A pair of climate scientists are proposing a sixth category for hurricanes as climate change increasingly intensifies these storms, according to a new research study.
In a study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the two scientists argued the “open-ended” Saffir Simpson hurricane wind scale is becoming increasingly “inadequate” as the globe continues to warm.
The scale, developed in the early 1970s, may not reflect the true intensity of some storms, argued study co-authors Michael F. Wehner — a climate scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab — and James P. Kossin — a former NOAA climate and hurricane researcher.
A Category 6 designation would apply to storms with winds that exceed 192 miles per hour under their proposal.
Storms with winds of 157 mph or higher are currently ranked Category 5, an open-ended approach that fails to adequately warn people of the dangers of higher wind speeds, the study contended.
The study’s co-authors believe the open-ended nature of the current scale will prompt people to underestimate the risk of some hurricanes, which will become “increasingly problematic in a warming world.”
“We find that a number of recent storms have already achieved this hypothetical category 6 intensity and based on multiple independent lines of evidence examining the highest simulated and potential peak wind speeds, more such storms are projected as the climate continues to warm,” the study stated.
Does the hurricane intensity scale need a new 'category 6'?Since 2013, five — all in the Pacific — reached wind speeds of 192 mph or higher, with warming conditions expected to bring even stronger weather, The
Associated Press reported.
“Climate change is making the worst storms worse,” Wehner told the news wire.
Some experts told The AP they do not believe another category is needed, and could give people the wrong impression as it’s based on wind speed, rather than water — the deadliest element of hurricanes.
University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy reportedly noted climate change is not causing more storms, but rather intensifying storms and increasing the proportion that qualify as major hurricanes. This is driven by warmer oceans, McNoldy said.
Kossin told The AP pacific storms are stronger as there is less land to weaken them, in contrast to the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. While no Atlantic storm has reached the 192 mph threshold, Kossin and Wehner told the news wire the world warming will create a greater chance in the future.
Jamie Rhome, deputy director of the National Hurricane Center, noted to the news wire that his office attempts “to steer the focus toward the individual hazards, which include storm surge, wind, rainfall, tornadoes and rip currents, instead of the particular category of the storm, which only provides information about the hazard from wind.”
Rhome added a Category 5 already suggests “catastrophic damage” from wind so adding a higher category would not be necessary even in the case storms get stronger, the AP noted.
No one wants to be in the position of filing a car or home insurance claim, but it may be necessary from time to time.
Whether your home sustained damage or you were in an accident involving another vehicle, filing a claim starts the process of getting reimbursed. This may include repair costs, the value of lost or stolen property, or associated expenses (such as a rental car or hotel stay).
Keep reading to learn when you should or shouldn’t file a claim and how the process works.
When should you file a claim?
Generally, it can be a good idea to file a claim on your homeowners or car insurance if:
When is it not necessarily worth it to make a claim?
There are times when you may not benefit from filing an insurance claim; for example, if the damage to your car or home isn’t covered by your policy. Additionally, if the damage is so minimal that it doesn’t meet your deductible or isn’t worth potentially higher premiums, you may not want to make a claim. Filing several claims in a short time frame could result in higher rates.
How to File a Claim
If you do decide to file a claim, it’s important to do so as soon as possible. You should provide photos and relevant details and respond to requests for additional information.
Call the police if you’ve been in a car accident or if your home has been burglarized. Obtain a copy of the police report to submit with your claim.
Stop using the damaged vehicle (or part of your home) until it can be inspected. You don’t want to cause further damage while your claim is active.
Reach out if you have questions about your insurance coverage.
What’s one of a homeowner’s greatest enemies? Water (where it shouldn’t be).
When water enters your home, it can quickly cause a lot of damage. So, it’s important to understand which types of plumbing issues and water damage are covered by your home insurance policy.
Learn about the types of insurance for water damage as well as what is and isn’t covered:
When it comes to coverage of water damage, the key indicators that an issue is likely covered are sudden and accidental.
Coverage of water damage would fall under dwelling coverage (the structure of your home) or personal property coverage (your belongings). A deductible and coverage limits may apply to personal property coverage — review your policy or contact us with questions.
Examples of water damage that are likely covered include:
On the other hand, water damage caused by issues that are not sudden or accidental, such as delayed maintenance and neglect, will not be covered. And homeowners insurance only covers the damage caused, not the source of it. You’ll have to replace or repair pipes and appliances yourself.
Examples of water damage that isn’t covered include:
You may be the kind of person who fires up the grill all year long at tailgating parties, or maybe you wait for a warm summer day and a backyard full of friends before you put on your apron. Either way, grilling can be one of life’s simple pleasures.
Unfortunately, where there is fun there is also the potential for safety issues. For example, did you know that leaving the grill unattended, not cleaning grease or fat build up properly, or placing the grill too close to combustible siding can cause injuries, fires and property damage?
Charcoal or Gas?
Nearly 9,000 home fires a year involve grills, according to a National Fire Protection Association report. Of all the home fires involving grills, gas-fueled grills accounted for four out of five fires, while 16% involved charcoal or other solid-fueled grills.¹ Gas and charcoal grills each have ardent advocates, who praise the convenience of gas or the flavor of charcoal. Whichever your preferred grilling method, follow these important safety considerations.
Gas Grill Safety
A leak or break was the leading factor contributing to gas grill-related fires, according to the NFPA report.
Charcoal Grill Safety
The leading cause of structure fires from use of charcoal grills was leaving or placing an object that could burn too close to the grill, according to the NFPA study.
Here are some other important tips to help you keep danger away when you are enjoying food and fun.
Choose a safe location for your grill. Keep grills on a level surface more than ten feet away from the house, garage or other structures. Keep children and pets away, as well as overhanging branches. Grills should not be used on a balcony or under an overhang. Avoid placing grills too close to combustible deck rails.
Grill outside only. Never use a grill in a garage, vehicle, tent or other enclosed space, even if ventilated, due to risk of harmful carbon monoxide buildup.
Keep the grill going on a cold day. During cool weather days, avoid wearing a scarf or other loose clothing that may catch on fire. Consumer Reports recommends shielding the grill from wind, placing it about ten feet from combustible surfaces and materials, and keeping the lid closed to retain as much heat as possible. Allow extra time for pre-heating the grill in colder weather and check temperatures of meat and fish with a meat thermometer to ensure that food is safe to eat.
Teach kids to stay safe. Make a “kid-free zone” of at least three feet around the grill and areas where hot food is prepared or carried. Children under five are especially vulnerable to burns from contact with a hot grill surface. Grill contact accounted for 37% of burns seen at emergency rooms in 2014 involving children under five.
Remember post-grilling safety. Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill. If you grill with charcoal and need to dispose of the coals, soak them in water to extinguish them before disposing in a metal container. Otherwise, cover the grill tightly and close the vents, this should extinguish the coals and whatever is left will be ready for next time.
Moving to a new place is certainly exciting, but it can also be stressful — and expensive. Once you factor in things like movers, packing materials, truck rentals, gas and more, the costs can creep into the hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars, for just a single move.
Are you planning a move soon? Don't want to break the bank in the process? Fortunately, a little forethought and creativity can help in that department.
Here are five ways to help reduce your costs and keep a tight rein on your moving budget:
1. Shop Around for a Moving Company
Moving companies typically charge hundreds of dollars for their services, plus extra for things like gas, mileage and larger items like pianos and furniture. If you're going to hire a professional mover, shop around first. Get quotes from at least three different moving companies, and double-check the line-item charges. Does the quote include the truck, all protective materials, gas, mileage and larger furniture items? Does it provide insurance coverage in case of damage to any items you’ll be moving? If not, learn what adding these will cost you if they become necessary.
You can also consider local “mom and pop” moving teams or using an online service that matches freelance labor with local demand to help with everyday tasks. These come at a cost, of course, but are typically more affordable than a large moving company that has less flexible pricing.
Another great way to reduce your cost is to schedule your move for the winter or fall, if that is an option for you, as that’s when demand for professional movers is typically low. Weekdays are also a good choice, as most people move on the weekends. A moving company may be willing to give you a better deal if you move during these low-demand times, as they may be less busy and looking to fill their schedule. It may be worth exploring these options.
Pro tip: Consider doing a little research by checking out organizations online that provide consumer reviews of businesses. Before booking your movers, look at their reviews to get a sense of a company’s track record with other customers and try to verify that the company is legitimate. Note that none of these websites is a guarantee of a perfect experience, but they may help you with your decision.
2. Consider a DIY Move
Depending on how much you have to move and how heavy or cumbersome the items are, you may want to consider forgoing professional movers altogether if it looks as if your belongings can be managed without hiring help. If you have dependable family and friends that are willing and able to help with the packing, loading and transport, you might consider offering pizza or a free meal as a token of your appreciation in exchange for their help.
If you have larger items, consider renting a small rental truck for a few hours. Get the smallest size possible and be sure to fill up the fuel tank before you return the vehicle. (It may cost you more if you leave the rental truck in need of gas that the moving company must take care of itself.
Pro tip: Plan so that you're not moving during rush hour. Heavy stop-and-go traffic can drive up your fuel costs as well as delay your move.
3. Only Move What You Need
It's important to pare down your belongings before a move. That means donating, selling or throwing away any items you no longer use, need or plan to use in the future.
For one, this reduces your load and, subsequently, your costs to move it. Additionally, if you’re motivated to sell some of your unwanted items, you can put those extra funds toward your moving costs — or use it toward the cost of furniture or decor for your new place.
Here are some options for downsizing your household before you move:
Offloading some belongings will also make unpacking easier (not to mention faster).
Pro tip: Measure your furniture and make sure it will fit in your new home, as well as through necessary access points. If it won't fit, sell it and consider using the funds for replacement furniture once you're in your new place.
4. Get Creative with Your Packing
Buying boxes, bubble wrap, tape and packing peanuts can get expensive. Instead of purchasing these items, take a more creative approach and use things you already have. Sheets, towels, blankets and cloth napkins all work great as packing materials, and they all need to be packed up anyway, so why not use them? You can also use your own duffel bags, luggage, purses and backpacks rather than cardboard boxes.
Once you run out of these items, try one of these resources for free or low-cost boxes:
Pro tip: Start saving the plastic and paper bags from your shopping trips. These make good packing materials and can even be used to help protect fragile items.
5. Track and Deduct Your Expenses
If you're a member of the military (or someone in your household is) you may be able to deduct your moving expenses1 on your annual tax returns. To qualify, you'll need to be moving due to a permanent change of station.
If you're eligible, you'll be able to deduct the costs of moving, storage, travel, lodging and other expenses you incur due to the move.
Pro tip: Keep a detailed record of your moving costs if you qualify for this deduction. Save all your receipts and invoices and keep them somewhere safe until tax season rolls around.
Are you moving to a new place? Don't forget to update your homeowners insurance policy. Use your move as an opportunity to ensure all your belongings, valuables and new property are protected. Contact your insurance agent to learn more about home insurance coverage and how it can safeguard your new home and family.
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, Travelers Risk Control professionals warn. 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.
Owning a home can mean dealing with the unexpected – from a tree falling on your roof to a pipe bursting in your bathroom. Because you likely can’t prevent all unwanted surprises, knowing what to expect if you have a homeowner’s claim can help give you some peace of mind.
While insurance carriers can handle claims in different ways, here are some basic steps in the process.
If Your Home Has Been Damaged:
Beginning the Claim Process:
We are an insurance company that cares. We help you get the coverage that meets your needs to help protect the things that are important to you, so you don’t have to worry.
Relocating After a Loss:
Resolving a Claim:
A major winter storm with the potential for hurricane-force winds and heavy snow is threatening to slam the Northeast this weekend. The quickly-intensifying winter storm could develop into a nor'easter, and possibly a bomb cyclone, as it travels along the coast in the coming days, according to AccuWeather.
The heaviest snow is anticipated to hit New England, although snowfall is also possible in metro areas further south, including New York City and Washington, D.C., the weather agency said. Coastal northeastern cities could also be in for strong hurricane-force wind gusts between 40 to 60 miles per hour in the coming days, according to Accuweather.
In eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, up to 16 inches of snow could accumulate from a bomb cyclone — which occurs when a cyclone rapidly intensifies and strengthens due to the central pressure decreasing by at least 24 millibars in 24 hours. In Vermont and northern New York, wind chills could reach -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Southeast Connecticut could see six or more inches of snowfall.
You can get a for a renters insurance policy online in just a few minutes or consider making a quick call to your Travelers representative to get things started. Renters insurance can help cover the loss of or damage to your possessions, additional living expenses if you have to leave your home due to a covered event, and may protect you from personal liability claims, too. Renters insurance can help protect you from the potentially devastating costs of losing the things you own, from the home or apartment that you don’t.
Get answers to your frequently asked renters insurance questions like, "How much renters insurance do I need?" on our renters insurance FAQ page.
What's Covered by a Renters Insurance Policy
While your landlord’s insurance likely covers the physical dwelling where you live, it can be up to you to protect your personal property, such as your clothes, electronics and furniture. In addition, renters may spend considerable time and money on alterations or improving their rental unit. Under a renters policy, you may apply up to 10% of your personal property coverage to repair or replace improvements made by you or acquired at your expense if damaged by a covered loss. Higher amounts of coverage are available.
Ways to Save on Your Renters Insurance
When you purchase multiple policies or have a home security system, you may be able to save money on your renters insurance policy. You can also opt for a higher deductible policy. By doing so, you may have to pay more upfront before your insurance policy pays a claim
if your covered possessions are lost, damaged or stolen. But typically, choosing a higher deductible means your monthly premiums will be lower.
How to Shop for Renters Insurance
Umbrella insurance provides additional liability coverage that can help protect assets such as your home, car and boat. It can also help cover defense costs, attorney fees and other charges associated with lawsuits.
What is Umbrella Insurance?
Umbrella insurance coverage helps protect you from the costs of covered claims when those costs exceed the limits of your home insurance or auto insurance policies.
An umbrella policy can help cover defense costs when you are being sued for damages to someone else’s property or injuries caused to others in an accident.
What Does Umbrella Insurance Cover?
Whether it’s a serious car accident involving extensive medical bills or an incident on your property, you may quickly find yourself responsible for damages that exceed the limits of your auto, homeowners or boat policies. That’s when having an umbrella insurance policy can provide coverage that goes beyond the limits of your primary coverage.
Travelers umbrella insurance can help provide coverage for:
A Travelers umbrella insurance policy is a valuable addition to any auto, homeowners or other policy for extended personal liability protection.
In today’s world, anyone can face a lawsuit, even if you’ve done nothing wrong. That’s why it’s more important than ever to consider adding an umbrella policy as an extra layer of protection for your assets – and your peace of mind.
What is Not Covered by An Umbrella Policy?
Generally, damage to your own personal property is not covered under a personal umbrella policy.
Other examples of coverage not included in a typical umbrella policy are:
Umbrella policies are typically very affordable and can be a great way to help protect yourself against the potentially devastating costs of major claims that exceed the limits of your primary home and auto policies.
Contact a Calfee Insurance agent representative to learn more about personal umbrella policies and whether this additional coverage makes sense for you.