The juggle of work and home life has taken a different form for those of us who are practicing social distancing recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For working parents of school-age children, this means finding ways to keep children safely occupied while performing their job responsibilities, as they work from home (WFH).
Here are six key tips:
1. Expect Changes in Your Work Schedule
By now, you may have noticed that your typical workday schedule is no longer typical. Younger children will require more hands-on help in getting their day started, while teenagers can be more independent and may even be helpful in managing household tasks while you work. The blending of family and working from home is an opportunity to teach responsibility, even in small doses, so you can tend to the work assignments on your plate.
2. Help Your Kids Establish a New Routine
To differentiate work and playtime, help kids set their own routine. If they’re working on school assignments, having them sit down at the same time each day can help provide structure during this uncertain time. Let them know that you’ll be available for help and set aside specific times for fun activities you can do together.
3. Double-Check Home Safety Measures
If your younger children will be out of your sight at home while you’re working, make sure you’ve taken steps to childproof your home to prevent accidents. After cleaning your home, be sure to store cleaning supplies out of reach of young children. If you have a home security system, set up a notification to alert you when a door or window is opened.
You’ll also want to take care of yourself by making sure your home office is comfortable and organized in a way that helps limit potential problems, such as overuse injuries.
4. Reset Your Expectations
Working from home with kids may impact your ability to focus, particularly in uncertain scenarios like the COVID-19 pandemic. Give yourself permission to adapt your work style, realizing that it may take you twice as long to compile a report or finish a project. Working from home means family needs are perhaps just a room away. Strive for balance by arranging your days to fit in all the important tasks you must attend to for both your family and your job.
If you can take a break on a beautiful day, get out in the yard with your kids. You’ll appreciate the moments of escape spent with your family.
5. Stock Up on Fun and Games
While you’re searching online for paper goods or hand sanitizer, add a few art kits or video games to your shopping cart. Now may even be the time to purchase that new gaming system you planned to buy as a special gift. Set parameters around screen time, but realize there may be instances where a little extra play is okay if your kids are having fun and you’re on the verge of completing a task for work.
You may also want to stock up on craft supplies that can come in handy when you need a quick, easy distraction for your kids in order to give you the time you need to meet an impending work deadline.
6. Trust Your Parental Instincts
You know your kids better than anyone. If they’re struggling to adapt to this new situation, they may require more of your attention right now. This means you may need to find ways to shift around work responsibilities. If you have a partner who is also working from home, maybe you can agree to trade off child care duties to ensure that your family’s needs are being met.
Right now, your main priority could be just making it through the day and keeping your family healthy. But, it’s also important to work and provide for your family’s financial needs. Communicate with your co-workers and managers as you adjust your work-life balance.
Consider Whether Your Insurance Needs Have Changed
If you’re moving to a home-based business or using office equipment at home, you’ll need to understand how this fits into your homeowners policy. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact your insurance agent.
When an unexpected natural disaster or state or local emergency interrupts your plans to start house hunting, all is not lost. While opportunities to get preapproved for a mortgage, meet with a real estate agent or tour homes for sale may be on the back burner, there are still ways you can work toward buying your dream home.
Why Making the Move Now May Be Right for You
House hunting during a time when your area or region is shut down can have its benefits. There may be less competition for the houses in the areas where you might be planning to move, and sellers may be more motivated to sell or more flexible on price. Starting your hunt virtually while sheltering in place can be beneficial if you find you have the time to shop online more thoroughly; that extra effort may give you an advantage in finding a home you love within your price range. Once the crisis passes, there may be more house hunters back on the market and prices may escalate due to a more competitive market that benefits sellers rather than buyers, so taking a few steps forward now could be the right move for you.
Get Preapproved for a Mortgage
When you eventually find the home of your dreams, you will want the seller to see you as a serious buyer. To do that, get a mortgage preapproval before you begin house hunting. It may be possible to get preapproved online, so consider looking into that option. Mortgage preapproval is a letter from a lender that indicates how much you are qualified to borrow from the lender, at a specific interest rate.
While it may not be possible to meet with a lender when an emergency situation exists, such as the coronavirus pandemic, you can get your information organized that will help your lender prepare your mortgage preapproval.
Use This Time to Research the Market
If you are just beginning to look for a home, take time to research the areas where you want to move, the area’s home values and the average selling prices for the type of home you are interested in purchasing. Familiarize yourself with real estate terms and listing abbreviations so you can easily browse listings and focus on the features that most interest you. Finally, ask friends and family for realtor recommendations and check out their credentials and online reviews. Make a short list of real estate agent candidates to interview once you are able to set up interview times.
Virtual Home Viewing
If you were all set to start house hunting only to be disrupted by a natural disaster, state or regional mandates, or even the COVID-19 pandemic, take heart: You can still view houses on the market right from your own home, whenever it is convenient for you. Many real estate agents post virtual tours of properties for sale on their websites and YouTube. When you take a virtual tour or attend a virtual open house, you can get a realistic view of the property. Then, with a click of the mouse, you can see all the details that are important to you. In addition, by touring homes virtually, you can see many more than would be possible in a single day with your real estate agent.
Find a Representative
Even during these challenging times, there is still much you can accomplish in your quest to find your dream home. If you’re planning to buy a house, you’ll need home insurance. Call Calfee Insurance today for a free quote at 508-540-2601.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to review and update policies for cleaning and disinfecting your facility, equipment and vehicles. It is recommended that you increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces, which may include door pushes, handles, touchpads, elevator buttons, faucets, sinks and electronic devices, as well as common areas, such as entryways, lobbies, hallways and restrooms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers steps for properly cleaning and disinfecting facilities.
If infected persons have been in your facility, the CDC provides additional considerations:
How to Clean and Disinfect
Hard (Non-porous) Surfaces
Non-porous surfaces should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
When cleaning and disinfecting soft (porous) surfaces like carpets, drapes and other woven fabrics, first clean these surfaces with soap and water or other suitable cleaners. Avoid shaking drapes to make sure you do not make the virus airborne. Then, if possible, launder these items following the manufacturer’s directions. When laundering items, use the warmest water setting appropriate for the items and dry completely. Otherwise, use EPA-registered disinfectants for SARS-CoV-2 for porous surfaces.
Clean and disinfect electronics regularly, especially if they have been used by an infected person. Electronic devices may include cell phones, tablets, touchscreens, keyboards, remote controls and ATMs. Remember to focus on frequently touched surfaces. When cleaning and disinfecting electronics – both shared and personal – follow the manufacturer’s instructions on appropriate products to use. If there are no cleaning and disinfecting guidelines provided by the manufacturer, consider using disinfectant products such as wipes or sprays with at least 70 percent alcohol.
Develop and consistently follow cleaning and disinfection procedures for vehicles, with a focus on commonly touched surfaces. Conduct these procedures at the beginning and end of each driver’s shift. Maintain adequate ventilation of the vehicle while cleaning and disinfecting. Refer to the sections on PPE and hand hygiene below.
Wash or sanitize hands immediately after cleaning and disinfecting, removing gloves or other PPE, or coming into contact with an infected person. To thoroughly wash hands, use soap and water for 20 seconds. When washing hands is not possible, and as long as hands are not visibly dirty, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer made of at least 60 percent alcohol. Other key times to clean hands are after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or using the restroom; prior to preparing food or eating; or after public visits or interactions.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
It is important to develop and implement procedures and policies that address the use of PPE.
When was the last time you considered the air quality in your home? It’s easy to forget about something invisible, but like many around-the-house tasks, clearing the air is well worth your effort.
In the interest of health, safety and keeping your home in good shape, here are a few steps you can take to help your family breathe a little easier.
1. Test for radon gas and install carbon monoxide detectors.
You can’t see, taste or smell radon and carbon monoxide, but these indoor gases can be dangerous to your health and safety if left undetected.
2. Run an air purifier to clear allergens and pollutants.
Improve your indoor air quality by filtering out pollen, dust, pet hair and other irritants. If anyone in your household becomes sick with COVID-19, running an air purifier in their quarantine room may provide some protection from floating virus particles. HEPA air purifiers can also help remove smoke particulates during wildfires.
3. Use a dehumidifier.
Is your home prone to dampness? Keep your humidity level under 50% to prevent mold growth. Run a dehumidifier (and clean it regularly) as well as the exhaust fan in your bathroom(s) after every shower.
4. Follow these daily best practices.
In addition to testing and equipment purchases, these simple habits can help maintain your indoor air quality:
What should you keep in your car?
Are you taking a road trip this winter? Do you just need an excuse to get rid of all the random stuff that has accumulated in the trunk and backseat?
Here’s a weekend project idea: Clear out anything you don’t need and stock your car with a few actually useful items instead.
Whether you buy a premade emergency kit or gather a few things separately, here’s what to consider tossing into your trunk as a way to stay prepared and safe on the road.
Flashlight or Headlamp
A light source is great to have when you break down in the dark. With a headlamp, you can keep your hands free while changing a tire or checking under the hood.
First-Aid and Comfort Supplies
Band-Aids and other first-aid tools can be useful anytime, not just in an emergency. A blanket can protect you while on the ground working on your car. It can also provide warmth if your vehicle breaks down in cold weather. If you have kids, water and snacks will come in handy while waiting for a tow truck.
Stay safe on the side of the road with reflective triangles, flares, a fire extinguisher and a multipurpose tool like a pocket knife.
Keep working jumper cables in your trunk to help revive your own vehicle’s dead battery or someone else’s.
Portable Phone Charger
If your car battery dies, you won’t be able to charge your cell phone in your vehicle’s USB port or cigarette lighter. Keep a functioning portable charger just in case.
Have questions about your coverage or anything else? Reach out and we’ll be happy to help.
While spring is a common time for many homeowners to spend some extra attention on upkeep and maintenance, autumn is just as critical a season for preparing your home to withstand the potentially harsh winter weather and temperature conditions that may await you. By making maintenance part of your annual fall routine you can identify potential problems before they arise, and help prepare your home and property for what Mother Nature has to offer.
Following are some home maintenance tips from our Risk Control professionals to help you prepare for the coming winter:
What did we do before we had backup cameras?
The driver-assist features found in newer cars and trucks often make driving safer, and most of us rely on them every day. But it’s worth remembering: Technology can’t always perform better than your own quick reflexes.
Find out how to make the most of your vehicle’s safety features without letting them lull you into a false sense of security.
Benefits and Limitations
Here are a few features you may be familiar with (along with their limitations):
Regardless of how smart your car seems to be, don’t let go of these essential habits:
While texting may get the most attention, it’s not the only dangerous distraction on the road. Here are other behaviors to avoid:
Check Safety Ratings
When car shopping, search for the year, make and model you’re interested in to review safety ratings. You can use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 5-Star Safety Ratings or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s vehicle ratings.
Have questions about your coverage? Reach out and we’ll be happy to help.
Your dog just took down the neighbor’s fence while chasing a squirrel (and your neighbor isn’t happy). Will your homeowners insurance cover the damage? The short answer is, “it depends.”
Policy coverage and exclusions can vary, and when important factors like pets are involved, the fine print matters.
Want to know more? Here are a few common questions about pets and home insurance.
Does your policy cover damage caused by pets?
Many home insurance policies do not cover damage your pets cause to your own property — like a torn sofa or broken TV. However, liability insurance may cover damage your pet does to other people’s property.
What if your dog bites someone on your property?
Most home liability policies offer coverage for damage a person may suffer on your property, including dog bites (up to a certain limit and provided you’ve disclosed you have a dog). Note that after the first dog bite, you may face additional exclusions.
Are different breeds treated differently?
Some insurance policies may offer limitations on coverage if you have what is considered a high-risk breed. When you share what kind of pet you have we can let you know what to expect.
Are backyard animals covered?
Home insurance policies don’t provide coverage for damage your pets, including backyard animals like goats or chickens, cause to your property. However, liability coverage may still apply (with some limitations).
Will your home insurance pay your pet’s medical bills?
Unfortunately, you’re likely on your own for your pet’s medical bills even if they are hurt during a covered incident (like breaking through your neighbor’s fence).
Have questions about your coverage? Reach out anytime.
If a covered loss results in covered property having to be rebuilt, repaired, or demolished in accordance with the enforcement of any building code, law, or ordinance, this coverage responds.
Coverage is limited to 10% of the coverage A amount (10% of the building alterations amount in form HO-00 04), and is an additional amount of insurance.
The forms state that the coverage may also be used for increased costs to remove debris in accordance with the enforcement of any code or law regulating such removal.
The forms exclude any costs or expense resulting from any law or ordinance that requires testing for, monitoring for, or clean-up of any pollutants. So, for example, if a covered fire destroys an older home whose furnace has asbestos-wrapped pipes, the coverage will not respond to clean up of that particular item. Also, any loss in value resulting from the enforcement of any code, law or ordinance is excluded.
For example, if a building code states that those charming wooden shakes on a roof must be replaced with asphalt shingles because of fire regulations, with the result that the scenic log house loses $5,000 in value, the coverage will not respond.
Particularly in regards to an older home, the amount of ordinance or law coverage may be insufficient. For example, a home built in 1920, with a replacement cost of $200,000, partially burns.
The systems were last updated in 1970. Now, however, the aluminum wiring must be replaced with Romex, and all remaining lead pipes with PVC, at a cost of $10,000.
Further, because the house is over 50% damaged, it must be demolished at a cost of $12,000. The 10% allotted by the policy is now used up.
While a careful review of local building codes is not feasible, the safest practice is to increase the coverage if there is any doubt.
Home Insurance Coverage is provided — subject to a $1,000 limit — for debris removal of fallen trees.
The ISO form limits coverage to the insured’s trees felled by windstorm or hail or the weight of ice, snow, or sleet, or to a neighbor’s trees that are felled by a coverage C peril.
However, before there is any coverage under this provision, the tree must damage a covered structure or block a driveway which prevents a motor vehicle registered for use on public roads from entering or leaving the residence premises.
Additionally, the fallen tree could block a ramp or other access device used to assist a handicapped person from entering or leaving the dwelling.
The limit is the most that will be paid for any one loss, subject to a limit of $500 for removal of any one tree.
A question raised by the additional coverage for removal of trees is whether the limit applies to the cost of removing the part of the tree that rests on the damaged structure, or whether that cost is considered to be part of the cost of repairing the structure.
For example, if a tree is felled by windstorm and falls onto the dwelling, causing extensive damage, no repairs can begin until the parts of the tree resting on the building are cut away, so it would seem logical to categorize such costs as repair costs. However, the policy language, if strictly interpreted, would include those costs within the $1,000 limit.
The policy provides that the insurer “will also pay [the] reasonable expense, up to $1,000, for the removal from the -‘residence premises’ of” trees felled by the described perils. “Residence premises” is defined in the policy as “the one- to four-family dwelling, other structures, and grounds…where [the insured] reside[s].”
Thus, the $1,000 limit appears to apply to the removal from the dwelling and other structures as well as to removal from the grounds.
However, under this arrangement, the cost of removing the tree from the structure should still be considered part of the repair cost. If the insurance coverage for repairs is insufficient, the “additional coverage” (coverage in addition to that otherwise provided for in the policy) may be called upon.