Do you know where most home fires start?
If you guessed the kitchen, you’re right. One of the most popular rooms in the house also has the potential for danger.
But a few simple habits can help prevent damaging fires from ever starting in the first place.
To find a little more peace of mind this season, here are four ways to make your home safer.
1. Don’t walk away from an active stove.
Unattended cooking is a leading cause of kitchen fires. If you need to leave while frying, grilling or broiling, make sure to turn your stove off first. It’s easy to lose track of time when you step away to answer the door or check on the kids, and it doesn’t take long for trouble to start.
2. Keep clutter under control.
It’s not uncommon for kitchen counters to get loaded up with stuff. Make it a priority to clear your kitchen countertops of anything flammable, such as wooden utensils, papers and dish towels, especially around the stove.
3. Use space heaters, fireplaces and woodburning stoves safely.
If you use a space heater during colder months, consider replacing older models with one designed to turn off if it tips over. Position space heaters with a 3-foot distance from everything else and always turn them off before you leave the house or go to sleep.
If your home has a fireplace or wood-burning stove, have it inspected annually by a professional. Use a mesh screen to keep sparks inside the fireplace.
4. Practice candle safety.
As with a stove, a lit candle is an active fire that you shouldn’t leave unattended. Blow out candles before leaving a room and keep burning candles on level surfaces and away from flammable objects, young children and pets.
Have questions about your insurance coverage? Reach out and we’ll be happy to help.
How to Budget for Home Improvements
Your home has probably been through a lot this year.
Between normal wear and tear and the extra hours spent at home these last few months, you may find yourself in need of an upgrade or repair sometime soon.
Some projects can’t wait, but if you have time to save, here are a few strategies to help you manage that add-on, appliance replacement, or whatever else your property might need in 2021.
5 Tips for Managing Your Project
1. Compare Estimates
Gather estimates from a few reputable contractors and compare them. Calculate the average cost of your project and plan your budget around that number.
2. Create a Sinking Fund
Banks love to advertise home equity loans and lines of credit. However, financing your home improvement means paying interest, which raises the total cost of the project. If it can wait, try to save up first by creating a sinking fund: Set aside a certain amount each month so you know you’ll reach your goal within six months or a year.
3. If You Need to Finance, Do It Wisely
Send me a Home Insurance Quote Cape Cod Massachusetts -Some projects, such as a leaky roof or broken furnace, can’t wait. If you need to finance, look for the lowest interest rate and don’t treat the loan like “free money.” Spend only what you have to and then make a plan to pay the loan back early if possible.
4. Prepare for Surprises
Even when you do everything right, construction projects and remodels are notorious for going over budget. Leave a cushion in your budget for last-minute surprises so you won’t have to go into debt or pull from other areas.
5. Check Your Coverage
Of course, preparing for surprises and avoiding unnecessary expenses also means having adequate homeowners insurance in place.
If you're unsure about your coverage or want to review your current policy, reach out with your questions anytime.
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.
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.
Your front steps recently started to crumble a little bit — what would happen if your neighbor slipped and hurt their wrist while bringing you some mail?
When things go wrong, many people are happy to resolve problems privately or forgive the responsible party. But sometimes an injury or a property loss is so expensive that outside help is the only way to pay for the damage.
Here’s what to know about how to protect yourself from potentially costly accidents.
What does personal liability insurance cover?
If someone is accidentally injured in your home or on your property, personal liability insurance can help cover their medical bills and protect you if you’re sued.
If you or someone else covered by your policy accidentally damages someone else’s property, personal liability insurance can pay for the loss.
What doesn’t personal liability insurance cover?
Personal liability doesn’t cover your own damage to your own property and covered family members, though other insurance often does.
If your spouse falls off a ladder, your health insurance will provide coverage. If you accidentally start a fire and cause damage in your kitchen, your homeowners or renters insurance will kick in. If you injure someone while driving, you’ll file an auto insurance claim. And you’ll need a separate policy for business activities.
How do I get personal liability coverage?
If you have homeowners insurance or renters insurance, you already have personal liability coverage. The question is whether you have enough.
Insurance protects us against losses we can’t afford to pay for without help. Do you know how much personal liability insurance you have and whether it’s enough?
Reach out today and we’ll figure it out together.
6 Helpful Home Features to Look Forward To
If you could redesign your home today, what would it look like?
Experiencing a pandemic has changed how many of us think about our living spaces. What used to make sense may now seem impractical, and lots of homeowners are wishing for different features and layouts altogether.
How will home design change in the future? Here are a few comfort-focused innovations we might start to see.
Cleanliness and Safety
Looking to the future, you can likely expect to see more voice- and motion-activated technology and stronger barriers between the outside and inside world.
Have you felt overwhelmed by clutter lately? Future homes will likely adapt to a more streamlined and storage-friendly mindset.
Need some peace and quiet? Want to accommodate multiple roommates or your multigenerational family with ease? Designers and architects can help.
Do you have questions about your home insurance coverage? Need help with anything? Reach out today.
5 Simple Steps to a Safer Home
Keeping your family safe and your home in good condition are top priorities for any homeowner.
What’s one way to help achieve these goals?
You can conduct a home safety audit each year.
This simply means inspecting a few things and reviewing emergency plans with everyone in your household. These easy safety checks can make all the difference. Here’s where to start.
Locate and test smoke alarms.
Do you have enough smoke alarms, and are they working?
You want one on each floor, including one inside and outside each sleeping area. Test each alarm, replace expired batteries and replace alarms older than 10 years.
Practice getting out and meeting up.
It’s important to have a well-understood evacuation plan in case of a fire or other emergency. Go over the details (like how to exit safely and how to gather up your pets) and practice them together. Settle on a meeting place outside.
Check fire extinguishers.
Do you have one in the garage and one in the kitchen?
Make sure the dial shows the extinguisher is still pressurized. Review the instructions for using it (and know when to use it and when to evacuate).
Look for kitchen hazards. Has grease built up around the stove or on your range hood filter?
t could start a cooking fire. Also, make sure cleaning products are locked away from young children and pets.
Check carbon monoxide detectors.
Make sure they’re still working and have fresh backup batteries. Some are integrated with smoke alarms, but plug-in ones at knee level may provide better detection.
Do you have questions about keeping your home safe or about your coverage?
Reach out anytime for assistance.