Thursday, September 8, 2016

Are you properly insuring your other structures?

Cincinnati Insurance Company Blog by William Maples

There’s more to your homeowner policy than just coverage for the house you live in. It also provides coverage for other structures on your property.

These may include all structures and buildings not sharing a foundation with your house. Most insurance policies provide 10 percent coverage for other structures. For example, if you insure your home for $200,000 an additional limit of $20,000 applies to all other structures. Remember that if you have a total loss, you don’t receive $20,000 for each structure, but $20,000 total for damage to all other structures. A large detached garage by itself can exceed this amount in many cases.
So how do you know you have appropriate coverage?

If you have detached structures on your land, it is best to consult with your local independent insurance agent to discuss options. A pool house, large barn, garage with living space, fence, freestanding deck and stable may fall into different categories, and your agent can help make sure you have the correct coverage to protect you in the event of a total loss.

While the chances of losing all your other structures at one time are small, you want to secure enough coverage to protect your investments. You may need more than the 10 percent standard coverage for appurtenant structures.

Also consider that many different types of structures could qualify for coverage on your policy, and it’s important to select the correct category based on usage. Your agent can advise you on the information you will need to provide to obtain the coverage that’s right for your situation.
A good example is a barn. Barns can be built in many different ways from a variety of materials. By providing accurate information on usage and construction, you can be assured that your property is protected.

If your other structure is being rented, is used for a business or was not reported, you are most likely not adequately insured. Your agent has the expertise to guide you.
Finally, don’t forget to assess how much insurance protection you need for personal property housed in your other structures. For example, a home woodshop in your barn could have valuable equipment you’ll want to protect. Ask your agent for advice.

The best way to look at it is to think of insuring your other freestanding structures the same way you would your home. You want 100 percent coverage for each structure in the event of a loss. Replacement of these structures is typically less expensive than a home, but those costs can add up and represent a significant loss.

Coverages described here are in the most general terms and are subject to actual policy conditions and exclusions. For actual coverage wording, conditions and exclusions, refer to the policy or contact your independent agent.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

No business is too small for cyber criminals

Cincinnati Insurance Company Blog Post (3/31/16) - Kate Miller

Data breaches make the news when big retail chains get hit with a cyber attack. You may even be notified of the breach by the retailer if they have reason to believe your data was compromised. Or, you may read about data breaches when you receive a new credit card or are offered identity theft protection.
What you might not hear about are the cases where a business owner goes bankrupt after a data breach. A 2012 study by the National Cyber Security Alliance found that 60 percent of small to midsize businesses that suffered a breach went out of business within six months.
FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE
Your first line of defense as a business owner is to educate yourself on how to prevent or mitigate a breach. Follow news reports, and take advantage of online materials available to help you prepare for and respond to cyber attacks.
SECOND LINE OF DEFENSE
Your local independent insurance agent could be your second line of defense, providing information about Internet exposures and insurance products. Any business that handles private information is at risk of breach and subject to cyber exposures. Private information includes personal identifiers (Social Security numbers, birth dates, driver’s license numbers, etc.), financial information (bank or investment accounts, credit cards, etc.), medical or medical claim history, employee personal data or student records.
Companies that use third parties to process their transactions or record keeping, such as payroll, employee benefits or billing, also have the potential for a cyber loss. Consider the possibility of that third party experiencing a data breach where you might be ultimately responsible for the breached records.
WHY BUY CYBER INSURANCE?
Cyber insurance can reimburse for expenses incurred such as:

-Breach notification law compliance – 47 states have data breach notification laws that include an obligation to notify those whose information has been breached and certain federal laws, such as HIPAA, may also require similar notifications.

-Breach response costs – for example, notifying and providing services to affected individuals

-Opportunity costs and out-of-pocket expenses involved in resolving identity theft problems for business owners and customers

-Damage to the business computer systems and data due to unauthorized access, hacking, malware or denial of service attacks.

Remember, data comes in all forms, paper and electronic, and business owners need to protect data to manage risk.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

To File or Not to File a Claim?



When should I file a claim and when should I not?  It is a common question we get in our agency and every time it is asks we always say, "it depends on each situation".  Let's first tackle this question with how claims can affect your insurance. 

It varies by insurance company but most companies look at a 6 year window for home insurance claims and a 3 to 5 year window for auto insurance claims.   What this means is that if you file a home claim it can have an affect on your premium for up to 6 years and if you file a claim on your auto insurance it can affect your premium for 3 to 5 years.  If you have more than one claim in this window of time it can really have an impact on your premium and may even cause some insurance companies to look at canceling your coverage.  With this in mind, it is best to consult with your insurance agent to see what prior claims you have on your record before deciding whether or not to file a claim.  If you already have a  claim inside one of those windows of time then it may be worth contemplating whether to file a claim or not.

Let me break for one second to mention that liability claims are a must file.  These would be auto accidents that involve a third party bodily injury or a homeowner claim that involves injury to another person.  These need to be handled by the insurance company and their legal firms.  Also, if you have a large claim such as a totaled vehicle or large size house damage, these too are claims you would want to file without hesitation.  The claims that we are talking about that may or may not be worth filing are things such as backing your car into a light post, backing into an unoccupied car or driving off the road and causing damage to the front bumper when you hit a ditch.  On the homeowner side, it would be small claims such as ice dams that cause a $1000 or $2000 worth of damage or a roof claim that the repair is only a $1000 or so.  These are the types of claims it is worth contemplating prior to filing.  When you factor in deductibles and the affect on your premium for a few years, those smaller claims may be best to pay out of pocket.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Protect Your Building from the Cold

Arctic temperatures can have a dramatic effect on your building — and your livelihood. Regular maintenance and a winter weather plan can help you avoid any negative impact.
WHAT CAN HAPPEN
Winter storms frequently cause electrical power failure, which in turn can disable your heating system. If this happens, water-filled piping (such as sprinklers, domestic water pipes and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems) may freeze and rupture. It is important to assess the potential for this hazard.
  • Inspect all safety shutoff valves and cutoff switches on combustion equipment such as rooftop units, boilers and ovens, including water main shutoffs and main electrical service disconnects.
  • Have qualified contractors or staff properly inspect heating, air-handling units and space heaters on at least an annual basis. Assure that space heaters are monitored for fire safety.
  • Review the location and storage of flammable liquids such as propane, gasoline and diesel fuel. Should your sprinkler system freeze and require that it be disabled, it is recommended to reduce this storage to a minimum to minimize the amount of fuel in a fire.
Without proper winter weather preparation, your business could experience property damage — roof collapse, pipe rupture and more.
HOW TO REDUCE YOUR RISK
There are some strategies you can implement to protect your facility and minimize the impact of severe weather on your business:
  • Maintain building temperatures above 55 degrees. Plan for maintenance personnel to properly monitor buildings during cold snaps, making more frequent visits to buildings or areas of buildings not normally occupied.
  • Inspect all areas along the inside and outside perimeters of the building to ensure they are sealed and there are no drafty areas.
  • Maintain roofs in good condition, including repairing leaks, securing flashing and clearing debris from the roof, roof drains and overflow scuppers.
  • Check that downspouts are secured to buildings and clear of leaves and debris. If they iced over during a previous winter, consider properly installing heat trace to prevent major icicles and dams.
  • Make sure all building openings are weather-tight so they do not admit cold air.
  • Consider how you’ll address removing snow accumulation on your roof. If you or a contractor use a snow blower, make sure the height of the snow blower shave plate is adjusted higher as to not damage the underlying roofing material.
Gusting winds, heavy snow and bitter temperatures can create catastrophic property losses and havoc in your life, but a little preparation can prevent losses, saving you time and money.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Safe Travels this Holiday!

The Holidays are in full swing and with Christmas just a couple of days away; many have already started their Holiday travels. Being the insurance people that we are, here are a few tips for a safe and secure season of travel.

1) Make your home seem like someone is still there. You can do this several ways. Leave your front and back porch lights on so that at night your house is lit up. Ask a neighbor to collect your mail while you are gone so it doesn’t stack up. You can also ask the post office to hold if for you until you get back. Another way to make it look like you are home is to ask a neighbor to pull in and out of your driveway at some point if it snows giving the appearance that you have been in and out of your house.
 
2) Don’t show off to the Facebook world that you are on vacation. I know this can be tough for some but letting everyone know you are out of town on Facebook can be dangerous. We recommend waiting until you get home from your trip before you post vacation pictures.
 
3) Car travelers should be prepared for heavy snow at all times. The best way to do this is to make sure you have extra blankest, windshield washer fluid, ice scrapers and even a small shovel. You never know when you might need any of those things. Also, be sure to have your phone charged during the trip so that you have it in case of an emergency.

 4) Don’t skimp on heat in your home: This time last year our big recommendation in our “Traveling Over the Holiday” blog article was to keep the heat in your house at a reasonable level so your pipes don’t freeze. Again, we recommend this.

Those are just a few simple tips. We here at Fey Insurance hope you have a wonderful Holiday and Merry Christmas

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Safety Tips from NFPA

Here is an article from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) on Thanksgiving Safety Tips.  From our family here at Fey Insurance Services to yours, have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving! 

THANKSGIVING SAFETY TIPS
The kitchen is the heart of the home, especially at Thanksgiving. Kids love to be involved in holiday preparations. Safety in the kitchen is important, especially on Thanksgiving Day when there is a lot of activity and people at home.

Safety tips:


•Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food.

•Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.

•Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay 3 feet away.

•Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.

•Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.

•Keep knives out of the reach of children.

•Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.

•Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.

•Never leave children alone in room with a lit a candle.

•Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Flue season: Have your fireplace and chimney inspected

-Cincinnati Insurance Company (Paul Thibault)

Home heating fires are the second leading cause of home fire deaths after cooking fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Fireplaces, chimneys and flues account for a significant number of home heating fires.
Homeowners with a wood-burning fireplace or solid fuel stove or insert can protect your property and your family by having a qualified professional inspect and clean your chimney at least annually to prevent a buildup of creosote.
Creosote is a tarry residue or solid organic compound caused by incomplete combustion of wood that can build up in chimneys and ignite a chimney fire. A heavily used fireplace or stove may require periodic cleaning throughout the heating season. NFPA statistics show that failure to clean creosote from chimneys was the leading factor in 28 percent of the home heating equipment fires between 2007 and 2011.
The U.S. Fire Administration offers a series of videos showing how to safely build and tend a fire. Additional tips for safe fireplace and wood stove use:
-Equip your fireplace with a sturdy glass or metal screen to stop sparks from flying into the room.

-Inspect your fireplace’s flue prior to use for any obstructions or blockage by using a flashlight and looking up the flue. This also assures that the flue’s damper control is open prior to lighting the fire.

-Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from the fireplace or wood stove. NFPA statistics show 53 percent of fires resulting in home heating fire deaths were caused by having heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses or bedding.

-Only adults should build and tend a fire; enforce a three-foot “kid-free zone” around fireplaces and wood stoves.

-Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for inserts. For fireplaces and wood stoves, use only seasoned wood. Green wood increases creosote buildup.

-Do not burn cardboard, wrapping paper or other rubbish in the fireplace or wood stove.

-Never use lighter fluid or any flammable or combustible liquids to start the fire.

-Make sure a fully charged fire extinguisher is nearby and accessible.

-Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors as recommended, change the batteries twice a year, and test them according to manufacturer’s recommendations, usually monthly.

-Put out fireplace fires before going to sleep or leaving your home.

-Allow ashes to cool prior to cleaning out a fireplace or wood stove. Ashes that seem cool may contain concealed hot embers for several days after your last fire. Place the ashes in a covered metal container and keep the container outdoors a safe distance away from your home or any buildings.Have fireplace inserts or wood stoves installed by a qualified professional who can meet the established NFPA 211 standard. Never attempt to install them yourself. According to the NFPA, 10 percent of fires involving heating appliances actually involve the ignition of structural members where flues or chimneys pass through a building’s wall.