THINKING OF BUYING AN OLDER HOME?

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May 17th, 2017

Do you plan to buy an older home because it has character or as an investment? In either case, make sure you pay attention to the type of wiring. Nancy Arndt, personal lines senior underwriter, will explain the problems with old wiring.

Many homes that were built before 1950, and go as far back as the 1800s, have what’s known as knob and tube wiring. Knob and tube wiring consists of porcelain knobs with old-style wiring that was wrapped around it as it runs through the joists, floor boards, and walls. The wiring consists of one hot wire and one neutral wire and has a thick insulation coating around it.

Problems with this old style of wiring:

  1. Back in those days, wiring was designed to carry very small currents as electricity was used mainly for lighting. Today we use much more electricity with many electronic devices and appliances plugged into outlets. The old knob and tube wiring isn’t sufficient anymore. It doesn’t adequately supply enough electricity to the home and it can pose a significant fire hazard when overloaded.
  2. It also doesn’t have a ground wire to protect the home and its appliances during a lightning strike.
  3. If rolled or loose-blown insulation has been added to the home, it could be covering the wiring. There must be three inches of space between the live wire and any flammables.
  4. There may have been newly-installed light fixtures or ceiling fans and the newer Romex wiring could be spliced into the knob and tube wiring. These lines, however, weren’t designed for system additions and all of this could significantly increase the risk of fire.
  5. The wiring could have outdated fuse boxes for main disconnects.

Be sure to look in the basement and/or attic and check the fuse box in the home. If you plan to buy the home, but see any knob and tube wiring or an outdated electrical fuse box, you should consider having it updated immediately.

Contact the Oakes Agency prior to purchasing the home.  Many insurance companies have restrictions on this type of electrical system and you could have a problem finding a company that will insure your home.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them; please share them in the box below.

DEHUMIDIFERS – FIRE RISK

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May 8th, 2017

Dehumidifers can overheat and catch fire. Do you have one?

There are millions of dehumidifiers in homes across the country. A dehumidifier takes the moisture out of the air and keeps our homes dry. They work extremely hard in spring and summer.

While your dehumidifier is certainly beneficial, it may be a fire danger! Have you heard of the massive recall of many brand name dehumidifiers? If not keep reading. This article could prevent a dangerous fire in your home.

In 2013, Gree Corporation, in conjunction with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, announced a massive dehumidifier recall.  Some of the brand names included in that recall are:

  • Frigidaire
  • Kenmore
  • Danby or Premier
  • De’Longhi or SuperClima
  • Gree
  • Fedders
  • Fellini
  • Norpole
  • Seabreeze
  • Soleus Air

At that time, Gree acknowledged a few dozen fires with an estimated $2.7 million in damage.

On January 30, 2014 Gree expanded the recall to include General Electric (GE).

The lastest recall which was issued on November 29, 2016, added even more popular brand names to the list.

All of the recalled dehumidifiers were manufactured in China.

West Bend has had several fire claims caused by the defective dehumidifiers. Damages total more than $1 million. Overall numbers throughout the country are on the rise and they’re staggering.

So here are the facts:

  • The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled 5.6 million dehumidifiers in two separate recalls.
  • The dehumidifiers recalled have caused hundreds of fires resulting in $19 million in reported damage.
  • The recall affects 60 different brands of dehumidifiers that were built between 2003 and 2013.
  • The recalled dehumidifiers were sold at big box retailers such as Home Depot, Menards, Lowes, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Sears, K Mart, Lowes, HH Gregg, and even Amazon.

To see if your dehumidifier is recalled, click here. The information provided will show you where to find the model number on your dehumidifier. Once you have the brand and model number, you can enter the information and do an online search.

If your dehumidifier is on the list, stop using it and unplug it immediately. The recalled dehumidifiers can overheat, smoke, and catch fire.

To watch some media coverage on this very dangerous and serious issue, check out the links below.

Millions of dehumidifiers pose serious fire risk
Faulty dehumidifier believed to be cause of West Bend house fire

Spring is here and you may be in the market for a new dehumidifier. If so, check out the Dehumidifier Buying Guide from Consumer Reports.

Please share this information with your family and friends. It could save their lives!

Do you have any information you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you. Please share them in the comment box below.

Sources:
http://www.wthr.com/article/millions-of-dehumidifiers-pose-serious-fire-risk
https://www.cpsc.gov/

ARE YOU COVERED IF YOUR NEIGHBOR SLIPS ON YOUR SNOW/ICE COVERED SIDEWALK?

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March 5th, 2017

When the snow hits, be sure to keep these tips in mind so you can enjoy your snow day.

  1. Check your local ordinances about snow removal. You’re likely required to remove all snow on walkways within 24 hours of snow accumulation. If you’ll be out of town, make sure you arrange for someone to come to your property and take care of the snow removal for you.
  2. Get yourself a present this year.  Purchasing an ergonomic snow shovel can help avoid unnecessary strain to your body. Even fluffy snow can feel heavy when you have a lot of area to clear.
  3. Salt freshly-cleared areas. When shoveling or snow blowing is complete, be sure to salt the freshly-cleared areas. A light dusting and freezing temperatures can turn quickly walkways into ice rinks. Driveways should get the salt treatment, as well. If you prefer, sand can be used instead of salt.
  4. Keep the mail carrier and garbage/recycling collectors in mind too. Snowplows can make mailboxes and garbage/recycling bins difficult to access which makes their jobs that much harder.

Keeping your property safe is incredibly important if you want to avoid injury to a guest, passerby, or worker. If someone slips and falls on your property, you could be facing an insurance claim. The person who fell may also sue you. This is why it’s important to understand how your insurance policy works to keep your finances protected.

While your Homeowner’s Liability and Medical Payments coverages will respond if someone falls on your property and you’re found liable, will you have enough coverage? If your Homeowner’s Liability limit is at $100,000, you might not have enough coverage for all the medical expenses incurred by the person who fell. With the rising costs of hospital care, it’s best to review your policy with your insurance agent to make sure you have enough coverage.

If you don’t already have an Umbrella Liability policy, it’s a good time to look into purchasing one. If your Homeowner’s Liability coverage limit is met, but you still owe money, your Umbrella Liability policy will kick in and provide at least $1,000,000 of additional coverage.

If the chore of snow removal is too strenuous or you simply don’t want to do it, there are many professional snow removal services around. Give them a call and let them keep your property safe.

PREVENT HOUSE FIRES

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February 8th, 2017

If you’re building a new home, remodeling your existing home, or you recently built a new deck, you may be staining the new woodwork yourself. While it saves money, it can be a bit scary and dangerous.

Stain is permanent! It will stain your clothes, fingers, and anything else it meets. So if you’re trying a DIY staining project, wear protective eyewear, rubber gloves, and old clothing. Oil-based stains also have fumes, so it’s important to work in a properly-ventilated area.

The staining project turns dangerous if you don’t properly store or dispose of the used rags.

Oil-based stains are very common with woodworking projects. Linseed based stains can be found on every hardware store’s shelf. They’re used for staining furniture, floors, decks, and woodwork in your home. However, if they’re not stored or disposed of properly, they can auto-ignite and start a fire in your home. Unfortunately, people have lost their homes and possessions because of this dangerous situation.

So how can a pile of rags sitting on your garage floor start a fire? As oily rags begin to dry, heat is produced. If they’re thrown into a pile, oxygen is trapped underneath. The combination of heat, oxygen and the cloth can lead to spontaneous combustion, which results in a fire that could destroy your home.

TIPS FOR STORING AND DISPOSING OF OILY STAIN RAGS

  1. Never store rags in a pile. Used rags should be spread out in a safe flat area to dry. If you lay them out on your garage floor or driveway, weight them down so the wind doesn’t blow them away. Once they’re dry, check with your city or municipality for disposal instructions.
  2. Store the rags in an airtight, non-combustible metal container. If you plan to use your rags later, this step is critical. The metal container should be filled with a solution of water and an oil breakdown detergent.
  3. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Since manufacturers use different oils in their products, it’s important to follow their warnings and disposal instructions. They may differ from manufacturer to manufacturer.

PERMANENT VS. TERM LIFE INSURANCE

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January 9th, 2017

When determining your need for life insurance, you need to know which policy is right for you.

It is important to understand the biggest differences between term and permanent life insurance when deciding which of these products will best provide you and your family with peace of mind.

TERM LIFE INSURANCE is a great way to protect your debt obligations without busting your budget.  Term life doesn’t generate cash value within the policy, which is why it costs less than other types of life insurance.

Most term policies are designated to expire after a certain number of years of coverage. If the insured passes away during the coverage period, the death benefit is paid to the beneficiary.

An example would be a woman who has $50,000 in student loans and had her parents cosign on her loans prior to graduation. This insured might consider term insurance, with her parents as the beneficiaries.

PERMANENT LIFE INSURANCE is designed for a lifetime of changing insurance needs.

Instead of having term coverage that lasts a certain number of years, insureds can rest easy knowing their permanent policy will never expire and will pay a death benefit to their beneficiary when they pass away. The average funeral cost in 2015 was approximately $7,181.00 (www.nfda.org).

Traditionally with permanent insurance, insureds pay for the policy’s level premiums until they pass away. Other products allow insureds to pay their permanent policy in full within a certain length of time, such as a 10- or 20-pay policy. The younger you are when you opt for a permanent life policy the better, because rates will be lower, and it’s vital in protecting your insurability.

If you understand the differences between term and permanent insurance, you may even decide that it’s better to have both coverage options. A growing family, for example, may need enough death benefit to cover family and living expenses with term insurance, but might also consider an affordable final expense permanent policy for a low death benefit (such as $10,000) to cover funeral costs.

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” – Abraham Lincoln.

Be prepared for whatever life gives you and ask us about life insurance today.

 

AVOID A FINANCIAL DISASTER AFTER A NATURAL DISASTER

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December 11th, 2015

BE AWARE OF GROWING FRAUD SCHEMES

We’re here to help protect you, especially after a storm or natural disaster.

Unfortunately, disaster affected neighborhoods are often targeted by some unscrupulous people who offer construction, clean-up, or repair “services”, and then defraud victims using tactics such as:

Requiring up-front money, and then never showing up to do the work

Using cheap materials or doing sub-standard work to increase their profits

KEEP THESE TIPS IN MIND WHEN REBUILDING

Never pay a contractor in full or sign a certificate of completion until the work is done and you’re satisfied the work is complete and competent

Never sign a blank contract or a form with missing or blank information

Never let a contractor pressure you into hiring their company

Never let a contractor discourage insurance company or agent contact, or interpret coverage

Always get more than one estimate for repairs

Always get contractor credentials before work is agreed upon. Note the license plates on work vehicles, and check the state license of any contractor before work is authorized

Get the following in writing: cost, work to be done, schedules, guarantees and payment structure

Always check references, and review all documents

 

 

WINTER-PROOF YOUR HOME

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November 19th, 2014

It’s that time of year again and it’s very important that you take appropriate steps to protect your home against winter’s fury. Many homeowners may be surprised to learn that winter storms are the third largest cause of catastrophic losses and melting snow causes significant damage to property year-after-year. The following are a number of steps you should take prior to the season’s first snowfall:

– Clean out gutters; leaves and other debris can cause ice damming when water is unable to drain. Water instead seeps into the house causing damage.

– Check for moss on the roof. Moss retains moisture. If not removed, it will cause rotting and diminish the effectiveness; along with the useful life of the roof.

– Trim trees and remove dead branches; weak branches break and could damage your home or car.

– Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations. Use caulking to seal openings to prevent snowmelt from seeping in.

– Have the heating system serviced annually.

– Make sure that smoke and fire alarms are working properly. More fires occur during the winter.

– Learn how to shut the water off and know where your pipes are located.

– Look for structural damage. If damage is discovered, have it repaired before problems occur.

– Protect against rodents and animal damage: close openings into soffits, attics, basements, crawl spaces; be sure all trash and garbage have been removed from the home.

– Keeping mice out: Remove any open food, storing food in cans or closed heavy plastic containers, and closing obvious mouse entry points will help.

– Watch for slow water trickling down a shallow drain line outside can build up enough ice to block the drain or even freeze and burst the drain pipe.

Are you planning an extended vacation this winter? Follow these precautions to help assure a pleasant return home.

– Turn off unneeded electrical components. Modern TV’s and items that use plug-in wall chargers and voltage converters are always using electricity. Unplug sensitive electronic equipment to protect against power surges or lightning.

– Mothballs keep mice out of cabinets in unheated structures (e.g. garages). Place the whole box of mothballs, opened, but not poured out, into the cabinet, closet, or vehicle.

– Windows and doors: make sure that all windows are closed. If the home has triple-track storm and screen windows, make sure that the storm windows are closed with the glass “down” – not just the screens down. Latch and lock these openings.

– Monitoring services: decide if you want or need a professional to winterize your home and or to monitor it during the time that it will be shut down. Consider a protection service that range from weekly or even daily visits to check on a property to emergency responses to a no-heat call or water-entry call that can be made automatically by a home security system when those conditions occur.
* If power outages are common in the area, a battery-backup for alarms and sump pumps would be a smart addition to the home.

– Freeze Alarms: systems that warn of loss of heat or freezing conditions in a home can notify you or a property manager when something needs attention. Security systems can add freeze-alarms. If your home already has a security alarm system it’s usually a small matter to add low-temperature, loss of heat, loss of electrical power, and water flood sensors to the system. If your home does not already have a security system some simple devices can turn on a light to alert neighbors to a heat loss or flood.

BUYING A NEW CAR??? BETTER CALL YOUR AGENT

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August 30th, 2013

IMPORTANT WARNING FOR NEW AUTO PURCHASES!

Many dealers will let you off of the lot with confirmation of your auto policy number – promising to follow up with your agency/agent to let them know of the new purchase. Several have not followed up … this translates to your driving around without coverage on your brand new vehicle.

Please follow up on your own with your agent and have that new vehicle put on your coverage. Not doing so could result in a painful, personal financial loss.

Coverages to Consider for Your Boat

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August 8th, 2013

You are finally ready to buy that boat you have been dreaming about for years! But before the loan can be finalized, they need proof of insurance.
Insurance?
Maybe you hadn’t thought about it yet, but there are a lot of insurance options to meet your particular needs for your specific boat. Here are some to consider:

• Watercraft Liability. Pays for bodily injury and property damage to others resulting from the ownership, maintenance or use of your boat. It is important to know that this will not pay for your boat or your injuries.

• Physical Damage. Pays for physical damage to your boat for virtually anything that could happen to it, with only a few exceptions such as wear and tear or deterioration.

• Emergency Towing and Assistance. Pays for the towing of your boat to the nearest place where repairs can be made; delivery of gas, oil or a battery; and road trouble service for the boat trailer.

• Boating Equipment and Trailers. You may be surprised to learn that boating equipment and trailers are limited to $1,000 on many homeowners policies. You can specifically insure your boating equipment and trailer with your boat, which will provide broader coverage at the limits you need.

There are many other coverages available, and we are happy to discuss all of the options. We can tailor a boat policy to meet your needs, so you can hit the water feeling confident that you are protected!

WINTERIZING YOUR CLASSIC CAR

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October 27th, 2011

For you classic car owners, it’s time to put your cars to sleep for the winter. We’ve put together some steps to help you do it right.

1. Top off your levels.

a) Fill your gas tank and add a fuel preservative. The full tank keeps out moisture, and the preservative keeps the gas from breaking down. Take one last drive to circulate the preservative.

b) Make sure your antifreeze is fresh and topped off.

c) To avoid a nasty sludge in the spring, change the oil

2. Take preventative measures.

a) Give your car a good wash and wax to protect the paint. Protect the chrome with wax or paint sealant.

b) Over-inflate tires to avoid flat spotting, or jack up the car to take pressure off the tires.

c)Put a battery manager on your car.

d) To prevent rodents nesting in an engine compartment, try a rodent repellent under the hood. Just remember to remove it before starting up.

e) Put down a few moisture pads on the upholstery to absorb moisture and prevent mildew.

f) Cover the car with a breathable car cover to prevent corrosion and rust.

3. Re-circulate your oil.

When a car sits, oil settles into the pan, leaving the engine without lubrication. Disconnect the coil wire and crank the engine over several times. Reconnect the coil wire and you should be good to go.