tool will notify your phone if a problem is identified so you can address it immediately.
If you have to repair a burst pipe, the first thing to do is turn off the water supply. Locate your home’s shutoff valve now, that way you’re prepared in case of an emergency. After shutting off the water supply, clean up as much of the water as possible and dry everything out.
Use a pipe repair kit if you need to fix the problem immediately or to save on the cost of a plumber. The kit has everything you need to quickly and permanently repair up to 12 inches of damaged pipe.
Pipe insulation prevents expensive repairs, maximizes water usage and increases energy efficiency, so be sure to tackle this simple DIY project before an emergency hits.
An important aspect of this potential claim is to have an independent agent that you can call to help you through the claims process. At Foy Insurance we provide the human factor to claims handling – you will always be dealing with a person and not a computer. Visit us today!
One issue that consistently confuses homeowners, especially first-time buyers, is the difference between the market value of the home compared to its replacement cost.
The market value is what the home is worth on the open market. The insurance company is not concerned with market value; however, it is only interested in the replacement cost value of your home. It does not insure your land. The typical home can be rebuilt for using like kind and quality. The two are often not nearly the same.
What will the insurance company promise? The insurance company agrees to repair the home at replacement cost without depreciation as long as you have maintained the proper amount of coverage. Most companies will also offer endorsements onto the policy where the company will pay above the coverage limit as long as you have made a good faith attempt to insure your home to its replacement cost.
So what’s the issue? In many cases there is a wide discrepancy between the market value and the replacement cost. And, it can vary either way. At the peak of the housing market or in towns with hot markets you will see homes whose market value far out paces its replacement cost. Conversely, in down markets or towns with depressed markets you may find houses whose market value lags far behind its replacement cost.
For instance you might find a small, single-family home on a half-acre of land in South Portland go for $380,000 while the building could be rebuilt for $250,000 or less. On the other end you might find a large single-family in certain sections of Gorham going for $250,000 with a replacement cost closer to $400,000. The insurance company is interested in the replacement cost. The homeowner in South Portland can insure his house for $250,000 while the homeowner in Gorham would need to insure for $400,000.
Many home purchasers are told they must insure their homes to their outstanding mortgage amounts. This is not necessarily true. So make sure you ask your independent insurance agent when discussing replacement value for your home.
December is here and along with it comes the familiar reminders that winter is quickly approaching. Turn on the radio and Christmas music is blaring, go to the store and see decorations and lights lining the shelves. It’s also that time of year again when you have to prepare your home for freezing temperatures. Here are a few items that you can start with to help winterize your home this season.
- Cover patio furniture—patio furniture wears easily in climate change. If possible, I recommend storing patio furniture in a shed or garage. If that’s not possible, cover them with a tarp or specifically designed covers is a great way to minimize weather damage to your furniture.
- Cover the air conditioner—the coils on the top and sides of your air conditioner can be easily damaged. Wet leaves and debris can ruin these coils which will cause your air conditioner to run less effectively, and could even ruin it completely. By simply covering the coils, you could prevent a costly repair.
- Cover crawlspace vents—if you have a crawlspace under your home, you likely have vents on the outside in your foundation. In the summer you should open the vents to let air through to prevent mold growth; however, in the winter you should close the vents and cover them with Styrofoam or crawl space vent covers. Doing so helps you heat your home more efficiently.
- Put hoses away and cover outside faucets—when water freezes, it expands. If there is water left in the hose, it will likely freeze and tear. You should undo the hose, drain it, and store it in a shed or garage for the winter to prevent it from breaking. The faucet heads should also be protected from the cold weather. Styrofoam faucet covers go directly over the faucet to keep heat in and prevent a possible break from freezing.
- Insulate pipes and keep your home heated—if you are going to be traveling this winter season, it is still important to maintain heat in the home. Pipes are easily frozen and could burst from the pressure. Insulating the pipes will also help prevent freezing from occurring.
- Replace the air filter—your furnace sucks in air and uses a filter to sift out any particles from being blown onto the coils. A clean filter will help your furnace run efficiently and increase the life of your furnace. Depending on the filter quality, a good rule of thumb is to replace it every 1-3 months.
- Drain the gas from your mower—this is one maintenance item individuals seem to forget about. When storing a mower for the winter, it is important to either drain the gas from the mower or let it run until the gas has been used up. If not done, moisture could seep into the gas tank and ruin your mower.
I’m not a fan of the cold weather, but it’s almost upon us. Taking a little time to winterize your home could help you prevent a loss and save you thousands of dollars in the long run. Talk to your local Foy Insurance representative for other suggestions they may have to help prepare your home for the winter months.
Written by Rebecca Ries from Central Insurance Companies
More Blogs by Rebecca Ries: https://blog.central-insurance.com/author/rries/
By Lauren Foy
Lauren Foy was asked to write the following article for the New England Mushers Association as part of their newsletter. Take a look at what she had to say about homeowners insurance and dogs.
Not many people consider how their pets can affect their homeowner’s insurance coverage. However, dogs are one of the most important underwriting questions to most carriers. Before deciding to accept your insurance applications many insurers will need to know how many dogs you have, how they are restrained on and off your premise, and if they have any history of aggressive behavior. Some companies have a list of dog breeds that they will not accept or will not accept a certain number of dogs.
A standard homeowner’s policy includes some level of personal liability coverage. This coverage gives you some protection for lawsuits against youself due to damage caused by you or on your property. A common example is someone falling down your stairs and injuring themselves. The injured party has the right to sue you for their damages. Your homeowners policy has the duty to defend you in this lawsuit and can help pay for your damages. This is a simple example but there are many other situations in which you could be facing a similar lawsuit.
Dog bites and injuries are one of the most costly types of homeowners liability claims seen by insurance carriers. Many of us consider our dogs as an integral part of our families, but they also open us up to a large liability exposure. New Hampshire state law lists dog ownership as a “strict liability”. In short, this means that you are liable for any damages your dog causes, regardless of fault or intent.
The NH law 466:19 Liability of Owner or Keeper currently reads, “Any person to whom or to whose property, including sheep, lambs, fowl or other domestic creatures, damage may be occasioned by a dog not owned or kept by such person shall be entitled to recover damages from the person who owns, keeps or possesses the dog, unless the damage was occasioned to a person who was engaged in the commission of a trespass or other tort. A parent of guardian shall be liable under this section if the owner or keeper of the dog is a minor” (Rev. 466:19). After reading this law, you can see that the only exclusion to your liability is if the injured party was trespassing on your property or participating in any other tort, such as assault or battery. In any other situation the owner or keeper of your dogs is liable for any damage they cause.
The issue of dog ownership strict liability may not seem like a large issue to you; you are a responsible dog owner, your dogs are always properly restrained and well-trained. However this is a large concern to the company that carries your insurance. The company has no way of knowing your great reputation and all they see is a kennel of liability exposures. Since New Hampshire has instituted the law of strict liability insurance carriers have no way of rectifying the money they pay out for a dog bite from the at-fault party. This results in most insurance carriers being very restrictive in their acceptance of homeowners with dogs.
Insurance carriers will become even more restrictive in the case of a homeowner with a history of a dog bite. If one of your dogs ends up biting another person you could be quickly facing a non-renewal notice. This non-renewal will call for either the cancellation of your homeowners policy or the permanent removal of your dog from your property. Once you receive one of these notices it is harder to find coverage in the standard market for your homeowners policy. This could force you to place your homeowners insurance in the surplus or specialty market. These markets do not always offer the same level or amount of coverage as a standard insurance policy would. Typically, with a history of dog bites a surplus lines policy will exclude any future claims involving all animals. This can leave you financially exposed.
The last thing that you want is to leave yourself open to unnecessary exposures. It is important to remember that an insurance company has the right to inspect and reinspect your property as the years progress. If they find any concerns about your home, in addition to the dogs, they are more likely to want to stop coverage. We are constantly telling customers that insurance carriers are becoming more and more picky about the homes they choose to write. With the undesirable condition of owning multiple dogs it is harder to convince a company to turn a blind eye to any other undesireable conditions.
Finding the right insurance agent will help you find secure, adequate and reasonable insurance coverage. Independent insurance agents generally write with many different carriers so they have access to many different insurance markets. It is important that you have an open and honest conversation with your insurance agent. When your agent is prepared with all the available information on your hobby and dogs, they are more able to find you the best fit for insurance coverage.
Although the calendar tells me that summer is technically not even half over, the outdoor fun and vacations are winding down in many areas of the country. Schools will be back in session shortly and the football season will kick-off before we know it!
This is the time of year I often receive questions about the coverages needed to protect students who are away at school. These requests are common for parents sending their children off to college for the first time.
Courts have long determined that a dependent child away at school is still legally a resident of their parents’ household. In fact, with the policy contracts used by many insurance companies, there are situations where no additional coverage needs to be purchased.
On the most commonly used homeowners policies, a student under the age of 24 is covered by his or her parents’ homeowners policy as long as they are enrolled full-time in school and were a resident of the household before moving out to attend school.
So what coverages apply to your student while they are away at college? First and foremost, they are protected by the Personal Liability section of your homeowners policy for bodily injury or property damage they cause. However, it’s important to note that intentional acts are not covered. Your son or daughter will be facing new responsibilities and exposures, so it’s a great time to consider purchasing a Personal Umbrella policy to provide an extra layer of liability protection for your family.
As far as all the gear that will be moved into the dorm room, coverage for personal property is available up to an amount that is equal to 10% of the personal property coverage limit on the parents’ policy. Personal property includes things like clothing, small furniture and appliances, and electronics. Of course, the policy deductible would apply in the event of a property loss, such as theft of personal property.
Electronics, such as a laptop or tablet, may be one of the greatest concerns. Some insurance carriers allow these items to be listed separately on the homeowners policy so that a deductible would not apply to a loss. However, I often discourage this type of coverage on most of these items as I think it’s prudent for policyholders to self-insure smaller losses. Small losses may be looked upon unfavorably by insurance companies, may increase the premium at renewal time, or could even result in coverage being discontinued when combined with other losses.
In some cases, the student (or parents) may sign a lease for an off-campus apartment. While it’s possible that coverage may still be available by way of the parents’ policy, this is often a good opportunity to equip the student with their own renter’s insurance policy to ensure that there’s no coverage question. See our blog post for more Reasons You Need Renters Insurance!
Last, but not least, we occasionally receive requests to add an apartment building owner to a renters policy. Essentially, this means the landlord is requiring the renter to carry insurance coverage – particularly liability coverage. In these instances, the landlord can be added to the policy as an Additional Interest. This allows the building owner/landlord to be listed on the policy declarations and to be notified in the event that the renters insurance cancels. The Additional Interest endorsement does not provide any coverage to the landlord.
I hope that this summary is helpful to families that will be heading to campus this fall. For more on protecting your child at college, check out our Dorm Do’s and Don’ts for Your College Student, For College Students, Some Exclusions May Apply, and Back to School Checklist Should Include an Insurance Check Up blog posts.
Article written by Dave Stefanowicz from Central Insurance Company. http://blog.central-insurance.com/2014/07/29/insurance-coverage-on-the-college-campus/
The policy coverages described above are in the most general terms and are subject to the actual policy exclusions and conditions. For specific coverage details and policy exclusions, refer to the policy itself or contact your agent.