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Guide for Insurance During Home Improvements

As we head into brighter and clearer weather, spring seems to call out the inspiration in all of us. The cravings to start our home improvements must be satisfied. Remodeling or renovations, unpredictably enough have the potential to drastically affect our homeowners insurance or completely put us in the deficit. Here are our opinions and tips on how to approach home improvements.

Strategizing your home improvement(s) can be cumbersome and often times can leave you unsure on how to properly approach the situation. Deciding who will be doing the work is a very big decision and how this decision is made can make or break the project. Be sure to do your research and see the below table for helpful tips once you have decided.

If a loss does happen you could potentially be in violation of your insurance contract and coverage may be voided. This type of situation can be avoided by simply calling your insurance agent at Warren G. Bender Co. where we will review your insurance contract with you; let you know if additional temporary coverages will be needed and what the options are to protect you.

Dealing with DIY or having a contractor come to do your home improvement(s), are two very separate situations. Below you will find our chart that we trust will help you obtain the proper knowledge to embark on your home improvements with ease of mind, knowing that you will have proper and adequate protection.

Filed under: Personal Insurance — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 12:06 am May 1, 2018

Avoiding Contractor Fraud

The average homeowner isn’t likely to know much when it comes to the costs of materials and labor put into home repairs. As a result, it’s important to stay informed when dealing with contractors so you don’t end up paying for repairs you don’t need.

It’s often said that if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. This advice is invaluable when dealing with contractor fraud. To avoid fraud, look out for the following suspicious characteristics:

• Contractors that contact you looking for work.
• Unsolicited, free home inspections that turn up problems you were previously unaware of, or discounted rates that are only offered that day.
• Pushiness on behalf of the contractor that you commit to repairs immediately.
• Contractors that request money in advance

Another dangerous type of fraud involves using a homeowner’s insurance to pay for unnecessary repairs. If a contractor causes intentional damage to an area of your home and convinces you that it is an acceptable use of your insurance policy, you may be held liable for insurance fraud.

Home Considerations

Remember, if you didn’t contact them, you probably don’t need them. Be wary of any contractor that shows up at your door out of the blue and claims that your home is damaged. To ensure that the problem they discovered is a legitimate concern, always get multiple opinions before committing to anything.

Contact Warren G. Bender Co. for more tips on how to protect your home and avoid contractor fraud.

Filed under: Personal Insurance — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 11:29 pm April 10, 2018

Home-based Business Coverage

If you conduct business in your home, insuring your business properly is part of a solid risk management plan. We can help!

What Protection Does it Offer?
Common coverages for home-based businesses include personal business property, professional liability, business income, personal and advertising injury, loss of business data, crime and theft, workers’ compensation and auto coverage. Depending on the type of home-based business you have, not all coverages apply, and other coverage options may be available.

Coverage Options
Based on your business needs, you have three basic coverage options to choose from, depending on your level of risk:

1. Homeowners Policy Endorsement. This provides the least amount of coverage and, therefore, is not ideal for most home-based businesses (depending on the level of risk). While it may provide enough coverage for a freelance writer with one computer and no business foot traffic, it’s not enough for someone who employs others, has clients visiting his or her home or has valuable business equipment and/or inventory.

2. In-home Business Policy. More comprehensive than a homeowners policy endorsement, in-home business coverage is a stand-alone policy that provides higher amounts of coverage for business equipment and liability.

3. Business Owners Policy, or BOP. A BOP bundles property and liability insurance into one policy. Created specifically for the small- to mid-size business, a BOP covers your business property and equipment, loss of income, extra expense and liability. It is the most comprehensive property and liability option. It does not include workers’ compensation, health or disability insurance, which are available as separate policies.

What’s Your Risk?
While most homeowners insurance policies do cover a limited amount of business equipment—computers, copiers and printers, to name a few—it’s likely that what you own is worth more than your policy’s limits. Also, your homeowners liability insurance probably won’t cover any injuries that may occur to the employees or clients that you have on your premises. What’s a home-based businessperson to do?

We’re Here to Help
Properly insuring your home-based business is crucial to protecting both your business and your home. At Warren G. Bender Co., we understand the small business owner’s personal and business needs, and can help you tailor coverage that’s as unique as the products and services you provide. Contact us today at (916) 380-5300 to learn more about how we can help you insure your livelihood.

Filed under: Personal Insurance,Property & Casualty,Uncategorized — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 10:52 pm

Red Flags When Buying Used Cars

While buying a used vehicle will save you money and help you avoid depreciation costs, it is important to do your research before you purchase one. To avoid purchasing a car with hidden problems, look out for the following warning signs:

• Excessive wear and tear in the interior.

• Damp, musty odors. These are indications of leaks in the windshield, weather stripping or heater core.

• Cars that ride lower in the front as compared to the back. This indicates worn springs, which can be an expensive repair.

• Tires with worn outer edges from the front end. This can indicate that the car is in need of an alignment.

• Clanking noises when the vehicle is in gear. This can indicate a problem with the drive shaft universal joints.

• Transmission fluid that is black or brown. This may indicate internal engine damage.

When buying used, the best way to ensure you purchase a reliable car is by referencing a vehicle history report. Carfax and AutoCheck are services that can provide helpful details on a vehicle’s collision history, maintenance history and odometer record.

Filed under: Auto,Personal Insurance — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 9:21 pm April 2, 2018

Are You Prepared? House Fires

Each year more than 3,275 people die and 15,575 are injured in home fires in the United States. To protect yourself, it is important to understand the basics about house fires. Fire spreads quickly; there is no time to gather valuables or make a phone call. In just two minutes, a fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames.

Heat and smoke from fire can be more dangerous than the flames. Inhaling the super-hot air can sear your lungs. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy. Instead of being awakened by a fire, you may fall into a deeper sleep. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a 3 to 1 ratio.

Learn About Fires
Every day, Americans experience the horror of fire but most people don’t understand it.

1. Fire is FAST
In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house or for it to be engulfed in flames. Most deadly fires occur in the home when people are asleep. If you wake up to a fire, you won’t have time to grab valuables because fire spreads too quickly and the smoke is too thick. There is only time to escape.

2. Fire is HOT
Heat is more dangerous than flames. A fire’s heat alone can kill. Room temperatures in a fire can be 100 degrees at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. Inhaling this super-hot air will scorch your lungs. This heat can melt clothes to your skin. In five minutes, a room can get so hot that everything in it ignites at once; this is called flashover.

3. Fire is DARK
Fire isn’t bright—it’s pitch black. Fire starts bright, but quickly produces black smoke and complete darkness. If you wake up to a fire you may be blinded, disoriented and unable to find your way around the home you’ve lived in for years.

4. Fire is DEADLY
Smoke and toxic gases kill more people than flames do. Fire uses up the oxygen you need and produces smoke and poisonous gases. Breathing even small amounts of smoke and toxic gases can make you drowsy, disoriented and short of breath. The odorless, colorless fumes can lull you into a deep sleep before the flames reach your door. You may not wake up in time to escape.
Only when you know the true nature of fire can you prepare your families and yourselves.

Before a Fire
Fire Escape Plan
In the event of a fire, remember that every second counts, so you and your family must always be prepared. Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly.

Twice each year, practice your home fire escape plan. These tips can help you prepare your plan:

• Find two ways to get out of each room.

If the primary way is blocked by fire or smoke, you will need a second way out. A secondary route might be a window onto a neighboring roof or a collapsible ladder for escape from upper story windows.

Only purchase collapsible ladders evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory.

• Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly and security bars can be opened.

• Practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.

• Windows and doors with security bars must have quick release devices to allow them to be opened immediately in an emergency. Make sure everyone in the family understands and practices how to properly operate and open locked or barred doors and windows.

• Teach children not to hide from firefighters.

Escaping the Fire
• Make sure windows are not nailed or painted shut. Make sure security gratings on windows have a fire safety opening feature so they can be easily opened from the inside.

• Consider escape ladders if your residence has more than one level.

• Teach family members to stay low to the floor (where the air is safer in a fire) when escaping from a fire.

• Clean out storage areas. Do not let trash such as old newspapers and magazines accumulate.

Fire Escape Planning for Older Adults and People with Access or Functional Needs
• Live near an exit. You’ll be safest on the ground floor if you live in an apartment building. If you live in a multi-story home, arrange to sleep on the ground floor, and near an exit.

• If you use a walker or wheelchair, check all exits to make sure you can get through the doorways.

• Make any necessary accommodations, such as providing exit ramps and widening doorways, to facilitate an emergency escape.

• Speak to your family members, building manager or neighbors about your fire safety plan and practice it with them.

• Contact your local fire department’s non-emergency line and explain your special needs. Ask emergency providers to keep your special needs information on file.

• Keep a phone near your bed and be ready to call 911 if a fire occurs.

Smoke Alarms
A properly installed and maintained smoke alarm is the only thing in your home that can alert you and your family to a fire 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire.

• Install both ionization AND photoelectric smoke alarms, or dual sensor smoke alarms, which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors.

• Test batteries monthly.

• Replace batteries in battery-powered and hard-wired smoke alarms at least once a year (except non-replaceable 10-year lithium batteries)

• Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends installing smoke alarms both inside and outside of sleeping areas.

• Always follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions when installing smoke alarms.

• Replace the entire smoke alarm unit every eight to 10 years or according to manufacturer’s instructions.

• Never disable a smoke alarm while cooking—it can be a deadly mistake. Open a window or door and press the “hush” button, wave a towel at the alarm to clear the air or move the entire alarm several feet away from the location.

More Fire Safety Tips
• Sleep with your door closed.

• Only those trained in the proper use and maintenance of fire extinguishers should consider using them when appropriate. Contact your local fire department for information on training in your area and what kind to buy for your home.

• Consider installing an automatic fire sprinkler system in your residence.

• Ask your local fire department to inspect your residence for fire safety and prevention.

During a Fire
• Crawl low under any smoke to your exit—heavy smoke and poisonous gases collect first along the ceiling.

• When the smoke alarm sounds, get out fast. You may have only seconds to escape safely.

• If there is smoke blocking your door or first way out, use your second way out.

• Smoke is toxic. If you must escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your way out.

• Before opening a door, feel the doorknob and door. If either is hot, leave the door closed and use your second way out.

• If there is smoke coming around the door, leave the door closed and use your second way out.

• If you open a door, open it slowly. Be ready to shut it quickly if heavy smoke or fire is present.

• If you can’t get to someone who needs assistance, leave the home and call 911, or tell firefighters if they are already at the scene. Tell the 911 dispatcher or the firefighters where the person is located.

• If pets are trapped inside your home, tell firefighters right away.

• If you can’t get out, close the door and cover vents and cracks around doors with cloth or tape to keep smoke out. Call 911. Say where you are and signal for help at the window with a light-colored cloth or a flashlight.

• If your clothes catch fire, stop moving immediately, drop to the ground and cover your face with your hands, and roll over and over or back and forth until the fire is out. If you or someone else cannot stop, drop and roll, smother the flames with a blanket or towel. Use cool water to treat the burn immediately. Cover with a clean, dry cloth. Get medical help right away.

After a Fire
Recovering from a fire can be a physically and mentally draining process. When fire strikes, lives are suddenly turned around. Often, the hardest part is knowing where to begin and who to contact. The following checklist serves as a quick reference guide for you to follow after a fire strikes.

• Contact a local disaster relief service, such as The Red Cross, if you need temporary housing, food and medicines.

• If you are insured, contact your insurance company for detailed instructions on protecting the property, conducting inventory and contacting fire damage restoration companies. If you are not insured, try contacting private organizations for aid and assistance.

• Check with the fire department to make sure your residence is safe to enter. Be watchful of any structural damage caused by the fire.

• The fire department should make sure utilities are either safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site. DO NOT attempt to reconnect utilities yourself.

• Conduct an inventory of damaged property and items. Do not throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is made.

• Try to locate valuable documents and records. Refer to information on contacts and the replacement process inside this brochure.

• If you leave your home, contact the local police department to let them know the site will be unoccupied.

• Begin saving receipts for any money you spend related to fire loss. The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and for verifying losses claimed on income tax.

• Notify your mortgage company of the fire.

• Check with an accountant or the Internal Revenue Service about special benefits for people recovering from fire loss.

In addition to insuring your home, Warren G. Bender Co. is committed to helping you and your loved ones stay safe when disaster strikes. If you would like more information on developing a family emergency plan or building a disaster supply kit, please contact us at (916) 380-5300 or today.

Filed under: Personal Insurance,Safety — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 9:50 pm March 21, 2018