Online Identity Theft Prevention
Going online has become part of everyday life, whether it is for everyday activities such as shopping, sending email or paying bills, and managing your accounts. But data breaches, in all their forms, can potentially expose the personal information that we share online, putting consumers at risk of identity theft.
According to the 2017 report Consumer Risk Index, 57% of Americans worry about online identity theft. Fortunately, there are steps that consumers can take, including not opening unsolicited emails and avoiding unsecure websites, to protect their personal information while online.
The following tips can help you learn how to help stay safe online:
Emails and Attachments
General Online Safety
Holiday Decorating Safety
For many, the winter holidays are a time of joy, celebration and tradition. Decorating your home, yard or office is a fun, festive way to celebrate the season. A little planning can help you enjoy your display all season long. Following are some tips ask Calfee Insurance to help keep your family and friends safe around your decorative displays.
Planning your Holiday Display
During the Holidays
Packing and Storage
What is Personal Liability Insurance?
Personal liability insurance is about financial protection – for you and your family. The personal liability coverage within your homeowners policy provides coverage to pay for claims of bodily injury and property damage sustained by others for which you or covered residents of your household are legally responsible.
For example, if someone falls down your stairs, or your child accidentally throws a ball through a neighbor's window, breaking an expensive vase, you may be held legally responsible for the damages caused.
Many homeowners insurance policies provide a minimum of $100,000 in personal liability coverage, meaning the insurance company can pay up to that amount in total to injured persons per occurrence. If you feel you need more protection, higher limits are available. You can also purchase an umbrella policy which enables you to extend your liability coverage beyond the limits of your primary liability policy.
If you don’t currently have personal liability coverage, contact Calfee Insurance or get a home insurance quote today.
What Does Personal Liability Insurance Cover?
Personal liability insurance covers a variety of situations where you may be legally responsible to pay for something that happened to someone else on property that you own or, in some situations, on property that you don’t own. Some examples of common personal liability claims are:
Another type of personal liability coverage typically included with your homeowners policy is for medical payments to others. Typically, a homeowners, renters or condo policy provides for the payment of necessary medical expenses for persons who are accidentally injured on your property. This is regardless of whether you are legally responsible.
Typically, medical payments coverage limits start at $1,000 per person. Higher amounts of coverage may also be available depending on the type of coverage you choose.
What is Not Covered by Personal Liability Insurance?
Your homeowners or renters insurance will cover certain personal liability claims, but there are other claims that may not be covered. A few common examples include:
Other Liability Coverage Exclusions
A homeowners, renters or condo policy does not cover all situations of bodily injury or property damage for which you or a covered member of your household may be legally responsible. Most policies contain exclusions and exceptions, so it’s important to understand the details of your specific coverage.
To better understand your personal liability coverage and other important insurance topics, talk to a Calfee Insurance representative today.
If the water supply lines on your washing machine fail, it can cause significant damage to your home. If that leak goes undetected because you are away from home, the accumulated water can cause potentially catastrophic damage.
From moldy walls, to damaged, unreplaceable personal belongings to warped floorboards, virtually every surface in your home is exposed to potential water damage. The smart technology in water-sensor systems can help quickly alert homeowners of potential leaks and prevent the need for costly and time-consuming repairs.
Water damage is a common and costly cause of loss in the home. Today, smart home technology is helping consumers manage their personal risks. In addition to potentially mitigating serious damage, water sensors can also help a homeowner avoid the loss of personal possessions and the hassle of coordinating disruptive repairs to their home.
How Do Water Sensors Work?
Water sensors detect the presence of water and, when placed in locations where water should not be present, a leak. When Wi-Fi is enabled, the sensor can send out a notification to the homeowner through a smartphone app. If the homeowner will be out of town, family members, friends or other caretakers can be designated to receive notification of a leak, so they can act quickly to help prevent further damage.
Some water-sensor systems can be programmed to shut off the water to the house to help prevent a small leak from becoming a large one. If your home is heated by an older steam-heating system, or if it’s protected by an automatic fire sprinkler system, check with a qualified professional before installing sensor-activated water shut-off devices.
Where Should Water Sensors Be Placed?
It’s a good idea to place water sensors in areas where water damage inside the home can occur, often without warning. Those areas include: washing machines, hot water heaters (they may fail), dishwashers (they may leak), supply lines to automatic ice makers (they may be damaged) and toilets (they may overflow). Performing regular maintenance and visually checking for rusty, corroded, worn or damaged water supply lines and valves and other potential problems before you have a leak is one of the best ways to help prevent water damage.
You might want to install water sensors in areas near:
Did you ever leave for work without turning down the heat on a blustery winter day? Or head out for a day trip in the middle of summer without dialing down the air conditioning for your dog?
A smart thermostat can help you heat and cool your home more efficiently, monitor your energy consumption and let you control your home’s heating and AC systems from your smartphone, wherever you may be. These devices can help protect your home from damage caused by frozen pipes by alerting you if your home is getting dangerously cold. But there are also some important safety considerations.
How Smart Thermostats Work
Unlike traditional and programmable thermostats, many smart thermostats learn and adapt based on temperature, humidity and your family’s behavior, including when you and your family are likely to be home, awake and asleep. Your smartphone acts as a remote control for your heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, allowing you to change the temperature from wherever you have a signal. Another benefit includes automated notifications if the temperature in your home rises or falls above or below a set threshold. For homeowners who travel frequently or who own a second home, these devices offer the ability to remotely monitor their property.
Key Considerations for Using Your Smart Thermostat
During cold temperatures, with a more traditional thermostat, you turn down the temperature when you leave your home and dial it back up when you return. With a smart thermostat app controlled by your phone, you are able, and might be more motivated, to turn down your system to a low temperature to conserve energy from wherever you may be. But be wary as turning the thermostat down too low could result in frozen pipes. Be sure to keep the temperature at 55°F or higher to help keep the interior of the floor and wall cavities, where water piping can be located, above freezing temperatures.
As part of the Internet of Things, smart thermostats are also subject to hacking and privacy concerns. You may think there is less of a safety concern than with smart locks or other security-related smart devices, as there is less incentive for hackers to target these devices. However, smart thermostats can provide details about your daily comings and goings, which a thief could find insightful.
A prudent step would be for homeowners to make sure their devices are hard-wired to the Internet, rather than relying on a Wi-Fi connection. Choose a strong password and evaluate any specific safety concerns before you decide to buy a smart thermostat. As with any smart device, make sure it is compatible with your other devices or hub because not all devices communicate well with each other. The packaging for these smart devices may not offer detailed installation instructions, so you may want to consult a professional to help install them properly.
Home Water Hazards: Find the Leak
As a homeowner, you have a lot to think about when it comes to taking care of your home. But one thing you may not have considered is how water-connected appliances and systems can lead to water damage. Learn how to proactively defend against potential water issues. Just a few simple tasks can help you come home happy.
9 Home Areas to Keep an Eye on for Water Issues:
1. Refrigerator Water Supply Line
Look for kinks, cracks, and other signs of wear and tear in the water supply line. If you move your refrigerator to inspect the supply line, be careful not to damage or kink the line when you put it back into place.
2. Water Heater
Corrosion on the external pipe on the tank could be a sign of internal problems. Look for crystal-like deposits that may be white, blue, or green. And remember, water heaters don’t last forever. Check the manufacturer’s warranty for guidance about the lifespan of your water heater.
3. Main Water Shut-off Valve
In the event of a sudden water leak, the main shut-off valve can stop the flow of water to your home and help mitigate resulting damage. Take a minute to locate your main water valve before there’s an issue, and flag it with tape or a tag to help people spot it.
4. Sink Fittings and Connections
If you notice a drip or signs of a leak or other potential plumbing problems, immediately call a professional. To be alerted early to signs of a leak, install a smart water sensor under your sink.
5. Caulking Around Your Tub/Shower
Caulking used to seal the perimeter of a tub or shower can fail over time. Look for cracks, missing caulking or other signs of wear and tear. Regularly check sealants to ensure they are properly sealing against unwanted water intrusion.
6. Inside Your Toilet Tank
Look for corrosion, degradation or discoloration. Some cleaning products that can be added to the tank can prematurely degrade the components. Regularly check the components in your toilet tank. If they show signs of wear and tear, replace them.
7. Washing Machine Supply Lines
Supply lines are made of rubber or braided stainless steel. A cracked line could not just lead to damage to the room where the leak occurred, but also to the floor below. Turn off water supply, whether your washer is on an upper floor or in the basement, when you’re not running the machine.
8. Sump Pump
To test your sump pump to see if it’s functioning properly, pour water into the sump (pit) to make sure the pump kicks on. The float inside the sump will begin to rise with the water and activate the pump, an indication that it’s working.
9. Central Air Conditioning Unit Drain Pan
Extreme temperatures in an attic can cause plastic drain pans to crack and leak. An overflow sensor switch in the pan will shut off the air conditioning system if the pan is full. A leaking pan or malfunctioning sensor can lead to a bigger issue. Check the drain pan and test the overflow sensor switch regularly.
While you’re taking steps to help protect your home from a non-weather water disaster, it’s also a good time to make sure you’ve got the appropriate insurance coverage. Contact your local agent to review and update your homeowners insurance coverage.
10 Reasons to Get a Home Generator
Power outages can be a major inconvenience. They can also create problems for you, your family and your home as you shift into "emergency mode" to prevent your food from spoiling, to safely navigate your home in the dark, or simply to keep the heat on. Investing in a home generator can help make being without power more bearable — and can even fuel some fun when not being used for an emergency.
Home generators come in a variety of types and sizes, from portable versions to "standby" and inverter units. Portable generators typically run on gasoline and need to be operated at a safe distance from any structure. Standby generators start automatically when the power goes out, and are run on propane or natural gas. Inverter generators have a more complex engine than the other types, and are much quieter than their conventional counterparts. Regardless of which type of generator you choose, you will need to follow the manufacturer recommendations for safe operation of the unit.
It's helpful to research this useful home device before you urgently need it, so here are 10 reasons to consider if you're thinking about purchasing a home generator of your own.
1. We can't control the weather.
Most power outages are weather-related. As the number and severity of extreme weather events rises, so does the likelihood of a blackout lasting 24 hours or more.
2. You have well water.
Without electricity, your well pump and filtration systems will quickly lose the ability to provide fresh, safe water for drinking, bathing, heating and more, to your house.
3. You have a sump pump.
If you rely on a sump pump to keep your basement or crawlspace dry — including all the possessions you keep in those areas — losing power means you also lose protection against water damage in those areas.
4. You work from home.
If you run a business or work out of your home, you know every minute counts. Going without power for even an hour can be a major inconvenience — if not a major risk — to you, your clients and customers.
5. Food spoils quickly.
According to the FDA, perishable food items should be thrown out once your refrigerator has been without power for as little as four hours.1
Calfee Insurance wants to help you protect the things that matter to you. We offer a wide breadth of products so you can be covered at home and on the road.
6. You live in a high-risk or severe climate area.
Some states are more vulnerable to weather-related outages. Others have such severe temperature extremes that power to control air conditioning and heating systems can be essential for comfort and safety. If you live in one of these areas, your risk to the potentially devastating effects of a power outage increase significantly.
7. Your property is vacant for extended periods of time.
If you are a "snowbird," frequent traveler or own a seasonal home, having a generator can protect your property from outage-related emergencies — whether you're in or out of town.
8. Someone in your home relies on an electrically powered medical device.
If you or a loved one requires the assistance of a home medical device that runs on electricity, a power outage can be deadly. A generator can help keep those devices running, but you also will want to check with a healthcare professional for suggestions on how to weather power outages with your particular medical device.
9. You have a hybrid or electric car.
Make a portable generator go the extra mile! When not using it for your basic emergency power needs, keep it in your car to stay charged no matter where the road takes you.
10. Generators aren't just for emergencies.
Portable generators can be put to use at work or play in, around and away from your home, too:
Whether it's due to storms, falling trees or some other challenge, power outages can bring an assortment of problems for home owners.
A home generator can become one of your go-to remedies for those unexpected situations. Checking out the options before you lose electrical power is one smart way to beat the crowds who'll be racing to scoop up a home generator, for that "next time" outage scenario.
Learn more about homeowners insurance products, or if you’re ready to take the next step, click here to get a quote.
If you’re a homeowner, you may be surprised to learn that the bulk of water damage to a home isn’t due to natural disasters or flooding. It’s actually due to unchecked plumbing issues that lurk on the property — things like slow leaks, corroded pipes, and degraded valves and supply lines. Even your water make-up can be a culprit.
Fortunately, many of these issues are preventable with some basic, proactive home maintenance.
Do you want to reduce the chances of water damage in your house? Here are some home maintenance tips that risk control specialists recommend:
1. Locate your main water shutoff valve and learn how to turn it on and off
Knowing how to turn off your main water valve is critical in the event of a burst pipe or other water emergency. In many homes, the valve is located on an exterior wall of the home, in the garage, or in the basement. If you have a public water supply, the main water valve is typically on the street-side of your home. For homeowners who have wells, the main water valve will most likely be located on the same side of the house as your well. Typically, to turn off the main water valve, you simply turn the valve handle clockwise until it stops. Closing the valve should shut off all water supply into your home in the event of a leak, or if a repair is needed.
2. Have your plumbing systems professionally inspected
If you’re unfamiliar with your plumbing system or have concerns about it, have a licensed plumber inspect it for any issues (or signs of impending ones). One good tip is to ask the plumber to tag your main water valve — as well as any other important plumbing valves — for example, with a red flag or piece of tape. This can help you locate them more quickly in an emergency.
3. Visually inspect your pipes regularly
You don’t have to be a professional plumber to recognize potential problems with your pipes. It’s a good idea to regularly walk through your home to take a closer look at any exposed pipes, fittings, valves and supply lines you can see.
You’ll want to look for signs of damage. These can include things like:
4. Watch for evidence of slow or weeping leaks
Not all leaks are obvious. In fact, slow leaks can be some of the most insidious, as they’re often very difficult to spot before a larger problem occurs. Routinely check your appliances, such as your washing machine, dishwasher, or even fixtures, and the area around your appliances for signs of leaks.
Look in cabinets and areas that have pipes connecting to appliances or fixtures (under the kitchen sink, for example) for telltale signs. Is there discoloration or damage on the wood below a pipe or fitting? Is the paint peeling? These environmental signs could point to a slow leak.
5. Tag or label any items you replace or repair
If you do end up having a licensed plumber replace a part or make a repair, be sure to label the item with the date it was replaced or repaired and keep records of the work done. Plumbing fixtures have a set lifespan and knowing when you last replaced or repaired a part can help you plan ahead for a maintenance check of that fixture.
6. Have your water tested
The chemical make-up of your water can lead to corrosion. Mineral content, pH, and chlorides are examples of water characteristics that should be measured and controlled to prevent issues with your plumbing system. This is especially important if you own a well. Consider having your water tested and treated, if necessary, by a certified professional to help guard against an often-overlooked threat to your home’s plumbing.
7. Inspect and replace toilet supply lines and valves proactively
Just as you inspect your exposed pipes, you should also check your toilet supply lines and valves regularly. Make sure the supply hoses going to and from your toilets are in good condition and consider replacing them if they have signs of wear and tear or are more than a few years old. Read the installation instructions carefully and do not overtighten connections. Many of these products are installed hand-tight only, which means don’t use a wrench. You should also open your toilet tank and evaluate the flushing valve for signs of degradation, including crazing, cracking, or discoloration of plastic components.
More Ways to Protect Your Home
Technology has made water loss prevention easier than ever. There are now “smart” water leak detectors and sensors you can install near or around your appliances and connection points that can alert users of leaks in their earliest stages.
These water leak detectors come in both DIY and professionally installed options, so there’s likely something for every budget and capability.
Finally, having the right amount of homeowners insurance coverage is also an important step toward protecting yourself from the potentially devastating costs of water damage. If you are not sure if your home and belongings are covered in the event of non-weather water damage, reach out to your agent or representative today. Calfee Insurance is here to help.