Preventing Water Damage Inside Your Home

  1. Know The Location Of Your Water Main

You’d be surprised how many homeowners have no idea where their water main is located. And knowing where your water main is located is the first step in preventing or minimizing any water damage disaster.

  1. Check Appliances Regularly

It’s important to inspect and maintain your home appliances regularly for any hidden leaks. Leaking or malfunctioning appliances account for a significant portion of water damage claims.

  1. Install Floor/Drain Pans at Hot Water Heater and AC

While they won’t protect your home from a catastrophic leak, they can help prevent any damage from small or slow undetected leaks.

  1. Upgrade Washing Machine Hoses

Washing machine leaks are among the most frequent causes of water damage loss for homeowners. Replace washing machine hoses at least every five years and consider using a flood safe hose. Replace your hoses regularly could avoid a nasty mess and expensive damage.

  1. Inspect Your Refrigerator

If your refrigerator has an ice maker or water dispenser, be sure to double check the water line hose between the fridge and the wall for any leaks. And again, consider upgrading to a flood safe hose.

  1. Inspect Your Water Heater

Be sure to inspect your water heater at least once a year, keeping an eye out for any slow leaks, water pooling, or any rust or corrosion, especially on the water pipes connecting the heater to the plumbing system.  If you do spot any issues, be sure to have your water heater serviced by a professional as soon as you can..

  1. Inspect Your Air Conditioning Unit

Another major culprit in water damage claims is your air conditioning unit. It’s a case of “out of sight, out of mind.” Air conditioning units are usually tucked away in a dark closet somewhere in the house that you rarely ever check, even worse when they’re located in the attic.

Know how your condensate drain works.  Does it have a float switch and pump? Have a qualified service person inspect and service you unit at least before summer, preferably every 6 months.

  1. Inspect Your Attic

It’s another case of “out of sight, out of mind.” Most homeowners never step foot into their attics, and signs of water damage in the attic may not sure until it’s too late, especially if it’s a slow leak. The issue with water damage in your attic is that it’s the prime environment for mold growth. Water saturates the wood and insulation causing mold to grow and spread – not only causing water damage to your home but now you have a health hazard that you need to deal with.

Another scenario is when water pools in the attic until your ceiling can’t handle the stress anymore and comes crashing down. A routine check of your attic is definitely worth your time.

  1. Seal Windows & Doors

Rain and snow can easily invade your home through badly fitted windows or doors, especially in conjunction with strong winds blowing against the side of your home.

Water seepage inside windows can damage your window frames and surrounding drywall. Fix this by applying caulk at exterior frame and trim and use weather stripping to seal windows and doors that aren’t closing tightly.

Do you live in an area with frequent storms? Consider installing storm windows to provide an additional layer of protection against wind and rain.

Properly sealed windows and doors will not only help keep water out but can also save electricity.

  1. Inspect Hoses, Faucets, & Sinks

It’s best to routinely check the hoses, faucets, and sinks for signs of any leaks. Be sure to check underneath the cabinets and keep an eye out for any water stains.  Have these leaks addressed before they become worse.

Shut off valves (stops) should be changed out at 10 years.  They are cheap units subject to failure due to the chemicals in our water supply.  These valves are located at every fixture including toilets, faucets at bath and kitchen sinks.

  1. Inspect Showers, Tubs, & Toilets

Your showers and tubs are constantly being exposed to water, there’s obviously no way around it. Usually built with tile and glass enclosures, they do a pretty good job of draining water and preventing any water flow outside of the designated wet areas. Over time, the caulking or grout between tiles can break off or become damaged. Be sure to repair these grout lines and caulk wherever necessary to prevent water from permeating the tile and damaging the underlying drywall.

  1. Check Pipes

Check any and all accessible pipes for any cracks or leaks. If you find any damage, be sure to have it repaired immediately to prevent even more costly repairs in the future.

  1. Never Pour Grease Down Sinks

Odds are, you’ve probably heard this before. Avoid pouring grease (hot or cold) down your kitchen sink; it also won’t matter if you flush it with hot or cold water. Grease can congeal and cling to your pipes, causing severe damage and blocking water flow.

  1. Use A Drain Snake Instead Of Chemicals

Clogs are inevitable and are going to happen, no matter how clean you are. Chances are you’ve used a powerful chemical drain cleaner to get the water flowing again. However, as convenient as they are, these chemicals can also eat away at your pipes, setting yourself up for leaks.  Consider owning a drain snake, they’re pretty inexpensive, and they’re a great solution to clear away any clogs.

  1. Monitor Your Water Bill

With so many water pipes hidden behind walls and floors, you might not know there’s a leak until the damage is visible. Keep an eye on your water bill, if you see it starting to creep up or receive an unusually high bill, it could be a sign that you may have a leak somewhere in your home.

  1. Shut Off Your Water Supply When On Vacation

Be sure to turn off your home’s water supply when you go on vacation. Some of the most common causes of water damage in the summer months are when families leave on vacation. Their homes empty for days, weeks, and sometimes even months. If there was a leak, even a small one, it’d be left unchecked and can cause a substantial amount of damage by the time someone ever notices.

  1. Install Water Leak Detection Devices/Alarms

Water Alarms work similarly to smoke alarms. When the device detects water in a specific area, an alarm is triggered. Basic leak detection devices are relatively inexpensive, ranging from $10-$30 each and require a 9-volt battery. You can place them directly on the floor or mount them in a variety of locations: in the basement, the attic, near your air conditioner, refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machines – basically anywhere in the house that’s susceptible to water damage.

  1. Install A Water Flow Monitoring System

Water flow monitoring systems protect your entire house by measuring the flow of water into your home, directly attaching to your water main. In the event that it detects continuous water flow that isn’t consistent with your everyday use of household appliances, it stops the flow of water into your house automatically.  Check out LeakSmart, a complete system with reporting to your smart phone.

For more information about your Policy and Interior Water Damage, send us an email at Info@SWFLAgency.com.

SWFL Insurance Agency, Inc.

www.SWFLAgency.com

239-265-9577

A Heads Up to Small Businesses….What are the most common claims and their cost?

“Despite experiencing these types of events, the survey found that many small businesses aren’t filing claims for them. Insureon cites the following possible reasons for this trend:

  • They don’t have insurance or don’t have the right policy to cover the claim.
  • The cost of the incident is less than their deductible, so they deal with it out of pocket.
  • They worry that filing a claim will cause their premiums to go up.
  • They prefer to handle the matter on their own rather than wait for resolution from an insurance company.

As a result, many small business owners are choosing to let their carrier know about an incident, but don’t file a claim. Instead, they pay for the incident out of pocket to prevent higher premiums in the long run. But how does the cost of a claim stack up against the cost of coverage?”

“According to The Hartford, the 10 most expensive types of claims (and the cost per incident) are:

  • Reputational harm: $50,000
  • Vehicle accident: $45,000
  • Fire damage: $35,000
  • Product liability: $35,000
  • Customer injury or property damage: $30,000
  • Wind and hail damage: $26,000
  • Customer slip and fall: $20,000
  • Water and freezing damage: $17,000
  • Struck by object: $10,000
  • Burglary and theft: $8,000

In comparison, the median price that most small businesses pay for coverage is:

  • $428 per year for general liability insurance
  • $920 per year for professional liability insurance

Compared to a $20,000 bill for a customer slip-and-fall accident, most business owners would probably rather pay $428 for general liability per year, plus their deductible, to pick up the tab.

How do the most expensive claims compare to the top incidents small businesses experienced in 2016?” Read more…at PropertyCasualty360.com.

For a review of your business insurance risks and a competitive proposal for coverage, call SWFL Insurance Agency at 239-265-9577 or drop an email to joshw@swflagency.com. www.SWFLAgency.com

If I let my Mother in Law borrow my car, is she insured?

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The Problem

Soooo, your mother-in-law needs to run to the airport. Or, your brother needs to borrow your pickup to haul his new big-screen television. They all say they will return your vehicle in an hour.

You may not realize it….But you may be creating a HUGE Problem for yourself.    As an auto insurance policyholder, if you let someone not listed as a driver on your policy drive your vehicle, you could be setting yourself up for an expensive headache.

Sooo…You lend your vehicle….Then, the next thing you know your brother or your mother-in-law is involved in a fender-bender. Or, your brother is rear-ended, your pickup and his new TV damaged. The headache that’s developing is called a lending loss.

Insurance Speak

Your insurance company considers that your act of Lending is giving permission to someone not listed as a driver on your auto insurance policy to drive your vehicle.  Your underwriting of your  insurance policy for acceptance and premium rates has been based upon the driver details, violations and accident history as established by your application and DMV reports.  Lending creates an unknown exposure.  You typically have a driver with unknown driving record and experience behind the wheel of an unfamiliar vehicle.  Research has shown that borrowed cars have a much higher probability of getting into an accident.  Think about it…when you get behind the wheel of an unknown vehicle, it takes time to become proficient and comfortable.  Many drivers who borrow do so because they don’t own a car and don’t have auto insurance.   Insurance carriers discourage “lending” and consider it a reflection on your driving decisions.  If someone drives your car often, they should be added to your policy to avoid the “lending” issue.

The policyholder — and owner of the vehicle — is “primary.” That means he will be liable for anything the driver does to or in the vehicle — legal or otherwise.  Soooo….someone else’s accident could cause you to LOSE your coverage, lose your preferred rate, or worse expose your asset because the loss was greater that your coverage limits. In most states, if you loan your vehicle and then the borrower loans the vehicle to someone else who then gets into an accident, you the policyholder may still be at fault.

Tell the Family

Always remember this about lending your car or truck: Insurance follows your vehicle, but insurance responsibility usually follows the policyholder. Be sure to have this discussion with your driving-age children.

Your teens generally have no idea that it’s not OK to lend the car or let someone else drive.  We even see a few parents who casually hand over their car keys to their kids’ friends.  Bad idea.

The best advise is to never be a lender or a borrower.

Need Insurance advice…Call SWFL Insurance Agency at 239-265-9577 or email info@swflagency.com.

See more about this subject at Who is an insured under your Auto and Homeowners policies?

 

Avoiding Water Damage Losses in Your Home or Condo….Must Read

water-damage-home“From torn washing machine hoses to burst pipes, it’s no wonder that water damage is among the leading causes of homeowners’ claims across the country.

Anyone who has ever dealt with a water issue at home or been involved with a water loss claim can speak to the devastation. The loss is typically greater than the property that is destroyed.”

With so many SWFL homes and condos sitting unoccupied for various lengths of time, it is important to have your customers understand the risk associated with not shutting off the potable water supply to the plumbing system of their home. Water damage claims from a plumbing break can be devastating and can happen at any time. Losses are more likely to happen when you are not home and the damage will typically be more extensive.

Help your customers understand where the main water shut off for their home or condo is located. Make sure they know where the shut off valves for each plumbing fixture and appliance is located, Being able to get to the shut off quickly can reduce damages. This is particularly important for multi story homes and condos.

If the home or condo is 10 years or older, always recommend that the shut off valves be inspected and replaced. The quality of the water can cause deposits in shut off valves causing them to not operate. These valves are typically not turned at all, unless there is an emergency or a fixture needs repair. These valves are typically the weakest link in the plumbing system.

The condensate drain and catch pan for the air conditioning system is another potential cause of water damage. This system should be cleaned and inspected at least once per year to avoid problems. Many condensate systems utilize a shut off switch to monitor excess water in the drain catch pan and shut the system down. This switch should be inspected and replaced if not working. This switch can make the difference in avoiding water damage, which can be serious depending upon where system is located.

Technology advances have created devices to shut off the main water supply when a major drop in pressure is detected. Some devices can send a text alert to your phone. Learn more at Auto Shut Off Devices. Condominium associations with multi story buildings should consider having auto shut off valves installed in all units due to the potential for extensive losses affecting multiple units.

Your Homeowners Insurance Policy may have water damage coverage, check closely. If coverage is included or endorsed to the policy, the limit of coverage will typically be $5,000. This being the case, it is even more important to be pro active in preventing a water damage loss.

Questions…Need a Homeowners Policy competitive premium quote… Call SWFL Insurance Agency, Inc., 239-265-9577 info@swflagency.com………www.SWFLAgency.com

 

So……You bought your kid a $ 2000. Drone for Christmas…

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2015 will be “a defining year” for small drones. The projected total U.S. sales of 700,000 units in will mark a 63% increase from 2014. The wide range of drone models available this Christmas—from the $40 Protocol Neo-Drone Mini to a $3,000, 15-pound DJI T6000 with a sophisticated 4K video camera—means there’s now a model on the market to fit almost any budget.

So….your kid immediately flys the drone into your neighbors car as the wife is pulling into the driveway. She panics…hits the gas and runs through the garage door, demolishing the husband’s new Harley and breaking out her front teeth on the steering wheel……

Will my Homeowners Insurance Policy cover this loss?   Yes it will…as long as the definition of Aircraft reads similar to the following.   Aircraft means any contrivance used or designed for flight except model or hobby aircraft not used or designed to carry people or cargo. Your Homeowners Policy language should be reviewed. Call us.

Most drones have cameras. This is a big part of the fun. So, your son flies the drone with camera over the neighbor’s backyard spying on the 17 year old daughter through her bedroom window. He then downloads photos of her in her underwear and puts them online. Her parents are now suing you and they have pictures of the drone outside her window. Sounds like an invasion of privacy claim.

This claim will probably not be covered by the standard HO3 Homeowners Policy. There are various exclusions such as “intentional acts”, “criminal acts”, “vicarious liability” that could apply. You will need to have a Personal Injury Liability endorsement added to the HO3 form in order to have any chance for coverage. As noted, while there are some variations from insurer to insurer, Personal Injury Liability Coverage extends to five basic categories of acts or conduct. These include:

  1. false arrest, detention, or imprisonment:
  2. libel, slander, defamation, or product disparagement;
  3. malicious prosecution (which may include abuse of process);
  4. wrongful eviction, wrongful entry, or violation of right of private occupancy; and,
  5. invasion of or violation of right of privacy.

NOTE: Owners of consumer drones will have to begin registering with the U.S. government starting next week under a policy…charge will be $5. Starting Dec. 21, 2015.  Look for more regulations.

Call us for a full review of your present coverage and a quote for Personal Injury Liability coverage. Do not assume that you have it.

Call 239-265-9577 or email us at joshw@swflagency.com

Follow our Blog at SWFL Agency Blog

 

 

Scary Drivers……..How to Handle Road Rage

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If you find that you have agitated another driver, whether the fault is truly yours or not, don’t react to or retaliate against the other driver on the road, according to SafeMotorist.com. Engaging with the other driver will only cause the situation to escalate. Remind yourself that the other driver is just bad at handling stress, avoid eye contact and continue to practice safe driving habits.

All you can do is be a considerate, aware driver who follows the rules of the road. While it may be difficult in the heat of the moment, don’t give in to feelings of anger or rage on the road. Think twice before you honk the horn or flip that finger, because you never know what may set off the person in the cars around you. Getting home or to work safely is more important than teaching someone a dangerous lesson.

Police say if you are involved in a road rage incident, stay in your car and call for help. If you can, drive to a well-lit area with people or to a local police or fire station.

 

Ways to avoid road rage encounters

Here are some additional pointers to help avoid road rage encounters:

  • Don’t assume other drivers are evil. Sometimes, people make mistakes, or they might be driving more slowly for a reason. Do not assume that they are driving slowly just to annoy you. Put yourself in the other driver’s shoes.
  • Don’t honk your horn insistently. It might make you feel better, but it’s really kind of silly. And when everyone does it in a traffic jam, it’s really annoying and increases everyone’s stress level.
  • If someone is tailgating you, don’t aggravate yourself and the other driver by playing cat and mouse with your speed. Move out of the way and let the other driver pass you.
  • Cranks some tunes, not the engine. Instead of listening to your own muttering, try listening to music as it can help keep you calm.
  • Leave space to pull around the car in front of you. This seems simple, but in heavy traffic, people tend to drive bumper-to-bumper. Leaving some wiggle room can reduce vulnerability if the driver in front of you gets aggressive. Allow at least a two-second space between your vehicle and the one ahead of you.
  • Try not to run late. When you’re in a hurry, your patience is short, and you’re much more likely to become aggravated. Try to give yourself a few extra minutes to get where you need to go.
  • Avoid cutting other drivers off in traffic.
  • Signal several hundred feet before you change lanes or make a turn.
  • Avoid making any gestures or eye contact with another driver.
  • Be courteous in the use of high-beam headlights.
  • Obey speed limits.
  • Drive in the right or middle lane; pass on the left.
  • Stop at stop signs and red lights; don’t run yellow lights.
  • Don’t block intersections.
  • Report any aggressive driving incidents to the police immediately.

Important note: Police and safety officials say drivers snapping pictures or videos of others is unsafe and could lead to dangerous road-rage incidents.

If you are prone to road rage

  • Get sufficient rest. Lack of sleep leads to loss of control.
  • Limit alcohol Alcohol can make you rageful, not to mention impair your driving in other ways.
  • Play soothing music. This can really help.
  • Be aware of your driving. Leon James, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii and author of Road Rage and Aggressive Driving: Steering Clear of Highway Warfare, recommends watching yourself—what makes you angry, how long do you stay angry. Tell yourself, “It was not their fault—it was the guy in front of them.”
  • Put pictures of your loved ones on the dashboard. You want to come home to them.
  • Remember, this behavior can cost you in more ways than one. Road rage can have a high price tag even if no one is hurt or killed: tickets, lawyers, court costs, damage to vehicles, and higher insurance rates.

Don’t engage other drivers

  • Avoid engaging other drivers, even if they have done something to make you angry or vice versa.
  • Put as much distance between you and the other driver as possible and avoid making eye contact.
  • Never pull off a roadway to confront another driver.
  • Keep your doors locked and give yourself room at intersections to drive away.
  • If possible, take down the license plate number of the vehicle and report the driver’s behavior to police so they won’t hurt themselves or someone else.

Taken from By Jayleen R. Heft, PropertyCasualty360.com

Umbrella Liability Claim Scenario # 3…..More Scary Stuff

Claimant, age 2, was on the Insured’s property with his grandparents who were there to care for 2 horses owned by the Insured. The Insured were out of town on vacation. The Claimant was kicked by one of the horses, taken to the emergency room, and then life flighted to a larger hospital.

The Claimant was given a 5% chance of survival and underwent surgery for a cracked skull (a piece of which was missing) with 30% damage to the right side of his brain. He survived and is residing in a neighboring state at a rehabilitation center. A large payment was  made under the personal umbrella policy.

 

Umbrella Liability Claims Scenario # 2…More Scary Stuff

The Insured’s 18 year old son was driving the Insured’s car on a short trip to the store with his girlfriend, the Claimant. The car left the roadway and struck a tree. The Insured’s son told the police that a vehicle cut him off, but there were no witnesses and no evidence of any impact with another car. The Claimant has no recollection of the accident.

The Claimant, a 19 year old college student, was hospitalized for over a month with multiple fractures and internal injuries. She was in a wheelchair but is now able to walk with crutches and continues with physical therapy. She has a right drop foot as a result of the injuries.

The Insured’s personal auto bodily injury limit and the personal umbrella policy limit was paid.