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Colorado Insurance Blog

The Deadly Reality of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is credited with causing thousands of accidents every year. As many as 1,000 people are injured in a distracted driving accident every day.

There are plenty of things that can go wrong while driving. You can blow a tire or slip on ice, both of which might be out of your control. Driving distracted is not an accident though, it’s a choice. You can help make the roads safer by keeping your full attention on the road.

Examples of Distracted Driving:

  • Talking on the phone, even if it’s hands-free
  • Texting
  • Browsing social media or the internet
  • Eating or drinking
  • Putting on makeup
  • Looking at a map or setting your navigation app
  • Changing the radio station
  • Smoking or vaping
  • Reaching for something

According to DriveSafe Online, there are 3 types of distracted driving:

  • Visual distractions take your eyes off the road
  • Manual distractions take your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive distractions take your mind off driving

There are many different forms of distracted driving, but texting is widely accepted as the most dangerous since it involves all 3 types of distracted driving.

In Colorado, texting while driving is prohibited. For drivers under the age of 18, no cell phone use is allowed, even if it’s hands-free. Teens have a higher risk of being in an accident caused by texting and driving due to the combination of their lack of driving experience and the desire to constantly be connected to their phones.

In 2019, 39% of high school students reported texting or emailing while driving during the past month.

-Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

It’s important for parents to teach their teens the importance of focusing their attention solely on driving and not on talking, texting, or posting on social media. The first step is modeling that behavior. If your kids see you on your phone while driving, they will assume it’s okay to do and are more likely to engage in distracted driving themselves.

Frightening Statistics:

  • 3142 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2019
  • An estimated 36% of drivers use a smartphone app at a red light or stop sign, and 35% continue to use their phone while driving
  • Texting while driving doubles the chances for a car accident and triples the odds of your vehicle leaving the road, going over a curb, crashing into a tree, or colliding with a sign
  • Using a cell phone while behind the wheel reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%
  • High school students who admit to texting while driving are also less likely to wear a seat belt and more likely to drink and drive
  • If you text while driving 55 mph, it’s the equivalent of driving the entire length of a football field without looking up
  • A person who texts while driving is 6 times more likely to be in an accident than someone who is driving drunk

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia suggests the following strategies to break the habit of teen cell phone use while driving:

  • “Do not disturb while driving” settings can remove the temptation to use a cell phone while driving because notifications and messages are silenced while behind the wheel and can be set up to automatically come on. To increase adoption, this could be the factory default setting.
  • Applications that track driving behavior are being used by auto insurance companies to offer personalized rates for safe driving behaviors. A recent survey of 16- and 17-year-olds led by Dr. Delgado found those who admit to texting while driving may be convinced to refrain from this risky behavior if there was a financial incentive.
  • Applications that passively track cell phone use while driving give parents the opportunity to monitor their teens’ behaviors behind the wheel and to enforce house rules that prohibit cell phone use while driving for any reason and at any time.
  • Parents need to model safe driving behaviors, including no cell phone use while driving, well before their teens reach driving age.
  • Parents need to refrain from contacting their teens when behind the wheel. A CIRP/Penn School of Nursing study found that teen drivers receive the most calls from their parents.
  • Parents can provide their teens with safe alternatives to talking or texting while driving:
    • complete any call or text before starting the car
    • check in only after arrival
    • pull over to text or make a call

Understanding the risks of distracted driving is just the beginning. The best way to keep yourself and others on the road safe is to pledge not to drive with distractions.

You can put your phone on Do Not Disturb before you leave, know where you’re going before you start the car, and avoid eating and drinking during the trip. It’s also important to be aware of the distracted drivers around you so you’re ready to react if they make a sudden move that puts you in danger.

Help your loved ones stay safe by talking to them about the dangers of driving distracted.

Sources:

Staff, D. S. O. (2020, October 2). 12 Important Texting and Driving Statistics. DriveSafe Online®. https://www.drivesafeonline.org/defensive-driving/12-important-texting-and-driving-statistics/.

National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2020, December). Overview of motor vehicle crashes in 2019. (Traffic Safety Facts
Research Note. Report No. DOT HS 813 060). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Opportunities to Reduce Youth Distracted Driving. Center for Injury Research and Prevention. (2021, April 1). https://injury.research.chop.edu/blog/posts/opportunities-reduce-youth-distracted-driving-0.

Cell Phones. Teen Driver Source. (n.d.). https://www.teendriversource.org/teen-crash-risks-prevention/distracted-driving/cell-phones.

How to Keep Your Holiday Weekend Safe and Fun

Most Americans spend the 4th of July weekend swimming, BBQing, and enjoying fireworks. It’s a great time to catch up with family and friends and celebrate our great country.

Unfortunately, this holiday also brings more trips to the ER than most other days of the year. Between traffic accidents, firework disasters, and grilling mishaps, there are many ways to get hurt during the 4th of July celebrations.

Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure a fun and safe weekend.

Firework Safety

  • Follow the local firework laws. Fireworks that leave the ground are illegal in all of Colorado, but each county has its own guidelines for other types of firecrackers. 9 News lists the laws and regulations for each county for the summer of 2021.
  • Keep kids clear of any area where fireworks are being lit. Kids can run up at the last minute, so make sure there’s an adult in charge of any kids nearby.
  • Dress Safely. Wear close toed shoes and consider eye and ear protection.
  • Don’t shoot anything towards cars, houses, plants or people. Be careful not to damage any property or injure anyone. Colorado has a very dry climate, so if a firework hits a tree or a patch of grass a fire can spread quickly. Soaking nearby trees or bushes before lighting any fireworks can help avoid a fire.
  • Have water handy. Keeping a fire hose or a bucket of water nearby can prevent an accidental fire.
  • Keep your pets in a safe place. Many dogs get really anxious on the 4th of July and are more likely to escape. If you think your dog may get nervous about fireworks, consult your vet about the best way to help them.

BBQ Safety

  • Make sure someone is watching the grill. Avoid a potential fire by keeping a close eye on the grill while it’s on, and keep kids away from the hot surface.
  • Clean your grill before the BBQ. Built-up grease can cause a fire that could quickly spread to your house.
  • Keep your grill a safe distance from your house or fence. The National Fire Protection Association recommends keeping grills at least 10 feet from any structure.
  • Check the temperature of food. Use a meat thermometer to make sure all food is fully cooked before you serve it to your guests. You could find yourself on the other end of a lawsuit if you give everyone food poisoning.
  • Don’t let your guests drink and drive. Encourage a designated driver, Uber/Lyft, or let people spend the night if drinking will be involved. The 4th of July weekend is notorious for increased drinking and driving accidents. Do your part to keep the roads and your friends safe.

Water Safety

  • Consider the weather conditions before deciding to swim. Some conditions can create undercurrents that can increase the risk of drowning.
  • Don’t leave kids unattended. Looking away for even a minute could lead to a terrible accident. Floaties and life jackets can help keep kids safe, but there still needs to be an adult watching at all times.
  • Avoid drinking while swimming. Your reflexes can be dulled from alcohol consumption and may increase the risk of injury.
  • Don’t dive until you check the depth of the water. Always go feet first unless you’re sure you won’t hit your head.
  • Try not to swallow the water. There can be harmful bacteria that can cause illness.
  • If you’re taking a boat out, watch for swimmers and other watercraft. Keep life jackets on board and encourage your passengers to wear them in case of an accident.

Top photo by Stephanie McCabe on Unsplash

7 Things You Should Know About Boat Insurance

Colorado has some of the most breathtaking picturesque landscapes in the country. Even better, it’s a scintillating experience when viewing the scenery while on your boat. Whether you are on an exploration mission with your boat in the Blue Mesa Reservoir or having good times with your family on Chatfield Reservoir, having a boat in Colorado has many advantages.

When you’re taking a boat or jet ski out the last thing you want to do is worry about what would happen if you had an accident. Regrettably, accidents and calamities sometimes strike. Fortunately, you can avert huge financial losses from a day out in the lake by investing in boat insurance. Contact our agents at Integrity First Insurance to learn more about boat insurance and how it can protect your finances.

Here are 7 things you should know about boat insurance:

1. Most boat policies only provide coverage in certain areas.

Generally, anywhere within the US and up to 75 miles off the US coastline is covered. Many policies will also cover into the Pacific coastal waters of Mexico and the Canadian coastal or inland waters.

2. You may be able to choose between Actual Cash Value or Agreed Value coverage for your boat.

Actual Cash Value: Just like cars, boats depreciated in value overtime. Actual Cash Value coverage takes into account age and wear and tear and pays out a depreciated amount based on that.

Agreed Value: With Agreed Value coverage, you choose what value to insure your boat for and will be paid out that agreed amount if there is a total loss. You’re only responsible for the deductible, not any depreciation.

3. Liability insurance is important.

If you’re responsible for an accident while operating your boat, your liability coverage will pay for the injuries or damage caused. Without liability insurance, you could be sued for those costs and have to pay out of pocket or have your wages garnished.

4. You can add protection for Fuel Spill Liability and Wreckage Removal.

Many people don’t know that they are responsible for removing any wreckage and cleaning up an oil or fuel spill if their boat is involved in an accident. The cost of that can add up quickly, so adding that coverage to your boat insurance policy is a great way to protect finances.

5. Most boat policies have the option to add on-water towing coverage.

If your boat breaks down on the water, this coverage will pay to tow it and may even pay for delivery of fuel, oil, or a battery.

6. You can purchase Medical Payments coverage to protect yourself and your passengers, including water skiers and tubers.

Medical Payments coverage limits range from $500 to $10K or more, and will pay for medical costs regardless of who is at-fault for the accident.

7. Unlike auto insurance, watercraft insurance isn’t required in Colorado.

However, if you financed your water vessel, your lender may require you to carry boat insurance until you pay your outstanding loan.

If you are a boat owner, consider procuring a boat insurance policy. Insuring your watercraft protects you, your family, your boat and your financial future so you can focus on having fun. To get coverage, please contact Integrity First Insurance for an affordable quote.

Photo by Maxi am Brunnen on Unsplash

10 Tips to Help Prevent Identity Theft

Shopping online. Visiting the doctor. Buying gas. In nearly all of the things we do from day to day, there’s the risk of identity theft.

You could unknowingly give your information to a fraudster thinking you’re shopping at a legitimate site. Your doctor’s office could experience a data breach. Or, you could come across a tampered credit card reader at the gas pump.

The risks your identity faces go on and on. So, what can you do to stop it? Unfortunately, virtually no one today can completely negate the risk of identity theft. But, we can all take some important steps to help prevent it.

Here are 10 sensible habits to adopt that will help you protect your identity:

  1. Limit what you carry in your wallet, and know what’s there in case it goes missing. First things first, don’t carry your Social Security card on a regular basis. Instead, keep it in a locked safe at home. Have a form of identification or some other card with your Social Security number (SSN) on it? Carry a photocopy of it instead of the real thing, and cut out or otherwise render your SSN unreadable. As for credit cards, only carry the ones you need. Finally, make photocopies of the front and back of the cards you always keep in your wallet and store them in your home safe. If one (or all of them) goes missing, you won’t have to search high and low for the card issuer’s contact information.
  2. Keep your computers, software and other electronics secure and up to date. This means using strong passwords or enabling passcodes – remember not to write them down. It also means installing firewall, spyware and virus protection. Keep everything up to date (and backed up) for the latest security enhancements. For your portable devices, consider installing software to remotely wipe your data or locate the device if it’s ever lost or stolen.
  3. Don’t over share. Does every entity that asks for your (or your child’s) SSN really need it? Take a moment to think instead of automatically jotting it down. At the very least, maybe only the last four digits will do. In addition, be careful what you share online. Posting your full address, phone number, license plate number or your birth date online, even if it’s in a photo, may help others piece together a full picture of your identity.
  4. Do check your credit reports throughout the year. You’re entitled to a free credit report from each of the three bureaus once a year. And, since the information on each report is oftentimes largely the same, you can stagger your requests and receive a different report once every four months. Once you receive it, check your report for accounts and other activity you don’t recognize. Even a credit check from a company you haven’t done business with could be an attempt at identity theft. To order your free credit reports, call 1-877-322-8228 or visit http://www.annualcreditreport.com/.
  5. Keep an eye on your accounts. Your account statements can alert you to identity theft sooner than your credit report, in most cases. Check regularly for unauthorized charges or withdrawals and other illicit activity, such as address changes or additional cards you didn’t request.
  6. Watch your surroundings. Whether you’re using the ATM or a portable device, you want to be sure others nearby aren’t watching as you type in your PIN or password. And, just because you don’t see anyone nearby doesn’t mean they’re not there. If you’re using a shared or public WiFi, everyone else on the same network may see the data, including passwords or account numbers, you submit. Be sure to conduct sensitive transactions on secure networks.
  7. Reduce your mail. Start by opting out of pre-approved credit card offers by calling 1-888-5OPT-OUT and following the prompts. This should stay in effect for five years and help curb the risk of someone else obtaining a new credit card in your name. Next, sign up for paperless billing with your financial and service providers and/or schedule automatic payments through your bank. The less mail containing personal and account details that comes to your home, the less likely it is to fall into the wrong hands.
  8. Be skeptical when someone asks for your information. Scam artists don’t always have to steal your information. Sometimes they convince you to give it up willingly by telling you via a phone call, email, snail mail or text that you won a prize or need to verify your account. To claim the prize or account, you’ll, of course, need to supply some sensitive information. Requests like these are almost always inauthentic – what’s known as a “phishing” scam. So, stay on guard and contact the entity through a known, verified method to inquire about the matter, rather than providing personal details on the spot.
  9. Mind your garbage. If you’re throwing out account statements or other documents with personal information, you’re making it easy for dumpster divers to learn a little, perhaps a lot, about you. They may even learn enough to take over one of your accounts. So, shred your sensitive documents and then recycle them – don’t just throw them out in the garbage.
  10. Tidy up at home. Tax returns, credit cards you use infrequently, checkbooks, passports, birth certificates – these and other important documents should all be stored under lock and key. Whether it’s in a home safe or a locking desk or file cabinet is up to you. And, don’t leave the code or key in an easily discoverable place.

Despite your best efforts, you may still discover that your identity has been stolen, If so, take immediate action to:

  • Fill out the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft Affidavit.
  • Take your affidavit to the police and file a report. Be sure to get a copy for your records. It will come in handy if you need to close fraudulent accounts, straighten out your credit report and more.
  • Call your financial providers to request new account numbers and, if needed, cards.
    Contact one of the three credit bureaus to place a fraud alert, which will encourage creditors to contact you before opening new lines of credit, on your credit report. The bureau you contact will share it with the other two.
    Experian: 1-888-397-3742
    Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
    Transunion: 1-800-680-7289

And, if you’re involved in a data breach and offered free credit monitoring, be sure to take advantage of it.

In today’s world of hyper connectivity and speed, it’s easy for your information to end up in the wrong hands. But, by being cautious with how you use and share your information, and checking for misuse, you can help keep your identity secure.

Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.

Wedding Insurance: Say “Yes” to Peace of Mind

You’ve fallen in love and plan to say, “I do.” Now your every waking moment is filled with visions of the dress, the rings, the flowers, the honeymoon and more. But, have you thought about insurance?

No, it’s not romantic, but it is a practical way to gain some peace of mind. After all, what would happen if something went wrong with the venue or your rings got stolen? Insurance can help you plan for these and other scenarios – find out how below.

The Big Day

According to TheKnot.com, the average cost of a wedding now exceeds $25,000. When you make an investment of that size, it’s a good idea to protect it. What if the caterer cancels the morning of your wedding? Hiring a replacement the day-of might cost you four times as much. What if the reception site floods a few days beforehand and you have to change venues? What if the groom gets sick and must be hospitalized? Event insurance typically covers unforeseen and sudden issues like these related to the reception site, inclement weather, vendor no-shows and illness or injury.

So, where to start with purchasing a policy? Talk with your venue and vendors about their liability insurance to help determine where you might need additional coverage. Then, work with an independent insurance agent to purchase event insurance for your wedding.

The Bling

Engagement and wedding rings can represent a sizeable investment in and of themselves. You’ll want to update your renters insurance, condo insurance or homeowners insurance – as well as your home inventory – to reflect their value. Is there an opportune time to do so? Yes: as soon as possible. Don’t put it off until after you’ve settled in to a regular routine following the honeymoon. As soon as you purchase the rings, call your independent agent to protect them.

The Presents

We’ve all heard the horror stories of wedding gifts being stolen. You can always purchase an extra policy to cover yourself from potential loss – whether the gifts are stolen off your front porch or lifted from the gift table at your reception. Policies typically cover a pre-defined period of time before or after the wedding and require you to file a police report if something does go missing.

After the wedding, you’ll want to add your new household goods to your home inventory in case of a personal property claim on your renters, condo or homeowners policy. You can check with your independent agent whether you need to purchase more personal property coverage to protect your new belongings, especially items such as china, silver, collectibles and family heirlooms. These and other items that appreciate over time may need separate coverage. Create a list of these items and discuss them with your independent agent.

The Honeymoon

Finally, it’s time to relax after months of sweating over pulling off the perfect day. But, the honeymoon isn’t exempt from unforeseen circumstances, which is where travel insurance comes into play. Polices often address trip cancellation, trip delay, medical insurance and more. The travel experts at Frommer’s say a policy should cost about 3 to 8 percent of your trip’s value. If you’re interested in protecting your trip, talk to us about the policy that’s right for you.

Your wedding day and your honeymoon should be some of the happiest times of your life. Putting a little extra effort into insuring your investment will put you on the path to living happily ever after. Best wishes and congratulations!

Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®

Top image by UnSplash user Jeremy Wong Weddings

Why You Need Personal Offense Coverage

How can insurance protect you from being sued for what you say on social media?

In today’s digital world, slander and libel lawsuits are more common than you may think. Comments made in haste or anger on social media can have lasting and far-reaching effects on a person’s reputation or character, so it’s easier than ever to libel, slander, or invade a person’s privacy.

Even if you apologize, you can still be sued. Due to the wide reach of social media, claim damages can be substantial, not to mention the cost of hiring an attorney and other legal fees you would incur.

What’s more, posts or other online comments made by a minor can also be subject to a lawsuit. So if you have teens or other children who use social media, you may be at risk for something they say or write online. Consider the following scenario.

Your son was crushed after being cut from the football team, so he retaliated by writing some false and unflattering comments on social media about the head coach. These comments quickly spread through the school and the community at large. The coach then sued the boy’s parents for harming his professional reputation, a claim that could cost them thousands of dollars in legal fees and damages.

Or imagine this:

You write a scathing online review of a restaurant where you had a poor experience. Though you had some legitimate gripes, you went too far by claiming they served you outdated, potentially rotten meat without offering evidence to support the accusation. In return, the restaurant filed a lawsuit against you, and you’re forced to defend yourself.

Personal offense coverage can provide protection against such situations. Plus, it’s affordable.

What Personal Offense Insurance Covers

While personal offense coverage is included with some policies, it is optional for most coverage levels.

This coverage offers you broad protection against a variety of lawsuits and damages related to a such offenses as:

  • False arrest, detention, or imprisonment
  • Malicious prosecution
  • Libel, slander, or defamation of character
  • Invasion of privacy
  • Wrongful eviction or entry

To assess your risk and to learn more about this valuable yet often overlooked coverage option, give us a call today.

Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.

Photo by Adem AY on Unsplash. Image cropped from original.

What Is A Coverage Review?

The best policy isn’t necessarily the cheapest one. It’s important to have a policy that protects you and your family in your current situation. Life can change quickly, and as your life changes, your insurance policy may need to change with it.

During a coverage review, your agent will ask you about any life changes, changes to your home, and suggest coverage adjustments to best suit your current needs. Your agent’s goal is to make sure your policy is updated and you have the best coverage possible.

Your role during a coverage review is to be open and honest, and to ask questions to help understand your policies.

What will be discussed in a coverage review?

  • Contact info- It’s important to make sure all contact info on file is accurate. You may be asked to confirm your phone number, address, and email address.
  • Household members- Most insurance policies have specific definitions for who is covered by a policy. Knowing who lives in the household can help your agent make sure everyone has the coverage they need.
  • New toys- You’ll likely be asked if you’ve recently purchased anything that needs to be insured, like a boat, motorcycle, camper, or ATV.
  • Updates to your home- Your agent should go over a Replacement Cost Estimator with you to ensure your policy accounts for any unique features in your home. If you’ve recently made any updates or improvements, that may result in an increase to your Dwelling Coverage.
  • Education or job changes- If you’ve changed careers, that could warrant some changes to your insurance. Additional education can also result in an extra discount or lower rate, so your agent may ask about education or job changes during a coverage review.
  • Discount review- If anything has changed in your life, you may be eligible for additional discounts. Perhaps your commute is shorter and now you qualify for a low mileage discount. A discount review can help ensure you’re getting the best price for the coverages you need.
  • Review policy coverages options– Overtime, your insurance carrier may offer new coverages or limits. During a coverage review, your agent should go over the coverages you have and recommend any coverages you may be missing that could be beneficial for your protection.

How often do you need an insurance review?

It’s generally a good idea to review your insurance policies before each renewal. A quick check-in to make sure your coverages are still adequate can go a long way.

If you haven’t had any big changes, a simple call to your agent to ask about any new coverage recommendations or discount opportunities should be sufficient. Anytime you make a big change or an update in your home, you should call your agent and request a more in-depth coverage review. An extensive review should be done at least every 3 years to ensure your coverages are growing with your family and your needs.

The Insurance Information Institute recommends asking the following questions each time your policy renews:

  • Has the company made any changes in coverage since last year?
  • Does my policy now include a separate deductible for risks like hurricane or hail?
  • Should I raise the deductible to save money?
  • Am I taking advantage of all available discounts?
  • Do I need to raise the amount of coverage for liability, personal possessions or the structure?
  • Should I comparison shop for a cheaper rate?
  • Do I need flood, earthquake or an umbrella policy?

If you haven’t had a coverage review within the past couple of years, or if you’ve made any changes that could impact your insurance, give us a call or request a quote today. We’re happy to review your current policies and look for ways to improve your coverage at a price that is right for you.

Do Porch Lights Deter Burglars?

Are lights effective for burglary protection?

It seems like a no-brainer to leave the lights on outside your home to deter burglars while you’re away (or even while you’re asleep). But, does that really work? Or, is it just a waste of electricity?

Those answers can differ depending on a number of factors. However, one thing is clear: it takes more than flipping a switch to prevent property crime.

If you are relying on lights as part of your home security routine, be sure to put some thought into how you’re using them. Here are recommendations about when to light things up — and some instances where it may be better to go dark. Contact your local law enforcement if you’re curious about recommendations specific to your area.

When to Keep Your Lights On

There are plenty of instances where it makes sense to leave your porch light on:

  • When you’re home (and awake). This doesn’t simply alert people to the fact that someone is home; it allows you to see anyone approaching or prowling around outside. Having a variety of interior lights on, of course, also shows that the home is occupied and not the best target.
  • When you go out at night. You’ll be able to get to the door easier and unlock it more quickly when you get home — which is nice, but also important if someone happens to be lurking nearby.
  • If possible, combine a porch light with other lights. If you have lighting in your back yard, for example, or by the garage, use those in conjunction with the one by your front door and interior lights. This can add to the appearance that someone is home.

When to Keep Your Lights Off

Despite what many people think, having your lights on all the time isn’t helpful. In fact, it may actually attract burglars. Here’s when you should think about leaving them off:

  • When it’s light out. Exterior lights left on all day can give the impression that nobody is home. After all, wouldn’t someone turn them off during the daytime?
  • When you’re on vacation. The same principle applies here — if a burglar notices lights on for several days at a time, that’s a pretty clear sign that you’re gone.
  • When you go to sleep. This seems counterintuitive, but most residential crime happens during daylight hours, according to SecurAmerica, a firm providing security personnel for businesses, schools and residential communities. So, that porch light at 3 a.m. might not make much of a difference.

An Even Better Option: Automate Your Lights

The goal of lighting, at least from a security standpoint, is to make burglars think someone is home. The most effective way to do that is through lights, both inside and out, that turn on and off at varying times. You can accomplish this through systems that automatically turn lights on after sundown, or even new options that allow you to control lights from your phone or other mobile device.

And, don’t forget motion-sensing lights. They’re affordable, and they can startle burglars and even impair their vision in the moments after they illuminate.

Other Things to Consider

However you use your lights, it might not matter if you don’t take other security measures. For example, are your trees and shrubs trimmed, or do they instead provide cover for someone casing your home? Do you have a good relationship with your neighbors? Will they notice if someone suspicious is outside? Do they even know when you’re going out of town?

Remember, turning on your lights may only be truly effective as part of an overall strategy to keep your home secure.

Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.

Top image by Flickr user webhamster.

Thinking About a Side Hustle? Check Your Insurance Policy First!

If you’re a stay-at-home parent, need some extra money in addition to your other income, or just want more flexibility in your life, you might be able to find a side hustle to make money in your spare time. There are tons of options out there to make some extra cash.

Before jumping in with both feet, you should consider talking to your insurance agent or reviewing your policies to ensure you have the coverage you need.

Renting out your house

Whether you have a second home or just a room or floor in your primary home that you plan to rent out, it’s important to make sure you have the correct coverage on your home insurance policy. Even if it’s only rented a few times a year, you may still need specialized coverage.

Most insurance companies consider short-term rentals a business venture.  Home insurance doesn’t often cover business activities, so a standard policy might not suit your needs.

Each insurance carrier has their own way of covering a vacation rental, so talking to a licensed agent is the best way to ensure you have the correct coverage on your policy.

Read more about insurance for vacation rentals in our blog Vacation Rental Property Insurance: What You Need to Know

Rideshare

Another popular way to make some extra money is to drive for a rideshare company like Uber or Lyft. Most rideshare companies require that you have your own car insurance, and some provide extra coverage once you have connected with a passenger.

There is an additional risk when you’re driving for a rideshare company, so insurance carriers exclude coverage for driving for hire. Luckily, many insurance companies offer a Rideshare endorsement that you can add to the policy.

In most cases, Rideshare coverage is inexpensive, and it covers a gap that would otherwise leave you exposed. If you don’t have the proper coverage you could be left without coverage if you get in an accident. Your personal auto policy may also be cancelled for violating the terms and conditions.

The best way to find out if your policy offers Rideshare coverage is to call your agent and ask.

Check out our blog, What Uber and Lyft Drivers Need to Know About Insurance for more information about Rideshare coverage.

Freelancing from home

If you have a special set of skills, freelancing may be a great opportunity to make some money in your free time. Being able to work wherever you are is a huge plus to freelancing. You can write a blog on the beach, teach a class from your living room, or build a website from your bedroom.

One important thing to consider when working from home is safety. Make sure you don’t have cords laying in high traffic areas that could cause someone to trip. If you’re going to be working quite a few hours, you may want to invest in an ergonomic work area. Good posture, a solid office chair and a workspace that is the appropriate height can go a long way to prevent injury.

Another aspect to consider is your homeowners or renters insurance. If you have expensive equipment, you may need to increase your coverage limits. Your policy may also have certain guidelines or limitations regarding foot traffic in your home, so if you have people coming in and out of your house for business purposes, talk to your agent.

Our blog Working From Home: Safety and Insurance Risks provides more information about working from home safely.

DIY, Crafts, Upcycling, Selling Products (like essential oils, clothing, or makeup)

Making and selling items is a fun way to express your creativity while earning some cash. If you have products in your home, you may need to look over your insurance policy to make sure you have coverage for those items.

Most home or renters policies don’t automatically cover property related to a business. You can often add an endorsement to your policy to extend the coverage that you need. If your policy doesn’t have enough coverage for your situation, you can also consider a commercial property policy.

If you have any questions about what coverage your insurance policy offers in relation to your side hustle, give us a call. We’re happy to review your coverages and find a policy that will fit your unique needs!

Spring Home Maintenance Tips

Each year Spring brings new life, nice weather, some rain, and often the motivation for some deep cleaning. It’s an opportunity to get a clean slate for the rest of the year. Consumer Reports suggests tackling the following home maintenance projects each Spring.

1. Clean Household Filters

Clean or replace the filter of any appliance with a water or air filter. You can prolong the life of your appliances by keeping up with the proper maintenance, including changing your filters.

Here’s a list from Consumer Reports of filters in your home that you should be changing:

  • Window ACs
  • Over-the-range microwaves
  • Range hoods
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Dishwashers with manual filters
  • Vacuums
  • Refrigerators
  • Water filters
  • Air purifiers
  • Gas furnaces

2. De-Grime Countertop Appliances

Appliances can get pretty dirty sitting on the counter, especially the ones that are near the stove. I know my toaster gets really greasy overtime, probably because it’s right next to my range. Scrub any grease that has built-up one your countertop appliances.

Appliances to consider cleaning:

  • Coffee maker
  • Toaster
  • Toaster oven
  • Blender
  • Food processor
  • Microwave
  • Air fryer

3. Wash Windows

I have 2 dogs and a toddler, so the bottom half of my windows get really dirty and smudged. I definitely can’t get away with only washing my windows once a year, but I will admit that I only wash the outside of the windows in the Spring. It’s the perfect time to get the windows sparkling clean so you can watch the world coming alive outside.

Here are some window washing tips from Consumer Reports:

  1. Before you start on the windows, clean dirty frames by vacuuming or wiping away the accumulated dust. Using a slightly damp sponge to apply the window cleaning solution, start from the top down.
  2. Wipe across the window with a dampened squeegee blade, then wipe the blade.
  3. Follow with a rinse of clean water applied with a chamois cloth. Polish off any remaining moisture with the dry cloth.

4. Prep Your Lawn Mower

If you have a lawn mower, you should consider some routine maintenance each Spring to prolong its lifespan and keep it running well. Gas mowers may need an oil change or a top off.

You should also check the spark plugs as they need to be changed every 100 hours of operation. Lastly, change the air filer to help the engine run more efficiently.

5. Spruce Up Your Lawn

Clean up dead leaves that may be left over from the fall or winter. If the grass is covered by dead leaves, the sun won’t be able to reach it and it won’t grow as well.

You can also clear walkways and driveways from dirt and debris and seal any new gaps or cracks to protect concrete from further water damage.

6. Get Your Gas Grill Ready

It’s finally grilling season again! Time to get the grill hooked up to the propane line and clean it up. Clear away spiderwebs, dirt, and debris that may have built-up during the winter. Clean the grates and inside if necessary.

Check for any gas leaks before you reconnect the propane tank and light the grill.

7. Pressure Wash Your Deck

Remove everything from the deck and sweep away any leaves, dirt or debris that might have accumulated. Pressure wash the deck, using a deck cleaner if there are tough spots.

Washing your deck each Spring will prevent dirt from building up overtime and help with the longevity of your wood.

8. Organize Your Garage

Set your summer up for success by getting your garage in order. Don’t waste the sunny days and nice weather hunting down your tent, camping chairs, or other summer supplies. Take the time in the Spring to get rid of the things you don’t need anymore by either throwing them away, donating them, or throwing a garage sale.

Once you’ve narrowed down the things you intend to keep, get them organized and make sure everything has a place. Utilize hooks on the walls and ceiling, along with shelves if you have the room.

If you are able to park your car(s) in the garage, they’re less likely to be damaged by hail when it inevitably falls in the summer months. That can save you the hassle of having to get your car fixed, along with the money you’d have to pay for your car insurance deductible.

9. Check Your Tires

Check the air pressure and add air if needed. Rotate your tires if you haven’t done so recently. Check the tread to make sure your tires aren’t too worn and one side isn’t wearing significantly more. If you notice uneven wear, consider taking your car in for an alignment.

If you put snow tires on your car, make sure you replace them with your all-season tires.

Sources:

Farrell, M. (2020, January 26). 12 filters you should be changing at home. Retrieved April 28, 2021, from https://www.consumerreports.org/home-maintenance-repairs/filters-you-should-be-changing-at-home/

Consumer Reports. (2020, March 19). Chores to get done if you’re stuck at home. Retrieved April 28, 2021, from https://www.consumerreports.org/home-maintenance-repairs/projects-to-do-when-youre-stuck-at-home/

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