Home safety - Spencer Insurance Agency, Inc

Have you check out our special “Winter Section” of our website?

car burried in snow

Cold, snow and ice make us want for Spring. Well Spring is not too far away.

Spencer Insurance added a “Winter Section” to our website with tips for teen drivers, tips on how to prepare for a Winter Storm power outage, and tips for getting your financial house in order. Take some time now while you are confined to the indoors to review these tips. Let us know if you find them helpful. Add your own tips by commenting below.

Smoke Alarms for People who are Hearing Impaired

Fire Extinguisher character with happy pose

I have a few friends who have a hard time hearing or are deaf.  I thought about all the elderly whose hearing is impaired and I wondered “What good are smoke detectors and fire alarms if you can’t hear them?”

Smoke Detectors save lives!! We have heard this numerous times.

We take smoke detectors for granted. We change the batteries twice a year and inspect them to make sure they are working properly. Hopefully we never have to hear that sound except when I burn the bacon while cooking breakfast.  I like my bacon crispy!

Google “smoke detectors for hearing impaired” to find out about new technology that will help the hearing impaired know when a smoke detector alarm sounds. Some devices shake your bed and activate strobe lighting to alert you.

Check them out to see what will work best for your situation. Spread the word to your friends and family you know that have someone living with them who are hearing impaired. It could save their life!

Let me know if you are using something that really works well.   Have a great week!

 

 

Save money on your heating Bill and Winter Storm Power Outage Tips

 

Unless you are a skier you probably are hoping for a mild winter.  I do enjoy some snow, but no blizzards or ice storms please.

Did you run out of salt last year?  Did your heating bill spike last year?  I was a boy scout and their motto is “Be Prepared.”  Are you?

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for this winter season.

  • Winter storm Power outage tips: Remember the “Ice Storm.”
    • Have flashlights and extra batteries handy. Buy some smaller ones which are easy to carry around the house to supplement the larger flashlights.
    • Have some emergency candles and a long lighter similar to the ones used to light a grill. Be careful with the candles and make sure you have them in proper containers or on a plate. Make sure you do not use a propane lantern inside the house.
    • Have a portable radio with extra batteries so you can hear the news or any warnings.
    • Learn how to cook on a grill or fire in case your stove is out of commission. Have a manual can opener available to open cans.
    • Store some water for emergencies.
    • If you have a landline, have at least one phone with a cord. Most portable phones will not work when the power is out.
    • Keep your gas tank in your car filled when a storm approaches. Fill your extra gas container but be sure to store these containers in a safe place. Do not put gas containers in an attached garage.
    • After you lose power unplug major appliances as well as televisions, computers and other sensitive electronics to avoid a power surge when the power is restored.
    • Keep your refrigerator and freezer closed during a power outage and consider purchasing a portable generator.
  • Save money on your heating bills this winter. Our weather reporters are predicting another cold and white winter. Here are a few tips to remember to help save on your heating bill:
    • Lower the thermostat especially when you leave the house for work and at bedtime.
    • Make sure your fireplace damper is closed when you are not using it.
    • Do not block heating vents and keep them clean. Replace your heater’s filter at least once a month or more often depending on how much you use it.
    • Dress warmer and in layers and put an extra blanket on the bed. Exercise in front of the TV instead of being a couch potato.
    • Search your house for drafts and caulk windows and doors if necessary.

Be sure to give us a call at 215-885-2200 if you have any questions or concerns about your insurance protection. Your protection and peace of mind is our only business!

October 5th to 11th is Fire Prevention week.

Fire Extinguisher character with happy pose

The theme of this year’s Fire Prevention Week is “Working Smoke Alarms save lives.”  Test your smoke detectors each month and change your batteries when you set your clocks back in the Fall (November 2nd) and ahead in the Spring.  Make sure you also have a carbon monoxide detector in your home.

Fire extinguishers should be checked each year to make sure they are still functional. Purchase new fire extinguishers if you are not sure if they are still working.

Check out the National Fire Protection Association’s website for more fire prevention tips.

Let us know if you have a plan for your home if there is a fire.

Fall Maintenance Tips for your Home and Auto

The Fall Season can be a beautiful time of the year in our area. With cooler temperatures and the leaves changing, the fall is a great time of the year to get out of the house and enjoy the outdoors.

Fall is also a great time to prepare for those cold winter days that are coming. I imagine you remember our winter last year with all the snow, ice and school and business closings. Hopefully, this winter will be a bit milder.

Here are a few tips to prepare your home and auto for winter:

  • Put the ice scraper and snow removal tool in your car. Remember a few years ago we had a snowstorm in October?
  • Check the tread on your tires to make sure you have proper traction in the snow.
  • Replace worn wiper blades.
  • Prepare a winter emergency Kit for your home and auto. Check out http://www.ready.gov/kit-storage-locations for some kit ideas.
  • Have your furnace serviced and cleaned by a qualified Technician. Replace your furnace filter.
  • Move flammable materials away from your house and attached garage. Keep them in a shed away from your home.
  • Insulate pipes that are exposed to cold areas in the house.
  • Check for damage to your roof and gutters. Clean any debris from your gutters.
  • Have your chimney inspected by a professional.
  • Clean the clothes dryer exhaust ducts and space under the dryer.
  • Check your fire extinguishers to make sure they are not out of date. If you are not sure it’s best to replace them.
  • Trim trees around your house so the weight of ice and snow will not cause them to rub against your home.
  • If you have a storm sewer near your home make sure it is clear of any debris like sticks and leaves.

A little maintenance on your home now can save you from having a claim later. This can help you save money on your homeowner’s insurance. For more tips on saving money on your auto and homeowner’s policies go to our website. Enjoy the Fall weather and let’s hope we have a better winter this year. Call us today if we can be of service for any of your insurance needs.

 

Child Leaving for College

college packing  (Note: forward this to someone you know who has a child going to college!)

Congratulation on your child’s achievement!  As you prepare to send your child to college let’s review some important items.

Is their “stuff” covered while at a dorm or off campus apartment?

Generally, as long as your child is a full time student, was a resident of your house before moving to college, and is under age 24 there is some coverage for the students “stuff” while they are away at school. However, that coverage is generally limited to 10% of your contents (Coverage C) on your homeowner’s policy. For example, if the contents limit on your policy is $140,000, your child would have $14,000 of coverage for the “stuff” in his dorm room. Consider purchasing a renter’s insurance policy. There are limitations on certain items including computers, jewelry, musical instruments and collectibles.  If your child is taking any of these items with them to school, give us a call to review.

What if my child has a roommate and they buy “stuff” together?

In this situation you should consider a Renter’s policy to cover both your child’s and roommate’s stuff.  As long as both children are on the lease most companies will write one renter’s policy covering both children.  Call us to discuss your situation.

How does my child going to college affect my car insurance policy?

If you have a student away at a college that is over 100 miles and they do not have a car with them, we can add a discount for “Child Away at School.”  If your child is taking their car to a college that is in the same state you reside, then we may be able to rate the car as being “garaged” at the college, rather than your household.  If the collage is out of state, however, it would need to remain as rated at your home address.

If you have any questions, give us a call and discuss your situation with our experienced staff.

Summer is upon us! I thought this would be a good time to share some “Summer Tips” with you.

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  • Beach and Pool: Skin Cancer is a serious problem. Make sure you use sunscreen, UVA/UVB sunglasses, and wear a hat to avoid prolong exposure to the sun.
  • Grill Safety: Keep an eye on that gas grill and make sure the hoses have not been chewed by animals. Make sure to clean the grill periodically as grease buildup can cause flare ups and fires. Charcoal grills are more dangerous than gas grills. Be careful when applying the lighter fluid. The location of your grill is critical. Keep it away from your house and garage. Be careful if you grill on the deck especially with charcoal grills. A house on my street had a fire that was caused by a coal that escaped from the bottom of the charcoal grill and fell under the deck. The coal smoldered until later that night when flames shot up the side of the house.
  • Water safety: Learn more about pool and boat safety. The American Red Cross offers tips on their website at http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/water-safety. The U.S. Coast Guard offers many tips for boater’s safety. Consider taking a Coast Guard safety course which are offered locally. Check out the Coast Guard website at http://www.uscgboating.org.
  • Make sure you check on your elderly neighbors and family. Make sure their homes are properly ventilated with fans or air conditioning to keep them cool and safe.
  • Pets: Make sure you protect your pets from the heat. Keep them in shady areas and do not do any strenuous exercising with them when it is hot. Stay away from asphalt and sandy areas as their paws could burn. Make sure they have plenty of water even when you travel or take them with you on a summer picnic. Make sure you protect them from fleas and ticks as you don’t want your home to become infested with these annoying bugs.

Spencer Insurance Agency has many valuable Summer reports on our website at www.spencerinsurance.com.  Some of the topics we discuss on our website are:

  • Taking your child to college? How is your insurance coverage affected?
  • Should I purchase the extra coverage for the car I rent while on vacation?
  • School is out! Time for that talk with your teen driver (see our teen driver corner in this newsletter).
  • Are your “Summer Toys” properly covered? (Boats, jet ski, motorcycle, ATV or golf cart)

Spencer Insurance Agency is always ready to discuss your safety and protection with you.  Call us today with any questions at 215-885-2200.  You can also email us or visit our website for more tips.

All of us at Spencer Insurance Agency hope you have a safe and enjoyable summer!

Are your “Summer Toys” properly insured?

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The hot, hazy, lazy days of summer are here.   I hope you are having fun taking some time to kick back and relax.  Summer is a time to enjoy outdoor activities like golf, boating, fishing, water skiing, swimming and a barbecue.  There are a lot of summer toys

Summer is the time to enjoy these toys, but make sure you have the proper coverage.  An accident with one of these toys could lead to property damage and a lawsuit.  Are you prepared for that?  Many times people are surprised to find they have limited or no coverage under their auto and homeowner’s insurance policies for these toys.

Does your homeowner’s or auto insurance cover these toys?  Sometimes the answer is yes but way too often the answer is no.  Call us today at 215-885-2200 to make sure you have the proper protection.

Let’s discuss a few of these toys. . .

  • Liability from backyard toys such as a trampoline or pool is covered by your homeowner’s insurance but there is a problem. Due to the nature of the injury that can occur, most homeowner’s policies provide only limited coverage. You should purchase an umbrella policy and make sure your policies don’t restrict claims from these items.
  • Jet Skis/personal watercraft – These items are fast and fun and you probably have no liability coverage under your homeowner’s policy. You need to buy a personal watercraft policy and umbrella policy if you own a personal watercraft. Be careful, not all umbrella policies cover your personal watercraft. If you rent a personal watercraft while on vacation you have no liability insurance. You are riding around with no insurance. Purchase the coverage from the marina.
  • Boats – You have some limited coverage on your Homeowner’s policy for damage to your boat, but sinking and banging the dock is not covered. You also have limited coverage for liability as long as the boat is a sailboat under 26 feet or your boat has an outboard motor less than 25 horsepower. If you rent a sailboat under 26 feet or a boat with an outboard motor you have some liability coverage from your homeowner’s insurance. Why risk having limited or no coverage? Purchase a boat policy for your boat.
  • Motorcycles or ATV – If you own a motorcycle, your auto and homeowner’s policy provide no coverage. You need to purchase a motorcycle policy or recreational vehicle endorsement. If you rent a motorcycle while on vacation you have no coverage from your auto policy and no coverage on your homeowner’s policy if the motorcycle requires registration (Hint – Most do!). Hopefully the place that rented you the motorcycle can provide you insurance; otherwise you are riding around with no coverage!
  • Golf Carts – When you play a round of golf and rent a golf cart you have liability coverage under your home and auto policies. You have some limited property damage coverage in this case. What if you own a golf cart? This gets tricky so talk to us. The golf cart is covered while on a golf course, but you may need an endorsement if you travel off the golf course.

 

The bottom line. . . Talk to us about these toys or your summer fun could be very costly!  At Spencer Insurance, “Your Protection and Peace of Mind is our only Business!”

More than just a reminder. . .

clocks back for DST endDaylight Savings Time begins at 2:00 AM on Sunday March 9th. That’s important, but this is even more important. . .

This past winter has been a tough one.  Snow, power outages, trees down, thunder snow, rain, ice, sleet, did I say snow, were a common theme.  What did you learn from this crazy weather?

Here are a few tips from our experiences:

  • Replace the batteries now in your smoke detectors, flashlights and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Don’t have a carbon monoxide detector? Go out and get a couple today.  We had news reports of people in our area being rescued from carbon monoxide gases when their generator was too close to their house.  Don’t delay, a few $$$ today could save your life
  • Trim the trees in your yard and ask your neighbor to do the same if the trees are over hanging your property.  Be especially careful of any trees rubbing or banging against your roof, house, shed, and fence or located near cars.
  • Get a battery backup for your sump pump if you have one.  Check your sump pump to make sure it is working properly.
  • Check your roof or gutters and get the damage repaired before more damage is done.
  • Make sure the storm sewers near your house are free of debris.  Don’t wait for your township to clean them out.  If it is not safe for you to do these then call your township and report the problem.

The good news is that Spring and Summer are on their way.  A few preventative measures now can save you money in the future.  Even with the proper coverage, dealing with a claim can be very annoying and stressful event.

Check out our website for our free report: “Spencer’s Tips: How to Save Money And What You Need to know about your Homeowner’s Insurance”

Are the offers from my water company necessary?

FAQ: I receive mailings from my water company to purchase coverage to replace or repair my water supply line and sewer line from the street to my house if they break or leak.  Is this covered by my homeowner’s insurance?

A: The Sewer water line from the street to your meter is your responsibility and not your Water Company’s responsibility.  You must pay for repairs or replacement should it leak.  Homeowner’s coverage does not pay for any plumbing work or replacement of pipes.  This is considered wear and tear of the house and is excluded under your policy.  The excavation to uncover the pipes is also excluded in most cases.

I would suggest you read over the offer from your water company and then make a decision as to its merits. You may want to take into account the age of the pipes.  If the water company is doing work on your street it may put stress on old pipes and cause them to break.  You may want to consider replacing the pipe to avoid a cracked pipe and service disruption in the future.

Call us at 215-885-2200 if you have any questions.

 

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